An Overdue Recap on Creation Week
So a couple weeks back we had "Creation Week." Three book reviews were supposed to undergird our unified week. Unfortunately for a number of reasons my third review did not publish until yesterday. Now that the review has published it is time for me to recap some thoughts on the books in general and their contributions to Genesis 1-2 and the fight for a historical Adam.
The Books Themselves
The books I reviewed provided a great spread of ideas. Not only did they present multiple theological views but they presented extreme differences in general ways of thinking about the issues. While I appreciate the work and effort of John Walton and William VanDoodewaard, they strike an unbiased reader as too rooted in their trajectory. There does not seem to be room to talk and discuss. Walton contains no critical evaluation of science. VanDoodewaard contains no critical evaluation of church history and hermeneutics. Only 40 Questions on Creation and Evolution struck me as willing to sit down and talk about the issues. Right now we do not need dogmatism. Either from the traditional or those seeking to assert a new tradition. We need to be able to talk these things through. Laymen need to be encouraged to have gracious dialogue.
The polar-position books have clear objectives and ignore the difficult questions from the opposition. And, to be frank, both are written in such as to be without value to the opposing communities.
I increase in my understanding of these important chapters more and more. And I couldn't feel more lost. That is not to say I am unsure of where I am at. I do. I'm just not sure where I am going or where I want to go.
I am impressed and challenged by Walton's reflections. I am a framework guy at heart, but I see splintering. Temple inauguration strikes me as a landing spot for the foreseeable future. But none of that answers how I will view Genesis 1-2 with respect to history. I do believe it is historical. But not chronological. The very freedom of my hermeneutic leaves me without some answers. Or better said, it leaves me with room to make decisions and change my mind. Currently, I affirm an old earth, death before the fall, and a non-chronological understanding of Genesis 1. I can not say much more with finality.
A Historical Adam
The biggest questions lie in Genesis 2. What is the church to read about the creation of Adam? It is here that Walton will make most conservatives really uncomfortable. Walton makes exegetical arguments for a historical Adam who does not need to be (and in fact isn't) the first man. Without addressing Walton's arguments let me say that I was not compelled. I was not compelled to accept that Adam was not the first man. This is a science issue and Walton merely provides a reading of the text that allows science to stake its claims. I'll address science down below. Similarly, I was not compelled to accept that Adam was still be a historical person within a group of humanoids. Walton seems to stress this point to remain in line with conservative view points. But Walton is unable to give a reason why Adam had to be a historical person within his paradigm.
Nothing Walton writes leads me to ignore the long list of church history on this point. The only real motive for Walton seems to be some shaky science. Ultimately on the matter of science, Walton is no authority and neither is church history. Once again, only 40 Questions on Creation and Evolution provides valuable scientific opinions from both sides. Evolution is given a fair shake. Darwinism is inspected. Non-theistic scientists are pitted against each other. Valuable work is done looking at science. VanDoodewaard ignores it to defend "orthodoxy." Walton presumes the validity of already questioned conclusions. Both are unhelpful in explaining the motivations of looking for a non-historical Adam or at least one that was not the first man.