Abner Chou (Editor), WHAT HAPPENED IN THE GARDEN, Grand Rapids MI, Kregel Academic, 2016, 301 pages.
It was with anticipation that I looked to and wanted to read this book. In recent years a renewed effort among evangelicals questions the historical reliability of Adam, the garden, and the fall. The book reasons for the importance of the beginning chapters of the Bible; it is foundational for the whole Bible and the reliance on theology to life itself. This book answers the issues and defends the orthodox view of these three chapters of Genesis. It is a work by the faculty of The Master’s College. In light of the allegations by some evangelicals in the recent debate, a new defense is necessary.
The book is divided into three sections. These sections deal with the historicity, theology, and scientific elements of the revelation of these chapters section by section.
Section 1: Reality of Genesis 2-3. This is divided into four chapters. In this section the foundation of the book is being laid. Chapter 1 deals with Hermeneutic and History in Genesis 3. Abner Chou does a good job of identifying the issues involved. The issues revolve around exegetical issues; issues of history and theology, which he identifies the thesis that history is the ground of theology. It is the way theology works. He debunks the mythology view. Chapter 2 and 3 (by Todd Charles Wood and Joseph W. Francis), deals with Adam and the Animals and the Genetics of Adam. In regard to Adam and the animals the authors make clear Adam was a product of special creation in the image of God, and for the purpose of dominion over the earth. They deal with this in contrast to evolution. They bring out the distinction between humans and the higher forms of life in the animals (i.e. apes). Creation of kinds can be distinguished. We need to recognize the difference between as well as within evolution and creation. They continue to examine evolution and creation with a chapter of Genetics of Adam. In this chapter they argue for the young earth model of creation and history. This chapter is one of the most difficult for understanding of the problem and not reader friendly. However, they do show their intended purpose that evolution is not the only way that changes in the human race could take place. Chapter 4 is on Map of Misreading’s (by Grant Horner). This chapter brings us back to basics, which is understanding the text correctly. This is vital for it is the core of understanding of the Bible, theology, and its practice. He suggests that the text is not the problem; it is in the explanation of the text that misreading occurs. Because of our sin, our tendency is to explain away, de- historicize, and misread Genesis 3. We must read the text features as a story, told simply and clearly, meaning exactly what it says.
Section 2 deals with Theological Ramification of the Creation and Fall. This section contains only two chapters. First is Genesis 3 and original sin by Paul R. Thorell. He approaches the subject in what I would regard in reverse order—beginning with the historical church view; to Paul’s view of Genesis 3; back to the prophets; and ending with Pentateuchal context. All the areas uphold that Adam’s transgression had universal consequences on his posterity—sin, death, and judgment. The second is on the Seed and Schaeffer by William Varner. Francis Schaeffer advocated that dualism of history (lower story) and faith (upper story) strongly influenced religious thought. That faith does not need some objective verifiable events in space-time history. He views Schaeffer’s philosophy in the context of Genesis 3. Varner upholds the Messianic promise of Genesis 3:15, and the reality of Adam and Eve as historical. One needs to read this chapter on Genesis 3:15 in regard to the promise.
Section 3 is the largest section of the book. It consists of seven chapters. The section deals with the reality of sin and its effects upon this world and mankind. Each chapter looks at the fall through different lenses. R.W. Mackey deals with three effects on Human enterprise (Chapter 7). Taylor Jones has an excellent chapter of the effects of the curse through the lense of thermodynamics (Chapter 8). This chapter will speak to those that have a orientation. For those of legal minds, George Crawford looks at the legal aspects of the fall (Chapter 9). Ernie Baker through the line of psychology (Chapter 10). Jo Suzuki deals with the subject through the lense of the topic of gender. Alexander Granados of the importance of the Historical Adam in education and our Christian curriculum. John MacArthur concludes this section by upholding the doctrine of original sin.
The book centers around the important and vital issues of Genesis 3 (mainly). In light of developments in theology, history, and the world events. This book is timely and important. It upholds the historical interpretation of this key chapter. In reality, our interpretation of the events of the garden influence our whole theological viewpoint. The details do matter. Therefore, this book is a must in everyone’s library. It is coherent, clear, and compelling. One of the best books I read this year.