When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.
Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about Men & Women
Scripture declares that God created man from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). He was created in the image and likeness of God, with the ability to reason, choose good and evil, feel, and relate to others (Genesis 1:26-27). This gives man a dignity of being and a position of responsibility. It also lays the foundation for a sane system of ethics and redemption.
God created Adam and Eve sinless (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:16-17). As a result of Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3:6), sin entered the world and all men sinned in Adam (Romans 5:12). Sin is anything contrary to the character of God (Romans 3:23). It results in physical death (Genesis 2:17), and spiritual separation from God (Romans 6:23).
As a result of the fall, man is now a sinner by nature (Psalm 51:5) and by choice. He is totally depraved in his mind, will, and emotions. Depravity does not mean that man is as bad as he can be, but it does mean that he is unable in and of himself to please God (Jeremiah 17:9). Because he has violated God’s law, he is eternally lost unless God comes to his aid. Both those who have never heard of God’s love and those who have rejected his love are lost without Christ (Romans 1:18-25). At the time of the new birth (John 3:3), God forgives the person’s sins (Jeremiah 31:34), puts his Spirit within the individual, and gives him a new and divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
In terms of man’s nature, the question arises as to whether or not man has a dichotomous (two-part) or trichotomous (three-part) nature. It would seem that Scripture supports both views. Regarding the dichotomous view, Scripture makes a distinction between the material part, the “outer man,” and the immaterial part, the “inner man” (2 Corinthians 4:16). While the soul and spirit are distinct (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12), they both make up the “inner man.” Regarding the trichotomous view, Paul indicates that all three parts (body, soul, spirit) are involved in the process of sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23).