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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan Main; First edition (20 Dec. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310499275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310499275
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 341,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Matthew Barrett (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University. The Executive Editor of Credo Magazine, Barrett has written book reviews and articles for various academic journals, and he is the author of several forthcoming books, including John Owen and the Christian Life, Reclaiming Monergism, and 40 Questions on Salvation. He is also a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition website and Modern Reformation. Ardel Caneday (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Studies at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has served churches in various pastoral roles, including senior pastor, and authored numerous journal articles and essays in edited volumes. He is co-author with Thomas Schreiner of The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. Denis Lamoureux is Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph's College in the University of Alberta, the first tenure-track position in Canada dedicated to teaching and research on the relationship between scientific discovery and Christian faith. Lamoureux is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution; I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution; and Darwinism Defeated? The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins. John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament; Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context; Covenant: God's Purpose, God's Plan; The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament; and A Survey of the Old Testament. C. John Collins (PhD, University of Liverpool) is Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary. Chair of the Old Testament translation committee for the English Standard Version, he is the author of Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary; The God of Miracles: An Exegetical Examination of God's Action in the World; Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? and Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care. William Barrick (ThD, Grace Theological Seminary) is Professor of Old Testament at The Master's Seminary. Previously an exegetical consultant for Bible translation projects in six languages with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, he has written or contributed to 24 books, including Coming to Grips with Genesis and a commentary on Genesis for Logos Bible Software. He has also written more than 120 periodical articles and book reviews. Gregory A. Boyd (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is a pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Previously a professor of theology at Bethel University, several of his many books include Letters from a Skeptic, Repenting of Religion, Myth of a Christian Nation, God at War, and Satan and the Problem of Evil. SPANISH BIO: Gregory A. Boyd es pastor y fundador de la iglesia Woodland Hills en St. Paul, MN y ademas fundador y presidente del ministerio 'Christus Victor'. Greg tiene una licenciatura de la Universidad de Minnesota, una maestria en Divinidad de la escuela Yale Divinity y un doctorado del Seminario Teologico de Princeton. Ademas, sirvio como profesor de teologia en la Facultad Bethel de Minnesota por dieciseis anos. el es invitado con frecuencia a dictar conferencias en iglesias, retiros y universidades nacionales e internacionales y aprecio en numerosos programas de television y radio. Greg es autor y coautor de varios libros, entre ellos, Dios de lo posible y su exito de ventas, Cartas de un esceptico. Visite para mas informacion. Philip G. Ryken (PhD, University of Oxford) is president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and former senior minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Several of his more than 30 books authored include Loving the Way Jesus Loves and expository commentaries on Exodus, Jeremiah, Luke, and other books of the Bible. Stanley N. Gundry is executive vice president and editor-in-chief for the Zondervan Corporation. He has been an influential figure in the Evangelical Theological Society, serving as president of ETS and on its executive committee, and is adjunct professor of Historical Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He is the author of seven books and has written many articles appearing in popular and academic periodicals. SPANISH BIO: Stanley N . Gundry es Vicepresidente Ejecutivo y Editor Jefe de la Corporacion Zondervan. Ha sido una figura influyente en la Sociedad Teologica Evangelica (ETS por sus siglas en ingles), habiendo servido como Presidente de la misma y trabajado en su Comite Ejecutivo. Es profesor adjunto de Teologia Historica en el Seminario Teologico de Grand Rapids. Tambienb es autor de siete libros y ha escrito numerosos articulos que han visto la luz en diversas publicaciones periodicas, tanto populares como academicas.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Mitchell on 11 Dec. 2014
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I was really impressed with the discussion.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rik Storey on 27 Jun. 2014
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Certainly, this book leaves one wishing for more discussion/synthesis between the BioLogos and Walton's view. It would be good for more ministers to read this.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Woodbridge on 13 Jan. 2015
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All fine.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
In Search of the Historical Adam 13 Dec. 2013
By Dr. David P. Craig - Published on
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In this counterpoint book the subject of the Historical Adam takes center stage. There are four views presented: (1) No Historical Adam - presented by Denis Lamoureux, Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph.s College in the University of Alberta; (2) A Historical Adam: The Archetypal Creation View - presented by John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College; (3) A Historical Adam: Old Earth Creation View - presented by C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary; and (4) A Historical Adam: Young-Earth View - presented by William D. Barrick, Professor of Old Testament at The Master's College.

The format of the book is as follows: Each Professor writes on essay addressing three essential questions: (1) What is the biblical case for your viewpoint, and how to you reconcile it with passages and potential interpretations that seem to counter it? (2) In what ways is your view more theologically consistent and coherent than other views? (3) What are the implications your view has for the spiritual life and public witness of the church and individual believers, and how is your view a healthier alternative for both? Upon answering these questions each scholar counters followed by a rejoinder from the presenter. At the end of the book there are two essays representing two different stances on the debate and impact on the Christian faith by Greg Boyd (Senior Pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota) and Philip Ryken (President of Wheaton College and the former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia).

I Appreciated the personal testimony of Denis Lamoureux's pursuit of truth in the fields of science and theology. He has definitely wrestled with and struggled with all the issues at hand - as a non-believer, as well as a believer in Christ. Lemorourex concludes that his view of evolution disallows for belief in the historical Adam that is revealed in the Scriptures. He argues at length that the realities of history conflicts with modern science. He believes that ancient science (the view of the biblical writers) conflicts with modern science and therefore what we have in the Bible is God accommodating inerrant spiritual truths.

In summary "Lamoureux rejects scientific concordism, the idea that God chose to reveal through the Scriptures certain scientific facts and that modern science, properly understood, can be aligned with the Bible. To the contrary, he says the authors of Scripture had an ancient perception of the world, apparent in their belief in a three-tiered universe, their view of the 'firmament,' and elsewhere. When it comes to humanity's biological origins, the biblical authors likewise had a primordial understanding. They held to 'de novo creation,' the belief that God created man and everything else directly, immediately, and completely, that is fully mature."

Lamoureux argues that Adam did not exist, but that Jesus Christ is a historical person who died and rose again for our sins. He attempts to show how modern science has changed his views on interpreting the Bible through understanding distinctions between ancient and modern science, language accommodation, and his rejection of concordism.

I found his essay to be interesting, but unconvincing. I especially struggled with his weak theological explanation of the historical "Adam" from the lips of Jesus and the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. I also struggled with his interpretation of Genesis 1-11 as not being historical. Lastly, I found his interpretation and methodology in arriving at his conclusions insufficient - leaving me with more questions than answers. I agree with C. John Collins assessment of his essay when he writes, "Lamoureux has followed a style of reasoning that is oversimplified, specifically in that he generally poses either/or questions with only two options; he does not consider whether there are alternatives."

In contrast to Lamoureux, John Walton believes that Adam was a historical person. He believe's that the primary emphasis of the Bible and Ancient Near Eastern literature is to demonstrate that Adam (and Eve) are archetypal representatives of humanity. He believes that Genesis 2 is not about the biological origins of Adam and Eve. He argues that Adam and Eve may not even be the first humans who came into existence or the parents of all humankind. Walton doesn't reject or accept evolution, but his view does allow for evolution and an old earth. I found Walton's essay to be difficult to follow and his discussion of archetypes to be interesting, but not totally sustainable.

C.J. Collins, like Walton, agrees that Adam and Eve were real historical persons. He demonstrates in his essay with great theological precision how a real Adam and Eve are necessary to demonstrate our need of Savior (the second Adam - Jesus) to save us from the sin we inherited as legitimate children of Adam's race. He does a wonderful job of showing that the story line of the Scriptures reveals three major truths: (1) Adam and Eve as a pair represent humankind as one family; (2) Adam and Eve were created supernaturally by God; (3) Through Adam and Eve came forth sin. As a result all humanity is guilty before our creator God for our experience as sinners, and in need of redemption from the perfect Adam - the Lord Jesus Christ.

An interesting aspect of Collins' view of Adam is that he may have been the chieftain of his tribe, i.e., there were perhaps many more people around when Adam and Eve were around. He is also critical of theistic evolution because it fails to account for the special creation of human beings as made in the image of God. He does not believe that a literal twenty-four hour days in Genesis One is required to maintain inerrancy.

Michael Barrick, expounds the most traditional of the four views presented. He argues for the supernatural creation of Adam by God, who is the father of all mankind. Barrick gives the most emphasis of the four views to the significance of Adam in understanding and applying the gospel. He holds to a literal twenty-four days and young earth perspective. He holds to a high view of the Scriptures and believes his view best accounts for the consistent testimony of the biblical authors (Moses and Paul) with Jesus' teaching. Barrick's essay argues that when science and the Bible have a conflict - science must always concede for Scripture is inerrant and totally authoritative on all matters it addresses.

In the concluding section of the book Greg Boyd and Phil Ryken (Theologian/Pastors) address the following issues raised by the other essayists by answering the following six questions: Does Adam's existence or nonexistence (1) affect the rest of the Christian faith and those doctrines Christians have historically affirmed throughout the centuries? (2) shape a Christian worldview, especially the biblical story line from creation, fall, and redemption, to new creation? (3) have an impact on the gospel, or how the gospel is preached and applied, specifically in church? (4) have influence on how we live the Christian life and 'do church' as the body of Christ? (5) make a difference in our evangelical witness to a watching world? and (6) What is at stake in this debate for evangelicals in the church today?

Of the four views presented I found myself in the most agreement with Barrick, followed by Collins, then Walton, and lastly by Lamoureux. I think that Barrick's essay was the easiest to read because it was the essay that took the passages of Genesis at face value - literally. The other three essayists seemed to have to do a lot of hermeneutical gymnastics to make their views work. This is a complicated issue. I appreciated the grace reflected by Lamoureux, Collins, and Walton in particular. Barrick came across more defensive and dogmatic than the other three. At the end of the day, this book deserves a wide reading. It shows the immense complexities of hermeneutics, science, theology, history, and inerrancy. I appreciated what each writer taught me - I gained new knowledge and insights on all five of these topics. I had many questions answered, and yet still have many unanswered questions. My hope is that this book will continue to spark theologians and scientists to work together in the pursuit of truth. I am grateful for the time invested by all the contributors and heartily recommend this book. It is a challenging read, but well-worth the effort.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read for Pastors 17 Jan. 2014
By Alfonso Gilbert - Published on
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This is a discussion we can no longer avoid as pastors. Scientific advancements in genetics by Francis Collins has pushed this controversy to the forefront (see Language of God). If genetics proves to be true in that human DNA can be traced to a minimum of 10,000 human pairs, then Adam and Eve as the first human pair must be align with that truth (such as Galileo and heliocentricity). If all truth is God's truth, then science will agree with the truth of scripture. If it doesn't, then our interpretation must be the first thing to be revisited. God does not lie and scientific truth such as heliocentricity does not lie, so our ability to harmonize the two must be questioned. For us pastors, this requires first a careful on-going exegesis.

This book is a great place to begin a re-evaluation of our theology about a historical Adam. The biblical Adam is presented through one theistic evolutionary viewpoint, two old-earth viewpoints, and one young-earth position. All four scholars do an excellent job presenting thier cases considering the relatively newness of this this debate in light of the recent genetic revolution. For some it will raise more questions than answers, but for others it will confirm a nagging suspicion or a previously held position. My only dissapointment was its failure to address "original sin," a topic all four contributers evaded, and one that is inextricably linked to Adam. I think Zondervan should do a book on four views on original sin. Lastly, for serious students of scripture, I highly recommend Walton's "The Lost World of Genesis," Collins's "Did Adam and Eve Really Exist," Peter Enns "The Evolution of Adam," and Francis Collins's "The Language of God."
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
useful introduction to the issue, with significant flaws 28 July 2014
By Arthad - Published on
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The book is a useful introduction to various perspectives on the historical Adam, ranging from complete denial of Adam's historicity (Lamoureux) to full-bore young earth creationism (Barrick). Walton and Collins fall somewhere in the middle. Others have offered more detailed summaries of the content, so I'll content myself with the following observations. I found the arrangement very helpful: each contributor makes his full-length case followed by responses from the other three. This was confusing to some extent -- e.g., in the responses to the first piece, the others had to refer to their own positions, which I hadn't read yet. But on the whole it made for more give and take than simply four contributions that cross-referenced the others.

My major frustration, though, with the whole book is that the contributors did a lot of talking past each other. Lamoureux and Barrick were particularly guilty of this, Collins and Walton much less so. Barrick, especially, seemed to think that repeating other people's talking points is the same as actually making an argument. His chapter was very weak and unnecessarily combative. Lamoureux' contribution was stronger than Barrick, but also suffered from oversimplification (I think). So I think this volume would have been much stronger if the editor had forced the contributors to interact more with each other's views rather than letting assertion and counter-assertion count as argument and rebuttal.

One issue that I think should have been addressed is philosophy of science. Lamoureux, the scientist, took an Enlightenment notion of science for granted -- science gives us objective truth about the way the world really is. He should have at least acknowledged the existence of instrumentalism -- the notion that science tells us how things work, but that it's not "true" so much as "effective." We use science as a tool to get things done and it may or may not reflect objective reality. The introduction of this distinction would have helped some of the talking past each other that I note above.

One final comment: there was very little engagement with historical exegesis of Genesis. I think Luther and Calvin were mentioned once (by Barrick), and someone else mentioned Origen (Collins?). No attempt was made to draw in Roman Catholic or Orthodox approaches. I realize the "Four Views" series is for evangelicals, but to address "the historical Adam" with so little historical awareness is to put blinders on.

Again, it's a useful starting point, though often a frustrating read. It's far from the last word and it's not intended to be.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Everyone intrested from Adam to Zak should read this 19 Mar. 2014
By SLIMJIM - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
For the last few years the historicity of Adam has been a topic of controversy and debate within Evangelical academia. It comes at no surprise that Zondervan would come out with a book in their Counterpoint series addressing this topic. Four views are given a hearing in this book represented by Denis O. Lamoureux (Evolutionary Creation View that denies the historical Adam), John Walton (Archetypal Creation View), C. John Collins (Old Earth Creation View), and William D. Barrick (Young Earth Creation View).
Normally I’m cautious about these Four Views book either because I feel better contributors could have been selected or space limitation didn’t allow justice for the complex subject at hand. With these expectations I must say I thought the book did a better job than I expected. I’m happy to see some improvements over the years with this genre. The four scholars selected are highly qualified representative of their respective views. In previous works the format feature the chapters by each school followed by the responses by the other schools; I appreciated that this work also feature a rejoinder to the other schools’ responses, a plus in my opinion in seeing what a counter-rebuttal looks like. I also appreciated the editors’ decision to have two pastoral reflections that discussed what the implication of the discussion of the historicity of Adam means practically for the Christian (although I must say it seems Gregory Boyd’s essay ended up being more on why Christians should welcome those who deny the historical Adam as brothers and sisters in the faith even in our disagreements). The two contributors selected for this part were excellent: Both Gregory Boyd and Philip Ryken are well known for being pastor-scholars. I thought the pastoral reflection also made their contribution to the discussion of which view one should take on the historical Adam question, and these two essays must not be overlooked or dismiss because its pastoral in nature; in particular I had in mind how Ryken’s essay laid out what an historical or non-historical Adam means theologically for the Christian experience and Gospel witness.
I imagine not many will change their views from reading this book and yet I would say this book is still important and worth buying because it provide a concise summary of each perspective’s argument. Never had I read a book in Zondervan’s Counterpoint series in which the contributors footnoted their own work as much as they did in this volume but I appreciated this as helpful for those who want to do further research. One can’t really blame the contributors for footnoting themselves so much since this is a much more complicated subject than most topics in this series since there is immediate question of Adam’s existence and also the undercurrent of one’s understanding of the role of modern science/evolution in interpreting the Genesis 1-3 that formulate one’s conclusion to the Adam question. Really, this book had only one contributor (Lamoureux) who denied the historical Adam while the other three believed in a historical Adam; and yet all three who agreed on Adam didn’t arrive to their conclusion by the same method necessarily given their divergent view of the role of extra-biblical data (Modern cosmology, science, evolution, Ancient Near East studies) in interpreting Genesis 1-3.
Dr. Barrick has one of the most exegetically rich chapters in the book, and readers will appreciate his grammatical and syntactical observation brought out from Genesis 1-2. The contributor with the strongest scientific background is Lamoureux but appeared to be the most exegetically weak, where in the responses the other three contributors harped on him for his take on the Hebrew word Raqia and his misleading translation of this term as “firmament.”
NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An Evolving Evangelical Debate: A review of “Four Views on The Historical Adam” 15 May 2014
By Randal Rauser - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
In recent years the debate over Christianity and evolution has continued to — ahem – evolve, and this new Zondervan Counterpoint book, Four Views on the Historical Adam, is a reflection of the shifting nature of debate. The conversation focuses in on the biblical, historical, and theological issues surrounding the question of a historical Adam. While the book includes a young earth creationist (William D. Barrick) and a traditional defender of a historical Adam cum old earth creationism (C. John Collins), the book also includes views once considered outliers including John Walton’s archetypal interpretation of Adam and Denis Lamoureux’s flat denial of a historical Adam.

The book starts off with a helpful orienting essay from the editors Matthew Barrett and Ardel B. Caneday. Next, comes Lamoureux’s essay followed by short responses from each of his three interlocutors, and then closing statements by Lamoureux. This procedure is repeated for Walton, Collins and Barrick. The book then concludes with two essays focused on pastoral reflections: Gregory A. Boyd claims that a historical Adam is not necessary for a healthy Christian faith while Philip G. Ryken claims that it is.

In my review, I’m going to offer some thoughts on the efforts of the four contributors. However, I’ll be doing so in reverse from their order of appearance in the book, beginning with Barrick and working back to Lamoureux.

*William D. Barrick (Young Earth Creationist)*

Our first introduction to Barrick comes in his response to Lamoureux’s essay. Alas, he does not forge a positive impression. Barrick forgoes pleasantries in his opening statement, opting instead to caricature and distort Lamoureux’s perspective with the hostile quip: “Lamoureux tosses aside the traditional view that I and other adherents to a historical Adam hold dear.” (80) No charitable and careful reader of Lamoureux’s essay could possibly conclude that Lamoureux’s rejection of a historical Adam is cavalier (as “tossing aside” suggests). Instead, he carefully reasons his position on biblical and theological grounds after three years spent in careful study of Genesis 1-11. Ironically, the only “tossing aside” is found in Barrick’s cursory treatment of his interlocutors.

Contrast Barrick’s snide and abrasive opening with the first sentence of Lamoureux’s response to Barrick’s essay: “I have not had the pleasure of meeting William Barrick, but I look forward to it someday. In reading his chapter I found his love for the Lord and Scripture to be palpable.” (228) Lamoureux is generous to a fault here.But he is to be commended for attempting to respond to Barrick with Christian charity. Walton and Collins are similarly professional and generous in their exchanges with their fellow interlocutors. By contrast, Barrick reinforces the unfortunate stereotype of the angry fundamentalist.

Barrick frequently caricatures and misrepresents the views of his interlocutors. For example, he claims that Lamoureux believes that the parables of Jesus “are made up or are like old wives’ tales passed on from ancient times.” (83) In addition, he claims that “to be consistent, Lamoureux would have to deny the miracle at Cana on the same grounds that he denies instant creation in Genesis 1 — after all, modern evolutionary science is antagonistic to both.” (84) However, Lamoureux explicitly affirms miracles in his essay. So far as I can see, Barrick has clumsily conflated “evolutionary science” with philosophical naturalism.

Barrick’s own view is that God gave the Genesis account to Moses through special revelation (199) and that the text provides a literal account of creation in six 24 hour days culminating in the special creation of the first man. In support of his own view Barrick marshalls the exegetical opinions of sixteenth century theologians Martin Luther and John Calvin (among others) while insisting that his view upholds the authority of scripture and biblical inerrancy. Meanwhile, he suggests that his opponents are undermining the authority of scripture and placing science over the Bible.

Unfortunately, Barrick often appears unable even to follow his opponents’ reasoning. For example, consider this excerpt where he offers a practical objection to combining evolution with a historical Adam: “If it takes countless years to produce one such individual [i.e. an "Adam" who originated through evolutionary processes] how will he survive long enough while another similarly developed individual [i.e. Eve] evolves who is his compatible opposite in gender for the human race to begin?” (210) If I understand this curious passage correctly, Barrick seems to think that evolutionary creationists like Lamoureux are obliged to think God first evolved Adam from a simian population and then initiated a new eons-long evolutionary sequence to originate Eve. This “dilemma” is flawed on two counts. First, Lamoureux explicitly rejects any historical Adam. And second, no evolutionary creationist is obliged to think that God first evolved Adam and then evolved Eve.

The most worrisome aspect of Barrick’s contribution is the theological bullying as he repeatedly calls into question the biblical commitment and evangelical faith of those who disagree with him. For example, he writes:

“Perhaps a born-again believer could deny Adam’s historical existence without losing his or her saving relationship to Christ and everlasting forgiveness of sins.” (80)

Perhaps?! Leave it to the young earth creationist to turn a collegial debate into a matter of salvation. Lamoureux’s response is certainly appropriate:”I will not dignify such remarks with a response.” (88)

Next, consider this passage:

“When the reader of the Bible accepts extrabiblical evidence (whether from ancient Near Eastern documentation or from modern scientists’ interpretation of circumstantial evidence) over the biblical record, that denigrates the biblical record and treats it with skepticism rather than as prima facie evidence.” (226)

Note that this claim of denigration is merely an undefended charge. That’s bad enough. But the fact that it constitutes a slight on the theological commitments of others makes it plain nasty.

While Barrick’s responses to Collins and Walton are not as hostile as his response to Lamoureux, they are equally problematic. For example, in his response to Walton’s sophisticated archetypal reading of the creation narrative, Barrick retorts that the creation of Eve out of the side of Adam must have “simply happened in the way the account declares” and that “It seems pointless and desperate to conclude that what the text describes did not take place.” (135) Comments like this (e.g. “it seems…”) only provide insight into Barrick’s personal plausibility framework. But they provide no argument for why the reader should likewise find Walton’s view “pointless and desperate”.

Barrick’s own essay maintains this procedure of making bald, unevidenced claims. For example, he asserts that belief in a historical Adam is “foundational” for a proper (i.e. “biblical”) understanding of God’s creative action in the world, the nature and history of humanity, the nature of death and the reality of sin, and Scripture’s authority, inspiration and inerrancy (199). Alas, the evidential support for such grandiose claims is missing.

Barrick quotes John Mahoney with approval: “If the first man is not historical and the fall into sin is not historical, then one begins to wonder why there is a need for our Lord to come and undo the work of the first man.” (222) This is just wrong: the fundamental datum that confirms the reality of original sin and the need for redemption is not found in the story of two people who disobeyed God in a garden a few millennia ago. The fundamental datum is found in the sinful human heart. We can debate how the human race became sinful while agreeing that we all are sinful and in need of redemption. The fact that Barrick cannot make so basic a distinction simply baffles me.

And that’s just the beginning. This essay is rife with theological scare tactics and bizarre reasoning. For example, Barrick suggests that interpretations of the text which differ from his flat-footed literalism are tantamount to lying and of course God cannot lie (203). This is an absurd theory of communication. When human speakers use idioms that they recognize will be misunderstood by some hearers, does it follow that those speakers are thereby lying? Of course not.

Barrick writes: “Why do some students of Scripture abandon a traditional view of Adam and refuse to accept the biblical text’s testimony as historically accurate? In one word, evolution….” (223) That’s false. As noted above, Lamoureux changed his views based on his study of the text, not evolution. But even if a person does change their reading of the text based on some scientific theory, so what? Does Barrick really think that heliocentrism shouldn’t inform one’s reading of the ascension? Barrick seems to think he knows something of the Reformers’ understanding of Sola scriptura, but his disavowal of all external biblical sources as guides to read and interpret the Bible isn’t Sola scriptura.

In sum, Barrick’s contribution to this book does young earth creationism no favors. Barrick comes across as ignorant, brusque, and intransigent. If this is the best young earth creationism can do, the future of this theological position is bleak indeed.

*C. John Collins (Old Earth Creationist)*

Collins is the author of several important books including Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care. In his essay Collins defends a historical view of Adam and Eve. While he believes that Genesis 1-11 is historical, he also offers a careful and nuanced understanding of the concept of history. According to Collins, a narrative is historical “if the author wants his audience to believe the events really happened.” History is thus “a way of referring, of talking about events in the real world.” (147) This minimalistic definition means that a historical text can have a poetic, stylized form, lack detail, and depart from rigid chronological sequence (148). And this allows us to read Genesis 1-2 as history without doing so like a naïve literalist.

Next, Collins notes that Genesis 1-11 is a literary unity. This text departs from the various competing ANE proto-histories in its focus on “one true God, who alone made and rules the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.” (153) This text also establishes an original human pair as the source of all human life while setting the stage for the unfolding history that continues in Genesis 12-50 and on through the biblical storyline. If we fast-forward to the New Testament we see Jesus referring back to Adam to make a theological point on marriage (Matthew 19:3-9). Collins summarizes thusly:

“In sum, the story line of the Bible, to be coherent, leads us to expect that (1) humankind is actually one family, with one set of ancestors for us all; (2) God acted specially (“supernaturally”) to form our first parents; and (3) our first ancestors, at the headwaters of the human race, brought sin and dysfunction into the world of human life. ” (164)

But is this credible scientifically? Collins claims it is by arguing for the uniqueness (as he sees it) of humanity over-against all other species, noting in particular our unique linguistic capacities (165). Collins believes that these unique human capacities (e.g. language, art, etc.) provide empirical evidence that Homo sapiens must have been created de novo through a special divine act. This alleged empirical fact is thus marshalled to support his biblical/historical argument for a de novo Adam. I have three problems with this claim.

First, Collins talks about “the aspects of human existence that are universally human and that are uniquely human.” (165) This gives rise to a problem: tying the imago dei to some (allegedly) uniquely human ability always faces the problem of humans at the margins who lack those capacities. For example, is an anencephalic child made in the image of God? I surely think so. And yet that child utterly lacks the ability for higher cognitive and emotional function — or even bare sentient awareness — that is commonly associated with the imago dei. If one responds to such liminal cases by extending the image to an anencephalic infant through divine fiat, then why not make the exception the norm and explain the image generally as a fiat declaration? Doing so may not be satisfying for the theoretician who balks at fiat appeals, but it will save you a world of bioethical trouble.

Second, Collins’ claim places a curious constraint on divine omnipotence. He writes, “Do these [abilities] point toward a unified origin of humankind, an origin that goes beyond the powers of a purely natural process…?” (165) He clearly thinks so. But note that by making this claim Collins is essentially taking the position that God could not establish a purely natural evolutionary process that resulted in the creation of human beings. That’s an extraordinarily robust claim, particularly given that divine omnipotence is understood to be the ability to actualize any logically possible state of affairs consistent with the divine moral nature. Under that traditional definition of omnipotence, God cannot create a square circle since such an act is logically contradictory and he cannot do evil because it contradicts his moral nature. But if he chooses, he surely can create Homo sapiens through divinely established and sustained natural processes. If Collins demurs then the burden of proof is on him to show where the logical or moral contradiction lies.

Collins recognizes that it is not wise for Bible scholars to tell the scientist how to do their work or to opine beyond their expertise on what range of scientific theorization is acceptable: “far be it from an exegete or theologian to tell a geneticist what he or she may or may not find in the genome, or a paleontologist in the fossils!” (168) Collins is certainly right about that. But then I would add, far be it from Collins to declare that God could not create human beings through natural processes.

While Collins provides an articulate and succinct statement of a traditional position on Adam, once one recognizes that there is no a priori reason to deny an evolutionary account of origins, one is obliged to consider whether the evidence supports it. And if it does, then one is simply obliged on the evidence to reconsider one’s reading of scripture.

*John H. Walton (Archetypal Creation)*

Walton’s proposal, which is presented in book-length form in The Lost World of Genesis One, would count as a “paradigm shift” over-against traditional views of Adam. While Walton retains the place for a historical Adam, on his view Adam may not have been the first man and focus shifts from his historical status to his archetypal status as an elected representative of humanity. In short, while Walton retains belief in a historical Adam and Eve, he insists that the biblical account of their origin focuses not on their material (biological) origins, but rather on their functional (archetypal) status.

Walton makes the simple but profound point that the first human being was not, in fact, called “Adam” since this is a Hebrew word for humankind, a language the emergence of which long postdates the emergence of the first humans. Consequently, the naming of this first human being as “Adam” is instead a literary designation which flags the archetypal status of this human being for the species.

It is this archetypal status — the function of Adam as representative — which is key in the text. The text is not concerned with establishing a material origin. Consequently, when the text refers to Adam as created from dust, this description should not be taken as a description of a de novo event through which God created Adam. Instead, it is a description of his human status and is consistent with his being born of a woman (93).

Walton demonstrates that ANE literature commonly appealed to functional archetypes where the origin of human beings is concerned (100-2). We find Genesis illumined if we view it in these terms. The text establishes that human beings were created with moral bodies, supported by God, and with the priestly role to serve in sacred space (102-3). They work together as male and female in their various tasks.

When we turn to the New Testament, we find that the writers appeal to Adam (and Eve) as archetypes to make various claims about the universal human condition. For example, the appeal to Adam in Romans 5 “affirms the reality of sin and death entering human experience in an event and thereby implies a historical Adam. At the same time … no scientific claim is made about biological/genetic relationship or material discontinuity.” (106) As for 1 Corinthians 15:45 where Adam is described as the “first” man in contrast to Christ who is the last, “Since Christ was not the last biological specimen, we must instead conclude that this text is talking about the first archetype and the last archetype.” (107, emphasis added)

Given that there have been many human beings since the archetypally last human (Jesus), couldn’t there likewise be a number of human beings before the archetypally first Adam? Walton believes so: he proposes that the creation account in Genesis 2 may be a sequel to the original creation of human beings: “In such a case, Adam and Eve would not necessarily be envisioned as the first human beings, but would be elect individuals drawn out of the human population and given a particular representative role in sacred space.” (109) In short, Adam can still be our “federal head” (104) representative even if he isn’t the first human being. As a bonus, Walton’s reading of Adam and Eve as individuals elected as representatives out of a pre-existent human community handily deals with the knotty textual conundrum that Cain’s appears to be banished into a pre-existent human community (Genesis 4).

This decoupling of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 provides Walton with the ability to affirm some degree of evolutionary history alongside the fiat election of a historical Adam to serve as the archetypal (and federal) head of the human species. In this way, Walton maintains maximum concord with the biological sciences. But his magisteria do not remain completely separate, for they overlap at one significant point. While Walton doesn’t insist on a material intervention (as Collins does), he does insist that there must be a moment where God made a functional declaration about the status of human beings:

“If someone who takes the Bible and theology seriously were to believe that evidence supports the idea that hominids evolved, it would be essential for them to understand evolution as a guided process by a Creator God (e.g., something like Evolutionary Creation). Sometime in that process–perhaps at that moment that geneticists refer to as the bottleneck when humanity nearly became extinct — God undertook a special act of creation that gives the entire human population the image of God. This would constitute a creative act (giving a role and a function) and represents a gain that could not be achieved through evolution.” (114)

Walton’s theory faces several objections, not least among which is the historical novelty of the position. Lamoureux notes that he first encountered Walton’s position at a conference in 2002 and that he’d never heard of any scholar holding such a position prior to this point (120). While hardly settling the matter, such an observation certainly should be cause for caution. In addition, Collins points out that Walton’s novel decoupling of Genesis 1 and 2 contradicts traditional rabbinic readings as well as multiple biblical passages which appear to assume the identity of the human pairs in these two texts (127-9).

By affirming a historical Adam while limiting the status of this individual to a functional archetype, Walton’s position walks a fascinating (and fine) line. It certainly is attractive for the Christian who wishes to maintain a historical Adam without having to reject biological evolution. However, the objections to it remain significant as well. Ultimately, I couldn’t shake the impression that the theory constituted a sort of unstable “transitional form” for those evangelicals as yet unwilling to go all the way by denying a historical Adam altogether.

*Denis Lamoureux (Evolutionary Creation)*

Lamoureux is the author of a couple important books on evolution and theology, Evolutionary Creation and I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution. He also is the only contributor who has PhDs both in theology and science, and that provides him with a unique insight into the scientific case for evolution.

Lamoureux rejects a historical Adam. In his view, the creation narrative of Genesis 1-2 should be read as ancient science. For example, the text assumes an ancient cosmology which includes a flat earth embedded in a three-storied view of the universe (sheol below, heaven above). Genesis 1 references God separating the waters above from the waters below, and sealing the waters above in the raqia, a hard, dome surface that spans the flat globe. Christians now reject the raqia, the flat earth, and the three-storied universe as remnants of an obsolete view of the world. But this concession doesn’t undermine scripture. As Lamoureux explains, God accommodated to the science of ancient peoples to communicate theological truths in the worldview they could understand. It is the theological truths that are authoritative and inerrant, not the accoutrements of the now obsolete ANE science through which they were communicated.

Thus far, the argument will be relatively non-controversial. But Lamoureux then takes an additional step by arguing that the concept of a first human being (and thus a historical Adam) is as much a part of an obsolete view of the world as the three-storied universe. Consequently, to be consistent we should eschew “scientific concordism” (the attempt to draw points of contact and concord between particular biblical texts or doctrines and scientific data). Instead, we should recognize that God’s accommodation to an ANE worldview was even more radical than we previously imagined. And this means that we can recognize that Adam is non-historical as surely as the fact that the earth is not flat. In each case, theological truths remain secure.

As Lamoureux puts it, “Evolutionary creationists believe that the Creator established and maintains the laws of nature, including the mechanisms of a teleological evolution…. In other words, the evolution of life is a purpose-driven natural process.” (43) Lamoureux believes that just as God creates a new life in the womb through natural processes, so he evolved all creatures on earth through a natural process (44). This frees the theologian to accept the insights that come through scientific advance without engaging in a misbegotten effort to defend the Bible’s scientific credibility.

In my opinion, Lamoureux puts on the strongest showing. Admittedly, I may be biased, for I know Denis personally and count him a friend. But even with the recognition of my bias, it seems to me that his position is the most carefully wrought. I particularly appreciated his inclusion of several diagrams and charts to support his case as well as his close attention to pastoral and personal themes, a pre-emptive strike against those prepared to challenge his piety based on his theology.

That said, I have been known to criticize my friends, and this is no exception. I begin with Lamoureux’s rejection of scientific concordism combined with his interpretation of obsolete biblical science as accommodation. While this is a reasonable position to take, one can’t help but wonder how Lamoureux avoids sliding down a slippery slope toward more radical demythologization. Consider, for example, Jesus’ miraculous healings of a demon-possessed boy in Mark 9:14-29. In the passage we read that the boy is thrown to the ground, foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. This certainly matches the description of a tonic-clonic (epileptic) seizure. So why not interpret the “demonic” diagnosis as yet another accommodation to ancient science?

Lamoureux might try to halt the slide down the slope by reiterating that he accepts divine miracles. Fair enough, Lamoureux may still accept a miraculous healing occurred, but to be consistent it would seem he should interpret it as the healing of a tonic-clonic seizure rather than demon possession. In one very quotable line, Lamoureux observes, “It is worth noting that some Christians attempt to pin Adam on the tail end of evolution. However, this is categorically inappropriate.” (64) But then isn’t it likewise inappropriate to “pin the demon” on the tail of an epileptic seizure?

Next, let’s consider Lamoureux’s charge that Collins embraces “the God-of-the-gaps.” (177) In science/theology dialogue, this is the kiss of death, the facile invocation of God to explain some gap in human knowledge. Lamoureux claims that “Any divine being who acts ‘specially’ and ‘supernaturally’ in human origins is a God-of-the-gaps.” (178) Since Collins claims that God must act supernaturally to create the first human beings, by Lamoureux’s definition he is guilty as charged.

Unfortunately for Lamoureux, a good case can be made that he is also guilty of this odious charge. Lamoureux believes that God acted specially to create the universe, bringing it into existence out of non-being. If we recognize that God-of-the-gaps extends to any divine being acting ‘specially’ and ‘supernaturally’ in cosmic origins, then Lamoureux is guilty. So why wouldn’t we extend the principle? Perhaps Lamoureux might say that the origin of the universe is an exception because God is required as the absolute beginning. But that won’t do as a response given that physicists continue to work on closing that gap in our knowledge. The Hawking-Hartle is perhaps the best known attempt to close the gap, but many other proposals have been, and continue to be, defended. If we are to defer to the evolutionary biologist by conceding that the “human gap” can be closed, I don’t see why we wouldn’t likewise defer to the physicist that the “cosmic gap” can be closed. And thus, if Collins is guilty of the God-of-the-gaps in evolutionary biology, one might as well charge Lamoureux with God-of-the-gaps qua physical cosmology.

*The Verdict*

Is anybody still reading this review? For those who have persevered, you shall now be rewarded with a final verdict. (And if you skipped over the analysis to get here, shame on you!)

Zondervan’s Counterpoint series is intended to provide the motivated layperson with a solid introduction and survey to a field of debate. In some cases I believe a unified introduction by a single author is more helpful since it can become rather overwhelming to process multiple arguments, rebuttals and rejoinders. However, in this case I found the Counterpoint format to be a very helpful way to survey the landscape. Each of the authors was clear in stating his position and engaging with his interlocutors. The differences and points of debate were readily appreciable and it was relatively easy for a reader to discern the main areas of debate and size up the relative merits of each proposal.

I reserved some harsh (but I think deserved) criticism of Barrick’s position. But that isn’t a criticism of the book itself. Overall, this book is a great value and provides a stellar overview of four very different positions on Genesis, Darwinism, and the historical Adam. For those interested in grappling with the current debate on the historical Adam, Four Views on the Historical Adam is a must have. As a book, I give this Four Views a *five star* rating.
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