Four Views of the Historical Adam

Denis O. Lamoureux
is one of four authors that contributed to the book, Four Views of the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology).
I am thankful to all four authors for their contributions and critique of each
other’s work. The four views presented represent a large span of the
theological continuum regarding the historicity of Adam:

1.    No Historical Adam: Evolutionary
Creation View

2.      A Historical Adam: Archetypal
Creation View

3.      A Historical Adam: Old-Earth Creation

4.      A Historical Adam: Young-Earth
Creation View

I am most
drawn to the words of Lamoureux. I want to be able to make his theological
perspective, my theological perspective. It would save me a lot of effort to
simply adopt rather than work through the arguments myself. Lamoureux is also
appealing because of his everyday language, his sincere faith in Jesus, and his
journey from a young-earth creation viewpoint to an evolutionary creation
perspective. Yet, I have a sense that every word in this book is important. I
must learn to listen closest to the voices with which I disagree the most. They
provide the greatest test for my own developing perspective on the historical
nature of Adam.

For some,
this will be a new conversation. Lamoureux and I have been pondering these
questions for many years. If we had met in 1975 at the time of my decision to
place my faith in Jesus Christ, I would have espoused a half-baked idea of
theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism while he might have made short
work of my theology with his superior knowledge of the young-earth creationist
arguments. My journey started with
trust in science which led to questions about God, creation, and faith,
followed by a melding of science, evolution, and creation. I honestly saw no
contradiction. Over the years, I have realized how my initial synthesis was
inadequate and that the theological implications of the evolutionary creation
viewpoint are larger than I had imagined. Now, both Lamoureux and I espouse an
evolutionary creation perspective and would find ourselves sitting down to tea
and congratulating each other on our understanding of theology, creation, faith,
and all things scientific. That is why we would need to invite John H. Walton,
C. John Collins, and William D. Barrick to our tea party. We need them to
challenge us with the awkward and difficult aspects of our shared view.

But, once
the tea party was over, what perspectives would we find changed? After reading
the whole book, with all of the responses and rejoinders, Lamoureux and I are
still in agreement that

The fossil record and evolutionary genetics
reveal that we share with chimpanzees a last common ancestor that lived about
six million years ago. Along the evolutionary branch to humans, there are
approximately 6,000 transitional fossil individuals. Scientists have also
discovered that about 99 percent of the DNA sequences in our genes are similar
to chimpanzees, including defective genes (psuedogenes). This is like our own
families in that we share with relatives genetic similarities, both good and
bad. In addition, the archeological record discloses that humans who behaved
like us (creating art, sophisticated tools, and intentional burials) appeared
roughly 50,000 years ago. . . . Finally, science has found that the genetic variability
among all people today is quite small and indicates that we descended from a
group of about 10,000 individuals. . . . I suspect that . . . similar to the
way we do not really know when exactly each of us personally begins to bear
God’s Image or commits our very first sin, I believe the arrival of the first true
humans is also a theological mystery.

About such
things, we all wish that we could know more and be able to speak authoritatively
about the final answer on all such mysteries. The truth is, we are better off
allowing for ambiguity and mystery. We must speak with humility and recognize
that there will be many questions that will go unanswered until we see God

Until that
time, I will assert with Lamoureux, what I believe to be true, that 
“The nonhistorical first Adam is you and me.
But the Good News is that the
Second Adam died for our sins and frees us from the chains of sin and
death.” I will also suggest that all of the authors of this book would agree
with Lamoureux’s assertion that “Adam’s story is our story. . . . To
understand who we truly are, we must place ourselves in the garden of
Eden.” Who am I? I am a human, created in God’s Image. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am a man who will trust in
the God who created birds and fish; butterflies and flowers; dinosaurs and
sharks; and Neanderthals and Humans.

Work Cited:
Lamoureux, Denis O, et al. Four Views on the Historical
Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology).
Zondervan, 2013.

Dive in!

Join The Great Journey with subscribers, and see new posts as they happen.

We promise we’ll never spam.