Click here to view CMI's position on climate change.
Also Available in:

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?

Helpful Resources

From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
US $14.00
Soft Cover
The Genesis Account
by Jonathan Sarfati
US $39.00
Hard Cover

Readers’ comments

John S.
Redemptive history and evolution don’t mix Excellent exegesis of how salvation works and how important the doctrine of creation is to a true understanding of the gospel. But I do have a problem. How can there be a 'complete restoration of the earth to its very good state' when untold millions find themselves condemned 'to an eternity in Hell'? This idea is the biggest intractable problem I have with an otherwise excellent site. I have read all the articles on the subject of eternal hellfire on the site, and also intelligent, learned, logical and fully scriptural alternatives elsewhere. It's my opinion that this doctrine does great damage and turns many away from the Gospel and a not-so-loving God. Surely even ten thousand talents, though vast, is a finite sum that will eventually be repaid? However having read all your scriptural justification and reasoning why an eternity of torment awaits those who for whatever reason refuse, delay, or misunderstand the gospel, it's perhaps best not to enter into further discussion. But Jesus did say 'why do ye not even of yourselves judge what is right?' I for one have, and judge that 'eternal hellfire' can not ever be right. Yes, God has the right to 'punish' sinners in whatever way he sees fit. God has the right to torture babies. Who can stay his hand? But when we present God to the world it must be as the Righteous and Merciful One. I could almost feel some sympathy for Darwin. And one could ask if this doctrine itself bears some responsibility for what he brought into the world.

However if you're right, in order to enable me to fully enjoy the beauty of the New Earth perhaps a merciful God will erase all memory of my daughter's existence while he gets on with the business of torturing and roasting her down the aeons.
Lita Cosner
Jesus talked more about Hell than anyone else in Scripture. Think of the millions Hitler killed, or the hundreds of millions that Stalin and Mao killed. The Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the Holodomor--all these mass killings of innocent people. If you think that the perpetrators of these evils need to be judged in a way that earthly justice simply can't reach, that's an excellent argument for Hell. Jesus is the one who says that it's eternal, and He's the judge. Perhaps the reason it has to be eternal is that they never stop sinning--so the balance never reaches zero. And where else would God put unrepentant sinners? In Heaven? They wouldn't be able to stand His presence. Away from His presence? That's precisely what Hell is. What about away from His presence in a pleasant place? But God is the giver of every good gift.
Abe M.
Dear Lita,
I can't help but remain confused about CMI's position on (my understanding) 'Understanding Genesis first' as part of Christ's commission to believer's before his ascension. I can't grasp/understand/see that his commission was to go and preach (first) a crystal clear understanding of anything revealed in Genesis (the Trinity, the fact that man was made in God's image, earth-shattering evidence validated today by real operational science, not secular historical science, perfect/sinless world at end of creation, sin enters afterward, etc) as the means to help the unbeliever make a decision for Christ. Aren't all of these things still 'lost' on the unbeliever because they have not yet had their spiritual veil lifted/their 'true' eyes opened because of their sin not confessed to Christ in a humble, honest prayer activated by faith? Thus, helping them understand their responsibility for their sin and the dire need for the Savior Jesus who preached more about hell during his ministry (explicitly salvation-from-sin related)? Isn't it until we are born of the Spirit that we are able to grasp/comprehend with our physical minds all the other truthful information (secondary to the ministry of Jesus on sin) in all scripture? Thank you! =).
Lita Cosner
The command is for the Christian to go and share the Gospel--the good news of Christ's death and resurrection on behalf of any sinner who would call on Him in faith. But people need context. Why do they need to be saved? From what? And why does a Roman execution that happened 2,000 years ago matter for me today? The answer to all those things entails going back to Genesis.
Pauline T.
Thanks Lita, I always appreciate your articles. RE: ...."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..."
I always imagined that Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary in such a way that the Holy Spirit somehow installed pure genetic material into Mary's egg .... so that Christ was "fully human and fully God" without having Adam's corrupted seed in Him, and while being Eve's "Seed" . Is this idea logical and reasonable - and biblical? I ask this because I recently heard the view that Christ's genetic material had nothing to do with Mary either - that Mary was merely the carrier of the pure heavenly genetic material of God simply inserted into her womb for the pregnancy duration. As far as I know there is nothing in the bible that clearly explains this - but perhaps I'm not recognizing/understanding it? I would really appreciate a clear explanation here of how to understand Christ's mysterious conception while His "birth" was (dare I say it) normal. Thanks very much.
Lita Cosner
I think the concept of Christ being our Kinsman Redeemer means that He needs to be actually related to us--i.e., He is biologically Mary's son. But He has no human father.
Jim M.
I recently had a back and forth conversation with a high school teacher who is a self proclaimed evangelical biblical scholar and who maintains quite a substantial blog where he promotes his own books and views. He claims the whole first 11 chapters of Genesis is one long myth - through which God teaches truth, just like Jesus taught truth through parables.

That might sound good to some at first, but it means believing in fake genealogies, fake prophets, events spoken about other places in Scripture as actually happening being fake, fake geographical locations, etc. I guess that is his way of trying to accept evolution while preserving the "truth" of the Bible, but the interpretation gymnastics he is forced to perform to "make it work" simply destroy the Bible, it's trustworthiness, and it's history in my view. I agree with this article. I see no grounds for the modern interpretation/views of Biologos et al anywhere in Scripture.
Jackie S.
Theistic evolutionists seems to me they don't really believe in anything. They just go along with whoever they are having a conversation with. The old you catch more flies with honey than vineger I really am not interested in catching flies ,I would rather tell someone the truth. I don't know why anyone should believe in christ If they believe in evolution. If the Bible can not be trusted from the beginning why would you trust any of it.
Lita Cosner
I think we need to be careful assigning motives and guessing at their thought process. It is enough to note that they are in error and call them to believe the Bible regarding creation.
Morris M.
One might ask that after Adam and Eve sinned why didn't God remove them and start all over again and avoid all the suffering and death we now experience. The short answer lies in the attributes of God. Since God is infinite and eternal that means that his attributes co-exist into infinity and throughout eternity and can never be separated from each other. One of God's attributes is that He is Omniscient and knows everything and can never make a mistake. If He destroyed Adam and Eve and started again that would mean He made a mistake the first time and that is impossible. He could not go back and start again with another human pair because He could not make them any better than He did the first time.
Mike D.
This explains again why with another point why I'm not convinced theistic evolutionist are truly saved. I mean one could start there but God & HS wouldn't allow you to stay there. When they do & esp those that actively fight Biblical inerrancy. They are like a cult fighting against Jesus being either fully God & fully Man. They are fighting Him being fully Creator God as inerrant Bible & Jesus Himself validates. They've chosen friendship with the world over God & become Gods enemy due to the damage they do. Read James 4:4. Romans 1 includes them that God has made it plainly evident & they are without excuse. Matt 7 & Rev 3 have places where Jesus Himself says what He will do with the lukewarm. If that's not lukewarm what is. He also warns many will say...& He will say Depart from me I never knew you. We must grow & learn like in 2Tim 2:15 & 2Tim3:16. We are to plant our flag on Biblical inerrancy & When confronted with something we don't know. We DONT MOVE OUR FLAG we search & find the answer. Which today with some great organizations is easier. Sadly, most move their flag & then slowly lose their faith. I find most theistic evolutionist are more vicious & hateful than just atheists. Plus not even willing to learn more. As a Christian we are to want to learn more like a deer pantheth after water. I truly don't see how they will be able to defend this view to Jesus face at the time of our judgement. I accepted you as Saviour but rejected you as Creator God as inerrant Bible teaches!

Jesus reaction might like it was to rich young ruler. Find out where their real heart devotion was. Matt 10:24-38 & Luke 14:25-35 Jesus tells us the cost of following Him. They won't even study to keep Flag planted w/o moving from Biblical inerrancy!!
Yes I have my doubts!
Lita Cosner
I think we need to be careful to say that "this group of people cannot be really saved," when in the same breath you allow for the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to take place over time. We don't get to say how much time He takes to conform their minds.
Charles S.
Very nice ordered and structured presentation of the character and nature of our God and our Savior and it is no secret. His Word is spoken to us through the Holy Scriptures which are available to all willing to search and discover the only logical explanation for our very existence.
John F.
Just wanted to mention and hopefully be encouraging to the many Christians that struggle with the idea that we have a "sin nature" but, in Christ we have a "new nature", we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. All things are new. Our minds being renewed with that truth is a key that can free us in many struggles that we all have in our daily lives. Jesus said "whatsoever a man thinks, so is he" our feelings and emotions naturally will follow what we are thinking. Our new nature as a "child of the living God" born again by His Spirit, placed in the family of God we now have a new identity in Christ Jesus. By Him and in Him we are " the righteousness of God" Many (including myself) have struggled and do struggle with a "dual identity" that is often taught and even the publishers of the NIV in there latest versions of the Scriptures have eliminated the words "sinful nature? as they do not exist in the text but rather the word "flesh" (our old habits, behaviors, lifestyles, ??? not yet renewed in our minds by the truth and trust in Him) is the correct word in the texts in which we struggle and encourage each other to focus our minds on the things of the Spirit and not the things of the flesh.
Love your articles! Thank you so much for defending the Scriptures and God's creation. Your variety of articles and research are awesome! My prayers are for you all at Creation.com and again I thank you for you hard work and fight in defending "the beginning" and arming all our brothers and sisters in Christ with information to help us in conversations with those having the evolution world view.

Sincerely, John
Bro William Ivan H.
Praise God for creation.com. I support fully the sequence Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. While the first Adam indeed opened the door to sin in the human race, he cannot be held responsible for all the sin in the world. Lucifer had already sinned, and was waiting and watching the new comers arrive in the Garden of Eden. He was by then Satan, with the ability to enter and control living beings, albeit the vulnerable serpent; who for some strange reason found delight in being considered more subtle than all other existing (then) animals. This broadens the scope of Redemption and Restoration, in fact of all things. We have the right to value our own salvation highly (so great), but often run the risk of believing it was all only about us and for us. 1 Corinthians 15: 24-28 offers a glimpse of our Savior's wider concern and assignment, not once , however, diminishing His love towards us, nor obedience to His Father.
Anthony W.
Hi Lita, what did you mean by: "He was born in such a way that He was not tainted by Adam’s sin,..."?
Lita Cosner
I mean that Jesus was not born with original sin. This is how He was able to live a sinless and perfectly righteous life.
Daniel J.
'Perhaps one who loves to speak from his own wisdom here also will not allow that the rivers are actually rivers, nor that the waters are precisely waters, but will instill in those who allow themselves to listen to them, that they (under the names of rivers and waters) represented something else. But I entreat you, let us not pay heed to these people, let us stop up our hearing against them, and let us believe the Divine Scripture, and following what is written in it, let us strive to preserve in our souls sound dogmas.' St John Chrystostom.

Comments are automatically closed 14 days after publication.