One emphasis in missions has been to avoid imposing values or ideas on others. This is coupled with recent emphasis on “political correctness” where all world views are held to be equal. The tendency is to accept whatever one meets in mission and adapt the Christian message to it. It is believed that this reduces offence. The result is a variety of views on Christianity, according to location.
One of the justifications for this is a claim that although man fell he is still made in the image of God and therefore his natural culture and religion will reflect this image in some way. People may then claim new interpretations of scripture based on their cultural views. It is then said that the preaching of the gospel in this culture must adapt to these local views. “We just have to preach this adaptation in that field.” This justification has problems:
1. The assumption that the fall of man into sin is not total, or that it has only partially affected the image of God in man. It is a denial of the Reformed and Evangelical doctrine of total depravity.
2. It assumes that what looks like a godly value in human culture is in fact godly according to actual biblical teaching. This concept of false equivalents is explained further below.
The notion that there is some residue of the image of God in man after the Fall is unbiblical. The Bible teaches that whatever man brings forth that is helpful to society in general is due to God’s common grace, not to man’s innate intelligence or goodness. It is true that man has intellectual abilities and moral appreciations, but these are due to God’s restraining power and kindness. When this kindness is lifted man will resort to his default nature.
When God outlawed murder after the Flood because man is made in the image of God (Gen 9:6), He was referring to His original creation of man. He did not deny the totality of the Fall. God said in Gen 6:5 that every thought and imagination of man was evil continually. Man’s natural state according to God is total, not partial evil.
The command not to murder acknowledges the distinction between man and animal and the original purpose for which God made man, into which we are redeemed by Christ. Evolution tries to eradicate this distinction, by making man an animal. God demands that we honour Him by treating all mankind with dignity, whether they are saved or unsaved. But after the Fall, man is born in the image of fallen Adam.