Is it acceptable to interpret Adam as an allegory, not a historical person?
SPROUL: This issue is really becoming hot in our day, and it’s critical. It’s critical not only for the teachings of Genesis, but for the teachings of the Apostle Paul and of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you negotiate Adam’s headship of the human race and try to mix it up with theistic evolution, you’re on a roller coaster without any brakes.
MACARTHUR: The question I always ask about this is: Where in the Bible did you come to that conclusion? Where is that in Scripture? That’s not in Genesis. The next question would be, Do you believe the account of Genesis 1–3 to be a divine account of creation?
If someone says, “It’s an allegory; it’s a poem,” there’s plenty of evidence that’s not true. One of our professors at The Master’s College did a quantifiable study on a computer system comparing Hebrew poetry with Genesis 1–3, and there was no relationship between that literature in Hebrew and any form of Hebrew poetry. So, it’s not some kind of epic poem that can be interpreted allegorically.
The bigger question is this: When do you start believing the Bible? Do you start in Genesis 4? Or maybe you wait until Exodus? If you don’t believe Genesis 1 and 2, do you believe Matthew 1 and 2? Exactly how much liberty are you going to take with this?
I wrote a book called The Battle for the Beginning, and one of the things I said in that book is that whatever you observe in the world today, or whatever science observes, has nothing to do with origins. It only has to do with what you observe, which doesn’t say anything about origins because you couldn’t observe it. There was only one eyewitness to the origin of everything, and that eyewitness has given us a divinely-accurate account in Genesis 1 and 2.
This is a huge issue. You either believe the Bible at that point or you don’t. If you don’t believe it there, then you are susceptible to not believing it at all kinds of other places that might be uncomfortable or that some philosopher or pseudoscientist decides isn’t accurate. That is a slippery slope of epic proportions.
This is a transcript of R.C. Sproul’s and John MacArthur’s answers given during our 2012 West Coast Conference, and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.