Were Adam and Eve Created Perfect?
We changed for the worse in Adam’s failure (1 Cor 15:22), and then require another ontological change to be justified before God (John 3:3). Even if Adam had perfectly followed God’s command he still would have undergone a change. He would have been made unable to sin and would’ve continued in that state to this day. To be human is to change. To be God is to be God (Ex 3:14). He’s perfect, Adam and Eve were not, and this is evident due to their natural ability to change.
There’s a common misnomer applied to Adam and Eve regarding their pre-Fall nature, and you’ve probably heard it before. The statement is that before the Fall, Adam and Eve were “perfect”. Now, before you sharpen your heretic-probing pitchforks I’m not stating that Adam and Eve were created sinful or anything other than “good” (as God Himself proclaimed). What I am saying is that by their very nature of being created in a state of innocence, they weren’t perfect. Here are two reasons why Adam and Eve were never perfect.
Posse Peccare, Posse Non Peccare
Those two Latin phrases (able to sin, able not to sin) (1), were the designations that Augustine used to explain the state of Adam and Eve during their probation in the Garden. He also stated that after the Fall Adam and his posterity became “Non Posse Non Peccare” (not able to not sin, or only able to sin) (2) and that those who are born again are “Posse Non Peccare” (able to not sin) (3), and when they enter into glory become “Non Posse Peccare” (Not able/not possible to sin) (4).
Each of these statements contains deep theological avenues that could be discussed in hundreds of blog posts and even then the surface would only have been scratched. But the point I’m making here is that the four distinguishable states of man show that human nature is, by design, capable of change and something changeable is, by nature, imperfect.
This can be illustrated through Gregory Nazianzen’s argument about the eternal Divinity of the Son. In his Third Theological Oration (Oration 29) Gregory states the following about the Divine superlatives, “…all which are clearly spoken of the Son, with all the other passages of the same force, none of which is an afterthought, or added later to the Son or the Spirit, any more than to the Father Himself. For Their Perfection is not affected by additions” (Emphasis added) (5).
God is perfect because there is no need for any change in His Being, Essence, attributes, decrees, or Persons because God and His perfections are one (Mal 3:6, Num 23:19, Psalm 102:25-27, 1 Sam 15:29, Rev 22:13 and so on). If God’s nature was able to change via addition, subtraction, infusion, or otherwise, it would be an imperfect nature. Change, for better or worse, proves imperfections in the object changed.
While Gregory was speaking about the Son’s preexistence and what it means that Christ is the image of the unseen God (6), his teachings regarding perfection can be applied, albeit negatively, to human nature. We changed for the worse in Adam’s failure (1 Cor 15:22), and then require another ontological change to be justified before God (John 3:3). Even if Adam had perfectly followed God’s command he still would have undergone a change.