1 Corinthians 15: Adam and the Gospel
Introduction: Greek Philosophy and the Rejection of Adam
The Apostle Paul often found himself in a cultural context in which he had to deal with many objections to the Christian faith. In 1 Corinthians 15, for example, the Corinthian congregation was questioning the future resurrection of believers: “How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12).
The Corinthians struggled with the idea of a bodily resurrection because it did not fit into their cultural worldview. The city of Corinth was permeated with Greek philosophy. The Greeks loved speculative philosophy and were proud of their intellect as they sought after and trusted in the “wisdom of men” (1 Corinthians 1:22, 2:5). In their own wisdom, some of the Corinthians rejected the resurrection from the dead because of the Greek idea of the immortality of the soul apart from the body. Many saw the body (matter) as corrupt and not worthy of any form of immortality, and therefore mocked the idea that it would be resurrected (Acts 17:32).
Two thousand years later, not much has changed. Just as the culture in Paul’s day was permeated with Greek philosophy, so it is today. The worldview that undergirds Darwinian evolutionary thought is essentially Greek at its core.1 Many Christians are still integrating Greek philosophy into Christianity; however we have just given it the name science rather than philosophy.
Whereas Paul specifically asked how the Corinthians could say there is no resurrection, today’s Christians must ask, “How do some among you say there is no Adam?” Because Greek thinking has been synthesized with biblical thinking, it is becoming increasingly popular among many evangelicals to reject a historical Adam.2 Theistic evolutionist Denis Lamoureux believes not only that Adam never existed, but also that this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:1–7 he states:
This is the Gospel as stated in the Bible, and there is no mention whatsoever of Adam and whether or not he existed. Christian faith is founded on Jesus, not Adam…We must also separate, and not conflate, the historical reality of Jesus and His death and bodily resurrection from the fact that Adam never existed.