Famously Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind?” Potentially, it is a profound question.
This past week I came across this Facebook photo that I thought speaks well to where we are as a culture. Yes, on one level it is amusing, and it’s always good to laugh at ourselves. On another, it is also indicative of what we have become as a society, what we think is important and how we relate to others.
At our fingertips is the stored knowledge of humanity, even as Daniel 12:4 foretold, that we too often use for the meaningless and mundane while the culture decays around us.
As a new occasional post on my blog, I will recap some of what I have been thinking and shared recently on social media – a Rethinking Recap. On social media, I do occasionally engage in conversations, sometimes debate but try these days to avoid “arguments with strangers.”
This Rethinking Recap will spotlight some of the better conversations I’ve been having, hopefully. This week, these posts can be boiled down to Personhood, Principles and Propaganda.
My friend, Dr. Paul Louis Metzger, blogs at “Uncommon God,Common Good” asked this question this past week: “What is a Person?” Most likely, when we think about this question, if we ever do, we simply assume that “we” are persons. But it is actually a provocative question to consider in relation to this Facebook image and what is truly important. Here was my response:
“Okay, here's my attempt to answer the question: "We hold these truth to be self-evident" that if we are created in the "image of God" we are a person. Whether we fully grasp personhood is I think a journey of discovering all it means to be made in the image of God. Descartes "Cogito ergo sum" leads us in that direction, since to think about these things gives us a created capacity to grasp the Creator. As Kierkegaard, questioning Descartes, points out concerning the "Cogito ergo sum," we can assume existence. And, perhaps, that is what a person is, a created being,made in the imago Dei, who is self-aware and has a capacity to ask the question "What is a person?" But what of a fetus? We do not know at what point the fetus becomes self-aware, so we should protect that life so that the ability develops to do so. I am sure there is more to it than that.”
In response to another poster who suggested that he preferred the thinking of Martin Buber over Descartes, I added:
“The point is not about Descartes, since as I also pointed out Kierkegaard thought Descartes was simply stating the obvious. The point was about being self-aware as unique individuals in the imago Dei, as a definition of Personhood. The Trinity requires an incomprehensible self-awareness by the unique Persons of the Godhead which informs their ability to relate and be as One. To even begin to approach the ideal of the Trinitarian community requires a healthy, the better term would be Shalom, level of self-awareness and self-acceptance of our uniqueness, such as exists in the Trinity. The image of God inherently implies relationship with God and others, in redeemed community. But to quote Buber, “We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves." But thanks Steve for your comment.
Miguel Labador blogs at “God Directed Deviations.” I like Miguel because he tends to think outside the box, as the name of his blog implies. In his recent post, “Putting all your Eggs in the ‘Person of Peace’ Basket. Another Look at Luke 10” Miguel asks three questions regarding the Biblical principle of finding a “Person of Peace” to share the Gospel with. If you are not familiar with this term, in comes from Jesus instructions to his disciples in Luke 10. Here was my answer to these questions:
1. Have we made entirely too much of this doctrine? Why or why not?I don’t know if I would call Person of Peace/Luke 10 a doctrine but rather a principle and the disciple-making that is emerging from the application of this principle a philosophy of ministry. This philosophy is rooted in actively discovering where God is working and joining him there. Certainly we can make anything related to a spiritual principle into a system or program and when we do it can become something other than intended.2. Should we seek to make many persons of peace and let the Lord sort them out, or is that counter productive?We don’t “make” persons of peace, that was not Jesus implication in Luke 10. Rather, again, we discover them, build relationships with them, and disciple them. One of the keys to understanding this philosophy of “Person of Peace” is John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them”3. We stumble on these people of peace by going out and announcing the Gospel of the Kingdom. Shouldn’t that be our primary concern?This question doesn’t follow from #2 but it better speaks to the philosophy of ministry that emerges from Luke 10. Yes, our primary focus should be to live the Gospel everywhere and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal who the Father is drawing. Because it is the Holy Spirit at work in the life of a Person of Peace they will self-identify. I think the clearest Biblical example of this is Cornelius.
If you want to know more about this Person of Peace principle, the latest edition of Mission Frontiers covers this in some detail. Living and teaching these principles is where the Lord has directed my ministry, so this subject is near and dear to my heart. I’ll be blogging about this subject more in 2014, as I believe we need to refocus our attention on some basic principles that we can glean from Jesus example.
While doing some quick research in response to the Personhood post, I came across this quote from Martin Buber, which I posted to Facebook with the accompanying comment:
“'The real struggle is not between East and West, or capitalism and communism, but between education and propaganda.’ Martin Buber. Unfortunately, today in our nation, propaganda is winning the day and our education system is failing miserably.”
Propaganda is used to convince us an idea is the right way to move us in a direction we may not want to go. It is found across the ideological spectrum with extremes that miss the truth, on both sides as Buber points out. In our sound-bite culture, both sides use propaganda to convince us that their way is right. Propaganda wins when our education system does not produce people who can think for themselves. When that happens we see the rise of totalitarianism, as those with better propaganda win sway over the uninformed. The real struggle, of course, is against powers and principalities in high places ( ) that seek to keep us in the darkness - uneducated. Now reconsider again the photo above in light of this fact.
How do these three - Personhood, Principles and Propaganda – relate?
When we realize who we are in Christ, understand the principles he has established for us to live by, we won’t buy the propaganda of our culture and will be freed for Living Sent Today.