Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Adam and Eve

Right on time for my new analysis... I was reading Todd Wood's blog, and initially thought little of this paper. I'm glad I went back and read the paper.

He launches right in (page 2):
"In this study, I aim to show why we should retain a version of the traditional view, in spite of these [Biologos] pressures."
"Now it is true, for example, that the eastern churches do not talk about original sin the way that Augustine did; but it does not follow that they therefore have nothing to say on the subject."
I've lost count of how many times I've heard people claim that Eastern thinking solves the problem. The Eastern Orthodox have a serious problem with denying total depravity, but they still believe in the Fall.

He gets back to this on page 8:
"However, Towner has distorted Irenaeus' actual view. According to Irenaeus, the first humans were created morally innocent, their innocence being more like that of a child than of a full adult. God's goal was for them to mature into moral confirmation, but the Fall interrupted the process." (emphasis in original)
Page 5:
"A story is 'historical' if the author wanted his audience to believe that the events recorded really happened."
This is an important point. It all comes back to who is the author. Is it truly God, or can we dismiss parts of the Bible we dislike by claiming they are due to some human failing in authoring.

Page 6:
"scholars thinking along these lines might suppose that Genesis 3 teaches that 'humans are sinful.' But this is not a timeless truth on its own. Sooner or later someone will want to know, did God create humans with a tendency (or at least an openness) toward sinning, or did he make them good, only for humans to become sinful?" ... "In other words, the supposed timeless truth, once it interacts with actual human experience, demands answers to historical questions." (italics in original, bold added)
That's exactly it. What is sin? If our nature is now supposedly sinful, but our nature has evolved gradually from the animals (which are supposed to be good, day 5), how does sin work? You are forced to reject the Fall. Probably any notion of sin at all.

Page 7:
"Any telling of the biblical story must include the notion of sin. Humans are estranged from God, and Israel is God’s means of bringing light to the world." (emphasis in original)
He's skipping a bit here (I would have edited things differently). No sin, no need for salvation. No atonement (not to mention no explanation for the "wrongness" in the world).

Page 8:
"If we say that being prone to sin is inherent in being human with a free will, then we must say the Bible writers were wrong in describing atonement as they did, and we must also say that Jesus was wrong to describe his own death in these terms."
Yes, we also make God the author/creator of sin and evil (which he gets to later).

Page 9:
"Further, we have now made nonsense of the joyful expectation of Christians to live one day in a glorified world from which sin and death have been banished."
This is a good point. If death is "good", if there is no sin - then the eternal state is just like the current state. I am immediately reminded of Philip Jose Farmer's "Riverworld". An eternity of struggle, war, death and rebirth. If TE's are right, I'm totally making them all my grail slaves! (just kidding ;)

(still page 9):
"At least in the traditional understanding, humans are to blame for the evil they do and the pain they inflict; here, we can only blame God." (emphasis in original)
"Finally, they fail utterly to address one of our deepest intuitions, that there is something wrong with sin and death, and that we need God to help us and to heal us."
The final portion of the paper lays out his theory. Of particular interest is the competing views of what is means to be made "image of God" (page 10).

It's interesting the position he takes, it is unclear to me what he is really gaining compared to the YEC position.

Page 13:
"this particular couple were a fresh start, for whom physical death was not their intended outcome."
Citing John Bloom:
"we can propose that the special creation of man occurred in one of these gaps and that it was not bridged by purely natural means."
Invoking special creation won't win him any favors in the TE/accommodation camp.

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