Friday, November 2, 2018

Lower than the Angels

What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Hebrews 2:6).

The parable of the Prodigal Son leads us to a consideration of the nature of man. What is mankind like? Why do people need salvation? In theological study, this area of inquiry is known as “theological anthropology,” the study of human nature as it relates to God and the plan of salvation. Today and next week we delve into this subject.

Traditionally, we define man as Homo sapiens, which means “thinking man.” Unlike animals, man thinks and has the capacity for wisdom. The French Christian philosopher, Blaise Pascal, expounded this idea to mean that the highest grandeur of mankind is his ability to contemplate his own existence. Pascal was not denying that animals have a type of self-awareness; rather, he was saying that human beings can think about the meaning of their existence.

Pascal went on to say that this ability to contrast our present condition with what might be is not only our greatest grandeur, it is also the cause of our worst misery. We can always imagine a better life. Thus, we can suffer from guilt, because we know we ought to be more righteous.

But there is more to it than only Homo sapiens. The twentieth-century Dutch theologian G. C. Berkouwer wrote that man’s reflection upon his nature has produced an astonishing variety of views. For instance, some modern thinkers have defined man strictly in terms of chemistry and biology. Others have said that man is only a hairless variety of ape; and because he is hairless, he has learned to manufacture artificial clothing; and this endeavor accounts completely for all differences between men and animals.

Karl Marx said that man is Homo faber, the creature that works, and that all human life is defined in terms of labor. Other thinkers have (more properly) said that man is Homo religiosis or Homo adorans, a religious creature that longs to worship. This type of man recognizes the Creator and, by contrast, his own creatureliness.

Have you ever considered that refusing to worship may in some manner be a denial of your humanity as God has constituted? By contrast, longing to worship the one true God is perhaps one of the highest expressions of your humanity. Ask the Spirit to produce a deep longing to worship God.