Humankind is a unique creation of God, created in His image to reflect His likeness.

Palmdale Church: Humans

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.

In the opening pages of the Bible, God appoints humans to rule the world on his behalf. But when they rebel, the biblical story leads us on a search for a new humanity that will be God’s faithful partners, forever. This is the plot conflict of the biblical story that leads to Jesus, and we explore it in this final video of our Spiritual Being series.

The New Humanity, The Bible Project

The doctrine of humanity encompasses the origins, nature, corruption, and restoration of human beings as image-bearers of God.

The doctrine of humanity is one in which we would expect ourselves to be naturally interested, because we are humans. But there’s more to the importance of the category of the theology of humanity than just that we happen to be interested in it. It’s actually objectively an important part of God’s ways with the world: of all the things God is doing with all creation, he has a special eye on the part of creation that is created in his image—that is, humanity.

When we talk about this doctrine and try to do justice to its full range, we have a unique tension to bear in mind. On the one hand, humanity is so great that it alone is picked out and identified as being in the image of God. On the other hand, uniquely among creatures, we are radically fallen. We are redeemable but truly fallen—and it is important to get the tension between these two right. Yes, we’re that good, but we’re also that bad. When God made Adam and Eve, he made good creatures originally righteous and in his image. So, human nature itself is basically good. But then we radically fell, and every person alive is downstream from Adam and therefore is basically bad in terms of the position we’re in right now. Are humans basically good or basically bad? We really can’t answer such an apparently simple question without referring to the full scope of the Christian doctrine of humanity. As Psalm 8:4 says, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” That question captures the tension between our greatness and our wretchedness: God is especially mindful of us, in spite of what we are.

We humans are also made of body and soul; there’s a physical part of us and a nonphysical part of us. Without both of these realities in place, we don’t understand what it is to be embodied souls or ensouled bodies. We don’t grasp the human unity that we are.

What is it that makes up a human? We can subdivide the answer into its capacities or faculties: reason, emotion, and will. There is a richness and diversity in what it is to be human: humans can be male or female; humans can hail from different nations and cultures.

All of the doctrine of humanity must be set within the tension of our createdness and our fallenness, our physicality and spirituality—and the possibility that, because Christ took on our flesh and body and spirit, we can be saved.

Fred Sanders, “The Doctrine of Humanity,” in Lexham Survey of Theology, ed. Mark Ward et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).