What is Man?

  1. The world tends to view man in one of two idolatrous ways.
    1. Materialism sees man as composed of nothing more than material components. His intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects are nothing but products of his material nature acting according to the rules of physics and biology.
    2. Implications:

      1. Man is not responsible for his behavior. The environment is to blame for unacceptable behavior. (Leads to emphasis on social programs, big government)
      2. Man is not distinguishable from the other material of creation. Therefore, he has no dignity or inherent worth. Animals (or even plants) have the same inherent worth as people.
      3. Man's identity is not in any way related to God. Therefore, man is in some sense ultimate, which is idolatrous.

    3. Idealism sees man as essentially a spiritual being, and his physical body is foreign to his essence. The body is nothing but a shell for the spirit or the intellect.
    4. Implications:

      1. Man's body is neglected.
      2. Deeds done in the body do not pollute the essence of the person.
      3. Male/female identity is a biological accident.

    5. The Christian view holds these two aspects - the material and the spiritual - together in perfect harmony. But the Christian view goes beyond that.

  2. The Bible presents man in the proper context of the Creator/creature relationship.
    1. Man is created and sustained by God. Gen. 1:27, Acts 17:25,28
    2. Man is a person and is therefore capable of making moral choices.
    3. Man is made in the image of God. Gen. 1:27

  3. The image of God is the key to man's identity.
    1. Man is God's representative. Gen. 9:6
    2. Man is a picture of God in some respects. Gen. 1:26-31
    3. Christ, the God-man, is the perfect representative of what it means to image God. 2 Cor. 4:3-4, Col. 1:15

  4. As a result of the fall, God's image in man is corrupted but not lost entirely. Ps. 58:3, Rom. 5:12, Rom. 8:7,8, 1 Cor. 2:14
  5. Is man basically good or basically evil?

    1. God's image is corrupted in every aspect of man's being.
    2. God's image is not lost entirely. Gen. 9:6, James 3:9-12
    3. God restrains sin through the operation of common grace. Gen. 20:6, Rom. 2:14,15
    4. God's image is renewed through salvation in Christ. Rom. 8:29, Col. 3:9-10

  6. The Christian view of man has implications.
    1. Treatment of the weak and defenseless
    2. The proper place of self-esteem
    3. Critique of behavior
    4. Critique of constructivist educational theories


Created in God's Image by Anthony A. Hoekema, Eerdmans, 1986, 264 pp. This is an excellent study of the biblical doctrine of man. He addresses the results of the fall and tough issues such as self-esteem and man's freedom as a moral agent.
Availability: AU library

Back to Freedom and Dignity by Francis A. Schaeffer. A direct response from a Christian perspective to B. F. Skinner's manifesto on behaviorism, Beyond Freedom and Dignity. Every Christian in the field of education or psychology needs to understand these issues. Schaeffer's book is a great place to start.
Availability: AU library (Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer)

The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther. The classic treatment of the condition of man's will after the fall.
Availability: AU library (Luther's Works, Vol. 33)

Designed for Dignity : What God Has Made It Possible for You to Be by Richard L. Pratt , Jr., Presbyterian & Reformed, 1993, 206 pp. Against the background of God's unfolding grace in Scripture, Pratt examines what it means to be human and other questions concerning self-image.
Availability: CPC library

"The Behaviorism of B. F. Skinner", Outline #48 by Christian Information Ministries. This is a short, easy-to-read overview and critique of behaviorism from a Christian perspective.
Availability: http://www.fni.com/cim/briefing/behave.html