Re: [asa] (introducing... sin) "Evolutionary Creation" book comments

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Fri Oct 02 2009 - 12:07:16 EDT
Re: "If there is no Fall, there is nothing to be restored.
That does not entail that we need saving and are not
in bondage to sin.
It does seem to entail that God created man as a sinful
being, for generally it is held that man has a sinful
nature, meaning he could not but sin."

I hear/read this all the time, but it strikes me that this should be challenged if there is any sense in which sin can exist without Adam's contribution/definition of sin, or without a state of corruption. And I think this could be argued in the affirmative. We generally do not really blame Adam for our state, but make reference to our own sin.

I would refer to a parallel of children's behavior, which certainly comes to embody 'suboptimal behavior', but we don't perceive children as corrupt, just learning. Perhaps this does refer back to a definition of sin, a matter mentioned earlier.

I dunno about "bondage", but we are certainly all guilty of less than optimal behaviors and motivations at times. But most of the time?!

Back to the first line, I hear/read this same statement regarding the role of Jesus, to wit, that if Jesus were not divine, then he is nothing but some teacher. What? Without positing this, it is worth considering then what to make of the teachings, examples, influence, and impact of this figure. Are those null and void if we were to consider reframing who Jesus is with respect to atonement and the need for it. Is there no room for his presence to have been a special gift?  Or a special gift rising out of the potentiality suffusing Creation?

Again, I'm not arguing here for that this reframing, but just suggesting that Jesus is wrongly summarily dismissed in this sort of statement, and that such a handwave argument is weak [in both cases].
JimA [Friend of ASA]

wjp wrote:

I am unfamiliar with this position, and am not certain what exactly
Augustine's position is.

My understanding of the relationship of original sin, the Fall, and the 
atonement is that

1) Man was created in a state free of sin.
2) In the Fall, man sinned and were separated from God.
3) Since the Fall all men are born in sin, enemies of God.
4) Man is in bondage to sin and cannot free himself.
5) Hence the need for a Savior.

There is much in this rough picture that needs to be explained
and made more explicit, all of which results in significant 
differences amongst Christians.

Augustine had a theory, I believe, whereby Adam's sin was 
transmitted to us through intercourse.  This has some
concordance with the view that in the Fall it is the entire
creation that was affected, i.e., that it is not merely a 
relationship with God that is affected but the nature of 

Another popular view is that original is imputed to us through
Adam's sin, just as righteousness is imputed to us in Christ's 
Righteous Act.

Problems with this rough picture include
1) there was no literal Adam and Eve
2) no literal sinless state of humans
3) no literal Fall
4) if no Fall and man in sinful state, God created man sinful
5) Some say, if no Fall, no need for Christ.

The problem with Paul:

1) Before the Fall, there was no death.
2) Through Adam's sin, death entered into the world.
3) The cure for death is to cease from sinning.
4) But this man cannot do.
5) Hence, man needs a Savior to redeem him from the 
consequences of sin.

Death has been sometimes said to be spiritual death,
not physical death, and that it only affected those
who were capable of having a relationship with God.

So in the Fall our relationship with God was broken,
a relationship that we are incapable of fixing.
So God fixes it for us through Christ.

If there is no Fall, there is nothing to be restored.
That does not entail that we need saving and are not
in bondage to sin.
It does seem to entail that God created man as a sinful
being, for generally it is held that man has a sinful
nature, meaning he could not but sin.

What does Collins mean by
"This inheritance [of original sin] acts at its
own (“spiritual”) level and cannot be reduced to some sort of cultural
or genetic inheritance, though it is deeply intertwined with these other

If we are in bondage to sin, it appears we are committed to a sin nature,
meaning that man cannot but sin, just as water cannot freeze at 32 degrees F.

This is a huge topic of conversation, one I believe that many Christians are
going about in a random and incoherent fashion.

The question on the table is this:

1) If man evolved as we are told by evolutionary theory
2) what are we to do with the doctrines of the Fall, original sin,
the punishment for sin (eternal death), and need for a Savior.
3) If man is not responsible for the Fall, if he is by nature sinful,
if man cannot trust in Christ of his own, then God created man for Hell.

Ah, but this gets too thick, and thicker still.
The relationship between man and sin cannot be avoided, as the place
of "free will," as what happened in a Fall, as what happens in a 
And, what is more, the relationship between Christ and the Father, 
as what happens upon the Cross.

One last question (since the theology is getting juicy). 
What does Collins mean by "fully sharing in the life of Christ"?
What if, assuming one can, only partially share in the life of


On Fri, 02 Oct 2009 15:24:07 +1300, Don Nield <> wrote:
My answer would be that there is is nothing wrong in answering a
question with another question if the person asking the first question
has an open mind and can thus benefit by having his question put in a
better context. However, if the person asking the first question has
preconceptions that he is not willing to change then he cannot be helped
in this manner.

For Bernie's benefit I will now make a definite statement, which
expresses my own view. I will then invite him to voice his objections.

Clearly the doctrine of original sin as expounded by Augustine, and
consequently a doctrine of the atonement based on that exposition, is
inadequate in the light of the fossil record and genetic investigations.
A more nuanced exposition of these doctrines, such as that proposed by
Robin Collins, is needed. I now sketch Collins’ view as presented in a
chapter of Keith B. Miller (ed.), /Perspectives on an Evolving
Creation/, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2003.

Genesis 2-3 serves as a symbolic story that provides a sketch of what an
ideal relation with God would be like. Adam and Eve play two
representative roles. They represent us and they represent the first
hominids who had the capacity for free choice and self-consciousness.
With this capacity, they became aware of God’s requirements, but more
often than not rejected them. The “Fall” refers to the sinful acts of
these ancestors creating a form of spiritual and moral darkness along
with an accompanying bondage to sin. Original sin refers to: (1) the
sinful choices of these hominids, (2) the continuing sinful choices of
the succeeding generations including ourselves, and (3) the resulting
bondage to sin and spiritual darkness that is inherited from our
ancestors and generated by our own choices. This inheritance acts at its
own (“spiritual”) level and cannot be reduced to some sort of cultural
or genetic inheritance, though it is deeply intertwined with these other

On Collins’ view salvation consists of fully sharing the life of Christ.
Because of the incarnation, this life is both fully divine and fully
human; and because of the cross, it is fully in solidarity with the
depths of human brokenness, sin, alienation, mortality and the like.
Because of its fully human component, and because it is in full
solidarity with the depths of our life situation, we can participate in
it. As Paul indicates in Romans 6, by participating in this life we are
redeemed from sin and reconciled to God and freed from spiritual bondage
and darkness. Thus the effect of original sin is reversed. Collins
defends his incarnational theory of the atonement as being scripturally,
morally, and theologically sound. It also works in well with the kenosis
theme of Phillipians 2:5-11.

In my opinion Robin's Collins position is sound. That is my definite
statement. I now conclude by asking Bernie a question. What is wrong
with this position?

Murray Hogg wrote:
I am, at this juncture, reminded of the old joke about the Rabbi who
always answered a question with a question.

When this practice finally became too much for one of his disciples,
said disciple blurted out in frustration;

"Rabbi! Why do you ALWAYS answer a question with a question?"

Shrugging his shoulders, the Rabbi answered...

"And what's wrong with a question?"


Cameron Wybrow wrote:
Murray and others:

While I think that Bernie has sometimes focused on the wrong
questions, and got himself tangled up in the letter of religious
teachings rather than their spirit, I don't think that all his
questions are unreasonable, and I think that some of his very recent
posts are getting evasive answers.

Murray, I believe that Bernie is asking you to give YOUR
interpretation of Romans 7. In particular, since it was you, not
Bernie, who insisted that "the right questions" are:

"What is sin?"

"When did humans become morally culpable for it?"

I think it is your responsibility to answer them.

I, for one, find Paul's writings to be something less than crystal
clear on the theoretical level, and when someone simply directs me to
a text, and says, "the answer is there", that is not very helpful. It
has always seemed to me that (if I may employ a slight exaggeration
to make a point) there are almost as many different Pauline
theologies as there are readers of Paul. I think you need to give at
least sketchy answers to the two questions above, questions which,
according to you, are the ones that Paul purports to answer. Bernie
needs to know how you interpret Paul, and whether or not you agree
with Paul.

Cameron W.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Murray Hogg"
To: "ASA" <>
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 7:09 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] (introducing... sin) "Evolutionary Creation" book

Hi Bernie,

Quite right, my previous answer was quite inadequate.

I should have written;

Go and UNDERSTAND Romans 7, not just "read" it.

Apologies for the confusion...


Dehler, Bernie wrote:
Murray said:
"Again, you're asking the wrong question."

You say my question is wrong, then propose others, and don't give
an answer to your new questions. Please precisely and concisely
provide your answers, so I can critique and offer an alternative.


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Murray Hogg
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 3:18 PM
To: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] (introducing... sin) "Evolutionary Creation"
book comments

Hi Bernie,

Again, you're asking the wrong question.

The RIGHT question is NOT "how did sin enter the world" but, rather;

1) What is "sin"?


2) When did humans become morally culpable for it?

If your answer to (1) is "breaking God's law" or anything even
remotely resembling it, then you're confusing cause with effect.
Time to re-read Romans 7 and start again.


Dehler, Bernie wrote:
Murray - let me ask you this pointedly, and see if you can be

How exactly did sin enter the world? Please be specific and
describe the actual reality, not in analogy.

I will also tell you my understanding.
Denis Lamoureux said the inerrant theological truth to the origin
of sin was that it was introduced by humans (I can quote it if you
want), although he won't explain the details. Do you agree? If so,
explain how humans introduced sin into the world.

I will then explain how we can know that humans did not introduce
sin into the world.

My counter-point to Lamoureux is that the idea of humans
introducing sin into the world, using his own hermeneutics, should
be classified as "ancient" (and incorrect I might add) theology.
(Lamoureux and I both agree there was no literal Adam or first


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Murray Hogg
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 4:16 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] (dreamtime) "Evolutionary Creation" book comments

Dehler, Bernie wrote:
Therefore, to be precise, the Adam of that story was not a real
guy, because the story is not real. It is merely a parable using
well-known existing characters. Am I correct?
Actually, to be precise, you are committing a category error.

The claim "the story is not real" merely begs the question "real
in what sense?"

To which your answer, as far as I can tell, is "real in the sense
modern history is real"

My response: It's not modern history, thus your question ("was
Adam real") presumes a category error and allows of no answer.

There is, simply put, NO WAY to tell from Genesis 1/2 whether Adam
was a "real" person even though, from what we know of pre-modern
oral tradition, it is highly unlikely that such a significant
story would be attached to an entirely fictitious figure.


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