Everyone, regardless of religious belief, has at some point pondered the origin of life. Where did we come from, what is our purpose, and how do I know? Was it an evolutionary process resulting in an unplanned combination of just the right organisms; was it an intended and immediate act of God, or something in between? Somewhere in our history everything had to have a beginning. The question we address as Christians is not where was the beginning, but what was the agent that brought it all into existence. In terms of Christian Anthropology, our quest is to understand the origin of life and how it relates to God. It is important to mention that our view and understanding of God has a direct impact on our view and understanding of mankind. Therefore, any study of anthropology should first begin with a study in theology. In this study, we will look at three categories of Christian Anthropology: The creation of man, the original condition of man, and the relationship between God and man.
The creation of man
How did God create man?
There are many views as to how God created the earth. Besides the literal 6-day theory, there is the time-relative creationism, old earth creationism, theistic evolution in its various forms, and the gap theory to just name a few. It seems that the more society challenges the Christian perspective of creation, the more Christians are willing to shift their beliefs in order to appease the masses. Not because science proves otherwise, but because they simply don’t know how to answer the opposition. For Christian Anthropology, the question we need to answer is how did God create us. That comes down to one of two categories. It was either a process of evolution (with or without divine intervention), or it was a deliberate and purposeful act of God.
The facts that there is no scientific study that proves (through repeatable and observable testing) that life can come from non-life; and the fact that there has never been a scientific study that proves (under the same conditions) that a process in which new genetic information has ever been randomly added to an organism’s existing genetic code, it must be established that if there was an Adam, then he could not have been created through an evolutionary process. From a biblical perspective of the creation account, in order for man to be the result of evolution, he would have to had taken on numerous non-human living forms in the process. However, the recorded events in Genesis do not allow for this interpretation. It reads, “then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7)” When God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils, that is when “he became a living creature.” Not when he was a single cell organism; not when he was a fish; but when God formed him from the dust of the ground. That is when life began, and that rules out the theistic evolutionary argument in all of its various forms. The creation of man was instant, not prolonged; it was deliberate, not random or fortuitous.
Why did God create man?
Why did God create us? Was it out of necessity? No. Scripture is clear that God is all sufficient and needs nothing from his creation: “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. (Job 41:11)”; “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17:24-25)” Neither did God make us because he was lonely. When God created man in Genesis 1:26, He said “Let ‘us’ make man in ‘our’ image, after ‘our’ likeness.” God was not alone; the Godhead is eternal and always existed. So why were we created? First, we were created for him: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)”; and again, “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we exist. (1 Corinthians 8:6)”; second, we were created for his glory, “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made (Isaiah 43:7)” We exist for God, and regardless of what exact role our existence fills, we know that He crated us in his image and he created us according to his holy counsel with and for a divine purpose.
The original state of man: from the beginning
Made to be righteous and holy
The original state of man was righteous and holy. Genesis 1:31 reads, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Man was “very good.” No flaws, no evil thoughts or tendencies of rebellion. He was a perfect creation. Again, righteous, holy, and in faultless communion with the father. We also read, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ (Genesis 1:26)” Man was not only “very good,” but he was made in the image and likeness of God. There have been many views, and countless books written, as to what exactly being created in the image of God means. What does that look like? What did it include? Was it a functional image, relational image, or maybe a combination of many other views. God’s word does not tell us directly what that original image looked like.
As stated above, what we do know about the original pre-fallen state of man is that he was righteous and holy; but even after the fall man was considered to be made in the image of God. In James 3:8-9 we read, “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are ‘made in the likeness of God.’” Likewise, we see in Genesis chapter 9 where God is speaking to Noah, “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind the relationship between man and God. (Genesis 9:6)” Therefore, if even in our fallen state we are considered to be image-bearers, then being created in the image of God must be based on something more than man’s moral standing.
Made to be the head of creation
After creating Adam and Eve, God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. (Genesis 1:28)” Mankind was the only part of creation given a task and purpose. We were charged with the responsibility to increase in number and subdue the earth. Not so with the birds of the air, or the fish in the sea. Those that were made in the image of God had authority of the earth.
Because scripture says very little about this subject, it is vitally important to consider Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his works ‘Systematic Theology’, summed it up best. “Where God has chosen to remain silent, let no man dare speak.” What we know for certain is that we were made for a purpose, that purpose remained even after the fall, and we are continuing on towards that purpose even now.
The current state of man: in the process
God is continuing to transform us through Christ, who is the perfect image of the Father: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:3)”
We did not lose that purpose after the fall
Mankind retains his status as the image of God, even in his fallen state: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind the relationship between man and God. (Genesis 9:6)” Even after the fall God still saw man as being in his image, and considered it an offense to harm him. Even now, those lost desperately in sin are not so far that God’s love and worth cannot find them. Even now, the worst of sinners carries the designation as ‘one created in the image of God.’ That image, however, is marred; it is distorted in such a way that without Christ we are unable to reflect our Creator as he intended with Adam.
Continually heading towards the completion of that purpose
Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)” Again, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)” Jesus alone is our example, and in him we find what it means to be born in God’s image; for he alone makes the invisible God visible. But, more than just our example, through Christ we are being transformed into that glorious image: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18)”
In talking about the “new self” Paul tells the church in Ephesus “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)” Transformation through Christ is the destination of the journey we take as believers from corruption to perfection; from estranged to heirs. God created us deliberately, with a purpose, and for His glory. Even after the fall, God continued to draw us to himself in order that through Christ, we too could stand before him: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:21-22).”