One day my wife and I were talking and she suddenly asked me something regarding one of the most well-known stories in the Bible: the Garden of Eden. A story you and I and everyone else have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Here’s the kicker:
In my 35 years of following Jesus I had never even thought of the question she asked me.
This blog so far has focused mostly on the “Believer” part of “The Skeptical Believer.” In these segments I want to look at the other half of that equation. As I said in my very first post, although I am firmly committed to faith in Jesus and belief in His divinity, there are many issues that I have questions and doubts about.
Some of these ‘questions’ are merely reaction to the “official party line” that often exists in American Christianity. There are lots of ideas and concepts that “everybody knows are true” but that simply aren’t, at least in my opinion.
For example: 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a very famous verse.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
I hear people all the time using this verse as God’s promise to America, and yet it simply does not apply to this country. God was speaking to Solomon in a very specific time about a very specific country, and to universalize that verse to include the USA is simply un-biblical. It may apply in some general way as a general principle, and it certainly is a good thing to hope for, but to act as if God is specifically promising that to Americans today is flat-out wrong.
My intent in these posts is not to cause you to question or doubt your faith, but to hopefully help you break out of the box that we all find ourselves thinking in after a long time of looking at the world in a certain way. There are only a very few issues in Christianity that are worth holding the hill and dying on (the Resurrection being the first and foremost—thus why I spent so much time on it). All the rest (my estimation? 90%) is food for thought, reflection, and debate, and sincere believers of all stripes can have differing opinions on them while still remaining brothers and sisters in the faith. We often find ourselves falling into several Christian “myths” and groupthink without even realizing it, and we need to shatter these notions in order to be fresh and open to hearing the voice of God in our lives.
One of the things I enjoy about my wife’s faith is that she didn’t come into it until much later in life than me, who was basically born a Christian. Therefore, she often asks many different questions than I even think to. It’s kind of embarrassing sometimes when she’ll ask me, “So why is it that ______” and my only response can be, “You know, I’ve never even thought of that!” And I’m supposedly the expert by way of my much longer tenure!
It does make sense though, as she is much fresher in her thinking than I am. She didn’t grow up in Sunday school learning all the stories and Christian tropes like I did. She also grew up in an intellectually rigorous family who never believed what they were told simply because someone “in authority” told them it was true. That’s a trait that MANY of us, of all beliefs, would do well to emulate.
I really like it when she asks me these questions, though, because it helps me to sharpen and hone my own faith. As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another, I believe a wise person once said…
So…back to Eden.
I do believe the story references an actual event that happened at the beginning of human history, but for my purposes it doesn’t really matter whether the story of Eden is literally true or whether it’s an allegory of a true event. That is not a die-on-this-hill issue to me.
We all know the story of the Fall of Man. Eve eats the forbidden fruit, Adam takes it and eats it also. God asks them what happened, and humanity’s first spin-doctoring occurs. The man blames the woman, the woman blames the serpent—its the very first Men-are-from-Mars-Women-are-from-Venus moment. Neither of them cop to any responsibility, and thus their communion with God is broken.
My wife and I were talking about this one day, and then she asked me the question:
What if Adam and Eve had simply apologized to God and asked forgiveness?
We all know that God is in the redemption and forgiveness business (see 1 John 1:9). He delights in restoring relationships—us to each other and to Him.
Would human history have been radically changed had they simply owned up to their failing? Would the Son have needed to come down on his rescue mission to save us?
What do you think?
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
Falsehood aptly defended loses not it’s falsity.