In a Facebook thread, Dr. Peter Enns offered this summary of my essay on the historical Adam: “A rather long-winded piece that says what others are saying in defense of a historical Adam: ‘We are literalists, and without Adam our theology falls apart; Therefore, Adam must exist.'” He continued throughout the thread to say that Evangelicals are far too parochial and thus incapable of assisting this question. Dr. Enns held out hope that the Roman and Eastern churches would be more open to his theory.
It isn’t much of a surprise that Dr. Enns wouldn’t like my essay, but I would like to point out one thing. I never made the argument that because our theology needs an historical Adam, then he must have existed. It is easy to see how one would infer that, but my essay actually only speaks to the historical bounds of Christian orthodoxy. It was purely descriptive. As it stands the term “orthodoxy” does have an objective meaning, and my essay explains the way in which the denial of the historic Adam is inconsistent with that meaning . I also show the implications of denying the historical Adam for the nature of the gospel. If readers conclude that these implications are personally persuasive enough to retain a belief in the historical Adam while they continue to interact with the challenging claims and questions of modern science, then I am very happy for them. But I actually made no definitive claim about science itself.
Now I am not trying to be elusive with this observation. I do believe in an historical Adam. But accurately describing my article is important. Early on I wrote, “With this academic pressure comes the perennial desire for the Christian faith to not stand in opposition to reason and evidence. This is actually a noble desire, at its root, and one which we fully share, provided the definitions are inspected and the intellectual integrity is equal in all disciplines.” We at TCI are very much opposed to “the retreat to commitment,” and we look to Robert Dick Wilson as a moral and intellectual guide. As he said, “I have not shirked the difficult questions.” Natural revelation is from God, and all Christians must be faithful in accurately interpreting it too. If there is a tension to be held while moving forward in courage, then so be it. But do not deny the current tension or its challenge.
So we would ask that Dr. Enns and others be very clear about their questions and proposed answers because we believe that they are still shirking them at present. If they would openly reject adherence to Biblical inerrancy and the historicity of the gospel (as they are only just now openly denying the historical Adam after years of wondering aloud), offering up an alternative hypothesis, then we would have something with which to converse. They could also attempt to rebut our theological and philosophical arguments, showing that we have erred in our reasoning and that there really is a harmony between their views and the historicity of Christianity. As it is, however, they are creating problems while denying that the problems are problematic and then criticizing their detractors as being small-minded and parochial.
And that is not something we hold to be intellectually courageous.
Steven Wedgeworth is the pastor of Christ Church in Lakeland, Florida. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Trust. A graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS), Steven lives in Lakeland, FL with his wife, son, daughter, and two terriers.
The Calvinist International is a forum for research, resourcement, and renewal of Christian wisdom.