Christian Anthropology: A Reflection Part II

As we take on belief in the Christian tradition, we then learn to place trust in the Word Incarnate and His messengers.  The sciences, as rich as they are, receive their finite truths from that one Eternal Truth of God.  The Christian desires to know himself, the things that surround him, and his God, and he will find great comfort when he finally realizes that God is that Truth that he ultimately seeks.  But the question that lingers in the minds of modernity is that if the sciences are true, then could this mean the end of certain religious traditions and does it mean that scientism will take over as the new religion?  This question should be approached with a holistic understanding of the nature of religion, the nature of God, and of the nature of the sciences themselves.  The anthropocentrism of the humanity classes added to human reason’s understanding of the natural sciences among other disciplines serve to lead us to the very truth which ours hearts yearn for, but we as Christians also must recognize that our hearts will remain restless until they rest in Him.

This restlessness demands for us to look beyond ourselves to something other—to God.  The revelation presented to us may be objective, but its interpretations are quite subjective.  The Bible itself is not a subject of debate (historical and allegorical discussions notwithstanding); rather, it is what the Bible means that is up for discussion.  The Catholic Church claims apostolic succession from the very same Bible that Karl Barth uses to defend his ongoing revelation through the historical event of Jesus Christ.  Where does the truth lie?  Is it the Barthian view or is it the Catholic claim that should be upheld?

Here is the evident problem with a pure anthropocentric theology.  While undeniably created in God’s image, we are no more than the sum of our limited parts.  The limitation in our understanding does not allow for us to reach to that God so transcendent and yet so immanent.  Unlike Barth’s claim—that God is completely other and only reveals when He wishes—the Catholic Church’s Dei Verbum places emphasis on a personally revealing God.  God not only reveals when He wishes, but that he has created us in such a fashion that we can come to know of God through the world around us.  Here it is worthy to note the ability to reason that separates man from all other living things, and it is that very same ability which centralizes a whole new understanding of God and of man.  As Descartes’ eidological argument goes, one cannot know of God unless He has made Himself available.  While this argument has some problems of its own, it does say some truth about theological anthropology—that God must make Himself somewhat comprehensible to man’s finite understanding.  Christian anthropology requires that we understand ourselves in order that some light can be shed on God Himself.

Here, I think, is the locus of synthesis of where faith and reason meet.  Here is where faith finds reason and builds upon it.  Here is where the mind takes up reflection and the heart’s love informs it of the Word Incarnate.  Here is the God of Christianity revealed in the Divine Word becoming flesh and slain for life.  While Christian anthropology is knowing us to know something about God, we also must realize that there is a way to know God without having to come to know ourselves first.  The revelation brought to man by Christ shows that man has been adopted by the Almighty one.  Thus revelation, interpreted as a message from God to man for his salvation, is something so crucial that without it man would be lost without any hope of life.

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