RE: Human origins and doctrine

From: Keith B Miller (
Date: Sat Feb 23 2002 - 16:56:26 EST

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: Human origins and doctrine"

    >However, to bring up a side issue, I would also argue that our physicalness
    >is an essential expression of imaging God. This is not to say that God is
    >physical, but to say that our bodies communicate the essence of who we are.
    >The only way that I know you truly exist as a person is through your
    >physical form. If (as I assume) the person is a unified body and soul, then
    >both body and soul TOGETHER image God. In fact, I would go further to say
    >(as Barth argued also, I think) that in some sense, being created male and
    >female TOGETHER images God. And only our physical bodies expresses our
    >maleness or femaleness. Furthermore, both the Incarnation and the
    >Resurrection (of Christ and of our bodies) attest to the significance of the
    >physical body. Therefore, I do think that the image is necessarily tied to
    >our physical nature.

    Of course our being in the image of God involves us as whole
    physical/spiritual beings. Below is a quote from an article I wrote for

    "An inseparable part of being created as images of God in the world is the
    authority delegated to us by God. We have been chosen out of creation as
    God's representatives, His stewards. God commissioned us to "Be fruitful
    and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish
    of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that
    moves on the ground" (Genesis 1:28). Adam was placed in the garden "to
    work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15). Our ability to exercise this
    divine commission to rule and care for creation is, I believe, based on our
    dual nature. Our physical unity with the natural world is as vital to our
    appointed role as image bearers as is our spiritual apprehension of the
    divine." (Keith B. Miller, 1993, Theological implications of an evolving
    creation: Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, vol. 45, p.150-160)

    What was at issue was whether an evolutionary understanding of the manner
    in which God created our physical form undermines the Biblical claim that
    we are made in the image of God. I do not see that it does, in fact, I
    believe that an evolutionary perspective gives added meaning to the
    Biblical claim.

    >All of which I don't deny. I am NOT saying that Christian evolutionists are
    >necessarily any less orthodox in their theology than others. But at this
    >point, I fail to see how the doctrine of original sin can be reconciled with
    >a purely evolutionary framework that denies the special creation of humans.
    >The reason is because there is no satisfactory account of how physical
    >processes can lead to the emergence of our moral capacity and
    >self-determination, which are necessary for Adam to have sinned.

    Your first two sentences seem to be in conflict. You first say that those
    who accept human evolution are not less orthodox, and then you say that
    such a view cannot be reconciled with the doctrine of original sin. What
    are you trying to say? Why is the evolutionary origin of our physical form
    irreconcilable with original sin?

    I have been exclusively addressing the claim that acceptance of an
    evolutionary origin of our PHYSICAL FORM is not in any way in conflict with
    our being in the image of God, with the doctrine of original sin, or with
    any other central historical doctrine of the Christian faith. Nothing you
    have said would argue against this.


    Keith B. Miller
    Department of Geology
    Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506

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