Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Wed Aug 22 2007 - 09:38:02 EDT

Certainly the "gaggle of different local traditions" is a problem & in fact a scandal but unfortunately it's a reality. I agree that the Nicene Creed should play a basic role but it doesn't answer all the questions that have arisen since the 4th century - the relationship of humanity & divinity in Christ, sacraments, justification &c. & in particular, Nicea says nothing at all about the issue of original sin, let alone the historicity of Adam. When original sin became an issue in the 5th century, the eastern & western parts of the church took significantly different directions. As I have said earlier, I think there are strong & weak points of both traditions, & that the course to take is to combine the strong points.

Jack called attention to Robin Collins' treatment of the subject in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation. It has some similarities with my own approach, which is sketched in my chapter in the same volume, though I would emphasize the idea that the separation from God brought about by the disobedience of the earliest humans helps to bring about the sinful cultures into which later humans are then born and which in turn influence them.

In all of this discussion an important point has been missed: The teaching that all people are sinful from the time they come into being should be distinguished from ideas about how this sinful condition may have originated historically. "Original sin" is the sin that supposedly took place at the beginning of history and "sin of origin" is the sin in which each person begins her or his life. It is really the latter that is important for discussions of atonement and justification & one can affirm belief in "sin of origin" while remaining agnostic about an historical "original sin." Those who disagree with that statement do so, I suggest, more because of concern for their belief in the historical accuracy of scripture than because of concerns about human sinfulness.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: George Murphy
  Cc: philtill@aol.com ; dfsiemensjr@juno.com ; asa@calvin.edu
  Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 10:31 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

  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
      To: George Murphy
      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).

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Received on Wed Aug 22 09:39:27 2007

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