PHI-413V Christian concept of the imago Dei and worldview essay

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1. What is the Christian concept of the imago Dei? How might it be important to health care, and why is it relevant?2. According to your worldview, what value does a human person have? How does your position affect your stance on controversial bioethical issues, such as abortion, designer babies, and stem cell research?

What is the Christian concept of the imago Dei? How might it be important to health care, and why is it relevant?
‘Imago Dei’ is the Latin translation for ‘Image of God’. It is a concept found in the biblical story of creation. The concept has two connotations. The first connotation is that humans are the self-actualization of God who created them. The second connotation is that God cares for humans. To say that humans are created in the image of God is a recognition that God is made manifest in humans thus enabling them to have special qualities that set them above other creations. Unlike other creations, humans have a rational structure that includes the capacity for deliberation and free decision-making that offers them freedom to be complete and centered thus supporting their self-actualization and participation in the sacred reality that everything is the will of God. In essence, humans who have the awareness that they are created in the image of God must recognize that they are instruments through which God’s intentions, purposes and plans are made known and actualized. Interpreting this awareness from a health care perspective would indicate that humans are co-creators with God since they help in actualizing God’s plan. Through providing health care, medical personnel act on God’s intention to heal, thus identifying them as instruments through whom God’s will is manifested (Bruyneel & Padgett, 2003; Demacopoulos &‎ Papanikolaou, 2016).
According to your worldview, what value does a human person have? How does your position affect your stance on controversial bioethical issues, such as abortion, designer babies, and stem cell research?
According to my worldview, the value of every human being is determined by how well they do God’s will. Humans were created to serve, learn and live through God’s word. All humans have the capacity for deliberation and free decision-making. As such, every individual is responsible for stance taken on controversial decision making. Overall, humans must be guided by God’s word (the Bible) when making such decisions, and should ensure that whatever decision is made reflects the personal awareness and acceptance of the sacred reality. Irrespective of the perceived costs and benefits, every decision must reflect what is perceived as God’s intention (Troy, 2014).

Bruyneel, S. & Padgett, A. (2003). Introducing Christianity. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
Demacopoulos, G. &‎ Papanikolaou, A. (2016). Christianity, Democracy, and the Shadow of Constantine. New York, NY: Fordham University Press.
Troy, J. (ed) (2014). Religion and the realist tradition: from political theology to international relations theory and back. New York, NY: Routledge.

PHI-413V Topic 1 OverviewFoundational Issues in Christian Spirituality and EthicsIntroductionWelcome to Grand Canyon University’s course on Ethical and Spiritual Decision-Makingin health care. Some students may be apprehensive and object to taking this coursebecause they feel such a course is not necessary for their major. Yet Grand CanyonUniversity has a long-standing Christian heritage, meaning that our Christian faith isfundamental to all that we do. We want all students to feel welcome here, regardless oftheir religion or beliefs, but we also want all students to at least understand theChristian worldview and be challenged to think carefully about the deeper questions oflife.In addition, this course serves several key purposes for training in health care. First, it isimportant to understand that many of the foundational beliefs that the fields ofmedicine and health care take for granted (such as the intrinsic dignity and value of allhuman beings, regardless of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, etc.) aredeeply held Christian values that come from the Christian worldview and have shapedthe practice of medicine for almost 2,000 years. Second, all human beings hold beliefs,live, and act in the context of their worldview. All decisions, including health caredecisions, that human beings make are informed by their most deeply held values andbeliefs which comprise a person’s worldview. Thus, it is important to understand how apatient’s worldview will shape their decision-making and values in health care.Third, decision-making in health care often times involves ethical decisions about rightor wrong, and it is crucial for health care practitioners to have an understanding of thenature of ethical decision-making, as well as some practical training. Fundamentally, thiscourse is about how the Christian worldview approaches various issues and questions inhealth care. In understanding the Christian worldview, one will also come to learn howdifferent worldviews might approach the same questions.Some students may be unsure what their worldview is or have a worldview that is verydifferent from Christianity and wonder how they will fit into such a class. Everyone has amixture of beliefs that make him or her unique. Please be assured that the goal is tohelp each student feel comfortable interacting with other students and to have apositive experience. The College of Theology and instructors hope to encourage criticalthinking about one’s worldview and purpose in life. This is an opportunity to think aboutwhat you believe, challenge your assumptions, learn from others, and move forward onyour unique life journey.Throughout this course, you will be seeking wisdom. And from the Christian worldview,all wisdom comes from God. This is why James, the brother of Jesus, wrote in his letter,“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all withoutreproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5 NIV). Understanding what a worldview is,and in particular the elements of Christian worldview, will help one understand thefoundations of Christian spirituality and ethics.What Is a Worldview?The following definitions are helpful:• “A set of assumptions or beliefs about reality that affect how we think and how welive” (Cosgrove, 2006, p. 19).• “The comprehensive perspective from which we interpret all of reality” (Keller,2012, p. 157).Worldview is often described as a set of lenses through which we view the world. As adescriptive lens, our worldview influences our perception of the world. What is true?What is reality? As a prescriptive lens, our worldview influences our evaluation of whatis true. What does it mean? How should we live?One may readily see that if one views the nature of the universe as consisting of onlyphysical matter and energy, then that person’s understanding of the meaning of life andhow we should live will likely be far different from one whose perception of theuniverse includes a spiritual realm where life continues after death and goodness isrewarded.While it is true that all people have their own private worldviews with values and beliefsthat have been shaped by culture, education, experiences, and relationships, it is alsovaluable to speak of shared worldviews, those foundational assumptions or beliefs thatmany people hold in common. For the sake of this course, the course content will bereduced from the many-shared worldviews to three basic worldview families.What Are the Three Basic Worldview Families?Though there are many different worldviews, for the purpose of this course they havebeen simplified into three basic worldview families. There are many variations withinthese families.AtheismAtheism is the worldview of those who believe only in what their senses can detect—only what may be analyzed and understood in a scientific laboratory. This view believesin no God or spiritual realm. The cosmos consists of only the natural or physical realm ofmatter and energy. Other names often associated with this worldview family arenaturalism and secular humanism. Most whose worldview values and behavior arealigned with atheism prefer to be considered agnostics. These are uncertain of theexistence of God, skeptical for the most part, yet open to the possibility.PantheismPantheism is the worldview of spiritualism, the belief that “all is God” as the wordimplies. Pantheists believe in a spiritual realm, but no relational God who has revealedhimself to humanity and is actively involved in the lives of those who believe in him. Thisworldview family consists of the Eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well asthe more eclectic Western belief known as New Age. Pantheists typically embrace animpersonal oneness of which all humans may become a part, becoming godlikethemselves as they reach higher levels of spirituality.TheismTheism, or monotheism, is the worldview of the three major religions, Judaism,Christianity, and Islam. Though these three have huge differences rendering themincompatible with each other, they do nonetheless have some similarities. Theists allbelieve in a single, personal, and relational God who is the creator and sustainer of allthat exists. They all likewise believe in absolute truth and morality, and an afterlife. Thefocus of this course is Christianity, so the course will be comparing these threeworldviews: atheism, pantheism, and Christianity.Another common worldview name, deism, is somewhat of an enigma—having a basicbelief in God, but a God who is not relational or involved in human life. So althoughfalling under the broad category of theism, deists may effectively live as atheists. Manypeople have complex worldviews that are a mix of various beliefs from the majorworldview families.How Do We Determine Our Worldview?There are six components that help to determine worldview. The following questionscorrespond to each component. Answering each of the following questions for yourselfwill help you begin thinking about your own worldview:1. What Is Ultimate Reality?Does reality consist basically of physical matter and energy, as the atheists believe? Isreality an impersonal spiritual entity that dominates the universe and to which allhumans must endeavor to attain unity with, as the pantheists assert, or is there apersonal and relational, all-powerful, and sovereign God who exists everywhere, but isseparate from the physical world he created, as believed by Christians and othertheists?2. What Is the Nature of the Universe?This is similar to the question above but focuses strictly on what one believes about thenatural world. Is the universe strictly physical and yet eternal in one form or another? Isit merely an illusion intended as a battleground for us to work toward enlightenment, orwas the universe created by God and far more complex than can be detected byscientists, consisting of both a physical and a spiritual realm?3. What Is a Human Being?Is a human basically a biological machine, just a higher level of animal? Is a human atype of god with powers to reach perfection, or is a human an off-the-charts creaturedesigned in the image of God with an eternal spirit like his and similar abilities to reason,seek moral purity, communicate on a high level, create for beauty, and love even thosewho cannot love in return? Is death the end of existence, or is there a soul that lives on?Does that soul return in another life, or does it return to God and await judgment?4. What Is Knowledge?Is there such a thing as absolute truth, or is truth relative? Is true knowledge only thatwhich may be acquired and understood through scientific means, or is there alsoknowledge that only may be acquired by revelation from God? Should you only trustyour senses, or should you explore the spiritual realm and seek knowledge from God?5. What Is Your Basis of Ethics?How do you know right from wrong? Is morality learned, or is it designed into ourconscience? Is there a set of absolute moral standards given by God, or is moralityrelative, a matter of culture, and what is acceptable to a society?6. What the Purpose of Your Existence?Is human life as you know it merely the result of some amazing cosmic accident, or isthere an underlying meaning to history, a purpose toward which time will culminate?Does life have meaning and purpose for individuals, or is it simply whatever one makesit? Did the Creator design his children with a purpose? If so, what might that be?How Do We Test Our Worldview?Everyone (not only religious people) forms his or her worldview on the basis of faith(assumptions and presuppositions) and reason. So we must ask ourselves “howreasonable or consistent is our worldview?” Are there any contradictions that areapparent? Testing a worldview is critical because at the end of the day, most peoplewant to make sure that they have true beliefs about the world. The following tests arejust some ways of determining whether or not a particular worldview is true. Consideronly three basic tests summarized here:1. The Coherence Test checks the internal consistency of a worldview to see if one’sspecific values and beliefs contradict any other beliefs within the worldview.2. The Correspondence Test examines how well a worldview corresponds to reality. Itevaluates evidences and experiences to see if the worldview matches with what oneperceives in the real world.3. The Practical Test evaluates a worldview’s livability. Does the worldview bringsatisfaction as one faces life’s challenges, or is it found to be lacking?Foundations of Christian Spirituality and EthicsThe foundational beliefs of Christianity inform the Christian understanding of the natureof spirituality and the nature of ethics. Thus, the way in which the Christian worldviewanswers the six questions above shapes a distinctly Christian spirituality and Christianethic. The term spirituality has many different definitions in popular culture and indifferent contexts. One influential definition claims, “spirituality is an aspect of humanitythat refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose, and the waythey experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and tothe significant or sacred” (Puchalski et al., 2009). This definition is broad enough to givea general idea of what spirituality involves, but it does not give a full picture of aperson’s spiritual life or spiritual needs. Those details will be filled in by examining apersons specific worldview.Spirituality in the Christian worldview has its foundations in the reality of a triune Godwho eternally exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is one being in three personsand is the creator and sustainer of all that exists. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, andloving to his core, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). This God hasrevealed himself in different ways to human beings, including through the naturalworld. However, he has revealed himself and his will for human beings mostauthoritatively through the Bible and in the person of Jesus Christ. In this view,whatever it means to be spiritual will in some sense be related directly or indirectly toGod, and will come to be known primarily through the teachings of the Bible.Furthermore, Christian spirituality will refer to the beliefs and practices that are meantto reflect the proper functioning of God’s creation, and which promote right relationshipto God and deeper knowledge of him. Many times spirituality is taken to besynonymous with the feeling of deep emotion or of oneness with a transcendent reality,but Christian spirituality is not limited to the experience of mere emotions or feelings.Feelings and emotions are an important part of being human, and they are even animportant part of one’s relationship to God. Yet, spirituality in the Christian worldview isnot dictated by the feelings or emotions one might be experiencing in the moment, butby trust in the goodness of God and obedience to him.In the same way that Christian spirituality finds its foundations in the reality of thetriune God of the Bible, ethics also has its foundations in God. Ethics, broadly speaking,is the study of good and bad, right and wrong. Every worldview has to explain thefoundations of ethics (in line with worldview question #5 above) such that it explains thebasis of what counts as good and bad, right or wrong. In the Christian worldview, thereis a God who exists and has created the world with a moral structure and purpose suchthat what is truly right and good is a reflection of God’s character. God’s own holy,loving and perfect character is the standard of right and wrong. Badness or what iswrong is then defined as anything that is contrary to God’s character, his will, or to hisdesign and purpose for his creation.The Bible reveals what God’s character is like. Exodus 34:6-7 says,The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger andabounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgivingwickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; hepunishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the thirdand fourth generation.Similarly, 1 John 4:7-9 says,Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone wholoves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does notknow God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: Hesent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.Psalm 18:30 declares, “As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; heshields all who take refuge in him.” Many more verses could be surveyed, but the Biblemakes clear that God is perfectly good and holy. Knowing right and wrong then willmean knowing that which accords to God’s character.Right or wrong can be discovered in multiple ways. It can be discovered in God’screation by examining the natural world or by the use of human reason. In this way, onediscovers God’s design for the way things are supposed to be by examining what is builtinto creation; this is often referred to as “natural law.” For example, one can know bymeans of reason and observation that murder is wrong or that a broken bone is bad andnot the way it is supposed to be. Conversely, one might come to know that feeding thehomeless is good, and loving one’s spouse is right. One does not need to be religious oreven believe in God to be able to know propositions of “natural law.” Nevertheless, theChristian worldview holds that these truths are built into the world by God. Second,right or wrong can be discovered by reading the Bible or looking at the example of JesusChrist. The Bible reveals God’s commands and principles such as the TenCommandments or the teachings of Jesus on the sermon on the mount. In addition, theBible provides us with examples of virtuous people. The perfect man and moralexemplar (though much more than only a man and an exemplar) in the Christiantradition is Jesus Christ himself. The Christian is to not only obey God’s commands, butto be transformed into the kind of person that reflects the character of God. Jesus Christis the perfect representation of such a life; Christians, thus, ought to embody the virtuesand character of Jesus himself. The attaining of these virtues will not only be a matter ofintellectual knowledge of right and wrong, but an active surrender and transformationby means of God’s own Holy Spirit. The wisdom to navigate all the complexities ofethical decision-making will be a consequence of a person’s character and the activeguidance of the Holy Spirit.Knowledge of God, Knowledge of EthicsA key component of the foundations of Christian spirituality and ethics as describedabove is the view that people can have genuine knowledge of God and knowledge ofright and wrong. A few observations about the word knowledge need to be considered.First, by knowledge we mean the opposite of mere opinion. Knowledge is more than justan educated guess; it is being in touch with the real world as it really is. Thus, knowledgein this sense is not merely subjective, but is rather an objective description of reality. Forexample, the proposition “the earth is round” is an objectively true description of reality,even if some people happen to subjectively deny that the earth is round. Subjectivebeliefs may be true or false. What would make subjective beliefs true would be if theymatched the real objective world. Fundamentally, knowledge is the possession andawareness of truth.There are two philosophies, however, that stand in contrast to the Christian belief thatone can have knowledge of God and knowledge of right and wrong, namely scientismand postmodernism. These two philosophies are very influential in today’s society,although they are not compatible with the Christian worldview. It is important tounderstand these philosophies because not only are they not compatible with theChristian worldview, they arguably have negative effects on the practice of medicineand health care.ScientismAlthough the term scientism has the word science in it, it is crucial to recognize that (1)scientism is not the same thing as (2) science. In the Christian worldview, science is agreat and good thing. In fact, the Christian worldview has always encouraged carefulinvestigation of the natural world. In the Christian worldview, medical technology isconsidered a good gift from God insofar as God has created the kind of world that has astructure that can be discovered and manipulated to bring about the good of humanbeings (Rae & Cox, 1999). Scientism, however, is not compatible with the Christianworldview. Scientism is the belief that the best or only way to have any knowledge ofreality is by means of the sciences (Moreland & Craig, 2003, pp. 346-350). In otherwords, if something is not known scientifically then it is not known at all, and the onlyway to hold true beliefs about anything is to know them scientifically.That may sound reasonable and even commonsense, but there are two problems withscientism: (1) scientism is a self-refuting philosophy, and (2) science has clear limits.First, if the only way to have true beliefs is through science, then the thesis of scientismitself (“the only way to have any knowledge of the world”) could not be true because itcannot be proven scientifically. Thus, the thesis of scientism fails its own truth test.Scientism’s thesis is, in fact, a philosophical statement. Philosophers call suchpropositions self-refuting because they invalidate themselves by definition, similarly tosomeone claiming, “I cannot speak a word of English.”Second, while science is a powerful way of gaining knowledge of the natural world,science is limited and is not the only way of gaining knowledge. Consider the followingtwo limitations of science (though there are many others); science cannot tell usanything about (1) ethics or (2) how one ought to use the results of science (Universityof California Museum of Paleontology, n.d.). Science is wonderful and describes the waythings are, but it has no authority to tell us what we ought to do morally. Science cannottell me whether or not I ought to love my spouse, keep my promises, or give to thepoor. Even when it comes to ethical issues that involve science, science cannotdetermine what the right thing to do would be. For example, science might be able todescribe the nasty effects of a terminal disease on a person or explain the state of aperson’s brain if that person is in a vegetative state. However, science cannot determinewhether euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is good, bad, right, or wrong. Sciencealso cannot determine how scientific data and results ought to be used. Science mightenable the discovery of chemical processes or structures, but should the results be usedfor creating biotechnology to engineer human DNA? Should the results of scientificresearch be used to create bioweapons for military purposes? Such questions arebeyond the bounds of what science can answer. Remember scientism is NOT science; itis a philosophical thesis that claims that science is the only methodology to gainknowledge and that every other claim to knowledge is either mere opinion or false.However, as Nicholas Rescher remarks, “to take this stance [of scientism] is not tocelebrate science but to distort it” (as cited in Moreland & Craig, 2003).Postmodern RelativismPostmodernism is a broad philosophical position that claims that there is no such thingas truth or an objective reality that can be known. A common way in whichpostmodernism is expressed is through a view called relativism. Relativism is the viewthat there is no such thing as truth in the common sense of that concept. Every claimabout the nature of reality is simply relative to either an individual or a society/culture.Another way to put this is to say that truth is invented by people (whether it isindividuals or entire societies) instead of being discovered. According to this way ofthinking, there is not genuine truth to be had or known, only subjective opinions orbeliefs. While certain questions are no doubt matters of subjective opinion, such as“what is the best flavor of ice cream?” or “what is the proper way to shake hands?” notall questions are. This is most clearly seen when we consider moral or ethicalpropositions about right or wrong. It would be a serious mistake to claim that thepropositions “murder is wrong” or “racism is evil” are mere subjective matters ofopinion. However, that is what relativism implies. If all truth including morality is simplya human invention, then there is no standard for genuine truth, and it follows that thereis no genuine right or wrong. However, this is certainly false. Whether or not the Naziparty, made up of thousands of individuals, believed that killing 6 million Jews was agood thing, we have to say without any hesitation that they were genuinely wrong. Butit is not possible to be wrong unless there is genuine objective truth to be known.Both scientism and postmodern relativism are incompatible with the foundations ofChristian spirituality and ethics. The Christian worldview holds science in high regard andaccepts it as one of the most powerful communal ways of obtaining knowledge aboutthe world. However, contrary to scientism, the Christian worldview does not acceptscience as the only way of knowing things about the world. Secondly, contrary topostmodern relativism, the Christian worldview holds that genuine objective knowledgeof God and of right and wrong is possible. It follows then that who God is and what isright and wrong are not merely matters of subjective opinion, but genuine truths to bediscovered.ConclusionThe foundations discussed above provide the framework for Christian ways of ethicaland spiritual decision-making in health care. It is important to understand therefore thatthe Christian way of ethical and spiritual decision-making is distinct from otherworldviews and is not the same as Buddhist, Muslim, or even atheist ways of ethical andspiritual decision-making. It is not fair or respectful to paint all religions or worldviewswith the same brush under the heading of “spirituality” and ignore the differences.Topic 2 will discuss a foundational principle to the practice of medicine and health care,as well as bioethics namely, the principle of respect for persons. The Christian worldviewgoes even further and states all human beings are made in the image of God andtherefore have intrinsic value and are worthy of dignity and respect.Topic 3 will discuss the field of bioethics and introduce some of the main methodologiesof ethical decision-making in health care. The focus in this section will be on themethodology called principlism which stresses the application of four moral principles toall ethical decisions in health care. Prinipalism will be used and interpreted in light of theChristian worldview and the overarching narrative presented in the Bible.Topic 4 will briefly introduce issues of death, dying, and grief. The focus will be onethical issues at the end of life and the Christian worldview regarding death in light ofthe biblical narrative and the hope of resurrection inaugurated by the person and workof Jesus Christ.Topic 5 will conclude with discussion about the facilitating of ethical and spiritualdecision-making for patients, and the practical application of the principles and toolsintroduced in this course.ReferencesCosgrove, M. P. (2006). Foundations of Christian thought: Faith, learning, and theChristian worldview. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel.Keller, T. (2012). Every good endeavor: Connecting your work to God’s work. New York,NY: Dutton.Moreland, J. P., & Craig, W. L. (2003). Philosophical foundations for a Christianworldview. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.Puchalski, C., Ferrell, B., Virani, R., Otis-Green, S., Baird, P., Bull, J., … Sulmasy D. (2009).Improving the quality of spiritual care as a dimension of palliative care: The report ofthe consensus conference. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 12(10), 885-904.Rae, Scott B., & Cox, P. M. (1999). Bioethics: A Christian approach in a pluralistic age.Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.University of California Museum of Paleontology. (n.d.). Science has limits: A few thingsthat science does not do. Retrieved from© 2019. Grand Canyon University. All Rights Reserved.
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