Monday, February 05, 2018

4. Sin and the Fall

Previous posts
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation

Chapter 4: Sin and the Fall
4.1 Rule of Faith on the Fall
  • God created the world good but with the potential for evil.
  • Adam's default state was without sin but capable of sin (posse non peccare).
  • Adam and Eve were created in the image of God (imago dei).
  • Adam sinned and brought the power of Sin over humanity and the world. The world thus is not as it should be or could be.
  • We now sin like Adam. We now die like Adam.
4.2 Genesis and Romans
  • Genesis three is an etiology of snakes, wives, and husbands. Debate over whether it is descriptive or prescriptive, whether it is punishment or consequence. Debate over whether it indicates hierarchy as consequence or damaged relationship between wives and husbands. Death seems to be the default to which the Tree of Life was an antidote.
  • Romans 5 introduces new terminology and broadens the scope (the Fall plays no real role in the theology of the OT as a whole): sin, disobedience, condemnation, Sin as a power (flesh sometimes mistranslated as sinful nature), cosmic scope (creation in bondage to corruption and decay), death as new element rather than one to which the Tree of Life was the antidote.
  • Augustinian elements introduced: original sin, total depravity, sinful nature, 
  • 1 Timothy 2 and this text.
4.3 Excursus: The Fall and Evolution
  • Clearly unforeseen by the Genesis or Pauline texts, as are strategies such as the gap theory. Whether this fact is fatal or not depends on your understanding of inspiration and/or your understanding of genre. Many would argue that the question is simply beyond the scope of what Genesis 1 meant to address in context. What is the genre of Genesis 1?
  • Romans 5 is more difficult for evolution than Genesis 1. Evolution requires lots of death, yet Paul seems to say that death is a consequence of Adam and Eve's sin. Some say Paul is referring to spiritual death, but 1 Corinthians 15 makes this reading difficult.
  • Science has of course problematized a literal reading. The most recent difficulty is the human genome, which seems to indicate that the human genetic pool could not have come from one man and one woman at the same time. 
  • The most clever solution is that of John Walton, who argues that Adam and Eve were king-priests living in Africa several tens of thousands of years ago before homo sapiens left Africa. As representatives of the human race, they sinned and brought the consequences on the human race as a whole.
  • One might then argue that they brought the power of Sin on the earth, including the prevalence of Satan and the demonic over the earth. And while humanity might have enjoyed eternal life, now we die as the progenitors of humanity did.
  • This discussion no doubt is not yet over in the church.

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