Christian Anthropology: A Reflection Part I

Blaise Pascal once said this about man:

What a chimera, then, is man! What a novelty! What a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, imbecile, worm of the earth; depository of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error; the pride and refuse of the universe

We, as humans, find ourselves asking questions about the reality that surrounds us, even before we are able to reason.  My daughter is curious about everything that is placed in front of her, and her way to try to find out what they are is to put them all in her mouth.  As she grows she will become more aware of the world and also to ask more complex questions that deal with what she witnesses in life.  Certainly her curiosity and questions will have morphed from these extremely simple wonderings to profound inquiries.  It will soon no longer be “what is that fluffy thing that has music coming out of it?”  Instead, it will be questions like “why am I here and where do I go after death?”

Another instance of these much more profound questions is when the we attempt to distinguish between moral and immoral actions.  In this instance, we encounter specific situations that demand specific actions from us and we necessarily, and rightly, ask ourselves the question, “what is the right thing to do in this situation?”  But a question of morality entails that there must something objective about the rightness and wrongness of an action.  Therefore, we ask ourselves another question, “if an action is right or wrong, is it because it is naturally so or is it due to convention?”  When we answer that moral rightness is so because of some natural objective law, we then conclude that there must be a law-giver, something transcendent and mysterious.  Religion is thus born from this kind of reasoning.

This birth of religion, because it stems out of the fundamental questions of human existence, consequently centrals itself around the human condition and nature.  Theological anthropology is thus the understanding of the nature of the human person as he relates to his God from divine revelation.  The list of questions which theological anthropology poses range from questions about humans and the universe to questions about God which are posed by questions about the person.

In this sense, the humanized God is not one that has been created in our own image, as Ludwig Feuerbach insists; rather, the humanized God is the God who reveals Himself to our limited understanding through natural super-phenomena or in some other direct way that we are created in His own image.  As the Christian’s understanding of the Bible matures, so does his realization that the infinite God who created him is the very same God that spread his arms on that cross.  Between his birth and death, that begotten son of the Father revealed to us that we are in fact blessed and loved from the very beginning.  Yet, for all the teaching and performance that Christ carried out to show us His love, we remained doubtful until our eyes have seen and our ears have heard that our inner “doubting Thomas” began to believe.

 

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