Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Supreme Paradox (Genesis 1:27-31)

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27).

Because Psalm 8 considers God’s glory revealed in the creation of man, we will take several days to examine humanity. Man is made in God’s image, but that image has been shattered, creating a great paradox. The question is, “How can man be capable of behavior so grand yet be so depraved?” C. S. Lewis captures this dilemma in The Chronicles of Narnia when he writes, “ ‘You come of the Lord Adam and Lady Eve,’ said Asian. ‘And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.’ ”

We live in a time when the definition of what it means to be human is hotly debated. Once philosophers focused on questions that dealt with metaphysics (the study of reality) or epistemology (the study of knowledge). But now they ponder questions such as “What does it mean to exist?” The result has been an overwhelming focus on the self without any reference to God. Philosophers now study anthropology separate from any theology.

How human beings understand their own existence determines how they think and behave as well as the kind of culture they produce. Because we live in an age when there is much confusion about what man is, we see confusion manifested in society’s behavior in issues such as abortion and euthanasia. How we respond to these issues is determined by our understanding of humanity.

Many people have tried to define humanity in various ways. Some define man in purely biological terms, as though he is only an animal—a naked ape. Karl Marx said man is homo faber—man the maker. He measured man completely in reference to his work habits. Others defined mankind in terms of his capacity to make choices—homo volens. Nietzsche said man lives according to his own choices, whereas Sartre maintained that man’s choices were ultimately meaningless. Freud claimed that man is driven by sexual needs, whereas others have said man is incurably religious.

Philosophers have classified man in narrow categories, neglecting the bigger picture. We must not make the same mistakes. Instead, we must focus on the theology of humanity, understanding man as we understand God, and vice versa.

Consider how the philosophers mentioned today have defined humanity. How do each of these definitions distort the true picture of humanity as presented in the Scriptures? What consequences do each of these viewpoints have on society?