Wayne Grudem is OEC?

Where did Wayne Grudem become a OEC? I thought he was still YEC. As of 2017, he published in the Crossway TE book as a YEC…

I’ve always known him to be OEC.


I’m still confused about this.

See this article by Grudem, where he repeats his objections to evolution:

But, what that belief implies is that there are actually twelve details in Genesis 1-3 that simply didn’t happen. If you hold to theistic evolution (in the most common form in which it is held today), you would say:

  1. After Adam and Eve sinned, God did not place any curse on the world that changed the workings of the natural world, making it more hostile to mankind.

Those are twelve events in Genesis 1-3 that the Bible records as historically accurate, truthful events, but that are denied by advocates of theistic evolution.

So, I’m confused because most OEC reject 12 too. Of course, the GAE can make space of for this view if “the world” refers to the Garden, but usually the rhetoric here is meant to apply to the whole universe. That seems to peg Grudem as a YEC, but you think he is OEC…

What am I missing?

@deuteroKJ, @jongarvey, @William_Rogers, @Andrew_Loke

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Also 11, I should think, if it’s taken strictly to imply the absence of things like thorns or thistles (or predation?) in the created order:

  1. God never created an originally very good natural world—a safe environment, free of thorns, thistles, and other harmful things.

Not that the Bible actually affirms what Grudem takes “very good” to imply here.

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I’m not sure of this. I suspect we have OECs on both sides. [EDIT: I see you said most.]

He deals with this in his Systematic Theology, being open to some forms of OEC (and downplaying the importance of the age of the earth). AiG attacks Grudem on these points.


Once again that works just fine if we mean the Garden, not the universe.

So the entire curse is just being thrown out of the garden and into the pre-existing real world?

Yes. That would do it. At least in part.

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I’ve not had much contact with Wayne Grudem since the 1980’s but even in those days (when neither or us was grey yet and our kids were still young) I had understood him to be OEC.


I agree that being thrown out of the garden is big part of the curse, especially for Adam and Eve personally. But it is more than that for all humanity. The whole transfer of wisdom (the knowledge of good and evil) from God to mankind was abruptly interrupted by Adam and Eve trying to seize that knowledge for themselves. Therefore humanity labors under foolishness. Until Christ, there was no perfect priest to represent humanity to God, seeing that Adam and Eve failed in this role. Humanity would go awry and run amok without guidance. God made a garden grow in the wilderness and taught Adam how to do the same, but this knowledge was lost, so the ground was cursed because mankind would be constrained to less fruitful methods of agriculture that in some ways damage the Earth. The Tree of Life who leaves could bring healing and life was now cut off; in Revelation those leaves are described as bringing healing to the nations. Adam cost humanity its access to that resource.

As you can perhaps see, there are many possible ways that the curse plays out, and this is just scratching the surface.

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What transfer? Where in Genesis is any such gradual transfer even hinted at?

Why and how was this knowledge lost?

According to Genesis, it’s the fruit.

None of these ways appears to have a basis in Genesis. God’s curse is fairly clear and has only a few parts to it. The snake is cursed to crawl on his belly, to eat dust, and to have enmity with the man. Eve is cursed to have pain in childbirth and to be subordinate to her husband. Adam is cursed to work. The ground is cursed to produce weeds. That’s it.

You might enjoy reading The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John H. Walton. It is easy to fall into simply taking a very literal interpretation of Genesis 3 read from a modern point of view and missing out on perhaps what the original author meant when communicating to the original audience.

Just give me the summary. What did the original author mean? How would you know?

Sure. To answer the question, how would you know? Walton suggests that we look a the imagistic language employed in Genesis 2 and 3 referring to the trees, the snake, the dust, etc and consider what those images would have meant in the Ancient Near Eastern context in which these narratives were first related.

To put a point on this, in our day we might say “being thrown out of the garden”. In using that phrase did you literally mean to say that God picked up Adam and Eve by a body part and physically cast them through the air with such force that they landed outside of the garden? Of course not. Yet, we both probably know what you meant. None-the-less, you used a turn of phrase in the middle of a dialog without specifying that you were about to employ a poetic device.

So we may have the same kind of thinking happening in Genesis 2 and 3. Do we really see snakes biting people’s heels and people stomping on snake heads as the defining conflict of human existence? I mean, it can literally happen, but are we to take that literally or representationally.

On the other hand, pain in childbearing seems quite literal, but here again, some commentators feel this represents the trials in the complete process of pregnancy, child birth, and raising children to adulthood - bringing forth offspring writ large.

Are thorns and thistles the only challenges to agriculture? What about pestilence?

So, the idea is to look at these phrases as images, refer to how they were used in the Ancient Near East as pictures for various challenges, and interpret them appropriately.

This means that while the text is communicating truth, we cannot interpret it like a modern legal document, word for word. We can’t say to God, “What’s up with these tares in my wheat field? The curse says thorns and thistles only.”

Anyway, this is just something to think about.

No. It clearly means that humans and snakes will be enemies. But there seems no reason to suppose that this is any kind of defining conflict.

There seems no real basis for such a claim.

It’s certainly possible that thorns and thistles are only representative of the problems.

Of course not. But neither can we make up whatever we like. Incidentally, I don’t think the text is communicating truth at all; that part seems to be a collection of just-so stories. Why people have to work; why childbirth is painful for humans and not other mammals; why we don’t like snakes; why snakes have no legs; the usual story of a lost golden age. And perhaps more importantly for the writers, why God is mad at us and why we aren’t immortal.

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OEC needn’t mean accepting theistic evolution, though, if it is the ‘old Earth, young life’ brand - accepting that the rocks are old but claiming the creation story is about life which is young.

I understand that there are problems with that view when we find fossils of living things in old rocks… I’m not espousing this view, just noting that it exists.

So it’s entirely possible that Wayne Grudem (whose work I don’t know) is OEC/YBC…

Yes, and it may be that each of the problems listed in the curse are only representative problems.

I do agree with that.

Is he? When I first read the Old Testament I was 18 years old and was unfamiliar with its content. It blew me away because I saw in pages of the Old Testament that God had the heart of a loving father dealing with the most rebellious of children. Apparently it does not seem that way on the surface to every reader. As a dad myself I understand that parents’ actions don’t always make sense to their children, especially when those children devolve into self-centeredness. But I see a dynamic in the Old Testament between human free agency given by God and God’s perfect love.

I see what you are saying about the curse, but I think the story actually explains why we are mad at God. The curse is like a just-so story, as you say, because it is merely describing how the natural world works. It is the space inside the garden that offered something special. As I understand it, the curse is being cut off from that special place and that special relationship with God and having to just deal with stuff on our own.

But all is not lost.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

You must have read a different Old Testament than I did, then. Or perhaps you have a different idea of parental love than I do. You put two cookies on the table in front of your 3-year-old. You tell him he can eat the one on the left, but not to eat the one on the right, because it’s bad for him. Then you go away, and when you come back, the right-hand cookie is gone. Your reaction, I suppose, is to throw the kid out of the house and lock the door so he can never get back in.

And when that kid manages to survive and have kids of his own, you don’t let them into the house either, even though they didn’t eat the wrong cookie. Go figure.

I also note a long series of mass murders by this loving parent, most notably his killing of all but 8 people in the whole world by flood, and the deaths of all the first-born of Egypt just to make a point. This is not what I call a loving parent. Your mileage may vary.

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I have to agree with you on this clash of the notion of fatherly love with the actions seen, without some serious qualifications the whole “loving father” thing to the point that is almost unrecognisable is just untenable

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I am not sure if you are enjoying this dialog or not, but, I agree that if you decide to interpret the Bible any way you want, you can start making unfounded analogies.

John H. Walton’s book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve, contains 21 propositions argued from the book of Genesis as interpreted in light of the Ancient Near Eastern culture in which it was likely written. For example, in ANE, the trees of the garden would have been thought to represent God as the source of life and as the source of wisdom. They would not have thought of them as two cookies on a table. True wisdom (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) is gained through trusting God (demonstrated through obedience in this case). Trusting God brings access to eternal life (the tree of life). That’s the idea anyway. Furthermore, Walton argues that does not negate them being physical trees serving an object lesson. I think this helps understand the meaning of the story, whether or not you believe it.