“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
It was in late 1986 that I traveled to Leeds, in Yorkshire, England, to listen to a lecture by legendary evangelical preacher John Stott. That cold, wet, and windy November evening made for dangerous driving over the Pennine hills from Stalybridge, but my friends and I – all members of Mottram Congregational Church – were looking forward to warm fellowship and, we hoped, sound exposition.
In his lecture, he commented that it was essential for Christians to believe that there had been a real, historical man called Adam; otherwise, passages such as Romans 5 or 1 Corinthians 15 did not make sense. Now, I had one reservation about the great Dr. Stott, many of whose books I had read and enjoyed, because I had heard that he believed in the theory of evolution. So, when he had finished, I had the privilege of asking the first question. I asked how he could believe in Adam and in evolution. He replied that Adam must have been the first evolved ape, that God had breathed into him, and, therefore, “he became a kind of homo divinus”. This was probably the first occasion that the phrase was used, but I have heard it many times since from many evangelical preachers. With the greatest of respect to the great man, the idea of Adam as the first evolved ape will not do because the whole point of Romans 5 is that before Adam, there was no death of any sort in the world – not even the death of apes. We must believe not just in Adam but that he was exactly as the Bible states.
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