Friday, August 03, 2007

Theology 101 Notes: Doctrine of Man

These are the notes from the fourth week of Theology 101:



The Fall of Man.
Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 2:26). However, by a voluntary act of the will, Adam and Eve disobeyed God (Genesis 3:6). That first sin had several repercussions. Man was excommunicated from the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23), a curse was pronounced (Genesis 3:14-19), the process of physical death began (Genesis 2:17), and man died spiritually (Romans 5:12-19). Sin separated humankind from God (Ephesians 2:11-18) and left man in a fallen or sinful condition (Romans 3:23)
- From National Community Church Statement of Beliefs

“We may encapsule our human identity as God’s creatures in three postulates: We are the good creation of God, we are marred through our fall to sin, but we are also the objects of God’s redemptive activity.” (Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, p.125)

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." 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 And 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." 29 Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food ";and it was so. 31 And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Gen 1:26-31, NASB)

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, ecause she was taken out of Man." 24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Gen 2:18-25, NASB)

Purpose of Man
The first question in the Westminster Larger Catechism is, “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The answer is, “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and to fully enjoy him forever.”

Man was created for God’s glory.

Isaiah 43:7
Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made. (NASB)

1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (NASB)

“When we realize that God created us to glorify him, and when we start to act in ways that fulfill that purpose, then we begin to experience an intensity of joy in the Lord that we have never before known.” (Grudem, Bible Doctrine, p.189)

Image of God

We are created in the image and the likeness of God. Genesis 1:26-27 says, “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.’ And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Since we are created in God’s image, that means we learn more about ourselves as we learn more about God.

What does it mean to be created in God’s image?

The Substantival View
The substantival view holds that the imago Dei is located in our essence or being—that humans alone stand above the rest of creation in the possession of an eternal soul. Within our soul lies our ability to reason, to communicate, to love, to sense God, and to make moral judgments. This view locates the divine image in what God has called us to be.

Theological proponents of this view include St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and John Calvin.

The Functional View
The image of God lies within our God-given authority. This view locates the image of the divine essence in what we are called to do.

This view is reflected in Genesis 1:28, “And 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.’”

Ps 8:4-6
What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and dost crown him with glory and majesty! 6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet. (NASB)

The Relational View
The image of God is our relationality. Martin Luther advocated this position. It is reflected in two places in the creation account:

“let us make man in our image.”

“it is not good for the man to be alone.”

John 17:20-23
"I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. 22 "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me. (NASB)

What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of these views? What ethical or moral implications are inherent in each?

Constitution of Man

The trichotomist view: the belief that the human self is composed of three distinct constitutive elements: body, soul, and spirit. (Across the Spectrum, p. 280)

This view had many advocates in the early church, including Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Didymus the Blind.

1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NASB)

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (NASB)

The dichotomist view: a view of the self that states that the human person is composed of two fundamental substances: body and soul. (Across the Spectrum, p. 270)

The dichotomist view dominated the early church after the Council of Constantinople in 381. Theologians that have embraced this view include John Calvin, Charles Hodge, and A.H. Strong.
The dichotomists believe that the “spirit” and “soul” are used interchangeably in Scripture and are indistinguishable in nature and function. Scriptures that speak of both soul and spirit (Luke 1:46-47) are employing a Hebraic literary device called parallelism.

The monistic view: the view of the human that asserts that there can be no final distinction between the body, soul, and spirit of a human being. A human being is fundamentally one unitary entity. (Across the Spectrum, 274)

The monists build their argument on the premises that Scripture says that
  • the deceased are sleeping (Acts 13:36, 1 Corinthians 15:6)
  • there is no conscious life after death (Job 17:13-16, Psalms 6:5, Psalms 30:9, Isaiah 38:18)
  • the hope given to God’s people is not found in immediate life after death but in a final resurrection of the dead? (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

How do the following verses affect your thinking?

Ecclesiastes 12:7
Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. (NASB)

Matthew 10:28
And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (NASB)

2 Corinthians 5:1
1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (NASB)

2 Corinthians 5:6
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. (NASB)

Philippians 1:23-24
But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. (NASB)

Is this debate on the constitution of man important? Why or why not?

Responsibilities of Man
Man was created to know God and enjoy him forever. Related responsibilities include the following:
  • To reflect God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27, Ephesians 4:23-24)
  • To represent God on earth (Genesis 1:28, 2 Corinthians 5:20)
  • To be stewards and caretakers of creation (Genesis 1:26, Psalms 8:6)
  • To live in community with others (John 17:20-23). “The divine image is a shared, corporate reality. It is fully present only in community.” (Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, p.179)

Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in Genesis 3:1-19. Their sin was rooted in three areas:
  • It struck at the basis of knowledge by giving a different answer to the question, “What is true?” (Genesis 2:17 vs. Genesis 3:4)
  • It struck at the basis for moral standards by giving a different answer to the question, “What is right?” (Genesis 2:17 vs. Genesis 3:5)
  • It struck at the basis for personal identity by giving a different answer to the question, “Who am I?” (Genesis 1:26 vs. Genesis 3:5)

Vocabulary of Sin
“Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.” (Grudem, Christian Beliefs, p. 62)

Old Testament- chatha – to “miss the right point,” “to deviate from the norm,” “erroneous action,” to depart from God’s purpose.” It refers to specific actions, whether of thought, word, or deed. Only rarely does it describe a state of being. Other Hebrew words for sin include awon, meaning “crooked or twisted,” avar, meaning the crossing of a boundary, and resha meaning wrong or injustice. (Horton, Systematic Theology, p.274; Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, p. 183)

New Testament- hamartia – “to miss the mark” According to Gottfried Quell in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, the word refers to “an offense in relation to God with emphasis on guilt.” Hamartia can refer to a specific act (Mark 1:5, Acts 2:38, Galatians 1:4, Hebrews 10:12) and to the defective, internal dimension of the human person (Romans 6:6, Hebrews 12:1). (Horton, Systematic Theology, p. 275; Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, p. 184)

“As both chatha and hamartia suggest, sin is primarily “missing the mark” or “falling short.” It entails our inability to be what God desires us to be, our failure to fulfill God’s intention for us.” (Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, p. 184)

Sin of commission: an active sin, doing something that is wrong

Sin of omission: a passive sin, not doing the right thing (Luke 10:30-37, James 4:17)

Effects of Sin
The immediate effects of sin were recorded in Genesis 1:14-19. Salvation through Christ’s sacrifice corrects our legal standing before God, but sin continues to damage our relationship to God, our relationship to our physical surroundings, and our relationship to others.
  • Sin damaged our legal standing before God. However, when a Christian sins, his legal standing before God is unchanged (Romans 8:1- there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus)
  • Sin damaged our relationship with God (Ephesians 4:30- “and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God; Isaiah 59:2- “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.”)
  • Sin damaged our relationship with our physical surroundings (Genesis 3:16-19)
  • Sin damaged our relationship with others (Genesis 3:16)

Original Sin
Sin dwells in our hearts (Mark 7:14-23, Matthew 12:33-37)

“The theological concept of original sin, therefore, carries several connotations. It refers to the ‘original’ or first sin. It denotes the depraved nature or ‘pollution’ that forms the origin or source of our own sins. And it can encompass the origin or ground for the declaration of condemnation, the guilt that hangs over us.” (Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, p. 190)

Sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience. Because of Adam’s sin, we are counted guilty (Romans 5:12, Romans 5:19)

We have inherited and are born with a sinful nature (Romans 7:18, Psalms 51:5, Psalms 58:3, Isaiah 64:6)

Are there varying degrees of sin? Consider the following verses:

John 19:11
Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." (NASB)

James 3:1
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (NASB)


Pray the following prayer and confess any sins to God:

Psalms 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.

Consider the following questions:
  • What does it mean to be created in God’s image? How does this affect your view of yourself?
  • What are the responsibilities of God’s people? How are you fulfilling those responsibilities?


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