Unfair criticism

Mr. Patrick Stewart, in his letter of September 17, alleges a “misinformed” understanding of Scripture on the part of Carson Halloway, John Stack and Rob Schebel in their restatement of David Kincaid’s assertion that human beings are made in God’s “spiritual image.” A close reading of Scripture reveals, however, that Mr. Stewart is quite unfair in his criticism of the scholarship of these four graduate students.

First, Mr. Stewart claims that Genesis 1:26-27 contradicts the contention of Messrs. Holloway, Stack, Schebel and Kincaid. No such contradiction exists. To begin with the “image of God” has nothing whatsoever to do with our human facial or physical features, for God is Spirit (John 4:24; Psalm 139:7; 1 John 4:6-8). We do not share shape, color, or sexual organs with god; the kinship between God and humanity lies in the spirit God breathed into Adam, not in the dust from which he was formed. Further, God is image in the fundamental sense that we alone in all of creation are endowed with speech just as God Himself speaks.

Second, Mr. Stewart chastises Kinciad, Holloway, Stack and Mr. Ede. Such an act, thinks Stewart, exhibits an audacity which asks the people who stand ready to stone to death the adulterous woman: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” Christ’s point is not that we have no grounds or basis from which to identify, judge and condemn a sin as a sin. Instead, by making it clear that we all have fallen away from and marred our original image in God—hence we stand in need of the loving grace and redemption which Christ offers if we are to possess eternal life.

Finally, it must be stressed that being a practicing Christian does not preclude one from forming, expounding, or evaluating a specific public policy position. Too often those who turn to the Word of God for concrete guidance in the arena of politics are ridiculed “naive” or attacked as “extremists” or “fanatics.” At the root of this view is the misguided notion that there must exist an absolute wall or barrier between the secular and the spiritual. Christians especially are never to “tell others how to live their lives” or attempt to influence the behavior of others via public policy. However, for the practicing Christian politics and religion do go hand in hand. After all, central to the Christian life is God’s calling that our lives be invested in loving service to our neighbors—a calling which invites, even demands, a civic awareness and political activity.

Mark Halverson-Wente

Doctoral Student

Political Science