Paul, Adam, and Evolution

Here is the video of the Erasmus Lecture I gave at Westmont College on February 9, 2011. I haven’t watched it yet, so I am not sure of the quality but it seems to come across well enough.

My thanks to Westmont College and Tremper Longman III for inviting me to give this lecture.

  • curious george lass

    thoroughly enjoyed the lecture, i wish more people really paused and thought for a moment about the fact that our faith is not keeping up with science, because frankly it’s what it all boils down to. throughout history it has always been so, science would take a step forward, and another, and another, religion would call it blasphemy for a while, and then basically say, “ok fine! you’re right, whatever… happy now?”
    some years from now people will look back at us and probably have the same warm and cuddly giggle we ourselves have now about the people who thought the earth was flat.
    God bless you so much for having an open mind and heart!

  • SMagdziarz

    Evolution is not a pressing theological issue. Evolution has nothing to do with theology. It isn’t in the Bible anywhere. I’m sorry you can’t take God at His Word. This is heresy and you are misleading people.

  • Keith J.

    Um, I think you know what Dr. Enns would say to them: “I think you guys are incorrect”

  • Julie Jenkins72

    So, if Adam is not a person, but a metaphor, what are the animals metaphors for? And, why when we think we see a disparity between science and the Bible, that the Bible has to be twisted to fit science as we understand it? Also, if Adam was a real man, he was created as a MAN and not a baby – which has the appearance of age and time. Couldn’t God have made the Earth the same way, with the appearance of time? I believe all creation was made as the Word of God states, and understanding of His ability to make things appear ‘old’ and have existed for longer than they actually had.

  • Lusbyh5

    i can’t imagine any christian organization giving this guy the time of day changing two thousand years of biblical history just to meet his egotistical need!

  • Bruce S

    What a heretic! You speak like Paul wrote the scripture and interpreted what the Old Testament said. Scripture is “God breathed”. It is all God’s word. And you have the audacity to call it wrong. Genesis says that Adam was the first man, and God’s word in the book of Paul says the same thing. Who do you think you are to call God wrong? You argument does not even make sense. What would be the point in creating Eve, if there were already all these “people” around? By stating that Adam is not the first man you imply that God did not create him, or the first human. You made a statement that questioned 6 day creation. Was God wrong there too? People, do not be led astray by this man. He denies the authority and the accuracy of scripture. Read your bible which is profitable for teaching.
    Bruce S.

  • Lusbyh5

    1Ti 4:1 ¶ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
    1Ti 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
    1Ti 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
    why is it so hard to believe in a young earth when you say you believe in God there is no scienctific evidence to prove God,the reason you believe in God is because something in you heart tells you it is so!now there is tons of evidence that point to a young earth but i don’t need it! i just believe genesis acount.
    Ro 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
    Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

  • This was a helpful discussion, especially of Genesis.

    But I don’t know that Paul would be so comfortable with us accepting his description of humanity’s problem and it’s prescription while denying the cause he gives for it. They seem to be pretty darn closely linked in his argument both in Rom 5 and in 1 Cor 15. I just can’t get around the fact that the single origin of the problem is Paul’s interpretive key for understanding the universality of the problem. In other words, I’m not sure that Paul’s logic allows us to separate the source of the problem from the nature of the problem itself. If death didn’t come through a historical Adam, then what gives Paul the ground to say that the problem really is death? I know, the resurrection. But the resurrection does not explain the necessity of the singularity of the cause—a point Paul is emphatic about in Rom 5:12ff. If all Paul needs to do is show that all of us have a very serious sin problem, then he could have done it the way you did it in the video: introspection. But Paul seemed to think Adam’s sin was an essential element if the whole picture is to come out right. You’ve given me good food for thought, but I’m still not seeing that your solution really preserves Paul’s Gospel.

    One other quibble. If the main problem Paul is addressing in Romans is how Jews and Gentiles can come together, then he could have stopped writing at 3:23. You said in the video that the outward differences between Jews & Gentiles don’t mean much given their shared culpability in sin. Exactly so. The lack of distinction between Jews and Gentiles is predicated upon their shared culpability (the “for” in 3:23 is key, as you implied). So if solidarity is the main goal, why go any further? As Timo Eskola points out, “As regards sin, there is no ‘distinction’ (διαστολή) between Jews and Greeks…. This is a sufficient argument [on Paul’s part] for the rejection of ethnocentric claims” (Theodicy and Predestination [Mohr Siebeck, 1998], 138). Barth makes the same point on 3:23 in his Romans commentary, “Precisely when we recognize that we are sinners do we perceive that we are brothers.” If the main nut Paul wants to crack in Romans is ethnic solidarity then I think it’s fair to say he’s cracked it wide open by the time he gets to 3:23.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree that ethnic solidarity is a major question Paul is addressing in Romans, but I’m not yet convinced this is the main problem, still less that this problem can be played off against the problem of how one gets saved.

    Thanks, Dr. Enns. I appreciated the video.

    Peter Gurry

    • Anonymous


      Thanks for your very thoughtful comment. Briefly, let me say I disagree on both points (although I certainly respect what you aree saying).

      1. I do not think the Adam/Christ typology is an interpretive key, nor as central as you seem to think. Paul has been making his case of universal culpability since the beginning of Romans based on his simple observation of sinfulness, and I see Adam as coming in at the end of the argument in order to anchor more clearly the solution in Christ. That would take much longer to expand, but that is the gist of it.

      2. It seems arbitrary to me to suggest that Paul would have topped writing at 3:23 if the Jew/Gentile problem were the heart of Romans. That verse is a high point at an early stage of the argument, but that does not mean if that were his main point he would stop writing. He is driving home the point throughout at least chapters 1-5.

      • Thanks for the response, Dr. Enns.

        A couple thoughts.

        1. I agree that Adam comes in on the tail end of Rom 1-5 to anchor more clearly the solution in Christ. I just think that the *singularity* of Adam is key to the *singularity* of the solution. If you remove the singularity of either one, you necessarily lose the other. But we would probably need to sit down and hash this out in person. I could tell you didn’t have enough time in one lecture to say all you wanted to make your case.

        2. Well yes, it is a little silly to think of Paul putting down the pen after 3:23. But that was sort of my point. If ethnic solidarity is the main problem, then human culpability has solved it. Sin puts Jews and Gentiles together in one boat, as you said in the video. The point is that if ethnic solidarity was the main problem Paul wanted to address, then his doctrine of sin would have been more than enough ammunition for the job. Sin unites humanity in an extremely tight solidarity just as much as Jesus’ death and resurrection. So if mere solidarity is his only goal, then the cross and resurrection come off as overkill (pardon the pun). So my question: does sin create a genuine solidarity between Jews & Gentiles? If it does not, then on what basis does Paul argue for the same solution for both Jews & Gentiles? If sin does create genuine solidarity then what keeps sin from solving the problem?

        It seems to me that if you want to see solidarity as the main goal in Romans, you’ve at least got to be more precise about the nature of that solidarity. Because in Paul’s logic, sin provides an enormous level of solidarity between humanity; but I sure hope that a solidarity predicated on sin is not the kind of solidarity Paul is after.

        I hope that makes sense. Thanks!

        Peter Gurry

  • Sorry, I just realized this post is a couple months old. Sorry I was so late to the party 🙁

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