At Work & Public Square & Theology 101

Has Our Culture Forgotten the Importance of Being Made in the Image of God?

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So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

– Genesis 1:27

“Black lives matter. All lives matter. These slogans may forever summarize the deep tensions in American life in 2014,” writes Dr. Anthony B. Bradley in a recent commentary for the Acton Institute.

Bradley goes on to make this very important observation:

Today, humans are reduced to depersonalized, abstract individuals possessing “rights” to be asserted and acquired for the purpose of self-­actualization with little to no regard for the other. In a depersonalized, individualistic society people could not care less about the flourishing of their neighbors. What matters is the consumeristic flourishing of the self in a morally relativistic pursuit of desired passions.

This is not the way it’s supposed to be. Our culture has forgotten one of the bedrock ideas of western civilization originating from the Christian concept that men and women are made in the image of God.

As Richard Pratt declares in his book Designed for Dignity,

We are clay images – a powerful lesson in humility – but we are also images of God – creatures of wondrous value and dignity.

Historian Dr. Glenn Sunshine writes,

No other culture, religion, or civilization has advanced a comparable idea, because none of them have the worldview foundation for it. Even Jurgen Habermas, the leading public intellectual in Europe and an atheist, points out that modern secular ideas of human rights have their origins in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

If the creation story in Genesis is just a myth, where lies the ontological justification for human dignity and human rights?

If we lose this important biblical concept, we not only lose the concept of human dignity. We greatly diminish our ability to flourish.

We were created to live and work in community, not a vacuum. Flourishing only takes place in community as we work together using the comparative advantages that each one of us has been given to produce things that we by ourselves cannot produce.

This reality stems from the God-given value and dignity of every man and woman.

One of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes is from his book The Weight of Glory:

There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal.

The people you see every day at work, in the store, or on the street will live forever either under salvation or judgment. There are no ordinary people in God’s eyes.

Try as the culture will to reject God’s truth, deep in the heart of every person saying, “Black lives matter,” or “All lives matter” lies the truth that we all are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with great dignity (Romans 1:18-20).

Bradley ends his essay with a powerful quote from Dr. Martin Luther King: “[E]very human life is a reflection of divinity, and … every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man.”

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