Showing items filed under “E: The Nave I: the human being, created, broken, redeemed, hopeful, justification”

The Human is a Political Being

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By this Aristotle meant that we are constructed for life together, life in a ‘polis.’ We should take this claim in a strong sense, i.e. not simply that we like fellowship, but that it is a fundamental dimension of who we are.

At the same time it is usually the individual who may decide for faith, and in the individual in his or her own uniqueness that dignity resides. The discovery of this latter claim is related in history to the Gospel.

The human is made for both, solidarity and individuality, though one culture will emphasize one side, another the other. We in our time and place list strongly to the latter. We do well to remember that in heaven we shall stand and praise God together, part of a great company.

God deals with us, both in judgment and in salvation, as both a body and a collection of individuals. Alan Jacobs (in ‘Sin: a cultural history’) speaks of a ‘democracy’ of sinfulness, the fact that we are all broken, as a race and as individuals. So the Old Testament can speak of the consequences being visited on the third and fourth generation, as well as each generation bearing its own guilt. Sin may indeed take the form of losing sight of one side or the other altogether.

Read Ezekiel 18 and give examples and counter-examples.

In the Image of God

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At the heart of all that we have to say about the human being is a certain balance or tension. To say that we are creatures is to say something equally true of a gorilla or a horse, but now to add that they are creatures ‘in the image’ is to say something unique to them. Another way to put the matter is this: we too are made in the sequence of creation laid out in Genesis 1. But we are the last, the culmination, the ones to give voice to God the praises of all, the creatures able to worship, which is implied in the Sabbath rest of the seventh day. This purpose for us is intended by God, and so cannot be erased.

For centuries theologians have asked in what our image-of-God consists. Is it thought or speech or relationship or dominion over other creatures? Arguments for and against each can be given. One may also wonder whether it is something we have individually or collectively.

Now if we imagine it to be that we are made to be able to and inclined toward worship, what might we conclude from this? Worship includes relation, language, and thought, and still the activity itself is unique to us. Furthermore it may be seen even when it is distorted into what the Bible calls ‘idolatry.’ To this we now turn.

True or false: the human heart has a God-shaped hole.

Compare the first and last chapters of the Bible.




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