I was at a great Clergy conference this past weekend. Being a non-stipendary deacon (I am not employed by the Church), I don't often get a chance to discuss things theological. One thing that keeps coming up to me in my prayers and in my dealings with my brothers and sisters in the progressive wing of the Church is that we have a fundamental difference of opinion of who we are as human beings.
I believe that we are created in God's image and after His likeness, but we have lost the likeness of God and marred His image in us both through our sins and through our sinfulness. So, we are not what God created us to be and we don't know what God created us to be. We cut ourselves off from God (and ourselves) by our own sins and by being in a sinful world.
So, the progressive response to who we are is that we are people created in God's image and that we are created "good." God created us as He wants us to be. So who we are and who we perceive ourselves to be is good and we need to develop our identity as God's beloved creatures. We need to find ourselves by looking inwardly to the deepest part of our being to see who we truly are and we need to celebrate that and improve that and to take that and grow it to God's glory.
On the other hand, I say that we are too blinded by our sins to know the truth of who we are created to be. Our wills and our minds are so twisted both by our individual sins and by our sinfulness - our state of rebellion against God - that we cannot know who we are in ourselves. As Paul says in Collosians 3:3, our life "lies hid with Christ in God." Our "inmost" being is corrupted and we don't know our true identity.
We are not good people who need to be made better, we are rebels who need to lay down our arms. We are not beloved of God because of who or what we are. We are beloved of God only because of Who God Is. We are not pleasing to God as we are. We are pleasing to God as we appear through our participation in the Resurrection of God the Son - the person Jesus Christ.
So, if God loves us because that is His nature, how are we to respond to that Love? How are we to live? Are there behaviors to avoid and are there things that we think are good that God does not consider good?
Once we realize that our minds and our wills are faulty, then we must realize that our subjective view of who and what we are is faulty. This means that we cannot depend on ourselves or even on our friends to know who we are. After all, their hearts and wills and minds are just a corrupt as ours.
So, if we can't depend on ourselves or our friends to know who we are, who can we depend on?
That will be discussed later.