Man the Questioner
The very nature of man demands of him to inquire not only into the nature of things that are external to him, but also find out who he himself is. The moment he seeks definite answers to his questions, that very moment he becomes both the question and the questioner. It is the threat or fear of becoming a question unto himself that man tries to evade at all costs. The question, however, does not leave him. It does not allow him to rest in peace. All other questions, whether they be about the origin of the world, or about the nature of things, center on one question: Who is this person who is behind all the questions. It is the questioning aspect of man that specifically separates him from everything in the world. He as a subject turns himself into a questioner, and accordingly, through his questions, seeks concrete answers not only about things that are out there, but also about himself. As a cognitive being, he desires to know himself both as the question and the questioner.
The cognitive self of man is separated from all that which man, through inquiry or search, has the possibility of knowing. The knowing self is separate from the knowable on account of the capacity of knowing the knowable. In the process of knowing the self also makes itself known. The self of man not only knows the knowable, but also possesses a will that has the power of extending both hate and love. It is the self which engages in research, in mental activity, in reflection – in short, in all that that is meaningful.
The overlooking of this essential aspect of human existence would denote of not being aware concerning the question of man as being that of a subject and not a question among many other questions. The moment man questions himself, that very moment the self is transformed into an object, which it is not in itself. As it is man who has the capacity of allotting appropriate place to everything, so no one can allot any place to man as a subject. It is for this very reason that man is a paradoxical ambiguity or mystery. Man, no doubt, has the power of comprehending the entire universe through his gaze, yet he is unable to fathom himself as to who he is. Although having the power of dominating the world, yet he occupies a small place in this vast and terrifying universe. One aspect of the human riddle consists of in the gulf that exists between the subject and the object, and what kind of relationship exists between the two dissimilar entities, namely, the self and the body characterize the other aspect of it.
Man is not just what we know and see of him as a tangible or empirical being. There is "something" inward that confronts him as a challenge or a kind of pressure. This something does not confront him in the form of an object, but as that that is over against him. This something does not confront man as an object, because objects are not over against man, but are beneath him. This inward challenge, thus, is not foreign to man, but rather is to be seen as a "call" issuing forth from his very nature. It is a call for the acceptance of responsibility of existence, which demands of man to be true and authentic. Man asks not just because of his subjecthood. Rather it in-built in his nature to ask questions. He is, therefore, constrained to ask questions he does not know about. In asking unknown questions, man thereby is asked to go beyond himself, to transcend himself. In whatever way he may attempt to interpret this inward urge or challenge, he cannot however escape its factuality. It is this inward challenge which authenticates human subjectivity, that is, man as man. Man is more than what he seems to be. He is a being who seeks answers to his questions. He not only expresses his natures through his actions, but also tries to understand himself through them.
As an empirical being, man is at peace with himself. It is his inner urge to be and express himself what he actually is. It is also a fact that he is not content with what he is. This tension, this asking, this questioning, this seeking leads him to hide himself behind his ideas and ideals. As he is not ready to face existence in its raw nakedness, so he is afraid of it. Consequently he endures the present with the hope of living in the future. Man, thus, is a divided self, far more divided than is the mind and body. This conflict, which arises from the opposition between what man is and what ought to be, is the fundamental aspect human existence that is known to us.
Man, as he is, is a riddle, and we must find a solution, an answer to the problem: What is man? Our concern is not here with science and the strides it has made in the domain of knowledge. The main concern is with our own self: Who are we? In the absence of knowing who he is, it will be difficult for man to live purposefully. Impossible it is to know the meaning of life unless man knows what and who he is.
There is something unique or extraordinary in man that distinguishes him from all the creates in the universe. Even the cynic, although he may deny it in theory, accepts the fact of uniqueness of man. In contrast to the cynic, we have the idealistic mystic who is prone to deny the incarnational aspect of human existence, yet he is unable to overcome his human condition in moments of deep crisis. All these ambiguities exist concerning human existence on account of it being ambiguous. As ambiguous, human existence always suffers from dialectical contradictions. This contradiction is quite obvious when we, on the one hand, recognize man as an unique being and, on the other, find him labouring under the burden of creaturely existence. These contradictions, within the Christian framework, have to be viewed with the context of a Christology that sees Christ both as divine and human. It is at this point that we must remind ourselves that Christ is not to be understood merely as a symbol of our higher nature. He is, rather, the Word of God to us. This Word does not emerge mystically from the depths of our being, but comes down upon us from the transcendent heights of God. It is in and through the descent of the Word that contradictory or conflictual nature of human existence is revealed. The Christian doctrine of man, thus, has to be viewed against the background of his origin, his present contradictions, and the actual state of life in the world.
It is the biblical creation narrative that explicitly explains the Christian doctrine of man. The basic thrust of this doctrine is that man has been created "in the image of God." This ontological norm of the Old Testament concerning the creation of man has to be interpreted in the context of the New Testament revelation. The revelation of the Word tells us that man, who is in Christ, is "being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3.10). It is thus essential that reflect seriously upon as to what "the image of God" signifies, and how in Jesus Christ in finds its fulfillment.
Even though man may shares many aspects of his nature with the creatures of the world, yet he different from all of them. Why? Because the very creation of man has been different from all other creatures. There is ushered in a new creation upon the completion of the creation of the universe and of creatures and objects within it. "And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’" In this creative act of God a new form of existence is to be formed -- and this new existence is that of man. Man’s creation is not actualized through the imperative word of God. Here God stoops towards man whom he creates. Man, when compared to all other creatures, has not only been created by God, but has been created for God. Man is what he is through any by God. It is said of man alone that he has been created "after his likeness" and "in his image." It is upon this expression upon which the Christian doctrine of man heavily relies. The interpretation of "after his likeness" and "in his image" have to be linked to the incarnation of the Word, and it is only then that we can have a clear grasp of the problem of human existence.
Man’s being in terms of nature and grace is one. God determines the primal nature of man, whatever it is. What we know or experience of man at the present is his de-natured nature. This prevailing condition has emerged on account of the loss of the original God-given nature to man. The loss of original nature means that man has been reduced to the level of un-natural nature. The interpretation that looks at man as a neutral natural, that is, animal rationale, completely misunderstands the being of man. Man is not a kind of two-storeyed being. He is, rather, a unity. As being he is related to God, and this relationship is not external to him. It is the fundamental constituent of man’s being, that is, of his humanitas.
The preposition that man is "in the image of God" does not explain much in itself. The phrase has no significance by or in itself. What the phrase endeavours is to explain is to tell us that the substratum or ground of existence is to be found in God. If the phrase, however, is interpreted in relation to the New Testament, then the term "image" would mean "reflection." The terms "image" as existence refers back to something else: "but we all, with unveiled face, reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Cor. 3.18; cf. Rom. 8:29). Thus is made clear that man not discover his worth in and by himself, but in One who stands over against him, that is, in the Word made flesh. Man’s distinctiveness. Therefore, lies in the realization that he knows himself to be in God, which also means that he understands that God both knows and recognizes him. God has created man through the Word, which means that man is asked to receive the Word. The "I" of the being of man is from and in the Divine Thou.
The being of man, unlike other creatures, is not a finished product, and so is in the process of self-knowledge and self-determination. God has created the other creatures, in contrast to man, as finished products, and so they are what they ought to be. Man, on the contrary, is always in the hands of God. Insofar as human development is concerned, it issues forth from Divine determination, which means that man is called forth to respond to the call of God in terms of a firm decision. It is this urge for decision within man that separates him from other creatures. It amounts to saying that man at every moment of his existence posits himself, through his personal decision, as a being that is for the self. At the same time, however, the being of man, in contrast to the Divine Being, does not spring from itself. It is, indeed, a being for the self, but not a self-originated being.
The responsibility of decision is given to man not as a task, but as a gift. As a gift, it is not to be seen as law, but as grace. If this is the case, then it cannot be considered as a demand, but the very essence of life.
The Word that calls man is not in terms of "thou shall," but as "thou may be." The Word of God is not imperative, but indicative of divine love: Thou art mine. The Divine Word is God’s self-communication to man and so accordingly man is called forth to be in communion not only with the other, but also with God.
Man’s being is characterized by an "above" and by a "below." What it means is this: Man is not simply to be understood in horizontal terms, but also vertically. This means that man’s relationship with God cannot be understood with the help of reason alone. Rather reason has to be explained in the context of man’s relationship to God. Man has created man in such a manner as would be possible for him to hear the call of God as an inner voice. Upon hearing the inner the voice, he responds to it. Human reason, thus, is the organ of perception, and its significance, its whence and whither, lies in the Word.
It is not the rational character of man that determines the actual meaning of human existence. Rather the meaning of human existence lies in the fact that man as creature has been created by God over against himself, that is, man is a creature to whom God imparts himself through the Word, and thereby endows him with reason as that organ by which the Word is perceived. The being of man as the imago Dei, thus, has to be understood in terms of divine gift. It is, therefore, significant to observe that the primordial nature of man is to be in love with God—and it is for this purpose God has created man. The human dimension of existence consists in the fact that he is related to God. It is not a truism to say that it is the imago Dei of that has determined the character of man as that which receives the gift of love from God.
If this what the imago Dei signifies, then the question arises: What is the status of a man who has turned away from God, that is, of sinful and fallen man? It is on account of sin that man has lost the original state of existence, the justitia originalia, and consequently, as an empirical category, he is not living an existence that is in accordance with the love of God. It means that man does not love the loving God who first loved him. Although man has lost his original state of existence, he has not, however, lost the theological foundation of his life. Even as a sinner, man can properly be understood only in terms of the image of God, that is, the one who is living in opposition to it. It is his relationship to God that determines man’s being – and this relationship, due to fall and sin, has been damaged. Sin has wounded and perverted this relationship. Man, on account of sin, does not cease to be responsible. The responsibility of man has, however, been changed from the state of being-in-love-with-God to the state of being-under-the-law. It is a life under the judgement of God.
Man’s responsibility-in-love actualizes itself in relation to his neighbour. When man is asked to love his neighbour like unto himself (Matt. 22.39), he is not given a command. Rather this asking has to be seen as a gift in the sense that it is in the human thou that man is given the possibility of his selfhood. Man can exercise his love in a community of human beings, and he is human only when he exercises love. The human thou is not an addition to man’s essence. Rather it determines his essence. That is why it has appropriately been said: "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13.10; Matt. 22.40). Love is the fulfillment of law not merely in terms of moral law, but in terms of the law of life.
Human community, within the Christian context, is not to be understood merely as a means of working out human destiny, but is also to be seen functioning as a boundary or limit to the "I". The Divine Thou is not confronted by a single "I," but by many selves who realize that the bond that unites them to God also simultaneously unites them with each other. As God bestows humanity on man in community, in love, so he sets a boundary in his relationship with others. The human self functions responsibly on account the of limit that the Thou has determined for it.
Even though man be a creature, it is a fact that he has been given the possibility of self-expression. This possibility of self-expression, however, has to operate within certain defined limits. Man is given a material body with the intention that he may know and realize that he is a creature. It is through the body that comes in contact with the outside world, and it is this very body which functions as a point of limit between man and God, between man and man. Man, according to the biblical anthropology, is not only of this world, but is of the earth: "dust of the ground" (Gen. 2.7). It is the corporeal nature of man that enables him to know that he not only is distinct from his Creator, but is dependent on other human beings. The clearest expression of this difference and dependence is to be found in procreation and birth. It is through the body that man shapes matter, and in shaping the matter, he imitates his Creator. He manifests God’s spirit in a reflected manner when he engages in the activity of shaping the matter.
When we look at man, we find him to be composed of spirit and matter, and accordingly belongs to the two realms of being. He participates in the Divine Spirit because he comes from God and is made for God. Man has a share in the life of God precisely because God has given himself to man in Jesus Christ. Man has been created in such a manner that he may perceive God’s eternal Word, and may respond as reason that perceives the Word. As a sharer in the life of God, man stands over against the world as its lord (cf. Gen.1.26,28; Ps. 8.7f.). As a rational being, man looks at the world at a distance. That which presents itself to consciousness must be outside of it. The world, being outside of consciousness, is at a distance from man. When man looks at the world as a detached observer, he is able to know it, and through knowledge master it. The mastery over the world, however, is not of absolute kind. It is relative and limited. Man is other than the world on account of his spiritual domination over it, which means that man, is a spiritual being. It is as a spiritual being that man is able to create in the physical world that which is other than the world, namely, cultures. Man, thus, stands at the borderline between the two worlds, and it are his divine destiny.
Christian doctrine of redemption or of salvation, when looked at from a negative standpoint, consists in the idea that man, originally created in the image of God, has set himself against his originate state of existence by disobeying the command of God. It is the disobedience against the will of God that is responsible in putting his empirical nature in conflict with his original nature. This perception of human condition is arrived at in the context of Divine incarnation of Jesus Christ. It is this perspective of man that the Christians think is a realistic depiction of what man is.
Each one of us is awareness of distinctiveness of man. As man is distinctive, so he is also full of contradictions. Those who maintain that man is essentially identical with the Absolute do this by abolishing his empirical nature. At the same there are others who see man only a bundle of contradictions, and they thereby neglect the uniqueness of man. If the contradictions in man are viewed from a commonsense point of view, we discover that these contradictions are of evil design. In this manner the reality of evil is not denied, although the explaining of it may be difficult.
Evil is that wound in the soul of man from whence arise all forms of spiritual diseases. Efforts may be made to deny the reality of evil theoretically, but at the practical level of life each person is compelled to recognize its reality. It is innate to man, no matter what culture he belong to, to make necessary distinction between good and evil, although the conception of content of good and evil may vary from culture to culture. Even the content at the surface level may seem to differ, but on close examination we find the universal expression of good as that which furthers life, and evil that which obstructs or destroys it. Good and evil have meaning to the extent they are looked at within the framework of responsibility. Evil is not misfortune. It is a destructive action of a responsible being. Evil, thus, is a negative aspect of responsibility. It is in responsibility that contradictions become evident.
Opinions vary and become confused the moment we try to give an exact definition concerning the origin of contradictions. There are some of the view that human contradictions emerge on account of our dual nature. A human being not either mind or body, but is a combination of the two. It is the conflict between the dissimilar entities that causes contradictions to be. There are, however, others who do not agree with this viewpoint. For them the origin of contradictions lies in too much of human involvement with the world. Whatever interpretation concerning the cause of contradictions may be offered, it is a fact that man always attempts to ascribe its origin to some kind of fate or destiny. In doing so, he thereby evades responsibility. In contrast to these views, there is the moral view that ascribes to free will the origin of evil. It is the element of free will that enables man to take decision either in favour of evil or good. In taking decision in favour of either good or evil, man thereby causes within himself a deep cleavage. On account of this cleavage man thereby tries to absolve himself from all responsibility.
The biblical revelation points out that both to be one. As a sinner, man always tends to commit sinful acts. It means that man commits evil because he is prone to do so on account of fall. The biblical revelation says further that whatever man does, whether good or evil, he is responsible for it. Why? Because responsibility is an essential aspect of man’s being. Thus no attempt is made at diminishing the impact of contradictions. The biblical revelation gives a rational explanation concerning human fate when it speaks of man as the "slave of sin." It means that we are not free to commit evil. While recognizing the importance of responsibility, the biblical revelation does not ascribe the origin of evil to some impersonal force or principle, which could be explained as fate. Since sin is conceived ontologically, it means that each individual being is affected by it. Sin is not collective, but is also personal. It is personal in the context of my relationship with God, and thereby with my fellow men. This paradoxical situation cannot be apprehended by thought, nor can it be analyzed through the process of ratiocination. The paradox that man is manifests itself in the actual condition of humanity. It is not a contradiction that contradicts man. Rather it is a contradiction of the whole man against the whole man, and so division within man. This division can be properly understood when we view man as a being that was originally created in accordance with Divine determination, and has now turned against it. As the original determination gave him authentic life, so the present opposition to it has resulted in a mode of existence that is counterfeit and inauthentic.
The biblical revelation tells us that sin, in its original form, consists in the revolt of man against his Creator. The original revolt of man has been termed as the original sin or fall of man. This revolt is not just a negative aspect of man’s opposition to God. It is a positive negation. Sin fundamentally is desire of man to severe his link with God, to be on his own, to be autonomous, or to be God. It is this explanation concerning sin that is to be found in the story of fall (Gen. 3), as well as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11ff) and the Parable of the wicked husbandsmen (Matt. 21.33 ff). The son who asks his father: "Father, give me my inheritance!" desires to be on his own, to be independent. It is this egoist kind of independence which Andre Gide extols in his booklet: L’enfant prodigue. This egoistic version of autonomy comes from the modern mind, which believes that human existence is authenticated the moment it is freed from God. It is outside the horizon of modern man to think that real freedom is realized by depending upon God.
The origin of sin, thus, lies in the assertion that man is independent of God. It is a state in which reason misunderstands itself. And this misunderstanding is well expressed in the modern dictum that says that Man is the measure of all things. This state of would not occasioned had not man originally been created to the master of the world. For this end man has been endowed with spirit and reason. "All things are yours" (1 Cor. 3.22: Gen. 2;16) explains the original intention of God concerning man. To this is added something more: "You are God’s," of "of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shall not eat" (Gen. 2.17).The implications of this statement are quite explicit and clear, which is: The world may be for man, but man is not the center of what there is. The center of everything is God himself. If man persists in his desire to be autonomous, then the following is going to occur: "Thou shall die" (Gen. 2.17). The serpent, on the other hand, maintains "Ye shall be as God" (Gen. 3.5). In listening to the serpent, man thereby gave rise to a history that is tragic.
Man instinctively is attracted to the suggestion of serpent: Ye shall be as God. This suggestion makes man arrogant, and consequently is lured to commit sin by disobeying God’s will. Sin, in concrete terms, expresses itself in the revolt of son against his father. At the bottom of sin is the inner hankering or arrogance of man for self-autonomy. This desire for autonomy, theologically speaking, means to be independent of God’s will. It is not out of weakness that man always commits sin. Rather he lets himself go in weakness.
The biblical doctrine is not at all negative. It describes sin as a positive negation. Sin is not seen merely as a lack or defect of the spirit that is "not yet." It is not the spirit, but the lack of it that terminates in sin. Consequently sin gives rise to spiritual misery. However, we must think of sin as being satanic. The very story of fall prevents us from interpreting sin in terms of Satanism. Man does not sin like Satan. He is led astray by sin. Prior to creation, there existed evil forces. Man, as a creature is not in position either to discover sin or introduce it into the world. It upon the arising of desire for autonomy that man’s perception is so blinded that begins to oppose God. Man’s sin is not just spiritual in nature. It expresses itself through the senses and desires. Whatever be the form of sin, it has an element of weakness – and this weakness expresses itself in the fear that one may lose one’s life by obeying God. It is not out impudence man commits sin. He sins because he is anxious about himself, and the anxiety concerns itself with the fear of loss of life. Arrogance arises in man the moment he thinks that he can look after himself better than God does. Man’s sin, thus, is a mixture of doubt, distrust, and a defiant desire for absolute autonomy.
The emergence of sin cannot be explained in itself. The on who understands that sin is inexplicable knows what it is. Sin is one of greatest mysteries residing in the heart of man. About the mystery of sin we know only one thing: We are responsible for it.We believe this to be true because God in Christ has shown us our origin and fall. It is through the Word of God that we know it be true. We accept the guilt of sin in the full knowledge of faith. The basic germ for sin is to be found in our self-love, that is, we love ourselves more than we love God.
Man in his original state was created as an existence to be in love with God. Now in the fallen state he is under the judgement of God. >From this fact man cannot escape. He may try to evade God, but he cannot escape from God. God has given life to man in his love. We must not look at man simply as a biological fact. We must look at him vertically. The reality of the being of man is in the love of God. It is the love of God that holds all the parts together. How? As the love of God is the ground of the origin and end of existence, so it is this very love that holds it together. In contrast to love, the judgement of God signifies the dissolution of the bond of unity, an existence-unto-death. This does not mean that God’s creation is led to the precipice of annihilation. Although man may be a sinner, yet does not cease to be in God. The sinner also stands in relation to God.
The existence-unto-death has to be interpreted that man tends towards death, and is aware of it. It is only a part of the whole truth. As man has been created in the image of God, as he is a subject, so his death is quite different from other creatures of the world. The existence-unto-death does not simply denote the knowledge of the end of physical life. Rather it is the unknowing knowledge of the afterwards. It is here that the man of sin meets the judgement of God. It is the anxiety of what is to come that throws its shadow on human existence.
Man, as already pointed out, is a mystery. The unity of human personhood cannot be penetrated simply in terms of psychology or biology. The enigma of the I-Self can be unveiled if the creation of man is seen for and in the Word. It is as psycho-physical unity that man has been creature as a creature of and for the world. This unity of man’s personhood expresses itself as being in the image of God. It is not the self or the body of man that God has created individually, but the person of man. Thus the unity of man is personal – and this personal unity can be perceived only in the light of the Word, that is, man is a creature who has been called to be in communion with God. It is a call to be responsible-in-love. It is the context of this fact that the I-Self cannot be understood.
As an imago Dei, man derives his personhood from God. Although he derives his personhood from God, yet he is different from God. God as Person is different from man because he is self-sufficing in love, self-existent and creative, whereas man exists as a creature who is responsive and reflexive in love. What it means is this: Man’s love finds its content outside of itself.God is love in himself, whereas man can be love only from and unto God. This biblical insight is put thus: "Let us love him (God), for he (God) first loved us." If man attempts to love by his own efforts, or loves himself first, he thereby engages in a process whereby he distorts his personhood. It is in and through the love of God that man can really love, and thereby authentically and truly himself. As God’s love is the content of human love, so man evidently resembles God. "But we all with unveiled face reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory" (2Cor. 3.18). As man’s content and meaning lies in the Word, so he is unlike God. He is a creature. He resembles God that, like God, he can say "I." The moment he refers to himself as an "I," that very moment he refers to God as the ground of his selfhood.
The tragedy with man is that he always tends to understand his "I" in the context of knowing. It is love that is the basis of human willing, knowing and feeling. Love is the center of the human person. The nature and content of the "I" must, therefore, be defined in reference to love and not of knowledge. The ground of personhood is neither in self-consciousness nor in willing. In contrast to all the rational definitions of the self, the Christian perspective is this: Man knows himself in and through the Word of God. Man’s consciousness of himself is theological on account of him being a theological person.
To be a person denotes to be related to someone. God’s is related to himself, whereas that of man is related to himself as being derived from its relationship with God. This analysis of the person is based upon love and not on knowing. It is so on account of incapacity of natural knowledge to point out the gap that exists between intellect and love. If our understanding concerning man is based upon intellectual knowledge, we will have knowledge of man that is abstract and cut off from the Thou. If, on the contrary, love, that is, a love whose content is not known, is made as the basis of understanding man, we will have a man who no more than a bundle of libido complexes. Man’s personhood, in its concrete expression, is a being-in-community, a responsible existence-in-love. If man’s origin is not known, our knowledge of the human person will be characterized by an abstract intellectual individualism – an individualism that thinks of man as an autonomous and self-sufficient being.
Man’s personal unity, within the biblical framework, is expressed in terms of the heart. The heart is the center whereby psyche finds its unity. Whatever man may will, he wills from the heart (Rom. 6.17). It is in love that one gives one’s heart to the loved one (Prov. 23.7). Consequently the beloved is always in the heart (Phil. 1.7; 2Cor. 7.2). It is the heart that knows (Deut. 29.4), sees and understands (Is. 32.4), reflects (Luke 2.19). The heart is also the "store-chamber of all that is heard and experienced" (Luke 1.66); "They utter words out of their heart" (Job 8.10), and to heart are assigned "all degrees of pain, joy, dissatisfaction from anxiety to despair" (Acts 2.46; 7.54; John 16.6; James 3.14; Eccl. 2.20). The unity of will, thought and feeling "as fully conscious means to be of one heart" (Jer. 32.39; Acts 4.32). At the same the heart also is the center of man’s moral dispositions and of his relation to God. It is the springboard "of all good and evil" (Mat. 12.34). It is from the depths of the heart that the love of God as well as the arrogance of self-deification emerges (Ezk.28.2,5). In the heart of all men the law of God is imprinted (Rom. 2.15). The heart is the "field for the seed of the Divine Word" (Matt. 13.19). It is the "dwelling place of the Holy Spirit" (Eph.3.17; 2 Cor. 1.22). The heart is "the quiet chamber of secret communion with God" (Eph. 5.19), "the central point of the whole man, the bearer of the personal consciousness" (Deut. 4.29; 6.5). In short, the heart within the heart within the biblical perspective is understood as the center of human personhood, and it is within this context that the importance of personal unity may be viewed.
As man’s origin is the Divine, so the heart accordingly is considered as that center that receives the Word of God. It is, thus, "with the heart one believes" (Rom. 10.10), and "with the whole heart we are to love God" (Matt. 22.37), even as "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 5.5). The heart that has been determined in this way has to be human, as God intends it. The heart is the self because it basis itself upon the strength of its Creator. It is this concept of the human person that is visualized in the Bible.
As the heart unifies and integrates the self of man, so it, through love, responds in harmony to its origin. Thus man is not simply actus purus, but a being who, before he acts, receives. He, first of all, receives his being in, from, and unto God through the Word. In other words, man first receives in an act of faith before he responds through grateful love. It is through the responsive love that the whole of man responds to the call of God.
It may be asked as to what is this responsive love or heartfelt faith. Basically it is kind of perception. It is upon receiving the Word, through the process of love, in the heart, we thereby engage in understanding it. Upon understanding as to what the Word is, we thus have grasped its meaning. The meaning of the Word is perceived by the mind. Upon perceiving the love of God, we also thereby understand as to who we are. It is in this act of perception that the deepest secrets are disclosed, namely, the mystery of God as well as of ourselves.
At this juncture it may be asked as to whether the original relationship between man God, due to the fall, has completely or partially been destroyed? The relationship has been partially been destroyed. Had it been completely destroyed, then there would have been no possibility for it to be restored. This question receives added importance within the biblical concept of heart. The heart of man has not been totally destroyed by sin, although it may be the seat of sin (Rom. 1.24; Matt. 12.34). As partial damage has been inflicted by sin on man, we can say that the personhood of man still exists, though in a damaged form. On account of the fall the human existence has been reduced to a mere form. It is a form in which existence is only a structure. This form has a content that is antithetical to the original content. This antithetical character of the content expresses itself in the desire of the flesh to seek itself (cf. Rom. 8.7). It is not, however, mean that man is no more related to God. He is related to God on account of him being still responsible. The sad facts, however, is that this relationship has turned itself into an enmity towards, and escape from, God. Although man is still a responsible being, yet this responsibility functions under the law. Man may still be human, yet he has lost the content of humanity. It is only a formal element of humanity that still exists in man.
The consequences of fall have been the loss of unity of being and of destiny. One of the results of this fall has been that continuously seeks the self. This search for the self has given rose to an egoistic individualism that establishes its identity, not through participation, but by differentiating itself from the other. There, thus, has arisen a wedge between the self and the ego. This division between the self and the ego has resulted in the division between love and responsibility. As man has lost the capacity of being-in-the-love-of-God, so he is accordingly being-in-guilt, which means that is under the judgement of God. Thus man’s relation to God is seen simply in terms of obligation. Also man is now conscious of God’s will only in the context of law, that is, as a demand, as an obligation. As love is no more understood in terms of responsibility, so it expresses itself as passion. Love as passion is directed towards the other with the intention of seeking self-gratification or domination. Love as passion seeks either to dominate the other in an autocratic fashion, or in the form of enslavement. There is also, side by side, moral law, which endeavours to regulate the relationship with the neighbour. It is in the principle of justice in which the moral law finds its justification or raison d’etre. In this manner are all human relationships made abstract and impersonal. The result of this is that man’s attitude to the other is in terms of self-righteousness and lovelessness
It is the deep fissure within man’s being that characterizes his fallen condition. Even in the fallen condition the personhood of man is still a unity, although in a formal sense of the word. This formal unity of the personhood is destitute of a uniform content. Instead of uniformity of content, the personhood suffers from ambiguities and contradictions. Although a comparative unity can still be maintained in the heart, yet it is the heart that suffers from division. Although the heart seeks what ought to be, yet it is pulled down by the opposing forces (Rom. 7.14ff). Accordingly St. Paul speaks of the powerlessness of the "law that is written in the heart" (Rom. 2.14; cf. Rom.7).
The question of freedom is the fundamental question of human existence, as it is freedom that constituted the original content of the being of man. Freedom is basically a human question and a human problem. The biblical concern for freedom becomes quite explicit when we read: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3.17). "Ye, brethren, were called for freedom (Gal. 5.13). "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8.36). As freedom is seen to be forming the core of the being of man, so the unfreedom is ultimate expression of human sin. "Everyone that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin" (John 8.34). Sin contradicts freedom on account of it being opposed to freedom. The human unfreedom is the theme of Christian anthropology with the frame of sin as being its cause.
Is it possible to delineate sufficiently upon the theme of freedom in the context of sin? This question has to be viewed with reference to the ideologies of the present age. It is not the humanistic concern for freedom that characterizes "the spirit of the age." It is the naturalistic determinism that has swept away all the ideologies of our age. It is in the context of determinism that the Christian anthropology is asked to fight, in the interest of human freedom, against the evil of unfreedom.
For a naturalist man is nothing more than a cerebrating animal. The only qualifying mark that differentiates man from other animals is with reference to his organism. Man, like a machine, functions or acts in accordance with the structure of his organism. Although he may be more intelligent than other animals, although he may aspire for higher culture, yet his perceptions are tied to his biological ends. For a naturalist to speak of freedom is as futile as to engage in the discussion of unfreedom, as both of them are not to be found in the natural order of things.
As far as the idealistic humanism is concerned, the picture is not as dismal as that of naturalism. For the idealist man is a subject and spirit, and so accordingly is absolutely free. As determination belongs to the order of things, so the freedom belongs to the realm of the subject. An object that that results from the processes of natural forces, whereas the subject is self-determined. The subjectivity always implies as being in opposition to the thinghood of objects. Accordingly is maintain that real freedom exists in the spirit alone. On account of subjectivity man has the capacity or power to completely detach himself from the temporal sequence of existence. The idealists must, however, take into consideration that limiting role body plays in the life of man. The body as a limiting factor in the realm of freedom has proved to be the greatest stumbling block for an idealist. The body for an idealist is a prison that somehow has to be transcended. Plato is, thus, compelled to say, "We are imprisoned in the body, like an oyster in its shell" (Phaedrus, 250 C). For the idealist the problem is to find out the way of escape from the body. As body imprisons the spirit, so it is vile and evil.
Freedom within the Christian frame is viewed against the background of origin, fall and restoration of the origin. All these aspects of human existence have to be seen in the context of revelation of the Word, which means that the doctrines of freedom, of personhood and of the spirit have to be interpreted within the framework of Christian faith, that is, in the light of Jesus Christ.
For a Christian man has basically been created in and for freedom-in-responsibility. In other words, it is freedom-in-and-for-love. The original being of man does not exist by and in itself. Why? Because it is not independent. It is derived from God, and is oriented toward God. As a derived being, human existence totally dependent upon God, and so accordingly is said to be contingent. Real difference between the divine freedom of God and the contingent freedom of man lies in this: The former is completely autonomous, whereas the latter is not. In contrast to absolute freedom of God, human freedom is relative and contingent.
The paradox of freedom expresses itself in the realization that man is freer in being dependent upon God. To the extent man realizes his dependence upon God, to that extent he is free. Contrary to this is human unfreedom. Man is unfree to the extent he is separated from God. It is the absence of God in the life of man which is the real cause for unfreedom. The question now is: What is the nature of freedom that comes to be by depending upon God? It is a freedom of will, of choice, to be able to say Yes or No. It is a freedom that contrasts the imperfect nature of the primitive state with the perfect end. The freedom of the eternal end as well as that of man will ultimately participate in the divine freedom of God.
Even in the fallen state of existence man is endowed with the power of decision. He has either to say Yes or No. Evasion of decision is not going in any way to help man. The very evasion of decision, however, means that decision has been made not to decide. So long as man lives, he has to take decisions. Although human freedom expresses itself through human decision, it is limited by responsibility. Responsibility is a call to love. Man is not only called to make decisions, but is also asked to respond to the call of God’s love. It is this destiny which has been placed before man as choice. He has to say Yes or No to the call of God. God has given man the power of choice, and the choice is not simply to be made between good and evil; rather the call is of election, to be in communion with God. It is this destiny with which God has endowed man. It is a freedom in terms of which man is defined as a servant who has a Master. It is in the call of this freedom from which man receives his destiny, and so both creation and destiny have to be seen as one. Authentic freedom is characterized by a willing obedience unto God who calls man to be in communion with him. Insofar as the knowledge of good and evil is concerned, and man is asked to choose between the two, it belongs to the man who already has become sinful (Gen. 3.5). This knowledge disappears in faith, as in the experience of faith man knows that God controls his life and that reason has become obedient (2 Cor. 10.5).
The divine limitation imposed upon human freedom does not any type of loss. This imitation, rather, gives life its proper meaning. It is through this limitation that man receives his relative freedom. It is in and through responsibility and love that the authentic meaning of existence is realized. Relative freedom also takes away self-will of man, and in this abandonment he authentically realizes his personhood. It is through this limited freedom that God allows man to regain his true humanity: Deo servire libertas.
Insofar as unfreedom is concerned, it is bondage in freedom. St. Augustine has clarified this problem when he states: "With free decision has God created me; if I have sinned, I have sinned ….It is I who have sinned, not Fate, not accident, not Satan because he has forced me into it, but I have consented to his transgression" (Migne, 37, 1938). "Who of us, however, would like to assert that through the sin of the first man free decision has disappeared from the human race? …. Free decision has been little in the sinner that it is precisely by its aid that men sin." "Thus they were ‘free in regard to righteousness’ (Rom. 6.20) only through the decision of the will" (Migne, 44, 552). The sin in the sinner does not reduce him to the status of an object. He is a subject, and so has a free will. Even in the sinful state of existence man’s free will is intact. And this free will expresses itself in the creation of art, science and culture. Man still has reason, and by the help of it he is able to have ideas. In short, freedom of the sinner has not, in principle, been destroyed. But then question arises: What is the nature of the sinner’s freedom?
As man has separated himself, through sin, from God, so his freedom has no locus standi in God; rather his freedom is functions against God. As a consequence of this separation, man leads a life of alienation. He is alienated from God, from love, from that which is good, and from himself. He no more experiences the presence of God as a gift. As he does not have the Good, so he ought to have it. The "ought to" has emerged on account of the perversion of the meaning of life. And this perversion expresses itself in phrases like he ought to do good. The godless man ought to love God. But the man as sinner has lost the capacity of accomplishing the task of ought to. Why? Because he is lacking in the love of God. Since he is lacking in the love of God, so he cannot fulfill the meaning of life.
Sinful freedom has really terminated in the bondage of unfreedom, that is, it is impossible for man not to be a sinner. This impossibility is not a relative one, but is an absolute one. Man, thus, has lost the freedom not to be a sinner. Although man may still have the sense of good, it has no meaning in the face of God. The tendency of sin is to be free of and from God. The unfreedom of man does not mean that he is destitute of moral and creative freedom. The fundamental question that arises in the context of freedom is that of faith and godlessness. The humanistic freedom believes in the absolute autonomy of man, and in this it continuously persists. The fact of human condition, however, gives us a different picture, which is contrary to the one presented by the liberalistic understanding of freedom.
Man’s distinctiveness does not lie in the assertion that he is different from God. It lies in the fact that he is different from the world. Although man is of the world and belongs to the world, yet he is asked to master it so that it may be under him. As God has made the lord of the world and placed "all things under his feet" (Ps. 8.7), he is thereby placed over against the world, because in him is to be found the goal and purpose of the create. Even though man is the master of the world, yet he is a creature. The creaturehood of man consists of in the fact that he is not the one who gives; rather he receives. As a creature of God, he is nothing in comparison to God. Man is the master of the world to the extent God makes him to be so.
Man as a creature is in the image of God. He is unique among the creatures of the world. It is on account of being in the image of God that man is allowed to participate in the life of God, that is, he live as a subject apart from the subhuman existence of the world. In this entire creation man alone is a person, although a conditioned one.
Man, on the hand, lives within the limits of the world as a bodily being, and, on the other, he as a subject stands over against the world. It is due to this paradox that man occupies a position that is between heaven and earth. It is this strange situation that makes him the center of creation. As the center of creation, the destiny of man is not limited to him alone, but is responsible in determining the destiny of the world itself. Although a microcosm, man is the center of creation on account of having been created through the Word. The Word, "which was in the beginning" (Jn.1.1) and "through whom all has been created (John 1.3), "the Son who upholds all things by the word of his power" (Heb. 1.3), "for whom all was created" (Col. 1.16), and "in whom all things cohere" (Col. 1.17) is the center of creation. The Word also is "the true light which lighteth every man" (John 1.19). Man has been placed over against the world on account of his participation in the Word.
Man, no doubt, is in the center of creation, yet he also is player in the cosmic theatre of time-space. The plays that man plays cannot be comprehended with reference to the world. In the theatre of the world man is playing the play of heaven and hell. This play of man has no meaning in itself. Whatever springs forth from the cosmos has no inherent meaning. Whatever meaning the cosmic drama may possess, it is in terms of death. "The world passeth away and the lust thereof" (1 John. 2.17). It is not from the world from where the meaning is derived. It comes from the Beyond. It means that the Kingdom of God is not of this world. It, however, comes into the world to bring to completion the meaning of the world.
The fact that human life has meaning and a goal beyond this world makes man stranger to the world. Man as a stranger in the world denotes that he is behind the times. The possible meaning of life is to be found in the behind. The meaning of life, however, has to be worked out in the world. It has to be seen in the world as that that is "there" and not "here." We the actors or players have been created out of God’s love for the divine love. The meaning of life, thus, is contained in the Word, which is the is the background, and in Christ, which is the foreground.
What is going to be the end of the cosmos? is a question that baffles man. Whatever be the end, the fact remains that "Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away" (Matt. 24.35). The world is not so solid as to make it eternal. The background or the substratum of the world is the Word, and it is the Word that sustains it. We are definitely terrified by the vastness of space when observed as players. As we know nothing of the world in itself, our knowledge of it is secondary. What we know of it is that it is a stage for our play, and so has an end in God. This end is not going to be a cosmic end, but a theological one, because we shall be like "unto them that dream" (Ps. 126.1). As this world of time and space is not going to be there, so there will be "a new heaven and a new earth" (2 Pet. 3.13).
Although human destiny is beyond the world, yet it is bound up with the actual condition of the world. It is a part of human destiny to be what man is in the world. On the one hand, he belongs to the Beyond, and, on the other hand, he is deeply involved in the world. The sensation of the fear of the world is there, and it expresses itself as the dread of Nature. This dread or pain is cosmic, and has penetrated, through myth, the depth of human consciousness. All myths are but the projection of this cosmic pain. It is shattering confirmation of this pain when we are told: "In the world ye have tribulation."
Although the modern man, through his ratio, has abolished myth, yet the fear of the world still persists. As protective shield against this fear, he has set up the barrier of civilization. He believed that he can escape this haunting fear through art and culture. Unable to overcome this fear, he thereby gives rise to new myths. The new myths differ from the old one only in terms of quality and not in terms of quantity.
The fear of the world has emerged on account of man’ s alienation from God. As an alienated being, man is gripped by anxiety and dread. He feels that he is at the mercy of the forces of Nature. The world has meaning to the extent it is seen to be identical with God’s will. Man steps over the boundary once he is attracted by an uncharted freedom, and consequently becomes the prey of the fear of the world. Everything thus turns out to be uncanny. The way has not just been lost, but has been blocked. It has to be reopened. The central of Christian redemption is the reopening of this way.
The proper evaluation of human life can be made in the context of its end, that is, death. Since the end is death, so human existence is characterized by temporality. Genesis 3.19 expresses this idea thus: "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." It will be, however, a grave mistake if human existence is not seen as a being-for-eternity. Man who is destined to die disbelieves it, and so revolts against it by devising ways and means of escape. Although man is bound to die, he does not, however, face death as other creatures do. Man just is not a part of the world, but has, as a subject, the knowledge that he is uniquely different from other creatures in the world. It is on account of this knowledge that man feels that is unnatural insofar as he is concerned. He recognizes that creatures come and go. But this is not the case with man. He just dies. The question, however, arises: Is it possible for man to die? Man will never be that, upon death, all is over.
There is a ambiguity or contradiction concerning the death of man. Man, on the one hand, dies and, on the other, there lurks a hope in him that says to him: This is not the end, and there is something more to life. It is for this reason that is an enigma, which is difficult to solve. The evasion of this problem would amount to forgetting that man is from other creatures that inhabit the world. It is the habit of man to suppress this knowledge of contradiction concerning death as an end and the hope that life does not end with death. Upon suppression of this knowledge, man comes to believe that death is natural. In accepting death as a natural event, man thereby reduces himself to an object. In this manner death is no more seen as an enigma. Accordingly the following conclusion is reached: "Death is the natural end of development which starts with the beginning of life." "Imperious Caesar," as the cynical gravedigger in the Hamlet philosophizes, "dead and turned to clay."
Does all this amount to saying that the personal life of humanity "is a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing?" Such an answer we know is false. Why? Because there something in us that tells us that there is a Beyond. While reacting against the reductionistic tendencies, man has gone to the other extreme, which affirms that death actually is a release from the prisonhouse of the body. It is a view that looks at soul as immortal and the body as mortal. Death is, thus, seen as the best means of escape for the soul from the body.
The biblical concerning the body and soul is this: Both of them have divinely created as a unity. Further, the personal being of man is grounded in the Word. The Bible does not favour the view that soul is immortal and that body is a perishable commodity. It also does not think of death as a means of escape for the soul from the body. The Bible is of the view that man’s destiny is special on account of the uniqueness of its being. As man is in the image of God, so he is intended to be a being-in-responsibility and being-in-love. We also know there has occurred perversion in the person of man’s being on account of sin. If this is the case, then it is erroneous to think of human death as being similar to the death of other creatures. This naturalistic error has to be rectified. The idealists are also erroneous in their understanding concerning death. Their error does not lie in linking man to eternity. The error lies in the way it is done. They eternalize man, and it is in eternalizing that the idealists commit the gravest error. Man, within the biblical framework, was not originally intended to die. Death does not belong to the nature of man. Rather death has intruded into the life of man (cf. Rom. 5.12, 14; 6.23; 1 Cor. 15.26). As man is destined to be in communion with the Creator, the Eternal, so he thereby destined for eternal life. Eternal life is the destiny and telos of man, because it has been to him by God. Human destiny cannot be thought outside this end.
We must, however, be cautious when we speak of the eternal. The eternal must not be identified with the soul of man. It is, rather, identical with the Word. As the being of man is grounded in the Word, so he is accordingly destined for eternal life. Man has to face death in his present condition. The Bible expresses the facing of death under three categories, which are sin, law, and death. All the three categories are interchangeable. The severance of living relationship with God denotes the state of fall. To be in the state of fall means to liver under the power of death, and so to be under the law. Death, which is a curse (Rom. 6.23), is "the wages of sin," "the sting of death is sin, but the power of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15.56). If death is the result of sin, then it cannot be considered to be a natural event. Rather death is intimately related to the judgement of God. The judgement of God expresses itself in terms of wrath: "For we are consumed in thine anger, and in thy wrath we are troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath" (Ps. 9.7). This wrath of God is "the sting of death."
Man alone anticipates his death. He has this power on account of him being a spiritual person. Insofar as man is in sin, to that extent he is in death. It is, thus, the fear of death that pervades the entire existence of man. Meaning of death may be that "we bring our years to an end as a tale that is told" (Ps. 90.9).Death for a sinner may be the judgement of God, but a Christian sees in it the sign of Cross, which is the symbol of divine mercy as well as the invitation for eternal life. If death, on the one hand, is the result of sin, but, on the other hand, it is in and through the death of Jesus that existence-unto-eternity has been actualized. Jesus Christ has reversed the meaning of existence by restoring to it, through his death and resurrection, the original condition or meaning. The death and resurrection of Jesus, thus, tell us that death has been overcome. In its place, it is eternal existence that is offered to the believer. The coming of Jesus into our sinful existence reveals the unconditional love of God for us (Rom. 8.2). A new hope has been provided to human existence upon the Incarnation of the Word. A new possibility has been given to man when Jesus accepted death upon the Cross as well as when he rose from the dead. It is beginning of realization of eternal life: "He that believeth in me (Jesus Christ), though he die, yet shall live" (John 11.25). "We know that we have passed from death unto life" (1 John 3.14). Death, thus, becomes a happy event.