October 22, 2013

Technology, Sacrament, and the Imago Dei [This is a rough sketch of the talk I gave at SALT 2013, a conference for church worship/creative arts/tech/media teams. The above visual summary was created by @NBYouthMinistry.] I. ATTENTION: What Does It Mean To Be Made In the Image of God? We hear this phrase often, but we are not always sure what it means. At a conference like this, we tend to think of the creativity that we have and how it is a reflection of the Creator-God. That is certainly true. Let's look briefly at three ways the image of God has been talked about theologically: Function: This approach sees the image of God in us in the things we are capable of doing, particularly our ability to be imaginative and employ our creativity. Substance: This approach sees the image of God in usas a part of our very essence. It is from this view that we gain the notion of human dignity. Relationship: This approach begins with the Triune God and sees the human longing to be known and loved as part of this desire and capacity for community. There is truth to each of these ways of speaking of the image of God in humans. But there is another way to look at this. The Swiss theologian Karl Barth begins and ends his theology of the imago Dei with Jesus. For Barth, any discussion about our being in the image of God must begin with the recognition that Jesus alone is the perfect image of God. When we want to know what it looks like to be fully human, we look to Jesus. Jesus shows us how we were created to be. This has resonances with C. S. Lewis's famous words about Jesus being the only truly and fully human the world has seen since...
On Saints and Celebrities Today is All Saints' Day. I used to never think of it that way. It was just the day that Starbucks brings out their red cups. Besides, I, like most Evangelicals, am a little uncomfortable with the idea of saints. After all, nobody's perfect, right? Right. But here's the thing: we can't help but look for people to inspire us, to show us what it looks like to follow Jesus and embrace His Kingdom here and now. So much has been written about our obsession with Christian celebrities. I've contributed to that conversation (with an article in Relevant). But one of the things that has not been said enough is that the way to correct an unhealthy obsession is to look for the healthy desire at its root. The way to heal a distored desire is not to kill it but let it be rightly ordered. Jonathan Edwards, drawing on St. Augustine, said as much in his work on 'religious affections.' So, what does it look like to have our desire for a role model-- for faithful men and women to remember and honor and inspire us-- rightly ordered? This, I think, is where the notion of saints comes in. You see, there are a few differences between saints and celebrities. Saints can't be canonized until they're dead so we can look back over their life as a whole. Christian celebrities can be made through savvy self-branding and high-cost PR firms. Saints are often admired for what they did not have in this world-- their lack of riches, of fame, of acceptance by the world. In fact, the first 'saints' were martyrs. The Church began to recognize and honor them around the turn of the second century. Celebrities, though, are often admired for what they have in this world-- their...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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