by Herold Weiss
Which is more important, the creation of Adam and Eve or the creation of the Risen Christ, the Last Adam? The story of the creation of Adam and Eve, the second of the stories in Genesis, is in part the story of the loss of life when access to the tree of life is blocked. As such, the story is theological, not about biology. Disobedient Adam and Eve did not lose biological life when they sinned. They lost access to the source of their life. That source transcends the biological realm, and without access to that source human life found itself floundering. The story of Adam and Eve, which much to one’s wondering is never alluded to in the rest of the Old Testament (with one exception, Job 31: 33), is the story of how life East of Eden became a struggle, and death at the hands of others entered the created world.
The story of the Last Adam, on the other hand, is the story of how biological death is not really the last thing to be said about human life because of what God has done for the benefit of humanity. All the disciples of Jesus who saw his crucifixion went home thinking that what they had hoped for had been brutally negated by the power of the State that judged Jesus to be a seditious man. They were ready to go back to Galilee and try to pick up the life they had left behind when they had decided to follow Jesus. Their enthusiasm for Jesus and what he promised had been crushed by his crucifixion. That is the biological side of this story.
According to the apostle Paul, however, what God did on Sunday was not just the resuscitation of a dead body. It was a new creation. The revelation of the Risen Christ gave the crucifixion a totally new meaning. It saw God in the picture and understood that his crucifixion put an end to the overwhelming power of sin in the lives of all humans. The Risen Christ is the Last Adam. The descendants of the first Adam come to life in bodies like that of their progenitor, bodies of flesh. Those who are united with Christ by baptism into the death that he died for all, come to life in the realm of the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. Eventually, they will also receive spirit bodies and enjoy the life God had intended for humans to start with.
The Risen Christ is the Adam of the new creation. This creation took place two thousand years ago and it is more real than the creation of Adam in as much as it is the creation of imperishable life, totally different from any biological life or death. Christians who are eager to affirm that God is the creator, to which creation should they give ultimate significance? Which creation should be the one that merits consistent efforts to affirm on the part of Christians?
Neither the creation of Adam in the garden nor the creation of the Last Adam in the Spirit is subject to historical or scientific testing. All biblical authors affirm that God was directly involved as Creator. In both creations the Spirit was the active agent, but in the Bible, descriptions of the universe created by God, if given at all, do not provide a consistent picture, even as they affirm that God is the Creator. That God is the Creator is affirmed by faith. Of the two creations affirmed by the Bible, the creation of life in the Spirit is what Christianity is all about. That is the creation in which Christians live now and will live in eternity. Should not the reality of the creation of life in the realm of the Spirit, rather than the creation of life out of dust of the ground, be what Christians are constantly witnessing to before the world?