Who are we dealing with?
or…
The Nature of Man in Education

Lecture #1 of a seminar by Rev. Jones entitled, "Successful Education"


The word educate is derived from the Latin, e, out, duco, lead.  Thus to educate is to bring out abilities and talents in the person and thus to develop him in terms of himself.  But who is he?

     FIRST, We know that man is a created being.

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."  So God created man -- Genesis 1:26-27

     Humans are not the top of an evolutionary process in an ever-expanding universe, but the crowning product of a divine creative act. So significant is man’s position in creation that God declares a death penalty for anyone, man or beast who would take it upon himself to destroy a man or even to reduce his status to property.

Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. -- Genesis 9:6
If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, then the ox shall surely be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be acquitted. -- Exodus 21:28

     God also declares a death penalty for anyone who would take it upon himself to reduce a man’s status to property.

"He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death. -- Exodus 21:16

     SECOND, We know that man was created in God’s image.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. -- Genesis 1:26-27
Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. -- Genesis 9:6

     The usual opinion of theologians is that by creation that which was perfect in God became inferior in man. God was the original of which man was made a copy. This means, of course, that man not only bears the image of God, but is His very image.

     The image of God includes a variety of aspects, such as: true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. (The condition to which we are restored in Christ is clearly one of true knowledge, righteousness and holiness.)

     The image of God also includes intellectual power, natural affections, and moral freedom, spirituality, and immortality (once created, he cannot be destroyed or uncreated).

     Although these two insights (that man is created and created in the image of God) provide a basis for a high regard for man, they do not complete the picture we need to do justice to understanding the nature of man.

     Before I proceed to my next point, I must take a moment to explain the situation we find ourselves in within the American Church. Early America was settled by Christians who maintained two opinions on church organization. The first, were those who supported a strong inter-church government, the second, congregations ruling themselves alone. In the first group were Episcopalians and Presbyterians. In the second group were the Puritan Congregationalists. Because of failures which I will not get into now, the Congregationalist churches quickly fell into apostasy, rejecting the heart of the gospel. The churches which emphasized a strong inter-church government had the mechanism to resist the liberalization of the gospel, but eventually many succumbed.

     Because of the influence of higher education in the doctrinal error, the surviving faithful churches and those Congregational denominations which followed later for the most part rejected a systematic teaching and understanding of theology. The Episcopal and Presbyterian church organizations split over the doctrinal issues, but maintained the importance of scholarship. Today, the most successful churches in evangelism are congregational in government and generally the poorest in theology.

     THIRD, Man was created as a dichotomy.

     The two historical views of the nature of man are called: dichotomy and trichotomy. The prevailing view in American evangelical Christianity is trichotomy; that man consists of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. This is often represented in a triangle and many Bible teachers and preachers expound upon the distinctive areas of man’s God-consciousness versus his intellect based upon this concept of trichotomy.

     However, of the two major camps of Christian theologians, Calvinistic and Armenian, the majority of theologians agree that the prevailing representation of the nature of man in Scripture is clearly dichotomic: man consists of two, distinct parts, namely, body and soul. The first biblical basis for this opinion is,

Genesis 2:7 -- And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (KJV)

Trichotomists seek to support their view of the two non-physical, constituent parts of man with the separate terms: soul (Heb., nephesh; Greek, psuche) and spirit (Heb., ruach; Greek, pneuma). But a careful study of Scripture clearly shows that God uses the words interchangeably. Both terms denote the higher or spiritual element in man, but approach it from different points of view.

     Paul in his letters to the churches consistently speaks of man as having of two parts:

Romans 8:10 -- And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
1 Corinthians 5:5 -- deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1 Corinthians 7:34 – There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world--how she may please her husband.
2 Corinthians 7:1 – Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Ephesians 2:3 – among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Colossians 2:5 – For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

     The basis of the trichotomic teaching comes from:

1 Thessalonians 5:23 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
and Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

     But some of the defenders of trichotomy even admit that these two references do not necessarily prove their point. After all, Matthew 22:37 -- Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' does not prove that Jesus regarded heart and soul and mind as three distinct substances.

     It is important to note that theologians of both persuasions agree that the Bible speaks of every act of man is an act of the whole man. It is not the soul but man that sins; it is not the body but man that dies; and it is not merely the soul, but man, body and soul, that is redeemed in Christ.

     Within the propagation of a trichotomy of man do we discover the problematic error confronting today’s Church and especially Christian parents. The teaching we are receiving from the pulpit and lectern tell us that a child can receive a spiritually neutral education. We are told that he can be taught material which is strictly intellectual, then as a separate function of education be taught that which will affect his spirit.

     The Bible does not allow this. When we understand that because of the dichotomy of man, his intellect and spirit are so interwoven that they cannot be separated. It is in fact an impossible as the possibility of separating the thoughts and intents of his heart. That which affects the intellect will affect the spirit and vise-versa. There is no possibility for an entirely “secular” education of man. Thus public education is either a failure or a fraud. And those Christians who would support a “neutral and secular” education are either kidding themselves and others or are participants in the fraud.

     “Who are we dealing with?” Or “What is the nature of man in education?”

  • Man is the crowning product of a divine creative act.
  • Man not only bears the image of God, but is His very image.
  • Man consists of only two, distinct parts, namely, body and soul.

     Your student needs to understand that man is the crowning product of a divine creative act because he needs to know that he has intrinsic worth. He is not valuable because you say so, or because his relatives say so, or because his friends say so. He has worth because God created him as a unique individual. He has attributes, talents and personality traits in a combination which are unique to him alone.

     As your student understands that he not only bears the image of God, but is His very image, he will be enabled to glorify God in the very act of learning.

     As you begin to understand the consequences of the dichotomy of man you will appreciate the significance of Christian education. The HCS Philosophy of Education states, “The elements of knowledge, facts, are neither bare nor neutral. All facts take their significance and relevance from the framework of a belief system.” Education is either Christian or anti-Christian, there is no neutrality.