Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Aug 21 2007 - 22:31:54 EDT

These are all great questions as well -- but shouldn't we try to answer them
as well as asking them? If the "Christian tradition" is nothing but a
gaggle of different local traditions without any center of gravity, isn't
that a problem? I guess I'd try to focus on the basic outline of the Nicene
Creed as a rough guideline. Or maybe, using propositional doctrinal
statements as the center of gravity isn't quite right -- maybe it's more of
a MacIntyre-ian tradition; but still, the virtues and practices inherent to
the tradition have to stem from God's revelation in Christ and in scripture,
so that at least some sort of Christological claims must form a boundary
between *this* tradition and some other one.

On 8/21/07, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:
>
> David's questions are certainly important but there are others that need
> to be asked as well. What constitutes "historic orthodoxy"? E.g., those
> outside the Lutheran tradition will not feel the same commitment
> to Augustana 2, which I cited below, as will Lutherans. Even for the
> Lutheran tradition (& I continue with that just by way of example), we
> should ask whether the reference to "Adam" in that statement was intended to
> teach the historicity of Adam - especially in view of the fact that that
> wasn't at issue in the 16th century. & what are we to say of theologies
> that fail, or even refuse, to take into account well established results of
> historical or scientific research, such as evolution?
>
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
> *To:* George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
> *Cc:* philtill@aol.com ; dfsiemensjr@juno.com ; asa@calvin.edu
> *Sent:* Tuesday, August 21, 2007 11:31 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam
>
>
> This is a broader question, but related, question: what standards do we
> use to distinguish orthodoxy from heterodoxy from heresy? When does a view
> at variance with historic orthodoxy place someone completely outside the
> Christian tradition? (Note that I'm not suggesting any view discussed in
> this thread does so; just sussing out perspectives on the boundaries).
>
> On 8/20/07, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:
> >
> > Since human evolution wasn't considered seriously by theologians until
> > the 19th century, an understanding of original sin that takes evolution into
> > account AS WELL AS being consistent with what scripture says about the human
> > condition can't be found in any of the major theological traditions. The
> > approach that I suggest is reasonably consistent with what the Orthodox
> > tradition has said about the *origin* of human sinfulness (e.g., the
> > creation of the 1st humans in an immature state from which they was intended
> > to grow) but is in accord with the Augustinian - & in particular Lutheran -
> > tradition about the *seriousness* of original sin &, in particular, the
> > fact that it really is sin. Article 2 of the Augsburg Confession (which can
> > be found at
> > http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.html#article2) SAYS:
> >
> > "Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the
> > natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without
> > trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of
> > origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon
> > those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost. They condemn
> > the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who,
> > to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be
> > justified before God by his own strength and reason."
> >
> > (The qualification "begotten in the natural way" was intended to exclude
> > Christ. I think, however, that this should not be done. With the Eastern
> > tradition - & with Barth - we should understand Christ to have been born in
> > the same condition as ourselves, though he committed no sin. "God made him
> > to be sin who knew no sin.")
> >
> > Shalom
> > George
> > http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > *From:* David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
> > *To:* George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
> > *Cc:* philtill@aol.com ; dfsiemensjr@juno.com ; asa@calvin.edu
> > *Sent:* Monday, August 20, 2007 8:29 PM
> > *Subject:* Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam
> >
> >
> > Ah, and George, this gets back to my original question: in what
> > theological tradition does an approach like yours lie? Is it typically
> > Lutheran? Or is it novel?
> >
> > On 8/20/07, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > It seems very strange to me to call the idea that we were all "in
> > > Adam" a "realist" view. 1st, this language ultimately derives from the poor
> > > Latin translation of Rom.5 :12, *in quo omnes peccaverunt*, "in whom
> > > all sinned." 2d, the only way of making sense of this physically today is
> > > to understand original sin actually to be transmitted genetically, which
> > > runs into all kinds of problems. & that doesn't even take into account the
> > > problematic question of the historicity of a single Adam.
> > >
> > > Which is not to argue for "federal theory" - I already pointed out a
> > > basic problem with that. The best way to understand the situation is
> > > to see the sin of earlier generations as giving rise to a religious & moral
> > > environment which strongly discourages true faith in the true God. Again I
> > > refer to my PSCF article at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2006/PSCF6-06Murphy.pdf
> > > .
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Shalom
> > > George
> > > http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
> > >
> > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > *From:* philtill@aol.com
> > > *To:* dopderbeck@gmail.com
> > > *Cc:* gmurphy@raex.com ; dfsiemensjr@juno.com ; asa@calvin.edu
> > > *Sent:* Monday, August 20, 2007 6:08 PM
> > > *Subject:* Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Yet, if being "bent" towards sin is not a necessary condition of human
> > > existence, and is imputed to us because Adam in fact sinned rather than
> > > because of anything we have done ourselves; and, if being "bent" towards sin
> > > means we all will inevitably sin, without any possibility of not sinning;
> > > and, if even one sinful act alienates us from God for all eternity -- then
> > > it does seem that the deck is stacked rather unfairly, doesn't it?
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Hi David,
> > >
> > > (Sigh) this is the Federal view again, right? I'm a bit frustrated
> > > because I keep being asked to defend a view that I was not even talking
> > > about, and which I don't even claim to believe. Is it because I have not
> > > clearly explained the Augustinian view, which I was discussing, well enough
> > > to distinguish it from the Federal view? The Augustinian view attempts to
> > > answer the very questions you raise about the Federal view. So I'll try to
> > > say it again, but more clearly.
> > >
> > > Of course we all know the facts: we actually are sinners who
> > > inevitably sin. That is just as empirically sure as any theory in physics,
> > > and we sure don't want to create theories that go against the empirics.
> > > Rocks don't disobey gravity and children don't grow up sinless. So we have
> > > to accept that the deck really is stacked against us.
> > >
> > > As monotheists we believe that it was not stacked *unfairly*. So the
> > > only question here is to discover what was the *fair *set of events
> > > that stacked it against us.
> > >
> > > The Realist or Augustinian view says that you and I were actually "in"
> > > Adam when he sinned so that we *really* did "staple our feet to the
> > > starting line by our own free will" as you say. Put the emphasis on the
> > > word "really." Think of the Augustinian view as the analog of nonlocality
> > > in quantum mechanics. If subatomic particles can be entangled and
> > > indistinguishable and non-locally correlated, even behaving as though they
> > > anticipate things outside of the time sequence (in the delayed choice
> > > experiments), then perhaps, just *perhaps*, human souls might also be
> > > related in such atemporal and nonlocal ways. If so, then maybe our souls
> > > and Adam's soul were somehow together as one in the garden (or in whatever
> > > scenario from prehistory someone may think the garden symbolically
> > > represents).
> > >
> > > Here is a pithy way to oversimplify it. The Federal view says Adam
> > > sinned in our place; the Augustinian view says we sinned in his place. (
> > > i.e., in the garden)
> > >
> > > I'm not saying I believe that this Augustinian view is right, nor that
> > > the Federal view is right or wrong. I just think the Augustinian idea is
> > > interesting and might merit more thought.
> > >
> > > Also, think about the MWI interpretation of QM. In that view, there
> > > really are multiple versions of consciousness for each person. I don't tend
> > > to believe MWI, but who knows how strange reality actually is?
> > >
> > > Phil
> > >
> > > ------------------------------
> > > AOL now offers free email to everyone. Find out more about what's free
> > > from AOL at *AOL.com * <http://www.aol.com/?ncid=AOLAOF00020000000437>
> > > .
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
>

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Received on Tue Aug 21 22:32:14 2007

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