This post is an example of the tremendous anger that I had toward the church of Jesus Christ for many years. Even its dying embers exhibited an enormous pride and hostility, may the Lord forgive me. I was going to rewrite or remove this post, but I think it is important to recognize that this life is a process of continual maturation and growth. For this reason, I leave the post as it is and ask you to forgive me for the nearly unendurable pride and self-righteousness contained herein. 5/18/2017
In my last essay, “The Great Stink”, I said something which has proven extremely controversial among Christians with whom I have discussed these issues over the last few years. I wrote that our finite natures made us necessarily evil because human beings have neither the attention span, nor the knowledge to be able to love others. While what I wrote does not itself directly contradict traditional Christian theology because I was writing in the context of fallen human beings, it does bring up an issue where I think traditional Christian theology is entirely erroneous to the point of being blasphemous. Because this issue has an enormous impact on the the church’s ability to influence the minds of those around us, it is a critical issue and deserves careful consideration.
As you know, the traditional Christian creation story is that God created Adam perfect and morally good in the Garden of Eden. Because God wanted Adam to truly love Him, God created Adam with free will. God then allowed Satan to tempt Adam through Eve and Adam chose to be disobedient. Once Adam had been disobedient, God pronounced judgment on Adam, Eve and their descendants as well as on Satan. This is the story of the Fall of Man as it is taught and understood by Christians. There is, however, a major problem with this story. Adam was not perfect and morally good in the Garden of Eden.
What is wrong with saying that Adam was perfect and morally good in the Garden of Eden? The primary problem is that it is blasphemous. If Adam was perfect and morally good in the Garden of Eden, that is the equivalent to saying that Adam was like Jesus Christ; that the created being was as good as the creator. Adam was not perfect and morally good, he was sinless and did not have a sin nature. This is an extremely important distinction because it has a direct bearing on our understanding of God’s purpose for this world. Let us examine both sides of this issue.
The Case for Adam Being Good
Really the only verse that I have ever had Christians use in support of their erroneous position that Adam was perfect and morally good is Genesis 1:31
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)
But what is God really saying here? God is looking on “all that he has made” and saying it is “very good”. “All that He has made” includes rocks and ferns and bumble bees. How is a rock morally good? How is a fern obedient? What can a bumble bee know of good and evil, sin and death? God is clearly speaking as a master craftsman who is satisfied with His creation as being “well made”. David later echoes this idea in the psalms:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)
So this isolated verse is really the only verse which Christians can use in support of the idea that Adam was morally good and, as we have seen, that interpretation doesn’t make any sense even if the verse is viewed in isolation. On the other hand, the case for the Supremacy of Jesus Christ is overwhelming from every portion of Scripture.
The Case for the Supremacy of Jesus Christ
Though many Christians believe otherwise, the truth is that Adam could not have chosen to be perfect like Jesus Christ in the Garden of Eden. Jesus Christ is God and He is perfect in every way. He has the perfectly loving nature of God and it would be impossible for Him to disobey His Father. Adam was a created being and did not have the perfectly loving nature of God. Though he might for a short duration have been able to be obedient to God, eventually he would have been disobedient and eaten of the forbidden fruit. We make this argument from the Scripture in four parts.
The Words of Jesus Christ and the New Testament
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)
One might expect the unequivocal statement of Jesus Christ to be sufficient for Christians, but when I have shared these ideas previously I played this trump card only to have Christians respond, “Is that all you’ve got? You say that only God is good just because Jesus said that only God was good? That is not good enough.” This hardness of heart requires additional argumentation.
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25)
So if the words of Jesus Christ are not enough, maybe the words of Paul in Romans will turn the trick? These verses clearly illustrate the lie that the created being is at the same level as the creator. Still not enough? Let us move on.
The Nature of Love and Sin
As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. (1 Sammuel 12:23)
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Many Christians have a legalistic understanding of sin. “If I don’t do anything wrong, then I haven’t sinned.” As illustrated by the verses above, the true standard of God is much higher. God requires you to love and sin is any way in which you fail to love. Adam did not love God the father like Jesus Christ did. The imperfect nature of Adam’s love was demonstrated by his disobedience, it did not result from his disobedience. We see this fact in the sequence of events. Adam chose to be disobedient before the consequences of disobedience separated him from God.
A Comparison of Adam and Jesus
If it is not enough that Jesus Christ says that only God is good, that Romans warns us against elevating the created being to the level of the creator and that Adam’s disobedience was clear evidence of his imperfect love before the fall, let us compare the obedience of Jesus Christ to the disobedience of Adam point by point.
In the Old Testament, we learn that Adam disobeyed under the following circumstances:
- He had a perfect father and was not surrounded by sinful people.
- He lived in a garden paradise free of the consequences of sin.
- Obedience only required avoiding the fruit of a single tree.
In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus Christ was obedient despite:
- Being raised by sinful parents and surrounded by sinners.
- Being immersed in an extremely painful world as the “Man of Sorrows”.
- Obedience required Him to be tortured to death.
Adam was disobedient and Jesus was obedient why? Because Adam was morally good like Jesus Christ in the Garden? This is nonsense to the point of being gibberish.
The Uniqueness of God and Jesus Christ
Can a created being be as good and loving and perfect as the creator? To me, the answer to this question is clearly no and the Bible resounds with statements to this effect.
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)
Who should not fear you, King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise leaders of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you. (Jeremiah 10:7)
(God rebuking the wicked) “You thought I was exactly like you” (Psalm 50:21)
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.(Isaiah 55:9)
The notion that Adam was morally good in the Garden of Eden demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of God’s word. Whenever the Bible says that God is holy, it is saying that He is “separate” and “apart”. What is He separate and apart from if not those whom He has created? What He is saying is, “I am different than you, I am separate from you, I am apart from you. I am loving and kind and good and you are not. My ways are higher than your ways. Be like Me and accept My gracious love and forgiveness.”
The Supremacy of Jesus Christ
I call the idea that Jesus Christ is superior to Adam and every other created being the doctrine of the Supremacy of Jesus Christ. While I cannot say that it is a salvation issue because most Christians with whom I have shared it have rejected it, it is for me an issue of unparalleled importance and I am willing to die to defend it. It allows me to reject the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception which holds that Mary was sinless. It allows me to filter Old Testament teachings through the teachings of Jesus Christ because Moses was a deeply flawed and sinful servant who was only righteous by faith. It is essential and has many ramifications. We explore why it matters in the next essay.