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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V



     

 Part V: Is Man An Anmal?

Chapter 7

The True Nature of Man in Jesus Christ

     IN THE light of the evidence few will dispute the fact that man is anatomically, physiologically, and for want of a better term psychologically, unique; that some strange event somewhere back in the dim and distant past led to the sudden appearance of a creature whose whole being was a new departure from the then course of events in the living world of animals. Evolutionists themselves admit it. It has been referred to as the "critical point" concept. (246) A. L. Kroeber postulated that "the development of the capacity for acquiring culture was a sudden, all-or-none, quantum leap type of occurrence in the phylogeny of the primates." (247) Susanne Langer put it even more dramatically when speaking of the acquisition of language, the lifeblood of culture: (248)

     Language is, without a doubt, the most momentous and at the same time the most mysterious product of the human mind. Between the clearest animal call of love or warning or anger, and a man's least trivial word, there lies a whole day of creation [my emphasis].

     Fothergill writing in Nature and reviewing two books on evolution, underscored his doubts about the validity of current conceptions regarding the origin of man by quoting the words of Humphrey Johnson who said, "There is a wider difference between a man and a gorilla than there is between a gorilla and a daisy." (249) In some vaguely definable way, we know that the gorilla and the daisy really do belong somehow within the same world frame. Man seems entirely alien. In his book God's Image in Man, James Orr quoted a contemporary writer, Fiske, as having said, "While for zoological man, you can hardly erect a distinct family for man from that of

246. Geertz, Clifford, "The Transition to Humanity" in Human Evolution, edited by N. Korn and F. Thompson, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1967, p.114.
247. Kroeber, A. L.: quoted by Clifford Geertz, ibid., p.115.
248. Langer, Susanne, Philosophy in a New Key, Mentor Books, New York, 1942, p. 83.
249. Humphrey Johnson: quoted by P. G. Fothergill, reviewing Evolution After Darwin, edited by Sol Tax and Charles Callendar, in Nature, February 4, 1961, p.341.

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the chimpanzee and the orang; on the other hand, for psychological man, you must erect a distinct kingdom, nay, you must dichotomize the universe, putting man on one side and all things else on the other." (250) It is quite true.
     But it is apparent from history that when the coming of man introduced a sudden leap into a new order of life, it was not without a penalty. Indeed, it has manifestly been as harmful to the whole order of Nature as it has been beneficial, as though something went seriously wrong almost at the very beginning. So totally disrupting has man's presence been that there are those who are prepared to speak of modern man as being "obsolete a self-made anachronism becoming more incongruous by the minute."
(251) Arthur Koestler reflected the view of many thoughtful people when he said, "Something has gone seriously wrong with the evolution of the nervous system of Homo sapiens. . . . The delusional streak which runs through our history may have been an endemic form of paranoia built into the wiring circuitry of the human brain." (252)
     The assumption is always made by such writers that what has gone wrong is a "mechanical" fault. This may be true actually, though we tend to think of it as more spiritual than physico-electro-chemical. But in point of fact, the fruit that was forbidden to Adam but which he ingested may indeed have contained a poisonous substance of some kind that did cause "mechanical failure," a defect since then inherited by all who are his descendants.
(253) This is not, of course, to deny the fact that the very act of disobedience per se destroyed his communion with God and had equally fatal effects upon his spirit as the fruit did upon his body. The first was immediate, bringing what Scripture calls "spiritual death"; the second was more delayed in its effect, initiating a process which terminated in his physical death. At any rate, between the two, which appear to act synergistically, psychosomatically, and somato-psychically, the spirit on the flesh and the flesh on the spirit, the end result is best described by the simple word suicidal, to use James Gall's fitting description: (254)

     What is wrong with man is some disease that has nothing good about it. No animal does by nature things which injure its instincts, spoil its enjoyment

250. Fiske: quoted by James Orr, God's Image in Man, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1948, p.60.
251. Melvin, Bruce L., "Science and Man's Dilemma," Science, vol.103, 1946, p.243.
252. Koestler, Arthur, The Ghost in the Machine, Hutchinson, London, 1967, p.239.
253. Custance, Arthur, "The Nature of the Forbidden Fruit," Part II, in The Virgin Birth an the Incarnation, vol.5 in The Doorway Papers Series.
254. Gall, James, Primeval Man Unveiled, Hamilton, Adams, London, 1871, p.91.

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of life, or shortens its days to no purpose either to itself or its species. The behaviour of predators, which sometimes look savage and cruel in the extreme, and thus reminds us of human savagery and cruelty, really has none of the characteristics of human savagery. The animal is without hate, or revenge, or desire to hurt merely for the pleasure of hurting.

     It is possible that no predator ever does actually hurt its prey (255) and it certainly does no injury to its own nature unless its nature has been disturbed by human interferences. When man acts according to his nature, he all too frequently acts self-destructively. The fact is that natural human behaviour is diseased behaviour. To pretend otherwise, as humanists do, is folly. Man is a fallen creature. He is diseased, and the disease is sin: the symptoms of the disease are everywhere evident in human wickedness. It makes man essentially murderous in his intent. It is recognition of this fact even within himself that has driven human society to hedge itself about with the restraints which, when well structured, we call Civilization. Murder and civilization emerged together (Genesis 4 ff.); it is not something observable anywhere else in Nature. As Arthur Koestler put it, the unique characteristic of our species is that we practice intraspecific homicide both individually and in groups. (256) Animals do not murder or torture one another, nor do they make war as man makes war on his own species. And the assumption, therefore, that man "though occasionally blinded by emotion, is basically a rational animal" (257) is an assumption that is "untenable in the light of both historical and neurological evidence." Whatever he is, man is not an animal. . . .
     What has happened then? Is this the way man was made? And if not, how was he made at first? What was he like before the disease of sin entered? Is man as we see him in ourselves man at all? What is true manhood? Why did God create such a creature knowing what the consequences would be, even if the fault for the present situation is ours? Only when we know what man was created for, can we really know what man is.
     A colleague of mine, a French-Canadian organic chemist, walked into my laboratories one day and said, "We've had this thing around the house ever since I was a kid. Any idea what it is?" We both studied it carefully. It was made of wood, obviously shaped by hand, asymmetrical along its axis, and about six inches long. It weighed only a few ounces, and it had been nicely finished with a

255. Custance, Arthur C., "The Problem of Evil," Part IV in The Flood: Local or Global?, vol.9 in The Doorway Papers Series.
256. Koestler, Arthur, The Ghost in the Machine, Hutchinson, London, 1967, p.305.
257. Ibid., p.324. 
 

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good lacquer. I've always felt I was quite sharp at guessing this kind of thing. But I couldn't identify it at all. Apparently nobody else had been able to either not even at the National Museum! Yet it was not simply a piece of wood that someone had doodled into shape, as a fancy of the moment might have suggested. Without a doubt it had been made for some purpose. There were even unmistakable wear marks on it in one place that indicated it had actually been used for something. But what had it been used for?
     Now there's the point. We could not say what it was, because we could not imagine what it was for. Knowing what it was made of, its shape, weight, colour, size, or any of its other physical or chemical characteristics, still did not tell us what it was, because we did not know what it was for. As far as I know, my friend never did find out. One day, someone will say, "Oh, I know what that was for. . ." And the problem of identity will be solved.
     Nor can we say what man is even knowing all these things about him, his physical characteristics, his chemical constitution, and even his psychological make-up unless we know what he is for. But we shall know what man is only when we know what God's object was in creating him. We can see in some measure how each animal fits into the web of life and "makes its due, but only due, contribution to the scheme of Nature."
(258) Man, by contrast, seems alien to this whole scheme. As Laura Thompson said, "He is the only one who could contribute to the regulation of the whole process of Nature by reason of his position at the apex." (259) Indeed, it has been Julian Huxley's basic philosophy that such was the goal of evolution, to produce a creature who could thereafter consciously direct its course in the future. (260) If this was the purpose of the emergence of man, he has certainly dismally failed in his responsibilities. But was this what man was made for? Once again we are back at the question, What for is Man?
     Perhaps we can provide some kind of answer by the use of an analogy. If a man builds a house for his animals, he suits its construction to their nature and disposition, besides being guided by what he hopes to do with them. If he happened to be raising snakes in order to extract their venom for research purposes, it would be a house from which they could not escape but in which they would yet thrive. For

258. Dice, Lee, Natural Communities: reviewed by Ronald Good, in Nature, July 11,1953, p.146.
259. Thompson, Laura, "Basic Conservation Problems," Scientific Monthly, February, 1949, p.130.
260. Huxley, Sir Julian, "New Bottles for New Wine: Ideology and Scientific Knowledge," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol.80, nos.I and 2, 1950, p.20.

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his cattle, he could build a house that is large enough to accommodate their greater bulk, with facilities for keeping them fed, warm, and clean, but they must be able to go in and out. Yet he would not need to take the same precautions against their escape as he would have to do with dangerous creatures like poisonous snakes or destructive animals like pigs, or vagrant ones like horses. For his dog, he would construct a house that in some small measure shared his own home comfort and style, for this is what his dog is likely to do. Thus the nearer he gets to a house for a creature sharing his own likes and dislikes, the more like his own house it will be. For his hired man, he will probably build a house that he himself and his family would be willing to occupy, if he is a man of feeling and concern.
     Ultimately, we come to his own house. How does he build it? He builds it not to suit his livestock, or his pets, or even his hired man. He builds it for himself. It takes on and reflects his own person in many subtle ways. It is likely, at least in so far as he has the resources and the design ability, to be uniquely suitable for him more suitable for him than for anyone else. When a man hands over such a house to someone else, either by sale or as a gift, it is almost certain that it will be modified by the next resident, thus proving how special in certain respects it was for himself as a habitation.
     Now what, then, will God do if He decides to build a house which is to be fit for Himself, which in due course will be His habitation, a house which is to serve Him for thirty-three years, in which He will live and express His character, inhabiting it day and night, constantly, actively, fully, sleeping and waking, being born and dying? It will be a house capable of being so lived in, appropriately and worthily. It will be a house that can sustain the demands of habitability that He will make upon it.
     It will be beautiful, for obviously God must rejoice in beauty that He should make so many beautiful things in the world, and it will be "flexible" to allow for expression in the face, by the hands, by body movement, of the whole range of human mood from delight to mourning, from solitude to companionship. It must have all the facilities faculties now, since it is a body that we speak of which will permit movement, expression, communication, gesture, comprehension, display of emotion, and even feelings of weariness, which are necessary for true sympathy of the human lot and to which others can upon special occasion minister. And above all, if the object from the very first was to be not merely for the revelation of God but for the redemption of man, it must be a house of such a nature that it could be deliberately sacrificed, not because it has  

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worn out or was wearing out, but because He who was incarnate in it chose to sacrifice it.
     In order that this sacrifice could be truly and wholly an act of will and not something surrendered to inevitably, the house must be a house that would never wear out of itself, never collapse in the course of time as our houses do because it is their nature to do so, for otherwise it would be merely prematurely demolished. It must be capable of lasting indefinitely, even though it can be deliberately sacrificed. This house had to be of such a nature as to allow an event which was to signify something other than the mere premature breakdown of its structure. The house had to be of such a nature that its demolition could be purely an act of will, unrelated to the condition of the house itself. The same kind of house must be appointed as the habitation of the First and the Last Adam, in order that the conditions of physical life of both might have the same potential. It must be, for God's purposes, a house built with the capability of lasting for ever, even though that capability was twice sacrificed the first time in Eden by an act of disobedience, and the second time on Calvary by an act of obedience.
     Man is not a creature of spiritual significance who merely happens to have the kind of a body he does and who might just as easily have been equipped with any other kind of body. He is a creature whose uniqueness from the point of view of his humanness both in terms of culture and spiritual aspiration is as much dependent upon the structure of his body as upon the nature of his spirit. It is quite wrong to imagine that man's body is incidental and that he might have been structured like a giraffe, a dog, a mouse, or even an ape and still have fulfilled the role for which he was created. In 1810, Lorenz Oken said, "God objectified Himself in Man,"
(261) and in 1872, Charles Hodge said, "Creation was in order to redemption." (262) Both statements are directly related, and both hinge upon the reality of man's uniqueness both spiritually and physiologically.
     This house, this body that is the home of man's spirit, is not just a complex electrochemical machine. It was designed from the very first for a special purpose. It was so built that it would properly meet the requirements that God had in mind both for man and for Himself in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In due course, it was to make it possible for God to express Himself perfectly in terms of human personality as a man. And then, as a man, to sacrifice His life vicariously

261. Oken, Lorenz: quoted by A. O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being, Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1960, p.321.
262. Hodges, Charles, Systematic Theology, Eerdman's, Grand Rapids, reprint 1973 (1872), vol.2, p.316.

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for any man who would believe and appropriate that sacrifice as a full, perfect, and sufficient satisfaction in the face of the divinely appointed moral law, against his own sinfulness, failure, and self-will. God made man's body such that He Himself could assume it for a season as His own proper House and in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, could die in it that we who are dying in it even as we live, might be redeemed to live again and forever in a new and even more glorious resurrected "house" throughout eternity, thus exhibiting the grace and love of our Saviour God as a matter of personal experience. No mere animal body could have sufficed for such a tremendous purpose.
     It is inconceivable that God could have expressed Himself as a Person in any animal. It is only in man's reprobate mind that the idea of God as a serpent, a crocodile, a bull, a wolf, or a bird could have occurred with such force that he would bow down and worship such images, changing the truth of God into a lie and worshipping and serving such creatures rather than their Creator (Romans 1:23-25). Even to worship God in an image fashioned after man as he now is is the expression of a mind that is darkened and foolish. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ accepted the worship of men without rebuke. And one must therefore assume that the body which was His house, though it looked like ours, was somehow not the same. His body was glorious. His body was made with the potential for unending continuance (Hebrews 7:16). There was something in His body which distinguished it from ours and gave it its glory, though it was not different from the body which Adam had at first. He could become weary both in body and in spirit, and we know that He found rest at least at Jacob's well by sitting down, a circumstance which implies that gravity could have its effect on that body. And yet He could walk on the water, a circumstance which showed that gravity did not always have an effect on that body. His was a body that had the same needs for food and drink at times, and yet was, perhaps, in some way not totally dependent upon these things as our bodies are. His body was a body so full of energy that those who strove to keep up with Him imagined, in their weariness, that He was obsessed, which, of course, He was. Yet that energy could be depleted and He be aware of it, as when the woman touched His garment.
     This kind of body is not in the same category as an animal body. In some way that is impossible for us to analyze, there was a fundamental difference. But neither was it a body the same as our bodies are now, for in the Lord Jesus Christ the world was presented

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once more with Adam; and between our bodies and the body of Adam before he fell, there is a hiatus as between two different categories of life. One could conceivably make out some kind of case for the derivation of fallen man's body from some animal prototype, though as we have seen in the previous chapters an extraordinary combination of special circumstances has to be postulated to account for the differences. But in order to account for a body such as housed the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was born uniquely and terminated uniquely, and which reflected in a unique way the body of unfallen Adam as created, one has to search outside the ordinary course of events entirely. As to their bodies, both the First and the Last Adam were miraculously originated. As to the termination, there is this difference also between them and all other living things, namely, that whereas, for animals, death is natural, for man death is unnatural. And for the Lord Jesus Christ death was vicarious and supernatural. (263) At the root of virtually all false systems of theology lies the failure to recognize this fundamental truth.
     But in the Fall, man ruined this house in its nature. Death, physical mortality, was introduced into it via the forbidden fruit even as death was introduced into the spirit which inhabits it by the very act of disobedience. If we allow that Adam was the first man but that by his Fall he surrendered his true nature as such, what we see now in ourselves is no longer true manhood, but something else. Man now has neither the virtual freedom from disease and fantastically efficiently operating body of an animal, nor the beautifully adjusted instincts which guide the life of every other creature below him. He is corrupted in body and in spirit. If he has any instincts at all, they seem to be instincts of destruction; destruction to himself, his society, and his environment. Something is totally, wholly, wrong with him even if he were merely considered as an animal. Man is less than an animal, lacking in every impulse that is natural as well as healthful for every other creature in its contingent circumstances. He is virtually an alien in the universe, alienated from all other creatures and alienated from God.
     Furthermore, unless man is redeemed by the grace of God, he is a lost creature under judgment in a way that no other creature is, whether animal or angel. Redeemed, he is greater than both. But in neither case is he an animal. He is in a different category, though his body and his mind show the hand of the same Designer and Architect at work in both himself and the animals. Only he was created

263. Custance, Arthur C., "How Did Jesus Die?" Part VII, in The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in The Doorway Papers Series. 

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in the image of God, in order that God might one day appear as man. It is useless to ignore the Fall and try to discuss what man is. It is useless to ignore the Incarnation and try to discuss why man was made as he was. It cannot be done.
     Man was made for God, and as such he had to be a creature with those freedoms which alone would make fellowship with God meaningful. But God knew what the consequences of such freedoms would be and how they must be dealt with. God knew that man would have to be redeemed and that He would have to be the Redeemer. To be the Redeemer, God had to become man in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. And thus man had to be such a creature that God could assume his form and his nature in order to become his Redeemer without diminishing His own Person. The Incarnation, that God should be manifest as man in Jesus Christ, is the key to the reasons why man has been constructed in his total being in the way he has. This is part of the truth to which the child of God is called to bear witness, a truth the knowledge of which is not to be derived from philosophical reflection on scientific research but only from Scripture.
     The evidence of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, medicine, culture, and language, all tell the same story. Man is an animal only if one merely wants to emphasize what man and animals share in common. And they do share much in common, since the same Creator created them both to share a similar environment. But this ignores all that they do not share in common. It ignores what actually makes man man. What constitutes man something entirely other than an animal is the fact that he was not made for the same purpose. Superficially, a small chisel may look like a screwdriver. To argue that either can be used in emergency for cutting wood or for driving a screw does not make them both the same. They were intended to serve different purposes. To confuse them and to ignore differences is not only an insult to the designer, but a confession of ignorance.
     The clue to man's identity, then, is in the purpose for which he was made. He was literally "made for God." In every sense this is true. It is the reason why he has the anatomy and physiology he has. It is the reason for the special nature of his central nervous system. And, in the final analysis, it is the reason for his Fall and his redemption.
     I believe that even in a society which rejects the Gospel, the Church is still called upon to bear witness to the fact that man is not an animal, that man is a unique creature of unique significance in

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this universe, unique in origin, unique in design, of unique destiny, and, whether redeemed or unredeemed, related in a special way to the Creator. This uniqueness stems not only from the circumstances surrounding man's creation and Fall, but also from the fact that after death he will live again to face judgment for what he has been in this life.
     Man is not a superior animal but a child of eternity. And I am convinced that the world needs to be constantly reminded of this fact. And it needs also to be reminded that there can be no understanding of "the phenomenon of man" unless his special origin and destiny are recognized fully. Nor can the ills of society be properly diagnosed or any proper provision be made for the real fulfillment of human aspirations even at the ordinary social level unless the true nature of man as a fallen but redeemable creature is acknowledged.  

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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