Lactantius once wrote: “since humanity is the image of God…the strongest bond which unites us is humanity.” This perspective tempers, I believe, the misreading of stewardship in terms of exploitation. Rather, redemption involves bringing the image of God to its fulfillment despite the reality of sin - and doing so together.
On questions of theodicy, I am inclined to preference the analogy of sin as a power which holds us captive (much like evil in Greek tragic theater) over and against viewing sin as a hereditary disease or guilt passed down from generation to generation. In this way, I am skeptical of Pelagius’ overly generous faith in humanity’s good works, while similarly cautious not to allow the human mind to crumble under the weight of Augustinian pessimism. Here, I appreciate Delores Williams’ characterization of sin as estrangement from the source of one’s Being, which in the womanist context maps onto a loss of identity and, by extension, connection. Tying the notions of imago Dei and sin together, I arrive at Migliore’s stopgap: “Being created in the image of God is not a state or condition but a movement with a goal.”
It is through grace, then, that we hold fast to, and walk with God (concursus Dei) towards, the promise of pleroma – sharing in the fullness of God’s life in community, in restored and faithful relationship, with oneself, with others, with nature and God. Or, as C.S. Song puts it, “Our world expands!”
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