The Basics—Divine Image-Bearers
With the language of the eighth Psalm clearly in mind (“you have made [man] a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” v. 5), Reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til declared that as an image-bearer, Adam was created to be like God in every way in which a creature can be like God. These words sound rather shocking when we first hear them. But as Van Til goes on to point out, because Adam is a creature, he can never be more than a creature. He will never be divine. Christians cannot talk about the creation of humanity without first being clear about the fact that God is distinct from his creation, and he cannot be identified either with the world around us or its creatures.
The biblical account tells us that Adam was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), which indicates that Adam is neither divine, nor the product of some unspecified primordial process. Adam was created by a direct act of God in which Adam’s body was created by God from the dust of the earth, while his soul was created when God breathed life into the first human (Genesis 2:7). The divine image extends to Eve as well (Genesis 2:4-24). To be human then, is to be male or female and to bear God’s image in both body and soul, which exist as a unity of both spiritual (the soul) and material (the body) elements. To be a divine image bearer is to be an ectype (copy) of which God is archetype (original).
Because all men and women are divine image-bearers, we are truly like God, and we possess all of the so-called communicable attributes of God–albeit in creaturely form and measure. This is what constitutes us as “human” beings, distinct from and superior in intellectual, moral, and rational capabilities to the creatures who make up the animal kingdom. The creation of Adam and Eve marks the high point of the creation account (Genesis 1:28-31), as God pronounced the first man Adam to be “very good.”
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A New Religion With a New Sacrament?By R. Scott Clark — 2 years ago
Written by R. Scott Clark |
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
For us Christians, let vaccines be vaccines and not sacraments. Let science be science and not a new religion. If something may not be questioned, however, it is a religion and not science.
John Calvin (1509–64) famously wrote that the human heart is a “perpetual factory of idols” (Institutes 1.11.18).
What he meant is that since human beings are irrevocably and naturally religious and, after the fall, profoundly corrupted by sin, our religious inclinations do not disappear but are misdirected. The question is not whether humans will be religious but how? Yesterday on Twitter Jules Diner posted a quotation from a certain Thomas Sheridan, a writer hitherto unknown to me:
The ‘Pandemic’ has been a kind of religious event for most people. For the first time in [their] entire existences they had something meaningful to live for. It gave them rituals, fear of damnation, and hope for redemption and salvation with the vaccine[s] being the keys to ‘the kingdom of heaven.’ They could point fingers at heretics and unbelievers like their ancestors did back in the Middle Ages. [Ed. note: revised for punctuation and grammar]
I do not know if this is an original analysis but it seems true. There is a religious quality to some responses to the pandemic (and to other crises too). Consider the global cooling [1970s]/global warming [1980s–90s]/climate change [2000s] crisis. There are reasonable grounds for questioning the claims being made about anthropogenic [man-made] climate change but increasingly debate on this issue is being silenced. By definition science operates on the principle of doubt not trust. Anyone who knows just a little about the history of science or even its most basic principles knows that it operates on doubt, questions, discussion, and even debate. When scientists publish their results the first thing that happens is that other scientists try to replicate their methods and results to verify them. Science does not trust. It doubts and tests. Anyone who tells us to “trust the science” is advocating a dogmatic, unreasoning religion not science. Christianity, by contrast, has dogmas to be sure but it is not unreasoning. It is grounded in historical claims. We claim that the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is a historical event the evidence of which (i.e., Jesus of Nazareth) was witnessed by hundreds of people. We have written accounts, produced by sane, reasonable people of these historical events. Further, we claim that there is more evidence to come: Jesus will return bodily and there will be more bodily resurrections.
It has been observed that lab-coated scientists are the priests of Modernity. They are the clerics who diagnose the ills of our bodies (e.g., medicine) and souls (e.g., pyschiatry) and it is they who prescribe the cure of bodies and souls. Steadily through the Modern period their pronouncements have become unquestionable and dogmatic. So, the turn of the culture, during the pandemic, to lab-coated priests is understandable. It is interesting that Dr Fauci’s NIH staff photo shows him in a lab coat. The lab coat, of course, is the vestment for the new priesthood and Fauci is arguably the new pope of the new priesthood. Consider why Dr Fauci would have his lab coat on for his staff photo? It is not because he had just stepped out of the lab for the photo. He has been an administrator for years. His actual working uniform is a business suit not a lab coat. My grandfather, who was a farmer, did not wear his overalls for the family photo. Fauci wore his lab coat for his staff photo for the same reason a priest wears his vestments for a photo: to signify his office.
Yesterday afternoon my better half was remarking on the comments she was reading below a story in the New York Times about the airline strikes and the vaccine mandates. As she described the tenor and language of the comments I was struck by how much they reminded me of the angriest of witch-hunting medieval mobs. This is quite striking because I imagine that the subscribers of the NYT think of themselves as enlightened and tolerant but there was precious little of either evident in the comment box.
Life and DeathBy Henry Anderson — 3 months ago
There is no higher calling in this world than to live for Christ. When you wake up tomorrow morning, using this verse or others, actively seek to dawn this mentality. Live for Jesus, display Jesus to others, tell others about Jesus, being reminded that this life is a vapor that is here and then vanishes. Make the most of the time God has granted us on earth.
Life and death… are a definition of opposites. They are two spheres we will all traverse, should the Lord tarry. It’s also true that while we will navigate both, we have only experienced one of which at this point in time. Life is present. Death is the future. Since death is the future, shouldn’t it affect life at present?
I imagine that everyone would agree here, that it should. ‘Yes, since death is coming, that should inform how I live at present.’ Sadly, I think at times unbelievers do a better job here (in a negative way) than we do––in living in light of the future. What I mean is this, since death is coming, unbelievers seek to enjoy their fill of the world to the full, indulging in sins and all sorts of evils, throwing caution to the wind with their souls. For the unbeliever, death often motivates unholy living at present, it fuels the fire, so to speak.
If that is the case, how much more so should Christians be sold out to live for the Lord at present, particularly in light of what death brings? If death motivates unholiness for the unbeliever, how much more should it motivate holy living for the believer, out of a love for the Lord? In Phil 1:21, Paul writes, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” That verse is a spiritual thermometer of sorts, it shows how you’re doing. The way you live your life at present testifies to what you believe about what is to come in the future.
I know we are well on our way into 2023. It’s a bit late for new years resolutions. I am generally not one for new years resolutions, given the world’s flippant commitments. However, I am for them in the Jonathan Edward’s sense. Edwards composed 70 resolutions for his life in being a follower of Christ. The first of his resolutions is undergirded with Paul’s words in Phil 1:21. Edwards wrote,
“Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.”
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Edwards
That is a grand statement. Our aim and practice as believers should be to live to glorify the God who saves, with all that we are, all the time. As I write that, which I firmly believe, I recognize that I do not live up to that statement perfectly, and I imagine that you do not either. Our God is awesome, in the truest sense of the word, because of what the future holds, we should live fully for Him at present… but we don’t. Despite how great our God is we can forget our purpose and call in life, at least in practice.
Again, Paul writes, clear, unambiguous teaching that summarizes the life of a Christian. He says, “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” At first glance, it might be easy for someone to assume that Paul writes a statement like this one when everything’s going his way in life. That’s not the setting. Paul makes that statement while imprisoned, not from the Ritz. He wrote in verses 7, 13, 14, and 17 of the chains that he wore. But the reality that he was imprisoned did not change or alter his perspective on his purpose in life. In fact, he wrote in Phil 4:11–13,
“Not that I speak from want, for I learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in abundance; in any and all things I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
At which point, we can see that “going Paul’s way in life” wasn’t what mattered most to him.
So here Paul is, this man who is heavenly-minded and therefore of the most earthly good, and he says to the Philippian church that his desire is for Christ to always be magnified in him. He says in verses 18–20,
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my salvation through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”
This is Paul’s focus in life. When Paul wakes up, his day is about Christ being magnified. When he goes to bed, the same is true. This is what he breathes, eats, drinks, and dreams. His life isn’t like a shotgun with many different pellets in a general direction, but rather like a rifle with a single bullet and precise aim. His focus is clear. He knows his purpose in life.
At this point, Paul has likely been walking with the Lord for around 26 years or so. If anything, he has only become more crystalized in his focus and resolve to live for Christ. Shortly after he was saved by the Lord Jesus, in Acts 9:19b–20 we read, “Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’” Upon being saved, Paul knew he was to proclaim Jesus Christ. He knew that he was to live for Him, and he continued to grow in this knowledge over time.
As we read on in Acts and in learning about Paul through his letters, around 16 years later we see a fuller picture of Paul’s heart for the Lord. We read him say in Gal 2:20, a statement that is so direct concerning the Christian life, that it only amplifies Phil 1:21.
A Darkness More than NightBy Benjamin Glaser — 2 months ago
Those who grope around in darkness (see Deut. 28:29) cannot praise Jehovah for they see Him not. Light in the context of Genesis 1, John 1, and myriads of other verses says to believers that if they want to understand the world around them, be at peace, and receive all the goodness which comes to the those who love the Lord than they best be abiding in the light and seeking out the light wherever He may be found.
There is a call to love the light that reverberates throughout the Bible. The marking out of darkness as the realm of evil is an image which is meant to evoke for us the vanity of seeking after wicked things, for they lead us astray from the good and they actively take us away from the truth. Darkness has always, in every culture, been the domain of the dead. Your grandaddy’s old saying that nothing blessed happens after midnight has been shared by old men to their progeny in Romania as much as Mongolia. It is a universal knowledge. It is part of the reason why the color black is the shade chosen by those who which to be seen as transgressive, non-conformist, and those who wish to let everyone know they mean trouble. The silver and black of the Raiders was chosen on purpose.
In the beginning (no pun intended) when we are first introduced to our God it is mentioned that darkness was on the face of the deep. The Holy Spirit is seen hovering over the waters. Then God makes light which comes neither from the sun nor the moon, but from the command of His voice. Why was it made? It is not as if the Third Person of the Holy Trinity needed it to see. Our God does not have eyes like men. Also darkness isn’t meant to imply the absence of God, and light the presence of God (more on that in a minute). It can seem as if there is a deeper thing going on here that we are not quite ready to comprehend completely, especially if you are coming to Genesis with preconceived notions of what to expect. However, as we think about what the Lord is doing we need to remember that as the patriarchs gave us testimony, they knew that one was to come who would give light to the answers we seek.
The Apostle John as he writes his gospel will mimic these opening words of Genesis and apply them directly to Jesus Christ. He writes:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.