Last summer, I was a contributor at Oak Hill Theological College’s annual School of Theology day. It was a real privilege to be involved and it pushed me to work hard on an angle I’d not previously given much thought to. The conference theme was IMAGE BEARERS: essentially on the implications of being created in God’s Image (Imago Dei). I was asked to address the issue of power and power abuse.
I had made a little video to break up the zoom monotony (I’ve posted that before) but on the day, the technology completely failed me (it was definitely not Oak Hill’s fault) so the delay in getting the fuller video online was because of the editing needed to insert it and remove evidence of chaos! Anyway. It’s now up and I’m even more convinced of the necessity of this discussion. I don’t claim any definitive take on it.
But only this week I heard of a Christian speaker being accused of a wholehearted sellout to critical theory. Why? Because the talk in question raised issues of racial injustice in the aftermath of George Floyd’s horrific death as a means of building bridges with the audience. It was an outreach talk and it resoundingly proclaimed the astonishing gospel hope that Christ will bring true justice. This made that person a false-teacher. Seriously?
So in this lecture last June, I sought to prove that not only is it possible to address issues of power abuse and injustice (of whatever sort) without capitulating to some contrary agenda, it is actually fundamental and necessary (especially if we understand the doctrines of both anthropology and salvation to apply corporately as well as individually). This is not a compromise because actually it is based on writers who LONG predate modern sociological theorists: such as Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos to name but 3!
But when it comes to the Imago Dei, I was especially struck by some of the writing of Josef Pieper and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, so drew deeply from them (as well as from abolitionists like Wilberforce and Frederick Douglass).
Here are the slides and handout: