From: Keith Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Dec 20 2002 - 11:55:38 EST
> It would be poor exegesis to simply point to a single passage in
> Scripture to prove one's point. Scripture is to be understood as a
> whole, and in the context of the universal church's understanding of
> it. In this regard, then, one is able to say that the doctrine of
> original sin and the imago Dei is incompatible with a gradualistic
> account of human creation. Paul, himself, presented his point about
> sin (Romans 5), and simply assumes that Adam was a historical man.
> Jesus is presented as the 2nd Adam, undoing the work of the first.
> The geneaology of Jesus goes back to Adam. The reality of original
> sin in all of us necessitates a single source, and in parallel, the
> reality of salvation for all of us necessitates a single source,
> which is Christ. We all (i.e. humans) have to be sons of Adam in
> order for the need to be saved by the second Adam.
I have posted this before, but it looks to be relevant again.
Our physical and genetic continuity with the rest of the
creation in no way excludes an historical Adam. However, since there
continuity of physical form from modern humans to our common ancestors
the other great apes, there are no physical criteria by which the
the "image of God" could be identified in the fossil record.
With regard to the implications of human evolution for the "image of
will quote from an article that I wrote several years ago.
"We are the image of God in creation - that is why the command against
making graven images is so powerful. We stand in a unique position
creation - as God's representative, as His viceroy over the Earth. I
believe that the basis for that unique position is our dual nature. We
have at once a kinship with the rest of creation and with the Creator.
Genesis describes the origin of humankind in precisely the same manner
that of all other living things (Gen 2:7,9,19). The origin of our
nature is not different from that of other creatures -- we are made of
same stuff. If God used and providentially controlled evolutionary
mechanisms in the creation of plants and animals, I see no reason to
an evolutionary origin for humankind. In fact, the testimony of both
scripture and nature is that we share a oneness with the rest of
Our physical natures are inseparably connected to the rest of life on
"While Genesis roots our physical origin in the stuff of the Earth, it
places us firmly in a unique position before God and creation. The
is to attribute unique status to our physical nature, as though our
position is founded on something other than God's grace. I believe
is our relationship to God more than anything else which distinguishes
From the dust of the Earth God had raised up a creature and imparted to
a spiritually conscious soul. By this act of grace God elevated
to a special position of conscious and willing fellowship with Himself."
(Keith B. Miller, 1993, Theological implications of an evolving
creation: Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, vol. 45,
Paul's comparison of Christ (the second Adam) with the first Adam
is, I believe quite helpful in sorting through the issues. Sin and
spiritual death "entered the world" through Adam, but life and
righteousness through Jesus Christ. It seems that both Adam and Christ
being presented as respresentative heads of the human race. We bear the
image of Christ in the same way that we formerly bore the image of Adam.
We are dealing here, I believe, not with physical realities but with
spiritual realities. Adam thus need not be the physical ancestor of all
humans, anymore than Jesus is the physical ancestor of all those who
believe in Him.
How was God's "image" imparted to humanity? I think that there are a
couple of options here. One common position is that God selected a
particular individual into whom God imparted a spiritually conscious
A more monist (as opposed to dualist) view might be that God revealed
himself to Adam thus bringing Adam into personal fellowship in a state
moral innocence. I am sure there are other approaches to this.
If Adam is not the genealogical ancestor of all humanity, then how can
understand the "image" to have been communicated to all humanity?
this is essentially the problem of the "pre-Adamites" which is hardly a
consequence of an evolutionary view of human origins. A straightforward
reading of the Biblical text itself seems to imply that Adam and his
descendants lived in an already populated world (Gen, 4:13-26). Thus,
questions have to be answered regardless of whether an evolutionary
There are a number of issues here and I won't do justice to any of them.
One consideration is that the origin of the "Image of God" which is
associated with the creation of humankind in Genesis 1, is not the
the account of Adam in chapter 2 and following. The issue with Adam is
the origin of God-likeness but rather the origin of sin. In other words
the two accounts are dealing with different issues. The representative
headship of Adam has to do with sin and its consequence - spiritual
I think that scripture allows us to view the "Image of God" as an act of
grace poured out on God's chosen creatures when those creatures had in
effect "come of age." Here the evolutionary origin of humanity provides
some helpful metaphors. Here's one way to think about it : God
providentially directed the evolutionary development of humans to the
at which they possessed the mental and emmotional capacity for conscious
fellowship with Him. At that point, God revealed Himself and
covenant relationship, making them divine representatives to the rest of
I believe that Adam could have been selected out from the rest of
for a special covenant relationship. This would be entirely consistent
with the pattern of God's interaction with the human race revealed
throughout scripture. God selects a particular individual through whom
accomplish His redemptive will. There is first Adam, then Noah, Abram,
Joseph, Moses, and Jesus. God seems to repeatedly focus the entire
of His will for His chosen on the obedience of a single individual.
How is the sin condition (original sin) passed on? This question is
related to the question: How is Christ's righteousness imputed to us? -
grace through faith.
There is some act of the will on my part involved. I must willingly
that offer of grace. What if we make a parallel with the transmission
sin? When I am born I am innocent (I do not mean righteous). However,
the first opportunity I choose to be disobedient - I sin and come under
curse of Adam which is spiritual death. Thus, Adam's curse is imputed
me by my sharing in his sin, just as Christ's righteousness is imputed
me by faith. "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man,
and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because
sinned" (Rom 5:12). My reading is that there are none who are without
except Christ, thus there are none who are morally righteous yet still
condemned by Adam's sin. We are condemned because we sin. Therefore I
not understand that sin itself is something that is passed on thru
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