Christian anthropology or theological anthropology is the articulation of the Christian understanding of human existence. It is the study of human existence, of the human person in his or her relationship to God.
One can often assume that theology is first and foremost engaged with the question of God. However, the first question that the theologian attempts to answer is, “Who am I?” or “Who are we?” Theology first and foremost endeavours to understand the meaning of our lives so that we can then move to the questions of God, of Jesus, of the Church, and of our Christian moral responsibility.
Christian anthropology then starts with the question of ourselves, of your human existence. It does so precisely because it is as human beings that we come to a belief in God, in Christ as the Word of God, and in the Church as the body of Christ. It is we as human beings who seek to find meaning and order in our lives and in our world. Since all theological questions begin with us, as the ones who raise the questions in the first place, theology cannot afford to take for granted the questioner if it really hopes to understand both the questions we ask and the answers we have been generating in response.
Thus we commence with an attempt to outline our human situation today. We come to grips with our human situation today with the questions and the demands that these questions pose. Vatican II spoke of “the Church in the modern word”, and so we ask ourselves what is this modern world characterised by and how does it affect our self-understanding?
Having presented some picture of our times and the questions we are faced with, we then explore the many answers that have emerged through history until today in response to our questions. We will look at the answers from the areas of natural and social sciences, from philosophy, theology and the official teaching of the Church regarding the understanding of human existence.
We then proceed to understand a Christian understanding of human existence. We will look at the beginnings, namely protology or seek to present a theology of creation. We then seek to understand a theology of grace and nature and the understanding of the human peson as affected by Original Sin. We will then take up important issues concerning our human existence and seek to understand them in relation of God, Christ, and the Church. These will be:- suffering and its meaning and role; work and its meaning; and feminist issues and violence against women in Christianity. We will finally take up the issue of Eschatology as we consider a theology of hope. This will also mean looking at the last four things:- death; judgement; purgatory and limbo; hell and heaven.
We will finally conclude with a synthesis of a Christian understanding of human existence, in other words, seeking to express a Christian anthropology.