The effect of sin on the image

In the biblical account, the original humans are depicted as being in a state of innocence, under divine command and preservation, though subject to temptation. Sin emerged as an act of self-determination in disobedience to the divine command (Genesis 3). The holistic and relational nature of the soul/body unity as depicted in Scripture is also reflected in the effects of sin.

The effects of sin produced disunity and disorder at the physical, social, psychological, and spiritual core of human life such that the original unity of personal well being as embodied soul and besouled body became disrupted and subject to dissolution and death. The image of God as social, spiritual and moral health was corrupted and became the source of pride, jealousy, hatred, and violence against others. The ecology of human life in terms of relationship with the earth, with other humans, and with God was thrown out of balance so that injustice, oppression, poverty, and war permeated all of human society.

The theological concept of a "fall from grace" as the source of human disorder, disease, violence, and death, is first of all a fatal spiritual "death" which affected every aspect of human life. As a result, humans experience shame, confusion, guilt, and alienation from God as well as distrust of each other. Physical death, while not occurring instantly as a result of sin, became an inevitable consequence of the spiritual separation from God, as both body and soul have no immortality apart from the Spirit of God. Sin did not result in the loss of immortality as an intrinsic characteristic of the soul, but rather, made the human as a body/soul unity subject to the natural mortality of creaturely life.4

A Christian view of the human is rooted in this biblical portrayal of the origin and destiny of persons as bearing the divine image, as objects of divine love and grace, and of infinite value, despite the inveterate tendencies toward evil and violence found in every culture. The solidarity of all persons as bound together in a common humanity despite differences of race, religion, sexual orientation, and culture is a concept derived out of the New Testament construct of the Adam-Christ relation. For the Apostle Paul, the figure of Adam stands as the bond of all humanity in a common origin and a common fate. But this is not a universal principle accessible to general knowledge. It is only through the person of Jesus Christ that Paul can say that "even as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men" (Romans 5:18).

Paul attributes cosmic and anthropological significance to the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus, "descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3). Paul's vision of humanity is first of all through Christ and then back to Adam. In the relation of Christ to Adam, all humans are bound into a solidarity of life

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under God's election and promise, and thus all are bound up in the solidarity of sin. Sin is not attributable to biological, racial, or cultural forms of humanity. Rather, sin is a disruption of the core social paradigm for humanity found in every race, culture, and nation. Because the consequence of sin is death, it is death that is the basic human dilemma, not merely sin. Thus Paul says, "If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17). True humanity is now found in Christ who has conquered death, so that all humans who die because of Adam's sin can now find their humanity restored in being related to Christ.

In a theological anthropology, human nature is not defined ultimately by tracing back humanity to its origin, nor by explaining humanity in terms of its existence under the conditions of sin. Rather, human nature is creaturely life experienced as personal, social, sexual, and spiritual life under divine determination, judgment, and promise. In a theological anthropology, sin is understood as a failure to live humanly in every area of social, personal, sexual, and spiritual life. Therefore, salvation from sin is also to be experienced as the recovery of true humanity in each of these aspects of life. The tendency of some to view salvation as "saving souls" without regard to the total life of the person as a physical, social, and psychological being is more of a Greek concept than a Christian one. From the perspective of theological anthropology, salvation touches each area of a person's embodied life, though not with equal effect short of the resurrection of the body.

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