There is a huge debate raging at present in ostensibly evangelical circles on Adam and Eve. Did they exist? Was Adam the first ever human? Are we sinners because of his original sin? Many books have been published over the last five years promoting different views on Adam and Eve, from Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam1 to C. John Collins’ Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?,2 alongside numerous blog posts and articles from all sectors of the evangelical world. So it was almost inevitable that a ‘X views on the historical Adam’ book was to be published, and Four Views on the Historical Adam is it.
The four contributors to this book are Dr Denis Lamoureux3 (Adam never existed), Dr John Walton4 (archetypal view), Dr C. John Collins5 (old-age view), and Dr William Barrick6 (young-age view). Moreover, the book offers two divergent pastoral perspectives in conclusion. Dr Gregory Boyd7 argues that Christianity is secure regardless of a historical Adam. This is hardly encouraging from a leading advocate of the heterodox views of open theism, which denies divine omnipotence, and annihilationism, which denies eternal conscious punishment for the unsaved. Dr Philip Ryken8 argues that we cannot understand the world correctly or ‘Christianly’ without the historical Adam.
Barrett and Caneday—introducing Adam … or not
Editors Matthew Barrett and Ardel Caneday offer the obligatory diplomatic opening to the book (pp. 13–36) and cover the history of the origins debate from Darwin to today. They present the major views one will find on this debate from atheistic evolution to young-age creationism and everything in between in a reasonably fair and accurate manner. They also introduce the contributors to the volume, the format of the discussion (in which each contributor submits an essay, with the other contributors giving a response to that essay, and then the author of the essay presents a short rejoinder), and the questions they will be addressing. There is little to object to in this section; it is for the most part a reasonably fair introduction to the topic. However, at times they are a little too reliant on Ronald Numbers in their characterization of young-age creationism—he is infamous for his mendacious claim that it began with Ellen White, ignoring the fact that it was the majority view of the Church Fathers, medieval theologians, and Reformers.9
Denis Lamoureux—no Adam
Lamoureux is appreciably blunt: “Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity” (p. 38). He then offers his testimony from biblical creation to theistic evolution while claiming to remain a ‘lively evangelical’. A clever tactic—a testimony garners sympathy and does not lend itself to refutation. But Lamoureux offers more than just testimony. He offers three hermeneutical keys to justify his position. First is Lamoureux’s prime hermeneutical ‘bogeyman’, ‘scientific concordism’:
“Scientific concordism is the assumption that the facts of science align with the Bible. Stated another way, it is the assumption that God revealed scientific facts to the biblical writers thousands of years before their discovery by modern scientists” (p. 45).
However, the Bible does not have to reveal modern scientific facts in the Bible for it to ‘align’ with science. It only has to not contradict empirical fact. Moreover, Lamoureux believes Jesus’ bodily Resurrection is a historical fact. But if evolution is an empirical fact, the notion that dead bodies don’t reanimate themselves is a far clearer empirical fact. So why reject concordism with the textual data relevant to evolution but embrace it with Jesus’ Resurrection?
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