A vocabulary of creation
1. God is the Creator: (Genesis 1:1; Acts 17:24ff).
“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything” (Heb. 3:4)
2. God provided a very good beginning:
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Be sure others know this before we talk about the current condition of the world.
3. God created humans in His likeness: “made in the image and likeness of God”- (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6; James 3:9).
Four truths extend from these three starting points in a Christian worldview:
A. Ownership: God owns everything and everyone by creation and his sons and daughters by redemption (John 1:12).
“To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it” (Deuteronomy 10:14).
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).
“Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:10-11).
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:24-25)
B. Value: Search in vain to find another account of human origins that attributes such dignity and honor to humanity. The Nobility of humans is referenced in the United States Declaration of Independence: “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” These are considered “self-evident” truths. But how could we possibly reach this conclusion?
Evolutionary biology (as a science) can’t supply a workable explanation for the ultimate origin of all things (unless one is using it as a philosophy or a religion instead of science). But even if one embraces a theory of evolutionary biology as an explanation for ultimate origins, it certainly can’t be used to ascribe a value-order for exalting one being as more honorable than another. But Scripture tells what we know by reality (self-evident truths), humans are distinct, unique and exalted among the beings on earth.
C. Connection: We share a deep connection with each other as human beings. Christians tend to emphasize distinction based on spiritual condition. But since we have a common Creator, we should also recognize a connection that crosses human imposed boundaries like ethnicity. We are one race. We are one fallen people. Should this truth factor into our thinking more clearly? If so, how?
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10).
D. Accountability: We answer to an authority outside of ourselves. This serves as the basis for morality, ethics, right and wrong; law and justice.
4. Humans are meant to live in a Creator-creature order:
He provided our dwelling place and sustains us (Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Colossians 1:16-17). Our Creator defines meaning, morality and destiny. (see: Matthew 19:3-6)
5. Humans are responsible and accountable beings of dependence, limitations, boundaries and restraints (Genesis 2:7-8; 1:29; 2:15-17).
Implied in this is the fact that humans were created as volitional and moral beings–able to choose between right and wrong.
A vocabulary of Depravity
1. Human dignity is not the whole story-
If (as the story goes) we had a good start, something has gone badly wrong (and you don’t need a Bible to know this). Expressions of human dignity exist alongside vast amounts of human selfishness, evil and violence.
But why is evil an inborn and universal reality? How do we defining good and evil? (big issue for parents, authority, justice).
•Most people are willing to admit that something is profoundly wrong with the world. And, if they’re interested in honest discussion, they’ll admit that we all share in the brokenness and corruption.
•A big point of discussion should focus on how we are to account for the way things are.
Point: We find the account in Scripture most consistent with reality and the most satisfying even if it doesn’t fill in all the details. We also find it most hopeful for pointing us to a solution that involves forgiveness and restoration.
2. Rejecting the good Will of the Creator (Genesis 3-4; Romans 3:23; 5:12)
God’s highest order of beings (made in his image) fell from their intended greatness.
Scripture uses descriptive language related to fallenness:
“for all have sinned and fall short (ὑστερέω) (present/passive) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). A universal and continuous condition.
Prefix/suffix words imply “a fall from” by misstep and overstepping a boundary, “dis-obedience, faith-less, un-righteous, law-less, …
The reason and motivation remains the same (Genesis 3:1,6) – – –
- Offer of an alternative worldview
- Allurement by appeal to immediate desires
The consequences remain the same: “fall from…” “something amiss, out of sink” — “against” “loss” “Grief.” Hiding and blaming; divided and dying (Genesis 4)
•Looking at this world through any lens (or mirror) leads one to conclude that we human beings are not at peace or truly reconciled with anything or anyone– in an uninterrupted way. If we reach a measure of peace, it’s not maintained easily and soon disappears. This is true on all dimensions of existence.
You are not at peace with:
•Your body – It is threatened by many opposing realities. This is why we diet, exercise and contract diseases.
•Your mind – It is threatened by anxiety, depression, evil thoughts and much more.
•Your environment – Nature itself threatens to destroy us if we don’t respect its powers and our dependency on it: We can have too little or too much rain; too little or too much sun. The destructive forces are many (tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc…).
•Your self – Sometimes we observe people who never seem to be able to get their “act” together and we ask, “What’s her problem?” Someone answers, “Oh, she’s got issues.” Other times, after years of struggling, we’ll say of someone, “He’s finally at peace with himself.”
•Your relationships – There are endless difficulties with family, friends and neighbors. Is there ever guaranteed peace and reconciliation between people? No. It’s almost always the opposite: conflict, hostility; revenge and war. Whether it is individual to individual, race to race or nation to nation. Absence of peace is real and even tragic.
•The absence of peace (shalom) runs like a fault-line through human history and through every human heart.
•Genesis 3:17-19; 6:5; 8:21 •Psalm 51:5 •Jeremiah 17:9 •Mark 7:21-23
“The real human predicament, as Scripture reveals, is that inexplicably, irrationally, we all keep living our lives against what’s good for us. … human beings from the time of Adam and Eve (and, before them, a certain number of angelic beings) have so often chosen to live against God, against each other, and against God’s world.”
“Near the beginning of our history, we human beings broke the harmony of paradise and began to live against our ultimate good… As Genesis 3 and Genesis 4 reveal, we rebelled against God and then we fled from God. We once had a choice. We now have a near-compulsion—at least, that’s what we have without the grace of God to set us free. (Plantinga). Isa. 53:6; Jere. 17:9; Mk. 7:21-23
•Humans are dependent creatures who are meant to flourish within divinely established limits.
•But in our delusional escape from life under our Creator, we’ve rejected limitations and boundaries– preferring independence over dependence and self-rule over God’s authority.
“The Bible’s account of the human predicament is that from the start we’ve been choosing wrong. We’ve kept on perverting and polluting God’s gifts. It’s not just that each of us commits individual sins—telling lies, for example, or wasting time. The situation is much more serious than this. By sinning we not only grieve God and our neighbor; we also wreck our own integrity. We are like people whose abuse of alcohol ruins not only their liver but also their judgment and will, the things that might have kept them from further abuse of alcohol. The same pattern holds for everybody. We now sin because we are sinners, because we have a habit, and because the habit has damaged our judgment and will” (Cornelius Plantinga Jr. Not The Way It’s Supposed to Be).