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Human Being – Being Human

A Theological Anthropology in Biblical, Historical, and Ecumenical Perspective


Billy Kristanto

The ecumenical dialogues within Christianity mostly concentrate on the issues of justification, the Church, and the Holy Spirit. An ecumenical theological anthropology can rarely be found. The book presents the classical topics in theological anthropology from the Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox perspectives. The plurality or sometimes even the apparent tensions among theological traditions are shown to be within the limits of God’s word alone.

"In this fascinating book, Kristanto shares his thoughts on biblical notions, his vast explorations in the history of theology, and his analysis of today´s intellectual challenges. Bringing these all together in one highly readable work, Kristanto manages to demonstrate perfectly the relevance of the biblical concept of the human being for the Church and society."

Herman Selderhuis

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1 Human Being as a Part of God’s Creation


The study of anthropology is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of humankind. In Christian theological tradition, the doctrine of humanity and sin is not treated independently, but discussed under the doctrine of creation. Speaking of humanity is therefore always creation-theological. This principle also fits to the movement from greater to smaller or from the whole to the part. One cannot know humanity without starting with the universe as created by God. Excluding the idea of a created universe will result in a self-projected image when human beings look at the universe. In his discussion whether human being could be grasped (begriffen) or rather understood (verstanden), Thielicke writes, “Self-knowledge thus does not come through the contemplative act of scuttling in the own ego state, but only by a stepping-outward, through active actions in the world and by the encounter with history.”1 According to Thielicke, human cannot be the subject of self-knowledge, unless he/she understands him-/herself in relation with other creatures.

This leads to an inevitability of the first important truth-criterion for theological anthropology: human knowledge within the context of creation should relate itself with the knowledge of God. As Koch rightly states, “As a human being understands himself, so he understands – or he misunderstands – God; like a human being understands his relationship to the other, so is his God; and if a human being really understands himself from God, he understands himself anew from the ground, transformed.”2 Every anthropology, that is, knowledge of human being,...

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