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All Scriptures are from the New International Version-UK, unless indicated otherwise.
Answer: The teaching that the first man, Adam, was mythical is gaining wide acceptance in Christian circles.
This development is, in turn, a response to the pressures exerted by the doctrine of Evolution, the explanation of the origins of Man now endorsed by most scientists at home and abroad.
Geologic evidence alone does seem to prove that the Earth is billions of years old. This assumed fact appears to support the progress of life by evolution, which requires aeons in which to operate. As we have pointed out in previous articles on this site, the gradual development of animal life (sea, air, and land) by modifications and adaptations from existing species may be tenable. It does not seem to impinge on the overall interpretation of Biblical doctrine, which concerns itself principally with Man – his fall and recovery. However, when it comes to the origin of Man, a gradual development, or ‘modification by descent’, must be unequivocally ruled out. To put it bluntly: If Man was evolved, the gospel of salvation through Jesus cannot be true.
Many, if not most, Christians fail to fully appreciate the linkage of Adam and Jesus. The fall of Adam into sin caused Divine Justice to sentence him to dying and death. This put Adam’s offspring under the same penalty. This penalty could not be undone without an equivalent price paid to redeem Adam. The Apostle Paul lays out the elements of the argument in Romans 5: 12-19:
16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
This one-for-one aspect of Christ’s death is crucial to a deep understanding of Gospel theology. But aside from this, Jesus Himself refers to the literal creation of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19: 4, 5; Mark 10: 6-9). If Adam was mythical, then Jesus was mistaken to refer to him as a real person. And, if Jesus was mistaken in this regard . . . well, the implications as to faith in Christ are obvious. But not only does Jesus affirm the existence and singular identity of Adam, but He makes reference to other Biblical characters, the existence of whom is also pooh-poohed by sceptics: Abraham, Lot, Noah, Jonah, and others.
It’s all well and good to accept the logic and evidence of Science in most things, for Science itself is an expression of God’s mind and being, and points irrefutably to the reality of His creative power. But to subordinate the testimony of the Bible on a point so fundamental as that of the direct creation of Adam, is to renounce the revealed Word of God, through which alone we receive the faith which saves us. The logical outcome of the doctrine of Evolution is atheism, diluted or otherwise. Christians who adapt their theology to that aspect of Evolution which relegates Adam to a mere outgrowth of natural processes will eventually be forced to abandon real faith in the Gospel itself. This is already happening, and will probably get worse.
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