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Jacob Hawk

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CLED 800 Discussion 1

What is Theological Anthropology?

 “Theological Anthropology” is not to be taken lightly or studied casually. At its core, it peers through a biblical lens that not only capitulates how one reads the Bible, but how he views the integrity of mankind. It fuels mission, reconciliation, and the Christian worldview. It solidifies and protects human life while also uniquely linking to God those who feel isolated by society (Kilner, 2015, p. 6). As Dr. Small (2018) observed, Theological Anthropology voices and values what the Bible confirms about humanity (Introduction to Theological Anthropology, Video, 1:05).

Theological Anthropology greatly diverges from a secular study of Anthropology because of its connection to the Creator, and the Creator’s connection to his creation. As God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were finishing the creation process, the grand finale was yet to be released. Mankind would be God’s greatest work. Yet before life was breathed into man’s nostrils, God clarified why man would be set apart, and what would distinguish him from everything else that had been created—the source, the “image”, of that creation. The Scripture records, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (New International Version, 1978/2011, Genesis 1: 26-27). Man was created with a reflection—a replica—a spiritual “doppelganger”. Kilner (2015) beautifully described the relationship thus, “Being the image of God turns out to mean having a special connection with God and indeed being a meaningful reflection of God” (Kilner, p. 54). Carrying the image of God through one’s persona and story is an exemplary honor bestowed from Jehovah God. Jesus himself was the “…image of the invisible God…” (New International Version, 1978/2011, Colossians 1:15) during his ministry on earth.

Unfortunately, throughout the history, a faulty, twisted perception of the “image of God” has caused tremendous division, hurt, and harm. The image of God cannot be diluted to a physical representation or appearance. After all, what does God look like? There are so many different ethnicities, race, and physical complexions to choose from. When the image of God is portrayed in this manner, mankind operates by its worst initiatives and paradigms. Hitler and his Nazi regime is one of the more iconic, heartbreaking examples of this ethical mudslide (Kilner, 2015, p. 20). When judgment of people is defined by skin color, physical features, and geographical contexts, the heart of God is systematically removed. Kilner (2015) observed, “…without good biblical grounding some divided the concept into two separate concepts. One concept was ‘image’ which is constant in all people; the other was ‘likeness’, which changes and varies from person to person. People’s value—and thus the respect they were due—differed according to their degree of God-likeness” (Kilner, p. 18).

Those who believe and operate from the image of God recognize all people as physically and spiritually valuable. As direct extensions of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit the Comforter on earth, they recognize the tremendous shoes they fill. They are to love what God loves, want what he wants, and live as he lives. In the words of the apostle Paul, “…and who is equal to such a task?” (New International Version, 1978/2011, 2 Corinthians 2:16).


Kilner, J. F. (2015). Dignity and destiny: Humanity in the image of God. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

New International Version Bible. (2011). Zondervan. (Original work published 1978)

Small, R (2018). CLED 800. Theological Anthropology in Leadership & Education. Week one, lecture one: Introduction to Theological Anthropology. Retrieved from https://canvas.liberty.edu/courses/136120/pages/watch-introduction-to-theological-anthropology?module_item_id=14841676

Neil Burgess

6:57pmAug 26 at 6:57pm

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What is theological anthropology? 

According to Abruzzi & McGandy (2003), “Theological anthropology concerns humans beings and their relationship with God. It addresses humans as created in the image of God, with a special qualitative relation to God compared to other species. Sin is the corruption of the relation, indicating that humans are constitutionally opposed to God. Theological anthropology also deals with the restoration of the human relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ” (p. 310).

How does theological anthropology differ from just a study of anthropology in general? 

Theological anthropology is the study of the human person as it relates to God. The Bible sees the human person as made in God’s image, both a man and a woman by God’s making, has fallen into sin and is redeemable through the God-man, Jesus Christ. However, general anthropology is the scientific study of people, in both past and present, focusing on human culture, behavior, and society.

Why is the image of God a main category in theological anthropology?

The early chapters of Genesis revealed God’s creational design and established God’s creational order. We can be redeemed through Jesus Christ despite the original sin, fulfilling God’s plan of redemption in Jesus Christ. The Bible presented the view of the human person not only as a brain-machine but significantly more; therefore, our nature frames the gospel message, as Christ is the perfect representative of humanity. The Christian church views on the human person emphasize dignity from womb to tomb, as all human beings are created in the image of God. But in a human’s fallen state, the image of God is distorted and needs to be mended and restored. Therefore, Christians need to learn to reiterate the image of God in their lives by following the example of Christ.

What are some of the areas of disagreement concerning the image of God?

There are few areas of disagreement concerning the image of God. There is no detailed explanation or any physical interpretation in the Bible about the image of God itself. Are humans like God because God has a human appearance? Or because humans are different from animals?

“As Old Testament scholar Gerhard von Rad observes, “The central point in OT anthropology is that man is dust and ashes before God.” Against that backdrop, any idea that might be construed—even if misunderstood—as implying the actual likeness of people to God would be confusing” (Kilner, 2015, p. 39).

Some scholars interpreted the image of God as to the rational character of the human person; we have intellectual, feelings, and memory, thus enable the human person to know and love God.


Abruzzi, R. & McGandy, M. J. (2003). Theological Anthropology. In Huyssteen, J.W. V. & McCord, J. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. Macmillan-Thomson Gale.

Kilner, J. F. (2015). Dignity and destiny: Humanity in the image of God. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

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