If you affirm a historical Adam and Eve and Penal Substitution, how do you view physical death in your origins model?

Ok, so I know there’s a recent topic that asks a similar question (If Adam’s death was Spiritual why was Jesus’s death Physical?) but it went into whether penal substitution is biblical etc and my question is a little more nuanced.

So, for those of you who (A) affirm a historical Adam and Eve and fall and (B) affirm penal substitution atonement, two questions:

(Q.1) How do you interpret ‘death’ in Genesis 2-3 and relevant NT passages? – Physical? Spiritual? or both?

(Q.2) If the death brought about by Adam’s sin was only spiritual, how do you explain the physical nature of Christ’s death?

If you don’t affirm (A) and (B), it’s not that I want to exclude you or that I don’t value your opinions, it’s simply that I really want to hear from those who affirm these things and how they fit everything into their origins models because this is what I’m currently working through. Hopefully you understand!

Genuinely grateful for anyone who takes the time to respond :slight_smile:


I see it as both, it was a spiritual death because Adam had died spirituality to sin and thus a relationship between him and God was broken. It was also at the same time a physical death in that God said, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Thus God also promised a physical death but when Adam and Eve ate it they didn’t die instantly as they thought, but, the LORD was merciful and gave them mercy and covered their nakedness (both physical and spiritual) and they lived long lives but the death they suffered was with agony and not peaceful as it would have been if they had been in pure relationship with God. Thus, this is why death is such a scary issue for us, we rarely get the peace of God in those final moments. But since Christ came we have peace about death and we know what happens in the end, even if we are still scared about the process of death.

As I have stated that Adam’s death was both physical and spiritual, Christ death was also the same. Christ died as a human and thus took our place in what is the pure wrathful judgement of God for our sins. Since He was also human He was also in a since spiritually cut off from the Father, this is mentioned in Matt. 27:46 in where Jesus says, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” This is the only time that the Son is cut off from the Father’s presence. In this Jesus also took our place in spiritually dying in our place as well and thus represented us.
Since Christ took our place and died physically we have the hope of life with God physically and enjoy His blessing of good health and joy while also taking hope in the resurrection that is soon to come. Since Christ died spiritually we are reconnected with the Father and are spiritually made alive to Him through Christ.

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Thanks for the reply. This is an evolutionary model for origins? Where abouts in history are you placing A&E if so?

I see Adam and Eve as a couple that existed around the time as humans started to migrate out of Africa and into the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. Not sure about an exact year, month and day but I feel it happened around they time as early humans started to migrate out. Adam Eve are not the first humans but they are the first humans to come into contact with God.

So, for you, in what sense did physical death result from the fall since presumably these other humans had been physically dying since the emergence of humans 200,000 years ago?

Adam and Eve would have died but the difference is that there would have been not the fear of death and only the peace of God and the promise of eternal rest, since Adam and Eve sinned they had the peace of God taken away. It at this moment that early humans started to see that there had to be a soul and something after death.

This is really interesting. Thanks for engaging and sharing with me!

No problem! Hope you have a blessed rest of the day! :slight_smile:

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Like the other topic, there is no logical connection, particularly with penal substitution.
You can believe…

  1. In a historical Adam and Eve, literal understanding of Genesis 2-3 (A&E as sole ancestors of mankind being golems of dust and bone made by necromancy), and still view physical death as either natural or as a result of the fall. Though I suppose when you trying to make the Bible contradict science in every possible way then you might go for the death as a result of the fall to continue with the same magical anti-science program.
  2. In a historical Adam and Eve, but more symbolic/metaphorical understanding of Genesis 2-3 (A&E as two people chosen for communication with God), you are much more likely to go with death as a natural part of life. (This is where I am, and apparently Sealkin too)
  3. In a completely metaphorical understanding of Adam & Eve as somehow representing all men and women of an early age, they you are of course going to go with death as a natural part of life.

But in all these cases you can understand penal substitution as one metaphor for the atonement among other metaphors for the atonement, rather than as a literal distortion of justice and God’s inability to forgive without magic derived from super-human blood sacrifice. Though once again, when people are going with the anti-intellectual program demanding the sacrifice of rationality to pay for salvation then they are likely to go with both the number 1 option above and the latter literal understanding of penal substitution.

That would describe me quite well, so I’ll venture an answer…

Both, certainly.

As per Q1 above, I do believe said sin introduced both physical and spiritual death into the world, so not sure if I can be much help to you here regarding this question? But standing by if you have further questions.

thanks Daniel. Would you mind sketching out your origins model for me?

I believe special revelation (Jesus’ words, Scripture, etc.), properly understood and interpreted, to be inerrant revelation from God.

I also believe general revelation from the world (empiric scientific observations, for instance) to be inerrant, properly understood. Thus these two must always inform one another.

I am sympathetic to ID because of the science and logic involved, on many levels. However, I’m also sympathetic to the possibility of wide range of common descent, as well as conceptual common descent, as it seems to me there are obvious relations between certain animals, but which would require direct infusion of radical new leaps and technology (what has been described as punctuated equilibrium).

I am ambivalent on the details of age of earth questions, partly given Scripture’s affirmation of relativity of time, its use of phenomenological language, and the basic principle of relativity that says that time is dependent on frame of reference. The universe is 14 billion years old… by whose frame of reference? Are there not some possible observers who, were gravitation and speed within the right parameters, would have observed only 6 minutes since the Big Bang?

As for man, i simply embrace the biblical history of mankind as written in Scripture… that Jesus (and I) can trace ancestry to Adam and Eve as a novel creation, made perfectly without sin and existing without death (through having access to the tree of life) until the fall as described.

Thanks :+1:

These observers would have to be traveling at nearly the speed of light. Who might that be?

Just thinking hypothetically. My point is there simply isn’t one referent or single correct answer that gives “the” age of the universe.

I did find this interesting take…

So unless I’m very much mistaken (which has a very high likelihood, this is hardly my expertise)… when we’re talking these cosmic scales, we would never be able to perceive that we were traveling at near the speed of light even if we were… if we did, we wouldn’t know it, as we would still observe light traveling away from us at exactly c, and witness other distant phenomena under what appears natural progression given time dilation? After all, wouldn’t we be perceiving very distant galaxies and we’d assuming they were the ones traveling at near c? Unless there’s some absolute point of reference, how do we tell if some distant galaxy is traveling at near c, or if we’re the ones traveling at near c?

Or is this even a meaningful question?

Or you could see this if you were rather close to a black hole…

though only for a very brief span of time.

I think it’s a great question (though I’m at the beginning level too)–paging @pevaquark?

Interesting thought question, but as the article states, we have never seen a galaxy moving at that speed, so probably just hypothetical.
Strange as it seems, while we are in motion at far slower speeds around the galaxy and the galaxy through space in relation to other galaxies, we and everything else can be considered at the center of the Big Bang, with space itself expanding causing the change in distance, rather than the galaxies moving through space away from us, for the most part. At least I think that is somewhat the case.

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