“What is man?”

Theology begins with anthropology, for this is where the gospel begins, with the man Jesus.  This may sound counter intuitive, but how else does even a secular person begin to think, except with the Psalmist's question, "What is man…?"  And does not the believer begin to do theology when he or she meets Jesus, the living Christ?  We then ask anew, "Who am I?" At the end of the day the Divine answer for both the believer and the beloved other is the same:  it is not, "You are Adam," but rather, "Behold, my Son!"  

"Let us make man in our image" is the sacred narrative's beginning [when the Word was with God and when the Word was God, and when the Spirit had moved across the face of the waters].  But the end of the story [the "telos"] is found in Jesus.  In Christ the human image is perfected [and the Word was made flesh]. 

So in this sense to do anthropology is to do Christology.  Here heaven and earth kiss; the question of transcendence and immanence is answered. Such reflections on the person of Christ, within the context of the Trinity, hold answers which we need for the postmodern turn and beyond. 


2 thoughts on ““What is man?”

  1. When left with nothing but His presence, I asked “Who are You?” and that sent me on a theological quest that is progressively consuming.
    “In Christ the human image is perfected” because “the Word was made flesh and moved into the neighborhood” (The Message) is still the most astounding aspect of it all, in fact, Jesus Christ is all, revealing the Father’s love of relationship with his image-bearers and sending his Spirit to enable us live this gospel.

  2. On the beginning of theology, perhaps this thought from the opening to Book First of Calvin’s Institutes is apropos to add into the conversation:

    Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty.


    It took a year of seminary for me to realize for the first time in my 15 years as a Christian that it matters that “the man Jesus” is a man just as much as it matters that He is divine: If Jesus the man, the son of Joseph, of David, of Moses, of Noah, of Adam would have failed, then humanity would have failed, and God’s plan would have failed.

    Praise God that the Captain of humanity, the leader of the images of God, did NOT fail. Jesus our King, the most pristine of the images of God is indeed the Father’s beautiful kiss from heaven to humanity.

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