Friday, June 17, 2011

Samuel Gregg on Christian Anthropology

I have mentioned already that I am lecturing at this year's Acton University 2011. Wednesday morning I had the privilege of sitting in on an outstanding lecture by Dr. Samuel Gregg, director of research for the Acton Institute. Gregg delivered the opening foundational lecture "Christian Anthroplogy," and it was excellent.

He rightly noted that any sound social theory must understand humans correctly, and this means it must take Christian anthropology seriously. By Christian anthropology Gregg means simply what God reveals to us in both general and special revelation about what humans are like.

He lays out six characteristics of human beings that Christian anthropology identifies.
  • A human being is an embodied person. He is a seamless amalgam of the physical and spiritual. They are constituted by a physical body, intellect, reason, and a will.
  • Humans possess reason. Reason helps us to know what we are to do. We are capable of contemplating the deep nature of things in a way no other created being is. It is this contemplation that allows us to make sense of the knowledge we learn from science.
  • People have wills. Our will moves us to do this or that. It is conditioned by heredity and environment, without being determined by it.
  • Humans are inherently creative beings. In this we mirror God in our particular creaturely way.
  • Humans are fallen. Our experience as well as Scripture teaches us this. A proper understanding of our fallenness is very important for our social theory. Because of our sinfulness, there is no heaven on earth. Such a view of man protects us from utopian thought and, instead, encourages a sort of Christian realism.
  • Humans are simultaneously individual and social beings. Each of us are loved by God as individual persons. At the same time we are taught to love our neighbor as ourselves.
This perspective is the same one I take in my book as I develop economics from a Christian perspective. From the premise that God made us in His image as purposeful actors, we can unpack the concept of human action and can, as long we make no logical errors, discover economic laws that are as sure as what God says about us in His Word.

No comments:

Post a Comment