Does Inerrancy Require Adam and Eve to be Real People?
Without a clear understanding of God’s Word, people have no basis upon which to place their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
What’s the problem?
Are all sixty-six books of the Bible inerrant and authoritative for every aspect of living (2 Tim 3:16–17)? Or can we just pick the verses we like and ditch the rest?
What is inerrancy anyway?
I appreciate the way my former seminary professor, Dr. William Barrick describes inerrancy:
The Nature of God Suggests Inerrancy
God is true; God’s Words are true.
God is trustworthy; God’s Words are trustworthy.
God is without error; God’s Words are without error.
Theologian, Clark Pinnock (1937–2010) faults Harold Lindsell’s Battle for the Bible as the book that “stoked the fires of controversy that threaten to radically divide evangelicalism.”
The Battle for the Bible was published in 1979 to warn evangelical lay people about how a low view of Scripture could lead to catastrophic circumstances in the church. Lindsell details the decline of specific churches and denominations which allowed for doctrines and preaching opposed to inerrancy.
Twenty-seven years after Lindsell published his book, Pinnock reproaches Christians, and by default, Jesus and New Testament authors for believing in the literal historicity of Adam and Eve. Pinnock states:
“Conservatives are very touchy about the historicity of the fall of Adam because of its importance to their soteriology and theodicy, and therefore, about the status of the Genesis narratives on that event (Gen. 2–3). They are reluctant to admit that the literary genre in this case is likely figurative rather than strictly literal, even though the hints are very strong that it is symbolic: Adam (which means ‘mankind’) marries Eve (which means ‘Life’), and their son Cain (‘Forger’) becomes a wanderer in the land of Nod (‘wandering’)!”
With the exception of a few alternative definitions about names and places Pinnock provides no evidence to back-up his assumption that Genesis 1–2 “is likely figurative.” He provides no compelling treatise to persuade his readers about the “very strong hints” that these two chapters are “symbolic.” Pinnock avoids discussing how Jesus and the writers of the New Testament thought of Adam as a real man, and Eve as his historical wife.
The name “Eve” appears two times in the Hebrew Bible and in both instances she is presented as a historical woman married to Adam. Moses writes of Eve as having sexual relations with Adam so that they produced real historical children.
“Eve” appears in the Greek New Testament two times and in each case, context gives no reason to construe this woman as an allegorical figure. Paul stakes his claim on the authority of the Book of Genesis recognizing that the serpent deceived Eve, which is one of the reasons to forbid women elders/pastors to lead “the household of God” (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13–14, 3:15).
In the Greek New Testament, the name “Adam” appears nine times; in each occurrence the writer directly refers to, not a symbolic person or a plural form of “mankind,” but to one man created by God on the sixth twenty-four hour day of creation.
Luke refers to Enosh as the son of Adam and to Adam as the son of God. Paul writes of death reigning from Adam until Moses (Romans 5:14). If Adam is taken as a figurative person then Christ must also be understood the same way.
Substance Over Symbolism
Pinnock’s symbolism of the first two humans denies that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Belief in a symbolic Adam also requires faith in a metaphorical Messiah. If Jesus is symbolic, His death and resurrection are symbolic “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
From the very beginning, the first husband, Adam, recognized his bride, Eve, as “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23).
Moses and Jesus note that “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5).
Some four-thousand years after God created Adam and Eve, Jesus says, “But from the beginning of creation, He made them male and female” (Mark 10:6).
Adam saw his role as a protector of his bride, warning her to not even touch the tree because she would die (Gen. 3:3). This entire narrative repudiates Douglas Farrow and Clark Pinnock’s view of the Bible because it’s unreasonable to believe that “Mankind” could refer to “Life” as “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones.” “Mankind” does not warn its “Life” not to touch the tree.
Pinnock’s view of the Bible and his portrayal of Adam and Eve as symbolic, allows him to suggest that 2 Timothy 2:12 “is unable to silence the concern in our day to give full recognition to female ministries.” In context, Pinnock rightfully supports women fulfilling a role of ministry; however, he paraphrases Susan Foe’s book, “Women and the Word of God,” errantly suggesting that “Apart from this single verse, the opposition to female elders and teachers cannot be biblically proven.” See Grudem and Piper’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism for further study on the roles of men and women in ministry.
Scripture continually warns of misleading others about whether the Bible should be read as allegory, or trusted as the Word of God (Galatians 1; Jude 3, Acts 13:10; Matt 24:4; Acts 20:25–31; Matt 7:15–29).
Since God is true, what He says is truth; therefore, you can trust Him in every aspect of your life and eternity because the Bible is without error.