Continuing with exploratory theology, some people would say that the bible is all literal – it should be reasonably obvious that it is not.
Jesus told many parables, or stories, and the same question hangs over these, are they literal. Again, the answer is no.
So we come to the first story, that of Adam and Eve, and the “Garden of Eden”.
The use of a snake is obvious as a villain. The snake, as we have come to observe, kills people. It bites, injects poison, and we die. A perfect choice for the villain of this story.
The “whispering in the ear” has come to be meaning the voice of temptation, introducing to our thinking something we otherwise would not have thought of by ourselves.
Man lived with God, with his creator, with his originator. He differed from the other animals because he was given “dominion over them”, meaning he was superior and had ultimate control, by virtue of his intelligence.
The development of this intelligence appears to be the crux of this story. How the whole idea of man’s origin began and how he changed. What changed him and his situation is explained by the way the story unfolds.
I find it inescapable that the “problem” was initiated by thoughts that appeared to Eve, one which appeared as a superior thought, which presented itself as coming from a supreme being, [whether it was or not God] and the other which manifested as “curiousity” which eventually became “rebellion”.
This second thought was provoked by the first, which included the thought that there was indeed an area available to them, but which should not be explored because it would result in their death.
The interesting thing is, that this thinking then took a turn for the worse, because in order to justify the direction they wanted (desired) to take, and to facilitate its pass, or passage, they had to discredit the source of the first thought. So they introduced further reasoning in which they insinuated that God was of similar nature to themselves. That they were or could be of similar nature or equal to “him”. When this reasoning was completed, they became aware that they had encapsulated within themselves, the discrediting of the creator.
Now, whether this is what did occur, or whether this is what happens in essence, to every individual born on this earth, is a question. And how this would fit or not the birth of Jesus. But the main thing is the effect this had on man, in that his awareness of his error shows a separation from his “moral” mind (he was made in the image of God) of the error itself.
The problem was that he now contained the ERROR, and in order to justify himself and shy away from his guilt, he returned to the premise of the discreditation of God. Not only so, but he further postulated that God may not exist, since his view of God had now become extremely murky. God was to later sharpen up man’s view of Him by introducing “law”, and to thereby remind man of the “garden encounter”, where the “commandment” had been disregarded.
We see now how the original error, unable to be justified by man, in his mind, became encapsulated within. Included within him, (flesh) because of the need to HIDE from his error, was included the LIE which caused all the trouble. Strangely, the truth of God’s words “you will die” did not help them to regain confidence in God, because they were too busy hiding from Him and that reality of death. Nowhere on their horizon lay the possibility of being able to return to their prior state of innocence, of being guilt free.
In order to continue their reasonably stable existence, they could not do this in full admission of their guilt, because the sentence of death on them would always appear as imminent. Maintaining moment to moment “life” necessitated hiding their guilt and shame as much as possible. The “lie” they contained within became their protection against their vulnerability, their “shell” and their “comforter”, their refuge.
So God became an unknown quantity and quality. He, rather than “the devil” became the head “boogy man”. Demanding performance and laying down regulations. Man had to once more come to KNOW God. Man was familiar with “the devil”. He had a working relationship with him and his operation of “sin”. Man had a “covenant with death” I believe scripture says somewhere. [Isaiah 28-15 ]
From within his guilty depths, man maintained his working relationship with the LIE, that which discredited God, and which justified man’s sinful actions. “Knowing God” was to take place through the sacrifice of Christ, through his redemption. Through the return of life to the dead, both dead in body and in “soul”. His “sentence of death” as it was on sin, was carried out, and his justification to life was exercised also. [within himself].
God disproved the lie, discredited it and destroyed it, and opened the door to life eternal.
What about the birth of Jesus? How does he fit into this in terms of “original sin” or whatever? How is it that Jesus contained the same “faulty material” as man does? Regardless of specifics, the same nature that was in Adam and Eve was also in Jesus. It says that “he was tempted in all ways as us”. Now the nature of temptation is that it cannot be said to be real or valid if it has no effect on the hearer. IE if the hearer was only a robot who was “programmed” not to respond to temptation, this would not correspond with real temptation. [Admittedly Jesus was perhaps almost robotic in his service to God.]
Real temptation actually draws a man out by putting forward a proposition which he is then forced to evaluate. Once evaluated, the temptation can be vetoed. But its action has already occurred. So it is a fault or flaw in the system. For that “system” to be perfect, this flaw would have to be removed. We cannot have eternal people running around with ANY flaw, and especially not this one. It says that God is unable to be tempted. And this must then also be true of his perfected children. While his children remain on the earth, they are not, in that sense, perfected. (It also says that Jesus was perfected by what he suffered, so he was not in a sense, perfect either.)
It is fundamental to the argument that there is no “external” devil. That he is an integral part of man’s makeup, because the ultimate solution to our problem needs to be the admission of our guilt and the recognition of the totality of it, in order to see that the love of God removes ALL of the problem. The “devil” is “thrown down”. (and there was war in heaven).
As far as “knowing God” goes. Somehow I had what I thought was a scripture in my head, but I cannot find it anywhere. But it amounts to the same thing. “We know him by the forgiveness of our sins”. The love God has shown in Jesus, and the redemption thereby, has totally exonerated God from any “guile” or anything connected with the accusation of “the devil”. “The lie” has been shown for what it is, A LIE.
Jesus has proved the case. It was the lie (“he was a liar from the beginning”) that caused all the trouble. “let God be true though every man a liar [be false]”? But the sin nature has been dealt the death blow. There is no validity in any of the nonsense that the flesh comes up with. It is a closed case. Unless we want to open it!