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Humanity and Sin: The Creation, Fall, and Redemption of Humanity,

by Robert A. Pyne. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999. 309


pages. Reviewed by Benjamin D. Collins.

The classic problem of anthropological study is the

division between extra-biblical and intra-biblical examination.

Modern secular anthropologists seek to understand human identity

and behavior without the revelation of Scripture. On the other

end of the scale, biblical anthropologists often speak to

humanity without a “real world” approach, one that might connect

theological conclusions on man with both the study of science and

practice everyday life. Taking into consideration these other

factors of science and practice while keeping a biblical

approach, Robert Pyne makes a balanced attempt in his book

Humanity and Sin to address some of the major points of

anthropology.

Robert Pyne, author of Humanity and Sin: The Creation,

Fall, and Redemption of Humanity is professor of systematic

theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. He received a B.A. from

Arizona State University, and a Th.M. and Th.D from Dallas

Theological Seminary. Before teaching at Dallas Theological

Seminary, he was a conference speaker, researcher, and radio

commentator with Probe Ministries of Dallas. Pyne has also been

published in theological journals and magazines.

Pyne develops his book in four sections: the origin of

humanity, the nature of humanity, the sinfulness of humanity, and

hope for humanity. Discussing the origins of humanity, Pyne


explores man’s ideas of the relation between God and the universe

and man’s place in the universe. He then goes into great depth on

man’s creation, evaluating the current theories of evolution and

creationism. He questions each theory on the basis of whether it

would contradict the Bible’s account of human origins. His

ultimate conclusion is that while he maintains his view of the

divine creation, he cannot specify the means of this creation.

According to Pyne, there is room for an evolutionary model that

does not contradict a literary (not literal) view of the Genesis

account. He claims to be withholding judgment while more

scientific study is done on the universe as well as linguistic

and theological study is done on the Genesis account. Although

unsure of the means, Pyne is sure that man is God’s special

creation.

Resolving that man was created specially by God, Pyne now

focuses on the nature of man as God’s exceptional work. What are

the implications of man’s special creation? How is it manifested?

Payne leads directly into man as created in God’s image. Payne

briefly mentions three views of God’s image: Image as man’s

rational and moral capacity, image as community from man to man

and man to God, and image as dominion over the earth. After

sweeping by the arguments for each view, Payne reveals what he

believes the image of God to be: God created man with glory. This

glory was defaced with the fall of man into sin. Yet man can

fully regain the image of God by being conformed to the image of

Christ. He argues that by being conformed to the image of Christ,


who is in the image of God, man can again regain the image of

God.

Pyne’s argument sounds good, but he equates New Testament

scriptures referring to man’s sanctification with man regaining

the image of God. Pyne makes the assumption that man is in the

image of God in the same way that Christ is in the image of God,

when no such equation is given in Scripture. Several problems are

the outgrowth of such an idea. Evangelicals use Christ being in

the image of God to support Christ’s deity. What does Pyne’s

argument do to man’s humanity? Additionally, if man is being

restored to being in God’s image, his ultimate goal is a pre-fall

condition – the state of Adam. Being conformed to the image of

Christ is far superior to the unfallen state of Adam. Christ,

being in the image of God, is far above the pre-fallen condition

of Adam. Pyne cannot equate man regaining the image of God and

being sanctified without making the states of Christ and Adam

equal. Pyne should revisit his critiques of the three theories of

God’s image that he so quickly put down in order to make his own

case.

Pyne next deals with the material and immaterial aspect of

human nature. He begins by addressing an increasingly popular

holistic view of man. Recent scholarship has argued against the

Greek dualistic view of man, stating that the Hebrew culture had

no such divisions. Pyne argues against material monism (held by

many in the scientific world), which states that man all of man

can be explained physiologically. He also argues against the


other monistic extreme made popular by Eastern religions and the

New Age movement, that all material things share a common essence

or are even an illusion. Pyne also addresses the false dualistic

ideas that the body is purely evil, resulting in either extreme

of hedonism or asceticism. Pyne argues that the body has been

made good and is to be treated as an important part of the whole

person. Pyne is decidedly a dichotomist, taking a large portion

of text to push forward his view that man is composed of a body

and of a soul/spirit, rather than a body, soul, and spirit.

Pyne seems to fall short, though, on recognizing the unity

of the person in his arguments. He automatically assumed that a

holistic emphasis rejects the dualistic view. He equates the

holistic model with monism. Pyne should realize and address that

all the parts make a whole and that a holistic approach to man is

only seeking to address all of the parts of man and the

relationships between them, not deny that they exist. This

balance allows for a Hebrew and a Greek approach to man. Pyne’s

view on the dichotomy / trichotomy debate seems a little slanted.

He has some good points in favor of the dichotomist view, but his

points against the trichotomist view are weak. His interpretation

of Hebrews 4:12, referring to “dividing of the soul and spirit”

as splitting rather than separating seems like a poor judgment of

the context.

Pyne did well in his address of the implications of the

material and immaterial aspects to man. He covered topics like

abortion, cloning, birth control, capital punishment, and


cosmetic surgery. Helping take the principles of anthropology and

turning it into practice is a great achievement for Pyne in his

work.

Pyne next addresses human nature and behavior, examining

the classic nature versus nurture debate. He examines scientific

and biblical evidence. His well-formed conclusion states that the

balance between nature, nurture, and personal responsibility is a

difficult one, yet each of these variables affect human behavior.

Yet man can claim that none of them is totally responsible for

human behavior.

The next four chapters, Pyne focuses on the nature of sin.

Walking through the account of Adam and Eve’s Fall, Pyne

describes what sin looks like and how it comes to pass: Sin is “a

moment of decision (138), a turn toward unfaith (140), a matter

of pride (141), desiring the forbidden (145), self-justification

and blame (147), and blame turning cruel” (151). God’s judgment

on Adam and Eve has resulted in consequences for all mankind:

Eve’s pain in childbirth and desire for her husband, and Adam’s

toil and labor.

Pyne goes on to give spiritual effects of the Fall –

spiritual death. According to Pyne, this spiritual death is

evidenced in two ways: the inheritance of Adam’s guilt and the

total depravity of man. Because of Adam’s sin, all have been born

spiritually dead, alienated from God, under the curse of physical

death, and in need of forgiveness from God. Since all are born in
sin, all continue to sin and will inevitably choose evil over

good, if left to man’s own desires.

Understanding evil is a difficult subject. Why does God

allow it to happen? Pyne spends time discussing the patience of

God with evil and how it is impossible to understand the hidden

purposes of God. Yet God will judge evil, because he is holy and

sin is severe. All men can do is trust him. As humans living

among other humans, sin is always affecting society. Pyne goes

through the social consequences of the seven deadly sins.

Pyne finally concludes his work with a chapter on salvation

from sin and the restoration of life. It is only through Christ

that humans can achieve the fullness of life as God intended. God

has promised and provided a new heart and a renewed relationship

for all who believe in Christ’s work on the cross. Through the

Spirit of God working, one can have a changed heart, one that

will be ultimately perfected in the presence of Jesus the Savior.

Pyne’s work Humanity and Sin seems to accomplish his

purpose of presenting an intra-biblical approach to anthropology,

but also integrating extra-biblical support for a rounded,

practical approach to the study. Pyne’s work, though, appears to

have as its goal persuasion, rather than a complete presentation

and discussion of the various arguments. Pyne gives partial

representation of views that differ from his.

This book does not seek to objectively cover all the

differing arguments of biblical anthropology. It should not be

recommended as a reference book on biblical anthropology. It may


be suited to complement other similar books on anthropology for

someone who is looking for various perspectives on

anthropological issues.