Act Like the Human that You Are

Imago Dei

If people are not made in the image of God, the pessimistic, realistic humanist is right: the human race is indeed an abnormal wart on the smooth face of a silent and meaningless universe. In this setting, abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia (including the killing of mentally deranged criminals, the severely handicapped, or the elderly who are an economic burden) are completely logical. Any person can be obliterated for what society at one moment thinks of as its own social or economic good. Without the Bible and without the revelation in Christ (which is only told to us in the Bible) there is nothing to stand between us and our children and the eventual acceptance of the monstrous inhumanities of the age.

The existence of the universe and its form and the uniqueness of man testify to the truth of Scripture, and historical study likewise testifies to the truth of Scripture. The Bible gives us a solid and certain basis on which we can begin to act toward stemming the side of inhumanity. The solution to the inhuman drift begins, however, with each of us as individuals. It begins with you, with me—with each of us.

First Steps toward Solving the Problem

First, Christianity must be acknowledged to be the truth. Christianity and Christ must not be accepted merely to change society and stop the drift of our culture toward the loss of humanness.

Unhappily, it is possible for people to reject the truth of Christianity and the claims of Christ and yet to hope that others will accept Christianity so that the drift of society will be halted. They think that some kind of Christian revival would be useful in order to affect human behavior and thus protect their own political and economic comfort, allowing them to keep their personal peace and affluence. Biblical Christianity and Christ will indeed stop the drift, but not if Christianity is only used for manipulation by those who think it is not true—but only useful.

Whatever Happened to the Human Race?

Francis A. Schaeffer, C. Everett Koop

What Happened to the Human Race? challenges readers to think deeply about many of the “anti-God” and “antilife” practices that dominate American society. This book is a call to action, encouraging Christians to take a stand against issues such as abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.

In contrast to this attempted utilitarian use of Christianity, what must we do? First, we should see that, for what are good and sufficient reasons, Christianity is true. Then we should personally bow as finite creatures before our infinite-personal Creator. And then we should accept Christ as Savior to remove our personal moral guilt before God. We need that true moral guilt removed because there is the absolute of the Creator’s character, and over and over again we have deliberately done what we know to be wrong.

God’s promise of a solution to mankind’s revolt against Him was first given in the third chapter of Genesis. This promise was expanded with increasing clarity right through the Old Testament.A Messiah, a Savior, was coming. He would take upon Himself the punishment of our sins. As Isaiah said, some seven hundred years before Christ came:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

And we are told that the work of Christ as the dying and resurrected Lamb of God was sufficient to reconcile us to God, that we do not have to add any “works” of our own, that we are saved by the infinite value of what Christ has done—plus nothing. Salvation is a gift that we receive with empty hands. This is what it means to have faith in Christ, or to accept Christ as Savior.

The Lordship of Christ

But when we accept Christ as Savior, we must also acknowledge and then act upon the fact that if He is our Savior, He is also our Lord in all of life. He is Lord not just in religious things and not just in cultural things such as art and music, but in our intellectual lives and in business and our attitude toward the devaluation of people’s humanness in our culture. Acknowledging Christ’s Lordship and placing ourselves under what is taught in the whole Bible includes thinking and acting as citizens in relation to our government and its laws. We must know what those laws are and act responsibly to help to change them if they do not square with the Bible’s concepts of justice and humanness. The biblical answers have to be lived and not just thought.

We must live under the Lordship of Christ in all the areas of life—at great cost, if need be. It is moving to think of the Christians in China, paying a great price for their loyalty to Christ, but that does not relieve each of us from being under the Lordship of Christ in regard to our own country. Who is on the cutting edge here? The doctor who pays the price of having certain hospitals closed to him because he will not perform abortions. The businessman who knows he is forfeiting advancement in his company because he will not go along with some inhuman practice of his company. The professor of sociology who is willing to lose his post because he will not teach sociology on the basis of determinism. The pastor who loses his church rather than follow the dictates of a liberal theology or a “trashy Christianity.”

Or the pastor who preaches the Bible, stressing that today’s people are called to sacrificial action, rather than keeping his congregation comfortable while death, spiritual and physical, is built up year after year for their children and grandchildren. Examples could be endlessly multiplied.

Faithfulness to the Lordship of Christ means using the constitutional processes while we still have them. We live in a shrinking island of free constitutional practice. Only a small percentage of countries in the world still possess this.

The Lordship of Christ means using these processes to speak and to act on the basis of the principles set forth in the Bible. With Christ as Savior and Lord, we must do all we can to lead others to Christ. And simultaneously we must use every constitutional practice to offset the rise of authoritarian governments and the loss of humanness in our society. But there is no use in talking of offsetting the loss of humanness in society if we do not act humanly to all people about us in the contacts of our individual lives.

We ourselves must act humanly, even when it is costly. We implore those of you who are Christians to exert all your influence to fight against the increasing loss of humanness—through legislation, social action, and other means at your disposal, both privately and publicly, individually and collectively, in all areas of your lives.

Without the uniqueness and inherent dignity of each human being, no matter how old or young, sick or well, resting on the fact that each person is made in the image of God, there is no sufficient foundation to build on as we resist the loss of humanness in our generation. So we would say again to those of you who are Christians, do not allow your only base, your only hope to be able to stand—namely, the Bible—to be weakened by however subtle means. The Bible is truth in all its parts, and provides, if taken as a whole, the truth of salvation and also a base to work from in our daily lives, a base to stand on morally.

We must live under the Lordship of Christ in all the areas of life—at great cost, if need be.

So we who are Christians must, on the one hand, fight with determination and sacrifice for the individual in society, and on the other, provide the loving care of people as individuals. Thus the world will truly feel our presence in its midst as the true salt of the earth. That salt will be a true preservative, both showing forth the beauty of care in the midst of utilitarian ugliness and also helping to remove the festering malignancy of evil that surrounds us.

The Challenge before Us

As a result of being made in the image of God, each man and woman has a conscience. That built-in monitor, coupled with the advantages of being raised in a society that has had until recently a Judeo-Christian tradition, permits the understanding of the worth of human life to surface periodically, even subconsciously—as, for example, in the recent preoccupation with the special needs of the handicapped adult. But that memory will not last forever without the Judeo-Christian base. Recent history shows us that the conscience can be so corrupted and manipulated that today’s unthinkable becomes tomorrow’s thinkable with remarkable speed.

People are special and human life is sacred, whether or not we admit it. Every life is precious and worthwhile in itself—not only to us human beings but also to God. Every person is worth fighting for, regardless of whether he is young or old, sick or well, child or adult, born or unborn, or brown, red, yellow, black, or white. If, in this last part of the twentieth century, the Christian community does not take a prolonged and vocal stand for the dignity of the individual and each person’s right to life—for the right of each individual to be treated as created in the image of God, rather than as a collection of molecules with no unique value—we feel that as Christians we have failed the greatest moral test to be put before us in this century. Future generations will look back, and many will either scoff or believe in Christ on the basis of whether we Christians of today took a sacrificial stand in our various walks of life on these overwhelmingly important issues. If we do not take a stand here and now, we certainly cannot lay any claim to being the salt of the earth in our generation. We are neither preserving moral values and the dignity of the individual nor showing compassion for our fellow human beings.

Will future generations look back and remember that—even if the twentieth century did end with a great surge of inhumanity—at least there was one group who stood consistently, whatever the price, for the value of the individual, thus passing on some hope to future generations? Or are we Christians going to be merely swept along with the trends—our own moral values becoming increasingly befuddled, our own apathy reflecting the apathy of the world around us, our own inactivity sharing the inertia of the masses around us, our own leadership becoming soft? What can we do concerning these issues that we are not doing now?

On the basis of an unweakened Bible, we must teach and act, in our individual lives and as citizens, on the fact that every individual has unique value as made in the image of God. This is so from a child just conceived in the womb to the old with their last gasping breath and beyond; for death does not bring the cessation of life, but all people will spend eternity somewhere . . . with God or not, depending on their relationship to Christ as Savior. If we ache and have compassion for humanity today in our own country and across the world, we must do all that we can to help people see the truth of Christianity and accept Christ as Savior. And we must stand against the loss of humanness in all its forms. It is God’s life-changing power that is able to touch every individual, who then has a responsibility to touch the world around him with the absolutes found in the Bible. In the end we must realize that the tide of humanism, with its loss of humanness, is not merely a cultural ill, but a spiritual ill that the truth given us in the Bible and Christ alone can cure.

This article is adapted from Whatever Happened to the Human Race? by Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop.

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