Thursday, April 23, 2015

God, Adam, and You edited by Richard D. Phillips

Does it matter if Adam was a historical being? Many Christians today think Adam can be relegated to mythology or symbolism without compromising too much of the Christian faith.

These authors disagree. They hold that Adam was a historical being and that his existence is necessary to our faith and witness. What one believes about Adam's existence makes a difference to how we understand God, mankind, the person and ministry of Jesus, the Bible, and the gospel. It is essential, they argue, to defend the Bible's teaching on creation and Adam.

Derek Thomas writes on the essence of Genesis 1 in one essay and the views on the days of creation in another. Joel R. Beeke argues for a real, historical Adam, using the Bible alone. He also has an essay on Jesus as the second Adam. Kevin DeYoung explores whether man is here by chance or by design. Liam Goligher shares the spiritual ramifications of the first chapters of Genesis. Richard D. Phillips reveals the kind of theology we end up with if we incorporate evolution into it. He also writes on gender and marriage. His third essay is on what was lost in the Fall and when it will be regained. Carl R. Trueman writes on original sin and how the doctrine has been changed by modern theologians.

As is often the case with a variety of authors, the quality of the essays differ and there is some repetition. As a lay person, there were a few of the studies I greatly appreciated. Beeke pointed out the problems of rendering the Bible through the lens of science as well the importance of defending the historicity of Adam. “The denial of the historical Adam brings with it a host of ideas contrary to the Christian view of creation, human nature, human relationships, and the fall of man.”

I really appreciated Phillips' remarks on evolution. “The attempt to show that the Bible, when properly interpreted, makes allowance for evolution simply does not work.” He is very clear about what is lost when a Christian embraces evolution. “Evolution cannot be grafted into the structure of biblical Christianity, but replaces it with a different structure, a different ethic, a different story of salvation, and a different religion altogether.” I also appreciated Phillips' study on gender and marriage. He notes, “ is vital for Christians to know the difference between biblically prudent accommodations to culture and issues on which we cannot faithfully compromise.”

This is not a definitive work by any means. It is a good introduction, however, to the historic Reformed view of the first few chapters of Genesis. It is also a good reminder of what we loose in doctrine and practical theology when we begin to compromise on the historical nature of that Scripture.

The studies in this book come from the 2013 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

Richard D. Phillips, editor, is the senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, South Carolina.

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is a coalition of pastors, scholars,and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today's church. You can find out more about their broadcasts at, their online magazine at, the theological conversation at, and cultural and church criticism at

P & R Publishing, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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