PCA and Adam Theology


(Peaceful Science) #1

Continuing the discussion from The bluesmen: Why creationists "blame Darwin":

I am not PCA and do not attend a PCA church.

However, I am adjacent to Covenant Seminary (the PCA seminary), and am meeting semi-regularly with Jack Collins, the key voice on origins in the PCA. Also, several of my friends are PCA pastors or members, both locally and nationally. PCA has a very strong showing within the Harvey Fellows in particular. Also, George Stulac, who runs the WUSTL faculty ministry I am part of right now is also PCA, as are many of my faculty colleagues here at WUSTL. They are even bringing Tim Keller to give a talk on campus in April through the Carver Project.

For PCA, the hinge point is Adam and Eve. They adopt a “covenantal” theology, and require all pastors to affirm the Westminster Confession, which explicitly references a historical Adam. It is possible to dissent from specific clauses. Each dissent requires a detailed explanation, and is subject to review. At this time, I do not know if any pastor has succeeded in dissenting from a historical Adam. It is certainly not public if this has ever been done. Tim Keller is very much within the mainstream of PCA, and his minimal literalism on Adam is the usual position.

PCA is an example of why work on historical Adam is important. For all the work done to make a hermeneutical case from Genesis against Adam (see Lamoureux), it just does not matter what an individual parishioner or pastor comes to believe on this. To ask a PCA Christian to modify the Westminster Confession is to ask them not to be PCA any more.

Notably, PCA (and reformed church’s in general) appears to be a source of a great deal of pain for many EC in the BioLogos tent. A very large number have history in Reformed churches, and feel a deep sense of injury as they journeyed to no-Adam theology. This seems to push some to become anti-Adam theology, not just no-Adam theology. This “anti-Adam” sentiment really comes through, for example, in an article @TedDavis cites, and @DennisVenema essentially quotes against Adam theology, where Young calls all Adam theology ultimately racist. http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/CSRYoung.html It, however, begins make emotional sense when we read the introduction carefully. There is real injury by the exclusion that some have suffered in the Reformed Church.

Reformed theologians, however, are right now really looking for rapprochement. Many have found a genealogical Adam helpful. They are starting to write papers too (I’m lucky to see the drafts before publication). It gives them a way to remain PCA (or reformed) while affirming evolutionary science. I know that is what the “representative Adam” was supposed to do, but that was a bridge too far for many.


(Peaceful Science) #2

One thing helpful about this is that their position is not actually anti-evolution. As long as the theology they care about is affirmed, they are okay. Their theology, also, is compatible with evolutionary science. That means their dispute is not so much with evolutionary science, but over a historical Adam.


(system) #3

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