Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age, Part 2Romans 12:1-2Theme: The Christian doctrine of man.This week’s lessons teach us what it means to be made in God’s image. LessonIf human beings are more important and more valuable than the humanists imagine, why is it that things are so bad? The answer is found in the Christian doctrine of sin, which tells us that although people are more valuable than secularists imagine, they are in worse trouble than the humanists can admit. We have been made in God’s image, but we have lost that image, which means that we are no longer fully human or as human as God intends us to be. We are fallen creatures.
Romans 1 is about human beings falling down a steep, slippery slope when they abandon God, and the conceptual framework for this downbound slide is found in Psalm 8. Psalm 8 both begins and ends with the words: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth” (vv. 1 and 9). In the middle it talks about the created order. So the beginning and ending teach that everything begins and ends with God, rather than with man, and that if we think clearly we will agree with this.
These verses fix man at a very interesting place in the created order: lower than the angels (“the heavenly beings”) but higher than the animals – somewhere between. Although man is a mediating being, created to be somewhere between the angels and the animals, in Psalm 8 he is nevertheless described as being somewhat lower than the angels rather than as being somewhat higher than the beasts, which means that he is destined to look not downward to the beasts, but upward to the angels and beyond them to God and so to become increasingly like him. However, if we will not look up, if we reject God, as secularism does, then we will inevitably look downward and so become increasingly like the lower creatures and behave like them. We will become beast-like, which is exactly what is happening in our society. People are acting like animals, and even worse than animals.
Over the last few decades I have noticed that our culture is tending to justify bad human behavior on the ground that we are, after all, just animals.
A story of a similar nature appeared in the September 6, 1982, issue of Newsweek magazine. It was accompanied by a picture of an adult baboon holding a dead infant baboon, and over this there was a headline which read: “Biologists Say Infanticide Is as Normal as the Sex Drive – And That Most Animals, Including Man, Practice It.” The title is as revealing in its way as Carl Sagan’s statement, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” It identifies man as an animal, and it justifies his behavior on the basis of that identification. The sequence of thought goes like this:
1. Man is an animal.2. Animals kill their offspring.3. Therefore, it is all right (or at least understandable) that human beings kill their offspring.
The argument is fallacious, of course. Most animals do not kill their offspring. They protect their young and care for them. But even if in a few instances some animals do kill their offspring, this is still not comparable to the crimes of which human beings are capable. In this country alone we kill over one and a half million babies each year by abortion – usually just for the convenience of the mother. And outright murders are soaring.
How does the doctrine of sin address humanism?
Is man more like angels or animals? Why?
How does our society justify bad human behavior? Why is our society’s reasoning wrong?
ApplicationIn today’s study, Dr. Boice gives examples of the world’s philosophy that man is really just an animal. Think of your own evidence that man is not an animal, but is created in God’s image. Refer to the characteristics in yesterday’s review section to help you with this. (Example: man has developed a system that punishes crime and rewards good behavior; animals have not.)