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The Genesis Account


Gen 3: 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

 

Because you have done this:

When God was told what happened, the sentence starts as "Because you have done this". The pronouncement of the consequence of disobedience was told to them. It is not to be interpreted as "God cursed". That is the picture most people try to present. The Biblical picture of God is that "God is love." Every action of God is to be seen as an act of self-less love. Even Godís punishments and justice are subject to his fundamental nature. (Unless we assume that the God who cursed was not the real God but the evil God as Gnostics assert; who did not want Man to know Good and Evil.) Even the apparent curses were therefore acts of love and mercy especially the boon of death. This has to be a blessing for man who started the choice of independence. Imagine a selfish people like mankind living eternally without death. It will be an eternal Hell. No, Adam was Godís son and he did not want him or any of his grand and great grand to be stuck there. This has been brought about by the curse on the ground, the material world. A property of going into disorder was imposed on it with a hope of one-day redeeming mankind and afterwards the cosmos as a whole. This is clearly stated by St. Paul:

Rom 8: 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope

the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

It was God who subjected the material world to decay, in the hope that it will be liberated from its bondage one day. Until this redemption of mankind is completed it will remain in bondage of corruption. Manís death is due to this corruption of the matter. As sin started this corruption it can hasten it also. Righteousness can delay it too.

If on the other hand a curse on his spiritual ability was made on man, God never mentioned it to Adam or Eve.

Where is the Satan?

We should also note that in the Genesis story there is not one mention of a devil or a Satan. These were later read into it. Christian concept of evil is not based on the existence of a person of Satan. The existence of evil was simply the result of the freedom of will of the created beings Ė both spirit and material. I have dealt with this concept fully in my study on the Biblical Concept of Man in a vector model. Satan is only the person who leads the powers of evil in the world and world systems. Apparently Satan had no part in the fall of Adam and Eve. The only place in the whole Bible where the serpent is identified with Satan is found in Revelations.

12: 9 The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.

20: 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

At all other times the symbolism represented Jesus (This theme was exploited by the Gnostics to show that the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was indeed Jesus) as in the desert where Moses lifted up the brazen serpent.

The Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Apart from the problems raised due to the change in properties of the matter, the Genesis story does not even hint about any spiritual consequence. There was one problem though, in tasting of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man has become like God knowing good and evil. Serpent was after all not telling a total lie. Only he did not tell the whole truth - the truth regarding the responsibility that came with it for which man was ill prepared.

 

Gen 3: 22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

 

The consequence of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was that they came to know good and evil,(like God himself) which brought forth a responsibility for which man was not ready. The spiritual implication was that man will be held responsible for his choices and not that man will have no choice. Until that time man was a baby with the confidence in God. Now Man asserted the teenage rebellion and wanted the freedom of choice in their lives. Did God take that away? Far from it. He asserted that. But in his love he fenced it with a limited life span.

Adam exercised this freedom (God certainly expected man to grow up in maturity and eat of the the fruits of the trees of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life in the course of time. Otherwise there was no point in creating and placing it in the center of the Garden of Eden and then tell him about it.) and made a mistake (and part-take of it without Father's permission) and it brought forth its consequences. Like a sequence Adam and all the rest of the mankind had to start from that point. We do not have the extent of freedom that Adam had, because our starting point is different. Each human being found themselves in a position totally different from each other because of the change that has been effected through history. Everyone will have to start from the coordinates where he or she finds himself or herself in this multidimensional continuum and then find their way. This is the Kinetic theory of human individuals in society and history. Each human is in constant motion, interacting violently with everyother human being through time and space.

Calvinism assumes that we are dead and therefore cannot move. Pelegianism assumes that we are at the same point as Adam and therefore has the same choice as Adam.

Because Man took the fuit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Manís mental faculties were boosted with logic and reason and we know that this flourished and bloomed for good and for evil in the course of history. Man used his faculties for good - look at the developments in science, technology, philosophy, and life styles. Man also used every development for evil - look at the wars and machines of tortures and sophistications in exploitations. It depended on the person and the community. As for spiritual realm Man became totally responsible for his choices and will pay for it in this life and in the life to come. God is not sitting idle either. This he does by posting direction signs.

Heb 1:1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,

He intervenes in the personal lives and the lives of the families, communities and the nations and directs them without interfering with the freedom. When situations went out of hand God removed certain people, families, communities, and nations and lampstands out of the way.

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,Ö

It is true that death passed upon all men through the First Adam. His expulsion from the Garden with its Tree of Life removed him from the source of immortality and made death certain. This is also true of his posterity. We know very well that characteristics of the parents are transferred to the children through genes. These characteristics include bodily characters, behavioural characters, mental characters and spiritual characters. Thus every person is the product of history. Thus a child is not born in a vacuum. A child is born in a society with its entire cultural, environmental, economic and social structure context. All these are constraints on the child. Yet each child grows up and has the freedom and ability to change and even to change the constraints to a very great extent.There is freedom in every area. But there are also constraints in every dimension. In my study on the Biblical Concept of Man, I have considered three forces that act on every individual. One is God, the other the evil nature of the continuum in which he acts and the third deciding factor is the will of the person. This is where "that you can do it" comes in the Godís call of choice. One of the characteristics of the Renaissance period was its emphasis on individual. But no man is an island. Man is never treated as an individual in the Bible. Man is a part of the cosmos. It was this consciousness of man to be distinct and separate from cosmos, community and co-creations - that was the fall. Yet it is through these very fallen nature that man is able to redeem himself. It is this freedom that God calls for however tainted or weak it may be.

Heb 5: 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Remember this knowledge of the good and evil was the fruit that Adam and Eve ate and it was this specific feature that was handed down through generations by them. God now expects us to exercise this.

Man never lost this ability to distinguish between good and evil.

Judaism do not consider the disobedience of Adam as anything serious. Just like the Islam they consider it an existensial error remedied by his repentance. But this cannot be justified from the Genesis history. It was a serious sin which necessitated God to drive them away from the Garden and they never were able to regain it. We also see that God never walked with Adam as he did before. In fact Adam hid himself from God and going out from Eden sealed this pleasant fellowship. There never had been a full reconciliation. God did talk with Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Moses. Even then these were limited encounters and were far from a fellowship like that of Adam before the fall. This error has kept in the Jewish and Islamic thought because the holiness of God has always been seen through the eyes of law. God was awesome because he was powerful and he was a ruthless master with powers to kill and to pardon without a reason. Because God is sovereign. This concept is also seen in the Calvinistic approach. But God's holiness is not righteousness. To say God is righteous is not a correct statement because he is not bound to any law. God's holiness therefore depends on his own basic character which is love.

Godís Dealing with Cain

If man was left totally dead we could have seen his in Godís dealing with Adam and Eve soon after the fall. Instead we see God reaching out to them and covering them. Neither do we see this in Godís treatment with Cain. God tells Cain:

Gen 4: 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

Cain was asked to master sin. Was God mocking Cain by saying this when God knew that Cain was totally unable to master sin. In spite of the heinous crime of murder of his own brother, God gives him a seal of protection from tribal revenge.

Godís Dealing with Israel

Centuaries later God told the Israelites the same encouragement.

Deut 30: 11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.

12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"

13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"

14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.

God clearly tell them that it is not too difficult nor is it beyond the reach of any man.

Sin, Righteousness, Holiness and Perfection

There seems to be some confusion in the terminologyís of Sin, righteousness, holiness and perfection.

John defines sin thus:

1 John 3: 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

Sin and unrighteousness are therefore synonymous. Righteousness and unrighteousness in the Bible are always legally defined in terms of the law.

Ezekiel spreads it out in detail thus:

Ez. 18: 5 "Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right.

6 He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor's wife or lie with a woman during her period.

7 He does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked.

8 He does not lend at usury or take excessive interest. He withholds his hand from doing wrong and judges fairly between man and man.

9 He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign LORD.

10 "Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things

11 (though the father has done none of them): "He eats at the mountain shrines. He defiles his neighbor's wife.

12 He oppresses the poor and needy. He commits robbery. He does not return what he took in pledge. He looks to the idols. He does detestable things.

13 He lends at usury and takes excessive interest. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head.

14 "But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things:

15 "He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor's wife.

16 He does not oppress anyone or require a pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked.

17 He withholds his hand from sin and takes no usury or excessive interest. He keeps my laws and follows my decrees. He will not die for his father's sin; he will surely live.

18 But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.

19 "Yet you ask, 'Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?' Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live.

20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

21 "But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die.

22 None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live.

23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

24 "But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.

25 "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

26 If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die.

27 But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life.

Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die.

If what Ezekiel said were indeed from God, the teaching that Adam's sins were imputed to man is absolutely wrong. Though Adam's sin was not imputed to his progeny the consequences of that disobedience were transmitted to every man. These included the decay and death of the body eventually.

Hence we read Rom 5:14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command. The physical death of man came into the world as a result of the sin of Adam. What is imputed is not the sin of Adam, but the consequence of the sin of Adam - viz. physical death.
Evidently righteousness is defined in terms of the law. Yet

Rom 5: 13 before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.

Thus sin is really not dependent on the law nor is it really defined as law breaking. Law breaking is sin, but there is much more to it. Any act that takes man further away from God is sin. Incidentally that is how the Hindus define sin. I think it is a good definition. Law is only a coordinate, which gives it a reference point and value. "The power of sin is the law" (1 Cor. 15:56).Rewards and punishment are inherent in the act. They may not be apparent in the act but directs to it. These then are present and future simultaneously. [ John 3: 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.]

James 1: 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Death is not instantaneous to sin as is evident from the Garden of Eden story. Neither Eve nor Adam did drop dead. He lived another 900 years. But sin and its decaying effect started at that moment. God when spoke to them was simply stating the facts of the result of sin. In it there is no mention of total depravity at all. Like the physical death, depravity and inability will accelerate to its natural end till they end up in Total Depravity and Total Inability. It is an exponetial decay process.

I have tacitly assumed that man was not created totally holy and perfect which is the premise of Calvinists and many others. There is a very serious problem here. If man was totally perfect and holy, he could not have sinned by virtue of his nature just as God cannot sin. (Can God sin?) Neither can God create sin. But where and when did this sin enter the cosmos? All created were created good. But that does not mean they were created perfect to the absolute standard of God himself. Then man will be God - the Advaitic principle. It will not allow for any growth. That is simply the Nirguna Brahman - a God who cannot be defined in terms of any concept or properties. Such a thing cannot exist in time. Nor can it exist in space as it limits and constraints. The creation will then be limited when it is in space and static when there is no scope of change. Dynamic comes in with the introduction of time and space (not necessarily of 3D space alone). This permits movement , therefore change and therefore growth or decay. It would be perfectly logical to realise that God as known to us in space-time is only a projection of the infinite dimenional God ( God as incomprehensible and indefinable) and in that projection God (The Trinity in action within History and Jesus as God incarnate in History) himself has the constraints. This will eventually solve many contradictions that we see in the concept of God. It would be therefore stupidity to attempt any definition of God in the absolute. The dialectics of God's nature arise out of this. This unimaginable qualities of love personification is what we call holiness. If God is unchanging in absolute, God acts in different ways in history. Revelation is an ongoig process and we are looking forward to a fuller revelation beyond this age. It is in fact just the opposite of the Sovereign King concept of God presented to us. A good example will be a baby. Baby if a perfect person. But there is more to it because this baby can grow. There is freedom to change. This change is not just physical. The very reality of the existence of evil indicates that this freedom is inherent in creation. It was this freedom that Adam had. It is the same type of freedom we have. Only the constraints vary depending on the context.

The real question is have we got any freedom at all? In Calvinism except for those few who are the elect all others have no spiritual freedom, as they do not exist in that realm because of Adam's sin. Men are simply animals without a spiritual dimension. Or we can only move in one direction away from God unless God takes us out and into the next dimension and turn us around. Once turned around they can go only towards and not backwards. In general man whether elect or non-elect can move only along a line.

Evidently this concept is too narrow and does not allow for the reality of the observed fact. If the spiritual dimensiton is more than a line there will be a greater possibility of movement. Arminianism offers this model of man.