But Peter and John answered them,
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God,
you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
— Acts 4:19–20 —
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
— Acts 5:29 —
Since March of this year, the church in America has faced a host of challenges related to COVID-19, gathering, and government. While health concerns legitimately initiated the emergency closure of churches, reopening them has too often been dictated by governors making up and then remaking requirements. Such pronouncements have not only impacted churches gathering, they have raised concerns about the very nature of the church. What does it mean to gather? Can we do church online? For how long? Et cetera!
While Americans have enjoyed unusual freedom to gather and worship in our country, this is not the first time churches have faced the (1) task of articulating their greater commitment to God in order to worship, and (2) in accepting the consequences of those actions. To that point, John MacArthur and the staff at Grace Community Church have written an article explaining why now is the time to obey God and not man—when man commands the church not to meet.
Their God-honoring, Word-saturated, church-protecting words are worth considering. You can find the whole article here, but let me highlight one point that has been of greatest concern to me during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what they say:
A friend of mine once quipped that when we tell people we are ‘fine,’ we are really saying in code that we are Freaked Out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional (F. I. N. E.). I think he has a point, as ‘fine’ is so often used to cover up deep-seated insecurities and hurt.
Sad as it may be, this is the human condition. We are masters of making fig-leaf coverings. We have lost our original covering of righteousness, and deep down we all know that something is not quite right.
On biblical terms: We are made to bear the image of God’s glory, but in our sin we have fallen short. Therefore, we need restoration to be who God made us to be. In other words, we need to be remade in the image of God. Praise be to God that this is what the gospel of Jesus Christ accomplishes. Consider just a few verses. Continue reading
Yesterday, I cited Marc Cortez‘s survey of Genesis 1:26-28 and what the image of God means. In his book, Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed , he lists structural, functional, relational, and multi-faceted as four ways that the imago Dei has been explained. Yet, he also exposes the fact that there are weaknesses in each position, and thus he contributes his own proposal which is a covenantal version of the multi-faceted view. Continue reading
This Sunday, I will preach on Genesis 1:26-28 and what it means to be made in God’s image.
This is a rich concept and one that has gone through a number of phases. In the early church, theologians conceived of the imago Dei as an essential aspect of humanity. More recently, functional definitions of man’s dominion over the earth have been considered the norm for what makes men and women ‘image-bearers.’ Still, these are not the only views on the matter. Taking his cues from the male-female division in humanity, Karl Barth suggested a relational view of the imago Dei.
So which is it? Could it be all the above? Is there another option not yet mentioned?
Marc Cortez, professor of theology at Wheaton College, has helpfully surveyed the options in his book Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed (see ch. 2, pp. 14-40). In what follows, I will outline his survey. Tomorrow I will consider his own covenantal proposal. Continue reading