Were Watching God Reflection
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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - Themes
For just as God has nobody over him in all creation, so man has no one over him in the natural world. But a woman does she has man over her". Philosophy once again had a significant effect on Western Christian theology in medieval Europe after the re-discovery and translation of ancient texts. Aristotelian philosophy and an emphasis on applying rationality and reason to theology played a part in developing scholasticism , a movement whose main goals were to establish systematic theology and illustrate why Christianity was inherently logical and rational. Reformation theologians , like Martin Luther , focused their reflections on the dominant role mankind had over all creation in the Garden of Eden before the fall of man. The Imago Dei, according to Luther, was the perfect existence of man and woman in the garden: all knowledge, wisdom and justice, and with peaceful and authoritative dominion over all created things in perpetuity.
In the Modern Era, the Image of God was often related to the concept of "freedom" or "free will" and also relationality. Emil Brunner , a twentieth century Swiss Reformed theologian, wrote that "the formal aspect of human nature, as beings 'made in the image of God", denotes being as Subject, or freedom; it is this which differentiates humanity from the lower creation. Paul Ricoeur , a twentieth century French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutics, argued that there is no defined meaning of the Imago Dei, or at the very least the author of Genesis 1 "certainly did not master at once all its implicit wealth of meaning.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, " It is in Christ, "the image of the invisible God," that man has been created "in the image and likeness" of the Creator. Hence it means the capacity for relationship; it is the human capacity for God. Richard Middleton argued for a reassessment of the Biblical sources to better understand the original meaning before taking it out of context and applying it. In Christian theology there are three common ways of understanding the manner in which humans exist in Imago Dei : Substantive, Relational and Functional.
The substantive view locates the image of God within the psychological or spiritual makeup of the human being. This view holds that there are similarities between humanity and God, thus emphasizing characteristics that are of shared substance between both parties. Some proponents of the substantive view uphold that the rational soul mirrors the divine. What is important is that the substantive view sees the image of God as present in humanity whether or not an individual person acknowledges the reality of the image.
The substantive view of the image of God has held particular historical precedence over the development of Christian Theology particularly among early Patristic Theologians see Patristics , like Irenaeus and Augustine, and Medieval Theologians, like Aquinas. Irenaeus believes that the essential nature of humanity was not lost or corrupted by the fall, but the fulfillment of humanity's creation, namely freedom and life, was to be delayed until "the filling out the time of [Adam's] punishment.
And we were in the likeness of God through an original spiritual endowment. While Irenaeus represents an early assertion of the substantive view of the image of God, the specific understanding of the essence of the image of God is explained in great detail by Augustine , a fifth century theologian who describes a Trinitarian formula in the image of God. Augustine's Trinitarian structural definition of the image of God includes memory, intellect, and will. Augustine's descriptions of memory, intellect, and will held a dominant theological foothold for a number of centuries in the development of Christian Theology. Medieval theologians also made a distinction between the image and likeness of God. The former referred to a natural, innate resemblance to God and the latter referred to the moral attributes God's attributes that were lost in the fall.
Aquinas , a medieval theologian writing almost years after Augustine, builds on the Trinitarian structure of Augustine but takes the Trinitarian image of God to a different end. Like Irenaeus and Augustine, Aquinas locates the image of God in humanity's intellectual nature or reason, but Aquinas believes that the image of God is in humanity in three ways. First, which all humanity possess, the image of God is present in humanity's capacity for understanding and loving God, second, which only those who are justified possess, the image is present when humanity actually knows and loves God imperfectly, and thirdly, which only the blessed possess, the image is present when humanity knows and loves God perfectly.
Medieval scholars suggested that the holiness or "wholeness" of humankind was lost after the fall, though free will and reason remained. John Calvin and Martin Luther agreed that something of the Imago Dei was lost at the fall but that fragments of it remained in some form or another, as Luther's Large Catechism article states, "Man lost the image of God when he fell into sin. Furthermore, rabbinic Midrash focuses on the function of image of God in kingship language. While a monarch is cast in the image or likeness of God to differentiate him ontologically from other mortals, Torah's B'reishit portrays the image as democratic: every human is cast in God's image and likeness.
This leveling effectively embraces the substantive view and likens humankind to the earthly presence of God. The rabbinic substantive view does not operate out of the framework of original sin. In fact, the account of Adam and Eve disobeying God's mandate is neither expressly rendered as "sin" in B'reishit, nor anywhere else in Torah for that matter. It is instead likened to a "painful but necessary graduation from the innocence of childhood to the problem-laden world of living as morally responsible adults. Midrashim, however, finds common ground with the Thomist view of humanity's response to the image of God in the stories of Cain and Abel filtered through the, "Book of Genealogies" Gen Insofar as the image and likeness of God is transmitted through the act of procreation, Cain and Abel provide examples of what constitutes adequate and inadequate response to the image, and how that image either becomes fully actualized or utterly forsaken.
The murder of Cain is cast as preempting the perpetuation of the image through Abel's potential descendants. Midrashim interprets Gen as Abel's blood crying out not only to God, but also "against" Cain, which lays the onus squarely on Adam's firstborn. The relational view argues that one must be in a relationship with God in order to possess the 'image' of God.
Those who hold to the relational image agree that humankind possess the ability to reason as a substantive trait, but they argue that it is in a relationship with God that the true image is made evident. Later theologians like Karl Barth and Emil Brunner argue that it is our ability to establish and maintain complex and intricate relationships that make us like God. For example, in humans the created order of male and female is intended to culminate in spiritual as well as physical unions Genesis —2 , reflecting the nature and image of God. Since other creatures do not form such explicitly referential spiritual relationships, these theologians see this ability as uniquely representing the imago dei in humans.
Archaeology discovered many texts where specific kings are exalted as "images" of their respective deities and rule based on divine mandate. With the rise of contemporary ecological concerns the functional interpretation of the image of God has grown in popularity. Some modern theologians are arguing for proper religious care of the earth based on the functional interpretation of the image of god as caregiver over created order.
Thus, exerting dominion over creation is an imperative for responsible ecological action. One of the critique of the functional interpretation of the imago Dei is that some formulations might convey a negative message that it conveys about persons with disabilities. Within the functional view, it is often thought that disabilities which interfere with one's capacity to "rule," whether physical, intellectual, or psychological, are a distortion of the image of God. At the same time, however, the substantive view has been criticized for exactly this issue. The Imago Dei concept had a very strong influence on the creation of human rights. Glen Stassen argues that both the concept and the term human rights originated more than a half-century before the Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke.
Imago Dei in reference to religious liberty of all persons was used by the free churches Dissenters at the time of the Puritan Revolution as an affirmation of the religious liberty of all persons. The concept was based not only on natural reason but also on the Christian struggle for liberty, justice, and peace for all. The background of this struggle lay in the time of the English Revolution. The king had been alienating many Christians by favoring some churches over others. According to the scholar of Puritan literature William Haller, "the task of turning the statement of the law of nature into ringing declaration of the rights of man fell to Richard Overton.
One of the themes that foreshadowed Richard Overton's reason for giving voice to human rights, especially the demand for separation of church and state , is implicitly connected to the concept of the image of God. That the magistrate is not to force or compel men to this or that form of religion, or doctrine but to leave Christian religion free, to every man's conscience [ Any concept of human rights will therefore include: first, democratic relationships when humans rule others, cooperation and fellowship with other humans, cooperation with the environment, and the responsibility for future generations of humans created in God's image.
Judaism holds the essential dignity of every human. One of the factors upon which this is based is an appeal to Imago Dei: "the astonishing assertion that God created human beings in God's own 'image. Interpretation of the relationship between the Imago Dei and the physical body has undergone considerable change throughout the history of Jewish and Christian interpretation. Old Testament scholars acknowledge that the Hebrew word for "image" in Genesis 1 selem often refers to an idol or physical image. The Apostle Paul at times displays both an appreciation for and a denial of the physical body as the image of God.
An example of the importance of the physical body and the Imago Dei can be found in 2 Corinthians , in which Paul claims that Jesus Christ, in his entire being, is the image of God. Paul states that in proclaiming Jesus, the renewal of the image of God is experienced, not just eschatologically but also physically cf. In 2 Corinthians , Paul states that Christians are "always carrying the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. In sum, for Paul it seems that being restored in Christ and inheriting the Image of God leads to an actual corporeal change. As one changes internally, so too does one's body change. Thus, the change affected by Jesus envelopes one's entire being, including one's body. Many theologians from the patristic period to the present have relied heavily on an Aristotelian structure of the human as an inherently "rational animal," set apart from other beings.
This view was combined with Pre-Socratic notions of the "divine spark" of reason. Middleton contends that Christian theologians have historically relied more on extra-biblical philosophical and theological sources than the Genesis text itself. This led to an exclusion of the body and a more dualistic understanding of the image found in dominant Christian theology. Irenaeus was unique for his time in that he places a great deal of emphasis on the physicality of the body and the Image of God.
In his Against Heresies , he writes "For by the hands of the Father, that is by the Son and the Holy Spirit, man, and not a part of man, was made in the likeness of God. Further, because the Son is modeled after the Father, humans are likewise modeled after the Son and therefore bear a physical likeness to the Son. This implies that humans' likeness to God is revealed through embodied acts. Humans do not currently just exist in the pure image of God, because of the reality of sin. Irenaeus claims that one must "grow into" the likeness of God. Because of sin, humans still require the Son's salvation, who is in the perfect image of God. Because we are physical beings, our understanding of the fullness of the image of God did not become realized until the Son took physical form.
Further, it is through the Son's physicality that he is able to properly instruct us on how to live and grow into the full image of God. Jesus, in becoming physically human, dying a human death, and then physically resurrected, "recapitulated," or fully revealed, what it means to be in the Image of God and therefore bears the full restoration of our being in God's image. By so doing, Jesus becomes the new Adam and through the Holy Spirit restores the human race into its fullness.
Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, a small population of theologians and church leaders have emphasized a need to return to early monastic spirituality. Thomas Merton , Parker Palmer , Henri Nouwen , and Barbara Brown Taylor , among others, draw from aspects of mystical theology, central to the Christian desert ascetics , in order to provide theological frameworks which positively view the physical body and the natural world. Similarly, feminist thinkers have drawn attention to the alienation of the female experience in Christian thought.
For two millennia, the female body has only been recognized as a means to separate women from men and to categorize the female body as inferior and the masculine as normative. The understanding of Imago Dei has come under new scrutiny when held up against the movement of transhumanism which seeks to transform the human through technological means.
Such transformation is achieved through pharmacological enhancement, genetic manipulation , nanotechnology , cybernetics , and computer simulation. Transhumanism's assertion that the human being exist within the evolutionary processes and that humans should use their technological capabilities to intentionally accelerate these processes is an affront to some conceptions of Imago Dei within Christian tradition. In response, these traditions have erected boundaries in order to establish the appropriate use of trashumanisic technologies using the distinction between therapeutic and enhancement technologies. Therapeutic uses of technology such as cochlear implants , prosthetic limbs , and psychotropic drugs have become commonly accepted in religious circles as means of addressing human frailty.
Further, they correct the human form according to a constructed sense of normalcy. Thus the distinction between therapy and enhancement is ultimately questionable when addressing ethical dilemmas. Human enhancement has come under heavy criticism from Christians; especially the Vatican which condemned enhancement as "radically immoral" stating that humans do not have full right over their biological form.
In these stories, God was in no real danger of losing power; however, Patrick D. Hopkins has argued that, in light of technological advancement, the hubris critique is changing into a Promethean critique. According to Hopkins, "In Greek myth, when Prometheus stole fire, he actually stole something. He stole a power that previously only the gods had. Within progressive circles of Christian tradition transhumanism has not presented a threat but a positive challenge. Some theologians, such as Philip Hefner and Stephen Garner, have seen the transhumanist movement as a vehicle by which to re-imagine the Imago Dei. Many of these theologians follow in the footsteps of Donna Haraway 's " Cyborg Manifesto.
Building off of Haraway's thesis, Stephen Garner engages the apprehensive responses to the metaphor of the cyborg among popular culture. For Garner, these "narratives of apprehension" found in popular movies and television are produced by "conflicting ontologies of the person. Therefore, it is understandable that a person's first reaction to the image of a cyborg would be apprehension. For Garner, the wider scope of Haraway's "cultural cyborg" can be characterized by the term " hybridity.
Brenda Brasher thinks that this revelation of the hybridity of human nature present insurmountable problems for scriptural based theological metaphors bound in "pastoral and agrarian imagery. He says, that in the three major areas of hybridity in Christianity are eschatology , Christology , and theological anthropology. In eschatology Christians are called to be both in the world but not of the world. Finally, in theological anthropology the hybridity of human nature is seen in the concept of the imago of God itself. Humans are both formed "from the dust," and stamped with the divine image. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Doctrine in Judaism, Christianity and Sufi Islam. This article has multiple issues.
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Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. He did not immediately dash off a Twitter update or snap a photo to post to Facebook. He stopped; he watched; he learned. Christians have long understood that productivity is not easily measured by any spiritual metric. And when we turn to the Bible we see little demand for constant productivity. We read of Jesus, who maintained a ministry in which He was always in demand. As He went from one town to the next, the crowds pressed around Him, asking Him to go this way and that, to heal the sick, to cure the lame.
And yet Jesus constantly retreated. He would go into the wilderness by Himself for extended periods of quiet communion with His Father; He would enjoy an intimate dinner with a handful of friends; He would gather His few disciples around Him and savor their company. As the pace grew, Jesus would constantly slow it down in order to keep His focus on what was most important. Much of His time was not productive in any way we could easily measure. And yet His time was sacred, every moment dedicated to the Father.
Few of us today have such self-control, such dedication to what matters most. Re-created in the image of speedy and productive devices, we find meaning in speed and constant productivity. Yet many of us wish that life would slow down and become less overwhelming. We know that there must be something more than the constant distraction, the constant velocity. In the midst of all of this distraction, the cure is to refocus our attention on what matters most. If our distracted existence is the fruit of allowing beeps to control our lives and of turning speed and capacity into divine virtues, then we must respond by silencing the beeps and relearning how to focus.
The Christian faith requires that Christians use their God-given minds, their God-renewed minds, in order to know what is true and to reject what is false. Writing to the Colossian church, Paul states:. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. We are to study God by studying the Word of God, and, on that basis, then to live for Him. These Berean Christians used their minds to search the Bible to ensure that Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
If we are to do any of this, we will need to work tirelessly to eliminate distractions and to focus on what matters most, without being drawn aside by the beeps and buzzes and the demand for efficiency. God created us in such a way that we naturally respond to stimuli within our environment. When we hear a noise, we listen and respond with a turning of the head; when we see a flashing light, we see and respond with a turning of attention.
God created us this way for our own good and protection. Yet too much stimulus can keep us from focusing our attention on one thing. There is good reason that libraries are places of quiet and that there are no strobe lights in church sanctuaries. David knew this, which is why he rose early in the day, before he could be distracted, to spend time alone with God. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promise. David knew that a life of virtue required a life of thoughtful meditation. David did not have to contend with a cell phone that would ring whether he was awake or asleep, working or worshiping. He did not have to contend with the fast pace of e-mail or text messaging.
He did not have to wrestle with whether to begin the day in worship or in checking his Facebook account. If we are to live with virtue in this digital age, we need to recognize that we are engaged in a battle, at war with distraction. We must learn to discover what distracts us, destroy it, cultivate concentration, and seek out solitude regularly and habitually. As Christians, we should not be surprised that our technologies often seem to work against us. We know that technology, like everything in creation, is subject to the curse. As Christians we know that God calls us to live with virtue, to live thoughtfully before Him, to use our God-given minds to live in a way that honors Him.
If we are to take our responsibilities seriously, we must learn to ignore the buzzes, the beeps, and the distractions that threaten to drown out serious thought and reflection. We must learn to remain undistracted, to wholeheartedly focus our attention on the things that matter most, and to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
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