John Calvin Would Be Having (Another) Fit, Or How The Whole Faith Could Fall Apart

A few weeks back I briefly touched upon the wildfire debate of whether there was a literal Adam and Eve, though I used it as a springboard to analyze our ever-growing of theological musts Christian need to hold to stay in the family. Today I’m once again not offering my opinion on the debate but looking at what’s going on behind it all.

I think what is really at stake in the question of whether Adam and Eve were truly the first human beings is how many people understand God, Jesus and his gospel. To many people, if there is no Adam or Eve then a sizable piece of the Romans Road is washed away as if a flood took it away. This is because without an actual Adam and Eve who made the choice to disobey God then we wonder if there is original sin and maybe even total depravity. And without that, therefore, maybe Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross.

Though I’m not terribly interested in debating if there really was an Adam and Eve, I do think it causes us to wonder how we’ve neatly structured our understanding of sin and salvation and the like. I think the Romans Road is helpful to a point, but I think it’s a bit too mechanical.

I think now that the 80’s are over, except for those who still act as though the party’s still going, we’re looking for how to understand the crazy life Jesus led on earth and what it means for our faith. Maybe it’s not the gospel that’s at stake, but moreso how we understand it and try to relay it to others.

I suspect that how someone living two hundred years after Jesus would explain the gospel differently and yes necessarily than someone living in the 1980’s. God’s love and forgiveness is the same, but the way we try to understand it would be different.

I think that in some way the debate about Adam and Eve’s bellybutton status is more about the gospel itself. And I welcome any conversation trying to help us come to grips with that.

What do you think is behind the Adam and Eve debate? Did you or do you walk on the Romans Road? What are other way do you try to sum up the core of the gospel?

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11 Responses to John Calvin Would Be Having (Another) Fit, Or How The Whole Faith Could Fall Apart

  1. Carolyn says:

    Charlie, it is way too early for me to think much. And even if I was coherent, most of this is way above my theological level. I just want to throw in a few quick comments and then let y’all rip into it. 1) If you think John Calvin would be having a fit over this, don’t tell him about it. 🙂 2) Go ahead and wonder, if you need to, if there was “original sin”, but do not ever wonder if there is total depravity. Humans have proved that over and over again. That is all and thank you for your support.

    • I forget all these theological terms so I forget what total depravity means – though I definitely agree we’re all broken people. That’s been proved over and over, and some have proven they aren’t just broke but shattered and senseless. I don’t know how necessary it is to trace it back to Adam, to me it could all be the same but I’m far from a theologian as well (thank heavens!)

  2. I’m honestly not sure that total depravity is truly dependent on a literal Adam and Eve. I just think that perhaps we THINK it is.

    I’m not sure that the need for salvation is even truly dependent on total depravity.

    I’m pretty darn sure I’m not cool with double pre-destination, which leads me to the conclusion that limited atonement and irresistible grace are in error.

    I think the debate about Adam and Eve is due to overwhelming pressure from those who accept evolution but are also convinced that there is probably a God and that John 3:16 is true. This is not a new thing. I heard about these beliefs when I was in college (and even high school) 20+ years ago. The Internet brings discussions to life that otherwise have no hope of success, which is a big reason that fundamentalism doesn’t like the Internet.

    “To get em saved, you first gotta get em lost” is a mantra. And, without depravity and a “born in sin” nature, there is no need for “salvation”, in many minds, which means that “they can’t get saved, cause they don’t think they need to”.

    So, yep, to many, without a literal A and E, there is no salvation.

    It’s complex.

    And I don’t know WHAT I believe about it.

    Which, to many, means I’m already automatically hopelessly doomed.

    Bullcrap. Jesus says I can am saved, even in my imperfect understanding.

    Take that.

    • I always thought it was an interesting (read: terrible) tactic that many Christians took to first painstakingly point out how messed an individual is and then tell them about grace – I think we lose a lot of people in that initial pointing out of sin because all they hear is the judgment from us about how terrible they are.

  3. Edit to fix – Jesus says I AM saved, even in my imperfect understanding.

  4. David says:

    I think the entire debate is summed up in the difference between belief, and faith. We get belief from our mind, and faith from God; it’s one of the gifts embodied in grace.

    Jesus lived under the Old Testament, and fulfilled it. Paul believed that Adam and Eve were real. 1 Corinthians 15:45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

    The problem that everyone will run into is this: either Paul was telling the truth or he was he was not.

    What say you?

    The Gospel is salvation by faith, not doctrine.

  5. Larry Hughes says:

    There was an Adam and Eve There was also others in that time too that God had created earlier than Adam and Eve but not in the Garden of Eden. This was saved for God’s chosen two.

  6. John says:

    I don’t understand how so many can believe parts of the Bible and not all. Judgement Day is going to be interesting.

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