Iam a man and count nothing human as indifferent to me, said the ancient Roman playwright Terrence. What do I as a man assert myself to be? For the Christian, what is man under God? The widely varying answers to these questions are strongly influenced by three major Western traditions.
First, systems of Idealism maintain that the universe is pervaded by mind or is ultimately of the nature of mind. Modern Idealism can no longer (except as expressed in cults like Christian Science) denigrate the physical world and the body. It is notable, however, that theology of the idealistic type, like that of Heidegger and Tillich, questions the ultimate value of personality. It is viewed as ephemeral, or as part of a higher reality, or as a means to some higher end. However, non-personal or supra-personal language, such as the assertion that God is the Ground of our Being, is neither higher nor more meaningful than personal language. It is simply impersonal anthropomorphic language. The idealist’s stress on spirit and value should not blind us to his rejection of the personal God and of the ultimate value of created persons, who, Scripture tells us, can enjoy personal knowledge of the Father and the Son (John 17:20–26).
More important has been Naturalism’s shaping of modern man’s view of himself. Behaviorists claim that everything about anything can be accounted for on the horizontal plane by natural processes, and that only this approach can provide an acceptable view of man in the scientific age. They have pressed the scientific method into defending the questionable premise that stimulus and response can adequately account for all human activity and human nature. Humanists like Arthur Koestler and J. Bronowski protest this reduction ...1
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