Vol.XI No.II Pg.4
April 1974

What Is Man?

Robert F. Turner

Who Am I? What Is Man? However one states it, the question of self-identification is the first abstract question of life. It begins with the infants discovery of his hands, his feet, etc.; Then it may be forgotten for awhile as the child searched for his place socially; but the late teenager probes anew for the answer. The problem becomes so acute for the thinking adult that some, lacking faith in a divine answer and finding no satisfactory human answer, are driven to drugs and an overwhelming despair. This quest is a crucial one.

A Readers Digest article (Joes Brain; Apr. 74) has the brain say, I am Joe — his personality, his reactions, his mental capacity. But all people have dendrites, axons and brain cells. My brain provides the mechanics for my personality, etc., but ! am something distinct — I am something more than the fleshly cells by which I function. And so is Joe!!

Gen. 2:7 says God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Now soul may refer only to a living creature (see Gen. 1:30), but man is more than a bag of wind. His spirit retains identity, conscious existence, and the characteristics of id after it is separated from the body by death. The difference in man and animal life generally is given in the creation record. God created man in his own image— (Gen. 1:27). This is said of no other life, and it forms the real basis for identifying man.

Consider 2 Cor. 12:1-f. where Paul describes a conscious experience and recognizes moral responsibility (it is not lawful for a man to utter) at a time when he did not know if he was in the body or out of the body. He, the real Paul, was something more than his body, and certainly more than the breath of life. Again, he recognized the need, following the loss of his earthly body, to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven lest he be naked (2 Cor. 5:2-3). Lest who be naked?? Paul, the real Paul! Like Bible examples abound. After death the rich man (Lu. 16:19-f) was conscious, in torment, concerned, and capable of reasoning. The real Dives (so called) lived on.

Made in the image of God man is a rational, self-conscious, self-determining creature. (I.S.B.E.) He is the crowning glory of creation, intended by his Creator for fellowship with Himself. He is but little lower than one who has a divine nature, and is crowned with glory and honor, and given dominion, over the remainder of Gods creation. (Psm. 8: Heb. 2:5-f.)

In my home state of Kentucky we use the word proud when we mean to have self-respect; and in that sense I believe we should teach man to lift himself — to expect great things of himself — to recognize the potential of one made in Gods image. We were intended to accomplish great things and we should be ashamed of the degrading depths to which we have fallen. Only human should not be our excuse for sin; it should and must be our incentive to be more like what our Maker intended us to be, and made possible for us to be — in Christ.