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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter elaborates the classic content and evolving emphases of the doctrine of humanity in North American Presbyterianism. It considers human dignity as given in God’s bestowal of the divine image, including the duties entailed by the image; human misery, resulting from original sin understood as leading to total or radical depravity; the nature and limits of free will, understood in an Augustinian sense; and the locus of hope in the efficacious, redemptive grace of God, sufficient to overcome humanity’s bondage to sin, and conjoined to the continuing function of the divine law. It discusses the impact of scientific progress on Christian self-understanding, cautioning against alleged determinisms that threaten human moral accountability. It also observes that later confessional documents increasingly emphasize the dignity of historically disadvantaged groups, as well as bear witness to social and political aspects of human sinfulness.

Keywords: Presbyterian doctrine, human dignity, divine image, original sin, total depravity, free will, Presbyterian confessions, Presbyterian social witness

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