Monday, August 09, 2010

Unbelief in Eden

We see two-stage unbelief in Eden.

First, Adam and Eve do not believe that God intends to be good to them, and therefore they suspect that his commands are actually restrictive rather than liberating.  The result of this first stage of unbelief is disobedience, and it is inexcusable.  They should have known from the fact of their creation that God is good, always good.

Second, Adam and Eve do not believe that God will sustain them and all his creation in the face of their sin, and therefore they doubt whether he will show them mercy.  The result of this second stage of unbelief is hiding from God, and this too is inexcusable.  They should have known from the fact of their creation that God is committed to upholding his creatures in the face of the chaos and darkness that threatens them.

I sometimes wonder whether we could truly talk of fallen human beings if there were not this second stage; might they not have been just stumbling human beings, recovered by grace?

Corresponding to this, 1 John 2 counters both stages of unbelief in the Christian:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
 Believe that God is good and don't sin; if you sin, believe that God is good and don't hide!


  1. Would it be true to say that doing stage one without falling for stage two is like trying to slide halfway down a slippery dip? To sin at stage one is already to disbelieve the word and to believe that life exists in independence from the Lord. Because of this, sinning is inherently buying into a works realm because it's already all about autonomy (which is why grace is the only answer to sin - Rom 6:14).

    Adam and Eve had already sought their own life so of course they'd seek their own covering, sort of thing.

    Very helpful to distinguish them though. Especially to see what stage one sin *does* to us.

  2. Oh yes, there's no doubt that having disbelieved God at stage one there is no reason (as far as their now twisted reasoning can see) to believe at stage two...

    The gospel is the answer to that, right?

  3. Interesting.

    I'd just wonder whether they should have known that God would forgive them. I don't think that was guaranteed from the fact of creation.

    I would say that their hiding wasn't bad because they doubted God's willingness to forgive ('goodness' does not equal 'willingness to forgive' BTW), but because they they thought that it was a way to avoid wrath.

    It was an expression of autonomy/self-salvation.

    Perhaps you could say that it was doubting that God was the sole source of goodness, because they tried to construct their own goodness thinking they had cut themselves off from God.

    What they should have done is reached an end of themselves, and thrown themselves on God's mercy with no assurance that they would be forgiven, but knowing that there was no-where else for them to go.

    The situation is different for us, because we have the promise we can rely on. Christ has come and that is a greater grace than that displayed in Creation. Creation is goodness towards creatures and redemption is goodness for sinners. One is goodness towards those with no merit, the other is goodness towards those with demerits. You cannot assume that because God showed the first he will show the second. We need the promise to be certain of redemption (hence in 1 John 2, John appeals to Christ and not creation).

    So helpful two-stages to distinguish for us, but less good for Eden I think.

  4. Hi Dave,

    Well, I guess it depends on what you think creation preaches. If it preaches the gospel, then A+E should have known that God is merciful... And behind that there are bigger questions about the relationship of creation and Christ.

    All very important stuff, but so long as the last line of my post holds, then I'm pretty much happy.

  5. "They should have known from the fact of their creation that God is good, always good." I completely agree with that. There's a really interesting debate that I thought would be of interest on evolution vs. intelligent design going on at