Redemptive history and evolution don’t mix
Published: 28 February 2019 (GMT+10)
Throughout Church history, Genesis was taken to be plain history for almost 2,000 years. People debated which copy of the genealogies was superior, where Eden was, and other issues of interpretation, but no one suggested that Genesis was not talking about real people and real places.
The continuing popularity of BioLogos and the teaching of theistic evolution in even otherwise conservative seminaries is ground for legitimate concern. This is because Adam is important not just in Genesis 1–11, but in the New Testament.
Sin from Adam
It is clear from Scripture that Adam was the first human sinner, from whom we inherit our sinful nature. Romans 5:12 states:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
According to the Bible, God did not create the Earth with death and suffering—these horrors were introduced into the world because of Adam’s sin. However, the theistic evolutionist says that there was never a historical Adam—there was never a first man. Humanity is said to have evolved as a population of 10,000 individuals out of sub-Saharan Africa. Even though evolutionists may speak of a ‘Y-chromosome Adam’ and ‘mitochondrial Eve’, they would not have been married to each other—in fact, they would probably not have lived at the same time or location—they just happen to be the last common male and female ancestors of humans alive today.
If there never was a historical Adam to historically sin, then we cannot trace the introduction of sin and death to his rebellion. If the curse was not the penalty for sin, it must be part of how God originally created the world. In fact, an evolutionist would believe that these sinful acts could be evolutionarily helpful. Anything that gets more resources for an individual, or helps spread genes throughout the population, would be ‘good’ in an evolutionary sense.
Theistic evolutionists are forced to effectively deny original sin and make death, suffering, and immorality part of the very fabric of God’s created design.
Righteousness from Christ
When Paul explained how Christ’s righteousness can be applied to us in salvation, he drew the analogy of how Adam’s sin affected us. Adam sinned as the federal head of humanity—he was acting not only on his own, but on behalf of the whole human race. A modern analogy might be when a country goes to war. When a government declares war on another country, the whole country is at war, even if there are citizens of that country who do not agree with the war. When Adam sinned, the entire human race was at war against God.
Some people argue that it is unjust for God to penalize all people because of what Adam did. But this ignores the fact that we are each willingly at war with God, apart from Christ. There is no one who has to be dragged kicking and screaming into sinning—we sin as naturally as we breathe, and apart from Christ, we love our sin. So each of us is condemned in Adam, not just because of his action as our federal head, but because of our assent demonstrated in our own sin.
Christ is different because He is not only a man—He is God in the flesh. He was born in such a way that He was not tainted by Adam’s sin, meaning that He became the only man not at war with God (of course, God could not be at war with Himself in any case). Furthermore, He attained a positive, human righteousness through His absolute obedience to every aspect of God’s Law throughout His life. God the Son was righteous from eternity—but His divine righteousness was not the sort that could be applied to us. He had to live a perfectly righteous human life that could be credited to us as righteousness.
Then, having lived the life we couldn’t live, Christ died to pay the penalty we could never pay. Because Christ had never sinned, when He willingly underwent death—the penalty for sin—He was able to pay for the sins of others. And because He is God, that sacrifice is sufficient to pay for all the sins of everyone who would come to Him in faith.
When Christ was raised on the third day, that confirmed that everything Christ said about Himself was true, that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice, and that those who trust in Him will likewise be raised when He comes again (1 Corinthians 15). When we come to Christ, believing in Him as the only way to be forgiven of our sin and to escape the judgment of Hell, we are reconciled with God.
Our sins, which condemn us to an eternity in Hell, are credited to Christ and paid for through His death on the Cross. This makes us innocent—but we need more than that. Christ’s righteous human life is credited to us—as if we had lived in perfect obedience. This brings us into relationship with God. Christ becomes our new federal head, which is why He is called the Last Adam.
If evolution is true, there is nothing we need to be saved from
The entire storyline of Scripture can be summarized in terms of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. God created the earth very good, but creation was subjected to a curse when Adam sinned. God did not give up on His creation, but immediately set in motion the plan of redemption, which will culminate in the complete restoration of the earth to its very good state.
Theistic evolution says that God created the earth fundamentally the same as we see today—meaning that death, suffering, and immorality are not aberrations, but part of God’s original design. If the earth isn’t fallen, we don’t need to be redeemed; and the earth was never perfect, so it can never be restored back to a nonexistent perfect original state.
The doctrine of creation is not just a matter of interpreting the first 11 chapters of Scripture. It goes to the heart of who God is, what Christ came to do, and why we need to be saved. Theistic evolutionists cannot consistently hold to the Gospel; we should be glad that some are inconsistent and do believe the Gospel, but we should keep calling those who believe the Gospel to also embrace the foundation of that Gospel, which is the doctrine of Creation and the Fall that explains the need for a Gospel at all.
The Good News only makes sense from a creation foundation
When we understand the Bible’s big picture of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, we have a consistent Gospel that makes sense of the world we see today, and offers hope for people who are in desperate need of a Redeemer. This means that we ourselves can be all the more confident as we proclaim the Good News to others. Who can you share this message with today?