Editorial: The Urgent Need For A Theological Anthropology Today -- By: Stephen J. Wellum
SBJT 13:2 (Summer 2009) p. 2
Editorial: The Urgent Need For A Theological Anthropology Today
Stephen J. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught -theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.
The age-old questions—What is man? What is our purpose? Do we have any value?—have become pressing and urgent questions today. No doubt, people in every day have wrestled with these anthropological questions. But today, especially in the West, it seems as if these questions now consume us. Part of the reason for this is due to the so-called “demise” of the Christian worldview in the West and its influence upon our larger society. Prior to the Enlightenment, Christian theology largely shaped our society, but due to the rise of competing “isms,” as represented by the larger categories of modernism and now postmodernism (e.g., Marxism, secular humanism, existentialism, nihilism, deconstructionism, etc.), our culture is now suffering from a collective identity crisis. What makes this identity crisis even more acute has been the rise of various technologies alongside these ideological viewpoints which have further questioned our understanding of ourselves. After all, living in a day of test-tube babies, trans-sexual operations, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and potential human cloning, the question of human dignity, value, and personhood have indeed become pressing. Are we creatures of dignity because we are created in God’s image? Or are we merely animals, by-products of an impersonal evolutionary process, things that can be, technologically speaking, manipulated and re-fashioned for whatever ends we deem best?
This collective identity crisis is best illustrated in the postmodern university (better: “di-versity”) where any Christian or unified view of human beings has disappeared. For example, in the biology classroom, humanity is viewed as nothing more than a “naked ape,” to use the words of Desmond Morris. From the perspective of neurobiology, humans are viewed merely as physical beings which seems to entail that the mind is reducible
SBJT 13:2 (Summer 2009) p. 3
to the brain and that all human behavior, affections, and willing is explained solely in terms of neuro-chemical factors. In other disciplines we find competing images of human beings, but at their core, all of these disciplines attempt to understand the nature of human beings from the perspective of biological ...
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