Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Was Adam's sin merely eating an apple?

I was recently listening to a talk on YouTube by a Protestant who was trying to discredit the Early Church Fathers. One example he gave of how the Church Fathers are unreliable was the claim by certain Church Fathers who said that Adam & Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden was a sexual sin. I understand how this Protestant could be shocked by this claim, because I also recall how outrageous it sounded when I heard it a few years ago. But over time I've began to think about it more, and it seems there is some merit to it. After all, it seems too basic to read the story as merely a sin of eating an apple. While I don't have the time to do much research into this, here are some reflections and details that I've come across over the past few years.

Given that Genesis is full of Hebrew idiom, nuance, and euphemism, a surface-level "plain English" reading can only take our understanding of the text so far. We need to have a mind for what the ancient Hebrews heard and thought when they read Genesis. For example, consider what is said on the fourth day of creation, when God creates the sun, moon, and stars, saying: "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years." (Gen 1:14). A surface level reading here would have us see the sun, moon, and stars as mere clocks to tell the time of day, month, and year. But the term here for "seasons" is not what we think of when we hear the term "seasons," since this is not the Hebrew word for winter, spring, summer, and fall. Rather, the term "seasons" here is the Hebrew term uniquely used for Liturgical Festivals. With this in mind, we can see God's plan was to build a Liturgical Calendar right into Creation, with Adam & Eve participating fully in the Liturgical Life. This also means that Liturgy is something deeply important to God, and as I've noted in a few prior posts, True Worship is man's highest duty.

One of the great discussions that theologians throughout history have had is whether the Son of God would have taken on human nature if Adam had never sinned. There is no "official" answer, and there decent arguments both ways, but St Thomas and many others lean towards the conclusion that the Son would have become Incarnate even if Adam didn't sin. This is largely based upon the idea that the Incarnation is not a Plan B or afterthought of God's plan, since God does not change His plans, and thus the Incarnation was meant to happen all along. Though I've not come across anyone who has brought this up, I think that Ephesians 5 lends strong credibility to the idea the Son was intended to become Incarnate all along. St Paul is talking about the union of husband and wife in this passage, but includes the following detail:
Eph 5: 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
In this passage, Paul brings up the famous passage of Genesis 2:24, about a man leaving his father and mother to be joined to his wife. But rather than this being a surface level reading of Genesis 2:24, St Paul tells us this is a "profound mystery," which is certainly 'theologically heavy' language, saying this passage refers to Jesus and the Church. The location of this verse in Genesis 2 is noteworthy because it comes prior to Adam and Even falling into sin in Genesis 3. Thus, to me, it seems like the Incarnation was part of prophecy in Genesis 2, prior to Adam sinning, and thus was intended all along.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Conservative Calvinist scholar Dr Daniel Wallace's cringeworthy comments on Penal Substitution

As readers of this blog know, I try to keep an eye out for major Protestant preachers commenting on what they think happened at the Cross. While it seems that quite a few Protestant outlets have been toning down their Penal Substitution rhetoric, I was shocked to recently hear such comments coming from an otherwise well respected conservative Protestant scholar like Dr Daniel Wallace. In a public talk (HERE) he gave at Dallas Theological Seminary a few months ago, February 2019, Dr Wallace gives a reflection about what happened at the Cross. The following are some quotes that stood out, along with the time stamp: 
  • "It's true that God's Wrath against sin was poured out on His Son; he turned His back on His own Son." (22:00)
  • “God the Father, poured out on Jesus the fury of His Wrath. Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin, which God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world. At the Cross the fury of all that stored up wrath was unleashed against God’s own son. Should it shock us that Jesus cried out, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (23:00)
  • “As awful, as horrendous, as excruciating as death by crucifixion is, the physical pain did not compare to the internal anguish that Our Lord suffered. He took on our sins, all our sins. The torments of an eternal hell for millions and millions of people were borne by one man in a few hours. But His crucifixion is a window on the Lord’s soul, we get a glimpse of His spiritual suffering which we will never experience from the physical torture that is crucifixion. Yet as Paul tersely put it, ‘Christ died’ “ (24:39) 
I'm frankly astonished at this commentary, as it has no Biblical basis. Wallace, of all people is supposed to be deeply concerned about exegesis. And yet we get these kinds of comments, given by a professor at a major seminary before a large public audience.