Who am I?
do you ever have moments, when you look in the mirror, and you ask,
Who am I?
When all the surface stuff is stripped away,
all the external things I might have achieved or done.
My responsibilities at work at home at church,
at the end of the day, when all of the masks I hide behind are gone,
Who am I really?
imagine a mirror, that didn’t just show the smooth skin or wrinkles,
but could go through your skin.
That could show the essence of your being, your most secret desire, your shape of my soul –
when you looked in it, what would I see?
To put the question in more biblical, Hebrew, terms, what is my name?
Not the name on my birth certificate or the titles society gives me,
But that one word which expresses what I really am,
what would it be?
Who am I?
do you ask those questions sometimes?
Or did you once?
what do you think it really means to be human?
who can give a quick one line definition – any suggestions?
Right now, I’m doing a course on French philosophy.
A few weeks ago, was a lecture on Sartre.
He said humanity is unique because it can question itself
– your cat probably doesn’t agonise over the meaning of its life!
if you like compact, cryptic sayings that you can unpack a long way,
he said the human
“is what it is not, and is not what it is”
part of what he meant is
what we sometimes think we are is not our true nature, what we really are.
We are not our true selves.
There’s always a gap, an emptiness, a frustrating incompleteness,
although we maybe can’t quite put our finger on it.
Can you identify with that at times?
Another old definition of the human is the animal that knows it will die.
– I don’t think your poodle lives in fear of its future non-existence!
Psychologist Ernest Becker put it like this:
Man is a creator with a mind that soars out to speculate about atoms and infinity…
eternal problems like life and death, the meaning of a rose or a star cluster…
Yet at the same time… man is a worm and food for worms.
This is the paradox… a terrifying dilemma… [i]
Becker reckoned all of human life and culture is shaped by the tension between our longing for more, and our fear of death.
He wrote a book about it: “The Denial of Death” (1973)
So is that the essence of humanity?
frustrated, inauthentic, incomplete,
dominated by the fear of death.
Is that it – all we really are?
In his Image
Let’s go back to the start, and take our question to the book of Genesis,
What is humanity? what was the first man Adam made to be?
God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion…”
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
“created in God’s image”
It’s the Bible’s core definition of humanity
There’s been a lot of debate about what exactly it means.
Philosophers have thought it’s our reason or free will, arty types have gone for emotion or creativity or relationality.
but in the historical context, it is probably more concrete.
In the ancient world, kings or emperors often set up big statues of themselves
In the crossroads, the cities, the provinces
To represent their ruler, to manifest his majesty and power, remind people who’s the boss.[ii]
Even today, in the Middle East, think of that huge statue of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Tangible, three-dimensional statues.
Visible images of the distant invisible king.
That’s what you and I are called to be.
Visible human images of the invisible King of kings.
3D statues of flesh and blood that reflect his glory to the world.
God’s first command to us was “Be fruitful and multiply”
You might say, have children who will be further images of God.[iii]
Fill the earth with a worldwide community of divine image bearers.
And in Genesis 1, when God makes us in his image, the purpose seems to be his second command:
“have dominion”, or rule, over the earth.
It doesn’t mean lording it over nature, exploiting it for our own selfish ends.
But wisely governing it on behalf of the creator
Gardeners of Eden, helping nature to flourish to the glory of God.
we might call it the great commission of humanity.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15
So what are we, according to Genesis?
Images of God.
Mediators between God and his creation,
Vice-regents of the great king,
O Lord, what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet.
“crowned with glory and honor”
That’s the biblical meaning of humanity.
That’s what you and I are made to be!
who we really are.
Dust to Dust
a high calling, but we need to stay humble.
compare the first two chapters of Genesis:
we are created in the image and likeness of God (1:26-27)
and yet, we are formed from the dust of the ground (2:7)
there’s a pun in the Hebrew
the word for man is adam; the word for earth is adamah.[v]
An earth-creature, yet in some way like God.
Again, the paradox.
What is humanity?
An icon of earth, divine dust, godlike mud.
We’ll never understand ourselves until we know God.
Yet we can only understand God as we know ourselves,
Who am I? Who is God?
The 2 questions are intertwined
What does it mean to be human? What is God really like?
– we can’t answer one without the other. [vi]
There’s a delicate tension, a fine balance, between our gloriousness and our earthiness
Without God, we can lose the balance, lose our identity, and then we’re in trouble.
I read of a newspaper article, around 1990 in Chicago.[vii]
a young woman had left her husband and two children for a lover.
The same night, her lover decided he didn’t want her.
She was left alone in the hotel room. She had lost everything and shot herself.
The police found a note, “Don’t cry for me – I’m not even human anymore.”
two floors down in the same hotel that night was a New Age convention.
As she shot herself , the speaker was leading them all in a stirring chant, “I am God! …I am God! …I am God!”
The article was titled, “The Irony Of Being Human”.
Do we sometimes, in a less dramatic way, go to those extremes?
things are going great, we’re on top of the world, and we almost act like we are gods, in control of our lives
then they fall apart, we had a bad day, we feel like rubbish – not even human anymore.
It easily happens, because when we lose sight of the one who made us, we lose sight of ourselves.
Well, in Genesis chapter 3, Adam, the earth-man, lost sight of God, and lost the balance.
his divine dustiness wasn’t enough for him.
he wanted more, he wanted to be his own god.
in effect, he proclaimed, like those new agers, “I am God!”.
and then he found, like that poor woman, he wasn’t even fully human anymore
when he snatched at forbidden knowledge,
He lost the knowledge he had – he lost the knowledge of God, and of himself.
We call it the Fall.
The earth-man bit the dust.
Who is God? Who am I?
He didn’t really know any more.
And neither do we.
in some mysterious way, the fall of Adam impacted all humanity
This is often called “original sin”.
St Paul wrote in the New Testament, Romans 5:12-21
sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin,
and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
It’s hard for us Western individualists to grasp.[viii]
In most other cultures, ancestors and our connection to them are much more significant.
In the Bible, it’s as if humanity is all one body – no man is an island.[ix]
like one huge family tree.[x]
Cut it off at the trunk, and the whole tree topples.
inject the poison of death at the root, and decay spreads to all the branches
corrupt the first ancestor, and all his descendants follow.
And not only people suffer:
when the crown of creation is corrupted, all of nature falls with it. (Romans 8:20-22)
When the gardener rebelled, the garden itself went wild.
Red in tooth and claw.[xi]
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
It will produce thorns and thistles” (Gen 3:17-18)
so who are we now?
After the fall, outside Eden?
We’re still created in God’s image, made to be crowned with glory and honor,
Yet as St Paul put it, all people have
exchanged the image of God for idols…
and fallen sinfully short of our God-given glory
Romans 1:23, 3:23
Heights and depths – the human tragedy…
by now, you may be saying, hang on, isn’t this a series on Christology?
Why are we going on about Adam and humanity and creation and fall?
well, I hope there is method in the madness,
because our theme today is Christ as the second Adam.[xii]
The idea underlies a lot of the New Testament.
But Paul puts it most clearly in Romans 5:17,19
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ….For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Christ, so to speak, injected the vaccine of salvation, the antidote of life,
into the diseased and decaying human tree
Or maybe, better, Christ became the trunk of a new tree
those who receive him are cut off from the old Adam’s tree of death,
and grafted into the new Adam’s tree of life.
As Jesus said: I am the vine, you are the branches. John 15:5
the new sap of God’s Spirit slowly begins to flow in our veins,
replacing the old sap of sin and death and decay.
Better still, the first Adam’s tree tried to cut off its roots and become a freestanding trunk
Jesus is the true tree trunk, rooted deep in God.
However you put it,
What was lost by the first Adam, is recovered by Christ, the second Adam.
Recapping Adam’s Story
In the second century, a theologian called Irenaeus developed the idea
He called it recapitulation. (Eph 1:10)
God recapitulated in himself the ancient formation of humanity…
when He became incarnate, and was made man, He commenced afresh the long line of human beings… so that what we had lost in Adam—namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God—that we might recover in Christ Jesus…[xiii]
as our species went down to death through a vanquished man, so we may ascend to life again through a victorious one…
Jesus Christ recapitulates, sums up, retells the story of Adam.
re-enacts the drama of humanity,
but he reverses the Fall by going right, where Adam went wrong.
He overcomes the false start, the apparent dead end of the first Adam, and brings the human story to its true conclusion
in computerese, the first human program crashed, but Jesus is humanity 2.0!
So Irenaeus makes lots of comparisons between Adam and Christ, Eve and Mary.[xiv]
Jesus was born as a baby, and experienced all the human condition
Adam was tempted by the serpent in the garden – “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).
Jesus was tempted by Satan.
Paul put it like this:
though he was in the very form of God,
Christ did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the form of a servant,
being made in human likeness.[xv]
the same temptation as Adam – to grasp at independent God likeness.
but Christ took the opposite path of obedience to God.
he has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Hebrews 4:15
I find that both encouraging and challenging
encouraging, because Jesus understands – he was like us in every way.
But challenging, because it shows it is possible for humans to live without sin – so I can’t pretend I can’t help it!
in the gospels, as we know, Jesus does lots of miracles.
I used to think these prove he is God,
but more deeply, his miracles show he is the true human.
in them we see the authority over nature God gave Adam, before he lost it (Revelation 3:14)
So, Jesus stills the storm.
he heals the sick and blind and deaf and lame,
and gives life to the dead,
in all this, Jesus, the second Adam, is undoing the effects of the first Adam’s mismanagement.[xvi]
when he multiplies loaves and fishes, the earth is so to speak fruitful again.
in the Middle Ages, they really got into the second Adam concept[xvii]
In the mystery plays of the bible story, the same actor played Adam and Christ.
The first Adam was buried at Calvary,
And a seedling from the Tree of Knowledge in Eden grew into the tree of the cross
maybe a bit over the top, but driving the parallel contrast home.[xviii]
Christ walked in Adam’s shoes, followed his footsteps,
all the way to the dead end of the fall.
He freely accepted the full consequences of Adam’s rebellion.
but he broke through the cul-de-sac of death; he opened a road to new life.
Easter Sunday morning is a new creation.
as in Eden, the second Adam, the first new man, walks in the garden.[xix]
Weeding out sin and tending the green shoots of God’s new creation.
The true gardener
Mary in the garden becomes for a moment Eve, weeping for her lost innocence and her lost Lord, and then discovering that the one she thinks is the gardener really is the gardener, the one through whose healing stewardship the whole creation will be dug afresh and planted with the Tree of Life. (NT Wright)
The First True Image
Christ is the image of the invisible God
This means that Jesus shows us who God is, like those statues representing the king.
In the face of Jesus Christ, we see the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
he is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:3)
What is God like?
The Christian definition of God’s character is Jesus Christ
But there’s more.
When I studied Christology a few years ago, one of my main discoveries was that
Jesus not only shows us who God is.
Jesus shows us who we are.
in him, we see true humanity. [xx]
Jesus is the true image of God, what we are meant to be
remember the Transfiguration – when Christ shines like lightning on the mountain.
That is not only the glory of God, but the glory God gave us.
just like Moses’ face was dazzling bright after talking to God (2 Corinthians 3:7)
the Transfiguration is a glimpse of what God made us – and will make us – to be.[xxi]
Had you seen it that way before? – incredible
"crowned with glory and honor."
If you’re not so sure, for Paul, the goal of salvation is becoming like Christ.[xxii] So we are:
predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s son (Romans 8:29)
we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)
I hope we are starting to get a sense, from the first and last Adams, of what we have been made to be, of who we are.
So let’s revisit those definitions of humanity, we saw at the start.
the philosopher Sartre’s cryptic words:
I am what I am not, I am not what I am.
When I heard that, I remembered the time when Moses asked God who he was, what is God’s name?
I am who I am (Exodus 3:14)
what a contrast!
Unlike us, God simply is who he is, truly himself.
And when God becomes flesh, in Jesus Christ,
We have the first human who truly is what he is, authentic and complete
Jesus shows us how to conjugate all the verbs of human living (Richard Foster)
As Irenaeus said, “the glory of God is a human fully alive”
Remember the psychologist Becker’s bleak paradox:
The human as a god-worm, a sublime miracle yet driven by the fear and denial of death.
Quite true of humanity in Adam, but once again, in Christ, we see God’s real intention.
After Romans 5, Paul’s other big second Adam passage is 1 Cor 15, his great chapter on? – the resurrection:
For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being;
for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven…
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 47,49
Jesus is the resurrected second Adam, the firstborn from the dead. Colossians 1:18
If we are in Jesus, death is no longer our definition.
In Adam, we all die. In Christ, we will rise.
“if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Restoring the Portrait
Sometimes in art galleries, a painting is vandalised.
Someone – mostly unhinged – slashes it with a knife, or throws acid on it.
you and I are God’s self-portraits.
but we’ve been slashed up by sin and selfishness
once vibrant colours eaten away.
in the worst of us, hints of the first glory still shine through
in the best of us, the contours are in places smeared almost beyond recognition.[xxiii]
We are broken images, defaced icons, vandalised statues.
Another theologian was Athanasius in the forth century,
He said that Jesus came so that the portrait might be restored:
the handiwork of God was in process of dissolution…
when the likeness painted on a panel has been effaced by stains from without, he whose likeness it is must needs come once more to enable the portrait to be renewed on the same wood… in the same way also the most holy Son of the Father, being the Image of the Father, came to our region to renew man once made in His likeness…
On the Incarnation of the Word
The image is of the painter wanting to restore his defaced portrait,
so the subject – Jesus, the unblemished image of God – comes to sit again as the model for the painter to copy.
But that doesn’t mean in heaven we’ll all have the face of a first century Jewish rabbi!
being in Christ, transformed into his image, repainted in his likeness, does not mean we’re all the same.
Sin smears away our unique forms, bleaches our colours to a boring uniform grey.
death quenches individuality.
But that’s not God’s plan
There’s an old Jewish saying:
when we make coins,
we stamp each one with the same image, and they come out identical
God, by contrast, stamps his image on people, and each one is uniquely different!
Each person reflects an aspect of God’s glory that no one else can
remember Paul’s image of the body of Christ – it bounces off the second Adam idea.
in the body of Christ, we are not all the same
there are eyes and ears and hands and feet (1 Corinthians 12).
All sorts of different gifts and callings.
And as we grow deeper in Christ, we discover these more and more.
we become more uniquely, individually, distinctly, ourselves.
We come to know who we are.
Sometimes, however, the restoration process can take a long time.
In 1985, a Rembrandt painting in St Petersburg was almost totally defaced (Danae in the Hermitage), [xxiv]
it took a team of specialists 12 years to restore.
Gradually washing off the acid, scraping away the damage.
Filling in the gashes. Retouching the lost color. Building up the original layers of paint again.
for most of us, it will take God a lifetime.
At one day, the vibrant loving brushstrokes, the delicate details,
the full shimmering palette of the creator’s art work will at last fully emerge.
And I suspect that in that restoration, he’ll also recapitulate our individual lives, as he recapitulated the history of Adam.
In his retelling of my story, much that once seemed pointless will make sense.
He will connect the dots of my days that once looked random, in a bigger brighter pattern.
Dead ends will come to a new living conclusion.
Much that seemed lost will be restored
And God doesn’t just restore us for our own benefit –
we’ve got a job to do.
At the start of Genesis, what was God’s first command, the great commission of the first Adam?
be fruitful and have dominion,
multiply God’s images, and wisely steward the whole creation with God’s authority.
At the end of the gospels, the second Adam renews this great commission
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18-19)
“Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)
Much the same thing.
Multiply men and women in the image of Christ, and so bring blessing to all the earth.
Who am I? What does it mean to be human?
There are two possibilities – we can be in Adam or we can be in Christ.[xxv]
By natural birth, we are all in Adam, and have lost our true identity.
Frustrated, incomplete, I am not what I am.
So, like in that newspaper article, we oscillate between trying to be God, and feeling like we are nothing.
In Adam, we’ll never really know who we are.
And whichever way, glory or shame, it will all end in death.
by spiritual rebirth, we can all be in Christ, the Second Adam, the true Image of God
In him, we find both God and ourselves.
As St Augustine said
You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until we find ourselves in you
in more recent words,
“I won’t know who I am until I know whose I am” (Paul Windsor)[xxvi]
We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ’s Cross and Adam’s tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,
May the Last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.
John Donne (d. 1631)
I remember seeing a forest of giant redwoods for the first time. There were some small children nearby, giggling and chattering and pushing each other around. Nobody had to tell them to quiet down as we entered. They quieted down all by themselves. Everybody did. You couldn’t hear a sound of any kind. It was like coming into a vast, empty room.
Two or three hundred feet high the redwoods stood. You had to crane your neck back as far as it would go to see the leaves at the top. They made their own twilight out of the bright California day. There was a stillness and stateliness about them that seemed to become part of you as you stood there stunned by the sight of them. They had been growing in that place for going on two thousand years. With infinite care they were growing even now. You could feel them doing it. They made you realize that all your life you had been mistaken. Oaks and ashes, maples and chestnuts and elm you had seen for as long as you could remember, but never until this moment had you so much as dreamed what a tree really was.
‘Behold the man,’ Pilate said when he led Jesus out where everybody could see Him. He can’t have been much to look at after what they they’d done to Him by them, but my guess is that, even so, there suddenly fell over that mob a silence as awed as ours in the forest when for the first time in their lives they found themselves looking at a Human Being.
[i] Ernest Becker “Denial of Death” (1973, 26) “a god-worm, or a god who shits” (Becker, 1973, 58) cf “A mortal, who is a maggot, and a human being, who is a worm” (Job 25:6)
[ii] a bit like in the former Soviet Union there were huge statues of Stalin or Lenin everywhere.
[iii] in our own image (Gen 5:3)
[iv] Hebrews picks up Psalm 8, and points out the problem: “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.” Hebrews 2:6-8
[v] One writer translated Adam as the “earth-creature” (Irenaeus), the “dirt-man”. If you like language, thanks to Latin, we have a similar wordplay in English: Adam comes from adamah. Humans come from humus – the soil. And to it we return – Latin humo is to bury, so English exhumation. Which certainly calls for humility. Human – humus – humility – humour
[vi] In the protestant reformation of the 16th century, John Calvin wrote the greatest book of theology, “Institutes of the Christian Religion”. the first chapter is called “The Knowledge Of God And Of Ourselves Mutually Connected: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iii.ii.html
Our wisdom… consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other…. Every person, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him. On the other hand, man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God…
[vii] in Richard Pratt, Designed for Dignity. http://members.dcn.org/gvcc/sermon_trans/Special_Speakers/Mankind_Image_of_God.html
[viii] But even here are two sides: we all die because Adam sinned (5:18-19), and we all die because each of us sin (5:12). 2 Esdras 4.30. “For a grain of evil seed was sown in Adam’s heart from the beginning, and how much ungodliness it has produced until now– and will produce until the time of threshing comes!” 7.118. “O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendants.” Cf 2 Baruch 23.14, 48.14, “[Adam] what did you do to all born after you” vs 54.15 “each one is the Adam of their own soul”
[ix] The cover picture of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan shows many people in the one body of the King. Many cultures have a story of a huge primaeval first man, who was divided up to become all of us. Mystics of many different faiths have had a deep sense of unity, everything is interconnected. Modern western science often confirms this in weird ways.
[x] There’s an old Jewish saying, eg in the movie Schindler’s list, if you save one person, you save the whole world; to destroy one person is to destroy the whole world – because you save or destroy all their descendants.
[xi] a woodcut of the fall by old Albrecht Dürer shows Eve reaching for the forbidden fruit, and at the bottom, a cat eyes up a mouse.
[xiii] He has therefore, in His work of recapitulation, summed up all things, both waging war against our enemy, and crushing him who had at the beginning led us away captives in Adam…
[xiv] like Adam, Christ was ultimately the son of God. “He was the son of Joseph, … son of Adam, son of God” (Luke 3:23-38)
[xv] “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3). “born of a woman” (Gal 4.4)
[xvi] In Genesis 1, God named creation. In Genesis 2, Adam named creation. in the Gospels, Jesus renamed Peter. The ruling over nature symbolism is seen in stories of St Francis of Assisi and other saints, who tamed wild animals.
[xvii] See The Second Adam by Gerald O’Collins, 2004 , http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=3540. the date of creation – first Adam – was said to be the date of Christ’s conception – second Adam, and the date of his crucifixion – new creation. The first Adam brought death through a tree, the second Adam brings life through a tree. Eve was born from Adam’s side as the church born from Christ’s pierced side on the cross – “Eve from the side of the sleeping one, the church from the side of the suffering one;” Augustine. an Eastern orthodox hymn says,
Make ready, O Bethlehem, for Eden hath been opened for all. Prepare, O Ephratha, for the tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave from the Virgin; for her womb did appear as a spiritual paradise in which is planted the divine Plant, whereof eating we shall live and not die as did Adam. Christ shall be born, raising the image that fell of old.
[xviii] in Paul, "the double imagery of wisdom and Adam effectively interlocks creation and salvation" (James Dunn)
[xix] opening lines of both Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained “Of man’s first disobedience . . . / till one greater man/Restore us”; “the happy garden . . .I By one man’s disobedience lost . . . I Recovered. . . I By one man’s firm obedience.”
[xx] we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, Hebrews 2:9. As author Charles Williams puts it, we see in Jesus Christ both the incarnation of God, and the ingodding of man. “As the image of God par excellence the risen Christ is both the representation of God in the likeness of human form (cf. Ezek. 1.26-28) and the representation of man in (and as) the image of God (cf. Gen. 1.26-27).” Hultgren, 2003
[xxi] a 15th century Latin hymn Coelestis formam gloriae (Sarum Breviary, Venice, 1495; trans. Rev. John M. Neale 1851):
O wondrous type, O vision fair / of glory that the Church shall share / Which Christ upon the mountain shows / where brighter than the sun He glows / With shining face and bright array / Christ deigns to manifest today / What glory shall be theirs above / who joy in God with perfect love.
[xxii] We rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God (Romans 5:2). “Predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, in order that he might be the firstborn in a large family” (Romans 8:29). In Peter’s language, to become ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2Peter 1:4)
[xxiii] As Aslan said in Narnia: “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve. And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”
[xxiv] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandalism_of_art. On 15 June 1985 Rembrandt’s painting Danae was attacked by a maniac who poured sulphurous acid on the canvas and cut it twice with his knife. The entire central part of the composition was turned into a mixture of brown raised spots with a mass of splashes, vertical incrustations and areas of lost paint. http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/05/hm5_1_48.html
[xxv] Paul’s equivalent of Moses choice between life and death in Deut 30:15-20
[xxvi] there’s a wonderful, mysterious verse in the last book of the Bible. Christ says to those who are his, “to everyone who conquers … I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17