Tuesday, January 04, 2022

A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Humanity: Created and Re-created, by David McKay

Christian Focus, 2021, 113pp, paperback

‘What is man?’, asks the psalmist. We will only begin to know the answer to that question if we understand what it means to be human in relation to God. This is exactly what this pocket guide sets out to do. McKay’s treatment is concise and straightforward without ever being superficial. He sets modern day concerns such as identity politics and transgenderism in clear biblical perspective, drawing upon the insights of Reformed covenant theology.          

Human identity

There is a lot of talk these days about human ‘identity’. For some their fundamental identity is tied up with their gender, sexuality, race, or political views. As David McKay shows, our true identity is not one that is made up by us, but one that is handed down by God. Our Triune Lord created human beings in his image as male and female. That fact bestows great dignity and worth on every human person. 

Ruined humanity

Recently Headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh got herself into spot of bother on Twitter when she suggested that due to ‘original sin’ children need rules and sanctions to keep them in line (see here). Cue predictable outrage at the idea that children might be morally flawed. But the Christian doctrine of original sin insists that all are sinners before God. McKay gives attention to humanity Ravaged by Sin. Man was created to live in a covenant relationship to his Maker. Adam represented the human race in the Covenant of Works. When Adam fell into sin, humanity fell with him. Adam’s sin was imputed to the whole human race. All are born with a sin-corrupted nature. Death reigns over all in Adam.

Redeemed humanity

But God has raised up a new representative for humanity in Jesus, the mediator of the Covenant of Grace. United to him, our sins are atoned for so that we may be forgiven and put right with God. In Christ believers are set apart as God’s holy people and adopted into his family. McKay could perhaps have said more about the corporate aspects of union with Christ in the life of the church.  

Renewed humanity

Finally, redeemed humanity will share Christ’s glory, gaining in him more than we ever lost, or could have had in Adam. God’s new humanity will bear the image of the last Adam in resurrection glory. Only then will the full answer to the psalmist's question, ‘What is man?’ be revealed. 

An excellent treatment of a timely theme.

*An edited version of this review was published in The Banner of Truth Magazine, January 2022

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