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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Creating in Our Own Image

I logged on here today to post the completed draft of this post...but the draft is gone. So, I'm going to try to reconstruct what I said before, but I'm pretty concerned that it's not going to be as good as the first time. I'm sorry, folks. It kinda makes me want to cry, but I think I will survive this. It's not the end of the world, but it is pretty upsetting.

I'm so glad that God didn't have to rely on electronic auto-save features to preserve His Creative work from one creation day to the next, or some things might not be here. He might have even given up on the whole project (as I am feeling inclined to do). That's one way God is not like me, and I'm fine with that.

It's ironic how even catastrophes can tie into the point I am trying to make, because I can see now how it relates to the title I'd previously chosen. Note the term "creative," which we now use to describe human beings who take ink, paint, stone, sound, or whatever, and create a work of art of some merit with the raw materials. The word doesn't have a long history of use in that sense. Before the nineteenth-century Romantic movement (I think Lord Byron led the way), it was used only in the sense of God creating the world. The Romantics started using it to describe their own artistic efforts, in essence comparing their inventive work to God's, and claiming godlike power over the artistic field in which they worked.

While it is true that it seems like we have "creatio ex nihilo" power ("out of nothing, creating something"), there is a certain absurdity in that claim. I heard a joke once that illustrated the point:
A bunch of scientists were celebrating one day, and called a press conference. They claimed that they had finally figured out how to create life, and stated that mankind can now dispense with God. God overheard them, and showed up at the press conference. "Okay. Let's see what you can do," God challenged them.
The scientists smiled, stooped down, picked up big handfuls of dirt, carried it to some test tubes, and before long, they had created a healthy baby boy. "Ta da!" they announced. "See, God?"
"Wait, a minute," God said. "That's really impressive, but you need to try again."
"What's the problem?" the scientists complained, upset that God was still refusing to accept their victory.
After a dramatic pause, God explained, "First, you make your own dirt..."
Human beings can create impressive things from raw materials, but they will never truly be creators, since they can only work from materials someone else made.

The Obsolescence of God?

The impulse in humankind to give ourselves creation power extends far beyond our ability to shape the world around us to meet our ends. And that gets back to the point I was originally trying to make, before it got deleted.

What do schools of thought like postmodernism and relative morality have to do with this impulse to create and shape? Is this just a recent trend in human behavior, or is it much, much older?

Well, let's first look back at those belief systems. Postmodernism is really a blanket term that the other falls under. Postmodernism claims that there is no center, no absolutes, no core values system that pertains equally to all. Christianity is viewed as outdated and too narrowly "Victorian," and God as Christians describe Him is recast as one of the many faces of the "god concept." Yes, you got it. They say that God doesn't really exist, but rather, He's just a cultural concept.

Relative moralists also teach that there aren't absolutes or standards that all people in all situations and cultures have to follow. In other words, you can change your mind about what's right or what's wrong, depending on the situation and without the control of a moral standard, such as Biblical ethics.

None of this makes sense to me. If there is no authority, who can claim enough authority to tell us that there isn't? If there are no absolutes, how can we absolutely posit that there are no absolutes?

Essentially, despite the fancy technical names for everything, postmodernism and all the little schools of thought that fall under it are just replacing God and His authority with other gods and authorities. Most often, the replacement is the human thinkers behind the movements. They don't want to be powerful like God; they want to be God. How long has this been going on?

Greek to Me

Someone once pointed out to me that the Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses were a whole lot like human beings, because they had the same problems with lust, war, tragedy, vanity, and so forth. They weren't really superhumans; they were just big-humans.

What does this tell me about human nature? For one thing, we are more tolerant of a kind of god that never disapproves of what we want to do. We want a buddy, not a law enforcer. We don't mind enforcing laws and rules on other human beings, but we don't like anyone telling us what to do. If God won't go along, we just put a different face on Him, and that face is usually our own. Postmodernism is just one of the latest manifestations of this tendency.

Way Back--To Genesis, To Eden

In the account of the creation of the world, the Bible says,
"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.'
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1: 27-27 NIV)
There are a number of ways to interpret "in the image of God." What exactly does that mean? Do people look like God, because that draws speculation on what race God is, how tall He is, whether He wears designer fashion, and all those other particulars. Humans are so varied in their physical appearance that it seems that someone is going to be left out if we try to interpret it that way.

It seems more likely, and I've heard Bible scholars teach it this way, that "the image of God" is more of a human resemblance to the nature of God. For instance, it is God's nature to make rules which He lives by, and to require others to live by those rules. Human beings, in the above verses, were likewise given the job of governing the earth, as God has the authority to govern us. Our natures and our deeds were supposed to mirror those of our Creator.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they challenged God's authority to rule over them. In essence, they set themselves up as little gods with the power to make God go along with them. They tried to dethrone God, taking the example of Satan (Isaiah 14: 12-15 NIV). The creation doesn't need the Creator anymore? Where have I heard that one before?

God didn't go along with those kinds of demands; therefore, it seems that human beings have been trying to remake God ever since. We don't like how God's rules show our aberrancy, so we try to corrupt the standard to mask the problem, rather than fix the problem to reflect the standard. I think that's why there are so many gods of clay out there that have a few admirable qualities, but are repulsive in other respects.

The fact is, we don't have the power to "fix" God, and pretending He doesn't exist isn't a good fix, either. We call a king a despot when he remakes the laws daily to give himself loopholes, but we demand that God embrace our own despotism. Wouldn't it just be easier to let God be God, and get back to living the way we were made to live?

I've seen a tremendous pull to make God more "hip" for this generation, but it just looks like another attempt to worship a God we've created in our own image. I'm speaking and praying against that, because I don't follow a clay God I've made to look just like me. I'm happy I don't have to set the standard for the whole human race, because they'd all be angry with me for leading them to destroy their own blog posts today ;).

So I invite you to lay it all down today, and let God lead you. Let God set the example for how you should behave and what you should do, instead of relying on your own imperfect self to get you out of trouble. Are you ready?

If you are, wherever you are, why don't you join me in this prayer:
"Dear Lord, I'm ready to follow You. I've been going about my life all wrong, and now it's time to admit that Your way is better than my way. Create in me a new heart, Lord, and give me a new Spirit, because I don't have the power to fix myself. Make me into the kind of person You wanted me to be. I'm willing to obey You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."
I'm praying for you!