What Is Man?

What is Man?

Understanding the Essence of Humanity

In the modern perspective, humanity is often viewed through two distinct lenses, both of which can be seen as idolatrous in their extreme forms.

Materialism perceives humans solely as a combination of material elements, reducing intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects to products of biology and physics.


– Responsibility for behavior is shifted to environmental factors, fostering reliance on social programs and big government.
– Humans are stripped of inherent dignity and worth, considered no different from other elements of creation.
– Identity is divorced from any connection to a higher power, promoting a sense of self as ultimate, which verges on idolatry.

Idealism, on the other hand, portrays humans primarily as spiritual beings, with the physical body seen as separate from the true essence of the individual.


– Physical well-being often takes a backseat.
– Actions performed in the physical realm are considered inconsequential to one’s true self.
– Gender identity is regarded as a biological accident.

The Christian perspective, however, integrates these aspects—material and spiritual—into a harmonious whole, but it goes beyond mere synthesis.

The Bible presents humanity within the context of the Creator-creature relationship:

– Humans are created and sustained by God (Genesis 1:27; Acts 17:25, 28).
– Humanity possesses agency and moral capacity as persons.
– Humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), which defines their identity and purpose.

Key points regarding the image of God in humanity:

– Humans serve as representatives of God (Genesis 9:6).
– Humans reflect aspects of God’s character (Genesis 1:26-31).
– Christ, as the perfect embodiment of humanity, epitomizes the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Colossians 1:15).

Despite the fall, wherein humanity’s image of God is corrupted, it is not entirely lost:

– Human nature is marred by sin but not devoid of God’s image (Psalm 58:3; Romans 5:12; Romans 8:7-8; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

So. What is Man?

The Christian view acknowledges the dual nature of humanity—corrupted yet bearing the divine image—which has profound implications:

– Treatment of the vulnerable is a moral imperative.
– Healthy self-esteem is rooted in understanding one’s intrinsic worth.
– Behavior is subject to critique, guided by moral standards.
– Educational theories must align with a holistic understanding of human nature.


– “Created in God’s Image” by Anthony A. Hoekema
– “Back to Freedom and Dignity” by Francis A. Schaeffer
– “The Bondage of the Will” by Martin Luther
– “Designed for Dignity” by Richard L. Pratt Jr.
– “The Behaviorism of B. F. Skinner” by Christian Information Ministries

Original Article Link: Stanley J. Reeves Professor Emeritus

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