Historicity, Revelation, and Redemption (Vos)

Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos As many of our readers know, the historicity of Adam and Eve has been discussed in Christian circles these past few years and before.  In light of these discussions, I very much appreciate how Geerhardus Vos linked Christ’s birth and resurrection to this earlier events recorded in Scripture (emphasis mine):

“Granted that our salvation stands or falls with the actual occurrence of the supernatural birth of Christ and his resurrection, can we affirm the same with reference to, say, the historical character of Noah and Abraham and all that is related of their lives?”

“To this we would answer as follows: if we can show that revealed religion is inseparably linked to a system of supernatural historical facts at its culminating epoch in Christ – as we think can be done – then this creates the strongest conceivable presumption that the same will hold true of every earlier stage of the process of its development.

“It is certainly reasonable to assume that God will have adjusted the course of things that led up to Christ, to the fundamental character of the work of Christ – in the sense that he will have scattered over it great miraculous interpositions, to shadow forth the true nature of redemption, and, more than this, that he will have hung it not on the slender thread of legend and fiction, but on the solid chain of actual history.”

“We confess that it would impose a severe strain not merely on our intellectual belief in supernaturalism, but also on our practical faith, were we compelled to admit that back of the time of the prophets or of Moses there lies a great prehistoric blank, in which for aught we know God remained a hidden God.”

Redemption and revelation, in order to be intelligible and credible, require a degree of continuity.  A system of supernatural interpositions which suddenly emerges from the midst of an immemorial evolutionary past satisfies neither our intellect nor our heart.”

“And therefore we say, it is not a matter of small consequence whether or not we are permitted to continue to believe in the historical character of the account of the exodus or the patriarchal narrative.  To make light of such questions is but a symptom of the spiritual levity [fickleness] of our age.”

Supernatural history is an organism, not a mechanical aggregate of pieces, and it behooves us to treat it with the respect that is due to the organism of a divine economy of grace.  In every one of its parts, even those that might seem to us to have but the remotest connection with the center in Christ, it is worthy of our defense and protection.”

I appreciate Vos’ words because he approaches the subject not from a fundamentalist point of view, but from a redemptive historical point of view – a Reformed point of view.  In other words, we can argue for the historicity of Adam and Eve as we start with Christ and trace him back through the Old Testament in light of the covenants (cf. Westminster Confession of Faith 7.2-5).

The Vos quotes above are found in his article/address called “Christian Faith and the Truthfulness of Bible History” from Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, ch. 26.

rev shane lems

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