Kevin Stockmann: Discussion Questions

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Post by stockmannk on Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:54 pm

1.Think back through your week. What evidence of total depravity have you experienced? What evidence of the doctrine that humanity is created in the
image of God?

When it comes to the total depravity of mankind that I have experienced this week, I believe that the first item I should discuss is my own. Incredibly, the more I grow as a man of God, the desire to sin does not completely leave. I find myself tempted every day to put my own desires and will above that of others, selfishly desiring to get ahead at the cost of others. This is not to say that I give in to temptations with regularity, but clearly I have sinned daily and need to bring it before God. The more I study myself and attempt to grow out of where I've been and into where Jesus wants me to go, the more I realize I have sinned. The more I realize that my motives and desires are rarely fully pure and good, but a mix of that and selfishness. I see more that I (and all of humanity for that matter) can not be trusted to run things on my own. And I do not stand alone.

I would share more about evidence of total depravity, but in the interest of length, I will move on the the doctrine of the imago dei. I see this clearly all the time as well. The logic, the creativity, the rationality of mankind I see within every person I know. Our capability to reason and the very drive to dominate and/or improve the earth permeates much of our lives. Most specifically, I see the desire to do good and right things. I see people with a spirit that is willing but flesh that is weak. I see people that give out love and desire love much like the community of the trinity, but do to our total depravity are left wanting. Lastly, I see the humanity that God created, Male and Female in his image, both expressions of different and similar aspects of his character, playing out in our lives. Sometimes at odds with each other, sometimes complementing each other. I see people trying to turn away from these, but they are written in the very language of our genetics.

2. What sets humanity apart from the animal world?

Now here is a question that I relish answering. I love apologetics and seeing where God's word intersects with the study of the natural world. Let me first start with the similarities. Humans share genetic material and DNA with all other animals in the world, which especially makes sense as we were the last to be made in God's six days of creation. We share over 90% of genetic material with mammals and even more with chimps and monkeys. But the things that distinguish us from animals are so stark and vast. First of all, we are symbol-using. We alone have the capacity for abstract thought and symbolizing things that are with things that represent them. This comes out in language, art, actions, dreams, and really everything we do. We are driven by a desire to name things, to know the unknown, to categorize, to make order out of chaos. And we understand what death is, and truly fear it, unlike any animal. We have the capacity for to use and invent tools. We have few natural advantages over predators, but are saved by our ability to use tools like spears, fire, and now architecture, nuclear missiles, and genetic engineering. We also are set apart by a natural belief in deities or higher powers, or a "god-shaped hole" as C.S. Lewis puts it. We also are set apart by our self-awareness. Animals have limited self-awareness and the capacity to feel limited emotions as well as pain. But they do not have the capacity to think about themselves. We are feeling, emotional, soulful creatures who express themselves through art, poetry, and action. Lastly, we are set apart by our theory of mind -- we know that other humans also have the same capabilities and mental faculties that we do. All this to me comprises the imago dei. I believe that this is of God, and we can come to know him through how we are.










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Post by Brenton Malnofski on Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:38 pm

I love everything you wrote here! The way you articulated the struggle to avoid selfish pursuits is something I think we all can relate to for sure. But the positive things about humanity that you highlighted, our capacity to reason and improve the quality of life, are also equally valid and worth discussing. I don’t believe every aspect of humanity is depraved, but that sin pervades everything. It’s up to us to allow God to transform us out of that and for us to repent from the selfish desires, as you said.
Your description of our similarities and key differences between animals is also quite good. I think it’s important to remember that science doesn’t negate God. Rather, it can much good for illuminating Him and his great creation. And the fact that He’s uniquely gifted us with traits like self-awareness and emotions is a testament to how we’re made in His wonderful image.
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Post by Carson Bledsoe on Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:40 pm

I really appreciate your response to both of these questions. I think it shows maturity and is really insightful that you chose to display your own depravity as a prime example of total depravity. It makes me think that we must really be blind some days to not see how wretched we are apart from Christ. The second question was incredibly thought provoking and I’m glad you took it on. It’s truly incredible to see how God has made us so like other creatures but has also placed differences between us. These differences do in fact appear to be the aspects of ourselves that we would consider being “Godly” characteristics, attributes given to us due to the fact that we are made in the image of God.
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Post by Amanda Middleton on Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:56 am

Love your response to the second question. We are very similar to animals in so many ways, but the things you bring up that contrast humans and animals I found very interesting. I don't know how much research you did to answer the question or if you just knew all of that, which is awesome if you did, but you brought up several points that I had never thought of before.
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