"In this fascinating book, Kristanto shares his thoughts on biblical notions, his vast explorations in the history of theology, and his analysis of today´s intellectual challenges. Bringing these all together in one highly readable work, Kristanto manages to demonstrate perfectly the relevance of the biblical concept of the human being for the Church and society."
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- 1 Human Being as a Part of God’s Creation
- 1.1 Criteria of Truth for a Theological Anthropology
- 1.2 The Insignificance of Human Beings
- 1.3 The Significance of Human Beings
- 1.4 Human Beings and the Law
- 1.5 Human Beings and the Glory of God
- 2 The Constitution of Human Being
- 2.1 Body, Soul, and Spirit
- 2.2 The Soul and Its Faculties
- 2.3 Heart and Conscience
- 2.4 The Human Freedom
- 2.5 The Human Self and the Idea of Personhood
- 3 True Humanity: Imago Dei
- 3.1 The Substantive, Relational, and Functional Understanding
- 3.2 Imago Trinitatis
- 3.3 Imago Christi
- 3.4 Imago Spiritus Sancti
- 3.5 Human Beings as Male and Female
- 4 What Is Sin?
- 4.1 The Fall: God as Imago Hominis
- 4.2 Original Sin
- 4.3 Sin and Free Will
- 4.4 The Nature of Sin
- 4.5 Vices and the Seven Deadly Sins
- 5 On Being Human
- 5.1 Four Cardinal Virtues
- 5.2 Faith, Hope, and Love
- 5.3 The Fruit of the Spirit
- Selected Bibliography
- Subject Index
- Series Page
Human Being – Being Human
A Theological Anthropology in
Biblical, Historical, and Ecumenical Perspective
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About the author
Billy Kristanto is the academic dean at the International Reformed Evangelical Seminary, Jakarta, Indonesia. He studied Musicology and Protestant Theology in Berlin, The Hague, Jakarta, and Heidelberg and holds Dr. phil. and Dr. theol. from Ruprecht Karl University, Heidelberg. His research interests include the central themes of Christian Dogmatics, Calvin, and Johann Sebastian Bach.
About the book
The ecumenical dialogues within Christianity mostly concentrate on the issues of justification, the Church, and the Holy Spirit. An ecumenical theological anthropology can rarely be found. The book presents the classical topics in theological anthropology from the Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox perspectives.
“The plurality or sometimes even the apparent tensions among theological traditions are shown to be within the limits of God’s word alone. In this fascinating book, Kristanto shares his thoughts on biblical notions, his vast explorations in the history of theology, and his analysis of today´s intellectual challenges. Bringing these all together in one highly readable work, Kristanto manages to demonstrate perfectly the relevance of the biblical concept of the human being for the Church and society.”
This eBook can be cited
This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.
At the end of the systematic theological rigorosum on Moltmann’s anthropology, my supervisor Michael Welker asked me which approach I am going to use for my theological anthropology. Fully unprepared, I answered spontaneously that I am going to use the motif of suffering, just like Moltmann. Over the course of the years, however, I am more inclined to develop the motif of Christian virtues from ecumenical perspective than the suffering-motif for my theological anthropology.
The ecumenical dialogues between Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy mostly concentrate on the issue of justification, the church, and the Holy Spirit. An ecumenical theological anthropology can rarely be found. Although theological anthropology has been on the rise lately, one can hardly find writings that reflect this locus in ecumenical perspective. Coming from a Reformed evangelical background, I shall present the classical topics in theological anthropology not only from Reformed, but also from Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox perspectives.
Beside this ecumenical approach, this theological anthropology can also be characterized as biblical theology as has been pioneered by Welker. Yet, perhaps with different agenda, the biblical approach in this book serves as a mediating point between various theological traditions. Thoughts on biblical notions on the key topics of theological anthropology will be discussed in order to show the indebtedness of various traditions to the richness of the Holy Scripture. The plurality or sometimes even the apparent tensions among theological traditions are shown to be within the limits of God’s word alone.
The historical perspective deals not so much with the historical development of Christian thoughts; rather, it again serves as a presentation of the authoritative historical figures from various theological traditions in their particular anthropological thoughts. By drawing from their insights, we hope to present the most important anthropological tenets from every theological tradition. The presence of some contemporary theologians should help to fill in the gap between the historical issues (that had been deemed as important) and our contemporary anthropological issues.
The problems in theological anthropology has led my questions and study not only to what human being is but also to what being human means; hence the title of this book. Our postmodern anthropology is very cautious against any ontological description of human being. The end of metaphysical thinking has long been celebrated. Though we share similar concern with the postmodernists about the inadequacy of metaphysical thinking, yet, we believe that the concreteness of human being does not have to necessarily exclude the ontological explanation on what human being is. Thus, this book shall cover both the metaphysical and non-metaphysical thinking about human being.
The most important contribution of this book is perhaps that it encourages us to view and understand ourselves as human beings not from a modern individualistic, even narcissistic perspective, but from the perspective of our complex relations or interconnections within God’s creation, and most importantly, from the perspective of God’s relatedness. Calvin wrote that knowledge of self and knowledge of God are joined by many bonds. We want to add that knowledge of self is also inseparably related to knowledge of fellow humans and of lower creation. We cannot understand ourselves without starting with the universe as created by God, for human being is only a part of God’s creation.
Coherently, theological anthropology cannot be discussed separately from the other theological loci. Theology proper is not the only criterion of truth for theological anthropology. Other loci such as Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology should also serve as necessary criteria of truth for theological anthropology. In this case, this theological anthropology is a systematic theology in that it reflects coherently both the key anthropological topics and their relation to other loci or categories. The book shall serve as a stimulus past the erroneous paths of reductive totalistic metaphysical anthropology, egological anthropology, materialism, and platonic immaterialism handed down even by conventional theological anthropologies.
On positive notes, the book seeks to formulate the broad spectrum of meanings of human being, the search for self-significance, and the adoration of self that characterize our contemporary milieu. In relation to other creation, human being is both insignificant and significant. This tension is clearly seen in Psalm 8 when we view human being from the perspective of divine glory. The first part will explore this creative tension as attested by the Holy Scripture. Following Psalm 8, we shall begin with the glory of God and end as it was in the beginning. From glory to glory, human beings are being transformed into the image of God (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18). Perceiving human being from the perspective of gloria dei shall help us relativize the false self-significance by placing human being in the right creational order. The second part will discuss the constitution of human being with regard to the body, soul, spirit, heart, conscience, freedom, and the concept of personhood. The third part deals with the classical notion of the image of God. The fourth part discusses the fall perceived as human effort to create false gods according to our image. Finally, the last part argues that just as vices have made human beings inhuman, so virtues make us truly human. Protestant tradition is generally very careful if not skeptical with the notion of acquiring virtues due to its strong emphasis on human depravity. On a closer observation, however, there are many similarities of the importance of Christian virtues between Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. In fact, we can conclude that according to Christian anthropology, being human means being virtuous, like God himself.
A few remarks on the limitations of this book should be mentioned. As the subtitle indicates, this book is a theological anthropology. Though some interactions with philosophical anthropology cannot and need not to be totally excluded, this volume aims first and foremost to formulate the understanding of human being from Christian biblical perspectives. By the adjective “Christian” we mean the inclusion of four great historical traditions which are Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Reformed while humbly admitting that we write from the perspective of Reformed (ecumenical) tradition. By ecumenical we do not mean the self-confidence of the modern project to construct a totalistic cohesion or systematization. On the contrary, we want to present the plurality of voices from various theological traditions that not only arrive at different conclusions but also have different interests and emphases. On the other hand, we also try to offer a meaningful synthetic reflection at the end. Besides ecumenical, this book might also be labeled “evangelical” in that it invites its readers to participate in a life formed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The presentation of this book is simple enough for lay people, both believers and non-believers, as it contains persuasion and invitation to believe in the Gospel. At the same time, we also hope that theological students and lecturers can find this book useful, particularly in the scope of ecumenical theological anthropology. We have also pastors in mind, who want to continue to engage academically, despite the ongoing pressure of becoming ‘merely’ pastoral. This book aims to challenge the narrow-minded confessionalism that is characterized by the need of constant polemics against other theological traditions without clearly and adequately knowing what other traditions actually teach. We should not be content with simplistic if not carricatural ideas of what we think about other traditions. Last but not least, this book is addressed for every human being who is interested to know oneself within God’s meaningful creation.
Parts of chapters in this book were presented in my church ministries in Germany, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia. I am grateful for the patience and supportive understanding of my spiritual mentor Rev. Stephen Tong, and for my congregations in Kelapa Gading and Europe for supporting me in writing this book. I especially thank my wife and children who have learned and are still learning to share her husband and their father to be a blessing to other people. Gratitude in loving memory are due to my professors in Heidelberg who have inspired my theological understanding. I also owe great thanks to Franky, Jeffrey Effendi, Juan Kanggrawan, Landobasa Tobing, Samuel Wijaya, and Wong Wie Khiong for proof-reading the manuscript and their linguistic corrections, giving helpful advice on my humble English. Great thanks to the team of the publisher, Peter Lang, who made the entire publication process possible.
Jakarta, September 2019
Table of Contents
The study of anthropology is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of humankind. In Christian theological tradition, the doctrine of humanity and sin is not treated independently, but discussed under the doctrine of creation. Speaking of humanity is therefore always creation-theological. This principle also fits to the movement from greater to smaller or from the whole to the part. One cannot know humanity without starting with the universe as created by God. Excluding the idea of a created universe will result in a self-projected image when human beings look at the universe. In his discussion whether human being could be grasped (begriffen) or rather understood (verstanden), Thielicke writes, “Self-knowledge thus does not come through the contemplative act of scuttling in the own ego state, but only by a stepping-outward, through active actions in the world and by the encounter with history.”1 According to Thielicke, human cannot be the subject of self-knowledge, unless he/she understands him-/herself in relation with other creatures.
This leads to an inevitability of the first important truth-criterion for theological anthropology: human knowledge within the context of creation should relate itself with the knowledge of God. As Koch rightly states, “As a human being understands himself, so he understands – or he misunderstands – God; like a human being understands his relationship to the other, so is his God; and if a human being really understands himself from God, he understands himself anew from the ground, transformed.”2 Every anthropology, that is, knowledge of human being, is theological. Atheism is a religion within the limits of theological anthropology alone: either human beings function as image-bearer of God or human beings create their own image and worship it as god. When Feuerbach daringly states, “the consciousness of God is [human] self-consciousness, ←15 | 16→knowledge of God is self-knowledge,”3 he simply confirms that without true knowledge of God human beings will build and create an illusion of god after their own image and likeness.
The inseparable connection between knowledge of God and knowledge of self was made explicit by Clement of Alexandria in his apologetic persuasion that Christians are the true gnostics who truly know God. In his instruction on the true beauty he wrote, “It is then, as appears, the greatest of all lessons to know one’s self. For if one knows himself, he will know God; and knowing God, he will be made like God.”4 Clement compared the inner spiritual beauty with the outer physical ornaments. Physical beauty is transitory, whereas Christ as the true beauty exhibited not the visible beauty of the flesh but the “true beauty of both soul and body.” Christ’s divine spiritual beauty has its likeness in the beauty of human beings which is love. While God became human in Christ’s incarnation, human being becomes God by being made like God and he/she will be made like God, i.e. will know God, through love. Clement inseparably related the possibility of knowing God through becoming like God by partaking in divine virtue called love.
The problem with self-knowledge is that human beings are not ready to know themselves. Pride blinds us from knowing who we really are. In Plato’s Philebus dialogue, Socrates used the dictum “know thyself” to remind that many people thinks of themselves higher than it ought to be. The most distorted self-knowledge according to Plato is, however, neither regarding one’s wealth nor one’s physical qualities but qualities of the soul, namely with regard to their virtue.5 True knowledge of self belongs to one of the basic virtues. The apostle Paul wrote, “Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge.”6 Thus, the obstacle to self-knowledge is the distorted assumption that one could know oneself. The Bible calls it the sin of pride: the confidence of being able to know oneself and the universe without God.
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- 2020 (March)
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 290 pp.