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Jun 30, 2009


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The short answer is yes. Pretty simple, really. Scripture declares:

1) By one man (Adam), sin/death entered the world
2) All subsequent offspring were under Adam's curse
3) By one man (Christ) not subject to the curse (virgin birth), sin/death was atoned for.

So let's say another human couple - Bob and Sue - were living on the other side of the world from Eden. There was no apple and no sin, at least not described in the Bible the way Christianity (since Rome) established it. Bob and Sue would have parented a whole race of sin-free people not subject to redemption. So by definition Christ's sacrifice, at least as understood by Christian orthodoxy, would be meaningless for them.

Of course, some describe people who have no need for a savior as "liberals." But that would be mean.



The short answer is no. It's simple biology. Two parents cannot give rise to generations. Rabbits, maybe, but not humans.

Even Scripture declares "And Cain knew his wife ... Lamech took two wives ... Seth became the fater of Enosh ...". Then there's the troubling "There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."

The Adam and Eve story has a lesson to teach us, but it is not a lesson in biology.

Travis Greene

There's no short answer to any of this.

After wading through several history, literature, and biology lessons, the answer is no.

Don, where does Scripture actually connect the virgin birth to original sin that way? I think that's a much later interpretation.

I agree that some kind of fall is essential to Christian orthodoxy. But I'm with Lewis; the specific circumstances of that fall are insignificant compared to the fact of it. Just as the specific circumstances of God's creating the world are insignificant compared to the fact of it.



If Adam and Eve were the neck in the funnel I'd agree. Your bigger problem is Noah, who, by his wife and kids, the world was re-populated after the flood.
Folks have taken a look at this statistically and concluded that these eight couples could have easily been the foundation for our population as it stands today, even taking mass death events (plague, etc) into account.


TG, the two different Gospel geneologies - one for Mary and one for Joseph - confirm that Christ's royal lineage didn't come through Joseph. Further, Jesus never called Joseph his father, he called God his father, which wouuld have been impossible were it not for this miracle. But here's a spot where scripture is pretty specific. Luke 1:26-38:

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." Luke was a physician and a man of science, by the way.

You can follow this up with the necessity of a holy, sinless lamb of God sacrificed for sin on the Cross, as found in Hebrews, Corinthians and Isaiah.

Again, Michael, your pastor is right in his point that from a Christian orthodoxy standpoint, original sin originates from Adam and Eve, and "original salvation" comes only through a sinless Christ.

What you are really dancing around is the source of mankind as it is explained by evolution vs Christian Orthodoxy. If you want to remain an evolutionist Christian you have to reconcile two things. First, the single act of sin by one man that condemned the world, and thus required Chist's sacrifice to reconcile (cf Romans 5). And second, an evolved human population of perhaps tens of thousands of people living at a point in time in which God "chose" a representative to "test" in the Garden, or who perhaps simply got up on the wrong side of the bed one day and kicked his dog, and thus brought sin and death into the world.

Christian orthodox tradition, as traced by Apostolic succession and recorded church history, has clearly laid down a path for the former explanation. Post-Christian humanism has more recently tried to lay down a path for the other. In my opinion, the latter is wanting, but I respect those who aren't there, and suspect God's pretty patient with all of us who wrestle with these things.

Your pastor has thrown down the guantlet for you to decide which one you will follow. Keep digging at this, and prayerfully.

Michael W. Kruse

Don, I realized that I did not correctly set of the post so that it was clear that the entire post is an excerpt from the article I was linking. These are not my thoughts. Sorry about that.

My take is that sin is real and humanity is in a state of rebellion. Christ is the only way through which humanity is reconciled back to God. The origin of evil and how we came to be in that rebellious state is a mystery about which we have been given little information.

I do not read the first eleven chapters of Genesis as historical accounts in the sense that we might expect from a "reporter on the scene" giving a fact-for-fact account. These accounts are rooted in history and about historical realities but they are in dialog with Ancient Near East creation myths. They are mytho-historical. They are myths that counter the prevailing myths of the time, revealing the truth about who God is, who we are, and the predicament we find ourselves in. The Ancient Near East had a genre of stories and literature that dealt with these topics and God revealed his truth into these cultures using their cultural mechanism of myth ... not our post Enlightenment model of objective reporter on the scene "fact-for-fact" accounts.

Therefore, it is clear that God created all that is, including us. In some way, humanity came into rebellion and now needs reconciliation. I think these stories have nothing to offer us by way of discerning the "hows" of human emergence.


Ah - I get where you're coming from.

"Is any position other than monogenesis of the human race with Adam and Eve as unique historical individuals outside the pale of orthodox Christianity?"

Your take on Genesis as mythical (i.e. non-authoritative) is, by definition "not orthodox" in that it doesn't conform to historic/conservative Christian doctrine, or Orthodox Judaism for that matter.

Maybe it would help if you defined "orthodox".

By the way, didn't Christ cite the Creation of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:2-9) and Noah (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27) as historic people? Or was He just invoking to the myth...

Michael W. Kruse

“Your take on Genesis as mythical (i.e. non-authoritative) is…”

I need to address that first. Genesis is indeed authoritative … it just isn’t a historical recounting of facts. Jesus parable of the prodigal son is profoundly true about a historical reality (i.e. God’s love for both law-breaking and law-keeping sinners, and his mission to redeem them). It is authoritative. But it is not about a historical father and two sons.

I referred to Genesis 1-11 as mytho-historical . Let me come at this by way of an analogy. Let’s say I have four year old daughter. She asks me where she came from. I could respond by saying,

“One day a large pelican-like bird, carrying you in a large diaper, flew by and placed you on our doorstep. Your mom and I opened the door and there you were.”

Clearly we recognize this as a fairytale or myth. It has no connection with reality and tells us little that answers deep questions. But I might more likely respond with something like,

“Well honey, your mommy and I were very much in love and we wanted to have little girl just like you. So daddy planted a seed in mommy’s tummy and after a few months, when you had grown strong and healthy, you left mommy’s tummy. It was one of the happiest days our lives.”

Is this a “facts only” historical account? No. Is it authoritative? Yes! It answers the four year-old’s questions about her origins using a mytho-historical story. By myth, I’m not talking about fanciful fairy tales. I’m talking about quasi-historical stories that legitimate a particular understanding of origins and the nature of our reality … in this case, a story that informs the girl she sprang forth from the love of her parents through some biological partnership and that she is deeply cherished.

Now let’s take our four year-old ten years later when she is junior high biology class. She learns in great detail about the biology of sexual intercourse, about genetics, and about the development of the fetus as it comes to full-term. It just so happens that the event above when she was four was captured on video camera. Viewing it again one day, should she now conclude that her father lied? Should her father have set down and given his daughter a detailed lesson on science so she could have all the facts just right? What would have been the benefit and what would have been lost?

Similarly, God was communicating to a preliterate pre-scientific people who envisioned themselves on a flat earth surrounded by water on all sides, and a bubble of air separating them from waters above … with heavenly bodies racing across a their stationary ground. The people needed to know their origins and the meaning of the context they lived in. Should God have given them a science lesson to bring them up to speed so they could get the factually correct view or is a telling mytho-historical story … thus entering into the culture, meeting the people where they were in their faculties, and communicating in a form they knew … the answer? I say it is the later. God used the mytho-historical creation story genre of the culture and infused it with profound authoritative truth.

The Genesis accounts come alive when we see them in relationship to other Ancient Near East stories. For instance, most are theogonies … stories that tell about the origin of the gods and the material world. Genesis is a cosmogony … telling only about the origins of the created order. God is prior to the story. He is not part of the creation but the one who brings it into being. Nature is good but it is not God.

In some ANE stories humanity is created as a slave to serve the needs of capricious gods. In Genesis, humanity is created as God’s crowning glory to serve as co-regents with him over the universe. The comparisons quickly begin to demonstrate that the Genesis stories are stunning counter-narratives to the ANE stories, revealing profound authoritative truths about God and our existence.

Yes Jesus did seem to talk about these folks as historical realities but Jesus was also limited himself to the knowledge of the culture he incarnated. Is the theological point he was making when he references them compromised if they were symbolic non-historical characters or historical characters around which mytho-historical stories were made? I don’t see that it does. Furthermore, did Jesus believe the world was flat with objects orbiting a stationary earth? I think there is every reason to believe he did. Does this invalidate his authority because he got wrong this factual-historical reality?

Again, the question about whether monogenesis view is orthodox is RJS’ question, not mine. (BTW, did you click over to the article where C. S. Lewis discounts the need for a monogenesis view?) I’m not persuaded that their wasn’t monogenesis. I’m simply not certain that is essential to Christian doctrine. Monogenesis could turn out to be the next flat earth.

Michael W. Kruse

I thought for ease I'd drop the Lewis quote here.

CS Lewis, "The Problem of Pain" in CH 5, The Fall of Man.

"For long centuries, God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumbs could be applied to each of the fingers, and jaws and teeth and throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all of the material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated. The creature may have existed in this stage for ages before it became man: it may have even been clever enough to make things which a clever archaeologist would accept as proof of its humanity. But it was only an animal because all its physical and psychical processes where directed to purely material and natural ends. Then in fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say "I" and "me," which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty, and goodness, and which was so far above time that is could perceive time flowing past. ... We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state. But sooner or later they fell. Someone or something whispered that they could become as gods. ... They wanted some corner in the universe in which they could say to God, "This is our business, not yours." But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were and must eternally be, mere adjectives. We have no idea what particular act, or series of acts, the self-contradictory, impossible wish found expression. For all I can see, it might have concerned the literal eating of a fruit, but the question is of no consequence."


The Earth came to be, and it came to be in one specific way. We also know God saw fit to tell us Adam and Eve were directly created. Knowing that, we know the bare minimum clue God needed us to know about what happened, but we don't know any successive details.

So what?

Theology does not give life any more than physics gives energy. Physics describes energy, and theology describes life. Improper physics might cause a person to sit on the limb he's sawing at and improper theology might cause a person to deny his brother necessary bread in the middle of the night, but getting either one wrong doesn't change reality.

A person believes to new life when he personally encounters Jesus Christ and trusts Him as the only solution to his problems with sin, righteousness and judgement. If that person is subsequently given an Arminian/Calvinistic theology but continues to trust Jesus for all those same gifts, he'll live less effectively and he'll worship inaccurately and he'll eventually saw off some limb he's sitting on. An accurate theology informs life in valuable ways.

He won't "go to hell." God won't disfellowship him until he gets things right. He won't even find his prayers blocked until he "gets his theology straight." Theology informs life. It doesn't create it.

Understanding the Adam and Eve story the way God wrote it doesn't even make the radar screen. It's three philosophical steps away from knowing God. If I made it to the place where this was the only major doctrine in which my view differed from God's I might finally be able to love my brother effectively. Right now, I'm struggling with a couple too many simpler issues to fuss much over this one.

Michael W. Kruse

"We also know God saw fit to tell us Adam and Eve were directly created."

On of the things that occurs to me is how would you tell pre-scientific people where human beings came from if evolution was indeed the case? How about:

"... then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being."

Did God evolve a human species and then at some point breath conscious life into a pair of them? Who knows.

The Jews had no doctrine of "original sin" in the Augustinian sense that was carried on through the Reformation. The Orthodox speak of "ancestral sin" which is shaded differently than our Reformation Protestant version. The critical point for me is that somehow we are all sinners in need of redemption. Why do we expect we can expunge all mystery through elaborate sophisticated theologies in these matters rather than simply Jesus at his word that we are sinners in need of savior?

For me, the story begins neither at creation or the eschaton but rather with the cross and the resurrection.

Travis Greene

Don, I wasn't talking about whether the virgin birth is true. I agree, Scripture clearly teaches it (although it actually seems to be not all that important, comparatively). What Scripture nowhere teaches, that I am aware of, is that the virgin birth is a logical necessity so that Jesus could be born without something called "original sin", which is a later theological development that may or may not be the best way of describing the reality that we all need redemption.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in the virgin birth. I just don't think it's necessary for reasons relating to original sin (which relates to this discussion about creation).

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