You bring up your view of the issues and I in turn articulate mine. How is this not listening and engaging in an intelligent conversation? Should I sit demurely and merely nod my head and thank you for your thoughts?
You ask me questions about Christianity and I answer you with the foundation of our faith and history. How else should i answer? My faith is not a philosophy. It's not a system of works. It's not a result of my blood line. It's not a means of climbing the social latter.
It is life.
You ask me questions about Christianity and I give you answers from the "one source" the Bible, the only truly authoritative work on the subject. God's own words. Would my arguments be better aided by including quotes from Confucious or Nelson Mandela? That's not giving an answer about my faith. They have nothing to do with it. I quote Scripture so that you know that these are not my own "made-up" philosophies. There are too many out there who make their own "god" in their mind. Thinking, "this is what *I* think God is like ..." Rubbish. We know *exactly* what God is like because He has revealed it to us through Scripture.
In addition I have, myself, engaged in the conversation citing moments and people of history.
I would appreciate the same from your own arguments. Please include sources outside of your own opinion to back up your line of thinking.
"to say Secularism and Materialism are one in the same is to say Religion and Spirtuality are also the same."
who said that?
I'm not quite understanding your thoughts on material goods. Are we not to be good stewards of the things in life God has blessed us with? No one here is promoting Monastic Poverty.
"you're simply a hypocrit who will make a Generalization that all Secularism is Materialistic in nature."
again, who has said this? I do not appreciate your coming into the conversation with these preconceived ideas of how I think. Your idea of Christianity has obviously been marred by the sinful acts of those who claim to hold to the *religion* of the Christian faith.
Have you seen me throw personal stereotypes in your face?
And … Yes, humans by nature are sinful. Can you deny this?
"Oh, and you should try making an effort to travel and be exposed to other cultures. I can say that meeting the Dali Lhama was interesting and enlightening." ~ ehem ... thanks for the tip. I am widely travelled. I have friends who live in all four corners of the earth. I am by no means narrow-minded. I love culture and engaging different cultures. But when one has found Truth, why flirt with lies?
*In God’s creation of man, He gave special priority to creating man and woman as can be seen in chapters 1 and 2 in Genesis. It was after he created mankind that the Lord ”looked at all that he had made, and behold, it was very good," (Gen. 1:31).
We owe everything to God as our Creator. Our design as created beings is not a product of chance. No, the Lord shaped Adam from the dust of the earth and molded Eve from Adam’s rib. Our depend upon him entirely to sustain our very being. We owe him everything. Our obedience. Our loyalty. And our worship. He created us. He has claims of ownership over us.
Man was created good, body and soul. Our sexuality, our bodies, as well as our souls are created by God and are good and are meant to be used for the purposes that God intended in creating us.
Humanity is invested with moral freedom and responsibility. To none of the rest of creation does God give a moral commandment as He does to the man in the garden when He says to him, "Of all the trees you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die," (Gen. 2:15-17). It sets up right at the very beginning the moral imperative that humanity must realize that they are required by God to obey, but they are given a kind of freedom in which they may obey or not, and so they must use this gift of moral freedom in a way that would bring God glory and themselves blessing rather than to bring harm and destruction to themselves. The whole history of the human race shows how these two tracks are followed, either of obedience or disobedience as our moral freedom is expressed.
Man’s constitution, or his makeup, is that of a physical body and a spiritual soul. Tertullian’s Treatise on the Soul, written in the 2nd or 3rd century, says as much. Scripture supports this claim in Luke 23:43, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise." Certainly, this means, among other things, that the body of that thief on the cross, while it will go to a grave; the soul, the thief himself, as it were, the inner person, the thief on the cross will go to be with Christ in paradise.
Naturally the material part of our bodies comes about through the biological reproduction of our parents. How does one, then, have a soul? The traducian view holds that the soul as well as the body are carried over or brought forward from the human parents. In other words, this view holds that as God developed the reproductive process to work, He intended for human parents through sexual reproduction to conceive not just human bodies but whole human persons. Human beings produce human beings, that is, the whole human is reproduced in the reproductive process that God has designed. It is noted in Genesis 1 that both man and woman are created in the image of God, then when they have a child, that child is created in the image of the man. If you look in Genesis 5:3 we read, "Adam lived 130 years and he became the father of a son in his own likeness," this is referring to Seth, "and according to his image, and he named him Seth." Isn't that interesting that man and woman are created in the image of God but here Seth is created or is born, as it were, in the image of Adam who was the image of God? So, it looks as though your and my image of God status has come down a long line of parents, grandparents, great grandparents; you would back it all the way up to the original pair, Adam and Eve, and you realize image of God is passed on through this.
Everybody agrees that image of God in Genesis 1:26-27 is significant. The text changes all together when you come to that point. "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image according to our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, over the cattle in all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' And God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Clearly, image of God is meant by the author of Genesis to indicate something significant. Several people throughout history have defined in different ways.
Irenaeus (2nd Century) - argued that the image of God is our reason and volition but the likeness of God was something different, that is our holiness. As a result, the likeness of God is lost in the fall and regained in redemption but we all have the image of God because of our capacity of reason and volition.
Augustine understood the image of God as the reflection of the Triune persons of God mirrored in the distinct yet unified intellectual capacities of memory, intellect, and will.
Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century locates the image of God in man's reason by which we have the capacity to know and love God.
There have been these various proposals that something structurally accounts for our being the image of God. It makes us different from the animals. It makes us more like God because of that structural feature or features.
Karl Barth (20th Century) - it is relationality that constitutes the image of God. It’s not marriage that constitutes image of God, but human relationships taken more generally. Our dependence and need for one another is what constitutes this imaging.
Emil Brunner, Barth’s close friend, was the main proponent of this. He says it’s not the dual gender but the fact that we have a spiritual relationship with God. It is a relational understanding but only spiritual. We relate to him. We have a need for him.
The functional view essentially says that image of God has to do primarily, not with our structure or relationship, but as our structure and our relationship are put to work, as it were, that is, as we are called to do what God has commanded us to do.
Advocates of this view, Leonard Verduin and D. J. A. Clines have argued that the double-reference in Genesis 1:26, 28 of man ruling over the fish of the sea (notice that is mentioned twice in this image of God passage in Genesis 1) ruling over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and so on cannot be accidental. What God intends by this is for His image of God people to represent Him in ruling the earth that He has made. In other words, they become, as it were, vice-regents for God. Yes, He is King, but notice in Genesis 2 God takes Adam who is image of God and tells Adam, "You cultivate the garden Adam. Now it is my garden, I made it," God says, "but you are responsible to take care of it. You become caretaker of My creation." Notice the animals. How significant this is that He says, "Adam, you name them." Granted, they are God's animals, God has the right to name them. To name something is to indicate your authority over, your ownership of, even. So, God in giving the right of naming the animals to Adam is indicating you have rulership over these creatures that I have made. Yes, I made them but you act as vice-regent and rule over the animals.
Now if we’re going to discuss Ancient Near Eastern culture and history, let’s do so here.
One very helpful thing, I think, in trying to make sense of the image of God and what happens to it in the Fall and what happens to it in our restoration in Christ is the ancient near eastern background that D. J. A. Clines has made us aware of. Clines, a number of years ago, asked this very simple question. Why is it that the writer of Genesis, Moses, did not define for us what "image of God" is? Obviously, it is important; everybody agrees with that. But why didn't he tell us what he meant by it.
Clines suspected the reason that he didn't is because it was already understood; it was a commonly understood term or phrase. He went to work and looked in the ancient near eastern background to this and discovered that, sure enough, "image of God" is there and used prominently in the ancient near eastern context.
What it refers to most prominently as it refers to human beings, because image can also refer to inanimate objects as well, but when it refers to a human being it is of a king who has rulership responsibilities that he carries out on behalf of one of the gods. It looks as though this does give preference to the functional notion of image of God. This is important because many times, the kings are referred to as gods. Not because they were thought to actually be god but rather because they took on this role of acting in his image.
Three characteristics that Clines noted when it had to do with human beings:
1) the image of God took place when some kind of divine fluid or breath (or some substance) was imparted to the person who became the image of God. Could have been something he drank or ate, or simply breathed into him.
2) This substance, being given to this person, enabled the person to have god-like characteristics and function in the place of the god.
3) It happens only to a select few people. A king or a few royalty.
Applying Clines’ work to Genesis, looking specifically at verse 7 and God breathing into Adam the breath of life, then by taking a rib from the man. The whole human existence comes from Adam. Thus, the first characteristic is expressed in Genesis (breathing into the head of the race). The second of course, is shown in Adam’s naming ceremony and ruling of the garden. God has thus equipped Adam with what is necessary to rule and govern the land. When we come to the third, this is where Cline says Barth missed it! The point is that BOTH are created in the image of God, not that the image of God is both. The Old Testament teaching goes beyond the ANE understanding and thus we have it’s primary significance. It’s not just some representative king, but to all human kind.
My professor, Dr. Bruce Ware attempts then to bring together the structural, relational, and functional aspects of this, functional understanding being primary or at the core (especially when you interpret this in light of the doctrine of the person of Christ). But functions cannot take place without ontology and structure. You can’t have isolate functions that are not the functions of something. Image of God, though it’s not centrally the structure that we’ve been given by God, structure makes a difference and is quite necessary. If God calls us to have this mandate to have this ruling on his behalf, then he builds us in such a way that he grants to us a makeup that is consistent with this calling. That would include reason but not only reason. We have to have minds that can think God’s thoughts…etc. This is all necessary for us to carry out God’s mandate. But what about relationship? We jointly, subduing the earth, together as a body, make an impact and rule. Each of us needs each other and together we carry forth the purposes of God. This male female relation is indicative of the larger social framework which God intends us to be part of in living out this God given mandate. This might be called functional holism.
Ware’s definition, one that I mostly agree with, can be found in his article "Male and Female Complementarity in the Image of God" in the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 7/1 Spring 2002 issue. The definition reads as follows:
"The image of God in man as functional holism means that God made human beings, both male and female, to be created and finite representations (images of God) of God's own nature, that in relationship with him and each other, they might be his representatives (imaging God) in carrying out the responsibilities he has given to them. In this sense, we are images of God in order to image God and his purposes in the ordering of our lives and carrying out of our God-given responsibilities."
I think this notion of functional that conveys the notion that we are made a certain way to do a certain thing. Yes, the structure is important; the relationship is important; but all of that is there to serve the purpose of the function that God has given to us.
Another book you might want to look at on this that is very helpful is Anthony Hoekema's Created in God's Image. He has a very helpful discussion and basically argues along the same lines as I am presenting here.
If you change the function, you change the structure. We have depraved minds. We do not think right. We do not act right.
If image of God is fundamentally functioning in a way that carries out God's purposes you can see where the Fall just really distorted that. Even though we still retain reason, will, a spiritual nature in the rest, all of that is oriented now against God. So we are not acting as God's vice-regents, rather, we are in rebellion against Him and guilty of treason against the King. So what has to happen in Christ is we have to be restored in a place where we once again live the way Christ lived. How did Christ live?
Christ said, "I came to do the will of the Father who sent me. I don't speak on my own initiative; I speak as the Father taught me." We need to be images of God the way Christ was the Image of God par excellence who lived his life to carry out the will of the Father and the restoration of us involves the restoration of our substance, surely our structure, as our minds and wills are reshaped to be Christ-like, but then that has the function or the outcome of enabling us to do what we were called to do. In that sense we become like Christ and so are remade the image of God as we are remade the image of Christ.
God has created us to experience and express what God is like. God, first and foremost, has in mind who we are in order to ground and support what we do. To be people who receive from God something of the fullness that is God’s infinitely and eternally. He shares it with us.
Our reason for being here is not to help God out! He doesn’t need us! We are here to be filled, not to fill up him. His strength replaces our weakness. His knowledge replaces our ignorance. We receive from God what he possesses and we lack. We become finite recipients of the fullness of God. We are here to experience God at work in our lives. He creates us to experience and express what he is like. So we live out of those natures that have been filled with the love of God and the mind of Christ.
We note then the irony in living absolutely bound to Christ and the freedom that accompanies. A life of freedom is at one in the same time a life of freedom. The only truly liberating life there is a life in bondage to the will and the ways of God (Romans 5). Analogy: a train made/designed to run on tracks. That’s where it is freest. A train can be all that it can be when it is allowed to run on tracks. But if the train begins thinking that it is being restricted, it wants to go cross-country, it finds its life of freedom violates its created design and thus brings bondage that kills it. Or we could think of a fish deciding to jump up on shore to experience the real, free, land-life. A bondage that kills soon comes. There is bondage one of two ways. One liberates and one kills. It is the nature of the fish to swim in water or the train to run on tracks. Such leads to life. God has called us to a life of liberty and joy but that is only found in our fulfillment of our created design.
* Notes taken from Dr. Ware’s Systematic Theology II course.