Adam and Eve: Clarifying Again What Is at Stake

by Albert Mohler

Recent evangelical discussion concerning Adam and Eve has served at least one good purpose — it has helped to clarify what is theologically at stake in the debate. The recent report by National Public Radio [NPR] alerted the larger secular culture to the debate, but the debate is hardly new.

What is new, however, is the candid admission on the part of some that the denial of a historical Adam requires a new understanding of the Bible’s basic story — and thus of the Gospel as well.

One of my recent articles, “False Start? The Controversy Over Adam and Eve Heats Up,” made this point clearly. As I argued there, the denial of a historical Adam means not only the rejection of a clear biblical teaching, but also the denial of the biblical doctrine of the Fall, leading to a very different way of telling the story of the Bible and the meaning of the Gospel.

By the way, those who try to deny that Genesis requires the affirmation of a historic Adam as a real and singular human individual (arguing, for example, that the Hebrew word translated “Adam” means only “the man”) must face the fact that the Genesis narrative clearly presents Adam as a singular individual who acts, speaks, marries, reproduces, and is listed even in the genealogy of Jesus. Hebrew vocabulary offers no escape hatch from historicity.

The main point of my “False Start” article, however, was that the denial of a historical Adam severs the essential point made by Paul in Romans 5:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. [Romans 5:12-17]

This is the Apostle Paul’s way of telling the story of the Bible and the meaning of the Gospel. If Adam was not a historical figure, and thus if there was no Fall into sin and all humanity did not thus sin in Adam, then Paul’s telling of the Gospel is wrong…

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES: Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man / Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off / On the Reliability of the Old Testament / More Apologetics Resources >>>