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Wesleyan Theology I - Lesson 10

Doctrine of Humanity (Part 1)

Adam and Eve were created, not just as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. The image of God includes relationality as well as the capacity for rational thought. Wesley describes it as a natural image, political image and moral image. Wesley says that the natural image of God means that we have physical bodies and also a spiritual nature. Humanity is the conduit for God’s blessing of the rest of creation. 

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Lesson 10
Watching Now
Doctrine of Humanity (Part 1)

I. CREATION OF HUMANITY

A. God created humanity as male and female

B. Moral and natural law

C. Marriage

II. HUMANITY AS CREATED IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD

A. Natural image

B. Political image

C. Moral image

III. MARTIN BUBER

IV. EMIL BRUNNER: DIVINE HUMAN CORRESPONDENCE


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  • For the first 5 centuries after Christ, the theology of the Christian Church was ecumenical. Since then, you have differences in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, and then the Reformation with different Protestant traditions. The Church has a history of promoting and preserving knowledge in all fields of study. Ideological secularization is characterizing theological ideas as irrelevant and not academic. Structural secularization is the process of marginalizing the subject of theology in the academy. Both revelation and reason are both important elements in the discussion of philosophical and theological subjects. God is transcendant, which means that he is distinct from everything that has been made. God is immanent, which means that the Spirit of God can be communicated in time and space through media, but is not the media itself. 

  • God can only be fully know by revelation. However, we can know some things about God by observation and reason. Thomas Aquinas gave 5 reasons that supports the idea of the existence of God. We can perceive motion and there must be something that caused the motion. Nothing can come from nothing, so something must exist at all times, which is God. Humans are contingent beings, but God’s essence is to exist. There are different degrees of goodness and complexity in organisms, so there must be a being of a highest form of good. Design and purpose must be at work because it’s not reasonable that the universe resulted from chance. Dembski also estimates that the mathematical odds for everything happening from a single cell at less than 1 in 10 to the 150th power. 

  • Humans are both material and spiritual and have the capacity to experience transcendence. Without God, you are describing a diminished view of humanity. John Calvin says that wisdom is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. Revelation of God comes from Scripture (the most important), tradition, reason and experience. Theology should be participatory and result in transformation. …Wesley’s theology describe in two words would be, “holiness” and “grace.” Wesley’s theology is conjunctive. Holy love is a tension. Holiness results in separation and love results in community. Wesley’s view of grace includes both cooperant grace and free grace. 

  • Two sources for knowledge are revelation and reason. Empiricism teaches  that you get knowledge from your senses. Rationalism teaches that you get knowledge from the operation of your mind. Kant said that the mind makes a formal contribution to knowledge by organizing it.  All knowledge begins with experience but it does not all arise out of experience. Reason can only take us so far. Humans are the only species that worship God.

  • Scripture is unique, the word of God and inspired by God. Scripture is the source of truth and provides a norm for truth. Wesley gives four arguments for inspiration. They are miracles, prophecy, goodness of the doctrine and the moral character of the penmen. Characteristics of Scripture include the sufficiency, clarity and wholeness of Scripture. 

  • Univocal refers to a one-to-one correspondence between the language we use and the reality of God. Equivocal refers to the idea that human language does not correspond directly to describing God, so it acknowledges ambiguity and more than one interpretation. Analogical refers to language used to describe God using  analogy. “Via Negativa” is describing characteristics that God is “not.” “Via Positiva” is describing a characteristic that is true of God, using analogy. Aseity means that God’s essence  is to exist. Eternity means that God transcends the limitations of time-space. There is not a space where God is not. Omniscience of God means that God knows all things. Omnipotence of God means that God is all powerful. Once God creates, there is an order in creation, and God works within the framework he created.  Immutability means that God’s essence does not change. Leslie Weatherhead describes three aspects of the will of God as the intentional will of God, circumstantial will of God and the ultimate will of God. Wesley describes God’s holiness as purity and simplicity. The wrath of God can be described as God’s unending determined opposition to evil.

  • Triunity describe God’s nature. The concept of the Trinity was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and taught explicitly in the New Testament. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in creation, baptism of Jesus and resurrection of Jesus. The Trinity is three distinct persons with the same essence. The distinctiveness has to do, not with their nature or essence, but with the relations. Person is different than an individual. According to Wesley, the Trinity is an invitation to participate in the deeper life of God. The gospel is the universal love of God, manifested in the person of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness apart from love can result in legalism. Love apart from holiness can result in sentimentality and wishful thinking. 

  • God created humans in his image so we have both a physical and spiritual nature. Sometimes biologists make statements about evolution that are outside of what can be examined and verified by science. According to young earth creationism, creation took place in 6, 24 hour days and the earth is about 6,000 years old. According to theistic evolution, once the process of evolution began, no special supernatural intervention was required for it to continue. The opposite of a naturalistic explanation for life is not supernatural, but intelligent causes. Intelligent design makes information theory and mathematical probability integral to its overall approach. Irreducible complexity argues against gradualism in the evolutionary process. 

  • God freely created the world and chooses to govern within the framework of the created order. The moral law is consistent with the character of God. God uses the moral law to convict the world of sin, bring us to Christ and keep us alive. Natural law is a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason. Natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order. Deep conscience refers to the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. Four characteristics of our moral design that are evident at the level of the species are interdependence, complementarity, spontaneous order and subsidiarity. 

  • Adam and Eve were created, not just as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. The image of God includes relationality as well as the capacity for rational thought. Wesley describes it as a natural image, political image and moral image. Wesley says that the natural image of God means that we have physical bodies and also a spiritual nature. Humanity is the conduit for God’s blessing of the rest of creation. 

  • The characteristics that give a human personhood belong to another order of explanation than that explored by biology. Sartre, who is an existentialist, says that existence precedes essence. In other words, each person determines their own nature by the choices they make. Others would say that your choices determine your character but that’s separate from your nature. Postmodernism teaches that the self is only a social and linguistic construct. Some scientists have argued that humans do not have a soul, but that cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. If God is dead, humanity is dead. Human beings are more than the social groups in which they participate. Humans are animals, but not merely animals.

  • Lucifer brought sin into the world with his sin of pride. The sin of Adam and Eve was unbelief. Wesley describes  unbelief as the perversion of the relationship between God and humanity, a lack of faith in God, resulting in alienation. He distinguishes three types of death as physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Satan was self-tempted when he sinned. Adam and Eve were tempted by something external to them, Satan.  Wesley sees Adam as a representative of all humans, so all humans inherit Adam’s sin nature. 

  • There are orders of creation and preservation, like family and marriage, that can mediate the grace of God. God sustains creation, and also relates to people as persons. The three-fold circle of divine providence is the outer ring of the whole race of humans, the second smaller circle is all that are called believers and those who profess to be believers, the innermost circle only the true disciples of Jesus who worship God in Spirit and in truth. Wesley doesn’t deny that bad things happen to good people, both from other people and from events in nature. If God eliminated all evil, it would require eliminating freedom, which would also eliminate love. 

  • Wesley describes total depravity as "a want of original righteousness," and also in terms of a "natural propensity to sin.” Luther, Calvin and George Croft Cell agree. Eastern Orthodox teaches that Adam and Eve were not so fallen as to be unable to respond to any subsequent proffered grace. Wesley teaches the total depravity of humans and the sovereign act of God in salvation. He uses prevenient grace in two distinct ways. The “narrow” sense refers to all those degrees of grace that come before justifying and sanctifying grace. The “broad” use views all grace as prevenient and emphasizes the prior activity of God because he is always ahead of us and takes the initiative. Prevenient grace can be understood as both cooperant and free grace. 

  • God acts preveniently to give humans revelation by communicating his divine attributes. God places in humans a moral law that is expressive of the image of God. The Holy Spirit restored to all humans a certain measure of free-will. Original sin makes it impossible for people to respond to God on their own without God restoring their personhood, which they need to be able to respond to God’s grace. God doesn’t do it in a way that overruns a person’s personality.

  • The incarnation is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Since Jesus claimed to be God, it’s not an option that he could be just a good person. Paul teaches that Jesus has the same nature as God and that Jesus created all things. Ebionites rejected the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus. Adoptionism taught that Christ was a good man that was penetrated by God’s nature at his baptism and becomes divine, which treats divinity as an acquired attribute. Arias taught that Christ was not coeternal with the Father. He was more than mere man but he was created so he wasn’t equal with God. The first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 affirms the divinity of Christ in response to the teaching of Arias. Wesley affirmed that Jesus existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. To affirm the essential equality of Christ with God the Father, Wesley often used the terms, “the only-begotten Son of God,” and “the Word of God.” The Son of God is the creator and sustainer of all things and the redeemer of humanity. The difference in the Godhead is relations, not nature. 

  • 1 John 4:2 describes the incarnation as Jesus coming to earth in the flesh. Jesus is also referred to as the Son of David in the Gospels. Jesus was able to become the mediator between God and humanity because his divinity meant that he was not a part of the problem of sin and his humanity meant that he could fully identify with humans. This is a unique and distinct role that can only be accomplished by Jesus, the God-human. Jesus suffered physically and emotionally and then died and was resurrected to new life. This qualifies him to be priest, a mediator between man and God. The title, Son of Man also emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Apolliniarism taught that Jesus had a human body and soul, but a divine mind rather than a human mind. Docetism taught that Christ is pure spirit and only seemed to have a body. Gnostics view the body as lowly and the mind is considered higher. Monophysitism taught that the divine and human nature of Jesus was mixed into one nature. Nestorianism teaches that the divine and human natures of Jesus were sharply separated. Wesley viewed Jesus as the expression of the God of holy love, maintaining divinity while becoming human.

  • As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of God. Messiah in Hebrew has the same meaning as Christ in Greek. It means, “the anointed one.” The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of his public ministry.  When Satan tempted Jesus, the temptation was real because of the humanity of Jesus. It was necessary for Jesus to experience temptation. Jesus as a preacher, went from place to place, proclaiming the kingdom of God. As a teacher, Jesus taught in the synagogues and the listeners described him as teaching with authority. Christ as a lawgiver is seeking to communicate wisdom to humanity. This moral law is connected to God’s character. Jesus performed miracles to heal the sick, bring people back from the dead and demonstrate his power over nature. Christ as priest, became the mediator to bridge the gap between God and humanity. At the cross, what the holiness of God required, the love of God provided. Theories of the atonement are the best attempts of thinking about how to express the atoning work of Jesus. 

  • Penal substitution asserts that atonement primarily involves Jesus’ taking the sinner’s place (‘substitution’) in bearing the penalty (hence ‘penal’) for his or her sin. That penalty was no less than God’s wrath and the sinner’s death. God’s wrath is his unswerving opposition to evil. The moral influence theory teaches that without the fall, that amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed. Penal substitution and moral influence theory complement each other. In the governmental view, the death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. Jesus raised from the dead into an immortal body. Only life can give meaning to human existence. Death destroys all meaning. The first time Christ came as a redeemer. As king, Christ is coming again to rule . Three roles of king are giving laws, restoring people to the image of God and reigning in all believing hearts.

  • The personhood of the Holy Spirit is revealed by the roles of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that he would send an advocate. The Holy Spirit is an advocate, teacher, proclaims truth, provides direction and assists in prayer. Four characteristics of the Holy Spirit that indicate his deity are eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. The Filioque controversy is a difference between how the Eastern Orthodox and Western Traditions describe the nature of the Holy Spirit.

  • At the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and brings understanding as people read it. The Holy Spirit makes effective the completed work of Christ and gives us the power to live out the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is personal, not an impersonal force. The believers received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to heaven. The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good of building up the body of Christ. We should be cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and his influence should be evident in how we interact corporately.

 John Wesley's beliefs understood from an historical and theological perspective

Dr. Ken Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
th510-10
Doctrine of Humanity (Part 1)
Lesson Transcript

 

In the last lecture, we were talking about God, the doctrine of God, and we talked about God as both creator and governor. And so now we are going to talk about the whom God has created, and that is humanity. And so the lecture before us today is the doctrine of humanity. Once again, when we have the perspective of Wesleyan theology, it is a theology of holiness and grace, a theology that can be expressed in Holy Love. And so no surprise that we affirm that humanity, both male and female, have been created in Holy Love and Holy love. Now, what I'm going to say as I unpack some of the biblical materials as well as refer to church tradition, what some of the leading fathers had to say on this topic. You're going to see that that will form a contrast, a contrast to other ways of understanding human beings that are out there in our culture today, some of them hailing from the Enlightenment, and then some of them hailing more recently from a post-modern response to the Enlightenment. And so you'll recall, if you're keeping track of intellectual history, that during the Enlightenment, especially during the 18th century, the time of Locke and Immanuel Kant, what was being stressed was human autonomy, that we understand an individual. And that's the right word here. I know we were talking about the distinction between a person and an individual the other day with with, I think, helpful discussion. The Enlightenment really did focus on the individual isolated, separated from social relations, separated from tradition, from tradition that had preceded that that person. And so what was stressed was human autonomy, dare to reason, throw off supposedly antiquated, traditional ways of thinking about things. Be self legislating, be self legislating, be a law unto oneself.

 

And all of these themes richly played out in some of the Enlightenment philosophies. And we're going to see today when we explore what revelation, what revelation and Scripture, what it has to say about a human being. We're going to see a rather significant contrast there. And so we begin with God as both a creator and a governor, and that God creates humanity as male and female. We can start out here with the biblical witness, refer to the materials in Genesis, Genesis chapter one, verse 27. So God created humanity in his own image. In the image of God, he created them male and female. He created them. We can also look at what Matthew Henry had to say about this material and similar material in Genesis. Matthew Henry noted that God created them male and female, for their mutual comfort, as well as for the preservation and the increase of their kind. Adam and Eve were both made immediately by the hand of God, both made in God's likeness. This is what the great commentator Matthew Henry had to say about these particular verses. Now, unlike God, though, humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, though unlike God, humanity is characterized by sexual differentiation. Sexual differentiation. And so when we talk about human sexuality, sexuality is not an accident of nature, nor is it simply a biological phenomenon. Instead, it is a gift. It is a gift from God comes from the. Creator. And so while sexual identity and sexual function are not a part of God's personhood, they nevertheless are very much a part of the image bearers whom God creates men and women created in the image and likeness of God. He creates them male and female. And so we see then that there is going to be a differentiation here.

 

Now, last lecture, we were talking about God as governor and we talked about the moral law that in one sense the moral law is an expression of the divine being of the divine will. And we talked about that being expressed in the Old Testament in terms of the Ten Commandments and in a New Testament context, in terms of the Sermon on the Mount. And then we had a discussion in terms of natural law, and we referred to Wesley, especially his sermon on the original nature of properties and use of the law. And Wesley explored the moral law there as expressing a fitness of relations established in the created order. And I'm appealing to that peace now because it relates to the sexual differentiation that we find, which is expressive of this created order. And so it's also illuminated by law, by moral law, and by natural law as well. This kind of sexual differentiation, In other words, it is embedded. It is rooted in the things that have been made coming at the hand of a God of holy love, a good creator who establishes who establishes an order in creation. And so we've looked at the Genesis passages, and they reveal this sexual differentiation of humanity created as male and female. And this is expressive of the will of God. This is expressive of the will of God. And because it is the will of God, it is rooted in a created order. It is rooted in a created order. And so we referred to Wesley in the last lecture, you know, with the moral law being expressive of the fitness of relations. And we also need to understand and again, you know, we are surrounded in our cultures by deficient anthropologists, understandings of human beings that are deficient, that lead to a dimmed down existence.

 

They lead to a dimmed down existence because some of the anthropologists out there in our culture today, some of the views of what it is to be a human being, are so diminished that the exploration of what revelation has to say here will be a refreshing resource. And along those lines, we have to start out with the basic affirmation that Adam and Eve were created not simply as physical beings, not simply as bodies, which is the way we understand human beings today. You know, human beings are nothing but chemical and physical operations. There is nothing beyond the body. That kind of philosophical materialism that pervades even our view of what a human being is. Okay. That is not the biblical understanding that represents a diminishment. A diminishment, because human beings are not simply created as physical beings, but they are created as spiritual beings as well. So we have to say at the outset, when we talk about the creation of humanity, that human beings, their nature is complex, their nature is complex, not simplistic, or as is often presented, that human beings are multi-dimensional. There are many dimensions to human existence, not simply the physical and scripture as revelation from God is going to bring in all of that more, all of that more, which bespeaks of an enhanced understanding of a human being as created in nothing. Less then the image and likeness of God. So in one respect, as we consider the Genesis materials, it is a glorious thing. Yes, a glorious thing to be a human being, to be created in nothing less than the image and likeness of God. When God created Adam and Eve, he created a companion for Adam. So Wesley writes in his many writings and he talks about being in covenant relations, talks about being in covenant relations.

 

And so listen to what Wesley has to say here. So then, as a spiritual being oriented towards God as the goal or perfection of her own being, Eve participated in the same covenant relations as did Adam, her husband. And Wesley specifically refers to her as the wife of his covenant. And what I want you to see here in terms of the male female relationship, especially as Wesley is exploring it, when he refers to Eve as the wife of the Covenant, that this is a holy thing. This is a holy thing. This has to do with relation and proper relationships. And so we see the sexual differentiation of Adam and Eve caught up in a holy covenant, caught up in a holy covenant and a holy relation that has been established by the Creator. What's more, Wesley views the marriage of Adam and Eve with its sexual differentiation as established by God as an ordinance that was instituted in innocence and innocence. And so when Adam and Eve were created in this sexual differentiation, it was good. It was good. The relation was pure, it was innocent. And so Wesley underscores the importance of that purity, of that innocence, which describes the relation. Now, Wesley has much to write about marriage, and we will explore some of that. I actually want to lift up a definition of marriage coming from some contemporary scholars, which I think is a good working definition of marriage. And it comes from Daniel Trier and Walter Elwell. And this is how they define marriage from the biblical perspective. Quote The Bible presents marriage as an exclusive, enduring, intimate relationship of covenanted commitment between one man and one woman. I think that's a very rich and helpful definition of what marriage is.

 

It is a exclusive between the man and the woman. It is enduring. It lasts over time. It weathers hardships and difficulties because that union, which has been established by God and is expressive of the will of God should endure. It is an intimate relationship in that when we think of human beings in the very depths of their being. I talked yesterday about all of us having human souls that are 50,000 fathoms deep. Well, some of that depth is revealed in a context of intimacy between the husband and the wife, a kind of unveiling of who one is in one's preciousness at the heart of one's personhood. All of that takes place in this beautiful, wonderful covenant relationship between one man and one woman. And so I think Tree here and Elle Woods, l l Wells. Excuse me. Definition is very, very helpful. Now, when we think of marriage, we think also of family. And indeed, there is biological grounding in terms of this, because when males and females come together, the fruit of their love is manifested in children. And so when we look at the Genesis materials again. That is Genesis chapter one, verse 28. We see, quote, God bless them and said to them, of course, the them being Adam and Eve, be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. And so Genesis chapter one verses 28 indicates that the sexual differentiation that we have been talking about is to result in obedience to the commands coming from God to be fruitful and to multiply. Indeed, the distinction of male and female and being made for one another results in children the fruit of this union in different tation. And so when we're looking at some of this early material from Revelation in Scripture, when we take a look at the Genesis account, we see a divine affirmation of family in terms of male and female, in terms of men and women coming together in a sacred covenant of marriage and the fruit of their love being manifested in children being manifested in children.

 

Now, there are some theologians you won't be surprised who have worked with this relationship between male and female in Holy Love in a covenant relation of marriage, and have seen it in some sense as emblematic of the Trinity and other words that you have the husband and the wife and the mutual love between the husband and the wife, which could be distinguished from the husband himself and the wife herself. And so there's a kind of third ness that emerges in the relation between the husband and the wife, something greater than themselves in which they both participate in a holy union. And so some theologians have written about this and talked about this as in some sense emblematic of the Trinity. And I think that's a rather interesting, interesting development. Now, contemporary Wesleyan scholars from a variety of disciplines, so not just theology or biblical studies, they acknowledge, as did John Wesley before them, that marriage between a man and a woman not only has been ordained and blessed. Yes, blessed by God, but that it is part of a created order. And one leading United Methodist biblical scholar who is Bill Arnold? I know Bill Arnold very well. He's a professor at Asbury. He broaches this topic, this very important topic that we have before us by considering the response of Jesus to the question of whether it is permissible to divorce one's wife. And so a lot of what Jesus has to say about marriage and and the marital relationship is going to come out in his response in terms of this question of divorce. And Arnold affirms three particulars about God's actions in creation that are can be expressed as follows. First of all, he notes that God made them male and female.

 

That that distinction, of course, as we've been saying, has its source in the most time. Then the second thing that Arnold points out as he makes commentary on Matthew 19 verses four through six, where Jesus is answering the question. Second, God said the creative design for marriage is for the male and female to leave their parents and to be joined as one flesh, to become one, flesh to become one. And then third, Bill Arnold points out God joined them together in one flesh, which should not be undone by anyone, which should not be undone by anyone. What? God. Has joined together, let not man or woman put asunder. Okay. And so Arnold quickly summarizes this teaching that's coming from Jesus in a very pithy observation. And this is what he writes quote, Jesus thus affirms that heterosexual gender is divinely created. Heterosexual marriage is a divine institution and heterosexual fidelity is the divine intent. It is the divine intent. Okay. We're talking about human beings being created by a God of holy love being created in relations of holy love, those relations being expressed between husband and wife and bearing fruit in holy love and children. And now it is appropriate then to talk about human beings as being created in nothing less than the image and likeness of God. And this is an interesting topic for Wesley, because he spent a great deal of time with this, which bespeaks of its importance. Wesley spent a great deal of time with this question of human beings created in the image and likeness of God. Now, if we look at some of the earlier theologians of the church and here I'm thinking of people such as Irenaeus and Augustine, for example, they identified the image of God.

 

And we can use the Latin here, the Imago day. They basically saw that as the intellectual nature of humanity. And oftentimes they simply identified it with reason. In other words, as Irenaeus and Augustine were considering, well, what does it mean to be created in the image and likeness of God? What is the essence or substance of the Imago day? They turned to reason. I find this answer deficient. I find this answer deficient in a number of ways. And interestingly enough, Wesley did as well. Wesley did as well. And the reason I define I, I see it as deficient because reason is a capacity. It is a faculty that humans possess. Now, we can understand it in some sense as representing the grace of God, but it is nevertheless a capacity. Whereas if we are properly to understand the Imago day, you already know from what has been said earlier, it has to be understood relationally. It has to be understood relationally. Relationality is at the heart of who God is. We spoke in terms of the Trinity earlier, in terms of relationality being at the heart of of who God is. And so John Wesley, as well in the 18th century, as well as Emil Bruner in the 20th century, are going to underscore and explore the Imago day in a much more relational way than some of the early church fathers. And I think that represents an advance for Wesley. The image is so important that he talks about it. He writes about it in a threefold way that the Imago day, first of all, represents the natural image. So human beings are created in the natural image of God. What does that mean? What does that mean? Well, it means a number of things.

 

It means that human beings are and this is what our age needs to rediscover. They really do need to rediscover. Otherwise they're living a dimmed down existence. Really? Really. That we are spiritual beings. We are spiritual beings. We have been created as spiritual beings. Yes, of course we have bodies, but we are also spirit as well as as Reinhold Niebuhr expressed so well in his Gifford lectures, the nature and destiny of man, not simply nature, but spirit as well, a spirit that bespeaks of transcendence that we participate in that which is greater than ourselves in the relations of holy love. In one sense, esthetically, if we're thinking. About beauty. We can transcend ourselves and experience beauty through a static experience, or we can discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in the context of worship by transcending ourselves and receiving that which is more, if you will, than the sum of the parts. And so we are spiritual beings. And when she expresses the nature of our spiritual being in terms of understanding will and Liberté, and this is going to be important now understanding, of course, all human beings have understanding. We reflect, we use our reason, we engage, we consider all of this, but we're not simply cogitating intellects. We also have will. And what is the will? The will is made up of various dispositions, what we are disposed towards, what we desire, what we want. And so the will expresses our desires, our orientation towards goods that we want, towards values that we desire. And so a human being is characterized by understanding and will. And then notice this last thing that Wesley mentions. I think it's very important. Liberté. Liberté. And I think this is crucial to being a human being that you must have some sense of liberty, you must be free in some sense in order to be human.

 

If you utterly eliminate freedom, if these beings are utterly determined. I don't think you're talking about a human being anymore. You're not talking about a person. You'd be talking about something else. And so understanding well and liberty as characterizing the natural image. Okay. So in a real sense, we should not simply say Homo sapiens, we should also say homo spiritualists, because we are. We are. And we know this. We know this from an examination of the human community. Secondly, we have been created in the political image of God. What does that mean? The political image of God, meaning that we rule with God, we are God's vice regents, if you will. That's the language Wesley uses. We are God's vice regents on the earth. And so we cooperate with God. We are the governors of this lower world under God. And so humanity, according to John Wesley, is the great conduit, the chosen vehicle of God's blessings for the rest of creation, and is therefore, in some sense responsible for the general state of the animal realm. And so this is a high calling that humanity has. And so listen to Wesley as he explores this political image whereby we are governors of this lower world, quote, all as all the blessings of God in paradise flow through man to the inferior creatures as man was the great channel of communication between the creator and the whole brute creation. So when man made himself incapable of transmitting those blessings, that communication was necessarily cut off. All right. What's Wesley saying here? That in grace and innocence, there was a natural flow from humanity to the animal realm of blessing, that God blessed humanity. Humanity in turn, blessed the animal realm, that flow, that communication, that channel was disrupted and in some senses cut off through human sin, through human sin.

 

And so when we talk about the fall later on, we're going to see that sin fall. And corruption had consequence, of course, for the image of God. But in this particular instance, in terms of the political image, such that the blessings which should have accrued to the animal realm were. Cut off. Also, we might point out here as well that human beings can be a blessing to one another. Wesley writes, quote, But it is generally his pleasure to help man by man. Another way of expressing that is to say that the grace of God often wears a human face. It often wears a human face. Well, the third aspect of the Imago day is the moral image. The moral image. We have been created in the moral image of God. What does that mean? It means that human human beings have been created in righteousness and true holiness, which is another way of saying human beings have been created in righteousness and in in what? Holy love. They have been created in holy love. This is our source. This is the source of our being in these holy relations. We have been created. Expressive of the Divine being. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves the Father. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the son out of this communion of holy love. We have been created male and female. We have been created. And so the moral image is one of righteousness, righteousness and true holiness. Now, if we look at these three aspects of the Imago day, Wesley seems to imply in his sermon the general deliverance that the significant image is that. Humanity is capable of God, that humanity is capable of God. In other words, the moral image having been created in righteousness and true holiness.

 

And so the moral image, especially as we consider holiness and righteousness, underscores once again the relations of holy love, the responsibility of being under. A God of holy love. And so this is how Wesley explores now. I think this is by far in advance of understanding the Imago day simply as a kind of rational faculty reason that human beings would exercise. And I think Wesley's understanding of the Imago Day is properly oriented to how God has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. I think it's very much in accordance with that. Okay. Now, I think this issue of relationality, when we think about human beings, is once again important. And I want to illustrate it even further, even further by looking at the work of a 20th century theologian. And by the way, there have been dissertations done on Emil Bruner and how his theology, though he was reformed as Swiss reformed theologian in some sense is similar to Wesley. And I agree with that judgment. As a matter of fact, when I was in grad school working on my Ph.D., I did a comprehensive exam and Emil Bruner and I read virtually everything the man wrote. And I would agree with that judgment as a Wesley Scholar as well, that there are lots of commonalities and some similarities between the theology of Emil Bruner, this reformed theologian, on the one hand, and then John Wesley's theology. Wesley, are many in theology on the other. There actually are a number of areas where they're remarkably, remarkably similar. Before I talk about Bruner, I should mention a Jewish scholar. And that is Martin Buber. Martin Buber, who wrote a very seminal work called simply I Thou I Thou. Now, what is the contrast? What is the contrast? The contrast would be I thou on the one hand, and I mpt on the other.

 

Those are two different relations. Those are two different relationships. If we consider, first of all, the i it relationship, you know, if we consider a human being in that relation, the eye of that relation is a master. In other words, they're mastering an object. If something is in it, to me it is under my control can be manipulated. It doesn't call forth from me anything from myself as a person. It's simply an it and object stuff in the world. Okay. And that, by the way, is is often the truth of scientific empiricism. It's dealing with it. Truth, the mastery of nature, experimentation, exploration. It's in terms of I it. But the I thou relationship is something different. It is something different. Because when I as in I am confronted by a vow, I cannot treat that vow as an object that would be inappropriate. That would be very inappropriate. Because why I am not recognizing the full extent of the being of the thou in their personhood, in their personhood. I would diminish them to treat them simply as an object that I could manipulate and use for my own selfish designs where I, the I, the me, the mind, the self and the life would be at the center manipulating this object that would be very inappropriate to bring that kind of understanding I it into interpersonal relations because it doesn't recognize the kinds of beings that we are. Souls with 50,000 fathoms deep hearts that are able to love the living God. Persons who we know within our own being are beautiful because God is beautiful. And so Buber explores this relation I thou, which is a very different relation than I it. And and then Bruner picks up on it, and Bruner is going to take this basic insight that comes from this Jewish theologian Martin Buber.

 

And Bruner is going to bring it into his theology and his systematic theology, and he's going to develop it in in several, several ways. I think the way that Bruner will develop it is going to be very similar to what Wesley had done earlier as he thought through these very same things. So Bruner writes, for example, in his The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, he writes this, quote, Hence, the heart of the Critchley existence of man is freedom. Selfhood to be an I a person only and I can answer a thou only a self which is self-determining can freely answer God. And so what Bruner is doing in that very pithy statement, he is focusing on this eye that's involved in an eye vow relationship. And he is showing the depth of that and the accountability and the responsibility that are entailed in being in such a relationship. Again, Bruner writes, He may deny his responsibility and he may misuse his freedom, but he cannot get rid of his responsibility. That's another way of saying we cannot get rid of our relational natures. We can't get rid of it. Responsibility is a part of the unchangeable structure of a man's being, Bruner writes. So we can deny our responsibility. We can misuse our freedom. Bruner is writing, but we cannot wipe out. We cannot eliminate the kinds of beings we have been created in terms of responsibility, because responsibility is an unchangeable structure of our being. It's the kind of beings that we are, that we have been created by a God of holy love. And so the Imago day in the New Testament sense of the word is identical. Bruner writes, With being in the Word of God. Our true being is, and he's quoting Luther here, quoting the Latin extra notes at Allium Nobis.

 

It is eccentric, it is ecstatic. It is outgoing. Man is only truly human when he is in God. See, Luther Experience expressed this in a very pithy statement. I live in God through faith. See, there's the going out. The going out from oneself. I live in God. I'm living in God through faith in an excellent way. I'm going out of myself. I'm living in God through faith, Luther writes, And I'm living in my neighbor through love. Now this word ecstasy. And Bruner is using ecstatic. These are the same routes. We use this word in our culture today, but we've bold arised it because when we think of ecstasy, oftentimes we are thinking of drugs or we're thinking of sex. We're not realizing all that's here in terms of the biblical roots, that ecstatic literally going outside of one's self to participate in the relations in which one has been created and to participate in the one meaning God who transcends us in being in power, in glory, in beauty and in love. And so to talk about this ecstatic way of living is very much in terms of how we have been created. And Bruner is is emphasizing this. And I would add further that this whole emphasis on ecstasy, ecstasies, McQuarrie coined the word excellent, went in one of his books on spiritual. Reality to show this that spirituality always entails going beyond, going beyond. Really, when you think about it, the heart of sin. The heart of sin is exactly the opposite. The heart of sin is self-centeredness, curving in on oneself, turning in on oneself, in isolation, in alienation, in separation from a God of holy love, who is relational and who has expressed those relations in love by sending his son Jesus Christ.

 

And the response, of course, is faith. Faith. Understood as relation. So the fact that man has been made in the image of God, Bruna writes, is conceived not as a self existing substance. In other words, not autonomous, but as a relation. And so Bruner is arguing in a way that Wesley argued earlier in the 18th century that we have to understand the Imago day, not as a faculty, as reason, for instance, but as a relation. And this is the most important point to grasp. Responsibility is a relation. It is not a substance. It is not a substance. And so when we think of the Imago day, when we conceive of it in the formal sense, we have to see it in terms of the relationality, which certainly bespeaks of God, a Trinitarian understanding of God, father, son, spirit in relations, and that we are created precisely in that image as human beings whose very identity can only be expressed in the context of responsibility to a God of holy love and in relation to the love of our neighbor. Okay. All right. Let's stop there and take some questions. Let's stop there and take some questions that you might have in terms of anything that we've said so far, anything we've said so far. How do you think it looks differently from before sin and after sin in the way that humans relate to animals or to the world in general? Is there any practical ways that you think that's different? In other words, on how humans relate to animals before the fall, after the fall, or in grace in sin? Is that what you're asking? Yeah, because you said that originally that that God's love flowed through humans to the creation. Right. That's an expression of the political image.

 

Yes, that's right. That's right. So how do you think that looks Differently. And how can we do better at restoring that? Yeah, I think this is a very good, very good question, especially today in the 21st century, that human beings, I think, have to be responsible for, though not responsible to the animal realm. And therefore we can only act in certain ways in terms of the animal realm. In other words, certain things are immediately off the table, for example, to treat animals in a cruel fashion, in a in a harmful way. You know, this is this would be inappropriate. Now, I realize our dependance upon the animal realm in terms of our own existence, our own physical existence. But why not? What I'm thinking of are and I can think of numerous examples of this when it's gone wrong, of cruelty to animals, of misusing animals, treating them utterly as objects to be used in whatever way a human being desires. I think that is sinful and inappropriate, that the animal realm should be treated with respect. And yeah, so it's a good question. It's a good question. When you were talking about liberty, you said Wesley says humans must have some sense of freedom. Where does he based this from? Scripturally? Is this based strictly on philosophical arguments? Yeah, I don't think it's based utterly on a philosophical argument. And, you know, if you would be asking, you know, where's the exact text, that sort of thing, I don't think it would correspond to that. I think it would rather be. And this pertains to when Wesley's talking about the natural image of the Imago day in which we've been created. He talked about understanding will and liberty. That that liberty, when you think about relationality, responsibility, accountability.

 

In other words, this is the imago day in which we have been created. That context in and of itself implies a liberty that one so related is not an it. You know we distinguish i it relations we talked about I thou relations. And so when we reflect upon the imago day in its natural sense, when we think about the relations of Holy Love, that necessarily implies a measure of freedom. Now, it's not absolute freedom, but it does imply a measure of freedom. And that when we are thinking of personal personhood, one related to a vow that context, that environment necessarily implies measures of freedom. And we already know, because we've had the discussion already in terms of privilege and grace, that one of the faculties that have been restored sovereignly by God in the wake of human sin, in the wake of the fall, is a measure of freedom, is a measure of freedom. And so, yes, I know I said the statement. I made the statement that when we're thinking about a person, we are necessarily thinking about freedom. In some sense we are, because it is implied in that very context of relationality of I that relations between God and the soul. That's not an IT relation. In other words, utterly determined objects that would be inappropriate, inappropriate to what a person is and create an image and likeness of God. Yes. Yes. So following up on that, what does Wesley view as freedom? Because across cultures, across philosophies, freedom takes on different meanings. Is it strictly a mental freedom to choose God or is it a freedom of not being enslaved and something in the world like tangible? Yes, you're right. To pursue the question further and to ask what kind of freedom do we have in mind here? And I'm certainly not thinking about Enlightenment models of autonomous freedom.

 

I'm not thinking about that where freedom is a kind of capacity. What I'm thinking about is the freedom and the liberty to be in relation to God granted as a gift by God and the freedom to receive that. That would be the appropriate word here, the freedom to receive the grace of God. In other words, we have freedom to receive the grace of God. And that's that's a wonderful freedom. And that kind of freedom is the freedom that Wesley's going to underscore that all human beings, even sinners, they have a measure of grace, a measure of grace, which he calls for being in grace, the freedom to receive, the grace of God, by means of which, you know, later on down the road, they may do otherwise, as we've said earlier. Okay. I think you'll run into difficulties right away if you start to try to define a human being utterly apart from freedom. In other words, to remove it, you'd run into difficulties right away. First of all, in terms of the context, we've been talking about the Imago day in terms of eyes, our relationships, that sort of thing. And so there has to be if we're talking about a person, there has to be freedom in some sense associated with that person. Otherwise, we're not talking about a person. We're talking about in it. We're talking about an object. We're talking about something that can be utterly determined, coerced, manipulated, like a thing, stuff in the world that's not a person and that's not the beings we know ourselves to be. Okay. And so, yes, freedom is important. When we talk about personhood. That's for sure. Sure. You're. You're digging down deep. I like your questions. You dig down deep. You. You get to the heart of the matter.

 

So the freedom to choose in this context to choose God. How does that coexist with He either hardens our hearts or he softens our hearts. So do we have that freedom? According to Risley, when he himself got himself my heart in our hearts. Well, we have well, let's just take the example of a center, a center who's not yet a child of God, who has not yet received justifying and regenerating graces, that sort of thing. And they are in bondage and they are unfree in many ways. Wesley will affirm that they're unfree in many ways. They're a slave to send. They're under the power and dominion of sin. Their consciences are riven with guilt. They're a slave in many ways. They're not free in those ways, but they are free in a certain sense. They are free because of Praveen and Grace. This is where reformed theology will be somewhat different than Wesleyan theology, because Wesleyan theology, like Anglican theology, is going to argue that there are measures of grace prior to justifying grace and prior to regenerating grace. And we call that preventive grace. And the sinner who's still steeped in her, since she can receive this prevention grace, have a measure of freedom whereby she can receive the offer, the genuine offer of salvation in Jesus Christ as the sheer gift it is. But notice this when we finally talk about that person being justified, Wesley is going to look very similar to John Calvin and Martin Luther. He will argue pointedly and again and again that we are justified by grace through faith alone. Yes, that's Wesleyan language. That's good Wesleyan language. He learned it from the Arabians, who got it from Luther. And Wesley himself said at one point and I'm paraphrasing here, he said, In terms of John Calvin and the doctrine of justification, I don't differ from him a hair's breadth.

 

And it's true because Wesley, like Calvin and Luther, argued that justification and regeneration is a species not of co-opting grace. None of what we do in cooperating with God. That would be the Catholic understanding, but is a species of free grace, meaning the work of God alone. Only God can forgive our sins. Only God can make a soul holy and bring about the new birth. And so Wesley understood. That is a sheer, utter gift. So what does Wesley say? He's got two things going on here, and it may look like he's contradicting himself, but he's not. Here's what Wesley wrote in another context, which in a sense sort of summarizes these two truths that there is prevailing and grace on the one hand before justification and regeneration, but justification, regeneration. It's a sheer, utter gift from God. Wesley wrote this. A person can be redeemed if he will see that's Wesley are many and saying, Yeah, you want to be redeemed. You want to be saved, you can be. But then he adds something. Immediately thereafter. A person can be redeemed if he will, but not when he well, and that not when he will indicates that we are not in control. That salvation is a sheer, utter gift coming from God, a God of holy love, when we shall be redeemed. Only God knows that. Only God knows when that miracle happens. When we receive this wonderful gift by grace through faith, trust in Christ salvific ethically, and our transformed in terms of our consciences being cleared from guilt. And we are empowered, free from the power and dominion of sin. Yeah. So good question once again. Very good question.