"A Five Stop Bus Tour of Reality" --

The Grandeur, Warmth, and Delight of the Christian Worldview


"When God is seen clearly, theology starts dancing..."

Third Stop--People


  1. The race as a 'little trinity' (Gen 1-2)

    1. Individuals (we are judged individually)
      For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5.10)

    2. We 'become' like others (deep-seated imitation)

      1. Being face-to-face for all eternity, no wonder the Persons of the Trinity are almost indistinguishable!
        Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. (Prov 22.24)

        He who walks with the wise grows wise (Prov 13.20a)

        but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. (Ps 106.35)

        Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." (I cor 15.33)

        When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD. (Ex 34.33)

        And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3.18)

      2. The incredible Mimic-Machine: the infant!!

      3. You are NOT "what you eat", but WHO you "eat with"...


    3. We are 'forced' to interact in history and culture

      1. Of all the animals, we are the ones born most helpless.

      2. It is 'not good' for man (men?) to be alone (Gen 2.81: The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." )

      3. Biologically, educationally, socially, sexually, religiously, linguistically--in every area of our lives, we interact with real or 'projected' people...

      4. The most intense punishment in prison (short of death?) we know is 'solitary confinement'.

      5. "There are perhaps three reasons why humans live in groups. The first is the long period of physical and social maturation required by humans. The second is the psychological need for companionship. This is so strong that isolation or solitary confinement is used as punishment. The third is the relative physical weakness of the human being. He is ill equipped without such physical helps as claws, tusks, and hoofs. By cooperation man controls stronger, quicker, and more dangerous animals than himself and tames many aspects of the environment." (Cultural Anthropology: A Christian Perspective, Stephen Grunlan and Marvin Mayers, Zondervan:1979, p.189).


    4. Intimacy, Companionship

      1. "And the two shall become one..."(Gen 1 and 2)

      2. Shared "essence" in the Trinity is somewhat like "shared essence" in a family or "shared identify" of a primary group.

      3. A shared Plan in the Trinity is somewhat like a "secondary group"

      4. One of the more difficult trials of our Lord on earth...abandonment at the Garden and betrayal by a trusted friend...
        If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, 14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. (Ps 55.12)

        After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me." 22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." 25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" 26 Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. "What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him, 28 but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. (John 13)

        Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. (Matt 26.36ff)

      5. The intimacy of the Trinity is pictured in Father/Son, God/Spirit of God, 'another' Comforter, we are "one", etc.

      6. Our facility for empathy is a major expression of this pre-built unity...


  2. Personal

    1. Conscious (i.e. we experience things, are aware of things, think sometimes, etc.)

    2. Emotion (we 'feel'--anger, joy, affection, disdain, compassion, insult, fear)

    3. Choice
      "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Josh 24.14f)

      Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, 30 since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. (Prov 1.29)

      for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me." (Is 65.12)

      "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant -- 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off. (Is 56.4)

    4. Sense of "Inner Self" or "Soul"
      So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law (Rom 7.21-22)

      For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt 12.34ff)

    5. Innate knowledge of "Other Minds"

      1. Infant recognition of facial-patterns within minutes of birth...

      2. Children build a 'folk psychology' by age three...

      3. All of this is inferred without ever seeing a 'soul' or 'mind'--simply patterns of 'apparent' interaction.


  3. Community/Solidarity

    1. We affect each other -- for good or ill
      But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Mt 18.16)

      All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. (Rom 14.20)

      My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (Jas 5.19ff)

      Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (I Thess 5.11)

    2. We have responsibilities to/for one other
      Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal 6.10)

      Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, (Rom 13.8)

    3. We have needs for the 'group' to work--achievement beyond the 'parts'


  4. Creatures

    1. We are dependent on Another


    2. We do not have much 'authority' or many 'rights'
      So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jer 18.3)

      "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, `Why did you make me like this?'" 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (rom 9.20)

      Question: What does God "owe" us? What 'rights' do we have in His "court"?


    3. We are not gods...
      Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12.25)

      29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him -- those who cannot keep themselves alive. (Ps 22.29)


  5. "Leverage"

    1. Created by community

      1. The role of the 'social prophet'

      2. All the power of 'peer pressure' and 'public opionion'

      3. Social and Cultural "pressures" and control mechanisms


    2. Created by history/time

      1. The power of words--spoken, written, unspoken

      2. The flow from subjectivity to objectivity--the 'inside' becomes a 'thing' which has 'power'

      3. thoughts => attitudes => actions => habits => character


    3. Created by relationships (including His)

      1. Family ( e.g. parents teach kids)

      2. Prayer (leveraging our relation with Him, or His relationship with His Son)

      3. Marriage changes everybody (and sometimes, produces 'somebodies')

      4. Friends and fellow-workers


      5. Eternal ripples and eternal rewards
        "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. (Matt 10.41)

        But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6.35)

        Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Eph 6.8)

        "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5.11)


      6. Pleasing Him -- the Little Drummer Boy scenario

        "Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matt 6.1ff)

    4. Conflicting Goals

      1. Jesus and Conflicting Goals

        1. The fast in the Wilderness

        2. Gethsemane


      2. Prioritization

        1. Gethsemane: "Not my will but yours be done"

        2. John 4.32: But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

        3. We already do this in crises

        4. "Don't let the good keep you from the best"


      3. Our conscious 'executive' function 'vetoes' lower processes


      4. Examples: culinary delights, pain avoidance, intimacy, influence


    5. Changeable within a baseline

      1. DNA doesn't say it all (e.g. Mississippi alligators!)

      2. Conscious 'push-down' & psychosomatics

      3. Karl Popper's "World Three"

      4. The flow between 'What I can choose' and "What I have become"


    6. Image of God

      1. Regnal image (our rulership over the earth)


      2. Intrinsic worth
        "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. (Gen 9.6)

        With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. (Jas 3.9)

        And how much more valuable you are than birds! (Luke 12.24)

        How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! (Matt 12.12)


      3. The implications of these two: mental, ability to recognize value (i.e. conscience), choice--fully personal and communal


    7. We are "Inside" the universe

      1. Subject to physical laws (but these are more fluid than we realize)

      2. Able to make macro-changes to the universe!

      3. Material consequences of our actions (e.g. ecology)

      4. We cannot see 'outside' the borders of the universe (a real problem for theology)


    8. We were given the Mandate

      1. The Mandate of Genesis 1:
        Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Gen 1:26-28

        1. "Rule over the animals/earth"

        2. "Be fruitful and increase"

        3. "Fill" -- shared with most living creatures (cf. Gen 1.22; 8.17)

        4. "Subdue" the earth


      2. The Mandate of Genesis 2
        The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Gen 2.15)
        1. to 'work the garden'

        2. to 'care for the garden'


      3. How the mandate plays out in our lives

        1. the 'work' of a baby

        2. the work of creation/nurturing/challenging

        3. the work of re-shaping the universe

        4. Art and literature

        5. self-control (Gal 5.23)

        6. Romans 12.2: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (!)


    The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)