Total Man (Part 1)

There are four men mentioned in scriptures. There’s that bloke we all know from Genesis, the guy named Adam. Then there’s the mediator between God and mankind – the Man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5. He is sui generis – a very unique man. Then there’s the recreated man Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 5:17. You’ve been taught a lot about this man in church. Lastly, there’s the man of sin, the personage popularly referred to as Antichrist. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10. The man we’re dealing with here is the bloke from Genesis, Adam. He’s the mechanical engineering template for mankind.

There are many ways we can approach the subject of total man. From a utilitarian perspective a total man can be defined as bread winner. But that will not travel socially or culturally. There are many homes in which the woman is the bread winner. We can also define a man adjectivally, looking at the qualities of manhood. But chances are we will end up with a multiplicity of definitions. It’s like trying to define a table. You can define a table in many ways. For example, you can define a table as a four legged wooden platform. But there are tables with three legs, and there are even tables with no legs. They’re suspended. There are plastic and there are metal tables. Not all tables are made of wood. We nonetheless generally approach the definition of manhood in this manner. That’s why there are so many definitions out there. To some, a man is a sexually virile male who’s wholly defined by the fecundity of his spermatozoa. Believe it or not there are men out there who boast about impregnating women. To them that’s proof of manhood. To some others a man is defined by the size of his appendage. The bigger the appendage the more affirming the definition. If you’ve ever seen a Calvin Klein brief advert, you’ll be familiar with this definition. But as any woman who has ever been married to an engorged but irresponsible male will attest it is a farcical definition of manhood. Besides, that engorged appendage is a biological accident. It’s nothing more than genetic donation.
There’s also the apathetic definition of manhood. It says a man has no feelings and never shows feelings. It’s how young men end up breaking the hearts of women. The apathetic definition of manhood endangers marriage. The man can’t express his feelings to his spouse. He can’t tell his wife, “I love you!” It’s unfortunately reinforced by that societal maxim, “Real men don’t cry.” And yet Jesus wept. Was Jesus not a real man? Emotional constipation is not the definition of manhood.
Not to be left behind Africans have developed their own definition. And it’s a culturally flavoured definition. According to that definition a real man is an accumulator of women who nonetheless refuses to take advice from women. He never listens to his wife. Going by that definition, a real man is a fool! A wise man listens to counsel. (Proverbs 12:15). The man who wrote that actually had 700 wives and 300 concubines; and he regularly took advice from his mum.
None of these definitions will serve us well. If we want to understand the concept of man we have to dial back, go back to basics – the Book of Genesis. It’s where the concept came from. The Hebrew word translated Genesis is Bereshit. It means “In the beginning.” In that book you’ll find there are four critical dimensions to manhood and that these attributes are capacities. According to the Bible a creative genius uniquely identified as “God” conceptualised a new product called “man.” This was after angels and the animal class had been created.
Man is an intermediary product between angels and animals. He has lower capabilities than angels but has higher processing power than animals. He is a self-propelled semi-autonomous entity embedded with a miniaturised mainframe computer called the brain. With that brain he is able to process zettabytes of data. A compression algorithm makes unlimited storage of videos and texts possible. He has a user friendly cognitive interface called the soul. Among other things the soul converts signals, reconfigures them into different programming languages that are material sensitive. There’s a local area network embedded. It’s how a boy and a girl can communicate and fall in love with each other in a room full of people without saying a word to each other. The soul emits signals.
The very unique thing about this entity called man however is that he was created on an open architecture platform. Because of that man is able to modify and edit himself. He has the ability to reprogram himself. It is debatable what kind of architecture angels are built on, whether open or modified open; but we know the animal class can’t modify themselves. They were created on a proprietary platform, very much like iPhones.Man on the other hand was created on an open platform like a phone running on android system. Think Samsung. Creating man on that open platform was a huge gamble, a very huge gamble, and at some point God expressed regret. Man is prone to virus infection like happened in the Garden of Eden. He can be infected with deadly propaganda. He is prone to going crazy on God. He’s been known to deny the existence of his Creator. But without that open architecture salvation will be impossible. Man can’t repent by himself. There’s no record of angels or animals repenting. And anyway the programme of salvation rules them out. Or Jesus would have had to identify as an animal or fallen angel – a hypostatic union of 100% Christ, 100% animal; or 100% fallen angel and 100% Christ.
The body of man is a mineral composite. It is largely made up of six elements – oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. The binding agent used for the original prototype is aluminium phyllosilicate. It’s also known as clay. It’s why the Bible says Adam was made from clay. But you cannot understand the idea of man from his physical make up. It’s a terribly flawed approach. That’s like trying to measure the weight of your luggage with a thermometer. It’s one of the reasons we have problems in marriage. We determine character from personality and looks for example. That’s measuring weight with thermometer. In order to understand what the Maker had in mind when he made man you have to look at the conceptual dimensions of man. Man was first an idea before the engineering was done.
According to Genesis, man was made from two ideational raw materials. They are “image” and “likeness” – “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” Genesis 1:27. These raw materials are progressive and nativist. Because man is made from “image” for example he responds to images. If you’ve been wondering why men like Page 3 girls and cultural approximations, this is it. But the fact man is made from image also gave him imagination. He can stitch imageries together in his head. And because he can visualise things, he has the capacity for vision. The concept of a man therefore incorporates imagination and vision. The second ideational raw material is “likeness.” Because man is made from “likeness” he is able to do comparative analysis, compare like with like, differentiate like from unlike. He can do analytical reasoning, run analogies.
The two ideational factors in essence gave man right brain, left brain capacities, much like the concept of the logos. The whole ideational infrastructure is based on the concept of the logos. We often say logos is “written word” and “rhema” is “spoken word,” but those words are much deeper and much bigger than we imagine. In Greek philosophy, which is where the concepts came from, logos is the principle of divine reason and creative order. It is a right brain, left brain proposition. Yes, logos is “word”; but that’s also the code name for Jesus in the programming world. “In the beginning was the Word.” John 1:1. He’s the creative genius in Genesis – “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth.” Colossians 1:16. He generated a code to run the universe, eponymously named the programme “Word”. The Bible says he upholds all things by the word of his power. Hebrews 1:3. The force of gravity is one of the functions of that program; science says it’s one of the four fundamental forces, along with strong and weak nuclear forces and electromagnetism. Gravity holds things high up there. It is an expression of the word of his power.
What Jesus essentially did was donate his code to mankind. He programmed himself into man. He would later reprise that role in the New Testament with the recreated man. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17. In other words, the Christian is Man version 2.0. But here’s where it gets interesting. In order to give man the capacity to generate the future God licensed him a technology called faith. Faith is the technology of the future. It’s a creative technology. But without imagination faith can’t work. It’s why God uses visualisation to generate faith in man. We see an illustration of this in God’s dealings with a gentleman from the Middle East named Abraham. When God wanted to give Abraham a vision of what he could become he directed his gaze heavenward, told him to count the stars to see his numeric potential. With the naked eye Abraham must have seen thousands of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. But God wasn’t thinking thousands, he was thinking billions. And so he gave him a secondary analogy – told him his descendants will be like sand on the sea shore. Abraham of course could not have known there are more stars in the Milky Way Galaxy than the sand on the sea shore. The Milky Way Galaxy alone has between 100-400 billion stars. God never thinks small. Stop thinking small.
To be continued… Part 2 next week.
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
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© Leke Alder |