Capturing a biblical understanding of personhood found in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible could transform the way Christians interact with politics and the culture, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Dan Darling argues in a new book.
All people have dignity because we were all made in the image of God, Darling writes in The Dignity Revolution: Reclaiming God’s Rich Vision for Humanity, published last month by The Good Book Company.
Darling, vice president for communications at the ERLC, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, isn’t writing about a new idea, but an ancient one, sometimes known by the Latin imago dei or “image of God,” found in Genesis 1:26-27, and expounded upon since the birth of Christianity. But it is an idea in need of recovery in America today, he says.
“We need a fresh approach to engaging with the world. I’d like to suggest that this can be found in a recovery of the robust Christian doctrine of human dignity,” Darling writes in the introduction.
The book offers suggestions for how a “dignity revolution” should inform many of today’s most contentious issues, such as immigration, abortion, prison reform, racism, healthcare, and sex and marriage. There is also a chapter on how technology has made it easier to dehumanize others, when interacting with them via keyboard, and a chapter on the divisiveness of our partisan political debates.
“We are, it seems, becoming increasingly tribal, defending the worst kind of behavior in our own candidates while attacking the low character of candidates in the other party. Even Christians have succumbed to the moral relativism of the age, excusing immoral and disgusting behavior because it is ‘their guy’ or ‘their girl,'” Darling writes in chapter 12, encouraging readers to see the inherent dignity in all people, regardless of political party affiliation.
In this interview with The Christian Post, conducted via email, Darling talks about what a dignity revolution might look like, and what it already looks like. He also answers questions about a recent statement opposing social justice among evangelicals, and President Donald Trump’s decision to drastically curtail the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States.
Here is a transcript of that interview:
CP: What would a dignity revolution in the Church in America look like?
Darling: I think it would involve a recovery of a holistic approach to human dignity to issues, regardless of what that does to our politics. Today, we are tempted, like in any age, to ignore the humanity of certain groups. So, for instance, conservatives like me have done a great job of standing up for the most vulnerable among us — the unborn — and telling the world that there is a person here who deserves life and dignity. And yet we are often guilty of not seeing that same dignity, that same humanity, in immigrant or refugees or in our conversations about race. At the same time, liberals often (rightly) see the dignity of the impoverished or of the immigrant or refugee, but cannot or will not see the humanity of the unborn.
A robust vision of what it means to be created in the image of God should push us out of our tribes and toward an ethic that speaks out and acts wherever dignity is being assaulted, whether it’s in the womb, on city streets, below the poverty line, or at the border.
And it refuses to let us choose between being pro-life and pro-justice. But too often we have let our politics shape our faith rather than our faith shape our politics.
CP: To what extent do you see a dignity revolution already taking place in the Church in America?
Darling: I see it in a lot of ways. I see it in Christian healthcare professionals who work to finding life-saving cures to disease, in ordinary Christians who sponsor children, in pro-life pregnancy center directors who love and care for mothers in crisis. I also see it in the way that Christians, particularly my denomination of Southern Baptists, rally during a time of natural disaster. Right now churches around the country have mobilized and are doing incredible work in North and South Carolina to help those victims of Hurricane Florence.
I’m also seeing it in the many discussions I’m hearing about people who want to make human dignity the axis by which they engage public policy, refusing to be formed by any one political movement or tribe. I’m seeing a growing hunger for the people of God to come alongside the most vulnerable and to speak up, wherever human dignity is being assaulted.
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Source: Christian Post