The Importance of the Historical Adam

I think it makes the most sense to think of the Fall as only causing human spiritual death.


I’ve been reading several (mostly evangelical) commentaries on Romans 5:12-21, and the odd thing to me is that they never consider the idea that the Fall caused only human spiritual death and not physical, instead of both.

Augustine, however, did suggest the spiritual death interpretation. IN the GAE, I read it as physical death.

Spiritual/physical death: on my understanding (see my forthcoming The Generations of Heaven and Earth) working from genealogical Adam and Eve one can see Adam not as the first created “human”, but as the first man called to inaugurate the new creation, in covenant fellowship with God.

What came with that, or should have come were it not for the Fall, was all that is promised in the gospel, including abundant life in God’s presence (spiritual life), and unending life in the body (physical life - the tree of life). Both, of course, are exemplified in the risen Jesus.

Consequently, the loss of covenant life in the Fall led both to spiritual alienation from God (spiritual death) and a return to natural mortality in the world outside the sanctuary (physical death).

In other words, it seems to me that Genesis neither restricts itself to a crude biological frame of reference, nor spiritualises away the fundamental questions of life and death, to do with bodies, decay, dissolution and loss to the human race. There is no absolute distinction between the two kinds of death in this understanding.


In a negative sense, it can be said to cause physical death also as Sin deprives Adam and Eve of the opportunity to eat of the “tree of life” and gain eternal life.
This shows a clear logical connection between Sin and physical death.
Sin leads to Seperation from God which leads to judgement and hence the person misses out on eternal life.
Jesus solves the Sin problem and it leads to justification/reconciliation with God and hence ressurection to eternal life.
Since God is the one who gives and sustains all life, it makes sense that Sin leads to physical death, not in the sense that it kills us, but in the sense that it seperates from God who alone can grant eternal life.

3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Is support of de novo creation motivated by fear?

Actually not true. God’s expulsion of the pair from Eden deprives them of the opportunity; in fact depriving them of that opportunity is the reason for expulsion. God doesn’t want them to be like him, both knowing good and evil and also immortal. Says so right there. Now you could say that God’s decision is the result of the pair’s sin, but doesn’t that deprive God of agency? It’s God’s choice to do what he did.


God did not want them immortal, knowing what is good and evil while not able to choose the good instead of evil in a consistent manner.
This would lead to an eternal Seperation from God.
God had a better plan for their restoration to eternal life with him.
We see that plan fulfilled in Jesus where all people have an opportunity to enter an eternal relationship with God.

No, that isn’t what it says. You’re adding the second half of that to the text, based on…what?

So he curses them for their own good?

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Context. They were innocent and had just one rule to follow…and failed.
The bible is clear that no human being is sinless (except Jesus)? That’s why the incarnation is required.

The curses are a consequence of Sin. If our actions don’t have a consequence, how do you expect us to change?
Think of a society in which evil actions do not have consequences. The society itself would become a place of injustice and evil.

Of which you provide none.

How could they have known it was a sin, lacking knowledge of good and evil? It’s a Catch-22.

You tie yourself in knots. God requires the sacrifice of himself to himself to appease himself of his wrath toward humans for sins he knew when he created them
they would commit.

No, they aren’t. They’re a consequence of God punishing (or rewarding??) sin. Again, you seek to remove God’s agency.

In fact, I don’t expect us to change, but that’s another matter. So, this is the deterrence theory of punishment? One problem with that is that it can’t possibly work unless the consequences are known in advance. But they weren’t. God told them the tree was poisonous, but it wasn’t. He never mentioned a curse as consequence for disobeying, until after the fact.

But this is wandering far from the original topic, which you have never addressed.

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Read the text. The context is clear. The eating of the fruit causes Adam to be afraid of God.The very next chapter describes the first murder, that too of a sibling. And then it just gets worse from there. It’s obvious human beings could not handle the knowledge of good and evil.

They were given a clear instruction to not eat from the tree. It was simple matter of obedience.
The “law” provides a limited understanding of good and evil. It’s good to eat of any other tree… evil to eat the fruit of this particular tree.

Where did you get this understanding? I spoke about the incarnation, not the sacrifice on the cross. The incarnation involves a man living without Sin in perfect obedience to God.
Only God could have done this.
The sacrifice is about Jesus representing/taking responsibility for humanity. That’s why one needs to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and master to receive the benefits of the cross.
It’s not a matter of God being pissed off and taking it out on himself.
If you don’t belong to Jesus, your sins remain and so does God’s wrath.
The point of the cross is to bring humanity (those who are willing) into union with God in Christ Jesus.

I am not removing God’s agency. Being cast out of the garden is a judgement of God.

Where did God say the tree was poisonous? You are reading that into the text.
God said they would die if they ate of the tree and it did happen.

That’s a wierd accusation. I have answered your questions.

Nope. It causes him to be afraid of being seen naked; apparently nakedness is immoral. Who knew? How is that relevant?

How is that relevant too? And wouldn’t a person who didn’t know it was wrong be even more likely to commit murder?

True, but how would they know it was wrong to disobey? And they weren’t told it was wrong, just that the tree was poisonous and would kill them, which turned out to be a lie. Catch-22.

Nobody said it was evil, least of all God. He just said they couldn’t do it, because it would kill them.

In which case, God created man with a sinful nature; not Adam’s fault at all. Why punish us for doing what he created us as?

We could belabor the shaky logic of these claims for quite a while, but do you really want to go through it?

That’s exactly what substitutionary atonement is. Or, better, it’s a form of sympathetic magic, an extremely primitive concept.

Exactly. It’s not a consequence of sin but a consequence of divine judgment for sin. Those are quite different.

That’s what “in the day you eat from it you will surely die” means.

It happened only because God expelled them, not because they ate the fruit. And it wasn’t that day either, but hundreds of years later. Lies.

I suppose you think you did. You are still suffering from the confusion between the consequences of sin and the consequences of God’s judgment. Ah, if only Adam had thought to eat from the tree of life first.

Where does this say the fruit was poisonous.
You are obviously reading stuff into the text.
Are you trolling or really engaging in this issue?

If it means something else it’s very oddly stated. What do you think it means? If you eat it I will kill you? Generally, such statements by God are more direct. Incidentally, what was that tree even doing there?

I think it means what it says. That of you eat of it, you will die.

What do you mean by this statement? Did you do a survey or something?

It serves two purposes. It serves the purpose of a test for Adam and Eve.
It also shows God’s ultimate purpose that Adam and Eve would be given the fruit when they are ready for it.
Part of the problem problem seems to be that you don’t recognize the concept of free will.

12 posts were split to a new topic: Ashwin and Jonathan discuss the Incarnation and the Trinity

There’s a lot of smiting; that’s all.

That’s a very silly purpose, especially since he knows in advance that they will fail. And what is it testing? Since they have no concept of good and evil, it can’t be testing their moral senses. Is it simply testing their obedience to authority? Not, to my mind, a virtue.

How do you get that from the story?

Free will in the absence of moral judgment is merely caprice. Catch-22. (Now of course I don’t think free will exists, but that’s another discussion entirely.)

So? do you feel God has no right to do any 'Smiting"?

It tests trust. God told them something… their obedience indicates a trust towards God. Considering the fact they are in a state of innocence and don’t know much about good and evil, trust is a requisite. It’s the only way they can move forward with God.

Turned out they didn’t really trust him much.

As to God knowing in advance that they would fail, it doesn’t take the importance of failing for Adam and Eve. Our failures are important for our development.

I think it’s implied because the tree of life is also in
the garden and God ultimately offers eternal life to humanity through Jesus Christ.
So I apply the same logic to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

They had a free will choice whether to trust/obey God or not.

True… but it seems to block your understanding of this passage.
Your reactions make more sense if freewill did not actually exist.

It’s as if you have no memory, and just respond with the first thing that comes into your head. Thus we wander at random through your stream of consciousness without regard to the topic under discussion. This isn’t about what god has a right to do. It’s about what a statement in Genesis means. And that’s a digression from something else, etc.

Which was a lie, incidentally. Why should they trust God? In their state of ignorance, why him rather than the serpent?

So the failure was a good thing, all carefully planned by God in advance? The failure, the curse, the expulsion, all just part of the plan? If so, it’s all God’s fault, and nothing can be blamed on the victims.

Once again, a choice in ignorance is caprice. Without knowledge, there can be no culpability. And a test whose result is known in advance is no test.