Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review of FOUR VIEWS ON THE HISTORICAL ADAM edited by Matthew Barrett & Ardel B. Caneday

Title: Four Views on the Historical Adam
Author: Denis O. Lamoureux, John H. Walton, C. John Collins, William D. Barrick, Gregory A. Boyd, Philip G. Ryken
Publisher: Zondervan
What It's About: As a part of Zondervan's Counterpoint series, Four Views on the Historical Adam brings together the four most prominent views on the existence of the historical Adam as outlined by four of their chief evangelical proponents. Each chapter outlines a view, followed by rebuttals by the other contributors, and ending with a rejoinder by the original contributor taking into account the rebuttals presented. The four views are:
  • Evolutionary Creation View
  • Archetypal Creation View
  • Old-Earth Creation View
  • Young-Earth Creation View
Why I Read It: I've always been interested in the intersection between faith and science. When I was in college, I discovered for the first time that there were Christians who believed that the historical Adam doesn't exist and that the Bible doesn't demand us to believe in a historical Adam. This book covers the main views, and I was interested to see what each view had to say.
What I Liked About It: I find John Walton's view to be intriguing, and this wasn't the first interaction I've had with his view. He sees Genesis 1 and Adam as archetypal of the rest of creation. Although, he leans toward the existence of a historical Adam, it doesn't seem to be a make or break argument for him for the validity of Christianity. Though I find his view interesting and somewhat plausible, I don't know that I could say that I agree with it. The Old-Earth Creation View of C. John Collins probably fits my own stance the most, yet even this view holds its challenges for how to or whether to read science into the Genesis 1 account. Denis O. Lamoureux presents the Evolutionary Creation View and argues that there never existed a historical Adam. This view, while held by a man who seems to love God and believe in innerrancy, doesn't seem to adequately address the fact that the New Testament treats Adam as a historical person. As for the Young Earth Creation View presented by William D. Barrick, I have a hard time accepting this one. I used to be a YEC, but I think science has adequately shown that the world is old, and I think the Bible leaves open the possibility of an old earth.

The book closes with two essays regarding the importance of a historical Adam to the Christian faith. Greg Boyd argues that it isn't essential, and Philip Ryken argues that it is essential. Though I don't hold to everything that Boyd teaches (i.e.Open Theism), I have great respect for Boyd and have to agree with him that whether or not there existed a historical Adam should not be a deterrent to our faith in Jesus and that God created the universe. However, I understand the arguments that Ryken puts forward. 

This is definitely an interesting book and worth your time if you're interested in the intersection between faith and science. It can't provide definitive answers, but it will definitely get you thinking.

Review copy provided by Zondervan, courtesy of AcademicPS
Where You Can Buy It:

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