Friday, March 16, 2012

First Adam, Second Adam & Covenant Theology

Yesterday I posted on covenant theology and what would have happened if Adam had obeyed. I'd like to follow that up and try to convey things a little better here. Here's what I believe with regard to Adam's probation in the garden. 

This is not so much an exegetical defense, although I think it can be defended on the basis of exegesis and sound Biblical theology. Rather it is a statement of belief with some redemptive historical argumentation. I think the text will bear the weight of what I am saying, but I will let the reader be the judge.

As for myself, I can only say, I did not grow up with this understanding or covenant theology. It was Paul's first Adam/Second Adam that convinced me Covenant theology is the best understanding. Admittedly some articulations of covenant theology can be rooted more in systematic theology but I am convinced the best presentations come from a strong Biblical theology, like that of Geerhardus Vos.

I believer it is profitable to think about what would Adam have secured had he obeyed and vanquished Satan from the garden.  Or even: would there have been a point where he secured anything? The issue for me, as I see it, is: would the probation have gone on indefinitely where Adam always had the potential to fall or would Adam have secured a final state at some point once Satan was vanquished and the garden brought under dominion?

I believer it is the latter. I believe the continuity points between 1st/2nd Adam warrant the assertions that: what the Second Adam secured had to have been offered to the First Adam.

Of course, the Second Adam has the added task of redeeming from the curse of sin that the first Adam offered.

The first Adam was told to subdue the earth and he could have done that as God's viceregent. I think then, like we see Christ do (1 Cor. 15:28), the first Adam would have handed that kingdom over to the Father had he accomplished his task. He was charged with acting as son and executing God's reign. Of course, we all agree the first Adam fails and is rightly cursed.

In the last post I noted, Adam's body was not the same body he had in the garden pre-fall', what I meant was Paul's contrast between the natural body and the spiritual body in 1 Cor. 15:44-4  [granted 'spiritual' does not mean non-corporeal like the heretics say, I would highlight Richard Gaffin's articulation that spiritual should be a reference to the Holy Spirit]. There is continuity of person and corporeal nature between the 'natural body' and the resurrection 'spiritual body.'

Adam was created though in a natural body that is righteous and holy but still subpar to the resurrection body.

What I mean was that Adam was created in one kind of flesh with one kind of glory [like Paul says]. In his pre-fall state though the body was susceptible to sin--it could really fall away. Adam was not given what Hebrews calls 'indestructible life.' His life was vulnerable to the curse of death. In the final state our life is not. The final state of the new creation is an advancement.

The Second Adam of course actually obeyed, and he was really granted something--resurrection life. You see, as I would see it, Christ did enter the world in Adam's first state--innocence, without sin, with real righteousness and holiness. But he really did have to merit the eschatological state--the indestructible resurrection body--first he merited for himself in his humanity and second by extension for his people in union with Him because he is a covenant head, like Adam was. 

So the resurrection doesn't just bring Jesus back to life but it takes him forward to the life of new creation. Why? Because he obeyed the Father perfectly and secured it as a corporate head for his people. Adam of course never did this because he failed. I believe the offer was there though to Adam.

Reading redemptive history backwards because of the continuity points between the First and Second Adam, I think we can (and should) argue that had Adam obeyed, crushed the serpent and subdued the earth, the probation would not have been perpetual but he would have entered a new state of exaltation.

See Adam never humbled himself and submitted to God but instead raised himself up becoming the judge of good and evil --so God cursed him. Christ, however, as the Second Adam did humble himself and so God did raise him up in the final human state, not merely a pre-fall state.

Jesus' obedience was real human obedience offered on our behalf. Jesus' obedience was 'adamic' obedience, representative for a people. That should say something. It helps us answer an admittedly hypothetical 'what if Adam had obeyed?' The 'what if' is important because we are seeking to answer: what really was offered to Adam in the covenant?  

I think the Covenant offers Adam a real reward if he obeys. One of the reasons is because Christ as Second Adam fulfills the covenant of works. So because he obeyed he actually does merit resurrection and exaltation. He is crowned with glory and honor that far exceeds his first sinless state. He is given dominion over all things and the final end is crushing that.

So Christ fulfills Ps.8 but while Adam was God's image in the garden he never actually exercised that so he didn't accomplish what God had for him especially in Ps. 8:2, 6.

If Adam had, I think he would have been glorified. Why? Because look at what happens to Christ when he fulfills his role as Second Adam where the first failed. Christ really gets a reward and its one he secures as the new Adam. The same original covenantal condition apply but this time the 'adam' is victorious.

One other line of argumentation that I think gets to the crux of the matter is: new creation is not the same as original creation. It shares continuity: bodily, physical, humanity as holy and righteous. But there is discontinuity: for man, our righteousness is so secured that we can never fall away--just as Christ's body can never be vulnerable to death again. New creation is an advanced step beyond creation.

As God's representative and because of the continuity of the Covenants between the two Adams, I would argue that had the first Adam obeyed, he would have secured 'new creation' the final state for all of God's creation. He would have prosecuted God's rule over all creation, subduing the earth as God's image.

In Christ's work there is not merely restoration and removal of the curse there is advancement. As someone put to me: "History has progressed, developed, and consummated, not merely brought everything back to the way it was in the garden. A project has been completed; history has been brought from A to B." 

I agree! I am just applying this to what was offered to Adam if he had obeyed. I believe it was Vos who liked to say 'eschatology precedes soteriology'.

Admittedly, we are asking some "what if" questions. It was not God's plan or intent in his ultimate Sovereign will. But I believe the first Adam and Second Adam parallels should guide our thinking here. 

At the end of the day a believer admits and rejoices that we enter heaven, the resurrection and the new creation on the merits of the Second Adam who secured both our redemption and the kingdom on our behalf. And for that we are to be eternally grateful. 

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