Table of Contents
Part III: The Terms "Image"
and "Likeness" aas Used in Genesis 1:26
The Image Lost
IF WE LIMIT
"manhood," by definition, to those alone who bear the
image of God, in what light are we to consider those who do not
bear this image? If they do not belong within the kingdom of
God, they do not strictly belong within the kingdom of Nature
either. Then what exactly is their relationship (1) to Nature,
and (2) to God? In a very real sense history demonstrates that
man has tended in a destructive manner to exploit Nature for
his own selfish ends, and most creatures fear man once they have
come to know him, so that he may properly be said to be at enmity
with Nature. Man is aggressive. A recent symposium on the subject
of aggression included a number of papers dealing in various
ways with the parallelism (or lack of it) between human aggression
and aggression within or between other species. Speaking of the
latter, James Fisher observed: (7)
Except for the relationship
of predator to prey, which does not fall within the definition
of aggression, animals are usually tolerant of other species
even if they share the same food spectrum.
D. I. Wallis,
speaking of social insects, said that aggressive behaviour was
part of the mechanism by which the colony was maintained. Thus,
true "aggression" is either virtually absent from other
species than man or it acts as a preservative of the species.
With man the situation is very different, and in summarizing
the symposium, the authors wrote as follows: (8)
The irrefutable and terrifying
history of overt aggression appears to be essentially human
[my emphasis]: animals display aggressive attitudes which may
have a survival value but under natural conditions, they do
7. Carthy, J. D. and F. J. Elbing, reporting
a symposium on "The Natural History of Aggression,"
held at British Museum in October, 1963. See Nature, Jan.
I l, 1964, p.129, quoting J. Fisher and D. I. Wallis.
1 of 13
8. Ibid., p.131.
not fight to the death with members of
their own species; aggression is ritualized so that little damage
Man's beastliness is not of
the beast [again, my emphasis]; to the anthropologist and
the historian, human overt aggression may seem normal, but seen
against the background of the animal kingdom, from a point of
view which cannot be avoided by the biologist, it appears pathological.
spirit, already directed so widely outside himself, is even turned
within his own species with potential violence enough to bring
about its complete destruction.
And in spite of his propensities
for religion, the Bible says that man is even at enmity with
God. If man evolved by purely natural processes, then his present
character is indeed a strange one. Let us consider these two
relationships separately, first his relationship to Nature, and
then his relationship to God. The consideration must be brief
though it is an enormous subject -- indeed, the whole of human
history -- but the object here is only to underscore the significance,
as we see it, of the image of God in Man and the cost of losing
If man has merely evolved "out
of" Nature, then in spite of his enmity towards it and the
unhappy abuse it has suffered so frequently at his hands, his
behaviour must be viewed merely as unfortunate rather than unnatural.
Yet even evolutionists are hard put to explain this circumstance.
Wood Jones (9)
remarked upon the strange "fact" that evolution's final
creative triumph should have been the emergence of her "arch-destroyer."
Strange indeed. . . . However, most people believe firmly that
the theory of evolution has been demonstrated so clearly that
however difficult it may be to account for man by natural processes,
we must still assume that the difficulty is merely due to our
ignorance of the mechanism. Man has indeed a more complex central
nervous system and this could be the reason for his behaviour,
but the complexity is in degree, not in kind, and occurred by
quite natural processes. In time the efficiency of the process
of natural selection will prove itself, as it always has, either
by a change in man for the good or by a change in Nature brought
about by his manipulative abilities. The tensions between the
two will disappear. At least, this is the tune that is being
whistled in the dark, and the less learned take heart from the
whistlers with what is, after all, merely an optimistic alternative
to an older and out-moded humanism.
Nevertheless, when we descend to
a more detailed examination of the discontinuities between man
and Nature, we discover many profound and unbridgeable gaps.
As a result, we find ourselves in the
9. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life, Arnold,
London, 1953, p.18.
awkward position that
the more research we do, the more evident the chasm becomes.
The only way to salvage the theory seems to be to call a halt
to further research! As we shall see, this has happened with
regard to the origin of human speech. Although this situation
tends to be more obvious when man is considered psychologically
rather than physiologically, it is nevertheless true even with
respect to his body. For in many ways man's physiological constitution
is second-rate when contrasted with that of the animals. This
impression has always been shared by primitive people who have
looked with envy upon the animals as enjoying what appeared to
them vastly superior vitality and far greater wisdom than themselves.
The wisdom of animals has not, however, escaped the notice of
civilized man either, and indeed one of the major problems for
evolutionary philosophers is to account for that fantastic built-in
guidance system which we call "instinct" and which
all animals appear to have except man. That man lacks instincts,
(10) even at the
most basic levels of existence, is now generally agreed by students
of the subject. So we have here a very basic difference which
sets man apart by himself. Evolutionary theory has neither been
able to account for the presence of instincts in animals, many
of which are so complex as to be almost beyond complete description,
nor for its absence in man. It is strange indeed that man who
is the climax of an evolutionary process has somehow lost virtually
every vestige of a faculty which serves the rest of Nature so
perfectly except, of course, where man has interfered.
But while unredeemed
man alone thus exhibits this lack, on the contrary, man alone
in Nature has the power of speech. This, then, is a second distinguishing
mark which sets him apart from all other creatures. Although,
inspired by Darwinism, endless attempts have been made for many,
many years to establish an evolutionary origin of speech from
animal cries, and although popular statements in the press and
elsewhere contribute to the general confusion by speaking loosely
but quite improperly of animal "language," the experts
in the field know that the problem remains totally without illumination:
the hiatus is still absolute. Indeed, Susanne Langer, (11) no mean authority in this,
has observed that all theorizing to date has been so futile as
10. Instinct: for a useful but brief summary,
see H. J. S. Guntrip, "The Bearing of Recent Development
in Psycho-analysis on the Psychology of Religion," Transactions
of the Victpria Institute, vol.85, p.71. Also, see Max Schoen,
"Instinct and Man," Scientific Monthly, June,
1929, pp.531-538. He wrote, "In fact, the standard of criterion
for instinct, namely, an act common to a species and somewhat
perfect on first appearance, is inapplicable to human behaviour."
11. Langer, Susanne, Philosophy in a New Key, Mentor Books,
New American Library, 1952, pp.88. "The problem is so baffling,"
she wrote, "that it is no longer considered respectable."
render the subject of
the origin of speech an indecent one to bring up in any serious
conversation. Here, then, is the impasse: more research, less
light! It is as Hallowell observed, (12) while it would be very nice to build up an argument
by easy stages, the total effect of which would seem to complete
the bridge, "it is foolhardy to allow our desire for parsimony
to cause us to overlook persisting differences."
In the Doorway
Paper, "Who Taught Adam to Speak?" we have explored
this problem and do not intend to repeat here what has been already
said. But it is important to underscore the fact that most students
of human nature are prepared to admit that it is man's ability
to communicate his thoughts which has given rise to the whole
fabric of civilization. And while evolutionists have tried to
persuade themselves that the power stems merely from a faculty
suddenly acquired, perhaps by a mutation occurring in an otherwise
normal animal, Grace de Laguna disagreed: (13)
Man's rationality is not a higher
faculty added to, or imposed upon, his animal nature. On the
contrary, it pervades his whole being and manifests itself in
all that he does as well as in what he believes and thinks.
It would seem
not unreasonable to assume that the achievement of humanhood
and of the power of speech were synonymous, and that speech was
therefore not an acquisition of man but co-terminous with him.
Man's conscious use of speech to
express his thoughts allows him to reflect upon his own thinking
in a unique way, and reinforces self-consciousness. Whatever
else Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (14) may not have said, he undoubtedly was correct when
he wrote that "we are separated from the animal world by
a chasm"; and he continued, "Because we are reflective,
we are not only different, but quite other. It is not a matter
of change of degree, but of a change of nature resulting from
a change of state."
It would appear from thoughts such
as these that the study of animal psychology has severe limitations
in shedding light upon human behaviour. This is as Ralph Linton
said, (15) animals
develop more complex social behaviour only as an aid to survival
whereas man does exactly the opposite, constantly endangering
his own survival by the very same process. The starving Australian
will not eat his totem animal though it may be the only remaining
source of food. The
12. Hallowell, A. Irving, "Self, Society,
and Culture in Phylogenetic Perspective," in Evolution
After Darwin, edited by Sol Tax, University Chicago Press,
1960, vol.2 p.360.
13. de Laguna, Grace, "Culture and Rationality," American
Anthropologist, vol.51, 1949, p.380.
14. Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, The Phenomenon of Man, Collins,
London, 1959, p.l66.
15. Linton, Ralph. The Study of Man, Appleton-Century,
New York, 1936, pp.86, 87.
Chukchee will not cook
in a boat, so -- by a chain of circumstances -- he cannot hunt
whales. The Pawnee refused to fight if carrying certain sacred
objects, and were invariably slaughtered. Cattle in India rob
the natives -- who have less than enough to begin with -- but
they dare not restrain them. The Jews in Jerusalem refused to
defend themselves on the Sabbath day with dire consequences to
themselves. And we spend our meager resources in embalming the
dead, to the detriment of the living. One Australian native community
made its marriage laws so complex that they reached an impasse:
nobody could get married to any living person. Yet in spite of
this tendency toward absurdity in social behaviour, man has succeeded
in continually adding to and modifying the sum total of human
behaviour patterns in a way which the animals never do. Ruth
Benedict (16) pointed
out that if you killed off all the ants in the world except two,
these two if they survived could probably in time recover for
their species all the intricate patterns of ant behaviour which
had momentarily been lost. But if you killed off all human beings
except two, even though they survived, 99.99 percent of all civilization
probably would be lost. For this reason, Humphrey J. T. Johnson
(17) said that
there is a wider difference "between a man and a gorilla
than between a gorilla and a daisy." The gorilla is as incapable
as the daisy of creating civilization. Adriaan Kortlandt, (18) writing about the life
of chimpanzees in the wild, made this observation:
For many years the great apes
were studied in the hope of tracing some aspects of man's evolution
from them, since their behavior was considered to represent a
more primitive stage than others. Gradually, however, as it has
been realized that man and ape represent diverging branches stemming
from a remote intermediate ancestor, the emphasis has changed.
The main problem of primate research today is to explain why
the great apes did not become more nearly human than they did.
here is, to my mind, a false one to begin with. The question
being asked, "What stopped the chimpanzees?" is a "negative"
one, whereas it should be a more positive one, "What happened
that man appeared on the scene as such a completely different
creature?" The miracles which evolutionists are willing
to believe in are very substantial, but they cannot believe in
the sudden appearance of an entirely new order of life. Yet they
have to admit that this is what seems to have happened, for there
is simply no bridge from human behaviour back to primate behaviour
which will stand up to the mass of research
16. Benedict, Ruth, Patterns of Culture,
Mentor Books, New York, 1934, p.11.
17. Johnson, Humphrey J. T., quoted by P. G. Fothergill
in Nature, Feb.4, 1961, p.341.
18. Kortlandt, Adriaan, "Chimpanzees in the Wild,"
Scientific American, May, 1962, p.133.
increasingly being undertaken
with the purpose of describing the bridge, but which is in fact
destroying the possibility of it piecemeal.
then, there appear to be real differences in kind, not merely
in degree. But even physiologically it is found that man is constituted
differently from other animals in certain critical aspects. For
example, one of the most important factors in the maintenance
of normal physical well-being of any warm-blooded animal (and
man is one of these) is the achievement of a body temperature
stabilized within a quite narrow range. It might be supposed
that man and the other mammals do so by the same physiological
processes. Research over the past fifty years has demonstrated
increasingly that this is not the case at all, even in those
animals supposedly nearest to man, evolution-wise.
One of the best known students
of this matter of thermal equilibrium is J. D. Hardy, who a few
years ago undertook a series of exploratory experiments with
a view to elucidating the problem of temperature homeostasis.
Assuming that the primates, which are supposed to be nearest
to man, ought to be used for experiments directed towards shedding
light on humans, he conducted a pilot study using monkeys. Subsequently,
when summing up the negative results of this study, he said:
In summary, although the monkey
was selected originally for this type of experimentation because
it was hoped that its physiology in respect to temperature regulation
might be nearer to man than that of the domestic cat or dog,
it would seem that the monkey does not simulate man in its method
of regulating body temperature. In particular, the cebus monkey
is not a good experimental animal for bridging the gap between
the data available on man and that available on animals.
It may seem
that this is of little consequence because, after all, temperature
regulation is only one of many physiological functions. However,
this regulation is of greater importance as one rises higher
in the scale of central nervous system complexity. The brain
in man is very subject to damage in this respect. But in any
case, the more the situation is explored, the more complicated
it becomes, for other factors -- other physiological functions
-- become involved, in which man's uniqueness is once more underscored.
When man cannot eliminate excess body
heat, from exercise or food, etc., by radiation loss (and this
happens in many ordinary life situations), he must lose it by
the evaporation of sweat. Man sweats
19. Hardy, J. D., "Summary Review of
Heat Loss and Heat Production" in Physiologic Temperature
Regulation, U.S. Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville,
Pennsylvania, NADC--MA-5413, Oct., 1954, p.12.
freely enough, but what
about animals? Isn't the sweating of horses much the same? The
evidence shows that it is not at all the same. In spite of appearances
to the contrary, Rothman, (20) one of the greatest authorities, concludes that "functionally,
animal sweat glands are certainly not comparable to human eccrine
glands . . . and do not take part in systemic heat regulation."
The sweating of domestic animals, such as horses and cattle,
has been shown again and again to be of an entirely different
kind, involving structurally different glands and contributing
virtually nothing to the cooling of the animal, all appearances
to the contrary.
In man the activity
of sweat glands is not an isolated phenomenon but is an effective
cooling mechanism because peripheral blood circulation is enormously
(and automatically) increased, so that deep body heat is transported
to the surface where it will be removed most effectively by the
chilled skin; and at the same time the skin itself, by the greater
fluid content, becomes a far better heat conductor to aid the
process. Rothman points out that relative to animals, the range
of cutaneous blood flow in man is remarkably great and that comparable
thermal regulatory vasomotor adjustments are not found in any
other animal. Indeed, another noted authority from England, O.
G. Edholm, remarked recently: (21)
The slow progress in our understanding
of the mechanisms in human skin is due in part to the necessary
limitations of the experimental techniques to relatively non-injurious
procedure. Furthermore, the differences in the vasomotor innervation
in the skin of man and animals have proved to be particularly
Though it is
not generally recognized, man's skin is probably the largest
organ of his body. It is no small matter, then, that he has such
a unique outer shell.
It should be observed in the light
of all this that man is, as Douglas Lee put it, (22) "supreme as a homeotherm."
What this does for man is to make him truly ubiquitous. In combination
with a vastly superior mental equipment, it allows him to settle
in every part of the world successfully from the equator to the
poles. Only those animals which he has domesticated and by years
of breeding selected for certain characteristics, can share this
ubiquity -- chiefly the dog. By nature it is not true of any
other warm-blooded animal, although some have a wide
20. Rothman, Stephen, "Physiology
and Biochemistry of the Skin," University Chicago Press,
21. Edholm, O. G. and R. H. Fox, "Peripheral Circulation
in Man," British Medical Journal, vol.19, 1963, p.110-114.
22. Lee, Douglas H. K., "Heat and Cold," Annual
Review of Physiology, vol.10, 1948, p.368.
range by hibernation
or other such responses. These animals could never, of course,
conquer the environment, they merely yield to it successfully.
Man alone is capable of "having dominion over the earth,"
and in no small measure this is because he is physiologically
distinct from the rest of the animal creation.
It hardly explains
anything to say glibly that he merely evolved into this superior
position, because the physiological changes are both numerous
and interdependent, and to offer him any advantage initially
they would all have to occur at the same time. Moreover, thermal
sweating in man is a parasympathetic response, whereas in animals
it is a sympathetic response; and these two, the parasympathetic
and the sympathetic, are in apposition (indeed, often in antagonism)
to one another. It is difficult to see how this complete turnabout
could occur by a long slow process.
As already stated, this is one
small area of research which has brought out differences where
they were not expected. There are countless other areas, equally
unexpected, where the same uniqueness comes to light. For example,
racists have firmly believed that if you can improve a breed
of horses, cattle, or dogs, one could logically do the same with
man. But, as George Dorsey has pointed out (23) evidence shows that about all you could do by similar
breeding techniques would be to produce a race of human beings
with the following traits: bald, fat, short legs, six fingers,
webbed fingers, near-sighted, deaf and dumb, feeble-minded, curly-haired,
cataract, albino, and a few others. In the case of humans, virtually
all in-breeding produces undesirable results. This is so true,
in fact, as history goes to show, (24) that nations which boast of a comparatively pure
stock have contributed little to the advancement of culture,
and in-bred groups in isolated communities have shown a high
incidence of imbecility and deaf-mutism. Just occasionally have
brother-sister marriages proved to be exceptionally successful,
and when this has occurred in the past, the societies in which
they appeared have accorded them superior status. In Hawaii,
they became chiefs; in Peru, the same applied to the Inca ruling
houses; in Egypt, we meet the same situation in the case of the
Ptolemies and Cleopatra. It may be noted in the last instance
that Cleopatra's brother was anything but a noble specimen, a
clear indication that luck was running out from a genetic point
23. Dorsey, George A., Why We Behave Like
Human Beings, Blue Ribbon Books, New York, 1925, p.116.
24. Kretschmer, Ernst, Geniale Menschen, Berlin, 1929,
quoted by F. Weidenrich, Apes Giants, and Man, University
of Chicago Press, 1948, p.90.
it should still be emphasized that these few illustrations are
representative only of the total evidence and barely skim the
surface. In another Doorway Paper (25) a very greatly enlarged list of significant quotations
reinforcing the chasm between man and the animals will be found,
quoting from some two hundred sources, even if one limits oneself
for the most part to structural and functional differences. It
is easy to be misled by popular statements. The factual data
do not support such statements, as Alex Novikoff wrote in Science
a few years ago (26)
The study of animal behaviour
can not be a substitute for the study of man's behaviour. As
we establish the likeness in behaviour of animals and man, we
must simultaneously investigate the fundamental qualitative differences
between them. Except in certain pathological conditions, man's
behaviour is as unique as the organs which he, alone of all animals,
possesses: thought, speech, labour (i.e., creative) are impossible
without a highly developed brain and hand. It is his unique biological
constitution which makes possible the development of truly social
relations among men. Many investigators studying the integrated
animal populations, the so-called societies of animals, appear
to have overlooked the fact that animal societies never rise
above the biological level, that only man's society is truly
Any one who has tried to teach
biological change to college students knows the barriers to learning
which have been created by the identification of animals with
men throughout the student's life-time.
all this, it is very important at the same time, and in order
to keep the record straight, to acknowledge freely that the use
of animals in physiological and medical research is clearly justified
by the enormous advances which have accrued from such substitute
experiments. Quite apart from the immediate practical benefits
from this research, very great gains have also been made in our
general understanding of living processes from the purely scientific
point of view. This might seem to negate much of what has been
said above. But not really, because there is a difference between
making use of the findings of research from animal experiments,
and equating man with the animals, as though he were merely one
of them with some added "factor," the loss of which
makes him revert simply to an animal stage. However much physiological
research demonstrates that the functionings of man's body are
very similar (though not identical) with other animal bodies
in so far as many organs are concerned, it would be a fatal mistake
to equate man with other animals, as though he were
25. "Is Man An Animal? ", Part V
in Evolution or Creation?, vol.4 in The Doorway Papers
26. Novikoff, Alex. S., "The concept of Integrative Levels
and Biology," Science, Mar.2, 1945, p.212.
merely a group of physiological
functions. The whole man is much more than the sum of his parts.
It is only the
rank materialism of our times, strongly reinforced by evolutionary
thinking, which makes it so tempting for people to assume that
if we once understood man's physiology completely we would understand
Even the psychologists have more
and more frequently tended to adopt this line of reasoning, so
that psychology increasingly becomes merely a branch of physiology
and the tools of its research are largely borrowed from the physiologists.
(27) With materialists,
man has tended gradually to lose his "mind." It is
becoming merely an electro-chemical organ. And with psychologists,
in spite of the root meaning of the word, man has tended to lose
This process of identifying things
which are merely similar is highly unsound and can lead to ridiculous
conclusions. Admittedly, an animal may be much more like a man
than a piece of wood is. But, and here is the important point,
if man was made in the image of God, and is therefore related
to God as a son is to a father, and this in a way which no other
animal is, or if he at least still retains the potential
to become a child of God, then in actual fact the piece of wood
and the animal are more alike than the animal and man. For they
have neither the potential nor the realization of this unique
relationship with God. They are, in fact, in a very real sense
merely "things." The wood and the animal are in one
category and man is in an entirely different category. In so
far as we have in view redeemed man, it is no longer meaningful
to say that he is an animal. We can only speak of him as an animal
if we choose deliberately to ignore what actually makes him a
man. By emphasizing what he shares with the animals, we are easily
deceived into making an equation which in fact ignores all that
they do not share, and what is not shared does not merely make
a difference but all the difference in the world.
Having given some thought to the
relationship of unredeemed man to Nature, we now turn to the
second part of the opening question, his relationship to God.
He is neither naturally a child of God nor an animal, for both
these classes of creatures still belong within His kingdom. He
is not within the kingdom because the laws of that kingdom are
not written within his heart. Yet the loss of the Imago Dei
does not revert him merely to an animal stage, for the very significant
27. Psychology versus Physiology: at a recent
symposium on psychiatric education it was actually proposed that
medical schools in undergraduate courses combine psychology with
the physiology course in the form of neuropsychology. See P.
J. Crawford "Undergraduate Medical Psychology," British
Medical Journal, May 4, 1963, p.1237.
reason that he has not
surrendered the potential of its re-creation within him, a potential
which no mere animal ever has. Indeed, the possession of such
a potential must in the final analysis always constitute the
grounds upon which the true "humanness" of a creature
is to be determined. And it therefore becomes purely an academic
exercise to discuss whether such a creature as Zinjanthropus
was human or not, merely on the basis of bone structure, brain
size, head form, or associated cultural artifacts.
Having therefore a division
within the species Homo sapiens, on the one side of which will
be those who have the unrealized potential for the image of God,
and on the other side of which are all those in whom the potential
has been realized, we need a simple way, a word or a phrase,
to distinguish them. For purposes of simplicity, we may call
the first "true man" and the second "pseudo-man."
The assumption being made here, then, is that only when a man
is born again does he achieve true manhood, since only then does
he bear the image of God by its re-creation within him. Scripture
recognizes this in a rather interesting way. For speaking of
aggregates of men, it tells us that those who "were not
truly people" will after their conversion become "people"
in the true sense (see 1 Peter 2:10).
We have, then, three orders of
living creatures: animals, pseudo-men, and men. And that which
sets apart the last two from the first is wrapped up in the word
image. Pseudo-man has the potential for bearing the image
of God but in the meantime bears only the image of fallen Adam
(Genesis 5:3). True man has had the Imago Dei creatively
restored. Pseudo-man bears a relationship to God as a creature
to his Creator just as the animals do, although in his case the
relationship is often a very conscious one. Yet with this consciousness,
there comes also a sense of uncertainty, which sometimes takes
the form of hope and sometimes the form of fear.
The uncertainty which accompanies
all such relationships is twofold: First, as to whether God,
as Judge, is benevolent or demanding. Second, whether the relationship
is in any sense a personal one, in which the individual himself
can be of any consequence. God Himself could either be impersonal
or so great a Personage as to have no direct concern with puny
individuals in such an enormous universe. It is these uncertainties
which lend to all natural religions their strange admixture of
doubt and hope. But once the image has been restored, uncertainty
disappears. The relationship of creature to Creator becomes the
much more satisfying and directly personal one of son to Father.
Indeed, if there is one single question which a man may ask himself
who is uncertain as to whether he is a Christian or not -- who
with assurance recall
any specific spiritual experience by which to mark a point of
re-creation -- it is this, "Do I think of God and address
Him as my Father?" It is not a question of repeating the
Lord's Prayer sincerely, in which one unites with others in saying,
"Our Father. . . ." It is a question of saying to God
personally, "My Father." As Paul said in writing to
the Christians in Rome, "The Spirit himself beareth witness
with our spirit, that we are the children of God . . . whereby
we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8:16, 15; also Galatians
This explains a
number of passages which, taken together, might superficially
appear to be contradictory. In John 14:6 Jesus said, "No
man cometh unto the Father, but by me." But the tenor of
Scripture in many other places is that man, even in his ignorance
and unredeemed state, makes contact with God. Cornelius did so
before becoming a Christian (Acts 10:4). This led Peter to conclude,
as he says in Acts 10:35, that "in every nation he that
feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
In view of many other passages of Scripture which clearly limit
"acceptance" in the New Testament sense to those who
have experienced salvation by full faith in the full, perfect,
and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone, this passage
has at times caused consternation. It should be remembered, however,
that it is a statement made before the New Testament was written,
and it must, therefore, be understood in its Old Testament setting.
Acceptance with God was enjoyed by many who did not belong in
the household of faith (Israel) in the sense that, like Nebuchadnezzar,
they accepted the fact of God's omnipotence and direct righteous
concern in human affairs and, having acknowledged this, were
"accepted." Thus Nebuchadnezzar was restored to health
and the city of Nineveh was spared destruction because of its
repentance. This, then, gives some indication of the potential
for pseudo-man before God. And the writer of Hebrews pointed
out (Hebrews 11:6) that the only requirement here is that a man
must believe that God is the rewarder of them that diligently
What distinguishes the Christian
from the otherwise devout is that the former has a perfect assurance
that God is his Father, whereas the latter has only the awareness
that God is his Judge. No man steps from the one position to
the other except by being born again through faith in the finished
work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this saving faith, he
may still turn to God as Creator and Judge and find that God
is indeed reachable and merciful. But he cannot turn to God as
Father. No man, no matter how devout he is, can go to God as
Father except through the Person of Jesus Christ.
Yet Scripture indicates that God
is gracious towards the just and
the unjust, indeed that
He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but should
have everlasting life (John 3:16). The very wording of this wonderful
passage indicates that the love of God preceded and is not therefore
dependent upon the response of man. If we love God, it is because
He first loved us (I John 4:19). God's attitude is underscored
in the words, "My delights are with the sons of men"
(Proverbs 8:31) -- not merely with the sons of God, be it observed.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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man is put in a very strange position. While he may have no thought
of God in his heart, it is not at all true that God has no thought
of him. Alienated man is alien, not because God has turned away
from him, but because he himself has turned away from God. Unredeemed
man may still turn to God in prayer and have his prayers answered,
as I found for some years before I became a Christian. But without
the restored image there is no assurance, no assurance of salvation,
no assurance of anything. Alien to God, alien to Nature, alien
even to true manhood as God intended it to be -- such is the
condition of man without the image.