The Truth About Mankind  (Click here to see the entire  Anthropology Table of Contents )

A Systematic Theology for the 21st Century
Part 06 Anthropology

Critique of Chafer's Anthropology
Critique of Chafer's Chap XI & XII Introduction to Anthropology (125-129) & The Origin of Man (130-159)1
If Dr. Chafer had made his last paragraph his first paragraph he could have cut out fourteen pages of add-nausea. None of this chapter recites God's aspect, and actually represses God's revelation about the origin of man. It is apologetic to the evolutionist, apologetic to the humanist, apologetic to the philosopher; and it is apologetic to the archeologist and the geologist; for crying out loud, it is even apologetic to the philologist,2 because that philologist, the historical linguist, “knows” it has taken a hundred thousand years to evolve the human language to where it is today!
There is a need for apologetics and some small amount of apologetic might find its way into a systematic theology, but it should not be the focus of a systematic theology in any arena, and especially not as concerning the origins of man. Dr. Chafer is writing a text that will appeal to 70+ denominations, all of which Dallas Theological Seminary strives to appease and accommodate. Here he does it well, by saying nothing of significance in a chapter that should be very fundamental, very straightforward and very enlightening.
The whole flavor of a neoevangelical readily seeps from Dr. Chafer's chapter on the origin of man. The series of Bible conferences springing from Niagara, New York at the close of the 19th century (1833-1897) brought both Fundamentalism and Biblical Dispensationalism into the lime light in America. The Fundamentalist became known for separating, holding anti-denominational (independent autonomous local churches), anticlerical (no clergy) and anti-creedal (no creed but the Bible) stances and defending five fundamentals of faith.3 Any departure from a fundamental tenant would constitute apostasy and result in separation. There was a distinct movement away from such staunch separation, neoevangelicals proposed that the apostate and unbelieving cultures must be constructively engaged. Rather than publicly confronting Church apostasy and separating from it, the neoevangelical advanced repairing it with inclusiveness. They supposed that social acceptance and intellectual respectability would be more effective on the perverse generation in need of correction. Fundamentalists soon dubbed them as the neoevangelicals.4
Dr. Chafer is wholly neoevangelical and his writing about the origins of man strives for intellectual respectability and social acceptance in a perverse world of infidelity and Church apostasy. Dallas Theological Seminary is founded on such neoevangelical principle and is, thus, pandering to 70+ denominations in its outreach. Consequently they must be very careful, never confrontational, in their declaration of truth, which never reaches a state implied in the term declaration. A true Baptist is a fundamentalist, even if they retired the phrase, and a true Baptist need not exercise such careful avoidance of confrontation.
Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary, like so many Baptist seminaries that started out right, is on the brink. It may at any moment forsake its Baptist fundamental and separatist heritage and embrace intellectual elitism, wherein it begins an irrecoverable slide down the steep slope of neoevangelicalism. Its assignment of a thoroughly neoevangelical systematic theology in its theological studies is an indicator of its inclination. Its disclaimer, that LBTS does not endorse the entire content of every text book used, cannot disengage this Baptist theological seminary from that dangerous slippery slope. Forces at play in its desire for intellectual respectability have already stepped over the brink and threaten to drag (or have indeed already dragged) the whole university and seminary over an irrecoverable line. Neoevangelicalism has swallowed the majority of Baptist Universities and all previous Baptist Seminaries. Jesus' warning in Matthew 7 has application for institutions as well as for the souls of men: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” In a university sense, few there be that stay on a straight, fundamental, Baptist way. LBTS shows signs of veering from the straight.
Dr. Chafer's neoevangelicalism aside, his “introduction to anthropology” and his “origin of man” cannot hold a candle to Baptist theologian Emery H. Bancroft's Elemental Theology, Doctrinal and Conservative5 Bancroft's work is adequately positive completely Biblical and very fundamental. His first sentence on creation contains a negative lead in “There is no trustworthy evidence that man came from beneath as a product of life forces or potencies of the material universe.”6 Bancroft, thus presents the fact of creation rather than the theory of creation. The latter track is Chafer's neoevangelical approach and mimics Augustus Strong's previous approach.7 Strong published prior to the birth of fundamentalism and the onslaught of neoevangelicalism, but his flavor is in general neoevangelical, i.e. tiptoeing through apostasy, being careful not to ruffle any apostate or evolutionist's feathers. Bancroft makes no apology for the truth, and presents a clearly separatist flavor of the fundamentalist. His work, however, is closer to a Bible Doctrines work than a Systematic Theology work. This seems to be the state of all Baptist theology efforts. A truly Biblical, i.e. Baptist, systematic theology is still lacking in publication. If such an effort would be undertaken it would be more than Emery H. Bancroft included in his 1932, Elemental Theology. It is indeed, most exceptional, but alas elemental, rather than systematic. To extend Bancroft's work from a 1932 Elemental effort to A Systematic Theology for the 21st Century, one which overpowers the neoevangelical works of Chafer and Geisler, one could start with Bancroft's excellent doctrines format and add the pertinent systematic endeavors (see this authors Prolegomena for a better description of that challenge).
The basic outline for a Systematic Theologies Anthropology section might start with a robustness found in Bancroft's: The Doctrine of Man (Anthropology).8 That outline is recited below:

I. Creation
A. The Fact of Creation
i. Mans Creation Decreed
ii. Mans Creation Declared
B. The Method of Creation
i. Negatively Considered
ii. Positively Considered
II. Original Condition
A. Possessed the Image of God
i. Does not denote physical likeness
ii. May mean a formal likeness, a likeness in form
iii. It could refer to a triune likeness- tripartite being, vs Triune Being
iv. It doubtless includes the personal image
v. It must involve endless being with which God has endowed man
vi. It certainly means intellectual and moral likeness:
B. Possessed Intellectual Faculties
C. Possessed a Holy Moral Nature
III. Probation
A. The Meaning of Probation
B. The Fact of Probation
C. The Period of Probation
IV. The Fall
A. The Fact of the Fall
B. The Manner of the Fall
i. The Tempter
ii. The Temptation
a) Woman, unprotected and near the forbidden
b) Insinuating question implied doubt of God's Word
c) Woman replying to and parleying with the slanderer
d) Woman tampering with the Word of God
e) Serpent's open denial of punishment for sin and accusing God of lying, selfishness, jealousy, degrading and lording over.
f) Woman believing the tempter lust of eye, lust of flesh, pride of life
g) Obeying the tempter
h) Becoming a tempter to her husband who yielded undeceived.
C. The Results of the Fall
i. To Adam and Eve in particular
a) Consciousness of nakedness and sense of shame
b) A craven fear of God
c) Expulsion from the garden
ii. To the race in general
a) Ground cursed to not yield good alone
b) Sorrow and pain to woman in childbearing
c) All men are sinners and resting under condemnation
d) Physical and spiritual death and threatened penalty of eternal death
e) Unredeemed men are in helpless captivity to sin and Satan

Depicting the difference in a Biblical doctrine work and a Biblical systematic theology work is the necessary work of a Prolegomena. That effort is begun in the draft Prolegomena for the 21st Century by this author. Dr. John F. Walwoord, who succeeded Dr. Chafer as President of Dallas Theological Seminary, described Dr. Chafer's Systematic Theology as “without question an epoch in the history of Christian Doctrine... a complete and unabridged Systematic Theology.”9 This author disagrees with that assessment and contends that a truly Biblical systematic theology is still want to be published.

Critique of Chafers Material/Immaterial Part of Man

A Critique of Chafer's Chap XIII-XIV The Material / Immaterial Part of Man (144-197)10
Lewis Sperry Chafer's poor coverage of mans origin and inadequate organization of his anthropology section takes a turn for the worse in this chapter. Infidel, Philosopher, and Roman Catholic have decreed that man is made up of a material part and an immaterial part; God's revelation makes no such simplistic distinction. If man is made in the image and likeness means anything, and if trinity means anything, then man is more than material and immaterial, he is body, soul, and spirit. The Roman Catholic doctrine that man has a material part to be dealt with and an immaterial part to be considered separately, has overwhelmed Chafer's neoevangelical leanings. His Systematic Theology has now become a book of Roman Catholic doctrine.
Chafer's propensity to teach Roman Catholic Doctrine in these two chapters makes this section all the more feckless. How the human body actually produces an immaterial part, traducian theory, various elements, capacities and faculties of an immaterial part of man carries such insignificance that it hardly matters that his three key sources are the Encyclopedia Britannica,11 Presbyterian Theologian Hodge12 and Presbyterian Theologian Shedd.13 The whole differentiation and characterization of this artificial material and immaterial parts of man is extra-Biblical. Chafer is taking neoevangelicalism even further than it is want to go.
Critique of Chaper's State of Innocence and Fall

Critique of Chafer's Chap XV The State of Innocence (198-214).14
It does not bode well for a Systematic Theology being systematic or theology when Lewis Sperry Chafer starts his chapter “The State of Innocence” with a philosophical poem by Hollands greatest 17th century poet. Once again Dr. Chafer is allowing his quest for scholarly philosophy to trump his communication of truth. His approach does not therein improve.
A single sentence from his section “The Responsibility of the First Man” reveals, again, that Chafer's work is wholly unworthy. “That the Christian may walk and talk with God, that the guiding and teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit is vouchsafed to him, and that the enabling power to realize God's perfect will and plan is freely bestowed, illustrated, to some measure, the high privilege and responsibility of the first man when no cloud intervened between his Creator and himself.”15 Sixty such words of brazen run on passivity, might be found somewhere in poor English prose, but may it never be found in a Systematic Theology book. Our subject is complicated enough, the prose we use must be riddled with simplicity, not with gobbledygook. But Chafer does get worse.
From this point on in his diatribe of verbiage Dr. Chafer makes his whole focus, not the Biblical representation of the state of innocence, as would be proper, but on those who consider the whole book of Genesis allegorical fiction. Certainly there is a whole tribe of Evangelicals who are such infidels, but a Systematic Theology which has as its sole authority the infallible, inerrant, plenary, verbally inspired word of God, has little cause to address such an audience. In such an exorbitant waste Dr. Chafer has frittered away another fourteen pages of his six volumes of work.
Critique of Chafer's Chap XVI The Fall (215-223)
There is little purpose in reading Chafer's wordy opinion on the fall of man. One need only take note that he first sites Milton's 'Paradise Lost', followed by the Presbyterian, Dr. Shedd, followed by the Westminster Confession. The overbearing error of all of this is addressed in the authors Prolegomena. It details how theologians with a theology in their heart have failed to follow a basic systematic methodology to get that theology onto paper systematically. Here Chafer does exactly what is condemned in that essay. He uses a scientific method wherein he hypothesizes about the fall of man, then experiments a path through multiple ancient opinions to bring a hypothesis up to theory, and using the same empirical process, to bring theory up to “gospel truth.”
Theology is not a science, and in treating it as such, Dr. Chafer abandons the inerrant, infallible, plenary, verbally inspired Holy Bible as his sole source of truth about the fall of man. He follows the outline of Charles Hodge. He follows the scheme of Augustus Strong. Both equally failed on this same level. It is curious that Geisler16, a whole generation removed from the neoevangelical start up that engulfed Chafer, does no less. His genius in organizing and communicating his neoevangelical theology in one volume (1680 pages) dwarfs Dr. Chafer's effort in six volumes. (2,700+ pages!) But alas, Norman Geisler has the same failure. These Theologians considered theology a science, and expected if they could “lasso” everything that was ever believed about God, i.e. here the Fall of Man, they would be able to draw the noose tight enough to end up with all the truth and nothing but the truth. Unfortunately this method, somewhat effective for science perhaps, is wholly inadequate for theology. In theology, at the start, there is an inerrant, infallible plenary, verbally inspired Holy Bible which is the sole source for the gospel truth. Such does not fit into the scientific method in any form.
Dr. Chafer has “lassoed” a great many sources to frame up his “theory” about the fall of man; unfortunately his noble effort is not really Biblical in nature or in analysis. This unfortunate analysis seems applicable to all of Chafer's Systematic Theology.
1Edward G. Rice, "ADVANCED SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY II TH802 WRITTEN REPORT- A Written Report Presented to the Faculty of Louisiana Baptist University, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Doctorate of Philosophy in Theological Studies,” Dec 2013.
2Chafer, Systematic Theology Vol 2, 141.
3“The twentieth century began with a tumultuous conservative uproar over the infiltration of numerous denominations by liberalism. The severity of the situation demanded immediate action. Heretical teachings were captivating and corrupting entire churches, schools and related organizations within multiplied denominations. Therefore, a coalition of interdenominational brethren, following a number of conferences, united around the five 'fundamentals' of the faith. They were:
1. The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
2. The deity of Jesus Christ
3. The virgin birth of Christ
4. The substitutionary, atoning work of Christ on the cross
5. The physical resurrection and the personal bodily return of Christ to the earth.
“The adherents to these five 'fundamental' truths were naturally labeled 'fundamentalists.' Those opposing them were called 'liberals.' “The men joining together around these five points (commonly called 'the doctrine of Christ') were from varied and diversified religious backgrounds. Thus, this amalgamation of 'first generation fundamentalists' included Presbyterians, Baptists, Reformers, Reformed Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, Congregationalists, and Wesleyan Holiness brothers. The astounding thing about the members of this interdenominational movement was their love for one another.” (Dr. Jack Van Impe, Heart Disease in Christ's Body, pp. 127-128).
4The term neoevangelical was popularized by one Harold Ockenga in 1947, neoevangelicals were then embarrassed to be called fundamentalists. (From accessed 18 Nov 2013).
5Emery H. Bancroft, Elemental Theology, 1932, Baptist Bible Seminary, 1945, 60, Zondervan 1977, 231-244.
6ibid., 231.
7Although Strong was consistently orthodox, he did use the results of modem critical scholarship more than, for example, his near Presbyterian contemporary Charles Hodge. Also, unlike Hodge, Strong was comfortable with the idea that God may have created the world through the processes of evolution. In the 1907 edition of his theology, Strong summarized his views on modern thought: "Neither evolution nor the higher criticism has any terrors to one who regards them as part of Christ's creating and education process." from accessed 2 Aug 2010
8Emery H. Bancroft, Elemental Theology, 1932, Baptist Bible Seminary, 1945, 60, Zondervan 1977, 231-244.
9Article contributed by, accessed 15 Dec 2013
11Chafer, Systematic Theology, 191,195.
12Ibid., 175.
13Ibid., 177.
15Ibid., 202.
16Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology in One Volume, Bethany House, 2002, 3, 4, 5, 11

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