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

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Thu Apr 24 2008 - 14:09:27 EDT

Greg said: it seems to me that when he considers that 'an event' can
happen 'over generations' he is confusing the meaning of 'an event.' The
meaning of 'over generations' is 'many events' not 'an (a single) event.'

I respond: Yes, but at the same time, we often refer to a series of
discrete events over time using a summary phrase that suggests a unified
"event." For example: "the dot-com bust."
There was no single event that comprised the "dot-com bust," though we refer
to it as a summary event.

We could narrate the story like this:

"The Market looked at the technology sector, and it was very good.

Now the Market said to the entrpreneur, 'you may develop any company in the
technology sector, but the company with inflated p/e ratios you shall not
develop. For in the day that you develop it, you shall surely die.'

But the snake said to the entreprenuer's partner, did the Market really say
'do not evaluate the high p/e company or you shall die? You shall not
surely die, for I know well the laws and have access to many angel

So the entrepreneur listened to the snake and developed the high company
with the high p/e ratio. Now the Market came to the Street in the cool of
the morning, but the entrpreneur was hiding. ......... And the Market
cast the entreprenuer from the Street......"

On Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 1:54 PM, Gregory Arago <>

> Re: 3) *Who* was it that 'started' the 'process' (of, as you say, 'getting
> off the right track') and did that person have a *name*? Or is the *name*of that person unimportant?
> That 'choice' (to start) seems really to be/symbolize an 'abrupt
> transition,' whether or not one wants to apply the theological phrase
> 'state of integrity' is an aside.
> If one accepts the 'event/point in history' that Pinnock accepts, then
> indeed, they can dismiss George's felt need to postulate Adam and Eve as a
> 'story of everyman/woman,' just as Pinnock does.
> To resonate with David's view that 'something is not satisfying' in
> Pinnock's account, it seems to me that when he considers that 'an event' can
> happen 'over generations' he is confusing the meaning of 'an event.' The
> meaning of 'over generations' is 'many events' not 'an (a single) event.'
> G.A.
> *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?
> ------------------------------
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David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Thu Apr 24 14:10:30 2008

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