The Cost of Getting Imago Dei Wrong

adam-dust

Ingolf Dalferth, Creatures of Possibility: The Theological Basis of Human Freedom (2016), 12–14:

From time immemorial, this representation of the human person has been taken theologically as an interpretation of the biblical reference to the human being as imago Dei (the image of God). Humans are related to God in that they are endowed with reason, but they manifest their likeness to God as in a mirror obscurely, because they are animals and not (only) reason, as God is.

This interpretation of the doctrine of human beings created in the image of God, which took as its reference point the image of human beings as animals endowed with reason, had disastrous consequences for the interpretation of human creatureliness and sin.

The creation-theological distinction between God and humankind became associated in a confusing way with the hamartiological distinction between true humanity as intended by God and fallen humanity as it actually is; the human faculty of reason was linked with human God-relatedness, whereas the human animal nature was linked with the human state of separation from God. Thus the problem of sin was read into the animal nature of humankind, with the far-reaching consequence that every animal and physical impulse was suspected of separating and turning human beings away from their Creator.

Conversely, relationship with God became focused entirely on reason, with the equally far-reaching consequence that reason became the definitive touchstone for determining whether it was possible to treat God seriously as God and the human person seriously (or even at all) as God’s creation. . . .

This singles human beings out, but it also puts them in a permanently precarious position. Neither mere animals nor wholly angels, they are compelled to find their identity on the border between two orientation points, neither of which they can lose sight of, lest they fall headlong and fail to achieve their potential. For whenever they want to be more than they are, behaving as if they were angels, they in fact become less than they are: inhuman animals. And whenever they want to be less — in other words, mere animals — they do not even achieve the level of animal life.

Don Carson: How to Destroy Evangelism with Political Animosity

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From Don Carson’s eighteenth lecture on Revelation delivered on June 17, 2005:

There is a great deal of anger on the American right at the moment. Let me just say a little bit about it, because it is troubling. It’s hard to know what to do. If you want to make a lot of money with a Christian book in this country, write a book that says what’s wrong with America listing all the bad things that you possibly can on the left. Demonize the left. It’ll sell like hotcakes on the right.

Do you want to raise money for Focus on the Family, or a whole lot of other institutions that are really good institutions in many ways? If they really want to raise a lot of money in a hurry, let them tell you the worst horror stories of the month. The money flows in. The reason it does is because there is so much in this society that feels, with a certain amount of justification, that “All those nasties on the left are taking away our heritage. They’re perverting our schools. They’re overthrowing principles of jurisprudence. They’re making the city unsafe.”

There is anger. There is anger seething through the whole land. Contrast that with the first Christians taking the gospel in the Roman Empire. They were nobodies. They didn’t have anybody taking away their heritage. They were out to take over the heritage. They looked around and saw an extremely pluralistic empire, and they said with Caleb, in effect, “Give us this mountain.”

They kept witnessing, kept getting martyred, and so on, and it was a revolution, finally, a spiritual revolution. We can’t do that today, at least we find it very difficult, because we’re so busy being angry all the time that at the end of the day not only do we lose our credibility with people on the left, they start demonizing us back, but we have no energy or compassion left to evangelize.

When you’re busy hating everybody and denouncing everybody and seeking political solutions to everything it’s very difficult to evangelize, isn’t it? It’s very hard to be compassionate, to look on the crowds as though they’re sheep without a shepherd, very hard to look on them like that when they’re taking away my heritage.

Yet, at the same time, because it is a democracy, there are things we ought to be doing to draw the line here and there, even if you understand the laws don’t finally engender justice. They might preserve it for awhile, but finally they’re all broken and you have to change the laws. There are things we ought to be doing. There are faithful things we ought to be doing.

But at the end of the day if you can’t do it with compassion, and gently, and leave the doors open for evangelism, boy, you destroy everything. I think one of the Devil’s tactics with respect to the church on the right today is to make them so hate everybody else that at the end of the day they can’t be believed anywhere, not even in the proclamation of the gospel.

Justin Taylor’s Tweet Rant

Justin Taylor is a fictional TV character, or a book publishing genius, or the global director of digital marketing for Nike. The recent tweet-rant from the global director of digital marketing for Nike basketball version of Justin Taylor is worth a read:

This year I think we are going to see a huge drop off in social media usage across the board but especially from youth.

While the people posting won’t disappear, those willing to scroll through and engage with their feeds will decline.

The constant news cycle of Trump and negativity will start to wear on people, as well as their lack of faith in who to trust for news.

Kids especially will lose interest in “the internet” and revert more and more to 1:1 messaging and human interaction again (hopefully).

And shift trust more and more away from brands/news stations/tv and more and more to friends/influencers/athletes/celebrities.

This political cycle has made social media really “grow up” over the last year, and has become less and less a fun place.

The next generation aren’t broadcasters, they’re in their own little tribes making Snapchat, iMessage and Instagram DM groups with friends

Because when you’re a kid and you’re getting sick of people constantly “yelling” at you online, what else would you do?

/rant

And with all the signs indicating that American politics will get worse before it gets better, these trends in youth social media seem reasonable.

[HT: @stefanlgreen]