Church Education Trust

Christian Belief

ST005/1 The Doctrine of Man-Anthropology.


The Doctrine of Man and Sin.

The doctrines of Man and Sin will be taken together as they are so closely connected. Particular books on the Christian doctrine of Man usually include the doctrine of Sin as well.

Our study of the attributes of God led us to the conception of a universe which is not God, but which was created by Him.

This universe, and in particular Man, made necessary God's providence and finally redemption, or, to use Dr.Pope`s phrase, "the Mediatorial Ministry".

The universe includes spiritual creations i.e. angels, spirits; and also Material creations i.e. earth and the creatures on it, as well as trees, fruit, flowers etc., and finally Man.

Angels will not be dealt with in this study (except in connection with Satan), and neither will general creation. We shall centre our thought on Man, his origin and nature, and move on from there to a consideration of his present condition as a result of the Fall and the entry of sin.

The fact that something has gone radically wrong with the world and that Plan is in a condition of sinfulness constitutes the necessitating reason for the "Mediatorial Ministry".


The word "anthropology" is not a peculiarly theological word and is quite normally used among scientists. It is derived from the greek word for 'man" (anthropos) plus the ending common to this type of word, the greek word "logos" meaning "discourse"or "teaching".

From a scientific point of view anthropology deals with the origin of Man and the development of the human race; from a strictly theological point of view it deals with the moral and religious aspects of Man's nature before the Fall, and very often includes the moral and religious aspects of Man's sinful nature as well.

Man is the crowning work of creation (Ps.115:l6). The providence of God prepared the world for Man and the Scriptures seem to infer that Man is the end to which all the animal and vegetable creation tended. This seems to be corroborated by the amazing amount of granite, marble, coal, salt, petroleum etc. laid up in the bowels of the earth for man's use.

1. The Origin of Man.

There can be no authentic account of the origin of Man apart from revelation. It is not strictly speaking possible for science to pronounce dogmatically on origins prior to the time of human knowledge. According to Scripture Man is undoubtedly the creation of God.

(a)The Genesis Account.

There are to records of the creation of Man in Genesis, one in the first chapter and the other in the second. It has been customary to consider these two accounts as contradictory and written by two different people. There is no justification for this and the two accounts harmonize perfectly.

The first chapter is a general account of creation showing Man as the culmination of all the creative work. The second chapter is a more detailed account of the creation of Man and acts as the starting point for the history of the human race.

The account in the second chapter states clearly that Man was created from the dust of the earth, which is shown to be so by the fact that the same elements are in the dust of the earth as are in Man's body. It also states that God breathed into Man the "breath of life".

This makes clear the fact of the two different elements of human nature and also gives Man that distinctive image of God which distinguishes him so unmistakably from the remainder of the animal creation. The creation of the woman is likewise described which shows that the record is that of the creation of the race.

The description of the creation of the woman has caused some perplexity. The word translated "rib" is used frequently in other parts of the Old Testament and is very often rendered "side". This is probably the better rendering here "the Lord God took part of the side of man, and from it formed the woman".

Other Scripture testimony to the fact of Man being the direct creation of God is found in the following passages. (Job 33:49 Ps.8:4 6; Isa.43:7; Zech.12^19 Acts 17:26; 1 Pet.4:19.)

(b) Theories Contrary to Divine Creation.

Purely atheistic and materialistic theories have been dealt with sufficiently under the section "False Conceptions of God" in the doctrine of the Godhead, but a little more needs to be said concerning the theory of Theistic Evolution.

This theory supplies the lack in pure materialism by clearly believing in God. Who is the Creator of the first form and Who, while He used the process of evolution' is immanent in that process.

The theory maintains that Man, as to his physical nature, "came through the animal order, but sometime along the way God gave to him this divine image of personality, moral being etc., something that the brute never had and could never produce."

It seems impossible honestly to fit this theory into harmony with Scripture and the reasons have been dealt with in the section mentioned above. In addition it may be pointed out that the theory of evolution which the theistic evolutionists endeavoured to harmonize with belief in the Bible, is now no longer so strongly and dogmatically held.

There is an unsettling among scientists themselves. Dr.Miley likewise writes, "There is no urgency for haste in making terms with modern evolution. It is only a hypothetical structure without the substance of a science.

With limitless assumption and dogmatism, it lacks the material for the foundation of a science. There must be long waiting for the superstructure; the evolution of the human race is wholly without proof.There is the broad margin between Man and the highest order below him, confessedly too broad for crossing by a single transition in the process of evolution.

All search for connecting links is fruitless. That broad margin remains without the slightest token of successful stages in the transition across to Man."(Syst.Theol.Vol.1 p.358).

Berkhof also argues at length (Syst.Thool.pp.185:187) that the principles relied upon by Darwin to prove the descent of Man from a species of anthropoid ape are no longer valid. In connection with the attempts made to build up photos of ancient Man from a very small number of fossil bones, he has an interesting quotation from the present day scientist Fleming, "The upshot of it all is that we cannot arrange all the known fossil remains of supposed 'man' in a lineal series gradually advancing in type or form from that of any anthropoid ape, or other mammal, up to the modern and now existing types of true man.

Any supposition or statement that it can be done, and is true, is certainly incorrect. It is certainly misleading and unspeakably pernicious to put forward in popular magazines or other publications read by children pictures of gorillas or chimpanzees labelled 'Man's cousins or Man`s nearest relative', or to publish perfectly imaginary and grotesque pictures of a supposed `Java man` with brutish face as an ancestor of modern man, as is occasionally done.

Those who do such things are guilty of ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation. Neither is it justifiable for preachers in the pulpit to tell their congregations that there is general agreement among scientific men as to the evolutionary origin of Man from an animal ancestor." (The Origin of Mankind p.75).

(c) The Unity of the Race.

No other conclusion can be reached from the Bible than that it teaches that the human race sprang from one pair and that the race is a unity. (Gen.3:20; 9:19; 11:1; Romans.5:12ff). There are also indications outside the Scriptures which point in the same direction:-

1. Similarity of physical characteristics. Medical science is fundamentally the same in all nations and the same blood groups can be found in every nation likewise.

2. The mental, moral and emotional natures of mankind are fundamentally the same everywhere.

3. There are similarities in the principles of languages, although this is questioned by some.

4. There are indications of a common place of origin for mankind and also common events in their early history e.g. the Flood.

(d) The Antiquity of the Race.

There has been a tendency to discredit Scripture chronology because of the vast difference between the suggested scientific dating of the earth and the apparent Bible dating. Three points must be remembered.

First, that some of the vast figures for the age given by scientists are only guesses, as also are those for the age of Man. Some scientists are much more conservative.

Secondly, it is the age of Man with which we are concerned and the period covered by the first chapter of Genesis cannot be assorted dogmatically.

Thirdly, neither can the chronology of Archbishop Ussher (given in most reference Bibles) be taken as dogmatically correct. The chronology of the Bible is a difficult subject. There are many gaps and also the length of periods were reckoned and stated in a different way, in the ancient cultures from the manner in which they are today.

Where it has been possible to check accurately from outside sources the dates given in the Bible, they have been found correct; and there is probably no reason on the grounds of population and the spread of language etc. to make the age of man very much older than that given by Archbishop Ussher.

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