How do the two Adams relate to human rights? Karen Ellis discusses the significance of seeing Christ as the second Adam and how it shapes our ability to understand human rights. Below is a lightly edited transcript.
Why does Scripture refer to Jesus as the Son of Man? People have written whole entire libraries on the Son of Man concept. For me and how I move in the human rights world, the Son of Man context is important because the two-Adam Christology is what supports for me the ability to help people understand human rights and human rights violations.
Created Order and Distorted Order
Genesis 1 and 2 show us what the created order was supposed to be and that the Fall happened in a body. It’s significant because the Fall places everything in reverse order, and you have the dominant culture that is individuals over creatures over oftentimes marginalized people; that’s like a distorted or perverted order from what it should have been. Because that Fall happened in a body, it took a body for us to be redeemed. Because the Fall happened in the First Adam, there had to come the Second Adam in order to put the created order right, even before we get to glory, so that we could have an alternative witness here on earth that shows, “This is what the ordered world looks like.” One of the church’s primary functions is to display to the rest of the world what the beauty of the created order was supposed to be like.
I believe that’s one of the church’s primary functions is to display to the rest of the world what the beauty of the created order was supposed to be like and to foreshadow what it’s going to be like when we get to glory with Christ.
Dead in Adam, Alive in Christ
The two-Adam Christology: I love the language in Romans. I love it. Dead in Adam, alive in Christ. There’s only two kinds of people in the world: dead in Adam or alive in Christ. And that language constantly, constantly back and forth is so beautiful, that contrast, that it captures those two worlds: the distorted order and the created order and the restored order. It captures the rest of the world and the church, and it creates that tension for me between the alternative witness and the distorted reality.
So that’s why the two-Adam Christology for human rights is one of the principles that I use to build on for helping people understand where human rights violations come from: where human rights came from in the first place, where the violations came from, and then why we’re able as Christians to fight from a position for human rights because we know what the created order was supposed to be, and we have the restored order, and we’re able to live that out.