Read time: 2 mins4777 Hits

MAN – (Gr. anthropos) Frequently used in the Bible in the generic sense for both man and woman. Man is the pinnacle of God’s creation, for only he among the creatures was made in the image and likeness of God. (Gen. 1:26, 27; Luke 4:4.)  God’s vision of humanity far exceeds our limited understanding, this can partly be seen in Christ’s saying, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven”  (Matthew 22:30).

Orthodox Christian doctrine about human nature teaches that man was created by God to worship him in communion with him, made in his image to attain to His likeness (Gen. 1:26). All human beings are thus of infinite value, because they bear the indelible stamp of their Creator. All human beings are composed of both a soul and body, which are permanently part of human nature. Man was created sinless, but not perfected, and so although Adam was pure when he was created, he was created as a being of dynamic progress, capable of growing more and more like God.

At the fall of man, Adam and Eve not only sinned in violation of God’s commandments, but their way of being shifted. Their nature was not changed in itself, but the image of God in them became obscured by sin, which is a separation from God in our very being. Fallen man is thus not totally depraved, but rather suffers from the disease of sin which renders holiness much more difficult to attain to.

All of mankind suffers from the effects of sin (death, sickness, and all evils), even if a particular individual may theoretically not have committed any personal sins. Guilt does not enter into Orthodox anthropology, since it is essentially a legal category and not directly relevant to the existential reality of man’s sin illness. Thus, even if the term original sin is used in Orthodox theology, it is understood not as a transmitted guilt for Adam’s sin, but rather as an inherited disease which may be cured in salvation, the dynamic path of growth into God’s likeness.