Response to IEAC Creation Statement/6

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by brother Mike Pearson
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6: Very Good

(See also PQRC 4 — meaning of "very good")

BASF Clause 4 teaches that Adam was created ‘“very good” in kind and condition’. This phrase means that Adam was not created with a nature flawed by the physical and moral imperfections that we experience (Romans 7:23; 8:2).


Perhaps too much is being made of the “man was very good” argument. It is agreed, that because this applies to all of creation in Genesis 1:31, by extension it would apply to man as well. However, this phrase ‘very good’ is used elsewhere in scripture. The two Hebrew words occur together eleven times, and a few example uses include phrases like these:

  • The next use after Gen 1 is of Rebecca's external appearance "the damsel was very fair to look upon" (Gen 24:16);
  • Joshua and Caleb use the phrase "it is an exceeding good land" when appealing to the wandering tribes in (Num 14:7);
  • Jonathan tells Saul that David's works "have been to thee-ward very good" (1 Sam 19:4);
  • Jeremiah saw a basket of very good figs (Jer 24:2).

There is nothing in the Hebrew to suggest that anything more is meant by the phrase other than to imply something is “really good”. Therefore, the context of Genesis 1:31, and the subsequent use of the terms does not adequately support the claims that there is a special significance in the phrase “very good” in regard to Adam & Eve; and to interpret “very good’ to mean that Adam & Eve didn’t have any physical or moral imperfections is really stretching the meaning of the term.

To quote Bro L G Sargent: “In fact, ‘very good’ was God’s judgment of the creation as a whole, viewed as an ordered system. In this Adam was included, but to apply the term specifically to Adam in a particular state is not scripturally justified.”[1] Bro H A Whittaker was more succinct: “very good” is meaningless, for “very good” is far too vague to be useful, without further definition”[2]

It could be argued that reading the whole of BASF Clause 4 invalidates the argument that “very good” was some non-mortal, physically-pure state, because the clause specifically says “continuance of life was contingent on obedience.” If continuance of life is contingent on something, then it is pure word-play to suggest that Adam was created in a “not mortal” state.

Either way, whether Adam was first created with a flawed nature or not, the argument is entirely academic, because Peter tells us that Jesus was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet 1:20). So when God created Adam (and the serpent!), God already knew that he would sin, die, and that mankind would require Christ’s life to be made alive again.

To summarise and conclude this point:

There are many in our community who who do not share an evolutionary view of creation, but who - like Bro Sargent - feel there is insufficient scriptural support to define Adam as being anything other than mortal, and do not acquiesce to the ‘very good’ argument. They are certainly not violating any Scriptural precepts, and so the “very good means not mortal but not immortal” is a purely academic argument, and another of those debates that has existed in our community for over 120 years.

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  1. L Sargent, Why not ask: The nature of the Resurrection (The Christadelphian, 1965) 102:27
  2. H Whittaker, Commentary on Genesis 1-4 (Biblia, 1986) p.58