By Russell D. Moore

“According to the Bible, one of the most powerful apologetic arguments for the Christian faith is humanity itself.  The Scriptures tell us that the wonder of the human body points to the creativity and genius of the Creator God in a way that should evoke both fear and awe.  The human exercise of dominion over the created order reflects God’s kingship over the universe, a kingship that is fully realized in the mediation of Christ Jesus.  Man is created male and female in the image of God for a one-flesh union resulting in offspring, a union that foreshadows the reality of the Christ/church relationship.

The Bible tells us that the human conscience testifies to the content and the rightness of the law of the Creator.  Although human beings sought to define good and evil apart from the authoritative Word of God, God nonetheless planted within all children of Adam a witness to His standards of good and evil.  The fact that fallen humans acknowledge any standards of morality indicates that there is a transcendent code of law, somewhere above merely constructing societal rules and boundaries.  Moreover, as the Apostle Paul pointed out, this conscience points beyond itself to a day of reckoning.  When humans make moral choices—or make immoral choices using moral arguments—they are actually acknowledging that they know of a day in which God will judge all the secrets of the heart.

Regardless of how often fallen humans seek to classify themselves as merely biological, they know on the basis of their common rationality, morality, and search for meaning that this is not the case.  No matter how many times Darwinians, for example, speak of humans as one more kind of animal, and no matter how many times some psychologists explain our behavior on the basis of evolutionary mechanisms, human beings know it just isn’t so.  We know there is something distinctive about us—which is why the Bible calls on us to appeal to the minds and consciences of unbelievers, even though the minds are blinded and the consciences are often calloused.

Therefore, the biblical witness about human beings stands in stark contrast with other belief systems.  Unlike some Eastern religions, the Bible does not present the life of a human being as a cycle of incarnations, nor does it affirm, as Mormonism does, the preexistence of disembodied human spirits.  Unlike many nature religions and various forms of pagan worship, the Bible does not present humanity as part of the larger “life force” of nature.  Unlike Islam, the Bible affirms the freedom and responsibility of human beings as moral creatures before a God whose image they reflect.  Unlike many psychological theories, the Bible does not reduce human motivations or actions to the interactions of unconscious desires, habitual patterns, or the firing of neurons.  Unlike Marxism and libertarian capitalism, the Bible presents the longing of the human heart as far more than material.  Unlike Gnosticism or feminism, God’s good creative purposes are seen in the goodness and permanence of sexual differentiation, in the equal worth of the sexes as image bearers, and in the protective, sacrificial headship of men as fathers of families and leaders of tribes.  In contrast to rival belief systems, the Bible presents human beings as distinct from a nature they are called to govern, free to act according to their natures, responsible for actions before the tribunal of Christ, and created for conformity to the image of Jesus as joint heirs of a glorious new creation.  The doctrine of the image of God grants value to every human life, regardless of its vulnerability or stage of development, and it stands in eternal hostility to any form of racial bigotry or nation-state idolatry.

The Bible’s truthfulness about human depravity contrasts strongly with belief systems that are more optimistic about human nature, such as Mormonism, Scientology, or secularism.  Human sin is an apologetic issue since a Christian framework explains how educated, rational, loving persons can bring forth cruelty, violence, and hatred.  The biblical teaching on sin also answers what may be the most persistent charge against the truthfulness of Christianity: Christian hypocrisy.

Likewise, the prevalence of world religions and ideologies, which is often used as an objection to Christianity, actually serves as an apologetic argument for Christian claims.  The Bible tells us that the universal instinct to worship and to interpret reality is grounded in the revelation of God and that the universal suppression of this truth leads to divers idolatries. We should not be surprised, then, that literally every human civilization in history has had some practice of worship, but also that cults, world religions, and even secular ideologies often ape some aspects of Christian truth.  Nor should we be surprised, as the ancient book of Ecclesiastes illustrates, when the human quest for sensual gratification, material abundance, or the wielding of power apart from the Creator’s purposes leads to despair.”

 

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