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In popular thought, we may look in vain for a more pernicious corruption than a false view of man: every error in our view of man is rooted in a false view of God. The danger is that we touch the heart of blasphemy.

Consider then some possible purposes for the existence of man:

  • To complete some thrust of random events in a mechanical universe
  • To exalt self
  • To consume
  • To worship God and fellowship with Him

This last idea references the biblical alpha and omega of man: alpha, the image of God (imago Dei); omega, citizenship and stewardship in His Kingdom. To expand, the Christian view of man is based on four historical events that the secularist denies—Creation, Fall, Redemption (featuring the historical death and resurrection of our Lord), and Restoration (featuring the new heaven, the new earth, and resurrected, transformed believers). These events and related principles are expounded in logical succession in the Holy Bible.


The Christian Idea of Man as Expressed in Different Sections of Scripture

Scripture Section

View-of-Man Principles

Secular Counter Ideas



  Man is created by God in His image, is now  also fallen and sinful.

  Man is created by random forces, is good (humanism) or amoral (postmodernism).


  Man needs redemption.

  Man needs self-actualization (i.e., to live out his nature


  Man needs fellowship with God.

  Man needs to discover himself.


  Human history is directed by God.

  History records the evolution of the human animal
  and society, featuring survival of the fittest.



  Man is saved only by the sacrificial work of
  Jesus Christ.

  Man is freed by rejecting traditional mores and
  finding the good in himself.


  Man is sanctified and empowered by the
  Holy Spirit.

  Man is empowered by challenging traditional authority.


  Man should govern himself by the direction
  and power of the Spirit for works of the

  Man should build a utopia wherein all is provided
  for him by government led by a secular,
  enlightened elite.


  Man glorifies God by enduring and by
  fellowshipping with Him and worshipping
  Him eternally.

  Man glorifies self by finding his identity and
  imposing it on others.


Thus, at every turn, the Christian and secular views of man are at war. They tell two very different stories that are incompatible but true—“God Steps In” and “Man Steps Out.”

God Steps In

In this story, man is a creation needing redemption.

How does God step in?

He puts His image in man. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion . . .” (Gn 1:26*). The image of God, active in man, involves thought, reason, and will. By virtue of that image, man is to have dominion (exercise government), to have an especially close relationship with God, and to be higher than the animals, acting as a steward-priest in the midst of creation. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gn 1:27). Two complementary genders, each different and necessary for the other, reflect the image of God, who exists in three distinct Persons. The principle of powerful, productive individuality continues in the Old Testament in the skills of wisdom, government, engineering, art, music, etc., and in the New with the gifts of the Spirit, all of these designed to involve the individual in honorable work and noble fellowship.

He puts His law in man’s mind. The core of man’s nature was touched by the Fall. The very image of God within him recoiled in that he was no longer close to God, no longer eternally perfect, and now slave-mastered by sin. His steward-priesthood was corrupted so that he would serve with hardship and pain (Gn 3:17–19). Yet even before He confronted man while “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (3:8), God stepped in. In that tree, the object of His one prohibition, God had set a seed of man’s salvation—the knowledge of good and evil. This conscience—mercifully!—besides sinfulness itself, became part of man’s fallen nature, and so powerful and clear it was, that even ignorant Gentiles could “do by nature the things contained in the law” (Rom 2:14).

He puts on flesh to reveal Himself and to redeem His creation. Wonder of wonders, Christ took on the image of man, the very dust of “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gn 3:19), the matter that had so distinguished man from God. The image-Bestower assumed the image of His creation, and so effected the great mystery and shock of history—the incarnation and death of God. Specifically, He died in the flesh (the image of man), that He might restore the image of God in man, an image of purity, holiness, and eternal life. All was foreseen by the Director of all. Indeed, at Creation, we donned the image (flesh) that, of the Trinity, only Christ should bear and shall bear for eternity. In that body He reflected the glory of the Father—not that His physical body was perfect or beautiful during His time on earth, but that it was visible and definite. The Son came not as the distant, dimly understood Spirit sought of old, but as the representation of that Father in whose very presence we shall dwell and whose face we shall see for all eternity. In that body Christ died, so that as God had applied the law to awaken the conscience, He now should apply the blood to free the soul.

He puts His Spirit in man. The Spirit seals us for salvation (Eph 1:13). He purifies and ennobles man beyond the innocence of Adam with fruits that will conquer sin, such as long-suffering, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22–23).

He puts His Kingdom on Earth. In this final step, God answers the yearning of every redeemed image-bearer, which is to dwell in His presence and to worship and serve Him eternally. Before the new heaven, the new earth, and the New Jerusalem, we will have a taste of that kingdom in the Millennium; and before the Millennium, a nation might seek to be that kingdom or to reflect its glory as nearly as possible in a fallen world. No nation has fulfilled such a mission as fully as the one that was founded upon the truths of both Testaments and rooted in a Christian view of man that sees him as endowed by his Creator with such unalienable rights as “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The result has been morality, security, freedom, prosperity, and joy. When these benefits are lost, the greatness of a nation can only be restored through returning to a biblical understanding of man, which itself can only come when souls are restored to their God.

Thus reads the beautiful story “God Steps In” as it forms the background for understanding the nature of man.

There is a competing story also written in the pages of history.

Man Steps Out

In this story, man is an evolving creator needing self-actualization.

How does man step out?

He disobeys God. Adam and Eve, dwelling in bliss, stepped over the single-prohibition line God had set, and for the rest of history, disobedient man has been arguing that he can have personal perfection anyway and that he can still have the Garden. Indeed, he sometimes worships the lost Garden (now Mother Earth) as if it had created him!

He glorifies himself. “Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name” (Gn 11:4). The spirit of Babel says, “I can do anything”—a favorite mantra of our modern day.

He excuses himself. Here, man steps out in abdication of responsibility as he says, “I can do nothing”—the fatalistic song of the enfeebled Egyptians who were ensnared in the fickle sovereignties of their gods and then became the easy prey of an all-powerful pharaoh.

He builds an alliance of power. The spirit of empire began perhaps with Nimrod (Gn 10:8–12; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1.4.2) and had its great iron flowering in Rome. There were rulers and subjects, so that man was both the architect of history and the servant of the state. Man was not seen as an imago (having a basic nature in this universe) but as a socius (having a nature determined by his relations to his people). God was pressed out of the picture. Thus, today we do good works not to please God or to fulfill His law, but to “give back to the community.” Historically, empire sets itself against God and His people.

He directs his evolution. As man steps out with this rather daft idea, several paths of equally dubious value appear. The rationalist says, “I can reason my way to glory.” He rejects the notion of revelation (messages from God) and revives the spirit of Babel. The existentialist says, “I can create my moral universe.” Since meaning doesn’t exist, he makes it up as he goes along. The cosmic humanist says, “I can create myself.” This breed of man, along with everything else, is God, so he shies not away from so lofty a creation claim. The Marxist (socialist or communist) says, “I can rebel in order to propel evolution.” His rebellion is against traditional society, against traditional views of man, against God Himself. All these ideas of directed evolution—human reason to usher in perfection, creation of self to unfold a new moral universe, rebellion to speed evolution—rush and press this world toward the shining goal of the moderns—utopia. Utopia sings the ancient song (begun by Plato in the Republic, most famously expressed by Sir Thomas More in Utopia), “I can forge heaven on earth,” a song that brings the Babel/Egypt antithesis, “I can do anything” vs. “I can do nothing,” into the synthesis, “The elite can do everything for me.” We become the happy thralls of government.

These extreme evolutionary ideas are those of communist nations such as Russia and socialist nations such as France. There we see the citadel of oppression or institutional idiocy and the short road to poverty. World organizations such as the UN carry this falsehood and dissolution into such nations as our own.

All these rebellions stem from a view of man as separate from God, stepping out to change himself. And yet there is one false step more.

He creates souls! Man has created machine and now—the horror of Dr. Frankenstein!—he boasts of having created machines that think. Claims have begun to surface that we have developed computers that have achieved sentience—actual self-awareness!—and independent thought; soon, independent will. Self-awareness, thought, reason, will—these are the very stuff of the soul; they are the image of God ascribed now to man as the original. As that great original, he bestows the image on a machine. The machine, however, (in truth) still responds along programmed, predictable lines in its universe of ones and zeros, norths and souths, positives and negatives, ons and offs. The flawed conception of artificial intelligence is based not in a false idea of machine, but in a false idea of man. This man began literally as nothing, and then, from unthinking matter that came forth from nothing, evolved into something, and now has made himself, in a sense, everything—not simply the steward of the earth, but its savior; not the recipient of image, but its author and bestower.

It is this man that believers in Christ seek to reach with the gospel of truth, that he may be redeemed.

The End of the Matter

Imago Dei is rooted in something that does not change, and it tells us that we must change. The issue of contention between biblical and secular views of man is simply the existence of God. ABR has chosen to stand with God.


* All quotations of Scripture in this article are from the King James Version.


Article reprinted with permission from Dayspring Christian Academy’s Awaken magazine, Fall 2023.

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