Worldview and Imago Dei

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[written during my 3rd year of Covenant College MEd summer coursework; class was Epistemology with Bill Davis; worth reposting]


You’ll find me doing several of these, I’m certain . . . I chrew through information verbally (although I learn best visually – go figure) so these daily review sessions are how I cope with all the data of my day. Here are some thoughts from my classes today:  I’ll try to put “fun stuff” in orange …. the yellow stuff is discussion. Feel free to ignore it . . . 

First of all — our class is one huge comedy club, I swear. But in a good way. . . .    We had very profitable discussions today mixed with much laughter. And I don’t think I’ll need the dart gun in class this week– unless we decide to shoot Dr Davis for the sheer love of causing trouble. He’s too clear of a thinker to provoke any frustration in me. Brilliant guy.  OCD about being orderly, which is good for a guy who spends his life organizingideas.  Oh, and I decided he looks like Kenneth Branaugh, but with much darker hair.

Anyway, two major lines of thinking from today:

1. A person’s worldview is the filter which sorts the raw data of our lives –what we observe or what happens to us — into a story which we call experience. This worldview is often defined as “presuppositions”–statements about how the world works. But Davis pointed out that a worldview includes two more foundational aspects:  cognitive vocabulary and affections.

You have to learn terms for foundational concepts like “sin” “evil” “happiness” “worth” “justice” etc before you can organize what the world throws at you. Whether your idea of “sin” matches the biblical one is a totally different matter. And this vocabulary is still developing all through the middle school years — which is why many kids aren’t ready to think about worldview presuppositions until at least middle-teens. (Although my 8th grade classes have, to this point, been populated by several 13/14 year olds who were already thinking pretty deeply about the world and their place in it.)

More importantly, people value what they love. Want to know a kid’s worldview . . .  What does he/she talk about all the time?

And people listen to the people they love. A student’s worldview is developed by what s/he sees modeled in adults around he/r–adults s/he cares about, especially. A teacher who talks about living all of life to the glory of God but who lives a disjointed life full of frustration, unable to connect life’s experiences to the great Metanarrative of  Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation– that teacher is screaming “The Christian Worldview Does’t Work!”

ick.  my reactions  to life and in the classroom reveal my own inconsistencies

2. On the topic of the image of God:   Davis had a slightly different view of the imago Dei. I’m going to try to represent it here, but if you hate what I say, realize that I might be messing it up…

We tend to define God’s image as a human’s capability of reasoning, making moral decisions, and maybe being creative. That’s a leftover from Aristotle and the medieval theologians. Problem is, what happens when a human ceases to function like that? Does an advanced Alzheimer’s pateint lose his status as image-bearer when he can no longer express rationality, decision-making, or creativity?  Um . . . no

So Davis proposed a “covenant model” of the imago Dei:   Moses’ language in the Pentateuch often borrows heavily from the Near Eastern suzerainty treaties of the ancient world. In these treaties, a sovereign would make a covenant with his people. Part of that covenant included appointing a representative who would carry out the work of the king in that region. The word for that representative is the same word that Moses uses for “image” in Genesis 1.

So …. what if the image of God in us is actually more a task than a set of characteristics?   The task: fulfilling the creation mandate — exercising dominion over this planet and culture as the representative of God.  In that case, the image lies in humanity as a collective — both male & female — and not so much in individual people. BUT theequipment for that task — the fact that humans are rational, creative, moral, spiritual, communicative, etc etc — is distributed to individuals so they can carry out this mission.

Hmmm. It’s an interesting concept. Some implications:

  • If our task is given to humanity as a collective, we must rely on one another’s gifts.  Individualism breaks down pretty fast when you realize there’s no way you can do this alone. That’s a vital lesson in the classroom too –and I’ve watched kids balk when I assign them a group project and give the whole group the same grade. GASP! Welcome to life, folks . . . sometimes the group has to sink or swim. And if God gifted you with a particular ability, you can’t sit back and say, “Hey, I don’t think that guy’s doing enough work over there!” Are you going to do that when you grow up and your pastor asks you to take on a ministry?don’t shoot me … just think about it 
  • The Fall did not delete God’s image in man: the responsibility to fulfill the dominion TASK.  But the Fall didbreak our equipment (creativity, morality, rationality, stewardship, etc …)
  • Unbelievers as well as believers are held accountable for this task — it’s not like people don’t become image-bearers until they receive the Holy Spirit.  And all humans are equipped for the task — broken, perhaps, but still equipped — and common grace allows unbelievers to contribute in positive ways to dominion activity. Again, it’s twisted, but it’s definitely there. Even public educators. 

OK. That’s enough for now. I still have a pile of reading to do for this course, so I’m gonna sign off for now.  And there’s talk of some entertainment tonight with the 4 guys across the hall — maybe a poker game or something. We’re hoping to plan a soccer game for tomorrow, but the Edge kiddos have descended upon us in great hordes. AAAARRRGGGHHH!  You can’t walk anywhere without running into a pack of adolescents clogging up the campus arteries!!!!  And I bet they swallowed the soccer fields too…  LOL

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