The belief in the historicity of Adam is certainly not a given, now-a-days. I recall Westminster California touting that they held to Adam’s historicity a couple of years ago, wearing it as a badge of conservatism. The fact that a Reformed seminary can wear a badge like that (and that is actually is such a badge) shows that the early chapters of Genesis have fallen on tough times. There are, however, a few rubes left that hold to the historicity of the first eleven chapters of God’s Word, including the historicity of person of Adam.
I ran across one of these unfortunate rubes today. The words of his sermon went a little something like this: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Now, I don’t place much stock in these pre-modern, pre-critical views, antiquated as they are. I’m well aware that moderns (Modernists?) have it figured out. These old-timey theologians were foolish enough to think that God knew history better than men, and that what he revealed about history was actually true. They thought that Christianity was rooted in history, that these historical events are pretty durn important to the truth claims of the Christian faith. They were so cute.
Turns out that the same bumpkin actually *argued* from the historicity of Adam to explain what Jesus did. This feller made so bold as to claim that “death came into the world through one man,” and that “death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” Adam, Moses, Jesus… are we to believe that these were these actual, historical people?! What’s more, he went on to explain that the persons of Adam and Jesus are linked. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Fear not, though, for it is a sound, modern hermeneutic to interpret the text thusly: “For as by the NON-EXISTENT one man’s NON-EXISTENT disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Yup, that’s the stuff.
If the Apostle Paul actually believed that there was an historical person, the one man, Adam, how are we, then, to believe Paul? That is, if he were so deluded as to be taken in by these ancient Jewish myths, actually to think them historical, how can we trust him? His credentials are shot. He should’ve stuck with tent-making.
In order to ensure that this post is not only read by rubes like Paul and me, I’d like to hear what my friend, Joel Watts, has to say. Maybe he can straighten me out, get me up to speed. I single out Joel, as we had a brief conversation about the historicity of Adam a number of months ago… and cuz he’s smart… and cuz I like him. But especially because he likes me.