RE: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Wed Aug 22 2007 - 10:15:50 EDT



Thanks for this very interesting post. Therefore, we are born sinners
justifies the coming of Christ and His redemptive power via His death
and resurrection. Surely, then scientists cannot answer the question of
why we are sinners since it is a theological rather than scientific
question. However, are there scientific theories that would contradict
the sin nature of man and are not these scientific theories more than
mere science?




From: [] On
Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 9:38 AM
To: David Opderbeck
Subject: Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam


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



        ----- Original Message -----

        From: David Opderbeck <>

        To: George Murphy <>

        Cc: ; ;

        Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 10:31 PM

        Subject: Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal


        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 <> 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?



                ----- Original Message -----

                From: David Opderbeck <>

                To: George Murphy <>

                Cc: ; ;


                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 10:16:27 2007

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