Biblical anthropology begins with the affirmation that God created man in His own image: “in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). Thus it is impossible to rightly understand humankind apart from the teaching of the Bible.
© June 2006 By D. Eric Williams
This creation of Mankind was an immediate act wherein Man was created from the dust of the ground and given life by the “breath” of the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not indicate that there was any evolutionary process in the creation of Man (or with any other aspect of creation), but that Man is a direct creation of God. This first man was named Adam. In the creation of the woman God took a portion of Adam’s side1 and having fashioned her from this part of Adam, brought her to him; Adam named the woman Eve (Gen. 2:4-25).
According to the Scripture, “Man was created upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl. 7:29). In the beginning, Adam and Eve where created perfect and holy (without sin), but by their own choice fell from that sinless condition (Gen. 3:1-24). It is difficult for us to understand how God could have allowed this to happen; nevertheless, it is clear that the fall of Man led to the revelation of God’s eternal plan of salvation in Christ (Gen. 3:14f). This is not to say that God willed Mankind to sin. Nor is it to suggest that Adam’s sin was excusable. Yet, in the mystery of God’s providence all things work together to bring about His determined plan.
Adam, being the federal or covenant head of the human race, pulled all of his posterity into sin with him when he fell (Rom. 5:12f). Since that time every child is born with a sin nature (Ps. 51:5, 58:3). Mankind is by nature wicked, lost, blind and dead in sin (Luke 19:10, Rom. 8:5-8, 1 Cor. 2:14, Eph. 2:1). He is utterly unable to remedy his own condition and is by nature at war with God, actively working to suppress all evidence of God and His work in creation and history (Rom. 1:18f). Therefore, all Men, apart from Christ, are affected by sin in every part of their being (Ps. 14:1-3, Rom. 3:10-23).
Even though humankind is corrupted by sin, it remains true that Man is created in the image of God. This image is best understood as the quality of self determination, the peculiarity of reason and logic, the attribute of mind. Consequently “what may be known of God ism manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (Rom. 1:19). The presence of intelligence in Man testifies to the truth of God as creator, since intelligence (mind), cannot arise from non-intelligence.
This is not to say that Man may will to do good, submit himself to God and thus save himself; Man acts according to his nature, who He is at the core of His personhood. Nevertheless, within the confines of his nature, Man can and does exercise freedom of will. Unlike the brute beasts, Man is not driven by instinct but daily makes decisions exercising freedom of will. This is why Man is responsible for his sin. Sin is His own choice. And so, the only hope for mankind is found in Jesus Christ.