Like many Christians, debut author Combs--a retired Presbyterian minister--came to understand sin, salvation, and faith through the New Testament. With this book, he focuses on these concepts as introduced in the Old Testament and the Garden of Eden episode so as to "delve into the events through which sin and death entered the world." Combs begins by considering the joys of Eden, the circumstances that forced Adam and Eve out of it, and the results of leaving Eden, including the murder of Abel by Cain. He explores the nature of faith, the difference between faith and works, challenges to faith, and what it truly means to follow Christ. He also considers the true nature of sin, which he argues should be seen as relational, not as something that lies in wait to trip us up; for example, it wasn't lurking Satan but Cain's "perception of his relationship with his brother " that drove him to murder. Adam and Eve's shame for their nakedness didn't derive from disobedience, a common interpretation. What the apple truly disclosed, according to the author, was an inner conviction of not measuring up, especially to God. Combs cautions readers to remember difficulties of translation but doesn't otherwise historicize Eden or interpret it metaphorically as some writers have done (for example, by seeing it as a story of the agricultural revolution, which introduced social inequality). Throughout, Combs lightens his discussion with vivid retellings of biblical events and stories of personal encounters with the divine, the straightforward accounting of which may startle some.
This readable discussion on sin, faith, and salvation offers an inventive, informed take on Eden and the nature of faith.
Published in the Kirkus Review Magazine 01/15/2017
From the Author
This book first defines the issues we face because we inherited this knowledge from Adam, and then demonstrates how the Gospel sets us free from this taskmaster to become the person God wants us to be through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.