And the LORD God formed [ʼâdâm] of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and [ʼâdâm] became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
The question of whether Adam was a true historical person is not a new one. Liberal theologians have debated the question since at least the middle of the nineteenth century. They eventually concluded that Adam was a mythical figure recorded in Scripture for the purpose of attributing to God a superintending role in the process of creation, which was mostly guided by evolution. This rejection of the literal reading of the text quickly degenerated into relegating the rest of Scripture to the stuff of myths, and ultimately to the rejection of the deity of Christ. The Bible thus became a good book to live by, but not necessarily to be taken seriously.
This is nothing new. However, the negation of the historical Adam, and the rest of the Genesis creation account, is now cropping up in Evangelical circles. Evangelicals who have traditionally stood for the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture are now beginning to question the historicity of a real Adam and Eve as the very first, uniquely created, human pair from which the rest of humanity sprang. Granted, this is NOT a salvation issue. Our salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith in Christ alone, and by no other means. However, what one believes about the historical Adam has huge theological implications for several reasons.
First of all, the Bible is the “God-breathed” Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), therefore it cannot be found in error because God does not lie (Numbers 23:19). Nor can God’s Word fail (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; Luke 21:33; 1 Peter 1:25). Some may try to discredit the Bible by claiming that it was written by men and therefore is full of errors. That is to charge that God is incapable of preserving His Word. Scripture makes clear that God’s Word is not to be tampered with (Deuteronomy 4:2), and that it is not the product of the will of man but of God Who inspired and guided men to pen the text (2 Peter 1:20-21). Since the writing of the original autographs, textual criticism had confirmed the integrity of the text that we now have over and over again. So, to question the historicity of Adam is to question the integrity of God and His Word. Personally, I would rather steer clear of that.
Secondly, Jesus confirmed the authenticity of the historical Adam (Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6), as well as other “questionable” miracles contained in Scripture: Noah and the Flood (Matthew 24:37-38; Luke 17:26-27), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15; 11:23-24; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:12; 17:29), and Jonah swallowed by the “great fish” (Matthew 12:39-40; 16:4; Luke 11:29). Since Jesus is the Creator (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16) and the ultimate Author of Scripture, one would surmise that He had first-hand knowledge of the events. So, to deny the historicity of Adam is to find fault with Jesus’ testimony. Ultimately it is to deny His deity, for how can God commit such errors! To deny the historical Adam is to charge that either Jesus purposefully lied, which God cannot do, or that He was uninformed, which God, through omniscience, is incapable of doing.
Thirdly, other New Testament writers affirm the historical Adam. Luke, the physician (Colossians 4:14), who had “taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1), set down in his Gospel the genealogy of Jesus tracing it back all the way to “Adam, which was the son of God” (Luke 3:38). The significance of this is in that Luke, being a physician and scientist, was meticulous about the details he recorded as can be seen throughout his Gospel. Paul also, highly educated under the tutelage of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), refers back to Adam especially with regard to original sin (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45; 1 Timothy 2:13-14). Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, counts the generations of Enoch beginning with Adam (Jude 14).
With all the internal evidence for the historical Adam, especially that which comes from the lips of our Lord Himself, one has only two options: accept the historicity of Adam recorded in the foundational book of Genesis, or reject the Bible altogether as unreliable. That brings us full circle to the issue of salvation. If the Bible is unreliable with regard to historical Adam, how can it be trusted in regard to salvation? One cannot ride the fence on this issue, and it is time for Evangelicals to nail this down once and for all. Adam and Eve were real, historical figures and the progenitors of the human race.