In The Cape Town Commitment we read,
In a world which works to re-invent itself at an ever-accelerated pace, some things remain the same. These great truths provide the biblical rationale for our missional engagement.
Human beings are lost. The underlying human predicament remains as the Bible describes it: we stand under the just judgment of God in our sin and rebellion, and without Christ we are without hope.
The gospel is good news. The gospel is not a concept that needs fresh ideas, but a story that needs fresh telling. It is the unchanged story of what God has done to save the world, supremely in the historical events of the life, death, resurrection, and reign of Jesus Christ. In Christ there is hope.
The Church’s mission goes on. The mission of God continues to the ends of the earth and to the end of the world. The day will come when the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ and God will dwell with his redeemed humanity in the new creation. Until that day, the Church’s participation in God’s mission continues, in joyful urgency, and with fresh and exciting opportunities in every generation including our own.
I wholeheartedly agree with every word of this statement.
However, I regret that at this point in the statement, the headline news is "Human beings are lost."
While it is less concise, I think it is essential that our theology begins in Genesis 1-2 before we jump to Genesis 3. As Dr. Carmen Imes explains,
- The imago Dei is not a capacity, but a human identity.
- Every human being, regardless of faith, is God’s image.
- Being made as God’s image implies that we are God’s family.
- Being God’s image has implications for our vocation. We are to rule over creation on God’s behalf, as stewards of its flourishing.
- Every human being, by virtue of their status as God’s image, possesses dignity and should be treated accordingly.
- Women share in this human vocation to rule over and subdue creation. Men and women are intended to be allies, partners.
The biblical rationale for our missional engagement starts with our identity as God’s image bearers. We thereby have high value and a noble calling: to steward the flourishing of all that God has made.
How about you? What difference does it make if we start our theological projects with
“Humans are made in the image of God” vs. “Human beings are lost”?