Tag Archives: genesis

Does the gospel require the doctrine of ‘the fall’?


And we’re back after a blogging hiatus with more thoughts that might disturb some people.

I was participating in a discussion about evolutionary creationism on the blog of Rachel Held Evans, (look out for the actual article when it’s ready, it will probably very interesting)  and one of the subjects that always comes up in such discussions is that of the fall. The line of reasoning is that without the litteral story of Adam, Eve and the apple there would be no gospel at all, but I’m affraid that I don’t get the problem here…

Let me sayfirst that I myself have no problem at all with 6-day creation, nor do I have any problem with the idea of evolutionary creation. I do think that the scientific evidence points towards the latter, but by no means does that mean that one of those options is right and the other wrong. Au contraire, I don’t believe that modern science is capable of telling us how the world was created at all, since the visible world comes from the invisible. Investigating the traces left in the material world will never give us a complete view, but if the traces lead us to an old earth and universe, and biological evolution, it’s okay to me. But it will never be the whole story, and the whole story is outside the scope of science, and bigger than we can comprehend…

So I’m inclined to see the first chapters of genesis as a symbolic story to tell us in a poetic way about something that cannot be said in straight and exact ways and modern scientific discours. I would say the same about the story of the fall. The whole forbidden fruit story kinda seems symbolic, but still it says something real: man has at some point rebelled against God, and now we live in the reality described.

That ‘fallen’ reality is clear to everyone: this world in in the hands of the powers of sin, death and distruction. We see it everywhere if we open our eyes, and experience it every day. The power of sin is working inside of us, and also from the outside against us. This is so clear that I don’t believe anyone can deny this. So I’m always surprised that people need to use genesis to explain why we need salvation, just point to anywhere and you’ll see why…

Now we could have a discussion about Augustinian original sin, or ancestral sin. The first says that the sin of Adam is in some way transferred to all his descendants, the second one says that Adam had in his sin polluted the world, which brings all people born into this world under the influence and power of sin. I tend to the second, which makes me probably a bad protestant, but I don’t even see a problem for Augustinian Christianity without the story of the apple being litteral history, let alone non-Augustinian theology which does not place such an emphasis on the idea of ‘the fall’. Wheter or not we know what happened, we see the state the world is in and it’s not a good one, and Jesus came to solve that, and did solve it. Do we really believe that?? Or do we think Jesus came to solve some abstract ideas and man-made theological problems?

Jesus did defeat death, evil, sin and Satan in his death and resurrection, so the problem solved is bigger than the one the apple story explains anyway!

Wait here!

Did I just say that the problem solved is bigger than the story of the apple and the fall?

Yes I did. The hope we have as Christians is the New Heavens and the New Earth, in which all evil will be eliminated. So no more sin, no more death, etc… The whole problem of evil being undone by the work of Jesus; like I said earlier. That is the whole story of Christian salvation. The source of evil here is in a way irrelevant, if we look to explain it in a historical analytical way like we Westerners like to do it; but what we can say is that it defenitely lies outside of God. The whole story of redemprion, culminating in the incarnation, life, teaching, example, sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus is about God doing something against evil, and in the end eradicating it.

So evil is NOT from God, but what God is fighting against. And this evil has something to do not only with the fall of men, and the whole apple story, but with evil powers of which the origin isn’t explained in genesis either (the ‘snake’ is just called a snake, not even identified with satan except by the writer of revelation, and why he is evil is explained nowhere)

There’s more going on about evil than the fall of man anyway, and we don’t know that much about it… There are speculations about the fall of Satan, but we don’t have anything really clear about it in the bible.

So what are my shocking conclusions? The first one is that we don’t need a litteral story about the fall of man to see that this world is burdened by sin and evil and in need of the salvation Jesus brought, but we just have to open our eyes, and the second one is that the problem solved by the salvation Jesus brings is a lot bigger than what the apple story explains… The apple story might explain how those forces of evil infiltrated mankind, but not where they came from.

Any additional ideas anyone?

Shalom

Bram

postmodern origins-agnostic Creationism


Sometimes I am amazed how muc energy christians can put in ‘proving that the bible is right’, and ‘fighting the godless darwinism’ and other stuff. I’ve met people who saw the whole challenge of being a christian being summed up in the defense of ‘creation’ against ‘evolutionism’. so there was no time at all for the other 65 and a half books of the bible, or to try to follow Jesus and to try to love God above all, and our fellow humans as ourselves… such obsessions can be very unhealthy for christianity… But even by the unobsessed I’ve seen ideas circulating in evangelical circles about black or white, God or evolution, as if there are just 2 options….

I don’t buy the whole evolution-science dichotomy (and I always get tired of false dichotomies, must be my postmodern side…) The least we could say is that there is a continuum like the one on this chart:

continuum of evolution and creation

(it is stolen from steve martin, read the article here he has better alternatives than this chart)

But then still, I’m not really  on the chart.  My position on Creation may be called something like postmodern origins-agnostic Creationism or something like that.  Creationist, for surely I believe in the CReator who created all of this creation (and much more), and agnostic in the sense that we simply can not know how exactly the world was put into existence, so all our human storys fall short and will allways fall short to accurately descibe the how of creation…

The main thing is that I can’t believe that science (or even human languages and concepts) will ever be able to explain how the world was created, those things are bigger than all we can know and grasp and find traces off… Science is based op the parameters of the world now and language is based on concepts we can understand with what we can see and know in our 3D + one time dimension world… If Creation is bigger than anything our brains can understand, it is just a matter of logic the only thing we could have is an accomodation, like the creation poem in genesis. So in the end everything is an accomodation, the evolution model, the big bang, or any creation story is a way to say something that can not be said accurately.

The problems I have with Young earth Creationism (which I’ve believed in the first 20 years of my life or so) is firstly that I’ve encountered a lot of intelectual dishonesty and plain BS (look at our dear Dr dino…) and the idea that we have to prove (our modernist interpretation of) the bible to defend our faith is dangerous…

So to conclude: Creation is bigger than any story we can make out of it to explain it as humans… If science proves that the world is old and that there is some kind of evolution who am I to not believe that, but even then it will never be the whole story… The story is bigger and encompasses more than the material traces that it may or may not have left, so digging in the ground will never make us able to have all the details… I think in the original diagram with the continuum, I would be somewhere away from the diagonal black line but close to the red line. I’m closer than ever to being an ‘evolutionary creationsist’ right now; and I’m much more happy with that term than I ever was with the term theistic evolutionist, believing in Creation and the Creator comes before any idea how it might have happened..

But still it is all just fallible human theorie, like flatlanders in a 2D world discussing about the form my guitar…

All praises to the Creator of all things visible and invisible!!!

shalom

Bram

to read some more:

http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com

http://biologos.org/

Scot McKnight and his regular guest blogger RJS  also have some interesting discussions about the subject, use the search function on http://www.beliefnet.com/Blogs/jesuscreed