Anthropology and the Religions of Man
1. Anthropology is the
study of man, but the study of man begins with the study of God
“Anthro-” is man, and “-ology” is the study of. Therefore,
anthropology is the study of man.
The first thing to note
is that this study potentially encompasses everything that man
does. Indeed, I have found areas under “anthropology” to include
sociology, economics, social science, psychology, political
science, education, history, geography, medicine, sociology, and
Latin American studies (and by implication, the study of any or
the races or cultures of man). This inclusion, then, is
virtually a pursuit of an entire worldview. As such, it is
unavoidable that cosmology is at its foundation. Indeed,
anthropology is the study of the conflicts of the only two
cosmologies that exist: Biblical Christianity and humanism
by that name and all the religions that mankind has been able to
construct (with Satan’s help) over the centuries.
As cosmology, some of
the first principles of Biblical Christianity can be named. (1)
“In the beginning God created the heavens the earth.” God
existed prior to man. If He existed before the universe was,
then all power is derived from Him. (2) God created man.
Therefore, the Creator is superior to man in knowledge and
power. A creator is always superior to what he creates.
These simple first
principles of cosmology require the most profound decision that
any man or group of men can make: who and what is God. Then, as
Creator, what does He require of them? Thus, the God of the
Bible stands against every other cosmology that man can ever
devise or imagine. One need go no further than the first
chapter of Genesis for these conclusions.
A Christian may
challenge, “Jesus Christ is The Issue for mankind, not the
creation of man.” My brothers and sisters, this challenge is
truncated. The issue of Jesus Christ has no meaning apart
from Genesis 1. I will grant that often the burden and
conflicts of one’s sin brings a person to salvation in Jesus
Christ. However, all coherent philosophies (all religions,
including Christianity are philosophies) must have a basis in a
cosmology, because all systems must have an origin. Perhaps,
nowhere is this conflict seen more clearly than in the debate
about Christian missionaries. (See below.)
The Christian should
note that even apart from the issue of sin (Genesis 3), Genesis
1:1 places God against all other belief systems.
From that origin, then, the specifics of creation, the Fall,
Jesus Christ, and all other Biblical truth follow.
The religions of the
world are too complex to define here, much less to discuss.
However, as I have stated, there are at the most basic root,
only two religions.
The more that one knows
the particulars of Biblical Christianity, especially those
worked out in the historic creeds (e.g., Apostles,’ Nicene,
Athanasian, etc.)—as these were worked out against the
prevailing heresies of the time—the better one is able to see
the errors and heresies in all other religions.
The case can be made
that anthropology and its accompanying social sciences are
actually products of the influence of evolution, as they are
attempts to “know” and solve the problems of mankind from a
As long as Christianity dominated the West, the problems of
mankind were defined and discussed relative to the Biblical
understanding of Creation, The Fall, salvation in Jesus Christ,
etc. However, Evolution gave the Enlightenment the “scientific”
basis upon which to construct a worldview without God. These
social sciences are in the main products of that change in
philosophy. As we will see, there are Biblical principles for a
construct of social sciences.
2. The first and
continual challenge is always about God’s veracity, and many, if
not the majority of Christians today, had rather listen to the
Angel of Light than study and deduce answers from God‘s Word!
The Serpent said to Eve, “Did God actually say…” (ESV). The
greatest issue that men and women face has not changed since
that question. The question is simply, “What has God said?”
vs. “What has anyone else (including fallen angels) said?”
I know that I am
perhaps being too persistent here. However, Christians often
make many issues too complex. Choose any question about truth or
ethics, and there is ever and always only one question, “What
has God said, and what has anyone else said.” If II Timothy
3:16-17, II Peter 1:3, and the unity of Scripture are true, then
that man can pose has its first principles in God’s Revelation.
In too many instances,
the cry of the Reformation, sola Scriptura, has not even
been applied, “Sola Scriptura for what?” In the most
conservative of Christian circles, Biblical answers are ignored,
even aggressively attacked. While the theonomists and
reconstructionists may not have every answer right and do
not even agree among themselves, theonomists are at least
trying to address every problem from a Biblical perspective.
Too many, if not most, “evangelicals” give answers that are as
damaging to the Kingdom of God, the Church, and mankind in
general, as any influence of Satan and his minions since the
serpent first spoke to Eve! (For sound evaluations of theonomy
and reconstructionism, see
Biblical Worldview Areas
under Reconstruction and Theonomy: Reviews.)
I am fully aware of the
strong indictment that I have made here. I will give two
gigantic examples: poverty and medical care. Since Lyndon
Johnson, the U.S. government has conducted a War on Poverty that
has spent the largest sum of money for any cause in the history
of the world, perhaps $50 trillion or more. What has resulted
from this expenditure—a worsening of the problem! That is
always the result of answers founded in humanism (non-Biblical
Christianity)—huge costs with no chance of success or the
problem made worse. Relative to medicine in the United
States, $2 trillion is spent yearly (as of 2007) for a net
negative effect* on the health of the American people. And, that
negative effect excludes abortion which modern medicine
vigorously defends as “sound medical practice!” For more
explanation of this paradox, see:
Average Life Expectancy,
and Health of Nations (book) by Leonard Sagan.
Now, for our particular
concern here, where are the evangelical voices analyzing and
decrying this enormous expenditure that degrades men and women,
as creatures made in the image of God? Sure, there are a few
who address the subjects, but largely this issue is ignored by
Christians selfishly focused on their “personal peace and
affluence” that Francis Schaeffer addressed and decried 40 years
ago. Where are the powerful denunciations of this cruelty from
the pulpits of our land? Where are any such cries of cruelty,
even in “still small voices,” consistently and widely? As an
the pulpits of American
rang more loudly than the Freedom Bell against the injustice of
our English oppressors for issues that pale in comparison to
Yet, among the
theonomists and reconstructionists, this issue and many
others are always front and center of their discussions. They
indeed need to be heard and analyzed more closely.
3. The issue of
“OK, Ed, you have been severe on Christians about social issues,
what about evangelism and missions. Is not the salvation of
souls more important than problems of economics?” I am glad that
you asked that question.
God has never divorced
the issue of evangelism from all His other commands.
I have argued elsewhere on this website that The Creation
Mandate, The Great Commission (The Gospel), The Kingdom of God,
and the mission of The Church are one and the same. (See
The Kingdom of God.)
Within the Great Commission itself, God says, “teach them to
observe all things that I have commanded you.” So, I simply make
the claim that “all things” includes not only the message of
forgiveness in Jesus Christ, but the entirety of Scripture which
includes commandments about social justice, as well. That is,
The Gospel is the entirety of a Biblical worldview.
Anthropology is both simple and complex.
Anthropology is simple in that there are only two competing
ideologies on planet earth: Biblical Christianity and all
others. The complexity comes from the integration of the Bible
alone as a coherent system of truth and ethics (righteousness)
and its practical application to all worldview areas. The
primary problem of Biblical anthropology today is not its
complexity, but its being ignored by those who claim sola
Scriptura. These theologians are quite familiar to
complexity in theology and are quite well equipped to handle it.
The problem here is that they truncate the fullness of The Great
application to evangelism and missions.
Missionaries have found that some cultures do not have the
problem with guilt and awareness of sin that we experience in
the West. (That is not to say that every culture does not have
its “taboos.“ See Henry…, “Anthropology,” in References.)
But, all men should be concerned with their origins, ethics, and
future (especially after their own deaths). Perhaps, there could
be a richness in evangelism as much in the translation of
Genesis and later the Gospels that supercedes the current focus
on the Gospels alone.
4. The most dominant
belief system (religion) in the West is that of scientism.
Scientism is the philosophy that only through the natural
sciences may truth or knowledge be obtained. Therefore, all the
solutions to mankind’s problems are to be found in the
“sciences.” (For a Biblical use of the word “science,” see
What Is Science?
It is no accident that
all the “-ologies” listed under Number 1 above have been
called “social sciences.” Until the Renaissance and its
cosmology in Darwinism, answers to the problems of mankind were
sought in religion. Now, make no mistake, scientism is a
religion. But, scientism is rarely discussed as a religion.
While humanists rail at the supposed “evils of Christianity,”
the evils of scientism and its effects stagger the imagination.
I have already
presented the evil of the War on Poverty and the deception that
masquerades as modern medicine. Others evils of scientism are
widespread and legal abortion, Medicare and Medicaid,
state-sponsored and dictated education, imprisonment as
rehabilitation and payment of debt to society, euthanasia in the
Netherlands, HIV/AIDS and an epidemic of sexually transmitted,
etc., etc. In fact, modern science, masquerading as a
non-religion, is one of the leading causes of suffering and
death in the history of mankind. This result has been far more
devastating than the witch-doctors of Third World countries at
whom these modernists laugh.
And, amazingly this
monolithic religion of science has no clothes.
That is, science can say
nothing about morality, nor even determine its own experiments
and application. See the Worldview Area of
Science and Technology
The modern church is
thoroughly indoctrinated with scientism.
Secular psychology dominates the most conservative Bible
colleges and seminaries throughout the world.
Various forms of
evolution, “old earth” theories, and distortions of Genesis 1-11
are prevalent in these institutions and churches, as well. The
god of medicine (the health and attempted preservation of the
body) is worshipped and receives more than a tithe of American
income (16 percent). And, so on.
If my conclusion is
correct, then the modern “evangelical” church continually
violates the First Commandment, “not to have any other gods
before God Himself.”
A god is a god whether it is a wooden idol before which one bows
down or an “enlightened” ideology of modern science. As I have
said often, no wonder the American church is unable to affect
its culture. It blends (syncretizes) Christ with the idol of
If the modern Church is
thoroughly infiltrated with scientism, what hope is there for
non-Christians to discover the best (Biblical) solutions for
judgment begin at the household of God.”
5. The physical world
(matter) is not inherently evil.
This heresy is best countered by the Nicene, Athanasian, and
Chalcedon creeds, and later the Westminster Confession of Faith,
in Christ’s taking upon Himself in His Incarnation, a fully
human body. As completely sinless and holy, He could not have
been incarnate in something that was inherently evil.
Man is composed of both
a material body and an immaterial soul.*
Again, the body is not inherently evil, but through the sin
nature apart from
regeneration, the most
central being of man, is heart, is only oriented towards
selfishness and evil (its depth and breadth of application
limited only by God’s common grace).
Man was created in the
image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) which is man’s ability to think
and reason. See
my thoughts on
The Image of God.
(*I have not the length
here to discuss the immaterial components of man. However,
simply, my position is that the spirit, soul , heart, and mind
are all part of the immaterial component. This is the bipartite
6. Everything material
in the universe, along with the fallen angels, is radically
different from the original creation. Only God and the righteous
angels are unchanged in history.
The “normal” state of
existence for the universe and for mankind was the period of
time before The Fall of Adam and Eve. But, their Fall, along
with the Flood, greatly affected the material universe, as well
as men and women. See
Summary Principles of Creation, etc..
The radical change is
most demonstrable in men and women.
All are “dead in
trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1). “All come short of the
glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “All our righteousness is as filthy
rags” (Isaiah 64:6). “There is none righteous, no not one”
The answer to this
“fallen nature” is regeneration of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3)
and belief in Jesus Christ as “the only name under heaven by
which men must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Since these worldview
areas are addressed to Christians, I present only the basics of
what is wrong with the human race and what the Answer to this
problem (The Fall and man’s sinful nature). But, the radical
nature of these distinctives in understanding the human race and
its pretended answers in its various philosophies and religions
must not be underestimated.
7. Man’s value and his
treatment by other men is solely determined by the cosmology of
those who have authoritative power.
If man is an animal and “dogs (or any animal) are people too,”
then why should man not be treated with the same ethics as
animals? Why should man not be euthanized when his usefulness
and chronic diseases of aging become costly? Why should unborn
babies not be aborted? Why should people not be managed as herds
of cattle? Why should any individual have rights over those of
the group? Why should populations not be controlled in any way
that “works,” regardless of what it does to choices within
society, it may be that the religion of evolution in its ethics
and application has gained more consistency than that of
The remnants of a fading Biblical ethic, a weakening
Constitutional basis of law, and a few voices of Biblically
knowledgeable Christians is all that separates us from the
horrors of Nazi Germany, Stalin’s communist Russia, and the
other totalitarian regimes of history.
8. On a Biblical basis
and “according to the good pleasure of His will, the most basic
division of mankind consists of the regenerate and the
The Scripture uses various names for these groups: sheep and
goats, wheat and tares, those of light and darkness, those of
the Spirit and the world, etc. This distinction is so simple as
not to require further comment.
Yet, its application is
virtually ignored by the regenerate in their applied ethics and
No man or woman can be
“fully human” (to the extent that such is possible in his or her
earthly existence) until they are regenerated and practicing
consistent obedience to God’s commandments.
Perhaps, this error is most pronounced by Christians who are
psychologists and psychiatrists. Rarely, do they concern
themselves with the “heart status” of their “clients.” Yet, the
difference in the regenerate and the unregenerate should be the
most profound difference to be found among men and women. (I say
“should be,” because most Christians have not been educated
fully to develop their regenerate status.) See
Summary Principles of Psychology, etc..
9. “So God created man
in His own image; in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).
No more really needs to be said. The modern notion that boys and
girls, men and women are essentially the same except for their
sexual organs (and some choose to change those!) is foolish and
absurd. The Scriptures are replete with the roles of men and
women for which they are naturally designed, even though they
may struggle with these roles because of the Fall.
10. The concept of
predestination is logically inescapable.
While both Christians and non-Christians rail against the idea
of God’s total predestination of the lives of all men, including
the elect and the non-elect, some concept of predestination is
inescapable. Whether one chooses the dominant influence of
nature (one’s genetic and spiritual composition) or nurture
(parents, education, etc.) or a combination of the two, no
person is ever given a choice of these total influences.
All decisions that are
made at any point in the course of one’s life, are predicated on
nature and nurture over which the individual had no “choice,” OR
are predicated on God’s predestination of all things. There are
no other choices except supernatural intervention by other gods.
Perhaps because of
hubris, notable philosophers and many laymen (in contrast to
these learned philosophers) have tried to defend the notion that
any concept of fairness (whether Christian or otherwise)
requires man to have free will. But, as we have just
presented, such a position is indefensible logically.
The beautiful nature of
Biblical Christianity is that it is always consistent with the
structure that God has given to man’s mind.
Predestination is inescapable. Only in Christianity is man
given a Personal kind of predestination. All other forms of
predestination are impersonal, fatalistic, and blindly cruel.
One wonders at the impact of evangelism, if Christians were to
witness on this basis, instead of the simplistic devices now
11. Atheistic models of
anthropology have proven false.
(A) The Noble Savage in a pristine, sin-free paradise has been
found by voyagers to the New World (and archeologists since) to
practice human sacrifice in the most horrible ways with tens of
thousands of victims. (B) The idea of man progressing from a
simple language of grunts and single syllable words is false.
The most backward tribes on the earth have been found to highly
complex languages, more complex than those of modern man in some
areas. (3) The architectural construction of the pyramids,
statues of Easter Island, the stones of Stonehenge, and other
“wonders” of the world give a profound genius to “primitive”
If one works from the
Genesis model, mankind is actually degressing, not regressing in
While much of this model is still being worked out in
archeological finds (many are already impressive), there are
even evidences within recent centuries. Without computers and
with quill pens, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and others did
scholarly work in both depth, breadth, and volume that virtually
no modern scholars can match. Their education by their late
teens exceeded the graduate level of many students today.
The Biblical model fits
12. Soteriology or
doctrines concerning salvation.
It is not my purpose here or on this website to present
systematic theology except as it relates to principles of
worldview and to areas that I believe have been neglected by
conservative theologians either in doctrine or application.
Thus, I leave the doctrines of salvation to the theologians of
(Genesis 1-2), The Fall (Genesis 3), our Biblical ancestors and
history (Genesis 4-5), Noah and the Flood (Genesis 6-9), and the
immediate post-Flood history and Tower of Babel (Genesis 10-11)
are first principles of a truly Biblical anthropology.
Throughout this website, these are both discussed in their
application to particular areas of worldview and assumed where
they are not explicitly discussed.
Those readers who have
spent much time on this site know that I come from the Reformed
and Presbyterian persuasion where the Gospel is best summarized
in the Westminster Confession with its Larger and Shorter
Catechisms. Logically, these documents are the most consistent
and coherent with a Biblical worldview. I truly believe that the
application of sound principles of
hermeneutics within the
parameters of formal logic would bring all the regenerate into a
13. The chief end of
primary reason that man was created was and is “to love the Lord
our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love
our neighbors as ourselves.” Or, in the words of the answer to
the first question of the Shorter Catechism, “The chief end of
man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
Anthropology and Religion References
Adams, Jay E. “The
Doctrine of Man,“ A Theology of Christian Counseling: More
than Redemption. Zondervan, pages 94-138. Discussion on the
Anderson, J. N. D.
Christianity and Comparative Religion. InterVarsity Press,
Clark, Gordon H.
Predestination. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
“Anthropology” in Systematic Theology, Volume 2, Part II.
Eerdmans, Reprint 1986.
Priest, Robert J.
“Cultural Anthropology, Sin, and the Missionary.” In God and
Culture: Essays in Honor of Carl F. H. Henry, Eerdmans,
On the image of God by
the author of this www.biblicalworldview21.org website
Coalition on Revival
Sphere Document on Social Action
John Piper’s short
defense of “This is the best of all possible worlds”
CDs Online for Purchase
Collection of History Tapes are a number of lectures on