(I have maintained for many a long year that the ‘Christianity’ propounded by the churches is seriously distorted. The ecclesiastical view is the product of dogma arrived at principally by the questionable fifth century vagaries and fanciful ruminations of Augustine of Hippo, his contemporaries and successors. Strictly speaking, Christianity is a new covenant phenomenon but its roots are firmly embedded in the OT. Thus, to avoid the charge of Marcionism, it is necessary to begin at the beginning with the book of Genesis in order to discover what true Christianity is.)
The unexplained invisible God is the Creator of the visible material creation (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 11:3,6; Rev. 4:11, cf. Rom. 1:20).
He created the earth to be inhabited (Gen. 1; Ps. 115:16; Is. 42:5; 45:12,18).
Mankind (epitomised by Adam the individual) was formed by God, who is universal Father (Eph. 3:14f.), in the depths of (mother) earth as seed (Gen. 2:7, cf. 2:19; 3:19; Job 10:8-11; Ps. 139:15). (1* Adam was a type (Rom. 5:14) of the second Adam, Jesus, who was also created as seed and like David (Ps. 139:13) gestated in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:31,35).)
On the assumption of recapitulation it is obviously as seed that Adam is first placed (or sown) in the Garden of Eden, the womb of the race, to be conceived, to gestate and develop with a view to tilling or cultivating it (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:8,15; Ps. 104:14).
Eve was created out of Adam (cf. Heb. 7:10) as Adam himself had been created out of the earth (Gen. 2:21-23, cf. 1 Tim. 2:13a; 1 Cor. 11:8,11f.).
Procreation / Conception
Once the creation of seed-bearing plants (Gen. 1:11f., cf. Jer. 2:21; Ps. 80:8; Mark 4:26-29) and living creatures (Gen. 1:20-25) including mankind (Gen. 1:28) has been achieved, under the providence of God procreation takes over (Gen. 5:1-4; Luke 3:38, cf. Isa. 45:9f.). As the image of his Creator Adam fertilizes (inseminates) Eve who is his glory (1 Cor. 11:7, cf. Ezek. 24:16,25) as the earth was the glory of God (Rom. 1:20; Rev. 4:11, cf. Dt. 11:11f.). Thus Eve, whose womb symbolizes the Garden of Eden (cf. Job 3; Jer. 20:14-18), typifies (mother) earth and, as the earth in microcosm, becomes the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20). (We are not told why a woman’s hair, which emphasises gender distinction, is her glory, 1 Cor. 11:15, but if women typify the earth this natural covering perhaps implies her fruitfulness or fertility, cf. Dt. 7:13; 28:4,11; 30:9, etc.). (2* As God rejoices over the land and its people (Isa. 62:4, cf. Dt 11:11f.), so a young man rejoices over his bride (Is. (62:5).)
Adam and Eve clearly mature (evolve) to physical adulthood but since initially like babies and animals they know neither the commandment nor good and evil (Gen. 2:17; 3:5,22), they are like the rest of the animal creation lacking conscious intelligence.
Like babies both Adam and Eve gradually attain to knowledge and understanding. Again like babies the first word they understand is the word ‘no’ (Gen. 2:16f., cf. Isa. 7:15f.; 8:4; Heb. 5:12-14).
Once they come to know the commandment Eve, deceived by the devil and unable to resist the temptations of the flesh (Gen. 3:1-6), breaks it (1 Tim. 2:14) with Adam’s connivance. As a consequence they are separated from the tree of life (Gen. 3:24, cf. Isa. 59:2) and cast out of the Garden (Gen. 3:23, cf. Isa. 59:2; Job 3; 5:7; 7:1; 14:1; Eccl. 2:23; Jer. 2:21; 5:25; Jer. 20:14-18). In other words, they are ‘born’ and cursed like the Israelites after escaping from Egypt and receiving the ten commandments (Isa. 48:8).
Once outside the Garden, they find themselves confronted by a hostile, intractable and naturally corruptible world (Gen. 3:15-19) over which they are meant to exercise dominion or rule (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:5,15; 3:23). As both the infants of the race and sinners to boot they are completely incompetent to achieve this. So unsurprisingly, the untilled ground is cursed. (3* Modern babies of course gain knowledge much earlier than their original parents did. Since they have mature working parents to care for them, they do not experience the ‘cosmic’ curse that afflicted Adam’s immediate descendants.) In fact it is to all intents and purposes like an uninhabited or deserted land a desolation (cf. e.g. Lev. 26:27-39; 2 Chron. 30:7; Isa. 6:11; 24 passim) resembling the field or vineyard (cf. Isa. 5:1-7) of the sluggard in Proverbs 24:30-34, at best only suitable for animals (cf. e.g. Ex. 23:29; Isa. 7:23-25; 27:10; 32:13f.).
Given the gradual transition of man from (animal) flesh to spirit (cf. Isa. 31:3; 1 Cor. 15:46), it is less than surprising that the earth is given over to violence (Gen. 6:5,11f.). And since the creation including man lacks any guarantee, it is cursed and unproductive. In this situation man and indeed all flesh is inevitably slated for cataclysmic destruction, that is, by flood (Gen. 6:7,13,17; 7:4). However, in his mercy and with his plan of salvation in mind God establishes a covenant with Noah who is significantly obedient (Gen. 6:22; 7:5, etc.). This covenant which counteracts general curse (cf. Jer. 31:35-37; 33:25f.) is to endure to the end of the earth (Gen. 6:18-22; 8:20-9-17; Isa. 54:9f., cf. Luke 17:26-30) like the law (Mt. 5:18). (4* According to the author of Hebrews Abel and Enoch as adults are justified by faith and therefore saved even before the covenant is made. The covenant guarantees the perpetuation of all animal life and hence the earth only until the plan of salvation is accomplished (cf. Job 12:10; Jer. 31:35-37 and 33:17-26). Once the harvest of the earth is reaped and garnered, the visible physical creation, having served its purpose, is obliterated (Heb. 1:10-12; 12:27; 2 Pet. 3:5-12, cf. Mt. 13; Rev. 7:2f.))
The mere fact that God makes an ‘agreement’ with Noah instead of unilaterally imposing a mere commandment on him as he did on ‘baby’ Adam at the beginning suggests that Noah has achieved greater mental development and is more mature than his antecedents. Weaned and cleansed of his infantile filth by the flood (1 Pet. 3:21), he can recognize a rainbow, the sign of the covenant, and respond positively to it (Gen. 9:14-17). This of course is beyond the capacity of the animals which are named by Adam (Gen. 2:19) even though they are also the covenant’s beneficiaries (cf. Ps. 104:14-27; Acts 14:17; 17:25-28, etc.). From this point on the human race spreads abroad and begins what we now know as civilisation even if it is still in the process of being won. It reminds us of the dispersal of disciples after the establishment of the Christian covenant in the NT (Acts 8:1) to begin the still continuing evangelisation of the world (cf. Mt. 28:18-20).
The call of Abraham, originally a resident of heathen Ur of the Chaldeans, and the solemn covenant promises made to him (Gen. 12,15,17) underline the fact that the scattering of mankind throughout the world will eventually lead to their ultimate blessing and ingathering in Christ (cf. Mt. 24:31; Rom. 15:8-12; Gal. 3).
But long before this could take place, a considerable period of education was necessary. (5* John Stott with rare insight sees the importance of this in his book Our Guilty Silence, cited in Authentic Christianity (p.334). By contrast Marcionism ignores this and leads almost inevitably to infant baptism.) Thus after 400 years of slavery in heathen Egypt, the immediate posterity of Abraham were eventually released from bondage, passed through the wilderness and received their national charter as a royal priesthood and a holy nation when Moses gave them the law (Ex. 19f.). Thus they walked tall as the servants of God (Lev. 25:42,55) in the Promised Land. Yet even as servants they were still under guardians or, as the KJV pointedly but somewhat inaccurately puts it, under a schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24f.). Again, it is significant that the individual male, though circumcised on the eighth day, did not become a Son of the Commandment till his bar mitzvah at about the age of thirteen when he took personal responsibility for keeping the law. However, as inveterate sinners the Israelites were constantly under the domination of their enemies (cf. e.g. Judges). Indeed, at one stage they were even sent into Assyrian and Babylonian exile and deprived of the land, the birthright they cherished and regarded as God’s permanent gift (cf. Ps. 137, etc.). Happily, in accordance with God’s promise to Jeremiah, after 70 years they returned home from Babylon (2 Chr. 36:22f.; Ezra 1:1-3, etc.). Yet even there they continued to suffer (cf. Ezra 9:9; Neh. 9:36).
It was during the dispensation of the law that God supplemented the Abrahamic covenant promises with those made to David as 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 89 plainly indicate. It was from this time on in particular that the Messianic hope took shape and fortified God’s people through exile and general distress (cf. 2 K. 13:23; 2 Chr. 21:7). Furthermore, confirming hints made by Moses (e.g. Dt. 29:4; 30:6) the prophets Jeremiah (31:31-34) and Ezekiel (11:19; 36:26f.) promised a new covenant which would eventually supersede the law which had brought them into bondage. (6* Paul sketches the maturation or perfection of the individual from birth through slavery, servanthood to eventual freedom and sonship in Christ in Galatians 4:1-7. This clearly corresponds with, even recapitulates the experience of the race.)
Adulthood / Maturity
Since no one in the elect nation in general proved capable of keeping the law (Eccl. 7:20, etc.) which was the essential precondition of eternal life (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5; Mt. 19:17), the new covenant failed to materialize and the voice of prophecy fell silent for many a long year. However, in the end, John the Baptist arrived on the scene heralding the coming of the Messiah.
In the event the Messiah was somewhat different from the one who had been expected. Though certainly a son of David, instead of proving a mighty warrior capable of driving the Romans out of the Promised Land (cf. John 6:15; 18:36), his main concern as the Son of God was to deal with sin which was universal (cf. John 18:37). So after personally keeping the law flawlessly himself (Mt. 3:17; John 8:46; 1 Pet. 2:22) and thereby meeting the precondition of the naturally necessary (John 3:3-7) new birth (Lev. 18:5; Mt. 19:17), he was baptised and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:13-17). (7* It is vitally important to recognize that both new birth from above and bodily transformation are natural necessities and not the consequence of sin. See my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities.) Sealed in this way (John 3:34; 6:27), he went about preaching, healing and doing good (Acts 10:38). Finally, in order to cleanse the sins of his people he laid down his life in sacrificial atonement. In this way he achieved the perfection to which he was called (Mt. 5:48; John 19:30; Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28) and qualified as man’s representative and perfected image of God to sit at his Father’s right hand (Heb. 1:3, etc.).
Ascension / Transformation / Glorification
Of course, after death, since he had not sinned himself (Acts 2:23f.), he rose again and resumed his life in the flesh as he had promised (John 10:17f.; Luke 24:39). However, since flesh and blood by nature cannot enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50), this necessarily led to his eventual ascension, transformation and glorification. In this way he blazed a trail into heaven (Heb. 2:10; 6:19f.; 10:19f.; 12:2) for all, both the living and the dead (1 Cor. 15:51-55; Heb. 9:15; 1 John 2:2), who had put their trust in him.
Jesus Saviour / Priest / Lord
Thus it is that Jesus became the one and only necessary Saviour of mankind (Acts 4:12). For it is in heaven that he remains man, permanently the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3) and firstborn of all creation. It is as Lord (the OT word for God) and our heavenly high priest that he ever lives to intercede for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:24f.).
The plain fact is that Jesus attained to the perfection of God (Mt. 5:48; 19:21, etc.) in the flesh (Rom 8:3; Heb. 2:14f.) and in so doing first recapitulated then pioneered the covenantal and experiential history of the race which Paul pointedly refers to as one man (Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:15; 4:13) or the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27, cf. Rev. 21:9; Mt. 22:1-14). Needless to say, it is to his image of man perfected in the image of God that we ourselves are called to be conformed (Rom. 8:29) and by recapitulation to be perfected in our turn (Heb. 10:14; 11:39f.; Rev. 3:21). Like him we all begin at the beginning by being born of woman who typified the earth and like him attain to a perfected end (Heb. 11:39f.). Thus we are prepared, even qualified, to enter the kingdom of God, the culmination of the plan formed before the creation of the earth (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2). In other words, this was our goal when we were created (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5; Mt. 19:17; John 3:3,5; 1 Cor. 15:50).
It is vital to our understanding that the (believing, Heb. 11:39f.) race is seen as one man or the bride of Christ and that individuals are members of the one body, family or branches of the same tree. Otherwise expressed, the individual and the race correspond. (8* If this is so, the traditional Augustinian worldview which assumes original perfection and is followed by original sin, fall, curse and the eventual restoration of the physical universe, etc., is false.)
(1) In First Peter we are, first, like Adam perishable seed (1:23); second, new-born infants (2:2); third, weaned on milk (2:2); fourth, grown up (2:2); fifth, saved if committed to the Lord (2:2f.). (Cf. 1 John 3:9 where, as born again, we are God’s seed who obviously grow up, cf. 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18, etc.)
(2) Whereas the churches following Augustine teach DESCENT from Adam’s original righteousness and perfection (cf. Milton’s “high estate”), the Bible teaches ASCENT from an initial low estate limited by sin. Only Jesus’ ascent from ground to glory was unsullied and uninterrupted (Eph. 4:9f.). He alone was fully perfected (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:26,28, etc.).
See further, for example, my
Did God Make a Covenant with Creation
The Corruptibility Of Creation
Epitome – Jesus The Epitome Of Recapitulation
Augustine: Asset or Liability?
Preunderstandings of the Millennium?
More Meditation on Creation, Evolution and Recapitulatio
Why Infant Baptism is Unchristian
Christianity – An Alternative Approach
If the Individual Recapitulates in Miniature the History of the Race …