In my first post on this Prologue to Apologetics series, I spoke about of the “big picture” of redemption. Now, admittedly, I left a number of things out. There’s only so much one can say in one sitting. Here I’ll expand on what I covered there: a biblical understanding of humans. First, it is of utmost important to note that humankind was created in the image of God. What does the image mean? Well, for one thing, it means we’re finite reflections of God. Of course, one could always ask, what does that mean? The biblical account highlights (among other things) two important notions that define the image of God. First, like God, we are to rule over creation, under God’s authority, and secondly, we are to fill the earth with more images of the creator. In theological terms, this is called Dominion and Dynasty. Much like the earthly rulers at the time of Moses who erected statues, or images, of themselves to represent their rule in their respective domains, God also placed images of Himself on the earth, to represent His rule.
The Tragedy of the Fall
Those who were to represent the divine King of the universe, the ones that were to fill the earth with godly offspring, were the very ones that cast off this honor and responsibility. The entire design of God’s creation is flipped on its head. The authority structure of God –> Adam –> Eve –> animal world is reversed. The serpent deceives Eve, Adam follows his wife, and then blames God! The entrance of sin into God’s good world is likewise described as the reversal of His design in Rom. 1:18-32. Scripture pulls no punches in describing the radical corruption of sin in the hearts of fallen humanity: mankind is evil from its youth (Gen. 8:21), has a heart that is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9), and loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19). We also find that their minds and consciences are corrupted (Titus 1:15), that they are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), of their father the devil (1 John 3:10), and sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:1).
Now we see the clarity of Jesus’ words in John 3, “That which is born of flesh is flesh” (v. 6). The natural, unregenerate, rebel sinner absolutely cannot, nor wills to become a regenerate, spiritual, servant of a holy God. We aggressively try to escape our design. Without a doubt, not one likes to hear this. But, we shouldn’t obscure what God has made clear. The instrumental reason that any person has ever had saving faith in, and love for, Christ is because of the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God’s people. To state it in biblical terms, God’s removes the unrepentant sinner’s heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26).
Why mention this in a prologue to apologetics? I’m convinced that unless the Christian has a biblically defined understanding of the unbeliever that he will ultimately develop an apologetic method that is not pleasing to our Lord. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, you won’t know how to address them. Read more…