Augustine, Confessions, Book 1, Chapter 1
Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee.

Pascal, Pensées (425)
“What is it, then, that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself. He only is our true good, and since we have forsaken him, it is a strange thing that there is nothing in nature which has not been serviceable in taking His place.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other . . . . God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

King David, Psalm 8:3-5
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned them with glory and honor.

What do Augustine, Pascal, C. S. Lewis, and King David have in common?
A solid anthropology.

3 Comments

  1. These insights may well describe the basis of the Godly anthropological view of the Christian today, but how might they offset the overwhelming ideology of worldly contemporary man who views the world as well run in the repose of the global society, deep pockets filled with riches, driven by the fuels of technology at the top of the environmental food chain. The church has been wrestling with an understanding of of the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural responsibility of man (anthropology) since the second or third centuries.

    As Christians we may agree that the basis of Godly anthropology is the understanding of obedience to God. The world doesn’t appear to think in these terms, but only in terms of the basest needs of survival. This has invoked the need for a response to the worldly materialistic conception of man which has dominated much of the twentieth century. This climate of materialism may be based upon three main currents. In the first place there was the materialism of modern science. The experimental method tends to the view that what can be measured is real, only material reality exists. At the human level, advances in biology, later influenced by the theory of evolution, led to a depreciation of the Godly spiritual dimension of man. Secondly, the influences of the Marxist philosophy of materialism, in a tyranny reminiscent of others in human history, brought misery and death to millions of people. Finally, a more subtle materialism which has drugged the Godly spiritual perceptions of man, and which is expanding more rapidly now than ever, is the practical materialism of the West. This is the pursuit of the rapid development of technology, now creating a global society driven by consumerism. This society measures progress solely in terms of material wealth, and reduces the practice of politics to the maintenance of favorable economic conditions. The driving principles of this rapidly expanding practical materialism are the importance given to individual subjective rights, and the dominance of a liberal capitalistic outlook indifferent to social responsibilities and the Christian world view. It is the view of these negative influences that have historically inspired the churches failed attempts to construct an adequate Christian anthropology.

    Certainly committed and obedient children of God are able to appreciate God’s view of anthropology. How might we offset the thoughts of society in it’s errant outlook?

    I’m sorry if I have strayed from the thrust of the topic.

  2. Rob…
    Though your comments are tangentially related, they are useful. May I recommend Carson’s Christ and Culture Revisited for a trenchant analysis of some of the concerns you raise here.

    To answer your question how do we offset errant society’s anthropology: Affirm a biblical anthropology by
    1. living as if our soul will only find rest in God
    2. our fullness in living comes from God
    3. feed on the sustenance of God’s life in us
    4. Recognize that our puny existence is noticed by the Almighty Creator!

  3. Note: Re-posted for Rob at his request

    These are wonderful points to consider. They also seem to relate to another thought that I had, that we, as God’s kids, are in this world but not a part of it spiritually. We are now citizens of heaven (Phil 3).

    How can believers be in the world, but not of the world?

    When we read of the “world” in the New Testament, we are reading the Greek word cosmos. Cosmos is often referred to as the inhabited earth and the people who live on the earth, which some regard as functioning apart from God. Satan is the ruler of this “cosmos” (John 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 5:19). By a simple definition that I have read, the word world refers to a world system ruled by Satan. We can readily appreciate Christ’s claims that are understood by some believers to indicate that we are no longer of the world—we are no longer ruled by sin, nor are we bound by the principles of the world.

    I am somewhat familiar with Carson’s work. I think his points about the contemporary challenge and how to think about culture are relevant. I will look around for a copy to review.

    I would be interested in any thoughts that other subscribers to this blog might have on this topic.

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