Rescuing Adam: Three Approaches To Affirming A Historical Adam -- By: Kenneth D. Keathley

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 08:1 (Spring 2017)
Article: Rescuing Adam: Three Approaches To Affirming A Historical Adam
Author: Kenneth D. Keathley


Rescuing Adam:
Three Approaches To Affirming A Historical Adam

Kenneth D. Keathley

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Over the past decade the creation/evolution debate among evangelicals has focused on one primary issue: the historicity of Adam and Eve. This article explores why this is so and surveys the approach taken by three conservatives to affirm the historicity of the original couple. Fazale Rana, C. John Collins, and John Walton are selected as representatives of the three primary approaches taken by evangelicals: concordist, semi- concordist, and non-concordist. These models demonstrate that adherence to Adam’s historicity is a reasonable position. Evangelicals should not view the issue as trivial but continue to affirm the traditional view of Adam and Eve.

Key Words: archetypal Adam, biblical authority, concordism, creation, creationism, evolution, genetics, historical Adam, human genome.

The creation/evolution debate serves as a prime example of how academic specialization hinders as much as it helps. The discussion sprawls over a broad range of disciplines. In the natural sciences, biology, geology, and paleontology (just to name a few) are deeply involved. The theological side of the equation requires scholars in the Old and New Testaments, philosophers, historians, and theologians. All engage in the conversation. This article attempts to show why the discussion lately has focused on Adam and Eve and how some conservative evangelicals make the case for the historicity of the original couple.

The creation/evolution discussion is as big as it is broad—too big for any one researcher to master. In this field one must depend, more than ever, on the work of others. As we all know, dependence upon the scholarship of others has its own special perils. Which scholars? When it comes to creationism, there are three major tribes within evangelicalism, each promoting its own team of experts. Young-earth creationists (YEC), old- earth creationists (OEC), and evolutionary creationists (EC) all have their stable of fully credentialed specialists who argue their respective perspectives. Then there is the duckbilled platypus of the conversation—intelligent design (ID). ID defies easy categorization and therefore one can find advocates of ID within all three of the creationist camps.

The Hinge Issue

As sometimes happens with such big and bewildering subjects, one issue in particular becomes a cipher by which the larger picture is decoded. This cipher often comes to serve as a litmus test or (sometimes more darkly) as a shibboleth. Lately, the question about the historicity of Adam and Eve has started to p...

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