The Big Tent ... and Genealogical Adam!

(George Brooks) #61


Would you ask Paul that question? He played weak when with the weak.
He ignored Jewish customs when he wasn’t with Jews… and then was strictly Jewish when he was with Jews.

The question you should ask me is: What does George Give-Up
if he says, let’s suppose God DID create Adam and Eve by special creation,
in the middle of an evolved human population?

I give up nothing. God does another couple of miracles! Is this really so awful?
Some of these objections crack me up !

It’s not like I’m saying “Awww forget about Evolution … it’s just a crock anyway.”

I’m saying just TWO THINGS: God can do miracles… and what if he did 2 miracles to make Adam and Eve?

And this is bad because of ? _____________________ < Insert answer.

The rest is completely up to all you Trinitarians to anquish about.

(Christy Hemphill) #62

Sure. He’s also the guy who told the Judaizers to go castrate themselves. (Galatians 5:12)

(GJDS) #63

The controversy, as far as I can make of it, is more or less due to deep disagreements between “creationists” who believe the biblical accounts may form a framework for scientific accounts of the earth (and indeed the universe) and thus reject a great deal of scientifically based insights, who are opposed by theists and atheists who, as far as I can make out, base their views within an evolutionary outlook, and would negate or re-interpreted biblical teachings.

I do not favour either of these - my view is that once we accept that God is the creator of all, biblical teachings are our guide to theological understanding (and 2000 yrs more or less of Christian theology). Within this context, Adam and Eve are the first couple to commune directly with God, and within a setting that would not influence their decisions and activities (no natural evil, but open to temptation) - this is how we understand original sin.

Beyond this, the rest of the narrative deals with Adam and his descendants outside of the garden, and without direct communion with God… It is from then onwards that genealogies can be discussed, and socio-scientific outlooks may interest people.


Well you have been promoting it. What, twice now?

(George Brooks) #65


I was referring to God’s plan of redemption.

(Joshua Hedlund) #66

I have had a similar thought in reaction to Genealogical Adam, but that also led me to the thought that couldn’t you make the same argument about Jesus as human? Where did the other half of his genetic material come from? Would it “appear” to have come from “descent” from a genetically human “father”? This is an issue regardless of your view of A&E. I haven’t completely thought through an answer on that, but my intuition is that satisfactory theological answers exist for that question, and furthermore that similar answers would probably exist for Genealogical A&E as well.

(Joshua Hedlund) #67

I am honestly enjoying the discussion between @gbrooks9 and @Christy because I sympathize with aspects of both of their views on the pros and cons of the approach being discussed. If I might be allowed to throw in a monkey wrench which may perhaps be too blunt but which may perhaps illuminate things, could we compare the BioLogos/EC view towards Genealogical Adam to the BioLogos/EC view towards OEC folks?

Does it seem that overall BL/EC is somewhat humoring/welcoming towards OEC, certainly more so than YEC, welcoming their agreement regarding the age of the earth and the scientific arguments and Biblical hermeneutics specifically related to that, even if they disagree regarding evolution?

Does it seem that, by comparison, overall BL/EC appears less humoring/welcoming towards Genealogical Adam, even though it is at least as overlapping towards OEC and in fact certainly more overlapping, even if there are still disagreements regarding scientific evidence and Biblical hermeneutics?

One important difference, of course, is whether or not in this particular discussion BL/EC is essentially being asked to consider including GA within its own set of possible options, or whether BL/EC is being asked to welcome the increased overlap of agreements of GA to an even further level then OEC, as compared to YEC, even if of course they may personally hope to persuade them to even further overlap farther down the road. (Certainly at a minimum, even though it is asking less, allowing for GA still requires your Biblical hermeneutics heading in the general direction of BL/EC, as compared to strict YEC) I suspect that differing sentiments about these possibilities may affect some of the apparent differences.

Overall, is this more about a destination? Or a journey? Is it more focused on the similarities, or the differences, between people who think they are comparing destinations but are in fact all on journeys anyway? As always, it depends. Just a few cents.

(Phil) #68

Enjoyed your comments, and indeed it is a journey.
In reflecting on why I am hesitant to endorse the genealogical Adam, I have thought that it is because while it accommodates the scientific data, the ultimate divide among the various views is really theological, and the concept does not bridge the gap in seeing Genesis symbolic vs seeing it as literal and concordist. That is where the real difference is, and while the concept may make a gateway for discussion, does not resolve the issue.

(George Brooks) #69


Did I answer this issue well enough for you above?
One of the principles of Genealogical Adam is that there is zero expectation that it matters where Adam’s genetic “contents” actually ended up. It could have very well ended up in “dead end” lineages so that centuries later there could be no attempt to “bully” human society with so called “racial purity” as Adam’s direct descendant.

The “genetic connection” is TRUMPED by the “genealogical connection” for two reasons:

a. genetic connections (in terms of 23 pairs of chromosomes) can only extend to the “local” (or recent) generations. After a certain point, the original chromosomes (and even the “jumping genes”) are long gone.

b. so, like the definition of species that is tied to reproductive compatibility, it is possible to have a long chain of ancestral populations, all quite authentic, but the odds that a member of the first population would be able to successfully reproduce - - millions of years later - - with a member of the current successor population is quite low.

c. In contrast, the Genealogical Connection is eternal. No matter how many centuries elapse, I know (and everyone knows) that the offspring of my grandchildren will always be a descendant of me, George Brooks… and this is verified by “locally” authenticated evidence (birth certificates, or blood tests or what have you)… which can only confirm a few generations at a time. A blood test of a direct descendant of mine 500 years from now would not be able to verify that the descendant was mine (barring any extremely unusual genetic factor that I might have and pass on).

(George Brooks) #70


I like the articulate way you have described the situation as you see it thus far.

Perhaps I could suggest a sentence or two below that might re-frame the context in a useful way:

If BioLogos is specifically about rejecting literal and concordist views, are you sure
Genealogical Adam (G.A.) is “concordist”? One of the chief premises of G.A. is to reject the literal interpretation of Six Days of creation.

G.A. is, by defnition, an Old Earth scenario. Is there such a thing as a “Literal Interpretation” of Old Earth Creationism? If we agree there is not, then we are left with this “Concordist” tag.

Isn’t Old Earth Concordism still based on trying to turn Genesis 1 and 2 into science manuals? I don’t believe Joshua is attempting that. G.A. is about accepting the science of Evolutionism (especially concerning the appearance of the first “adamites”, not made from “dust”), while allowing the double miracle of Adam’s and Eve’s creation.

Where, exactly, is the concordist baggage?

@joshuahedlund, in your own view, what seems the most Concordist thing about G.A.?

(Joshua Hedlund) #71

Yes, I think this gets to the heart of the matter.

I think my view is that there is not really a gap there so much as a spectrum… Most “symbolic” interpreters certainly still take certain specific elements “literally,” and most “literal” interpreters certainly still take certain specific elements “symbolically”. There is a common perception that YEC’s are unwilling to entertain evolution because they are unwilling to entertain a symbolic hermeneutic, but what if it is actually the reverse - YEC’s are unwilling to entertain what is essentially a symbolic hermeneutic (or, more accurately, a more symbolic hermeneutic than they already do) because they are unwilling to entertain evolution, which in turn is because of what they are afraid they will lose theologically outside of Genesis.

If this is the case, then I think what @gbrooks9 is getting at is that GA might allow YEC’s to entertain evolution without losing those things theologically, which in turn might make them more willing to accept more of a symbolic hermeneutic - because, IMO, GA still doesn’t fit with a mostly-literal interpretation of Genesis - the Flood being the biggest element in the room - but perhaps by separating it from more fundamental theological issues, it would make YEC’s more willing to consider more of a symbolic hermeneutic overall, rather than less…?

(Christy Hemphill) #72

On topics like this I always have to preface with the disclaimer that I do not speak for the BioLogos organization and this is my personal impression and opinion and there are a lot of things I am not privy to when it comes to internal politics or conflicts.

George started this thread with the idea of a “big tent.” So maybe we need to clarify what big tent we are talking about. The big tent of Evangelical views on origins? If that’s what we are talking about, in my mind everyone is invited if they claim Christ as Lord. The big tent of Christians trying to harmonize scientific evidence with the idea that Scripture is true and authoritative? Well, then that would include GA, OEC, and EC. Are we talking about the big tent of people who identify with the BioLogos belief statement? Well, then no, OEC is not in that big tent. And as I understand it, it was Josh who said genealogical Adam didn’t fit either.

There is dialogue between RTB and the SBC, ID, and people like Tim Keller and Josh Swamidass, because although there are differences there are areas of commonality, and places to learn from one another. I don’t know what you mean by humoring and welcoming OEC but not GA. There are no OEC speakers who are given a BioLogos nametag and sent out to represent BioLogos in the public sphere.

It seems to me that within the “BioLogos tent” there are a variety of conclusions or positions that people come to regarding Adam and Eve, the fall, original sin, atonement, divine action, divine knowledge/foreknowledge, how to view inspiration or inerrancy, and the extent to which we should see Genesis as history, myth, allegory, symbol, or whatever when we are interpreting it. But the approach taken to get to those different positions is not a concordist appraoch. It’s based on a culturally and linguistically contextualized hermeneutic. As far as science, it asks how do we understand Scripture in a way that complements (and doesn’t contradict) what we know from science.

On the other hand, it seems to me that GA takes a pretty concordist approach (like how do we accommodate the possibility that Eve was literally created from nothing but a man’s rib, if that’s what people think the Bible teaches) and it asks how we use what science can’t rule out in order to make people feel more confident about their literalistic, culture-blind interpretations of Genesis.

That’s a very different approach and a very different goal for the target audience than what BioLogos has been focused on. Now that doesn’t mean that the position you arrive at with GA regarding Adam is somehow theologically or scientifically out of bounds when it comes to supporting BioLogos’ “What we believe” statement. That would be different with YEC and OEC folks, I think they would arrive at positions that conflict on either science or theology.

(Joshua Hedlund) #73

I don’t have well-formed views on that matter. I’m not sure I’m enough of an expert on concordism to be the right person to answer that. I’ll let others discuss and listen.

(Joshua Hedlund) #74

Thank you for the very helpful clarifications. Much to process.


Actually no. What you said was

And I asked what was special, given A&E would appear to be just 2 members of the current population?

I could also ask what is special about a genealogical connection to A&E? It is just lines on a chart. Genealogy is a human invention.

(Randy) #76

Christy, can you recommend books for this hermeneutic? Enns? McKnight? Thanks.

(Christy Hemphill) #77

I would try The Lost World of Scripture by John Walton and Brent Sandy, the revised and updated Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight, and Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Brandon O’Brien and Randolph Richards if you want to think about what the Bible is and how we approach it. Also, since I know you like those Zondervan counterpoint books, the one on moving beyond the Bible to theology is really good.

(George Brooks) #78


Isn’t that funny that you would think that a [very] human invention would somehow make “genealogy” irrelevant.

But setting irony aside, I would have to reject that idea. Genealogy is also a form of “truth”. Who your biological grandparents are is as real as the bones in your body … though not tangible like bones.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #79

[Added pre-edit: Lest the following be misread as me poking fun of all such doctrinal content or commitment, be assured that I think at least some of what is below is worth spelling out. My parody is aimed at how much some feel compelled to add to it. I used to have these inclinations myself (and still have some). So I’m stepping on my own toes here as well. But the older I get, the more I am convicted to notice that Jesus inflicted almost none of this kind of stuff on any of those seeking his saving presence.]

Perhaps this belongs more in the humor section than here, but since we’re on themes of exactly what we believe, and how big or small our tents should be, … does anybody else sense that we are all experiencing “doctrinal statement creep”? I.e. even within my own 50+ year lifetime, it seems to me that the “what we believe”, and “what you need to believe too” statements pushed by Christian organizations have been bloating out into finer and finer detail. I think we’re seeing a “Whack-a-mole” game in full play. Which prompted me to push this bit of pointed parody:


We believe in the Triune God, represented by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
We believe that the Bible in its inerrant, original King James autograph is the directly dictated Word of God.
We believe in the Virgin Birth, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ,
and in a literal heaven and a literal fire-and-brimstone hell.
We also believe there is only one true understanding of all scriptures, and that we alone possess it, and it includes (but is not limited to) all of the following:

That creation occurred October 22, 4004 BC 9:00 GMT**

**As we wish to remain a ‘big tent’ organization, allowing for diversity among our members, we allow for wiggle room on the 9:00 figure to +/- 30 minutes. Disagreement beyond 30 may be tolerated though we will pray for you to see the light. Disagreements beyond 60 minutes place your soul in peril.

Adam and Eve were specially created on the 6th 24-hour day; Adam from the dust of the ground, and Eve from Adam’s rib.
Adam and Eve were both formed as adults with all the attendant wisdom and knowledge this entails.
They both had belly buttons***, and none of this shall be deemed to be a deceit on God’s part.

*** Some members have raised dissension about whether these were “innies” or “outies”. We currently have scholars looking into the Holy Word to resolve this issue, though we all know that only innies would be found in any pre-fall paradise. We are merely working to shore up where the scriptural support can be found to show this.

All of creation was perfect until the fall.
All valid sexuality (including thoughts) must be strictly limited to between 1.0 man and 1.0 woman who have been married by the church.

Our corpus of essential beliefs includes but is not limited to the above. The entire KJV Bible is our fully expressed statement of faith, and we reserve the right to correct you should you be found to differ on anything found in it. Any so-called “paradoxes” or “contradictions” have been resolved according to our special understandings. The infallibility and inerrancy of the King James Version also extends to our own present understandings of it.

Last, but certainly not least … If you are loyal to the correct (our) political party, then special dispensation can be granted you, excusing you from belief in anything or even everything above.

BUT, If you are found to belong to a wrong political cause or party, then any and all agreement you may have thought you had with the above shall be considered null and void.

<< end of organizational belief statement >>

I’m guessing Biologos won’t be inspired to add any of this into their existing statements of beliefs. I’m not so sure about other organizations, though. Indeed, I’ve been more the recipient of inspiration here than a source of it.

(Randy) #80

I agree that this is an excellent humorous statement, so thank you very much for that! A great way to start off Saturday morning. Yes, it would also be good in the humor in science and theology spot. Have you ever read the book autopsy of a deceased Church by Thom s Rainer? I wonder if the modern emphasis on parachurch organizations has transplanted our Church oriented divisions, with their close detail to Creed, to the parachurch organizations. Rainer is a church growth specialist, and he interviews members of churches that have died. There are 12 common characteristics. It’s very helpful. We had a bible study on it in our church. At any rate, one of the examples he gave was up at church that split because some of the congregants wanted a new podium. that’s a little misleading, because it implies that we wouldn’t follow that sort of strange thinking. However, the 12 examples that he gives are quite close to home, and my wife and I enjoyed it a lot.