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Official, professional site for author, speaker and blogger Karl Giberson. 

Saving the Original Sinner

Saving the Original Sinner

Beacon Press | June 9, 2015

Beginning in the seventeenth century, discoveries in anthropology, geology, paleontology, biblical studies, and linguistics cast doubt on the familiar account of the biblical Adam and his fall into sin, the central component in the West's understanding of its origins. Christians responded by creatively reconstructing the creation story, letting Adam "evolve" to accommodate his changing context. But further advances both in science and biblical studies eventually made it all but impossible to reconcile a first couple with a modern, scientific understanding of the past or with an informed reading of ancient biblical texts. Many Christians rejected the offensive scholarship, veering onto a path that would place them increasingly at odds with contemporary scholarship in many fields.

In Saving the Original Sinner, Giberson tells the story of the evolution of the idea of Adam and explores how, over the centuries, we have created Adam in our own image to explain and justify our behavior. Giberson shows how the narrative of the Fall has influenced Western ideas about sexuality, gender, and race, and he argues that ongoing attempts to preserve the biblical story of creation in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary is contributing to the intellectual isolation of many Christians, particularly evangelicals - even as they continue to wield significant political power in the United States. 


What is the future of a Christian faith that requires an untenable self-destructive original sin/salvation theology? Honest, candid, enlightening, and disruptive, Giberson establishes a long-overdue foundation for viable faith and challenges Christians to rediscover the wonder, mystery, and reality of their God.
— Richard G. Colling, retired professor of Biology, Olivet Nazarene University. Professor Colling departed Olivet after thirty years of teaching because of criticism of his support of evolution in his book "Random Designer."
Was Adam the first human being and was his poor choice to eat the forbidden fruit the ‘original sin’ that ruined things for the rest of us? That’s the question that just won’t go away, and for many fundamentalist and evangelical Christians today it is the hill to die on—and the hill on which to sacrifice those who disagree. Through surveying the history of Adam from ancient Israel to the current crisis, and rooted in his own extensive experience, Giberson gives us a compelling, engaging, and accessibly written exposé of this troubling trend—and points us toward a better way of embracing this foundational biblical story.
— Peter Enns is Abram S. Clemens professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, and author of "The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It." Professor Enns was forced to leave Westminster Theological Seminary after 14 years of teaching and administration because of his book "Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and The Problem of the Old Testament."