excerpt from Treatise On God

Discussion in 'Books / Publications Forum' started by George D. Foss, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. George D. Foss

    George D. Foss
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    Theologians and the Humanity of God
    This is an excerpt taken from my work titled "A Treatise On God." Chapter 5 --The Humanity of God.
    In all of my searches of the theological literature I have yet to find a comprehensive work that recognizes the significance of God's humanity and its relationship to His grand plan for man. The noted theologian Soren Kirkegaard skirted all over the place with this question, and is now recognized as the author of existentialism. He proposed that "Man is his own essential 'nothingness' and must create his own particular 'being' by taking on the responsibility of providing his own definition. Man is his own radical freedom, in that nothing constrains him save himself, and to be human means simply to be this self-defining creature, to be whatever one decides one wants become. Each individual---not society or religion---is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely. Thus, human beings, through their own consciousness create their own values and determine a meaning to their life. In my opinion Kierkegaard failed because it is evident he did not rely totally on the Word of God, if he had he would have reached a different conclusion. Emmauel Swedenborg is another who is cited for his theology of the God/human concept, but, because of his outlandish venture into mysticism and his questionable sanity, I do not consider him a credible source.
    Probably the best work dealing with the subject at hand is found under the great theologian Karl Barth in his book titled "The Humanity of God." The book consists of three sections --the first is an essay on his overview of nineteenth century theology. The second essay is the one from which the book's title is taken -- The Humanity of God. This is an essay on Barth's Christology, in which he looks at God's divinity and humanity in Jesus Christ. The following quote from his book addresses the question nicely: "God requires no exclusion of humanity, no non-humanity, not to speak of inhumanity, in order to be truly God. But we may and must, however, look further and recognize the fact that actually God's deity encloses humanity in itself." Barth holds that if we believe in God -- a creative Divine Source to our life--then surely the Divine nature must contain within itself the source of our truly human qualities albeit at a level of perfection we can scarcely imagine. So, if we can express in some imperfect way love and compassion for others this human love must spring from God's love--an unconditional love that has no limits and no boundaries and is shared equally with all. And a similar principle applies to all the qualities that make up true humanity. And this is why we can talk about the Humanity of God -- because those qualities of love and wisdom which in us make us truly human first arise perfectly in God. God is truly Human and we are only really human when we reflect God's image and likeness into the world around us. The last section of his book deals with the issue of human freedom, and how this freedom is in fact a gift from God.
    Overall, Barth succeeds in describing the connection between God and man (made in the image of God). He states that God is best known through Jesus Christ, in whom God is not isolated from humanity from God. Jesus Christ as the Mediator and Reconciler comes forward as a human being in behalf of God and to God on behalf of humanity. God himself in Jesus is the foundation of true humanity. Jesus' incarnate humanity was creaturely humanity. Since Jesus belongs to this creaturely world, his humanity is like our humanity. This is not an analogy of being, therefore, but an analogy of relationship. The relationship between the being of God and that of humanity, and the relationship in the being of God himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is free to posit himself in relation as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from all eternity. So, also, he is free to create humanity in his own "image." Therefore, we need not look for the meaning of true humanity elsewhere than in the humanity of Jesus Christ. I totally agree with Barth's premise, but I would go beyond Barth and include all of Scripture in discerning the God/human concept.
    Barth unveils what he calls "A covenant between God and humanity:" Its origin is God himself. It becomes "revealed and effective in time in the humanity of Jesus. In the covenant, God makes a "copy" of himself. "Even in His divine being there is relationship" as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." He is Himself the One who loves eternally, the One who is eternally loved, and eternal love; and in this trinity He is the original source of every I and Thou, of the I which is eternally from and to the Thou and therefore supremely I. Barth's sense of God's sovereignty and man's free will is at odds with the longer tradition, seeing freedom as coming not before but after God's salvific act. The sinner is a slave, not free at all; freedom comes after the grace of God gives it.
    The only other credible theologian that I found who dealt in depth with the humanity of God was Edward Schillebeeckx, a Belgian Roman Catholic theologian born in Antwerp in 1914, who died 23 December 2009. In some of his writing Schillebeeckx does address the humanity of God and its connection to man, the image of God, but like Barth he failed to complete this theology to my satisfaction.
    I see Humanity as the key to God and His creative plan. Adhering to Occam's Razor, actually it is quite simple, but theologians are wont to complicate the matter. We are human because God is human. What other source is there? <Man is the reason for God's creation. God created us in His own image, with certain nature based on His own humanity. This is the answer to the question "What is human nature?" Scholars keep trying to answer that question by comparing man with the rest of creation, whereas I see the
    answerresides in comparing man with the attributes of God. With JESUS, man and God become one.
     

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