The Importance of Adam
Adam is important.
Let me just start by stating that fact.
Adam is incredibly important.
He is not a minor figure in Biblical history, but rather, one of the most important figures.
Why? Well, because 'sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin' (Rom. 5:12). As Paul demonstrates in 1 Corinthians 15, every human being is either in Adam or in Christ. We are born 'in Adam' with his sin imputed to us, but by faith God changes our attachment from the first Adam to the second Adam, Christ. This parallel between the first and second Adam's shows us that the first one is not without significance.
Yet, the historicity of the first Adam has been widely attacked. Usually the arguments come from more liberal quarters, but now it seems even evangelicals are getting in on the act. Dr Tremper Longman III, a highly esteemed evangelical Old Testament scholar states in a YouTube video currently doing the rounds that 'there are still open questions' as to whether Adam actually existed. A lot of what Longman says in the video sounds strangely reminiscent of the type of things I used to hear from my non-evangelical lecturers at university.
Of course I'm particularly interested in what Longman is saying because I'm teaching on the opening chapters of Genesis at the moment at CTS. I have to introduce my students to the various viewpoints and opinions, such as those referred to by Longman in his video.
However, I completely disagree with Longman. There is no open question. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament treat Adam as a historical person. To deny this requires more than an unconvincing reinterpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis. Those chapters of Genesis exist within the context of the whole Bible and need to be read as such.
Helpfully, Dr James Anderson (from Reformed Theological Seminary - Charlotte) offers 'twelve prima facie reasons why an evangelical view of the Bible commits one to the existence of Adam has a real historical individual.' If you think that Adam's historicity is limited to Gen 1-3, or if Longman's doubts sound in any way convincing, make sure you read Anderson's post for a short, simple, to-the-point demonstration of why believing in the inerrancy of the Bible means believing in a historical Adam.
Adam is too important to be an open question.