Chapter 3: Human Beings
The Bible says that human beings were created from the earth ie as an animal, and with some of God’s spirit placed in them. They were also formed “in the image of God”, which means that they were made with divine characteristics and capacities that are a reflection of those possessed by God, such as Consciousness, Imagination, Will, Reason and Spirit.
Humans share a portion of the divine Goodness and Love, which are reflected in qualities like our senses of Justice and of Compassion. In order that humans could respond to God in a loving relationship, God provided them with free wills, ie freedom to choose to do or not do something. Without this capacity to choose to relate to God, such relationship would have no meaning, since they would be acting totally under the forces of nature, with no more freedom than an animal . As noted earlier, a freely offered response by humans is of vital importance to God. If that relationship were to develop as intended then it also follows that the relationships among humans would be likewise harmonious and fruitful. Each human individual is of supreme value to God, which is to say in human language that God “loves” them.
The Bible teaches in an allegorical way (read about Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis) that Humanity, ie every human being, misuses its freedom to choose, ie its moral freedom. In effect Humanity wants to be the creator, not just the creature. The power to love is constantly being wrongly directed, either turning in upon itself or being given to the wrong things. This represents a disobedience or rebellion which impairs the proper relationships that God intends within the Creation, ie between God and Humanity, and among Humanity and the rest of the Creation. It is this state of discord which Christians call “Sin” and “Evil”. Humans are very unreliable in consistently directing their power to love towards God and their neighbours
Whenever Humans make choices which are discordant with how God intended the Creation to work, then unhappy consequences will occur sooner or later. Just as there are laws of physical cause and effect there are also laws of moral cause and effect, and Christians view both as parts of Reality. We have only to look around in our everyday world to see examples of those consequences. It is clear that something is dreadfully wrong with the way that humans so often treat one another and Nature. The media show us conflict, violence, misery, and all the human vices. And this is just the more publicised evil which may not occur in our own personal orbit. The abuses of social media bring evils closer to us personally. But even closer and within us, we know in our hearts about other evils arising from misuse of our own gift of free will which damage our relationships and exploit and oppress others. Sin is like an infection which disfigures the “image of God”, and which we humans seem unable to cure by ourselves.
Within God’s creation this discord is not an offence only against humans, but against God too. Evil spoils God’s Creation, and something needs to be done to deal with that spoiling. Goodness and Evil are utterly opposed. Humans need help to cure the infection and restore them to wholeness. God’s activity concerning this restoration is set out in the pages of the Bible, in the Old Testament with the Hebrew/Jewish peoples and their prophets, and in the New Testament with God’s incarnation in human life in the form of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Bible teaches that, because God is Good and Just, the Sin which spoils God’s Creation will ultimately be eliminated in a final reckoning or judgement of all things. This is part of the Christian’s hope.