Evolution? No Adam, No Problem (Part 2/2)
My previous post in this series was here: https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2023/02/evolution-no-adam-no-problem/
One of the fundamental problems in getting conservative Christians to accept evolution is that they think if there was no historical Adam, Jesus was unnecessary. The whole plan of salvation falls apart. But, this misunderstands what Paul is doing with the figure of Adam, whereas Paul is not starting with Adam and going to Christ, but starting with Christ and viewing Adam through that lens.
Dr. Daniel Kirk comments:
- I want to open up the conversation to the possibility that the gospel does not, in fact, depend on a historical Adam or historical Fall in large part because what Paul says about Adam stems from his prior conviction about the saving work of Christ. The theological points Paul wishes to make concern the saving work of the resurrected Christ and the means by which he makes them is the shared cultural and religious framework of his first-century Jewish context... What difference might it make to our discussions about a historical Adam that Paul was claiming, “Christ, is (un)like Adam, therefore God’s people are not demarcated by Torah”? This latter statement is, in fact, the point of Paul’s argument in Romans 5 (cf. 5:12–14, 20–21). Paul’s Adam theology is an avenue toward affirming that God has one worldwide people; therefore, the specially blessed people are not defined by the story of circumcision...[W]hat is a “given” for Paul is the saving event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The other things he says, especially about sin, the Law, and eschatology, are reinterpretations that grow from the fundamental reality of the Christ event. Recognizing this relieves the pressure that sometimes builds up around a historical Adam….Adam is not the foundation on which the system of Christian faith and life is built, such that removing him means that the whole edifice comes crashing down. Instead, the Adam of the past is one spire in a large edifice whose foundation is Christ. The gospel need not be compromised if we find ourselves having to part ways with Paul’s assumption that there is a historical Adam, because we share Paul’s fundamental conviction that the crucified Messiah is the resurrected Lord over all. see https://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/05/does-pauls-theology-require-a-historical-adam-thoughts-from-j-r-daniel-kirk/
Dr. Pete Enns asks the key question:
- What if Paul’s Adam is not a lesson for us about where people came from, but part of Paul’s rhetoric to establish the oneness of God’s people–Jew and Gentile together–that so dominates his letter to the Romans?
In the previous post in this series I talked about a figurative understanding of Adam following the work of Dr. James G Dunn and later his student Dr. James McGrath. Anyway, in these two posts I hope I’ve shared some examples of critical scholars who do not ascribe to the idea that evolution in any way invalidates the gospel, depending on what you mean by “gospel.”