[asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Apr 24 2008 - 12:34:09 EDT

Here is an article by a prof at Westminster Seminary California that I think
lays out the theological dilemma of accepting human evolution:
http://www.wscal.edu/faculty/wscwritings/wasadamhistorical.php

The author is right, isn't he, that one must either reject human evolution
and accept a traditional understanding of the fall, or accept human
evolution and accept a neoorthodox understanding of the fall? Much as I've
tried to find middle ground, I don't see it.

Clark Pinnock makes an effort towards such a middle ground in a fascinating
book that presages what has become known as the "postconservative" movement
in evangelicalism. Pinnock tries to take the best of neoorthdoxy without
compromising classical orthodoxy. Here is what he says about the fall:

... it is important to interpret the Fall into sin as an event not a myth.
I do not mean that is an event witnessed and described for us by those who
were there. I recognize in the literary depiction of it a mythical
dimension. Nevertheless, it is important to see tha the Fall maks the point
in history when humankind turned aside from God and God's purposes. It is
more than a quant story of Everyman. "It is teh name for that point in
world history when, with human freedom already becoming a reality, man began
to act in a way disruptive of the historical process, working against God's
purposes for him and for the world and thus acting in a manner destructive
of his own being and welfare." The actual event may not have been something
that happened to a couple in a garden just as described -- it may have
happened in another way over a period of generations perhaps. But it is
important that the Fall into sin predates history as we know it and
determines its sinful character. History has been spoiled and turned
around. Salvation is not being delivered from history; it is being
delivered in and with it. In a strong statement, . . . 'to regard the fall
as myth rather than in some sense genuine history shatters both the
consistency and the meaning of the Christian faith." (Pinnock, Tracking the
Maze, at p. 195).

  Something about Pinnock's effort here is just not satisfying. So if you
accept human evolution, is your view of the fall historical or neoorthodox?
If it's historical, how does it square with your acceptance of evolutionary
science? If it's neoorthodox, how does it square with scripture's emphasis
on the effects of Adam's sin?

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Received on Thu Apr 24 12:35:00 2008

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