Does Death Before the Fall Make God a Liar?


[quote=“gbrooks9, post:39, topic:36961”]
If I were forced to use a real English phrase, I would replace “will die” with “will become mortal”!
[/quote]Well, first, God didn’t say anything about dying if they touched the fruit. If you are going to talk about the Bible (or any other source), then at least get what it says right.

Second, your view that the Hebrew word for “death” in that passage means something like becoming mortalized or “die-able” is hardly revolutionary. That has been a common evangelical interpretation for quite a long time. Charles Simeon in 1836 said that. Matthew Henry in the 1600s said, “Thou shalt become mortal and capable of dying.”

I am not sure what article or author you are talking about, but if you are correctly representing it, it sounds like the author is rather uninformed about how Gen 2:17 has been handled over years. I don’t know any of anyone who thinks the “muth” (Hebrew word for death) in that passage is referring to immediate physical death. The fact that they continue to live quite clearly indicates that it didn’t mean immediate physical death. There are some who believe that man was mortal, but that life continued through the Tree of Life from which he was banned after eating from the TKGE.

But in either case, no one I am aware of (except people trying to force a view on someone else) believe that the “muth” there is immediate physical death. It is quite clearly something along the lines of spiritual death and mortality.

So it sounds to me like you agree with a standard evangelical interpretation.

Very nice, @LT_15

So why do you think Adam’s sinful choice communicated death to everyone in the Universe? Or do you? Please correct me as necessary as your schedule permits!

@gbrooks9 [quote=“gbrooks9, post:42, topic:36961”]
So why do you think Adam’s sinful choice communicated death to everyone in the Universe?
[/quote]Federal headship. Adam’s sin/death is imputed to everyone so that’s Christ’s righteousness/death/life could be imputed to everyone (Romans 5). According to Romans 5:12-21, we are made righteous in the same way we were made sinners. If we are made sinful/dead by our own acts of sin, we must be made righteous/alive by our own acts of righteousness. Because of federal headship and imputation, all people have hope of eternal life in christ.


“Federal Headship”, under the most ambitious of scopes, is a legal status. In other words, it is a status awarded to all of Adam’s descendants by God himself. I’m sure @AntoineSuarez would be happy to join in this conversation with you.

But since Federal Headship is not a “plank” of the natural world, but is a plank of the supernatural world, it is essentially saying that God has awarded all souls created for all the offspring of Adam a special badge or flag … “Original Sin Here”.

I suspect, however, that you will find this unacceptable, and you will claim that once Adam sinned, the very fabric of nature “corrupts all souls” produced for Adam’s offspring.

This is what I once described as Magical Thinking. You might as well say that God does it … and go from there.

But if you want to save the thread, tell us if you think the Federal Headship of Adam extends all the way through the Milky Way Galaxy? Do you think so?

If so, why? Why do stars and possible creatures on planets around those stars, have anything to do with one person here on Earth orbiting our own specific star?

@gbrooks9, Of course federal headship is a legal status. That’s the point of it. Federal headship deals with humanity’s spiritual state before God. Yes, God does it. It’s not a plank of the natural world. It means that God has imputed Adam’s sin to all who are “in Adam” and he will impute Christ’s righteousness to all who are “in Christ.”

I am not sure what the “this” is that I will find unacceptable.

I don’t need to save the thread, but I don’t think federal Headship extends all the way through the Milky Way Galaxy. I have never seen any claim that it does, and I don’t know any reason why it would. But if someone argues that seriously, I would have to take a look at the arguments for it.


And i’m sure most people don’t think the whole Universe is at stake… but every now and then… someone talks about the “groaning of the Universe”… and voila… a whole Universe corrupted by Original Sin - -

Original Sin
By James FRAME © 1853
Minister, Queen Street Chapel

Page 47

Thus, his [Adam’s] soul became depraved and his body corrupt. How great the change!

What a powerful thing sin must be - powerful only for evil! It is an evil thing and a ‘bitter’. It has kindled the flames of hell, and given birth to the deathless worm. It is the fruit[ing] source of all the misery experienced in our world and in the Universe…

Page 48
"Whatever may be its origin, it is evident, that the parent’s depravity of mind and mortality of body musthave an injurious influence upon the soul of his offspring. The body inherits the sees of corruption, and that contaminated body being united to the soul must have an injurious effect upon all its sensibilities…"

Page 72
"We must also distinguish between the paternal and the federal relationships of Adam. He sustained a twofold relation to the race - the relation of a father, and the relation of a representative.


The Original Sin and Human Diseases: Third Edition
By Hanna Rizk Wannas, MD FRCS, ED

Page 54

"The original sin that had been committed by our father, the master of all God’s creation, unperfected the entire universe. It entered into the universe at its early stage of creation, and it represents the mark that causes imperfection of God’s perfect work. …

Its influence on creation is responsible for the entire calamity, disasters and all the sufferings of humans and animals…

"The great Apostle describes all creation to suffer, groan and travail in pain together until now. Pain and the groaning of the whole creation are directly related to Adam’s sin. Adam is the father of all human beings and the master of creation and the original sin has contaminated every particle…

The original sin has contaminated the whole creation and diseases and imperfections are its mark. The influence and damage to the creation are beyond comprehension and in spite of the advances of science it remains a mystery…

"Earth quiaks, volcano, strong winds, tornados, hurricanes and various climate disasters, are caused by the original sin…

Pages 66-67:
“The Divine teaching of the Bible about Creation; human fall and God’s reemption … explains imperfection, eruption of volcano’s, earth quakes and other catastrophic disasters that might destroy humans, animals and the rest of creation.”

@gbrooks9, Federal headship is not the same as original sin or the groaning of creation or the universe. Those are two separate things. Adam is the federal head of those “in Adam,” meaning humans. He is the human representative. That has nothing to do with non-human creation, though that was also affected by Adam’s sin and the fall.

It is important to make these distinctions so that you don’t make these errors of conflating things. I can’t see any of the context of your quotes, but if they are properly represented here by you, then they say nothing of federal headship vis-a-vis the universe.


I included a quote that mentioned both just to show that some people who agree with you about Federal Headship also think the whole Universe is groaning from corruption.

@Christy, please take note.

Take note of what? I agree that federal headship and the groaning of creation are two separate concepts that should not be conflated. Federal headship has to do with universal human accountability for Adam’s sin because Adam was a federal representative of the human race. The groaning of creation just means creation suffers from sin and awaits redemption.


Right … I was drawing your attention to the quotesw on the suffering Universe.

If you actually read the quotes, they say that Adam’s sin corrupted the entire universe.

Look, I know this is not an overwhelmingly widespread opinion… but I think I’ve shown that it definitely exists.

I never disagreed that some people say that Adam’s sin corrupted the whole universe, I just pointed out that not everyone associates the groaning of the universe with a recreation event brought on by Adam’s sin. There are other ways to interpret that verse.


[quote=“gbrooks9, post:48, topic:36961”]
I included a quote that mentioned both just to show that some people who agree with you about Federal Headship also think the whole Universe is groaning from corruption.
[/quote]Of course they do. A great number of people agree with both FH and the universe groaning from corruption connected with Adam’s sin. My unstudied guess is that most people who have studied the issue agree that the Bible teaches that, or at least that it is a valid biblical interpretation. I think it is probably held more widely among Christians and biblical scholars than you might imagine. But the two (Federal headship and universe groaning) are different issues. That’s why asking about whether Federal Headship extends through the whole Milky Way galaxy doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, and I have never heard anyone argue that it does. But that is not the same as talking about the universe groaning because of the fall.

I do believe that Adam’s sin corrupted the entire universe, but that is not federal headship. Federal headship deals only with the human race and universal human accountability for Adam’s sin, as Christy rightly and helpfully put it.

I will try to bow out here unless there is something new because I think the point has been made and because the bots are telling me I am dominating the conversation (even though you and I are the only ones talking here).


A lot of this particular discussion seems to be revolving around very specific understandings of original sin and Romans 5:12. Orthodox Christians have a very different understanding of that passage in particular, perhaps due to having formulated their theology without need of translation. For example, see

More generally, I’m not sure one should base one’s view of science and fact on what the Bible says (or, what I think the supposedly clear meaning of Scripture is over and against all the Christians I disagree with) rather than letting facts elucidate what Scripture meant regardless of my misunderstanding of it. If God is the author of Scripture, then he knew evolution was true and was speaking allegorically and typologically in Scripture, even if I and my forebears had read it otherwise. A literal reading of Scripture in the early Church was a reading it “literarily”, i.e., understanding what kind of literature it was. There is no shame in realizing we mistook the genre of allegory for the genre of history. It’s not like the books of the Bible (and the collected works edited together within them) all came with infallible descriptions, too.

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Remind me to avoid confusing you by including more than one topic in any of my future posts to you.

You said Federal Headship is what causes corruption of humanity.

Now… what causes corruption of all the other solar systems of the universe?

You write: “I do believe that Adam’s sin corrupted the entire universe…”

Now that we’ve established this about your beliefs… I can go on to point out that it’s a form of magical metaphysics… regardless of how you think it happens.

@Josephson, Your statement that “If God is the author of Scripture then he knew evolution was true” is an example of begging the question. We could, with equal authority, say that if God is author of Scripture then he knew evolution isn’t true. There is no shame in admitting that you have misread the genre of history for the genre of allegory or poetry. If one has mistaken that, then one should change.

But even if evolution is true (and there are very good reasons to doubt it scientifically and no reason to believe it theologically), you still have to deal with the words of God that death came by sin, and explain how saying something he knew to be incorrect is not a lie. That can’t be blamed on genre or accommodation. I think that is a great more difficult question than can be dispensed with by the wave of a hand as is being done here.

@gbrooks9, You didn’t confuse me. You conflated two things. It’s not magical metaphysics. It’s what the Creator said he did.


You show a lot of art in your refutation … but it still comes down to facts.

If the sinful decision of a human or two can corrupt the whole fabric of space, that is almost certainly
a metaphysical statement, rather than one that could ever be scientifically corroborated (in other words,
supernatural event vs. natural event).

Metaphysical events are frequently associated with the magical. For example, regardless of the truth of the matter or not, for someone to emphatically state that eating a bite of bread at communion will lead to the transformation of the bread’s substance (however we define that new substance and wherever it happens) is a form of divine magic.

Now, no doubt, you will object at the very thought of saying the miraculous deeds of God cannot be called magic. But that’s really just a semantic technicality. Again, in terms of natural vs. supernatural, the supernatural is akin to magic, as opposed to natural lawful behavior and the cause-and-effect relationships in natural laws.

I agree the more central hermeneutical question are “the words of [Paul] that death came by sin”, but the confusion comes from taking the “death” referred to in Genesis to be spiritual death in one part of the discussion while taking death in Paul as physical death (too) in another part of the same discussion. Physical death is the only thing relevant to a discussion of evolution and whether there was “death” before the Fall or not. The creation narratives in Genesis are also not the only Scripture whose genres and literary language we may have misunderstood. Peter Bouteneff’s “Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives” (Baker Academic, 2008) goes into detail on the ways Adam was treated in Jewish literature and Scripture leading up to Paul, and it’s not clear Paul’s use of Adam and Genesis accords with the supposedly clear meaning of the text fundamentalists assume.

The question isn’t whether God (or Paul) knew what they meant, it’s whether we have rightly understood it. Admittedly, this is a harder nut to crack for the average fundamentalist/literalist Protestant who believes in the perspicacity of Scripture. However, it’s equally but differently difficult for more patristic-minded Christians (e.g., Eastern Orthodox), as well. The Fathers were very much open to allegorical and typological readings of Scripture, including Genesis, which has led to widescale (though far from complete) acceptance of evolution in this very traditional, conservative Christian body (second largest in the world behind the still much larger Catholic Church, which also accepts the reality of evolution!) However, absent any other plausible theories on the origins of the world these Fathers took Genesis to also be if not science as we understand it, then at least as a close approximation of what truly happened. That is a problem for those who look to the consensus patrum for their understanding of Christianity and how to understand difficult passages in Scripture.


@gbrooks9, Knowing facts about theological formulations of history typically isn’t considered artful, but I will gladly accept that and add “artful” to the list of qualities I have. No one has ever told me that before.

Metaphysical? Okay. Magical? No. It’s not. It’s cause and effect of how God created the world. Miracles aren’t magic. If you want to niggle over the terms used for it, then fine. I don’t.


I suppose it’s not all that much important what descriptions are used to apply to miraculous occurrences performed by God.

But from the viewpoint of the Philosophy of History, we should remember how it was that Witches were so quickly criticized and frequently punished:

Some people believed (in part, because some witches may well have said), they get their powers from the celestial realm. Both witches and the Christian Alchemists were frequently getting lumped into the same gosh-darn awful bucket of troubles. Christian Alchemists said:

". . . they got their insights and powers
from Angels who recognized the righteous and pure qualities of the alchemist
practitioners, and helped them perform miraculous events!"

While witches were in a completely different situation:

". . . they got their insights and powers
from Angels who recognized the righteous and pure qualities of the witchy
practitioners, and helped them perform miraculous events!"

That was a very small joke. But seriously, it was believed that Witches used the very same
divine supernatural powers, as supported by the evil Angels of Lucifer’s crowd.

So you don’t want to call miracles a form of magic … but really, it all comes from the same

@Josephson, Thanks for the response. But I am curious: Why the dichotomy between physical death and spiritual death? The two go hand in hand, according to Scripture. The problem comes when people force an overliteralization on the text and declare that “death” in Genesis means physical death and therefore is wrong because Adam and Eve continued to live. That’s the kind of literalism you claim to reject but then insist that others believe so that you can accuse them of being wrong. I don’t think that is good methodology. I think it seems rather obvious that the death in Gen 2:17 was not immediate physical death, and I think it is rather obvious from Gen 3 and Rom 5 that the curse from that encompasses all creation.

I agree that the question is whether or not we have rightly understood it. But I question your dogmatism that you have rightly understood it. Appealing to the idea that people have misread texts throughout history seems hardly to support your point that you have it right now.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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