ET and the Imago Dei

et8242One thing that science has taught us about ourselves is that we are, apparently, in the grand scheme of things, insignificant creatures, on a small planet, in a remote section, of an obscure galaxy. The incarnation notwithstanding, humanity is not the center of the cosmos and I do not see that being imago dei gives us any unique claim to being so.

Suppose there are other races. There certainly have been other human species on earth in the past. But suppose there are intelligent races “out there”, in the vast, unfathomable reaches of space. Science tells us the likely hood of there NOT being other intelligent races as being so remote that there almost certainly are. This doesn’t mean we will ever meet them. But, that fact should not dissuade us from acknowledging the probability of their existence.

If the Image of God is man as man, then we have a right to rule over all of creation, as the Bible says. But, if the image of God is something other, something built into the fabric of the universe toward which all things grow and are becoming, then man as man is not the center.

For me, I cannot fathom that this beastly tribe we find ourselves members of are the divine appointed representatives of God to the creation. Yes, certainly there have been some beautiful men and women. For sure, there are those who strive to live by high ideals and moral mastery. But as a race? I don’t think so.

Jesus is certainly the epitome of what man is becoming and should be. He came to deliver us from our destitute nature and draw us into communion with God. In other words, redemption is the full embodiment of the imago dei in humanity. Not only did Jesus come because man is important to God (we are!) but also because by coming, we are made significant in ways we could not have achieved on our own. We are not merely loved of God for our own sake but for Christ’s sake.

Until we get off of the pedestal we have built to the greatness of man, we will continue to fight religious wars, wage religious attacks against our own, and generally fail to be all that we could be.

Suppose in 10,000 years time, if we ever get that far, chimpanzees have evolved to the point of language and basic agrarian culture. Here we would have apes in the same position we were at 10’s of thousands of years ago. Will they be imago dei? To my mind, the answer is of course they will be. But to anyone who sees man as the pinnacle of creation, they will be creatures to be lorded over by man…just as they are now.

Science + Faith = Christianity

Tiffany_Education_(center)Contrary to the opinions of many, Christianity is an evidence based religion. The claims of Christianity are rooted in history. Let me be clear, Christianity per se, is not about theism. It is about the man Jesus who lived in Palestine about 2000 years ago. Christianity claims that Jesus was born, lived and died and subsequently raised from the dead. This is the core claim Christianity makes. Should the body of Jesus ever be found in the desert, the whole religion will have been revealed to be but a misguided ruse. The absence of such compelling evidence against Christianity, though, does not *prove* it’s truth.
We are far removed, historically speaking, from those who claimed to witness first hand the resurrected Jesus. Because of this, we cannot consider the claims of Christianity to be self-evident. It is a certain perspective with which we interpret documented events. We cannot therefore, condemn those who do not see things the way we do as Christians. Judgement is always best left to God.
Jesus remains, imo, the most unique character in history. Not because of who the Church says he is as God Incarnate, but because of what we believe happened, historically, 2000 years ago a short while after his death. He was a great moral teacher, a miracle worker, a prophet. The very early Church didn’t know what to make of him. All kinds of theories arose about him ranging from the now orthodox opinion that he was God incarnate, to the disavowed opinion that he was a phantasm.
The fact of his blatant humanity has always been scandalous; even to many Christians. He is GOD says the pious mind in a failed effort to “preserve” his deity. In so doing and making this emphasis, his humanity is lost and we no longer have a God incarnate.
Jesus is bound to history. Demonstrate that he did not exist or was not raised from the dead, and Christianity is dead. Period. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of history and verification of historical data to Christianity. As St Paul argued, “if Christ is not raised….then you are still dead in your sins.”
I see so many Christians dismiss or vehemently object to issues like evolution because they say it conflicts with the Bible. They then have to come up with cockamamy conspiracy theories about how science is out to destroy Christianity. In doing this they do not realize that they are removing Christianity from a firm historical basis and placing it into the realm of the mythical and legend. To deny science is to deny the Faith. As St Augustine stated, “All truth is God’s truth.” Therefore science must not only be embraced, it must be revered.
Faith is not ignorance. Faith is not opposed to science. In fact, faith cannot exist without science. Science tells us the facts. Faith tells us what those facts mean for us. Science cannot answer the question “Is it right to kill?” Only faith can address this issue. Science can tell us the results of killing, the pros, the cons, the long term effects…it can provide data. But it cannot speak on the morality of it. It takes something beyond science to do this. Call it faith, intuition or what have you, it is beyond the realm of science.
Science can be performed even by lower animals. We have all seen animals learn by repeating something, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. This is science at it’s most basic. But it is faith that is unique to humanity. At least so far as we know. Lower animals do not seem to have any moral concerns. Occasionally we see animals do things that appear to approach love or care, but we really, at this point, have no way of verifying that is what they are actually doing. Humans alone among the species have the ability and drive to make moral judgments. But without science, without data or facts, moral judgments are meaningless. Lions kill their prey, but it’s not murder. Lizards mate but it’s neither marriage nor rape.
The long and short of it is that without history (science) Christianity cannot exist. Likewise, without Faith, Christianity is an empty claim. It takes both together for Christianity to live.

The Bible Tells Me So?

open-bible-11288023214vduXThis post is to lay out my belief about the Bible, it’s authority, and it’s origin.

The Christian Holy Scriptures, the Bible, is not a single work but a collection of 66 books (in the Protestant version). Each book has it’s own unique point or points to make. Often the content of one book conflicts with the content of other books. This is to be expected since there is no single author.

These works span a history of several thousand years, yet the final canon, as we have it today, is under 2000 years old. The biblical books embody various theological perspectives and opinions based on the time they were written. There is no clear, single over arching theology that ties all the books together. That said, I believe there is a single *hope* expressed in all the books, particularly of the Old Testament, of a coming Messiah. Exactly who he would be and what he would be and do, were never agreed on. With the coming of Jesus Christ, all the Old Testament books were turned topsy turvy as the reality set in.

The New Testament books share, with their Old Testament predecessors, the theme of Messiah, and also like the older books, express various opinions and theologies to explain who Jesus is.

I do not believe, as do many today, that the Scriptures were ultimately penned by God himself through some kind of “inspiration”. I find this theory does great injustice to the nature of the Scriptures as well as to God himself.

We cannot turn to the Bible to answer anything definitively. It is the human record of our experience with God through history. It is not a letter from God to humanity. Nor is it “The Word of the Lord” as if it were authoritative and contained the blueprint for morality and theology from God’s own hand.

There is but one Word of God, and that is Jesus Christ himself. He alone is the testimony of God in whom are found all the answers of wisdom, theology, and morality. He is the penultimate Revelation of God to mankind and it is upon Him that the faith of believers is set, not on words written about him.

The Bible serves the church, not the other way around. As Jesus pointed out in a similar principle, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Since Jesus is the ultimate Sabbath Rest, it is in Him that we find meaning for the questions we ask; not in the Bible.

The Bible is able to be used by God, yes, as a medium through which he speaks to us. But then, so is any other literature or medium. God speaks through the creation and that includes things made by man, such as the Bible.

At any rate, those are my thoughts.

Christianity and The Kingdom

Is Christianity, as we have known it, Christianity? Or is Christianity something larger, something bigger than we have realized? Isn’t the name itself limiting, suggesting that Truth is confined to history rather than to the present and future as well?

Suppose Christianity has barely scratched the surface of the meaning of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. Suppose that when Jesus said the kingdom is here that really is what he meant, and that His kingdom would grow just as other things grow. A seed is not apparently a tree, but after a long time that is what it can become. Do we really think that Christianity as historically defined is the Kingdom of God in all its fullness? Or that future generations will find themselves in no possession of truth beside that which we currently have?

If the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed then the fullness of the kingdom must be radically different in appearance than the humble beginnings. Who would ever deduce from appearances that a tree came from a seed? So it is with the Kingdom. To equate historic Christianity with the final and ultimate issue from the Seed, which is Christ, is foolishness. Eye has not seen, nor ear has heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for us. This refers not merely to the eschaton, but to the reality of the growth of the Kingdom in this world.

Authority, Freedom, and the Bible

I think it is the enduring and very human quest for certainty in a world that does not readily produce certainty that leads men to subject themselves and others to that which they believe to be of divine origin. Authority is the name of the game, and the West is infatuated with it. The most obvious symptoms are bondage to certain ways of thinking about the Bible, the Church, and God. It seems to me that such bondage rarely if ever produces joy and peace and happiness. Jesus, on the other hand tells us that we ‘shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.” And elsewhere in scripture is the verse, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

I have to ask, where is this liberty and freedom which bring peace and joy among those who claim to have an absolute earthly authority? Is it not obvious that that which characterizes them are rules, regulations and a certain kill-joy attitude? A straw man? Perhaps, but often all too true. Freedom is seen as freedom to be bound by the rules and live by them; to be static; to move through life as a train moves along a track, bound to it and guided by it.

Ones view of authority is, in my opinion, born out of a basic fear of abandonment by God. Either one succumbs to that fear and finds ‘divine’ guidance in concrete forms which are then elevated to infallible status, to be transgressed at ones own peril, or one overcomes that fear, throws away the fig leaves and says, Here I am in all my sinful brokenness, deal with me, God as you will, and I will trust you. One looks to an authority outside of God that supposedly has God’s divine stamp of approval, the other looks to God himself and rests in Him.

I do not think there is any absolute authority in this world and to assert that there is is to snuff out the liberty that belongs to the children of God and ensnare them to bondage. God has written His law on our hearts. We have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and we know right from wrong. It’s part of being human to know these things.

While I love the Bible and believe it is the meta-narrative of Salvation I no longer believe it to be a book intended to tell us right from wrong as if we didn’t already know. It is the story of how God has provided for us in Christ through sinful people who, knowing right and wrong, did both anyway. It is the story of how God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. It is a story designed to provoke faith, not guilt. It is a call to trust, not a judgment against us. It is a story of Resurrection and the restoration of all things, not of how bad things really are.