Bear the Image of God or…?
My Christian friend:
It is an unusual year, and not in a good way. Never-ending made-up outrages, a “pandemic” with a response that has paralyzed much of the world, and now “protests” that degenerate into murderous riots. I have not seen any thing like this since my seminarian years in Berkeley, in the late 1960s. I had no wish to see such ‘mobs’ again. Those protests back in the 60s were over a now forgotten war, but also entertained hope of remaking our republic into some Marxists ideal. That all seemed to have evaporated, but when you scrutinized this new effort you find the same Marxist wishes, even some of the same players only much older, and the same perverse hopes.
Many don’t appreciate how unique is this American Republic. In no age before, in no other country, had people ever chosen the kind of government they would live under. The growing freedoms of the European nations were mostly measured concessions from existing monarchs or a few military rulers. Only those settlements hugging the seaboard of a new continent conceived a system that is now so often copied, but often imperfectly. Imperfectly, because too often, as the French in 1789, people have tried to do so without God. The French were deceived and “intoxicated with the idea of perfecting man,” and would turn the Cathedral of Notre Dame into the Temple of Reason, and on a huge pile of dirt covering the altar they enthroned their Goddess of Liberty. Of course it failed, and the French are now on their fifth imperfect ‘Republic.’
Now the same perverse ‘intoxication’ enchants another generation. They just don’t know that no nation, no group, no person can assume the attributes of omnipotence, infallibility, nor certainly the place of divinity. That’s satanic. Reason is fine, but there are limitations, we are not perfect this side of heaven, and then only with a great deal of outside help. The American Republic was based on the principles of “God as Creator, Supreme Judge, and Divine Providence presuming the truth of mankind made in God’s image.” Such an idea of human equality could have only arisen in a society saturated with the concept of the “Imago Dei,” a society that was Christian.
When Jesus was approached with the question of Roman taxation, given a coin He would ask, “Whose image and inscription is this” (Mt. 22:20)? The response was “Caesar’s.” The Greek here for image is “eikon,” and is used for an image stamped on coins and for the “image of God” that all humans we believed bear. “Caesar’s” image is now on paper money. Yet the image of Caesar, some national symbol, or even some authoritarian ruler image cannot be stamped on us. We bear God’s image, anything else is idolatry, “We are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rm.8:16-17).
Christianity you see is the salvation of politics, which we desperately need now. The ‘state,’ our politics is not ‘God.’ Our faith should enable governments to focus on their true function, governing in this world as best they can, and not concern itself with what is not possible this side of heaven. There can be no real peace here without Christ, no perfect justice when God is not the judge, and always there are people who are stupid and will do vile things. In this world we consent to be governed knowing it will be imperfect, but always striving for improvement and always aware there will be mistakes. What we do not tolerate is despotism, forced compliance, or the denial of freedom of thought and speech. That is not compatible with our faith in a God of truth, equality, and love. We don’t kneel unwillingly confessing uncommitted sins to some demented man who insists on our debasement because we don’t say, or believe what the mob advocates (believe me the mob is never right).
Remember we bear God’s image, and we should never debase it, that’s been done too much already.
Let our Image of God shine in this darkness,
Thomas R. Wyatt