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    Christian Theology - Thread: Is the Account of Adam and Eve LITERAL?

    1. #11
      psalms 91's Avatar
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      Literal for sure
      Isaiah 40:31

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    3. #12
      Lämmchen's Avatar
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      I believe that it is literal. If we start going down the path in thinking that the accounts in the bible never happened then how strong could our faith be that God would come to earth and die for the forgiveness of all our sins?
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

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    5. #13
      Lämmchen's Avatar
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      I believe that it is literal. If we start going down the path in thinking that the accounts in the bible never happened then how strong could our faith be that the one true God would come to earth and die for the forgiveness of all our sins?
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

    6. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      I believe that it is literal. If we start going down the path in thinking that the accounts in the bible never happened then how strong could our faith be that the one true God would come to earth and die for the forgiveness of all our sins?
      Therein lies the seduction. It's just like when the Devil said to Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” ( Genesis 3:1) The Evil One begins with an exaggeration and then he goes on to contradict God's word. Eve listens to him, breaks the only rule God has laid down for her and Adam, she persuades Adam to break the selfsame rule and Paradise is lost https://www.biblegateway.com/passage...+3&version=ESV! Questioning the revealed word of God always proves to be a slippery slope and the bottom of that hill is the Lake of Fire itself. Human overreliance on reason is an endemic result of Original Sin. Our reason is limited, God is not. God has revealed Himself to us and we have the written Word to show us how we are to walk. Once we start turning away from that word, we ultimately turn away from Faith.

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    8. #15
      hedrick is offline Apprentice Member
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      It's unfortunate the people seem to see allegory as the only alternative. Allegories have specific features that Gen 1 - 3 lack. In an allegory key elements of the story stand for something else. This isn't the case in Genesis.

      But there are other types of story that aren't historically accurate. Parables are one example. A few of the parables are allegories, but many aren't.

      Usually people who don't think the creation stories are historically accurate don't think they're allegory. Myth, legend, and saga have all been used. These are all traditional stories that are ways of talking about reality without being history. Gen 2 - 3 have been critical to Christian theology. Discussions of sex, gender roles, and sin are all based on that story.

      It's hard to know whether at some point they were understood as historical. In my opinion the editor on Genesis couldn't have understood them as historical. Despite modern attempts at harmonizing them, they are obviously contradictory chronologies. I assume the editor of Genesis felt an obligation to preserve all of the traditional stories. You can see it in two versions of the Noah story, etc. Presumably the value wasn't in providing an actual historical account, but rather because those stories are how his culture talked about things like where sin came from and the roles of men and women. That's not quite an allegory. It's closer to Jesus' parables, though I wouldn't quite call the accounts parables.

      How does the modern understanding of origins actually affect Christian theology? In principle it needn't have any impact. We could understand the accounts of sin, etc, as being valid even though the stories aren't historical. Unfortunately there's a problem with that. It is virtually impossible that humanity was ever sinless, and sin entered through the actions of one pair. In fact people seem to be designed to learn from experience. If you assume that people are going to live in a variety of environments and cultures, that's pretty much the only reasonable way to make people. But that means that mistakes are a basic part of how we work. And it's sort of hard to imagine those mistakes not including some actions that violate morals. Indeed it's hard to imagine all specifics of the moral code remaining constant.

      This doesn't make Christian theology impossible, but it changes it. It says that people were imperfect from the beginning. We were always designed to need to forgive each other, and to need God's grace. Jesus shows us what humanity is intended to be, but he doesn't show us something that once existed from which we fell.

    9. #16
      atpollard is offline Prodigy Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
      It's unfortunate the people seem to see allegory as the only alternative. Allegories have specific features that Gen 1 - 3 lack. In an allegory key elements of the story stand for something else. This isn't the case in Genesis.

      But there are other types of story that aren't historically accurate. Parables are one example. A few of the parables are allegories, but many aren't.

      Usually people who don't think the creation stories are historically accurate don't think they're allegory. Myth, legend, and saga have all been used. These are all traditional stories that are ways of talking about reality without being history. Gen 2 - 3 have been critical to Christian theology. Discussions of sex, gender roles, and sin are all based on that story.

      It's hard to know whether at some point they were understood as historical. In my opinion the editor on Genesis couldn't have understood them as historical. Despite modern attempts at harmonizing them, they are obviously contradictory chronologies. I assume the editor of Genesis felt an obligation to preserve all of the traditional stories. You can see it in two versions of the Noah story, etc. Presumably the value wasn't in providing an actual historical account, but rather because those stories are how his culture talked about things like where sin came from and the roles of men and women. That's not quite an allegory. It's closer to Jesus' parables, though I wouldn't quite call the accounts parables.

      How does the modern understanding of origins actually affect Christian theology? In principle it needn't have any impact. We could understand the accounts of sin, etc, as being valid even though the stories aren't historical. Unfortunately there's a problem with that. It is virtually impossible that humanity was ever sinless, and sin entered through the actions of one pair. In fact people seem to be designed to learn from experience. If you assume that people are going to live in a variety of environments and cultures, that's pretty much the only reasonable way to make people. But that means that mistakes are a basic part of how we work. And it's sort of hard to imagine those mistakes not including some actions that violate morals. Indeed it's hard to imagine all specifics of the moral code remaining constant.

      This doesn't make Christian theology impossible, but it changes it. It says that people were imperfect from the beginning. We were always designed to need to forgive each other, and to need God's grace. Jesus shows us what humanity is intended to be, but he doesn't show us something that once existed from which we fell.
      If there was no ‘first Adam’, then that renders all the verses about the ‘second Adam’ meaningless and worse ... false. If scripture contains deliberately false statements from God, then it can hardly be inspired. The ‘mythological’ Adam has deep and profound consequences.

      Then what do we do with the DNA that shows that all women trace back to a single female ancestor? So science proves there was no Adam, but there was a literal Eve?

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    11. #17
      hedrick is offline Apprentice Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by atpollard View Post
      If there was no ‘first Adam’, then that renders all the verses about the ‘second Adam’ meaningless and worse ... false. If scripture contains deliberately false statements from God, then it can hardly be inspired. The ‘mythological’ Adam has deep and profound consequences.

      Then what do we do with the DNA that shows that all women trace back to a single female ancestor? So science proves there was no Adam, but there was a literal Eve?
      No, it doesn't make the second Adam meaningless. The second Adam is an analogy. Jesus wasn't in any literal sense a clone of Adam. Rather, it's a way of talking about his role, as the beginning of a new people, as Adam was the beginning of the old people. Just because the basis of the analogy isn't a historical figure doesn't change the usefulness of the analogy. Preachers use analogies with fictional characters all the time. (At least the ones I've listened to do.)

      God didn't write the Bible. It's a human witness to God's activity. Furthermore, I maintain that the editor of Genesis didn't make a mistake by including the creation stories. I would assume that when he combined two different traditions about creation he would have realized that they couldn't both be literally accurate. They were stories that were used as a basis for discussions like the one Paul gave us.

      To deny evolution and other basic ideas about history requires such a level of conspiracy theory that I'm not interested in discussing it. I am, however, concerned about the theological implications.

      You're misinterpreting the idea of a mitocondrial Eve. From Wikipedia:

      "The name "Mitochondrial Eve" alludes to biblical Eve. This led to repeated misrepresentations or misconceptions in journalistic accounts on the topic. Popular science presentations of the topic usually point out such possible misconceptions by emphasizing the fact that the position of mt-MRCA is neither fixed in time (as the position of mt-MRCA moves forward in time as mtDNA lineages become extinct), nor does it refer to a "first woman", nor the only living female of her time, nor the first member of a "new species"." There would have been other women alive at the same time, and no doubt some of them have living descendants. They just aren't descended down a direct matrilineal path.

      Note, the Mitochondial Eve would have been different in the 1st Cent from what it is now, and it will continue changing in the future. See the diagram in the article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve.

      Incidentally, there's a male equivalent. It's unlikely that they lived at the same time.

      Furthermore, the calculation leading to mitocondrial Eve is based on a model of evolution. I don't think you can reasonably quote it while also maintaining the historical accuracy of Genesis.
      Last edited by hedrick; 04-21-2018 at 08:28 PM.

    12. #18
      MennoSota is offline Expert Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
      No, it doesn't make the second Adam meaningless. The second Adam is an analogy. Jesus wasn't in any literal sense a clone of Adam. Rather, it's a way of talking about his role, as the beginning of a new people, as Adam was the beginning of the old people. Just because the basis of the analogy isn't a historical figure doesn't change the usefulness of the analogy. Preachers use analogies with fictional characters all the time. (At least the ones I've listened to do.)

      God didn't write the Bible. It's a human witness to God's activity. Furthermore, I maintain that the editor of Genesis didn't make a mistake by including the creation stories. I would assume that when he combined two different traditions about creation he would have realized that they couldn't both be literally accurate. They were stories that were used as a basis for discussions like the one Paul gave us.

      To deny evolution and other basic ideas about history requires such a level of conspiracy theory that I'm not interested in discussing it. I am, however, concerned about the theological implications.

      You're misinterpreting the idea of a mitocondrial Eve. From Wikipedia:

      "The name "Mitochondrial Eve" alludes to biblical Eve. This led to repeated misrepresentations or misconceptions in journalistic accounts on the topic. Popular science presentations of the topic usually point out such possible misconceptions by emphasizing the fact that the position of mt-MRCA is neither fixed in time (as the position of mt-MRCA moves forward in time as mtDNA lineages become extinct), nor does it refer to a "first woman", nor the only living female of her time, nor the first member of a "new species"." There would have been other women alive at the same time, and no doubt some of them have living descendants. They just aren't descended down a direct matrilineal path.

      Note, the Mitochondial Eve would have been different in the 1st Cent from what it is now, and it will continue changing in the future. See the diagram in the article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve.

      Incidentally, there's a male equivalent. It's unlikely that they lived at the same time.

      Furthermore, the calculation leading to mitocondrial Eve is based on a model of evolution. I don't think you can reasonably quote it while also maintaining the historical accuracy of Genesis.
      LOL Good luck with that, hendrick.

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      hedrick is offline Apprentice Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      I believe that it is literal. If we start going down the path in thinking that the accounts in the bible never happened then how strong could our faith be that the one true God would come to earth and die for the forgiveness of all our sins?
      I can see how you would think that way, but that’s not actually the consequence of rejecting inerrancy. When you assess Scripture according to normal criteria, then you look at what the authors would reasonably know. The NT authors wrote when original witnesses were alive (Paul and probably Mark), or at least their testimony was still known (probably the other Gospels). The prophets wrote during the events they described. The final editing of Kings was almost certainly later than at least the earlier kings, but refers to chronicles written at the time.

      This is not the case for Genesis, and probably also for the rest of the Pentateuch. For that the editors would have had access to traditional stories, but not any real historical sources.

      The problem with inerrancy is that it becomes a separate article of faith. You can’t establish it the way you’d normally assess the accuracy of documents. It’s a doctrine, which can be read into the Bible but isn’t actually there explicitly. It’s a pretty weak reed on which to rest our faith. Furthermore, it produces a kind of rigidity of interpretation. It forces people to ignore contradictions and to explain away disagreements with science and archaeology. For people like me, it makes the foundation of the faith weaker.

      I have no problem believing that Mark got much of his content from Peter. The NT is the kind of document historians normally deal with. They have a reasonable basis, though they certainly aren’t perfect. But the moment you claim inerrancy, in order to believe the Gospel accounts of Jesus, which otherwise have a reasonable historical foundation, I have to believe assertions about ancient history that (short of conspiracy theory involving lots of scientists and historians) we know are wrong.

      If I believed that the Bible had to be understood through inerrancy I wouldn’t be a Christian.

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      MennoSota is offline Expert Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
      I can see how you would think that way, but that’s not actually the consequence of rejecting inerrancy. When you assess Scripture according to normal criteria, then you look at what the authors would reasonably know. The NT authors wrote when original witnesses were alive (Paul and probably Mark), or at least their testimony was still known (probably the other Gospels). The prophets wrote during the events they described. The final editing of Kings was almost certainly later than at least the earlier kings, but refers to chronicles written at the time.

      This is not the case for Genesis, and probably also for the rest of the Pentateuch. For that the editors would have had access to traditional stories, but not any real historical sources.

      The problem with inerrancy is that it becomes a separate article of faith. You can’t establish it the way you’d normally assess the accuracy of documents. It’s a doctrine, which can be read into the Bible but isn’t actually there explicitly. It’s a pretty weak reed on which to rest our faith. Furthermore, it produces a kind of rigidity of interpretation. It forces people to ignore contradictions and to explain away disagreements with science and archaeology. For people like me, it makes the foundation of the faith weaker.

      I have no problem believing that Mark got much of his content from Peter. The NT is the kind of document historians normally deal with. They have a reasonable basis, though they certainly aren’t perfect. But the moment you claim inerrancy, in order to believe the Gospel accounts of Jesus, which otherwise have a reasonable historical foundation, I have to believe assertions about ancient history that (short of conspiracy theory involving lots of scientists and historians) we know are wrong.

      If I believed that the Bible had to be understood through inerrancy I wouldn’t be a Christian.
      hedrick, I think you and I define the term, Christian, quite differently.

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