Theology: ANTHROPOLOGY

INTRODUCTION TO ANTHROPOLOGY

 

There is scientific evidence that the human soul has weight. In 1907 Dr. Duncan MacDougall placed dying patients on a very sensitive scale just before they died. At the point of death there was an immediate weight loss of from 3/8 to 1 1/2 ounces. He did this experiment on six people. Of the six bodies there were four that showed this weight loss. He also tried the experiment on fifteen dogs, and not one of them changed weight at the point of death.

 

So there. We do have souls and they vary in weight. I wonder if that indicates that a weight problem in this life is transferred into the next life. Ha.

 

We can’t use such a short experiment to definitely prove that the human being has a soul, however if you believe that the Bible is God’s Word to man, you can know that there is a soul within man. Indeed, many of the religions of the world view man’s makeup as containing a soul and/or spirit.

 

As we enter into a study of anthropology, we are going to be studying man. This section is somewhat unique, in that it is the only subject of theology which laps over into the secular world of study. Anthropology is a secular subject as well. Unsaved people are interested in the study of anthropology as well as the Christian. The secular view of man will be different to some extent because their basis will be the theory of evolution, while the Christian’s basis for study is the Bible.

 

Secular anthropology will view man as descending from a long evolutionary cycle, while Christian anthropology’s view of man comes from the creator of that man, God.

 

Within the secular scheme of study there are many divisions of study. I would like to show a chart which shows some of these divisions and their relation to the overall system of study.

 

 

Academic Areas

 

 

 

 

Study Of The Humanities

Study Of The Sciences

 

 

 

 

Natural                                   Social

 

 

 

Study Of Behavior                          Social Studies

 

 

 

 

Study Of Man

Study Of The Mind

Study Of Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archaeological            Physical                        Biblical

 

 

Most of you have heard of the Alex Halley book and movie, called “Roots.” We are all interested in our roots. We desire to know about our fathers, our grandfathers, our great grandfathers etc.

 

We are about to really study our roots. We are going to look into the origin of man. As I approach the doctrine of man I’m left to wonder if I have anything to say. I don’t even know about myself much less about mankind. Now, the doctrine of “SIN” — that is another story. I have some knowledge of it and can speak with a little authority.

 

 

In short Anthropology is the study of man, or the science of man. We will get into a more detailed definition in a few moments. There are two sources or approaches to the study of man.

 

We can study man from the approach of human philosophy as most of the world approaches the subject, or we can look at what the Word of God tells us about man, and draw conclusions from that source.

 

From our Christian perspective it is most logical to look at both, and hold to what the Lord has given to us in the Word.

 

There is value in looking at the secular philosophical approach to anthropology. Let us take a brief look at these benefits.

 

1. They have some things that would help us understand the lost world. Of course we don’t want to accept evolution as a belief, but we can certainly learn of the basic thought of this system so that we can talk intelligently to an evolutionist about his spiritual needs. His spiritual need

does not change just because he is an evolutionist, but when we talk to him of God, there are some hurdles we must overcome.

 

2. There are, I’m sure, some facts that they have within their area of study that might help us understand how the world system operates. This again translates into a help when talking to the lost. It also helps us understand why the world system is the way it is. If we understand their system we won’t need to become disgusted with the lost when they act the way they do.

 

We have already noted the main difference between the Philosophical and the Biblical approach. We will contrast these two in a few minutes, but for now let it suffice to say that:

 

The philosophical approach is from man and man’s thinking which is not as clear as the Lord had desired it to be. Man’s thinking is clouded by sin and the fall. This approach deals with only the emotional and intellectual part of man and does not usually deal with the immaterial part of man. God has no part in man’s origin, career, or destiny as they understand anthropology. To them there is no God.

 

The Biblical approach is based on the Word of God and is the thinking of Almighty God. This gives the approach all of the validity it needs for the Christian. This approach deals with all areas of man, both material and immaterial. It covers moral, spiritual and eternal. What is said in these areas is, by nature, truth because it is revelation from God.

 

There are a couple of terms that we need to think about at this point. Extra-Biblical Anthropology is the study of man based on man’s experience, history and intellect. Intra-Biblical Anthropology is the study of man based on what God has revealed about man in His Word.

 

Extra-biblical anthropology gives to us such teachings as Evolution and humanism. Both are based on man’s ideas and concepts about what we are and what we can do. By the very nature of the teaching it leads to the materialism of our day. If we are only man, and can only enjoy this life, then we must assuredly enjoy it to the hilt. If I am only in this life, then I will enjoy all that I can gather together to the hilt, and not worry about others. I Am Central To My Thinking. Recognize any of this in the world today?

 

If this is true, and we know that materialism has a strong hold on the church, then we might wonder just how effected the church is with extra- biblical anthropology. Indeed, one of the last sections of this study is on humanism and its inroads into the Christian community. (Topic number d04250-d04300.)

 

It should be recognized that the Bible does not approach man as a textbook. You do not find a I and II Man in the table of contents of the Bible. The Bible does not lay out a systematic set of information. We need to go into the Word and glean what it says about man as we go. There is no systematic anthropology found in the scripture.

 

The Bible has much to say about man, and it has much to say to lost man if he will listen. His listening, however is usually the problem.

 

If a lost man will recognize the fact that the Scripture has some authority over them, and will follow it’s precepts he may enjoy a good life here on earth, and be a moral upright being. His eternal destiny will not be affected however. He will ultimately spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.

 

While we are thinking about the authority of the Scriptures we might make brief mention that the Scriptures are authoritative in all that they say. In what it says about science, it is correct. In what it says about man, it is correct. In what is says about medicine it is correct. The point however is that it is not a science textbook, nor is it a pre-med text book. The point is this. When the Bible speaks on a subject It is correct and we should have complete trust in it.

 

We should realize that the Bible speaks on some areas relating to man that the extra-biblical system does not address. Such things as: The true origin of the universe; The true origin of man; Man’s original state; Man’s fall from that state; The new birth; The real cause of death; The bodily resurrection.

 

We need to notice that the Word of God does not change and that it is presenting the same view of man that it did when it was first written.

 

It should also be noted that the extra-biblical system is constantly changing it’s view as to the origin of man. There are many views of the creation of the universe that have been presented through the ages. None have been proven correct and many of them are barely plausible.

 

This constant flux is because of the fact that the people that come up with these schemes have nothing except other men’s ideas upon which to base their thinking. They have no real basis upon which to build, while the intra-biblicist has the Word of God to base his thinking on.

 

Christian Anthropology — the study of man’s origin, fall and course, based upon the Biblical record.

 

Let us see how Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines anthropology. “1:the science of human beings; esp: the study of human beings in relation to distribution, origin, classification, and relationship of races, physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture 2: a part of Christian teaching that concerns the origin nature, and destiny of human beings…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.) We are interested primarily in the number two definition. It is of interest that Webster recognizes that there is a very definite difference between the two types.

 

 

Anthropology, in short is the “science of man.” We will look briefly into some of the other areas of anthropology, but for the most part will look at the origin, nature and fall of man.

 

DEFINITION

 

“1. The science treating the physical, social, material, and cultural development of man, including his origin, evolution, distribution, customs, beliefs, folkways, etc.” (“FUNK AND WAGNALLS STANDARD DESK DICTIONARY”; New York: Funk and Wagnalls Inc., 1976)

 

The term comes from the merging of two Greek terms: “anthros” meaning man and “logos” meaning study.

 

“The word “anthropologos” first appeared in the works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle and meant ‘treating of man,’“. (Funk, Wilfred Litt.D.; “WORD ORIGINS AND THEIR ROMANTIC STORIES”; New York: Bell Pub., MCML, p 234)

 

As we have seen the study is viewed in two ways:

 

1. Human Philosophy. This information is based on all of man’s experience and thinking and reasoning. The result of this form is Evolution and Humanism.

 

2. Biblical Perspective. This is based squarely upon the Bible, and then includes information from extra-biblical that may substantiate and enhance intra-biblical anthropology. The result is a true view of man which is based on Biblical creationism.

 

 

CONTRASTS

 

INTRA-BIBLICAL

 

EXTRA-BIBLICAL

 

1.   By nature, centered on the Word of God

 

Excludes the

Word of God completely

2.   A philosophy created by God

 

A   philosophy created by man.

 

3. Creation by   God

 

Evolution

4. God   centered

 

Man centered.

 

5.   Deals with original state of  man

 

Offers no   information.

 

6. Deals with   man’s fall.

 

Offers no   information.

 

7.   Deals with real cause of death

 

Offers no information other than, it’s the course   of things

8.   Deals with the new birth.

 

Offers no hope

 

9.   Deals with proper morality

 

Offers “do   your own thing”

 

10.   Deals with a future life.

 

Offers no   afterlife

 

11.   Gives absolutes in morals

 

Demands   no absolutes in morals

 

12.   Correct and unchanging in state which it was written

 

Changes   with the times and the writers

 

13.   Man has value before God

 

Man   has only what value he can find for himself

 

14.   Deals with the creation of man

 

Deals   with the evolution of man

 

 

 

 

 

Now, let us move to four improper theories of man’s coming into existence:

 

1. Evolution: Most people today know what evolution is. It is the thought that man evolved from a long process of life getting better and better. The life would be some primordial gluck that decided to become alive. Life then evolved into something intelligent, then into fish, then into animal, then into man and we have been getting better every since. So why are some of us so bald if we are getting better, or is baldness the next best step forward for mankind?

 

2. Theistic Evolution: Notice that they allow God into this one, ever so slightly. God created, and left it all to evolve with his guidance over the millions of years that it took. He allowed natural processes to bring life into existence and then evolve into man.

 

3. Progressive Creationism: “Creationism” is included in this title to give an air of respectability to evolution. In this thought God created life, then allowed millions of years to pass between the stages of intervention by Himself. You know, those missing links that the evolution always talks about — God stepped in from time to time to give evolution the needed boost to the next level. This is why there is no link between monkey and man. Evolution got to the monkey, and God stepped in and somehow brought about man.

 

4. Abiogenesis Or Spontaneous Generation: This thought tells us that man just began to exist — no creator — no creation. Cambron mentions, “…there was no creator of man, but that man simply came into being without a cause and began to exist fulfilling the nursery rhyme, which reads: Where did you come form baby dear? Out of the nowhere, into here.” (Cambron, Mark G. D.D.; “Bible Doctrines”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954, p 155)

 

There is a fifth point if you are a Treky. (A Treky is one that enjoys the Star Trek television series.) In the Star Trek series there is what they call the Genesis Machine. No, You Say? Well, Probably Not.

 

 

THE PROPER — BIBLICAL VIEW

 

Man was brought into existence by God. Genesis 1:27 shows the fact of creation, Genesis 2:7 shows the how of creation, and Matthew 19:4 shows Christ giving validity to that account. Let me list a few other points concerning the creation of man:

 

1. He Became a living thing (Genesis 1:21). He wasn’t living beforehand and then suddenly change form. It was a creation, not an evolution.

 

2. Paul states that Eve was taken from Adams side. This was a sudden action as well as supernatural, thus probably Adam’s own creation was probably sudden and supernatural. (as opposed to thousands of years) 1 Corinthians 11:8.

 

3. Paul states that there are different kinds of flesh. One for animal and one for man (1 Corinthians 15:39). Man did not come from the fish.

 

4. God states that man was created, then the woman was created. The theist would have to have all males up to the time of Adam, then have woman. This does not seem logical to have man only in the evolutionary process until a point in time when woman is introduced.

 

As we move along in our study of man, we might consider whether we can have a complete Psychology of man (psychology is the science that deals with the mind and the behavior that it causes in man) that is derived from the Bible. Anyone that has read the Bible would have to say no. The Bible is complete, and correct in what it says concerning psychology, however it is not, nor was it meant to be a psychological text book.

 

God did not set the Scriptures down to address man’s overall psychology, but to address man’s spiritual needs. The next question is this, “Can a psychologist form a practice using principles found in the Word of God?” To a point this is possible. He can use principles from the Bible if the person is a Christian. If the person is lost then the person may, or may not follow the remedy, nor will he have the Holy Spirit to assist him if, indeed he follows the remedy.

 

There have been men that have practiced in the following manner. They first of all find out if the person is saved. If they are Christians they proceed from a Biblical standpoint to minister to their problems (problems that are usually related to sin). If the person is not saved they are given the Gospel, and the opportunity to accept Christ. If the response is no, then the treatment is basically the usual secular psychology, with the Word used as much as possible.

 

Others have noted many “Biblical” principles wrapped up in the “Reality Therapy” of Dr. Glasser. His principles worked well in many patients, even though he was not (to my knowledge) a believer. Biblical principles can work in an unsaved person if they allow them to be applied. Indeed, the fact that some unsaved people live great moral lives, is proof that Biblical principles work, whether the lost or believers follow them.

 

Today one of the attacks upon the Word is leveled at the fact that not all

of it is inspired. Many today now believe that the Word is inspired only in those areas where it is conveying spiritual truth. Where It touches on science, psychology, and what have you, it may contain errors. This is how believers can hold to the quasi evolutionary systems that they believe in. In the area of science (creation) the Bible has errors, so they insert their own philosophy.

 

How do we answer the charges that the Bible contains errors in the area of science, etc.? We need to understand that the Bible is not written as a science, psychology, or history book. It is written to reveal the answers to man’s spiritual problems, and to give them a moral standard to live by. It is, however, in areas where it speaks on these subjects, without error and is true.

 

For example you can read secular history books and find many examples where the secular world has “found errors in the Bible” because there was no proof of the Word’s statement. As the years go by archaeologists have proven over and over that the Bible is the correct version, rather than the secular history.

 

We, as believers, accept these things by faith, so why not share our faith in Christ and His word with the people around us. Hebrews 11:3 states: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” If we accept it by faith then we should be up front and tell them that. We should also remind them that they are accepting what they hold on faith as well.

 

Much of science is still accepted by faith. An example of this is the flow of electrons in a wire to produce an effect such as light or sound. They do

not know if it is really electrons in the wire, nor do they know if what ever is flowing, flows from negative too positive, or positive too negative. They have formed the theory that it is the flow of electrons from positive to negative, and they can demonstrate the results yet they cannot prove their theory. Probably, it is true but, they must accept it by faith. Even then they debate about the direction of current flow.

 

The whole matter of evolution is likewise acceptable only on the basis of faith. There is little proof for the system, and anyone that holds to its teaching must have faith in the teaching, or they could not hold to it.

 

Man could not have evolved from mud, because he is a personable,

rational, moral and religious being. How can anyone believe that man which is personal, rational, moral and religious came from a primordial blob?

 

If you mentioned to someone that you believed the Genesis account of creation and they said they didn’t; that it was only a fable of the Old Testament, how could you answer that person?

 

Take them to Matthew 19:4,5 and read the account of Christ’s answer to the Pharisees, “He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” This puts them at odds with not only the Genesis account of creation, but also at odds with the Son Of God, Jesus Christ, who gave his view. Christ held that the creation account was historical and reliable. At this point let him argue with Jesus Christ. I would like to list some references that view creation as fact: Exodus 20:11; 1 Chronicles 1:1; Psalm 8:3-6; Mark 10:6-7; Luke 3:38; Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 11:9; 15:22; 15:45; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; Jude 14.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

How do we make this practical? A study of man and his creation. How will you present this to a group and help them live better Christian lives with it?

 

1. The Extra-Biblical theories which have been set forth are truly revolutionary and breathtaking. It is wonderful that man can know so much about himself with absolutely no scientific evidence.

 

Intra-Biblical anthropology is a simple statement of fact by the creator of the universe about how He created. Surely He would be the one that knows how He did it.

 

There are some new theories which attempt to merge the two views, however man always ends up in the drivers seat of these new thoughts.

 

2. Man is a created being made by a very powerful God. (The ramifications of this are immense.)

 

3. We are created beings. Not only are we created beings, but we are responsibility to the creator. When you create a cake, it is there for you to do with as you desire. God created us, and we are here for HIS purposes, not our own.

 

4. We are created in His image. We have a responsibility to know what He is, so that we can become more like Him.

 

TRUTH FOR LIFE

 

God took the time to create man and in essence ME so I must assume I have value before Him, else, why would He have bothered. If I have value before Almighty God then I have value to myself — I am worth something. I have no value aside from the creator — thus my creator should be very important to me. If I have value, that value comes from my creator, thus what is my response? I should: Submit to his Word; Serve Him; Share Him; And speak with Him.

 

I have often wondered if David Brainerd had realized some of these truths, if he would have had a different outlook on life. I would like to quote a short portion of his diary on the day of his commissioning as a missionary.

 

 

It shows a man that had very little concept of value before God. True, his negative thoughts were generated by his honest hate of sin within himself, yet I must wonder if he felt that he had any value before His maker.

“Spent much time in prayer and supplication: was examined in reference to my Christian experience, my acquaintance with divinity, and some other studies and my qualifications for the important work of evangelizing the heathen, and was made sensible of my great ignorance and unfitness for public service. I had the most abasing thoughts of myself; I felt that I was the worst wretch that ever lived: it pained my very heart, that anybody should show me any respect. Alas. me thought how badly they are deceived in me. how miserably would they be disappointed if they knew my inside. O my heart. And in the depressed condition I was forced to go and preach to a considerable assembly, before some grave and learned ministers; but felt such a pressure from a sense of my vileness, ignorance, and unfitness to appear in public, that I was almost overcome with it; my soul was grieved for the congregation, that they should sit there to hear such a dead dog as I preach, I thought myself infinitely indebted to the people, and longed that God would reward them with the rewards of his grace. I spent much of the evening alone.” (Edwards, Jonathan; “The Life And Diary Of David Brainerd”; P 25-26

 

He had so much of this worthless feeling, yet today most Christian’s don’t have any of that feeling.

 

God’s Workmanship by G. Campbell Morgan

 

“We are God’s workmanship. That is where the song of hope and comfort begins. I would be frightened of the first, because when I say I am his I am not talking for effect; I am talking out of my life, deeply. Even today I say I belong to him, and I am almost ashamed because I do not feel there is anything worth his possessing in me. But wait a minute — we are his workmanship” That means he is working on us. There is the suggestion in it of artistic beauty. We are his workmanship, not yet perfected, but in process. The figure of the potter helps me. The wheel is moving swiftly with the aid of the potter’s foot on the treadle, and he gives speed or slowness as he wills to the revolving wheel. What is on the wheel? Clay. There is no beauty in it, but it is the stuff the potter wants. And humanity is just the stuff God needs and that is why he created man for an infinite purpose we have not yet begun to see. Now watch the wheel revolving. The clay is taking form and fashion as the wheel turns. Then he takes it off and puts it into the fire. Then it is taken out and he lays on the colors, puts it in the fire again, and when the potter is done the vessel is for beauty and for use.” (Stuber, Stanley I. and Clark, Thomas Curtis; “Treasury Of The Christian Faith”; New York: Association Press, 1949, p 472-473)

 

May we realize we are clay in God’s hands. May we realize any value we have is in His creative and shaping hands? As He molds us — we gain value.[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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