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Humanity, Christian Doctrine of

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xiii.b ] Traditionally termed ‘the doctrine of man’. Mainstream Christian teaching has portrayed humanity as composed of two elements, body and soul, the latter being purely spiritual. Together they constitute a complete human being. Christianity shares with other religions a belief in the immortality of the soul. It adds to this, however, the belief that the soul will ultimately be resurrected and ‘clothed’ in a spiritual ‘body’ ( see A fterlife ). The main Christian tradition on the origin of the soul (following St Thomas Aquinas; see T homism ) has held that each soul is created separately by God (Creationism); though some have seen it as transmitted by parents to children (Traducianism). Humanity is created in the ‘image of God’ ( imago Dei ), which was partly but not wholly destroyed by the fall and original sin (for the myth of Adam and the fall see S in, christianity and ). For R oman catholicism and the E astern orthodox church sufficient is left of the ‘image’ (including free will) to allow for receptiveness to God's grace (S alvation ). P rotestantism originally saw the ‘image’ as completely destroyed. This has been greatly modified for many Protestants by the decline of C alvinism and the rise of humanistic optimism since the 18th century. Developments in evolutionary theory, philosophy and psychology have greatly complicated and modified traditional Christian ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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