Monthly Archives: January 2014

Doctrine of Anthropoly or What is the essence of Men

As I work through my second course (Introduction to Systematic Theology) I have questions concerning the way the church sees Men.  First, I believe the church has become so fluffy that many men see the need to leave their masculinity at the door or just not go.  The Bible makes it clear the man has been designated as the spiritual leader of the family.  It is interesting I read an article on Charismanews.com encouraging women to “Let” their husbands lead.  http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/42544-moms-let-dad-lead This just killed me, we as men are to lead only after our wives “Let” us lead.  Come on men God made us warriors not slaves.  He certainly didn’t make us to be restricted based on the desires of our mates.  This brings me to my question (in light of the culture we call 21st Century), “What is the essence of Men?

Aristotle believed the essence of man was the soul. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZXr4r4P0fHIC&pg=PA277&lpg=PA277&dq=aristotle+and+the+essence+of+man+is+the+soul&source=bl&ots=NAVC0MPrgq&sig=ggV4pZALb0Pm3wlbaXD6kkVczR0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=kWbnUpLPNIyJogSMiIDoDw&ved=0CFYQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=aristotle%20and%20the%20essence%20of%20man%20is%20the%20soul&f=false Another point of Aristotle was the man is the summation of everything that makes him alive; man is the summation of body, soul, mind, and spirit.  So where does this all take us?

What does the Bible say?  The Bible tells us that when God made man he made him imago dei (the image of God).  The Bible also tells us man fell when he disobeyed God.  The result of that fall made man and all his descendants sinners.  If we are to determine what man’s essence is we must  keep in mind the sin nature that exists inside every man.

What does it mean when the word essence is used to describe anything?  In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essence I know a lot of people in scholarly circles don’t like Wikipedia, but it is really convenience.  To ask the question, “What is the essence of man” one must ask the question, “What makes up man?”  First, we as men are sinners.  If not for the grace of God everything we as men think, propose, or do would originate in our sin nature.  So let me leave you with this question, “What are the attributes that make up Men?”

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What does it mean we exist as a being?

Wikipedia makes the following assumptions at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existence.

Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality in general, as well as of the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist (for instance: “Does UDFj-39546284 exist?”), and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences. A lively debate continues about the existence of God.

Epistemology studies criteria of truth, defining “primary truths” inherently accepted in the investigation of knowledge. The first is existence. It is inherent in every analysis. Its self-evident, a priori nature cannot be consistently doubted, since a person objecting to existence according to some standard of proof must implicitly accept the standard’s existence as a premise.

Materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter, that all things are composed of material, and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions.

Life is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have self-sustaining biological processes from those that do not—either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as “inanimate“.

This brings up the following thoughts: “What does it mean to say we exist as a being?”  As stated above Materialism believes the only thing that exits is what we can see feel or touch.  Yet we as Christians believe in the unseen.  Paul the apostle believed what we could see is only temporary but what we cannot see is eternal.  In the study of metaphysics Aristotle believed our being is the summation of everything we are.  Just what does all that mean?

The famous mathematician Rene Descartes came up with the term, cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am).  Descartes believed that our thoughts cannot be separated from who I am.  Therefore since I am able to think then I exist.  Our thoughts are not something we can touch, so where does the Materialist believe our thoughts are in relation to our being?

The Bible teaches that we are both material and immaterial.  The Bible uses terms such as spirit and soul to refer to the immaterial part of man.  Where does the soul come into play when a discussion on being takes place?  Many Christians today want to accept the theory of spontaneous generation (Theory of Evolution).  Where in the amino acid-> proteins-> DNA-> chromosome-> intelligent life process did the soul come into being?  At what point in the evolutionary process did the soul come into being?  If the soul did not come into being until later does that mean that a chromosome by itself is not existent?  Does that mean the sperm and the egg while separate does not fit the definition of being?  This brings to the surface the question, “When does the soul enter the life process, at the point the egg and sperm come together to form the single cell zygote or sometime later?”

So what does it mean to exist or qualify as a being?  If all these questions can be answered how do we define a being?  Aristotle believed that our existence or being was actually a summation of everything we are.  Can we use these beliefs to ask ourselves, “If being is everything we are then what does it mean to say God is a being?”  The idea of anthropomorphism is the idea that God has used terms we as humans would understand to describe to us himself.  For instance, the Bible refers to the hand of God.  Yet, as far as I know, no one has ever seen the hand of God.  If existence is based on those things we can see then, “What does it mean God exists?”

These are all questions I hope to answer in my doctoral studies at Columbia Evangelical Seminary.

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