THE DEIFICATION OF MAN

BY: Tiago Hirayama

Years ago, I developed an unfortunate habit of looking on Facebook. Lately, the posts vary from political agenda to meaningless jargons, from moral lessons to profane claims, from little kittens to radical Islamic propaganda, from advertising free speech but denying it to others. One decent thing Facebook has achieved is giving a voice to the unknown. Unfortunately, this voice comes with consequences. The ignorant opinion and fake news are a result of this benefit.  When comes to posts about Christianity, persons sound more like illogical creatures; rarely researching about what they post and end up twisting Scripture for their own pleasure.

One day I found myself eyeballing the Facebook’s timeline and read the following statement: “Let us dream the dreams of God because to Him nothing is impossible.” This statement seems to be a transliteration of Luke 1:37 with wish-wash thinking, which leads to an unfair comparison between God and man. Such phrase implies that God’s thoughts, plans, will, and desire could be perfectly grasped by an imperfect being. Though differences between God and man are more than evident, resemblances do exist, but not at the cost of divinizing humanity and humanizing God.

At face value, the statement “let us dream the dreams of God” communicates an unfair assumption that humans, somehow, can think like the Divine. Consequently, eliminating any distinctions between them. Wayne Grudem elucidates those differences by calling them incommunicable attributes, which includes Independence, Unchangeableness, Eternity, Omnipresence, and Unity.”[1] Each of which reflects a peculiar characteristic that belongs only to the Divine. Independence means that God is entirely independent of his creation. He does not need anything besides Himself. Meanwhile, humans are born in need of care. When an individual is born, he is fated to the reality of dependence. The immutability of God means that He never changes. He is perfect in Himself. In contrast, humans are in a continuous change; if persons did not possess a way to identify themselves as they grow older, they would be destined to an identity crisis. God’s eternity means that He has no beginning or end, His presence never ceased. He is in the dawn of time, and at the same time, He is in the doomed day. He is here right now, but He is also in that future event that will happen in decades from today. Mankind, on the other hand, has a beginning, middle, and an end. Persons have limited time to do all their life requires. God’s omnipresence means He is continuously present everywhere, but at the same time, He cannot be confined to any measurable enclosure. By comparison, man and woman are not there; they are limited by space and time. They can be here, but if they are here, they are not there. Lastly, the term Unity means that God is not divided into parts. Grudem asserts that “God’s being is not a collection of attributes added together, neither the attributes are added to His being, rather the Being of God and the attributes are intertwining amongst each other; He is entirely loving, entirely merciful, entirely just, and so forth.”[2] In opposition, humans bow before such majesty. By experience alone, no one possesses such attributes intertwined within themselves.

The similarities agreed amongst theologians does not include thought, plans, will, and desire. Though mankind can know such things through the written revelation of God, they cannot perceive perfectly what are the Divine’s purposes in doing something. The commonalities agreed amid those who debate such things are language, creativity, love, holiness, immortality, and freedom.[3] Francis Schaeffer in the title of his famous book has stated The God Who Is There, and Albert Mohler complementing that title added, The God Who Is There, and He Is Not Silent.[4]  This is precisely what humanity received as a gift: not being silent. The task to name the animals in Genesis 2 is a clear indication that language was given for a purpose. Likewise, readers of the Bible can easily infer that communication was already happening between the Trinity before the foundation of the Earth. Creativity is what man and woman seek to accomplish all the time. They have a passion for being creative. Similarly, God is not only creative but the mastermind behind all the nuances and perfections of creativity (Job 38, Proverbs 30:4, Psalms 89:12, Revelation 4:11). Do people love? Yes, they love. Love is the highest, most sublime emotion which one can demonstrate to another. John R. Short expounding on this notes that “Love is the quintessence of God’s character. God is love (1 John 4:16). His love for man far outstrips human comprehension. It is the major theme of Scripture. Even when man sins again and again to the extent that God must destroy him, still he loves him (Lamentations 3:10-12; 21-23).”[5] In the first stage of creation, mankind’s parents were in a perfect state; they were holy creatures. However, soon after the fall, they lost the inclination to do only good and start to seek that which is evil in God’s eye (Genesis 6:5). Even then, humans still echo resemblances of holiness, and in Christ, they are commanded to be holy (Ephesians 4:24, 1 Peter 1:16). The immortality of the soul is a reflection of the image of God left for humans. Jesus explicit taught on this immortality (John 3:36; 6:58). However, to achieve the desired comparison one needs to understand that human beings have a start point while God has none, He is from everlasting to everlasting (1 Chronicles 16:36). Last but not least, Short continue to explain the connection between God and man with regards to freedom, man “as a free spiritual being. A responsible moral agent with a thinking mind and powers of choice and action, able to commune with God and respond to him, he could love and worship God—or if not, as he chose…(man) now misinterprets freedom as independence. Satan’s lie was to trick man into believing that to be independent of God was to be free. But there is no such thing as freedom. We are all slaves, either to Christ or to Satan.”[6] As demonstrated above, these similarities are a fraction of the capacity of a human being to reflect the Divine.

Even though the distinctions between God and man are extraordinary and somewhat they still share many similitudes, one cannot adequately compare the Infinite with the finite. The Bible is explicit of why God cannot be compared with a man because He has said so (Isaiah 55:8-9). Complementary, scholars have suggested that Paul’s words in Romans 11:34-35 are an exposition of Isaiah 40:12-14 and Job 3,[7] which leads to the implication that the new testament, prophetic, and poetry books of the Bible rejects the idea of humans thinking or knowing extensive and exhaustive about God’s purposes; unless one objectively searches the revelation given by God which discloses His plans and decrees (Isaiah 46:10; Numbers 23:19).

Looking from a worldview perspective, the wish-wash mentality has infiltrated many circles of believers bringing the Creator and the creature distinctions almost to an end. To combat such influences within the church, Dr. Francis Schaeffer has advised that “as Christians we are not only to know the right worldview, the worldview that tells us the truth of what is, but consciously to act upon that worldview so as to influence society in all its parts and facets across the whole spectrum of life, as much as we can to the extent of our individual and collective ability.”[8] As this article concludes, distinctions between God and man are crystal clear, but they still share many resemblances. Yet, one cannot honestly compare both, granted he or she might fall into the trap of deifying man and personifying God.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Nottingham, UK: Inter-Varsity Press., 1994), chapter 11 subheads.

[2] Ibid., 178-179.

[3] John Rendle Short, “Man: The Image of God,” Answers in Genesis, March 1, 1981, accessed March 14, 2018, https://answersingenesis.org/who-is-god/creator-god/man-the-image-of-god/

[4] Albert Mohler, Apologetics series: “God Is in Charge of the Universe,” accessed on March 24, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch6RA2_i4Wc&t=1312s

[5] John Rendle Short, “Man: The Image of God,” Answers in Genesis, March 1, 1981, accessed March 14, 2018, https://answersingenesis.org/who-is-god/creator-god/man-the-image-of-god/

[6] John Rendle Short, “Man: The Image of God,” Answers in Genesis, March 1, 1981, accessed March 14, 2018, https://answersingenesis.org/who-is-god/creator-god/man-the-image-of-god/

[7] Christopher W. Morgan, “From Typology to Doxology: Paul’s Use of Isaiah and Job in Romans 11:34–35,” Themelios, accessed March 14, 2018, http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/review/from-typology-to-doxology-pauls-use-of-isaiah-and-job-in-romans-113435.

[8] Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture, L’Abri 50th Anniversary Ed (Wheaton, IL: Crossway 2005), 256.

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