Please watch the above TED Talk video, before continuing to the article below.
It is funny how sometimes we must look backwards at life, from the vantage point of our death, in order to see things in their proper perspective. It is something very much like solving a puzzle by finding all the corner pieces first. Slowly you build the frame of the puzzle, and presently it takes on borders, parameters, and definition. Only then does it become workable and clear where the other pieces fit. In order to focus on what has true value and deserves our real effort, Humanity needs these clear borders as well. Once we see our own personal lives (puzzles) from the outside border (death) things that where previously not so clear become perfectly clear. The very recognition that there exists such a thing as the eulogy virtues can only come from looking back at life from the point of life’s end. The grave immediately puts things into perspective for us humans, unlike any other corrective concept. So, when David Brooks asks the question, “Should we live for our resume or for our eulogy?” it is a rhetorical question, because we intuitively know the answer!
The concept that there are two Adams is a biblical one. The Apostle Paul refers to Jesus Christ as the second Adam. Where the first Adam failed (i.e. using his own self sovereignty to submit to God’s will) the second Adam, Jesus, succeeded. Saint Irenaeus deemed this the “recapitulation theory” of the atonement. This means that Jesus, “sums up” or “recaps” all of human history into His life. When Jesus succeeds, we all succeed, because he encapsulates us all into his victory.
The New Living Translation of Romans 5: 12 says that
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”
and again, in verse 16
“For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.“
God chose to send Jesus into the world, so that those under the sin of Adam might be made free by the righteousness of Christ. Being born into Adam means sin and death. Being born into Christ means freedom from sin and everlasting life. This is why Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3 that “you must be born again.” The first time you were born, you learned how to do life, as you grew up into Adam’s sin. All of your strivings, longings, and coping mechanisms are natural, carnal, and debased, because they are spiritually dead, as Adam was spiritually dead. The first birth is not enough, because it only makes you physically alive in Adam. You must also be born again to take on the spiritual life that Jesus offers. The spiritual birth transpires, in Christ, and then you must totally relearn how to live righteous in Christ Jesus.
The values that really matter, the victories that are actually worth having, the life that we all really want for ourselves is not found in the first Adam. David said that living the first Adam life turns you into a “shrewd animal, who treats life as a game , and you become a cold, calculating creature”. What he is describing is little more than a primitive ape-like, hunter-gatherer, trying to make sure he gets the most food and that his genes get passed along. Of course, the modern first Adam may seem more sophisticated, but this is simply an illusion. If all we are is atoms, and if there is no God, then I think the New Atheists are right about the first Adam, in that they say he should live for the higher pleasures and nurture his every selfish whim. After all, when the first Adam dies, there is no hope for him in the next life, so he might as well live it up here. But, if Atheism is not true, then the first Adam had better get born again into the Second Adam!
Applying the New Atheist’s logic to the second Adam results only in idiocy, then frustration, and, eventual lunacy. It cannot be done, because the second Adam is a spiritual Adam. Those who are in Christ, (we simply call them Christians) have spiritual life in the second Adam. As such, merely physical and materialistic theories and explanations of behavior do not apply to us. We have been born again to new life in Christ. We are no longer living only for our resumes. Now we are living for the Body of Christ, which is the great cloud of witnesses, the Church. Now we are living the higher virtues David described as “humble”, “in obedience to God”, “love, redemption, and return”.
He goes on to describe this life in detail:
These ideas seem to be plagiarized from Jesus the Christ, who is Son of God and the Second Adam! It is my pleasure and joy to cite him as their source, even if David Brooks doesn’t. I am glad that David knows of these words of Jesus, but I want him to know Jesus the person. This will bring him new birth, and entrance into that thing it is so evident he truly desires, the Second Adam!