It is dangerous to explain too clearly to man how like he is to the animals without pointing out his greatness. It is also dangerous to make too much of his greatness without his vileness. It is still more dangerous to leave him in ignorance of both, but it is most valuable to represent both to him. Man must not be allowed to believe that he is equal either to animals or to angels, nor to be unaware of either, but he must know both. (Pensee’s 121/418)There is an amazing greatness in humanity, yet there is also an utter depravity. We so clearly have the capacity for astounding creativity; in the arts—musical and visual; painting and sculpture; don’t forget the sciences—Physics and Biology, and of course Philosophy…all in all the level of our inventiveness is astounding.
Yet the study of history shows over the thousands and thousands of years, the horrid level of depravity we have inflicted on our fellow man. The wars and slavery, subjugation and tyranny; the slaughter of innocents and genocide…horrid massacres of fellow human beings for no other reason that they did not fit the majority’s measure of worth.
Societies have created systems of worship based on gods that are merely mega-humanity in an effort to give the general populace something to hold to…but to no avail. Only a God that is above; infinite yet personal can be the source of absolutes mankind can seek for true salvation.
Frances Schaeffer writes of the strength of the Christian world view this way:
This strength rested on God being an infinite-personal God and his speaking in the Old Testament, in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ…He had spoken in ways people could understand, Thus the Christians not only had knowledge about the universe and mankind the people cannot find out by themselves, but they had absolute, universal values by which to live...(p. 22)
The Apostle Paul points out in Romans 1:20 that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen…But instead we make images of the creation and worship them rather than giving worship to the Creator. In today’s world we turn the nurture given to children by their parents into nothing more than behavior necessary for survival.
And on the other end of the spectrum, we take the Judeo/Christian ideals this country was founded on and change them into a evolutionary change pointing to man as the measure of all things…humanity is passing up into a higher level of existence.
Yet in any thorough study of history it is plain to see the depravity of ages gone by is mirrored in daily life of the 21st century. There has merely been a change in the technology. Man is as fallen today as he was during the Roman Empire.
Yet what of the horror we inflict upon each other…And what of the sacrifices and blessings given to some? How do we reconcile these differences.
As Blase Pascal writes:
What sort of freak then is man? How novel, how monstrous, how chaotic, how paradoxical, how prodigious! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sink of doubt and error, glory and refuse of the universe! (Pensee’s 131/434)
Can we see the imago Dei in people? The very image and likeness of God in the humanity around us…but also can we recognize the fallen-ness in ourselves and others. Were it not for the grace given to us by God for our salvation…this is what we are called to give to one another, Grace.
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 6:44)
Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
Peter Kreeft(1993) Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensees. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press
Frances Schaeffer (1976) How Should We Then Live. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company.