Believing in a Literal Adam and a Literal Fall Makes Us a Cult?

Unbelievable! But now those groups like AiG who stand on a literal Genesis, with a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Fall, are being called a “cult” on a Christian website in the United Kingdom!

Just recently, I wrote an article about an article in the June edition of Christianity Today entitled, “The Search for the Historical Adam.” This article quotes a number of Christian academics who do not believe it is important to believe in a literal Adam and Eve, or even a literal Fall. The author of this article states the following:

So, is the Adam and Eve question destined to become a groundbreaking science-and-Scripture dispute, a 21st-century equivalent of the once disturbing proof that the Earth orbits the sun? The potential is certainly there: the emerging science could be seen to challenge not only what Genesis records about the creation of humanity but the species’s unique status as bearing the “image of God,” Christian doctrine on original sin and the Fall, the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, and, perhaps most significantly, Paul’s teaching that links the historical Adam with redemption through Christ (Rom. 5:12–19) . . .

I’ve said many times over the years that once people begin to reinterpret God’s Word in Genesis to fit in the supposed millions of years and evolution (remember the warning in 1 Corinthians 11:3), then that will have an effect of causing doubt in subsequent generations—which leads to unbelief.

Certainly we are seeing that happen, and it is true that the Adam-and-Eve questions are “destined to become a groundbreaking . . . dispute” in the 21st century. But really, it is the age-old battle (beginning in Genesis 3) over the authority of the Word of God.

I see this battle heating up across the world. Recently, a Christian website in the United Kingdom posted an article in which Answers in Genesis is called a cult for believing in a literal Adam and Eve and literal Fall. You need to read excerpts from this article for yourself—you wouldn’t believe someone was saying such things if you just heard about it second hand. You see, because Answers in Genesis takes a stand on a literal Fall of man, then we are a cult. But this destroys the real understanding of sin—in that it is really a concept that is supposedly needed to be understood differently in different generations! Read this for yourself. Here are excerpts:

. . . In fact, the differences between ancient Hebrews and modern Americans are about as far apart as one can imagine – it seems crazy to think that the Genesis writers were delivering a commentary that we could interpret scientifically five or six thousand years later. So the mainstream Christians (who make up the vast majority) find that their opposition from both sides largely consists of a similar, and pretty incompetent, group. In that sense there is a further commonality between atheists and fundamentalists in that both seem oblivious to the power of the mythological narrative and all its broad resonances, and both only seem able to view the more complex subjects through an over-simplifying lens of black and white.

You’ll find in the cases of early Genesis, the answer is nothing at all. In fact, it’s fairly obvious that the reverse is true – were it a literal event it would diminish much of the power of the concept. That’s the key word – ‘concept’ – you see, a concept is a thought or an idea belonging to the mind by taking the generic form of being abstracted from various particulars within the sphere of sense-data. They must realise that sin and being fallen apply here, and that they are not literal objects that can be touched or felt – they are implicitly concept-based, just as pride or happiness or generosity are concepts that are known by what they amount to in the context of literal scenarios.

As those who read the recent very poorly reasoned article from fundamentalist Gary Burchnall would have seen, the language employed by the likes of the Answers in Genesis cult [emphasis mine] directed at theistic evolutionists is the same sanguinary and abrasive language they use on atheists too . . . .

Furthermore, if you can entrap gullible acolytes with creationist mantras that claim the necessity of an alternative to ‘naturalistic’ science, then you can probably get people to open up their wallets and purses too and invest in movements like Answers in Genesis and the Discovery Institute; institutions that lie to children about the natural world, and peddle distortions on just about every important subject. They are a minority cult-type organisation [emphasis mine] for which the majority of Christians are forever apologising or having to put the record straight. All this fits nicely for them into a set of sleight of hand tricks where genuine ignorance and delusion become entangled with the desire for power, control, prestige and leadership influence.

The patterns are all too familiar – they resemble the sectarians and the cults [emphasis mine] in thought and in behavioral patterns, and I guess that before long those who can manipulate others find themselves adopting all sorts of tactics that they would find quite contemptible in any other group environment.

Thus, the mainstream Christian is really up against it because both atheists and creationists make their living by distorting the true picture of scripture by adding spurious literalism to parts of the Bible that the vast majority of their fellow Christians realise are not to be taken that way.

Furthermore, there is another important point, about which I have written a chapter in one of my books – about how the word of God is not static, but dynamic. One thing is quite clear – one isn’t required to take Genesis literally in order to recognise the power of its concepts; just about every Christian I know has no trouble appreciating sin and salvation through the grace of Jesus, so clearly seeing Genesis non-literally hasn’t impeded Christians’ clarity on sin and the need for a saviour. That fundamentalists place so much emphasis on something that has no bearing on people accepting Jesus shows the first fault – but there is more, because I can formulate a question for which they have no answer, and it takes the following form;

What is added to the reality of sin and falleness in a literal historical Genesis act or event that would be absent in a mythological or allegorical Genesis expression?

By imputing a literalism or a physicalism to sin there is the question of the difference between perceptions and conceptions . . . .

Now non-perceptive aspects of reality are different – they are not physical objects that can be seen or touched or smelt – they are implicitly conceptual because they take the form of an idea or a mental abstraction. So take the concept of sin or goodness or generosity or love or beauty or sublimity – each of these falls into the category distinction of being implicitly conceptual, because they are not shared experiences in the same way that sense-based observations are shared, and they are not ‘common sense’ friendly. They elicit meaning throughout shared experiences, because they are concepts that have significance conferred upon them in commonality of experience, and communication of those experiences. For that reason it makes no sense to talk of sin being more than a concept.

. . . So all this talk of the importance of a literal Genesis is moonshine, because it fails to take from the account the most powerful part of the story – the power of the concept and its reification in actionable form throughout one’s journey with Christ …

And, of course, to contend that evolution militates against our being sinful or fallen is nonsense – it should be so obvious really. Any evolved being is going to be in a fallen state when fallenness is qualitatively measured against God. We cannot legislate sin or wrongdoing or imperfection out of the system; and of course even the angels bow to Jesus as Lord. But there is a bigger failing of literalism, and we just mentioned it – to stubbornly accept it as a real event and deny its broader conceptual implications is delimiting, because it shuts off the Christian from one of God’s key plans for His word – its dynamic development in conceptual form throughout the spread of Christianity in every age, right up to the present day. Not only will God resource His wisdom in contemporary context by having His Holy Spirit help us invest new meanings in the concepts, He will use the present conceptual developments to plant seeds for those unborn folk that are to follow. It is no surprise that this faulty application of literalism where it isn’t warranted is yet another pattern that emerges in both creationist and new-wave atheist alike.

For the same reason that we find the true significance of sin in the power of the concept, we find the true significance early Genesis in the power of the concepts it elicits. To try to package all that power into a literal Adam and Eve is simply to divest it of conceptual power, and in doing so, you unwittingly attempt to rob scripture of some of its spiritual gravitas . . . .

So, a literal event for the Fall of man is destructive? We have to believe in sin as a concept, and not a literal event?

Oh, by the way, look at the state of the church in England: it is all but spiritually dead. I’ve ministered in England about 15 times now and have met with countless church leaders there. I’ve seen for myself that this once-Christianized nation is pagan. Most of the next generation doesn’t even believe in God. Yes, that is the outcome of this heretical teaching, which sadly not only pervades the church in England but is also infecting the church now in the USA. Sadly, academics like Peter Enns and those from Calvin College (and others as quoted in the Christianity Today article) are leading generations of church leaders to undermine the authority of the Word instead of standing uncompromisingly upon it as we must do!

And I need to make a comment about the “cult” characterizations. Sadly, it’s becoming a frequently used tactic nowadays—even in Christendom—to brand a person or group as a cult when it has an opposing view. It’s another form of ad hominem argument—tear down and demonize the opposition by engaging in name-calling. What a pity that a Christian would resort to this. (Now, Answers in Genesis may criticize the teachings of a Christian who clearly compromises, but that is not an attack on the person.)

You can read this shocking article in its entirety at this link.

There are numerous articles on the AiG website that refute the false teachings found in this UK article. Rather than listing them here since they are readily available on our website, I thought that instead I would list many Bible verses to remind us to be like the Bereans of the book of Acts and search the Scriptures to see if these things be so:

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12)

so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. (1 Corinthians 15:56)

If I have covered my transgressions as Adam, (Job 31:33)

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14)

We certainly need a new reformation in the church—to call believers back to the authority of the Word of God beginning in Genesis.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken