Authority of Scripture Week: The Historicity of Adam

October 26, 2015

By Michael Lanier

CIU Student Writer

Was Adam a real person? Is the story of Eden, the serpent, the fruit, and the fall real, or is it a fictional story to demonstrate man's struggle with sin? These questions and more were deliberated Oct. 20-22 during Columbia International University's annual Authority of Scripture Chapel series as three CIU professors discussed what the Bible has to say on the historicity of Adam.

On Tuesday, Dr. Larry Dixon raised questions surrounding the debate of whether or not Adam was real, and pointed his message toward the bigger question: is it a big deal? His questions centered on how Christians perceive the story of Eden, and if believers should take the account of Adam as literal. While many questions were raised, Dixon gave specific answers as to why Adam's historicity is important, such as explaining sinful nature, or accounting for the presence of evil in the world.

Dixon finished his message by saying, “When we believe in the historicity of Adam, we have a foundation for sharing the gospel with anyone because we share a common brokenness.”

On Wednesday, Dr. Benjamin Noonan spoke on why Adam's historicity matters and why Christians should care. Noonan outlined how details about Eden's location wouldn't be used in a fictional story, nor would Adam show up in the genealogies of Noah, the kings of Israel, and Jesus himself if Adam wasn't historical. Furthermore, Noonan pointed to later Bible passages that draw on the early chapters of Genesis as fact such as Eden, the Sabbath, creation, the institution of marriage, and the existence of sin. Noonan, like Dixon, used Adam's historicity as the explanation for sin, death and the present condition of the world.

On Thursday, Dr. Michael Naylor brought a New Testament perspective on Adam's historicity, referencing several New Testament passages that mention Adam and Eve. Naylor mainly focused on the Apostle Paul's letters and their focus on Adam bringing death and Christ bringing life, making the case that Paul thought Adam was just as much a real person as was Jesus. Naylor pointed out that Paul even called Adam a “living being.”

“Paul chooses, if we read Paul correctly, to portray Adam as an historical figure,” Naylor said.

The messages on Adam's historicity caused students to think deeper into the events of Eden.

“It's really nice to see that CIU is willing to address and wrestle with the complexities of such a crucial issue,” said sophomore Josh Chapman. “When it comes to our faith in God's Word, we need to know we can trust it, and that's exactly what these Chapels have taught me.”

Hear the podcasts of Authority of Scripture Week here