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

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Thu Apr 24 2008 - 13:15:04 EDT

George, would you classify your view as neoorthodox or as something between
traditional and neo-orthodox, or as moving beyond neoorthodoxy?

On Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 1:10 PM, George Murphy <> wrote:

> There's a good deal of truth in what Pinnock says. However -
> 1) Scripture itself does not use the language of "fall" in connection with
> the 1st human sin & we need not be tied either to that language or (more
> importantly) to the image it conveys of an abrupt transition from a "state
> of integrity" to depravity.
> 2) What I think a realistic picture of evolution will not let us do is
> hold on to the idea of a "state of integrity" in the classical sense.
> 3) A more realistic picture is not that of "fall" but of the start of a
> process of getting off the right track - i.e., the kind of historical
> development God wanted. That process *did* start at the beginning of
> human history & in that sense is "historical."
> 4) Gen.3 & other texts (Rom.5 &c) are theological statements about
> that start but are not historical accounts of it.
> 5) The really essential; thing to maintain is the seriousness of our "sin
> of origin," which is why reading Gen.3 as the story of "everyman/woman" is
> necessary, though it doesn't exhaust the meaning of that text.
> 6) At which I will again refer to my PSCF article at
> .
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* David Opderbeck <>
> *To:* asa <>
> *Sent:* Thursday, April 24, 2008 12:34 PM
> *Subject:* [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey
> Here is an article by a prof at Westminster Seminary California that I
> think lays out the theological dilemma of accepting human evolution:
> 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?

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Thu Apr 24 13:16:01 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Apr 24 2008 - 13:16:01 EDT