As I scan the anthropological landscape I find, as usual, two extremes. On one side there are those who give human beings a supreme elevated status (high enough that there is no room for God) and on the other those who, in a sincere attempt to give God proper respect, have brought the humanity to a lowly status, in some cases to nothingness. Needless to say, neither position is satisfying. This blog series is an attempt to forge an alternative, a better view of mankind, particularly a better Christian perspective.
- I find that our view of God determines our view of man, but the vice-versa is just as true, that our view of man determines how we view God.
I don’t intend to argue with my humanists and atheist friends right now. My beef is with my fellow Christians. From songs, to sermons, to common literature I find themes of supposed humility and profound spirituality where people see themselves nothing more than … dust. This is usually contrasted to a high view of God. The argument goes something like this: the more we focus on God, the less we see ourselves; the greater God is, the smaller and insignificant we are. Does having a high view of God imply necessarily a low view of humanity or does this just reflect a bad theology?
Here are some questions to start us off. What gives value to our humanity? Is value built into our DNA as humans or is it an add-on that can be lost or diminished? In other words, can I be human with no value? Do we gain significance and value from what we do or do we simply act out our perceived significance? Is value an objective or a subjective reality?
The Scriptures say that God created the human kind and declared it good. This connection (that we are a Divine creation) is critical because if we believe in a good God than we have to believe in a good creation, believe that people are inherently, ontologically good. The moment we start thinking of ourselves as bad (in our nature), it reflects bad on our Creator. Yes, some (or many) would say, but … what about sin?
Since I believe that sin should be an integral element in any serious conversation on anthropology, let’s start with it. I have written about this in another post (click here to read it). The two connected questions we need to ask are: what is sin and did sin affect us ontologically (sin changed our very human nature)? How we answer these questions will determine both our anthropology and our theology. Is sin an objective reality with an existence of its own or a subjective reality, an illusion, a lie? On one hand, believing in sin’s objective nature raises one set of difficulties. Did God create it or does it have an eternal existence, apart from God? On the other hand, if we accept that sin has changed us ontologically (who we are, our very nature), than we have to accept its logical conclusion, i.e. sin is either more powerful than or as powerful as God, which creates other complications.
Next Monday will deal head on with the concept of sin or as they like to call it in theology: hamartiology
For right now, let’s get the juices flowing. What are your thoughts? What are your questions on this? Where do you want to see this conversation going?