Response to The Doctrine of Humanity by Charles Sherlock

(The following is a reflection of a book I recently read for Theology class. Note the ranting preacher tone that goes beyond sound thinking and into a cuting of my own heart out.)


Sherlock from the onslaught compares the study of humanity by a man to the study of water by a fish (Sherlock, 1996, p. 21). I have been reflecting on the single minded goal of God as a disciple in light of this doctrine and can’t help but to see that a lot of what is presented in this doctrine is a necessity for understanding what ministry is and how it works today. My focus in discipleship has been to seek and find God while overlooking the need to understand and effectively evangelize to men.

The doctrine of humanity is one that is never finished or can ever be. Every year and in every culture the understanding of where we are as humanity is changing. This results in the need to further describe and wrestle with where we are and where we are going as humans. To be able to focus from the creation of man, to the reconciliation of man, to the current state of man is eye opening. Each section provides great insight as to how we function as people and more importantly why we are the way we are. For example, the current growth in technology has emphasized and spread “miracle grow” on the self centered universes that we all have the tendency to live in. Although some may argue that technology, i.e. cell phones, personal computers, and cars, has helped community, Sherlock points out, “The rise of individualism in the West in the past two centuries under girds the priority of the personal, but emphasizes it so greatly that human life has become fragmented. It is paradoxical that the growth of technology has fostered individualism along with global problems…” (Sherlock, 1996, p 100). From our understanding of what the Church is from scripture and the example of the incarnation of God in Christ, the church has always been very human. We lay hands on one another, sing songs together, and speak the words of God over one another. The current trend towards online chat rooms, emails, text messages, and the like give a false since of what community means and in turn what being the body of Christ means. There is no wonder why there is a current rise of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism and the dichotomization of body and spirit. In comparison the 21st century church probably would call a church like that in Acts cultish and weird. But that is where we are today and that is why being aware of the doctrine of humanity can help us understand why we are the way we are, and then be able to humble ourselves before Father God and ask for direction as to how to live in faithful community in spite of the water that surrounds us.

Tendencies toward Gnosticism are not easily discerned while “swimming in the water” but there effects are easily seen. As the early apologist Justin Martyr connected the Greek philosophies with the teaching of Christ superimposing the ministry of Christ on top of philosophies. In the same vein, today the current individualism has led us to the unbiblical place of emphasis upon personal and private salvation that may or may not be evidenced by the fruit of such a declaration. This way of looking at faith has made it easy to add faith to a segmented personal life, never submitting to the God, the Church, and certainly not to another man. It’s amazing that one of the prominent business leaders in the city once had to wait in line at church to shake my hand, in any other setting I’m sure I would be overlooked. This reveals the way humanity as a whole has rejected the whole hearted call to pick up our crosses and follow Christ. Once we were gladly thrown to the beasts for the name of Christ, now folks who claim to be disciples are careful not to mention Jesus on there personal website for fear of offending someone. Lord help as a people to once again live boldly as your body.  


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