I am about to embark on reading the book Four Views of the The Historical Adam. There has been much discussion as to whether it matters if Christians believe there was a real Adam that is mentioned in the several places in the Bible. Naturally, there is plenty of agreement as well as disagreement on this topic. Let me just mention a few things:
It is rather difficult to postulate that we can have just hold to the Gospel and reject a real, historical Adam. The first question to ask is what is the Gospel? If Christians can’t agree on what sin is and where it comes from, we will have hard time agreeing on the Gospel. There is no doubt that two central elements of the Gospel are that the Messiah was crucified according to the plan of God (Acts 2:23) and that He was raised from the dead and appeared to his disciples (Acts 2:24; 31-32; 3:15-26;10:40-41;17:31;26:23). But why did Jesus have to die and rise again from the dead?
After our federal head (Adam) fell, God pronounced a curse on them that we who sin like them have inherited (Genesis 3:17–19). Death entered the human experience and with it all sorts of affliction and trouble. Genesis and Romans teach that Adam and Eve did not sin for themselves alone, but, from their privileged position as the first, original sinless couple, act as representatives of the human race. Since then sin, sinfulness, and the consequences of sin have marred all. Every child of Adam enters a race marked by sin, condemnation, and death ( Rom 5:12-21). These traits become theirs both by heritage and, as they grow into accountability, by personal choice, as Cain’s slaughter of Abel quickly shows. (1). Also, because of the Fall, Adam and Eve were also informed that although they could be spiritually restored (delivered from spiritual death), they would experience physical death. This means that some of us will die both physically and spiritually.
When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” it is clear that he had come to reverse this curse. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Paul’s discussion on the “first Adam” who is born of “dust” and the “second Adam” who is Christ and is a “life-giving spirit” has as its goal the statement “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” In other words, spiritual rebirth is necessary to enter the eternal kingdom of God. (2) Paul, under the Spirit’s inspiration, wrote that through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners ( Rom 5:19 ) and therefore all suffer the consequence of sin: all died in Adam ( 1 Cor. 15:22 ).
But why do humans need a rebirth? Because of sin and the relationship we have to Adam. And there is no rebirth apart from the resurrection of Jesus.
Now I don’t want to dive into all the scientific issues about whether the science supports a Historical Adam. Others such as Hugh Ross, John Collins, and Casey Luskin along with Ann Gauger and Doug Axe have discussed this issue in great detail.
I go into the book Four Views of the Historical Adam with great enthusiasm. I will try to write a review soon.
- Daniel Doriani “Sin” featured in Walter Elwell, Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1996), 736-739.
- Eric W. Adams “Resurrection” featured in Walter Elwell, Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1996), 678-679.