The Doctrine of Humanity

Introduction

            The intricacy of how humanity appears to be in composition and knowledge based explains and gives the idea of the complexity of his maker. The declaration to man in the Genesis account regarding dominion and reproduction, gives the ideas and plans God has for his creatures. To further give a brief account of the doctrine of humanity in conjunction with his Creator and activities, this document discusses man’s initial status during creation, his complexity calls for multiple disciplines to study him in academia such as psychology, sociology, political science etc., the tasks given to the minister to fulfill the call to ministry and to fulfill his desires or wishes, and its application in a realistic spiritual environment.

Man Created In God’s Image

The doctrine of humanity draws its significance to the validity that human was created in the image of God; as such, this has led to complexity of the study of humanity in the context of religion and human sciences.

            The source of the creation and origin of humanity proves man to not only be biologically related after reproductive activities, but validates man as the emotional and spiritual being created in the image and the likeness of God. The complexity of humanity with respect to biological and knowledge based, is one of the characteristics which sets humanity apart to be regarded as the thinking man or homo sapient. Indeed it can be exemplified from scriptures that God created man in his image and likeness; consequently, man attained Godly traits which were emotionally and spiritually related. In humanity, was placed the Spirit of God (Gen. 1:26-27). God breathed into man’s nostrils and man became a living soul. The man’s originality formerly was a dust composed of chemical nature of all micro and macro (e.g., iron, boron, magnesium, potassium etc). The sources, from which man was formed, were compositions of the material and spiritual worlds. Man is not only an animal according to scientists, but man is a highest class animal and spiritual being according to biological and biblical perspectives. As the result of these compositions of man, man has the body which is composed of the chemical nature and the spirit and soul. Man has will, emotion, and intelligence as the result of the presence of the soul. Man is able to relate to God spiritually as the result of the presence of the spirit. This spirit from the beginning was perfect; unfortunately, the spirit became corrupted or damaged as the result of disobedience. Man’s perfection of his intellectual and the spiritual state was damaged; consequently, his ability to relate to God and to give renaissance of new knowledge to the creation of God became limited. Despite of the depravity of God’s image as the result of the fall, the actions of humanity through discoveries and inventions on planet earth today, proves God’s dominion being expressed. Herring writes, “Since the 1960’s, one of the most dominant interpretations of the imago Dei explains the image of God as a “functional expression,” consisting of humanity’s dominion over the earth and animals. In this case, humanity is the image of God in that he is given authority and power to act, or to function like God.”[1] If humanity is given power to function like God; then, humanity holds dominant position in ruling this world. The development of technological advancements is the proof that human functions metaphorically like God. The action of humanity on earth is prototypical to God’s acts. Humanity activities are expressions of God’s invisible qualities transmitted to humans during creation. The original man’s ability to name all animals in the genesis indicates the presence of God’s wisdom and knowledge transmitted to him. Adam was given incredible wisdom and knowledge from the beginning; unfortunately, he lost the originality of this knowledge and wisdom due to his fallen status.

Multiple Disciplines Of Human Studies

            The doctrine of humanity is crucial to be studied as the result of wider field of disciplines of studies which relates to human behaviors such as psychology, political science and sociology. Such fields of discipline of studies have been developed as the result of the complexity of humanity with respect to how humans think and interact with the ecological communities (Microsystems and Macrosystems) on a smaller and larger scale. Studying humanity goes beyond ecology. One of the things missionaries do when it comes to mission evangelism, is that they study cross-ethnic, cross-racial, and cross-cultural lessons to enable them get integrated and assimilated into the culture they intend to evangelize. Understanding culture and language of the people you intend to evangelize, is a stepping stone to succeed among people whose cultures and languages you do not know. Sung writes, “Though widely believed to refer to natural and intelligible aspects of human beings, much ambiguity suffuses academic theological discourse about “race” and “ethnicity.” Scholars treat them disjunctively or synonymously, but rarely specify warrants.”[2] The existence of race and ethnicity from different historical and geographical origins makes more complex when it comes to studying humanity on a broad spectrum of life situations. I am speaking in term of how we approach people who are not physically related to us based on colors; nevertheless, in God’s created scheme, there is only one race. This is one of the challenges post when it comes to doing cross-cultural mission ministry on evangelism and church planting. It can be an overwhelming experience to do ministry among people whose language and culture you do not understand or know. When the civil war erupted into my country, Liberia, in 1990, I fled and sought refuge into the Republic of Guinea. I arrived into a nation whose language, ethnicity, and culture were foreign to me at the time. At the time, I was five years old in the faith. I love evangelism; as the result, I wanted to evangelize among the Guineans; unfortunately, I could not speak neither understand their dialects (Western African languages); fortunately, I could speak and understand French, their principle language. Living among Guineans whose principle language I was able to speak, was a gateway to become a Secretary for the Liberian Pastoral Association in the refugee camp. Speaking the French language helped me minister to citizens that could speak and understand the language. It also helped me improved in the language I learned in school when I was in my country during normal days. As the result of knowing this language, I was able to plant churches in Guinea under the Eglise Protestante de Guinee (a missionary group from Canada who does mission in Guinea). From experience, I came to understand that to win the people to Christ; you have to identify with them in their practices that are not forbidden in scriptures. We went to their farms or villages and help them beat their rice. We ate with our hands in the same dishes the people ate. The part of Guinea we moved, the people do not eat with spoons in the town. We had our spoons, but we could not use them.

            Biological and human sciences tend to study human behaviors which are complete in contrast with the Christian or biblical views. ATLAS states,” Whereas, the contemporary physical, biological, and human sciences have revealed a structure and history of nature that is in significant contrast with the understanding of previous ages; and whereas, the reformed tradition holds to no perennial form of theology, but affirms that each age must understand and express the Christian faith in terms of its own time and place.”[3] Despite of various fields of disciplines of studies such as psychology, sociology, political science, and psychiatry, the problems of humanity remained unsolved because only the Creator who made man has the blue print and the tools to fix man. The tool of all tools and the book of all books, called the bible is the blue print and the tool to work with in solving human predicaments.

Ministry To Humanity

            Considering the complexity of humanity with respect to radicalism, it calls for prayer, tolerance, patience, and wisdom to lead humanity in both the secular and the religious settings. Man is full of intolerance and wants to go before his maker. We are called to minister to people and not to ourselves. It takes the heart of ministry to do ministry when your needs are hardly met as the result of scared resources. Entering into the pastoral ministry is like entering into a new world that you have never been before; as such, it takes time to familiarize yourself with such surrounding. Ford writes, “Whenever we enter a new world of discourse, we have to learn new vocabulary and syntax, and perhaps even change our basic patterns of thought.”[4]As previously said regarding cultural assimilation, the pastor will have to be integrated into the culture of the people as to know their strengths and weaknesses. To do this, he needs new tool to work with in order to reach the people. He or she will need to learn the language of the people to help him or her communicate the word of God. He or she will need to learn words and the manner in which those words are spoken to bring the people to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He or she will have to see the people as God sees them. A pastor should not be a pessimist but rather an optimist. I am not saying a pastor should not judge before taking a decision, but skepticism and criticality should not always be used to make judgment regarding a particular people or situation. A pastor should believe the people he or she leads. A pastor should likewise believe in himself or herself based on the responsibilities and call to ministry. Failure to believe in oneself and the people the pastor is leading can be a problem to spiritual ministry. You can not work with someone whom you do not believe.

Doctrinal Application

            The church of Jesus Christ is not a building but the people God sent to a particular denominational church to serve. Knowing God sent people to church for salvation and for service, I as a pastor of the ministry will teach men biblical doctrines so that they will come to the knowledge of the truth and no longer be infants tossed by every wind of doctrines with deceitful scheme. Knowing that God uses men for kingdom advancements, I will not only pray for them, but I will also get them involved in ministry works so that they can become kingdom builders and worshippers of God. I will live before them what I teach and preach. This is a practical Christian ministry which God wants us to fulfill through our testimonial lifestyles. A leader reproduces self in the people in he or she leads as he or she emulates after the similitude of Christ. Paul said that be imitator of me as I am imitator of Christ (I Cor 11:1).[5]

            In conclusion, understanding the doctrine of humanity with regard to how he was made and how he interacts with the physical and the spiritual worlds enhances ministry works and leadership abilities in both the secular and the religious world.

Bibliography

ATLAS. Theological Significance of Contemporary Science for the Reformed Doctrines of Humanity. 84 no 6 Jl-Ag 1984.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, 2nd ed. Michigan: Grand Rapids, 1998.

Ford, David F. Seeking the humanity of God: Practices, Doctrines and Catholic Theology, 3 no 3 Sum 1994.

Herring, Stephen L. A “Transubstantiated” Humanity: The Relationship between the Divine Image and the Presence of God in Genesis i 26f. 58 no 4-5 2008.

Sung, Elizabeth Yao-Hwa. “Race” and Ethnicity Discourse and Christian Doctrine of Humanity: A Systematic Sociological and Theological Approach, ns 32 no 1 Spr. 2011.


[1]Stephen L Herring, A “Transubstantiated” Humanity: The Relationship Between the Divine Image and the Presence of God in Genesis i 26f. 58 no 4-5 2008, p 48.

[2]Elizabeth Yao-Hwa Sung, “Race” and Ethnicity Discourse and Christian Doctrine of Humanity: A Systematic Sociological and Theological Approach, ns 32 no 1 Spr. 2011, p 84-85.

[3]ATLAS, Theological Significance of Contemporary Science for the Reformed Doctrines of Humanity. 84 no 6 Jl-Ag 1984, p 83-85.

[4]David F Ford, Seeking the humanity of God: Practices, Doctrines and Catholic Theology, 3 no 3 Sum 1994, p 376.

[5]I Corinthians 11:1.