Why An Historical Adam Matters For A Biblical Doctrine Of Sin -- By: John W. Mahony

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 15:1 (Spring 2011)
Article: Why An Historical Adam Matters For A Biblical Doctrine Of Sin
Author: John W. Mahony

Why An Historical Adam Matters For A Biblical Doctrine Of Sin

John W. Mahony

John W. Mahony is Chairman and Professor of the Department of Theological and Historical Studies at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, TN.

Dr. Mahoney is the author of numerous journal articles and publications and has also served as a pastor in churches in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.


“What happened here?” is the surprised gasp of any parent with young, active children. Things at home can, and often do, get out of hand quickly. Sadly, the same is true with the world in which we live. “What happened down here?” is a paraphrase of God’s interrogation of Adam after he sinned (Gen 3:9). According to the Scripture, human history may be viewed as an account of the fallout from Adam’s one act of disobedience and its implications for every human being. The human race’s story is one of rampant hatred and greed, telling us that something has gone terribly wrong, and God’s Word reveals precisely what that wrong is: sin. Consequently, wrongness is one of the defining features of the reality in which we live. Reflecting on the status of our world one writer put it: “It’s not supposed to be this way!”1 The fact that we realize this and yet continue to pursue sinful acts is an indictment of us and a clear declaration of our lost condition. Every academic discipline tries to explain the human problem, but the Bible has a clear answer: God created the first humans in his image and these humans, who the Bible calls Adam and Eve, disobeyed a direct command of God; this rebellion is then manifested in every human life.

However, questions still persist. Major disparities exist between the biblical cosmogony (the revelation of the way things were and are from God’s perspective) and the advances of scientific research, especially in light of recent DNA findings and the progress in the genome project. At the center of the debate, at least for evangelicals, is the status of the first humans, Adam and Eve, and their role in the unmaking of creation. Since the period of the Enlightenment and, more specifically, with the introduction of Darwinism, the notion that the human race emerged from a single couple of image-bearing hominids a few millennia ago is categorized as religious fiction.

Unfortunately many evangelicals have joined the evolution chorus at different stages and in different ways, raising questions about the biblical account. The typical response among most of these evangelicals is to defend the Genesis accoun...

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