Written by Micky Boyer Sunday, 04 April 2010 00:25
Human Nature God's Design
When dealing with matters pertaining to Human Nature it could become a subject so broad that it would take volumes to treat comprehensibly. The same is true for the topic of Spiritual Formation. This paper, will argue that human nature was a deliberate consideration in that God developed human nature in human kind to achieve a vital roll in relationship and partnership with him, and then it will then illustrate how this consideration works toward Spiritual Formation. The five arguments presented are:
- Human beings have the capacity to know and be known.
- Human beings have an innate desire to engage in worship.
- Human beings have the capacity of self-determination.
- Human beings have the ability to be creative.
- That God designed the human being for relationship and partnership.
It would be prudent to define some of the terms used in this work. Woodhouse writes, "The central contribution of analytic philosophy to the history of philosophy has been to increase our awareness of the meaning of words as they pertain to many philosophical problems."1 For the purposes of this paper, the following definitions will suffice. The "human" is a complex mixture of the temporary and the eternal. They are physical in the make up of their bodies, cognitive or able to think, reason, and act in their minds, and they are metaphysical, beyond physical, a spiritual being. "Nature" will mean that part of anything that describes its basic structure, function or character. Therefore, "human nature" will describe a person's abilities and propensities to know and be known, to be creative, to be self-determining and to be a worshiping being. "God" is that prime mover that initiated all that is and ever will be. "Spirit" that part of the human being that is metaphysical. "Formation" being shaped by pressure applied, internal or external. For the purposes of this paper "Spiritual Formation will be used as defined by Robert Mulholland, "A process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others".2
Human beings are complex entities with the capacity to know and be known. They have a mind that is capable of learning and understanding. They have an ability to learn complex problem solving skills. Humans are able to think critically. Woodhouse writes, "Critical thinking is thinking that follows a reasoned track...It is "problem solving" thinking."3 He then writes, "To be a critical thinker means more than simply having a skill-set. It means using that skill-set each time a problem presents itself, and it means accepting the result of that work."4 Animals have the ability to problem solve, however their ability is limited compared to that of a human and they do not accept responsibility for their actions. The human has a need to be known as demonstrated by their need to self-disclose through writing copious volumes of autobiography. These abilities enable a person to know their creator and receive benefit from being known by that creator. There is in the depths of a person's conscious being a knowing and a longing for that relationship. Some would argue that this longing for fulfillment is simply a reflex action much like touching a hungry infant on the cheek makes it search for a source of nourishment. However, this void within the inner being is unfulfilled by any earthly pursuit; fulfillment is achieved in the context of creator/creature connectedness.
The evidence for the claim that human beings have an innate desire to engage in worship is vast. Every culture has a form of worship of one kind or another. Many cultures are polytheistic (many gods) actually very few are monotheistic (one god). The atheist may argue that they have no desire to worship, however upon examination of their loyalties, where they spend the majority of their money or their time, their worship forms emerge. They may worship at the altar of hedonism or materialism, but this is still worship. Human beings have a need to express their affection and loyalty to something or someone beyond themselves. This need is part of the creators design so that people would search for relationship with that creator. The creator (God) desires relationship and partnership so has designed humans with the mechanism for worship.
Human beings also have the capacity for self-determination. People have the ability to decide the direction they will go. They have the ability to reason which choice among several would produce the most desirable outcomes and then move in that direction. Self-determination is the action of any person who chooses right from wrong or even simpler chooses between chocolate and vanilla. People make choices everyday that determine consequences for later life. God gave human beings the ability to choose or it could be argued that human beings have the ability to choose and who knows where it came from. This ability to choose or determine future outcomes also has a bearing on our relationship with Creator God. We can choose to cooperate with the Divine and be a partner in revealing God to others.
Human beings have the ability to be creative. This is seen in the vast amounts of artwork, or what the artist calls artwork, in the world. There is a desire in many people to create. They do not need prompting, however to become great they often need instruction. Cultures from all over the world have art forms. These art forms express the ability to be creative. The argument that some people are destructive might lead us to believe that they are not creative. However, humans are often times very creative in their methods of destruction as is demonstrated in the development of the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in the Iraq Theater of war. The creativity and the destructive capability of the makers of these devices are continuing to develop. This creative quality is necessary in the area of "spiritual formation" because of the continuing need to be relevant. Without the ability to be creative, the methods of affecting our world would become obsolete as the world changes. Since the world in a continuous state of change, it is necessary for the human being to adapt their methods to current events and thinking trends. One might argue that adaptation to one's environment is natural and everything does it. That is true however; the degree of creative change that is possible because of the human's cognitive ability is far superior to natural selection that happens over epochs of time.
Lastly, God designed the human being for relationship and partnership. As we see from the preceding arguments, God had a particular intention in mind when he created the human being with a particular nature. God created them with the natural ability to relate to someone or something outside of himself or herself. He created them with the ability to collaborate with him in caring for this world and its inhabitants. The capacity for meaningful thought makes it possible for the human creature to grapple with the deep thoughts of God. The capacity to love makes it possible to seek God's best good and then actively pursue a course of action that will bring it about.
In conclusion, it was the aim of this paper to demonstrate through these arguments that human nature was a deliberate consideration. God developed human nature in human kind to achieve a vital role in relationship and partnership with him. It then illustrates how this consideration works toward Spiritual Formation. God created human kind with a complex nature that is different from any in the natural world. Humans have the traits and abilities to act toward God differently than any other creature. It is God's intent to relate to his creature in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Through the process of relationship with God, the creature recognizes their unlikeness to God and is motivated to develop methods of education and accountability that bring one into conformity to the image of God. When that person begins to develop a heart and mind that conforms to God's heart and mind, they are compelled to share what they have received with others.
1 Mark B. Woodhouse, A Preface To Philosophy/Eighth Edition, Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006, p.25.
2 Robert M. Mulholland, Invitation To A Journey, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993, p.12.
3 Mark B. Woodhouse, A Preface To Philosophy/Eighth Edition, Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006, p.25.
4 Ibid. p.45
Mulholland, Robert M. Invitation To A Journey, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.
Woodhouse, Mark B. A Preface To Philosophy/Eighth Edition, Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006.
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