Re: [asa] (fall) biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically inconsistent?

From: Bethany Sollereder <bsollereder@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Sep 05 2008 - 11:46:05 EDT

David,

You said: Missional theology is a narrative in which something is truly
ontologically wrong in the creation that will be made truly ontologically
right because of God's gracious inbreaking into human history.

How is this disturbed if I say there was no garden of Eden, but that there
was a real human fall that happened in a large population over time? There
still remains something ontologically wrong: human sin. And there still
remains the redemption and new creation of God - seen in the resurrection of
Christ. Not taking the fall literally does not mean you don't think the
world is messed up through human sin. Ironically, the incarnation (God's
greatest act of accommodation) is also our most concrete portrayal of who
God is and how he works. This is not affected by a rejecting historical
concordism in Gen 1-3.

Bethany

On Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 8:26 AM, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>wrote:

> That's a major problem for me. I think taking accommodation *this far*damages Biblical theology almost beyond repair. This is a key reason why I
> can't accept the law (or fallacy, I think, in this instance) of the excluded
> middle concerning the Fall. Biblical theology, IMHO, is *missional*theology. Missional theology is a narrative in which something is truly
> ontologically wrong in the creation that will be made truly ontologically
> right because of God's gracious inbreaking into human history. I don't
> think this requires a flat heremeneutic on historical-critical questions, or
> questions about the genre of apocalyptic literature. Sure, the "garden" and
> "fall" are cast in terms of a local ANE origins myth, and sure, the
> "heavenly city" is cast in terms of Second Temple Jewish apocalyptic
> rehtoric and symbols, but the presence and promise of pre-Fall shalom were
> "real" just as the presence and promise of shalom in the Kingdom of God are
> and will be "real." Otherwise, it seems to me, we're not doing much here
> other than discussing some interesting examples of early Jewish literature,
> to be given no greater meaning than any other spiritual / religious texts.
>
>
> On Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 11:01 AM, Bethany Sollereder <bsollereder@gmail.com
> > wrote:
>
>> David,
>>
>> Great question, and a very important one. My thoughts on the matter are
>> that we can't know: not for sure. While the garden did not happen
>> historically, the account still tells us that God created us, in his image,
>> etc. and these things are true. I think the account in Revelations is, in a
>> large part, accommodation to the people of their time but the message of
>> faith that God will bring us into a place that is infinitely wonderful, that
>> there will be no death, tears, etc. is to be believed - though it may not
>> look like a garden-city dressed as a bride.
>>
>> We trust in the character of God, understanding that he had to make his
>> message understandable to the original audience, and indeed has to continue
>> to accommodate to our knowledge.
>>
>> Bethany
>>
>>
>> On Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 7:53 AM, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>wrote:
>>
>>> Beth said: In fact, take a look at the late chapters of Revelations
>>> and we see a recycling of many of the same things, only it is a garden-city
>>> in Rev, not just a garden.
>>>
>>> I respond: if the "garden" is not "real" in any sense, why should we
>>> have any confidence that the "heavenly city" will be real in any sense? How
>>> do we know that the Bible's description of the final state of believers
>>> isn't also merely accommodated myth, such that in fact the "real" final
>>> state will involve suffering and death?
>>>
>>> On Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 10:48 AM, Bethany Sollereder <
>>> bsollereder@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> Gordon,
>>>>
>>>> Actually, if you look in the LXX, Gen 2:8 uses the word paradise (*
>>>> paradeison*) to describe the garden of Eden. But the word just means
>>>> an idyllic place or state - in fact when I just looked it up, paradise was
>>>> defined as "the abode of Adam and Eve before the Fall in the biblical
>>>> account of the creation: the Garden of Eden". It was a place where the
>>>> forces of chaos had been dealt with by the acts of creation. Humans had a
>>>> task, but it was one they were well able to do. They were in need of nothing
>>>> - there was no sickness, no tears, no pain, no death. And to top it all
>>>> off, God walked in the garden with them.
>>>> In fact, take a look at the late chapters of Revelations and we see a
>>>> recycling of many of the same things, only it is a garden-city in Rev, not
>>>> just a garden.
>>>>
>>>> Hope this helps.
>>>>
>>>> Bethany
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 9:46 PM, gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@colorado.edu
>>>> > wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Bethany,
>>>>>
>>>>> I am not sure how to evaluate your statements about the Garden of Eden
>>>>> being a literal paradise but that that was impossible, without knowing what
>>>>> your definition of paradise is. The literal meaning of Eden is delight.
>>>>> Paradise, a Greek word of Persian origin, occurs exactly three times in the
>>>>> New Testament: Luke 23:43, II Corinthians 12:4, and Revelation 2:7.
>>>>>
>>>>> Gordon Brown (ASA member)
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On Thu, 4 Sep 2008, Bethany Sollereder wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>> Merv,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I'd agree with you that we have a choice to make. And in light of the
>>>>>> other
>>>>>> literature speaking of the 'paradise when the world began', I think
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> Biblical author meant that it was a literal paradise, but I think we
>>>>>> must
>>>>>> say that (in light of modern science) there was never a paradise and
>>>>>> thus
>>>>>> the story is not literal. In doing so, we give up our addiction to
>>>>>> historical concordism. A difficult, but necessary, step.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> David, I think you can have perfect paradise, and still having 'work'.
>>>>>> In
>>>>>> fact I don't think it could be paradise without man to have something
>>>>>> to do:
>>>>>> we would be redundant without a task. But the task was not a painful
>>>>>> one,
>>>>>> not one that would strain man beyond the pleasantness of the paradise
>>>>>> he
>>>>>> works in. C.S. Lewis gives a nice imagining of what this could look
>>>>>> like in
>>>>>> *Perelandra*. Yes, man had a task. But it was paradise.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Bethany
>>>>>>
>>>>>> On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 5:10 PM, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com
>>>>>> >wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Yes Merv, when I say "ontological reality," I don't necessarily mean
>>>>>>> "a
>>>>>>> verifiable 'historical' moment."
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> BTW, I found an even better quote from Von Rad (p. 80):
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> "[chapter 2, verse 15] indicates man's purpose in being in the
>>>>>>> garden: he
>>>>>>> is to work it and preserve it from all damage, a destiny tha
>>>>>>> tcontrasts
>>>>>>> decided with the commonly accepted fantastic ideas of 'Paradise.' . .
>>>>>>> .
>>>>>>> There is 'nothing here about abunded wonders of fertility and sensual
>>>>>>> enjoyment', but work was man's sober destiny even in his original
>>>>>>> state.
>>>>>>> That man was transferred to the garden to guard it indicates that he
>>>>>>> was
>>>>>>> called to a state of service and had to prove himself in a realm tha
>>>>>>> twas
>>>>>>> not his own possessio. in the ensuing divine address the
>>>>>>> misunderstanding
>>>>>>> of the garden as an Elysium for sensual enjoyment is completely
>>>>>>> destroyed."
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 7:48 PM, Merv <mrb22667@kansas.net> wrote:
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> David Opderbeck wrote:
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> Merv said: That is the forced choice, is it not?
>>>>>>>> I respond: I don't accept that. Binary thinking, in my view,
>>>>>>>> usually
>>>>>>>> betrays a lack of imagination. I think it's critical to Biblical
>>>>>>>> theology
>>>>>>>> that the Fall narrative refer to some sort of ontological reality,
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> whatever literary form it might be cast. Christ came into the world
>>>>>>>> because
>>>>>>>> something *really is* wrong; "evil" is foreign to God's good
>>>>>>>> creation;
>>>>>>>> and the new heavens and new earth will constitue a new ontology that
>>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>>> equally real.
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>> Not all binary thinking is deficient (though I note your word
>>>>>>>>> *usually*
>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> with approval). Logic and the way we frame situations imposes such
>>>>>>>> necessary logic in many cases. E.g. my student turns in homework
>>>>>>>> late with
>>>>>>>> all manner of valid or invalid excuses or extenuating circumstances.
>>>>>>>> But in
>>>>>>>> the end, I either award him full credit or I do not. Law of
>>>>>>>> excluded
>>>>>>>> middle.
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> Yet granted, in this situation perhaps binary thinking is
>>>>>>>> inappropriate
>>>>>>>> --I would certainly agree that the binary mode of argument often
>>>>>>>> used to
>>>>>>>> frame a religion verses science arena is impoverished in many ways.
>>>>>>>> Yet we
>>>>>>>> will continue to choose a new "frame" or arena where we too will
>>>>>>>> make a
>>>>>>>> binary choice --and rightly so. Would I be correct to infer from
>>>>>>>> what you
>>>>>>>> say above that you don't use the label "ontological reality" on
>>>>>>>> anything
>>>>>>>> that isn't a tack on a time line? To me this is another form of
>>>>>>>> binary
>>>>>>>> thought: that either something is ontologically "real" because it
>>>>>>>> is an
>>>>>>>> event that we could (in principle, with a time machine) dial in the
>>>>>>>> correct
>>>>>>>> era and then watch it unfold like a play; or failing that test, it
>>>>>>>> is
>>>>>>>> not. I think the E.C. side of what I framed has a wide array of
>>>>>>>> orthodox
>>>>>>>> possibilities to be explored that would acknowledge the reality of a
>>>>>>>> fall no
>>>>>>>> less real than someone biting a piece of fruit.
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> --Merv
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>> David W. Opderbeck
>>>>>>> Associate Professor of Law
>>>>>>> Seton Hall University Law School
>>>>>>> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
>>>>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> David W. Opderbeck
>>> Associate Professor of Law
>>> Seton Hall University Law School
>>> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
>>>
>>
>>
>
>
> --
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
>

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Received on Fri Sep 5 11:46:18 2008

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