Summary: We live in a fallen world, the image of God remains in us, giving us reasons to rejoice in our humanness.
Theology 101: Human Nature
Thesis: We live in a fallen world, the image of God remains in us, giving us reasons to rejoice in our humanness.
What is your reaction to the word theology or theologian? If you are like most people, you cringe at the very mention of it. We live in a time that is very antitheological. It could be a reaction to generations of teaching, what we believe but not always teaching us why.
Before we pass judgment on this word we must first, take a look at where this word came from. It comes from two Greek root words meaning a discourse or discussion (logos) about God (theos). That means anyone who says anything about God is a theologian.
The question is not whether we will be theologians. The question is what kind of theologian are we going to be? Or will it be self-serving, narrow, and contradictory? Will our theology make sense in every portion of Scripture and every circumstance of life? Or will it fit only special circumstances and selected parts of the Bible? Will we be good theologians or sloppy ones?
I don’t know about you but I certainly want to be a good one. Don’t you? Then we must understand what it means to be a Christian in the Wesleyan theological tradition. In the World that we live in there are Christians from every theological family: Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed (including Calvinists), Anabaptists, Charismatic and Wesleyan, to name just a few.
Wesleyans’ are not just Baptists who believe in sanctification or Charismatic’s who don’t speak in tongues. Wesleyans’ include churches like The Salvation Army, The Church of the Nazarene, The Church of God (Anderson, IN) Evangelical Friends, Free Methodist Church, The Methodist Church and The Wesleyan Church.
Wesleyans’ have a different way of thinking about God, sin, human beings, the Bible and salvation. It isn’t so different that we end up talking to ourselves, but our accent, emphasis, and favorite themes are not the same as those in other theological families.
Recently there has been an increase of those coming into our family from these other backgrounds. In the last 40 years, theologians from many different theological families have started paying attention to John Wesley and his insights. After two centuries of being ignored as a preacher rather than a theologian, Wesley is now being recognized as a scholar who rediscovered important biblical principles relating to concepts of holiness.
I would like to begin our theology or "discussion about God," by talking about one of God’s creations: humanity.
1. We Are Created in God’s Image.
Sometimes being created in God’s image isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if all we look at is the surface. What I mean is this. When we are caught in the midst of office politics, shouting matches with wives, husbands, children, friends, and neighbor. When suffering and loneliness comes to visit and camp out on our doorstep, being created in the image of God in one of the farthest things from our minds. But it is here in the midst of this imperfect world, we can and do experience wonder in our humanity. All we have to do is to take a look around and see the intricacies of nature as well as the vastness of the universe. In this wonder we too ask as the psalmist did, "What is man that you are mindful of him? " (Psalm 8:4).
God made us a little less than Himself. He gave us creation to be it’s master, not for creation to master us. He gave us the power to create. Only 100 years ago we were still traveling in carriages pulled by horses. We crossed the ocean in wooden ships, many that lay at the bottom of that ocean. Today we are flying across that same ocean in hours instead of months. We have sent expeditions to Mars, communicate by satellite, fax, and computer. How is it that fallible finite people like you and I could accomplish so much so quickly? What is the secret of our minds? Are there, limitations to our discoveries and can our creativity and ingenuity continue until the end of time?
The Bible does not answer all of these questions, but it does tell us how we came into being and why we are the way we are. The Bible is very clear about that. Our essential nature, which makes us human, comes from God. We were made like God: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image in our likeness”(Gen. 1:26).
We are all made in God’s image. There is not one human being who is without this essential tie to God. But what does this mean?
The "image of God" that the Bible talks about refers to human nature. What we are like at the core of our being. Our spiritual, personal, and moral levels. The part of us that can relate to God and each other on a loving level. That is the image of God the Bible describes.