Posted by Pastoral Musings on 14th February 2012
DeYoung claims that Paul believed in a historical Adam, and I agree with him (though not all Evangelicals do). He further implies that this
observation should settle the matter, as we can see from his citation of Tim Keller at the end of the post: ” If you don’t believe what he [Paul] believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching.”
This is an unfortunate quandary, for to take this admonition seriously, one has really little choice but to turn a blind eye to the scientific investigations of human origins. Perhaps DeYoung is prepared to do this and counsel others to follow his example. I am not sure.
Paul’s view on Adam is perhaps the central issue in this debate among Evangelicals. But the entire question turns on whether Paul’s comments on Adam are prepared to settle what can and cannot be concluded about human origin on the basis of scientific investigation.
Citing a few verses as transparent prooftexts does not relieve us of the necessary hermeneutical work of what to do with Paul’s words. Paul’s view of Adam does not end the discussion, as DeYoung thinks; it begins it.
I think that Enns’ presuppositions are showing (note the bold text in Enns’ statement). Whether Enns’ will ever admit it or not, this is the issue at stake: where is authority? Where is the standard of truth? Is it the ever changing evolutionary paradigm that is philosophically committed to a world that happened by naturalistic processes, or it is the Word of God who declares to us what He has done and is doing?
Enns later stated,
the entire question turns on whether Paul’s comments on Adam are prepared to settle what can and cannot be concluded about human origin on the basis of scientific investigation.
There it is again; the statement that scientific investigation must answer for us what God’s Word has already answered.
Again we read,
The entire point here is that much of the history of interpretation did not have to deal with evolution, so their perspective by definition does not help us.
DeYoung would need to explain how an appeal to assumptions of human origins in “pre-evolutionary” Christianity help us today in adjudicating a modern scientific issue, and how this same sort of reasoning would not also move us toward a flat earth and geocentric cosmos.
The issue here is that there is a forgetfulness that God gave us Scripture by the work of the Holy Spirit as well as by men. The fact that Scripture is God-breathed means that it has its origin with God. God gave us Scripture. Sure, He used men. That, however, does not rule out the fact that God speaks truly and Scripture is true.
There is also the forgetfulness that the history of interpretation is not so much a history of interpretation in relation to science. It is a history of interpretation as guided by the Holy Spirit. That does not guarantee that men won’t make mistakes, but it does mean that men have help in understanding the Scriptures. To disregard this and simply state that those who have gone before us didn’t have to content with science is folly.
Enns continues and says,
I am sorrowfully aware that this post could be taken (and no doubt will be taken by some) as clear evidence of the hubris of an academic, wholly detached from or even hostile to the life of the church.
I doubt that Enns is detached from the life of the church. I do wonder if he realizes the amount of doubt that his approach throws upon the Scriptures. Beale did not engage Enns for nothing when he wrote “The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism.” There is a reason for it. People are pushed into unreasonable doubt by the subtle attacks upon the veracity of God’s Word. Enns thinks that he is supporting God’s Word, but the reality is that his approach gives much ammunition to those who oppose God’s Word. It is a capitulation to the philosophy that science trumps Scripture.
If Enns were to minister to people week by week as I do, perhaps he would see that ideas have consequences. Perhaps he would see that his approach leads to unhealthy doubt. Perhaps he would see that the uniqueness of Scripture and the truthfulness of God’s Word should be his presuppositions. If he were to try to give an answer to someone whose husband is dying of cancer, perhaps he would see that the literal six day creation and the literal Adam are much more helpful in giving us a response to the question and problem of evil and suffering. His approach leaves us with so very many unanswered questions. It leaves us in doubt and fear instead of giving us hope in the God who made us all.
This is a sad, sad debate we are having. Neither is it helped by simply stating that some people have to circle the wagons and remain entrenched in their ideological fortresses, as though they never stop to consider what has been said. The reality is that this is not about people not considering and reading. It is about people reading, considering, and discarding what they recognize to be untrue and harmful.
What is needed in this discussion is not the airing of views by the young and the restless, but more efforts to “come and reason together” by the seasoned and centered.
This statement comes across as very arrogant, to be honest. It smacks of the notion that the younger, less seasoned, and less experienced ought to simply sit back and listen to their elders who know better than they. The fact is that even the elders with all of their seasoning go wrong at times. I’ve seen it altogether too often.