Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

From: Merv <>
Date: Sun Aug 19 2007 - 15:49:06 EDT

I don't have any names to add, unless it is to concur with Phil (and in
the same vague way) that it would seem very 'Lewisian' to think it
unwise to close the book on that one either way and to shun dogmatism
about it. It is also interesting to remember that two major
participators here think it (a literal Adam) important enough to throw
their research behind it: D.Fisher (the recent Adam) because he thinks
that's what the evidence shows right along with Scripture, and Glenn
Morton (the ancient Adam) because he thinks a high view of Scripture
demands it --at least I think that is what he would say.

But the difficulty of looking for respectable precedent is that it may
be unfair to demand it of those of early times. Just as nobody before
several centuries ago had any reason to think the earth more than
thousands of years old, so also, nobody back then had reason to think in
any terms other than literal. St. Augustine showed remarkable
willingness to reserve judgment on the literal six days time period --
and even before any extra-Biblical knowledge gave reason to think it.
But would it be fair to use his literal rendering of Adam (at least I
assume he is clear on that based on some other posts here -- I am only
midway through 'Confessions' and hope to tackle 'City of God' after
that) as evidence of the importance of that perspective? Augustine is
apparently is concerned that Scriptures not be used to enforce
conclusions that fly in the face of well-established knowledge. And
that opens the can of worms of what is "well-established". But in any
case, the Catholic church has obviously (in faithful Augustinian
fashion) gone further down the road (allowing for evolution). But
whether or not that forces a departure from a literal Adam may still be
a question. Glenn Morton and Dick Fisher obviously don't think so.

The problem with asking what evangelicals can be found in that
(non-literal Adam) camp is that it is too close to arguing over the
definitions of such camps. I have enough YEC friends to understand
their sensibilities on this. They would say that a non-literal Adam
implies a fatally weak view of God's Word, and THAT is the real
problem. So if someone was to demonstrate that C.S. Lewis or any
well-known modern evangelical actually did embrace that possibility,
YECs would shake their heads sadly and respond, "so much the worse for
Mr. Lewis -- or ____" as they proceeded to remove his books from their
shelves. Such things become litmus tests for whether somebody
qualifies as a sincere or respectable Christian in the first place.

I'm still trying to wrestle with this one for myself as well. It's the
whole fear about the slippery slope phenomenon. I suspect that as long
as the hungry go unfed and justice stays absent from among our
discipleship passion, it won't matter too much how literal our view of
Adam was.


David Opderbeck wrote:
> I'm researching Christian theological perspectives in which a literal,
> individual Adam is not central. Are there major streams of Christian
> thought / confessional or denominational settings, and/or recognized
> streams within broader traditions, in which affirming a literal Adam
> is not an important concern? I'm aware of some of the specific
> articles in publications such as PSCF, such as George Murphy's recent
> article, on this question, but what I'm trying to suss out is the
> importance of a literal Adam to the Christian tradition
> generally. Does the willingness to suggest a non-literal Adam place
> one outside the flow of every major branch of the tradition?
> Ancillary to this, are there any scholars who could be classified as
> "evangelical" who are willing to entertain a non-literal Adam? (I
> take it from my own study and experience that mainstream evangelical
> perspectives on scripture and hermeneutics, as well as
> evangelicalism's generally Augustinian view of original sin, renders
> the possibility of a non-literal Adam difficult).

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Received on Sun Aug 19 15:37:12 2007

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