Zondervan, 2017. 304pp.
What does it mean to be human? Hardly a more important question exists. Where do we begin? Do we have a high anthropology? After all, God made everything good. Do we have a low anthropology? Humans did not trust God with their future. Marc Cortez sets out to provide a beginning point for understanding humanity in light of Christology. That is, as he ends his book, “As Karl Barth famously declared, “The ontological determination of humanity is grounded in the fact that one man among all others is the man Jesus.”” For the Christian we cannot think about humanity apart from what we know of the humanity of Jesus.
What do we do with issues of race, sex, death and what’s for breakfast? That’s right, what about our bodies and how we view them in light of Jesus’ own body. What about the bodies of others? Cortez rightly points out that we cannot draw a direct line from Christology to anthropology. But, if we regard the humanity of Jesus more than a creedal affirmation, then we cannot help but consider Jesus’ humanity as revelatory of our own. For Cortez this becomes a central consideration – Jesus reveals what it is to be truly human. From there Cortez works through some major themes human existence entails – Imago Dei and Identity, Revelation and what we may know, Sexuality, and Death
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Pastor, what is your source for understanding the human beings with which you work and minister. Maybe you have defaulted to what it means to be made in the Image of God. How exactly do you define that and what grounding is given in the Genesis account that informs your decision? That’s right, it is merely a statement that over the course of Christian theology has found meaning existentially. For example, some of grew up thinking that the defining feature of humanity was the ability to reason. Therefore when answering the question, “What is the Image of God in man?,” it is projected back onto God an understanding that God’s chief characteristic is that God is a Rational Being.
We have not begun to consider exactly what it means to suggest that God is Being much less how it is we determine from the Sacred Text that God is indeed Rational Being. The very Story of God in Jesus Christ calls to account the human notion of rationality. Just think of how much of Grace seems reasonable. One surely does not find it religiously.
Here we stumble on to Marc Cortez’s helpful book. We are given a guide to help us consider not only what does it mean to be truly human by looking at the humanity of Jesus, we are led to see how that vision of humanity informs not only our self-understanding but how we related to other human beings. Any pastor having worked with people more than a few hours will be filled with lots of questions. Not to mention the cultural implications when we are faced with the questions that arise around death, sexuality, what we may know and how we relate to God.
Though not exhaustive, this book is important.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By