Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review: Searching for Adam: Genesis and the Truth about Man's Origin

This book explores a hot-button topic that should be a lot hotter than it is in some circles.

The question is: Was Adam an actual historical person? Was he indeed the first human, as Genesis indicates?

 This is not a peripheral issue and much theology, perhaps most of theology, hinges upon the answer. The book documents—with names and clear-as-a-bell quotes—the fact that when you turn loose of a historical Adam, some scholars will begin to turn loose of substitutionary atonement. Why? No Adam, no fall, no original sin, hence no sin nature, no need for atonement.

Mortenson employs an impressive array of fifteen legitimate scholars to bring a mighty challenge against any flavor of evolution, theistic evolution, or old-earth creationism. Heavily documented and using their opponents own statements and findings, Mortenson and colleagues demonstrate that there is a good case to be made, from science no less, that Adam was specially created, fully human, and having no ancestors. The case for an “evolved Adam” which Biologos builds largely upon genetics, is in fact both faulty and even shoddy when the actual data is examined. One of the great contributions of Mortenson's book is puncturing the illusion that the science is settled. Searching for Adam exposes the fact that a good deal of the science is considered to be controversial (and not settled) even among evolutionists themselves.

Beginning with an examination of the text of the opening chapters of Genesis, the book makes a solid case for the traditional, orthodox interpretation of the creation story. The New Testament is also mined for its perspective regarding the historical Adam. The authors then review how Adam has been regarded across the history of theology, including the recent departures from belief. A chapter is devoted to discussing when Adam was created.

Another chapter examines John Walton’s popular book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve and gives it a devastating critique. A chapter is devoted to examining the implications of Adam being made in the image of God if there was no historical Adam.

Except for the last chapter, the remaining chapters move from the textual and theological issues to the scientific ones, dealing with the fossil record, genetics, anatomy, and anthropology. A particularly fascinating chapter deals with ten skeletal issues that all have to be in place to support walking upright. The author makes the point that unless all ten changes happen simultaneously, their net effect on the creature would hurt not help survivability. Another great chapter considers the fact that for ancient man to have built the structures he did would require immense intelligence rather than a primitive mind.

The authors carefully document the role that Darwinism has played in eugenics and man’s brutal quest to selectively eliminate what were considered “inferior” human specimens. Some of the worst totalitarian societies in history are shown to have built their fundamental principles on Darwinian evolution. This is all carefully documented from original sources. The point is that there are wide-ranging societal implications when a Darwinian viewpoint reigns in a society.

In the final chapter, Mortenson exposes the obvious effect Darwinism is having on modern evangelical scholars. He makes a tight case for the assertion that many modern scholars are not being governed by the text in their interpretation of Genesis, but by the questionable claims of scientists that often have more to do with the scientists’ own philosophical commitments than with science itself.

Bottom line: this is an excellent book, highly recommended. If you have been wrestling with the early chapters of Genesis and how to understand them, read Searching for Adam before you make up your mind.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Day In Between

The priests quietly prepared the temple for the morning sacrifice. The silver trumpets sounded, signaling the sunrise and the beginning of the daily ordinances of worship. It was the Sabbath, the calm after yesterday’s storm.

Yesterday was Passover and Jerusalem had been a noisy, busy place, half the people crowding toward the massive temple gates, Passover lambs in hand, even while a Roman execution entertained the other half. It had been chaotic. The Galilean Jews had celebrated Passover two days before in accordance with the calendar observed by the northern Jews, an anomaly tolerated by the priests as it spread the sacrifices over two days, making the celebration easier to manage.

But yesterday. Oh, what a day! The Galilean carpenter had been condemned to the cross, not a week after entering the city to noisy acclaim. And what a week it was. He’d taught daily in the temple, silenced the priests with his answers and riddles, and condemned the corruption of the religious system. Some wondered if he was Messiah. Others thought he was a cheap pretender. It no longer mattered, however, because the Romans had crucified him yesterday. Whatever the Galilean movement was, everyone thought it was over
The Garden where He lay was deathly silent. The guard was in place, the seal unbroken. The disciples were nowhere to be found—some said they were in hiding, others that they had fled towards Galilee. A rumor was circulating that He would rise—but it was just a rumor. But some were saying, wait until the third day and then we will know if it’s true.

The priests, on whom the lot had fallen to trim the lamps in the Holy Place, entered the sanctuary and began their duties quietly, until one gasped. They looked at the offender who’d broken the holy silence. With terror in his eyes, he was pointing to the curtain. Turning to look they saw that the great veil was torn and they could see directly into the Most Holy Place, dimly illuminated by the lamplight reflecting off the golden walls. The Mercy Seat was clearly visible.

One fell on his face, overcome by terror. Most of the others fled. One fell to his knees, lifting his hands and face toward heaven, his mouth filled with praise. He’d been listening to the Galilean, and now he finally understood. The final Passover Lamb had been slain—yesterday—on the cross. The Way to Elohim was now open.