Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Made in the Image of God

God's nature flows from his being, as the cause of all, the cause of himself. Humans, in a sense, cause themselves, especially from the immanent viewpoint. Other creatures grow and develop, but I do not know of any others which do things like go to the gym, get a degree, etc, purely, as they see it, in order to make themselves a certain sort of person. In humans, we find people who see themselves and develop a desire to be different than they are. From the transcendent viewpoint, yes, those desires which develop are determined, but from the immanent perspective existentialism is right: existence precedes essence in a certain sort of way. Perhaps I start out with a certain essence, but it is a very small part of me, people can change to extraordinary degrees. Perhaps it would be ideal for people to go in what would be the "natural" way for them to develop, i.e., the way that their essential essence would naturally express itself, but that would still be the person choosing a certain one of various selves, which choice would involve no contradiction either way.

Thus, Adam, in a sense, created the human race as the sinful human race. In this act Adam also creates creation, not totally, but in a similar way to how God did. He looked at creation and caused it to be other than it was. Why? Chance, in the immanent view, at least in part, maybe something in Adam's nature; yet it is still Adam choosing what sort of Adam he would be. From the transcendent, it is necessary in order that God might execute his awesome plan of salvation of wretched sinners from sin. A tragedy, but, while bad now, it is a bit of an adventure. Maybe the falleness of the world is part of one of those things where we will look back, in this case after Christ's return, and tell the story of how God saved us. And that story is the most awesome story, more so with respect to how bad it is to go through than any of the similar stories we might tell in our current state. Like in Lord of the Rings, the really great stories are the ones where people fight for some good in this world against all odds, and God took the absolutely ruined world we live in, and he is making it all new. Total depravity means that God is fighting against the worst odds, except that he is God and there is no other, he wins. On the cross, Jesus of Nazareth crawls into our Mordor, with great suffering, in order that there might actually be good in this world. At the end of Lord of the Rings, are we asking why the greater power that is referred to in some places as working did not stop the rise of Sauron in the first place?

So we create ourselves in story, just as God creates himself as author of the story. We can decide what sort of person we are, in the immanent perspective. God creates the story and all the characters and all their interactions, in the transcendent perspective. There is also a sense where we author our respective stories, not in the sense of making the characters and their interactions, but in the sense that we tell stories about why things happen and then expect further things to follow in like manner. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How am I getting there? The answers to those questions is a sort of construction of the skeleton of one's story. Monkeys don't seem to have answers to these questions, and, even if they could speak, I expect these questions would be non-starters.

Because there is a sense in which we each cause our own existence, and because this is an essential characteristic of God, thus we, in having this characteristic to a degree, show the glory of God more than any that has that attribute to a lesser, or non-existent, extent. Our worship, because we can choose ourselves (not that we can choose contrary to our overall nature, but with regard to our narrower, more essential nature we can), is even more God glorifying because it comes from one who looks more like God. A picture of a forest shows us what forests are like more when it is on a piece of wood than when it is one rock because then we can say "and there is this texture and smell, too." In the same way, we are able to show what God is like better, and thus glorify him better, because we are more like him. And we are made king of the world, not sovereignly, but to a large extent. Thus we speak for creation. If we are not saved, then we say by our acts that God ought not be sovereign, but that we should be, and so the world mimics us apart from our mimicking God. We are fallen, thus the world mimics fallenness--we say by our acts that the fallen life is best, and our kingdom listens. If we rather are saved by God, and worship God, then, by our acts, we declare that all that we have ought to be devoted to God's glory, and thus creation obeys, in fullness when Christ returns, but in part even now.

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