The Doctrines of Man and Sin for Apologetics, Part 1

Written by Mark Farnham

On June 30, 2016

finger_of_godWe are unique from all the rest of creation by being made in the image of God. We are not like animals or angels because we were created to reflect the glory and image of God. Humans alone in creation are made in God’s image and likeness. This partly explains why all people are without excuse before God—their very purpose is to be in relation to God. To deny God when we are designed to reflect his glory is to rebel against everything that we are. To deny the existence of God is to deny our very humanity.

Since there is limited space , we can only touch on a few points about man and the Fall. We will focus on the theological truths that serve as the foundation for our apologetic endeavors.

Man and Sin

The view that a particular religion or worldview has about human beings tells a lot about important issues, such as the meaning and purpose of life, human dignity, what is wrong with the world, and the nature of right and wrong. In many worldviews, man is nothing more than a product of the blind force of evolution. This makes him an accident of nature, since there can be no intelligence in the universe. In this view, man is nothing more than an animal, and no purpose or meaning can be derived from random forces. This view however makes human dignity and ethics impossible to argue. If man is just an animal, violence, disease, and calamity are the nature of life.

In other views, such as New Age religion, Hinduism, and most of the Asian religions, man is divine and a spawn of the gods. Man finds his dignity in having a spark of the divine within himself, or else he is just as much god as anything else. One of the problems with this view, however, is that these supposed divine humans commit evil acts. If a divine being does evil, what makes it evil? And considering the amount of evil in the world, what good does the divine do in the world? These questions cannot be answered in a meaningful way if everything is equally divine.

The biblical view of man, however, provides answers to the most pressing questions of humanity, such as where did I come from, why am I here, what is wrong with the world, who am I, what is my purpose, where am I going?


  1. Man is created in the image of God

The Bible teaches that man is a special creation of God, different from the animals by virtue of being made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). In this sense, man is greater than the angels who do not bear the image of God. Because man is made in God’s image, he bears intrinsic value and dignity, apart from anything he does. This dignity is so basic because of the image of God, that to murder is to commit a crime that strikes against God himself. As a result, God demands that the life of the murder be taken by proper authorities to demonstrate the heinous nature of such an act (Gen. 9:6).

The image of God is never explicitly explained in Scripture, but most theologians agree that it pertains to rationality, a sense of right and wrong, and the implanted knowledge of God. These inherent qualities demonstrate that God is a personal, moral being who has revealed himself to all people. Our calling as human beings is to know God through Christ, live a life marked by wisdom and obedience to God, and share the good new of Jesus Christ, which is the wisdom of God. This feature of humanity—being made in God’s image—is the key to human identity and understanding our place in God’s world.

The image of God in man also means that God is the original and we are the copy. God is the eternal I AM, and we are an icon, or picture, that reflects the glory of the I AM. The reflection is not praised or worshiped; rather, the reality is worshiped. If a soldier has a picture of his wife with him on the battlefield, he stares at her image to remind him of her beauty. But the picture can fade and be wrinkled in a day. When he returns to her, he does not stare at the picture anymore, but gazes upon the beauty of his wife, who is now right in front of him. In the same way, we are to so reflect the glory of God that people want to worship God when they see our lives.

In the next post we will see how man is different from God and the nature of his role in the world.

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  1. Steven Hoyt

    fatal mistake. the scripture speaks to man bearing god’s image but it’s silent on other creatures. concluding then that because the bible says x about man, then x is only true of man is the formal logical fallacy called “argument from silence” and though you may indeed have a true conclusion, your premises cannot support justifying the conclusion because they are flawed.

    a theologian from my university writes:

    your view of theology seems quite new and far removed from anything pre-calvin.

    this is time will spent, if you’re so inclined:


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