Presbyterian Teaching Elder at large James Jordan is known for his, shall we say, "creative" Scriptural insights. I heard a man observe once that what Jordan gets right he gets astonishingly right, and you won't find anybody else today saying it. But he does go wrong at times, and when he does it's usually cringe worthy. Having never read Jordan for myself, I didn't know exactly what this meant. But the comment left me simultaneously curious, and more than a little nervous.
Yesterday, then, I took up Jordan's Theses on Worship and began tentatively to read. Since the doctrine of the Sabbath has been the dominant topic of our Pastors College Theology of Worship class for the past several weeks, I turned initially to Jordan's Thesis 17—"Worship takes place on the Day of the Lord" (You can learn a lot about a man from his Sabbaterianism, I find). Four paragraphs in, I came across this little gob smacker concerning Adam and Eve's relationship to the Garden of Eden. I quote it here for our readers to critique.
After reminding us how our first parents were created at the end of a rather busy and "very good" Day Six, Jordan writes,
"Adam and Eve did not start life in the outer world, the place of work, nor did they start life in the land of Eden, their home. Rather, they started in the Garden of Eden, the sanctuary, the place of worship. At the center of the sanctuary were two special trees, marking the place where God would meet with them for worship on the Lord's Day." (Emphasis mine).
Whoa. Did you catch that? Jordan believes the Garden was Adam's temple, not his home—the place where he met to worship his Creator. If there's any merit to this reading of Genesis 1-2, then it would have far reaching implications for the theology of worship.
Now, if this reading seems to introduce a difficulty for our understanding of the words, "God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it," (Genesis 2:15), at the same time it resolves a greater interpretational snag inherent in the traditional Garden-home view: that Adam and Eve are commanded to "fill the earth, and subdue it," are given dominion over "every living thing that moves on the earth," and for food, "every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth" (Genesis 1:28-29). It's entirely possible, then, based on the global language of the Creation Mandate, to say the Garden was not the limit of Adam's responsibility and movement, right? And if not the perimeter of his life, then perhaps not even his home. And if not his home, then what was the role of the Garden in Adam's life? Jordan's answer: the Garden was Adam's temple, the place of his Seventh Day worship.
I'll admit to finding Jordan's idea appealing. It would seem to provide a more natural link between the pattern of worship pre- and post-Fall. But given the novelty of this view, I'm wondering what you, our readers, think. If you have any insight, criticism, or historical support to offer on this point, please leave it in the comments below.
Jordan, by the way, is not a Sabbatarian; at least not in the classic Puritan sense.