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Bible Problematics Part 1 ~ The Fall of Man Story

By Rhonda Denise Johnson ~

I sometimes run into people who try to encourage me to visit a Church. For a few years after diversion (April 2005), I had recurrent dreams of being left in the Rapture. And let’s face it, the music and fellowship the Church offers can be quite enticing, especially in the small town where I live, where if you don’t go to Church there really isn’t too much to do. But the one solid thing that has sustained my resolve to remain free is what I’ve read in the Bible. No matter how sweet folks are, trying to “love me back into Church,” no one can un-write what was written, nor can I un-read what I read. I can honestly go so far as to say that if it weren’t for the Bible, I might still be calling myself a Christian. Alas, the Bible is the foundation of Christianity and although for a while, I thought I could maintain my “relationship” with Jesus despite the problems in the Bible, in time I had to admit this was neither honest nor logical. In a series of articles, I’d like to share with you some of the things I found.

Haukipudas Church
Haukipudas Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Problem with the Fall of Man Story

The story of the Fall of Man is central to Christianity. Without it, the Church could not convince indigenous people that they need Jesus to save them from sin. Beginning with Paul, missionaries often encounter people whose moral code is obviously superior to that of many Christians. The idea that all humans somehow inherited a sin nature from Adam and therefore deserve hell, was a masterful stroke. Yet, there are not one, but two fundamental problems inherent to the whole idea of the Fall of Man. I won’t make the argument people usually make here. The idea that all of mankind should pay hellfire for the crime of being born, is bad enough, but that’s not what we will discuss here. The two problems I will mention are: 1. Adam had no way to know that what he was doing was wrong, 2. Paul is the only biblical writer who holds all humanity accountable for Adams’s sin.

Let’s visit Adam in the Garden of Eden. Jehovah creates this guy but does not give him the faculty to know good and evil. It doesn’t even say that Adam did not know how to distinguish good from evil. He simply had no concept that some things were good and some evil. Jehovah puts that knowledge in the fruit of a tree then tells the man not to eat the fruit. Adam had no way to know that it was evil to disobey God. In fact, he obeyed everybody. Like a child, Adam did what God told him to do until somebody else came along and told him to do something else. There was no wrestling with his conscience—no acting against his better judgment. He had none.

Eve tells the serpent, “That‘s the forbidden fruit, which if we eat we die.” Apparently, it occurred to her that dying was perhaps something she did not want to do. But nothing had ever died in her world, so she had no real concept of death; otherwise, she would not have thought the fruit was useful for food and wisdom. If someone gave you a plate of carrots and told you it was poison, would you eat it? Would you say, “Well, poison or not, it’s still full of vitamins?” Only if you‘re a baby who doesn‘t really know what poison is.

I have looked and from Genesis to the Book of Acts, I could not find one reference linking us to Adam’s sin. Something so cataclysmic that it affected the entire human race and yet not one biblical writer thought it worth writing about?Toddlers often don’t do what we tell them to do. They have to learn that obedience will keep them out of trouble and disobedience will land them into trouble. No parent would put a child in the electric chair the first time it disobeys. No one would treat their dog that way, much less a child. Yet, that’s all Adam was, a child with no life experience. He could have been taught. Life’s experiences could have developed his conscience. Instead, God renders the ultimate punishment the first time Adam disobeys. And this ultimate punishment was not on Adam himself. For none of the punishments outlined for Adam were eternal. According to the Church, the ultimate payment for Adam’s sin was levied on his descendents. Where is the justice in this?

I have looked and from Genesis to the Book of Acts, I could not find one reference linking us to Adam’s sin. Something so cataclysmic that it affected the entire human race and yet not one biblical writer thought it worth writing about? How odd? Actually, the whole concept could be called “Paulianity.” After all, he calls it his gospel (2 Timothy 2:8). Indeed, the concept of inherited sin is his gospel and does not exist anywhere else in the Bible outside his writings. The concept is not in the Old Testament. Moses decrees that “the fathers shall not be put to death for the sins of the sons, nor shall the sons be put to death for the sins of the fathers, but every man shall be put to death for his own sins.” (Deuteronomy 24:16) Obviously, Paul was not present when Jesus stood in the temple with the Old Testament scriptures and said that not one jot of it would be changed ‘til heaven and Earth pass away. Neither can I find the concept in any of the Gospels or the non-Pauline letters of the New Testament.

Preachers tell us we can’t pick and choose what we want to believe in the Bible. With this kind of contradiction, we have no other alternative. How does one agree with a book that does not agree with itself? How can Christians tell me that God never changes, and then when I see discrepancies in the Bible, they tell me that God did change? They tell us we are in a different dispensation now. Change by any other name…. So under the dispensation of law I only had to worry about paying for my own sin, but under the dispensation of grace I suddenly need a savior to save me from someone else’s sin, which I would not be held accountable for if Paul weren’t trying to find an excuse to save me. This makes no sense.