How can I create myself
The human being -
The western world today offers people many styles of life and models. The open, modern and plural society offers innumerable interpretations and options of being human and makes one's own biography a creative task. People have to reinvent themselves - almost every day - and experience the ambivalence of the possibility of shaping their own existence as a tightrope walk between power and powerlessness, free will and determination. The human being becomes a task for himself and at the same time also a question: “Who am I? Nobody can answer this question for themselves. Man experiences himself as an individual and person through encountering and dealing with others. People do not learn who and what they are from themselves, but through approaching and demarcating others, which they need because interpersonal communication and relationships create important prerequisites for self-awareness and self-discovery.
Who am I?
Dealing with one's own person and individuality always leads to a terrifying insight into one's own contingency, i.e. the finiteness, transience and randomness of human existence: could my life turn out this way or completely differently? What is the point in the face of inevitable death ”? These questions are often linked to the uncertainty about the fate that a person will experience in body and soul after death.
While the question of one's own identity is a typical phenomenon of the modern age, the more fundamental question “What is a person?” Is much older. It found its expression e.g. in the myth (of Sisyphus, Prometheus or Icarus) and has been employing philosophers, theologians, scientists, psychologists, writers and artists for centuries. The image of people is changing. Every time develops its interpretation of being human. An image that is adaptable and changeable is always prone to being placed in the service of an ideology. At all times, the image of people being abused by power has therefore also turned against people themselves.
Another essential characteristic of human existence can be seen in the changeability and creative ability of the image of man: Man is free to live in a self-determined manner in dignity. He is free in his view of himself and in shaping the world and his own biography. Understood as a pure striving for self-realization, the downsides of this freedom are excessive demands on oneself, oppression and exploitation. This applies to personal relationships as well as to science, research, politics and business.
The Bible unfolds all dimensions of human existence
The Christian answers to questions about human existence are ultimately based on the biblical message. Because the stories in the Bible unfold theology (Greek θέολογία = talk of God and divine things) not in a vacuum, but tell of God in people's lives. They talk about emotions like love, suffering, joy, sadness, anger, envy and fear. About the failure and happiness in life and the challenge of being in community with others as a person. All themes and dimensions of human existence are unfolded, specifically in response to the questions of how and what God is, what relationship he has with people and what effects this has on people's relationships with themselves and with one another. It is about sin and guilt, about the recognition of human inadequacy, about mercy, repentance and a new beginning, but also about dying and death. It is about the fact that God does not set off, does not stop at what does not succeed in life, but wants salvation for all of his creation.
The Bible also develops two essential basic concepts of theological anthropology (Greek άνθρωπος = man). Man is creature and imago dei (= image of God). God creates man in his own image. Similar to him (Gen 1:26). So man receives an autonomy that is similar to that which God himself has. A look back at history shows, however, that dealing with this autonomy has to be repeatedly questioned and relearned.
As a creature and image of God, each individual has a value and dignity that are inviolable by others. The text continues: “As man and woman he created them.” This aspect complements and completes the picture of man as God's creature. Man is not created as an individual but to live in a community. In relation to God and to people who are endowed with the same dignity as he is. The equality of all people before God can be derived directly from this.
between autonomy and guilt
In his image, people live who accept their individuality, their freedom and autonomy as a gift from God, who are themselves "body and soul" and who use the abilities that God has given them for the benefit of others and for the benefit of creation . The biblical writings make it clear that God does not want subjects, but rather free people who live from the experience that by trusting in him bondage and enmity between people and peoples can be overcome. It doesn't always work. People are guilty of disregarding the dignity, autonomy, freedom and rights of others. The Bible uses the word sin to refer to this behavior. Against this, God holds his unconditional will to forgive. God does not let anyone fall and even in this he gives a model for dealing with guilt and forgiveness among people.
The Bible's image of man is clear in its partiality for a life in dignity, equality, freedom and solidarity. It is open insofar as it makes it clear that what constitutes being human cannot be done by human beings alone. God gives each person what makes them unique and unmistakable. This faithfulness of God extends into and beyond death. God calls man into life and lets him enter into a relationship that does not extinguish death, but only transforms it.
Gen 1:26: Old Testament, Book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 26.
Author (s): Elisabeth Eicher-Dröge
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