Summary: This message summaries the doctrine of man.
Anthropology -- The Study of Man
The process of systematically organizing the truths found in the Bible is called systematic theology. There are many basic categories. I have decided to use the 9 most common categories. So far we have touched on three of them.
Theology Proper which deals with the existence and nature of God
Christology which deals with the person and work of Christ
Pneumatology which deals with the person and work of the Holy Spirit
The category for organizing the Biblical truths concerning man is called Anthropology or the study of humanity.
The official C&MA doctrinal statement regarding man.
Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God: he fell through disobedience, incurring thereby both physical and spiritual death.
All men are born with a sinful nature, are separated from the life of God, and can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The portion of the impenitent and unbelieving is existence forever in conscious torment; and that of the believer, in everlasting joy and bliss.
There are basically three aspects to this study.
The original design
The distorted design (the Fall)
The restored design
I. The Original Design
God created man a perfect, sinless being. He provided a perfect environment. He instilled the capacity to enjoy full, meaningful and unencumbered relationship with God. God intended man and woman to live forever in mutual harmony with God and each other in an environment positively responsive to their rule and cultivation.
A. Man was a divinely created being
One’s view of the origin of man will affect his entire understanding of and attitude toward man. If, for instance, man is the product of evolution, then the extent of the effects of sin and the need of a Saviour are played down, if not eliminated. If, on the other hand, man was created by God, then this concept carries with it the companion idea of the responsibility of man. If God created man, then there is someone outside of man to whom he becomes responsible. He is not in and of himself the master of his own fate or completely at the mercy of fate; he is neither the final authority nor the only one to whom he must ultimately answer. A doctrine of creation implies creatures who are responsible to that Creator. The evolutionary origin of man relieves man of responsibility to a personal Creator outside of himself.
Purpose in life can only be drawn from the concept of God’s unique Creation of man in His image. An evolutionary view of our existence provides no ultimate purpose. We evolved by chance and therefore have no specific or meaningful purpose to our life. Animals don’t sit around contemplating their purpose in life. They just live for the moment. An evolutionary view that lumps all living creatures together cannot address the unique characteristics of man that go beyond the physical makeup. Genesis asserts God as the Creator at least seventeen times in the first chapter alone. The Genesis account also informs us something of how God created humans.
The verb used in Genesis 1:1, 21, and 27 indicates a great, new, and epoch-making creation.
In Genesis 1:1 creation ex nihilo is taught, since no preexisting material is mentioned or implied. Other verbs in the chapter say that God “made,” “called,” “set,” “formed,” “caused,” “took,” “planted,” etc. Out of the whole created universe and all the things in it, God established a special relationship with humans. Such relationship is recognized throughout Scripture and the Bible identifies Adam as the FIRST man and Eve as the first woman.
No evolutionary development. Adam enjoyed a conscious and meaningful relationship with God from the beginning.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. Psalms 8:3-8
David used the Hebrew word for God “Elohim” (????????) which is generally translated God (2,326 times) or gods (204 times).
B. Man was created in the likeness and image of God
What makes man special is that he alone is said to have been created in the image of God.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:26-28