Simon Turpin – Genesis 2: Defending the Supernatural Creation of Adam

adam-and-eve

Today, there is a significant paradigm shift taking place within the evangelical academy in its approach to understanding the identity of Adam. Due to a mixture of biblical and secular reasons, an increasing number of evangelical scholars are beginning to deny the supernatural creation of Adam. Genesis 2:4–25 clearly identifies Adam as the first man who was supernaturally created with no direct animal forbearers. The following paper offers an answer to the biblical and textual objections given by prominent theologians who reject this view of Adam.

It is probably safe to say that the combination of Darwin’s model of evolution in Origin of Species and the rise of uniformitarian science in the 1800s has influenced the understanding of Genesis 1–11 more than anything else. Jewish scholar Louis Jacobs acknowledges this with regards to the interpretation of Adam:

There is no doubt that until the nineteenth century Adam and Eve were held to be historical figures, but with the discovery of the great age of the earth…many modern Jews [and Gentiles] have tended…to read the story as a myth.

The post-enlightenment emphasis on rationalism (i.e., man’s reason as authority as opposed to God’s reason as authority), together with the rise of biblical criticism and evolutionary ideas, has laid the foundation for the debate on the subject of the historicity of Adam and whether he was the sole progenitor of the human race. Consequently, critical scholars have long denied the historicity of Adam, as have neo-orthodox theologians. Karl Barth, for example, believed Genesis 1–3 was neither myth nor history but a saga and denied that Adam was a historical figure. Instead, he preferred to see Adam as being a symbol for everyone.

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Simon Turpin – Beware of Theologians “Redefining” Inerrancy

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The belief in the Bible’s inerrancy has long been under attack not just from outside the church but also from within.

Today there is an increasing number of pastors, theologians, churches, and theological institutes that use the term inerrancy, but it may well be a redefined meaning. Much of this is due to the compromise on the Bible with secular ideas like millions of years.

This is because there are evangelicals (like Dr. Mike Licona) who, because of the human element of Scripture, want to define inerrancy as: “God inspired the biblical authors with the concepts, . . . and He wasn’t concerned with peripheral details. He wanted to make sure that the concepts and the teaching . . . [were] preserved without error.”1 The outcome of this definition is the belief that the Bible’s authority is not found in its words but only through its intention.

However, the key to understanding the nature of Scripture is to look at what Jesus believed about Scripture. If you adopt a position on Scripture that is different from Jesus’ position, you have the wrong position. The idea that only the intention or the concepts of the authors of Scripture are inerrant and not the words of Scripture themselves is contrary to the teaching of Jesus and the apostles.

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Simon Turpin – Does God Change His Mind?

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Christians have long affirmed that God is unchangeable. In recent years, however, advocates of a theory called open theism have argued that God can and does change and that we can cause that change. They find their support for this in passages such as Genesis 18, where Abraham intercedes before the Lord for Sodom and Gomorrah, and God seemingly changes His mind. They claim further support from passages like Jeremiah 18:7–10, Jonah 3:10, and Genesis 6:6, which speak of God repenting or relenting or being sorry.

The Flood: Was God Sorry for Making Man?

For example, at the time of the global Flood, Genesis 6:5–7 tells us that God was “sorry” that He had made man on the earth:

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.

The fact that God is “sorry” that He had made mankind does not mean that He thinks His decision to create them was a mistake. Rather, the focus of God’s sorrow is the wickedness of mankind1 who not only bears His image, but was once without sin in His very good creation (Genesis 1:31; cf. Ecclesiastes 7:29). Though post-Fall, the intent of man’s heart was only evil continually, God’s heart is grieved because of this.

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Simon Turpin – In the Space of Six Days?

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The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) states that God created everything “in the space of six days.” This is repeated in other confessions like the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 and The Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order in 1658.

Yet today, many godly men who hold to this confessional believe that the words in the space of six days are ambiguous and therefore cannot be used to say that the days in Genesis 1 are six 24-hour days. For example, Reformed theologian Dr. K. Scott Oliphint of Westminster Theological Seminary argued this way in a debate over young-earth creation:

What we affirm in our confession is that God created in the ‘space of six days’, that’s what my confession says, the Westminster Confession. The ‘space of six days’ is a phrase that is actually just lifted from John Calvin, that’s the way Calvin thought about it. I affirm that He created in the space of six days. What we’re not sure about, because the text doesn’t give it to us, is what that space is.

As Dr. Oliphint noted, the words in the space of six days came from John Calvin’s comments on Genesis. But was Calvin or the WCF unclear about the length of the days of creation?

WCF: In the Space of Six Days

The WCF was written by British Reformed theologians between 1643–1649 and is still used as a confessional statement by many churches today. Chapter IV/I states:

It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

Dr. Joel Beeke, however, argues that by using the term space in the words in the space of six days that the WCF was “talking about a definite span of time, not just a metaphor with six parts.” He has also argued that the writings of several members of the Westminster Assembly confirm that they believed in a young-earth and six-day creation.

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Simon Turpin – Where Does Religion Come From?

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Encountering World Religions: Acts 17:16–34

If we want to share the gospel with those of other religions, it is important to know what the Bible says about this. Paul’s speech to the Areopagus in Acts 17:16–34 is the classic text for sharing the gospel with those from different religious backgrounds. In order to engage with his audience in Acts 17, Paul uses the biblical meta-narrative of the Creation-Fall, redemption, and consummation.

Where Does Religion Come From?

Before looking at Acts 17, it is important to understand the origin of religion; in order to know the meaning of anything, we have to understand its origin. The origin of religion began in the Garden of Eden when God clearly revealed himself to Adam. However, Adam and Eve rejected that revelation and chose to believe a falsehood about Him. In this act of disobedience, they chose to follow Satan’s worldview over God’s worldview (Genesis 3:4–5). They created the first human religion, rejecting God’s perfect and true religion.

Adam’s disobedience had consequences for the rest of his descendants since it affected how they viewed God and creation.3 This can be seen at the event of the Tower of Babel, which was the beginning of the religious diversity we see in the world today (see Deuteronomy 32:8, 16–17, 21).4 At the Tower of Babel, monotheism devolved into polytheism, pantheism, and the worship of anything other than the one true, living God. When the people were dispersed at Babel, they would have taken with them a hybrid truth of the living God mixed with the twisting and distorting of the truth of that revelation about Him (Romans 1:18–32). Religion then is first of all a response to God’s revelation — it is either in faith or rebellion. It is either based on God’s Word or man’s word.

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Simon Turpin – The Enduring Authority of Scripture, Really?

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Introduction

Because of the attack on the authority of Scripture over the last few decades, a new 1,248-page book, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, edited by New Testament scholar D.A. Carson, was recently released with the aim of defending the authority of the Scriptures. While there are many positive aspects about the book, the chapter on Science and Scripture ironically undermines the very purpose of the book: defending the authority of Scripture.

The chapter on science was written by a theistic evolutionist, Dr. Kirsten Birkett. This article critiques several of the arguments used against young-earth creation as well as those used to establish Birkett’s own position that the consensus view of origins among scientists is compatible with the authority of Scripture.

Science and Scripture

Birkett opens her chapter by asking a good question:

What do we do with knowledge from outside of Scripture? How should we best understand the discoveries that Christians or non-Christians are making about the world around us?

This is an important question because we all need to consider what to make of scientific discoveries. However, over the last few centuries the discoveries that scientists find in nature have been primarily interpreted according to the framework of naturalism. As Christians, we must keep in mind that sin has affected how we view discoveries in nature (i.e., general revelation). Theologian Louis Berkhof states that “since the entrance of sin into the world, man can gather true knowledge about God from His general revelation only if he studies it in the light of Scripture” — that is, general revelation in light of special revelation. This does not mean that we can learn nothing from studying nature. Rather, our interpretations of the discoveries made in nature must be consistent with the special revelation found in Scripture.

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Simon Turpin – How Do Some Among You Say There Is No Adam?

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1 Corinthians 15: Adam and the Gospel

Introduction: Greek Philosophy and the Rejection of Adam

The Apostle Paul often found himself in a cultural context in which he had to deal with many objections to the Christian faith. In 1 Corinthians 15, for example, the Corinthian congregation was questioning the future resurrection of believers: “How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12).

The Corinthians struggled with the idea of a bodily resurrection because it did not fit into their cultural worldview. The city of Corinth was permeated with Greek philosophy. The Greeks loved speculative philosophy and were proud of their intellect as they sought after and trusted in the “wisdom of men” (1 Corinthians 1:22, 2:5). In their own wisdom, some of the Corinthians rejected the resurrection from the dead because of the Greek idea of the immortality of the soul apart from the body. Many saw the body (matter) as corrupt and not worthy of any form of immortality, and therefore mocked the idea that it would be resurrected (Acts 17:32).

Two thousand years later, not much has changed. Just as the culture in Paul’s day was permeated with Greek philosophy, so it is today. The worldview that undergirds Darwinian evolutionary thought is essentially Greek at its core.1 Many Christians are still integrating Greek philosophy into Christianity; however we have just given it the name science rather than philosophy.

Whereas Paul specifically asked how the Corinthians could say there is no resurrection, today’s Christians must ask, “How do some among you say there is no Adam?” Because Greek thinking has been synthesized with biblical thinking, it is becoming increasingly popular among many evangelicals to reject a historical Adam.2 Theistic evolutionist Denis Lamoureux believes not only that Adam never existed, but also that this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:1–7 he states:

This is the Gospel as stated in the Bible, and there is no mention whatsoever of Adam and whether or not he existed. Christian faith is founded on Jesus, not Adam…We must also separate, and not conflate, the historical reality of Jesus and His death and bodily resurrection from the fact that Adam never existed.

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Simon Turpin – Did Death of any Kind Exist Before the Fall?

Introduction

Death and disease are a heartbreaking reality of the world we live in and daily we hear news stories of people dying as a result of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, disease, and crime. People often ask why death exists in the world if there is a loving God, and many simply assume that death is a natural part of life. However, this has not been the belief of the church for much of its history. The orthodox Christian understanding of the origin of death has been commonly understood in terms of the “Fall” of mankind found in Genesis 3. Death was brought about as a result of Adam’s disobedience to the command of God in Genesis 2:17. As Vos states:

On the basis of these words the belief of all ages has been that death is the penalty of sin, that the race became first subject to death through the commission of the primordial sin (Vos 1975, p. 36).

Nevertheless, many scholars in recent years have taken issue with the orthodox view of Genesis 1–3 and the origin of death. Pannenberg notes that “From the 18th century onward . . . the opinion gained ground in Protestant theology that . . . death is part of the finitude of our nature” (Pannenberg 1994, p. 267). Lyn Bechtel argues that the orthodox Christian understanding of the origin of death and the Fall found in Genesis 3 is not seen as being original to the text, but as a development over the last few centuries of the first millennium BCE (Bechtel 1995, p. 4). Meanwhile, James Barr, in The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality, writes:

My argument is that, taken in itself and for itself, this narrative is not, as it has commonly been understood in our tradition, basically a story of the origins of sin and evil . . . (Barr 1992, p. 4)

There can be no doubt that the eighteenth century’s emphasis on rationalism combined with the nineteenth century’s belief in the great age of the earth and the later acceptance of Charles Darwin’s theory in The Origin of Species has impacted the interpretation of Genesis 1–3 more than anything else. Darwin’s evolutionary understanding of the world has had a devastating effect on how many people interpret Genesis 1–3. In his book he wrote what was essentially a history of death and suffering. He described the modern world as having arisen from “the war of nature, from famine and death” understanding death to have always been a permanent part of the world (Darwin 1859, p. 459). The late evolutionary astrophysicist Carl Sagan said,

The secrets of evolution are time and death: time for the slow accumulations of favourable mutations, and death to make room for new species (Sagan 1980).

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Simon Turpin – Evangelical Commentaries on the Days of Creation in Genesis One

Introduction

Why all the fuss concerning one word, yom, especially one that appears to have such little impact on Christian theology? It is probably fair to say that most Christians and Christian leaders today do not accept the days of creation in Genesis 1 as days of 24 hours. Is the text of Genesis then really that unclear with regards to the days of creation?

For much of church history the days of creation have been understood as a chronological sequence of days of 24 hours. Since the Reformation, with its emphasis on a consistent grammatical-historical hermeneutic to interpreting the Scriptures, the literal understanding of the days of creation has been the dominant view when it comes to interpreting Genesis. Even before the Reformation, the majority of Church Fathers understood the days in Genesis to be days of 24 hours. Although there may have been some Church Fathers who held to a figurative view of the days, they were not like the figurative understanding of the days that modern scholars hold to.

It was not until the rise of uniformitarian science in the 1800s that there was a re-evaluation of how the early chapters of Genesis were interpreted. The belief that the earth’s history is millions of years old changed the way the days of creation were interpreted as it seemed that the geological data for an old earth was too convincing to maintain a belief in a literal view of the days (Mortenson 2009, pp. 83–104).

Today the vast majority of evangelical scholars who have written commentaries on Genesis do not interpret the days of creation to be 24 hours long. Some understand the days as spanning millions of years. Others view Genesis as being more concerned with teaching theology (God’s relationship with the universe) as opposed to its being concerned with cosmology (how the universe was created).

The question that needs to be asked is, why do these evangelical commentators not interpret the days literally? Is it because the text says something else? Are young-earth creationists reading something into the text rather than reading out of it God’s intended meaning? Has science shown that a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 is unthinkable?

Dr. R. C. Sproul made the following helpful statement regarding what we should do when science and Scripture seem to conflict:

. . . if something can be shown to be definitively taught in the Bible without questioning, and somebody gives me a theory from natural revelation—that they think is based off of natural revelation—that contradicts the Word of God, I’m going to stand with the Word of God a hundred times out of a hundred. But again I have to repeat, I could have been a mistaken interpreter of the Word of God (Sproul 2012).

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Simon Turpin – The Importance of an Historical Adam

Introduction

Each and every generation of Christians will eventually have to face its own theological challenges and will be called “. . . to contend earnestly for the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). This generation is no different.

From childhood we are informed with ideas in our culture that are inherently pagan and often we are not even aware of this. These ideas are usually accepted into our mindset uncritically shaping the way we think. One of the most common invasions of secular thought even into the Christian mind in our own day is the current pagan understanding of the created realm, evolutionary naturalism. Unfortunately, many Christians uncritically accept the pagan view of the created order.

The debate over whether Adam was historical is ultimately a debate over whether we trust what the Scriptures clearly teach. If we cannot be certain of the beginning, then why would we be certain about what the Scriptures teach elsewhere? The uncertainty of truth is rampant in our culture partly due to the influence of post-modernism which is why many believe the issue over Adam’s historicity is unimportant.

Moreover, belief in a historical Adam stands against a dominant intellectual system that establishes what is called “credibility” in the secular academy. Evangelicals who feel intellectually accountable to the academy then have to come up with another way to read Genesis 1–11.

This paper will seek to show that the arguments against Adam being a historical person who existed in space-time history are not based upon the clear teaching of Scripture but upon evolutionary based presuppositions. It will then show why understanding Adam as a historical figure is important for a coherent understanding of the biblical message of creation, Fall and redemption.

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