Who is man, what is his nature and what is due him and His creator?
Miss Rosalie J. Slater in Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, her guide to The Principle Approach™ to education, defined seven principles of America’s Christian history and government. The first principle, God’s Principle of Individuality, is primary as it deals with the nature of man, his relationship to God and his relationships to his fellow men.
All of creation, through its beauty, complexity, and diversity with unity reveal the nature and character of God (Romans 1:20.) The Genesis account reveals a God who begins with nothing and creates a universe with incredible variety, yet never repeats itself. A world where from the beginning of time every snowflake which has fallen is unique. This pattern repeats itself throughout creation, a pattern of physical diversity yet unity. Like the snowflake, God made each individual like no other, each has a unique fingerprint, profile, scent and shape. Yet, as human beings we have a unity, a oneness. Man is unique in creation in that when God created the physical world around us, he determined it “was good,” after creating man in His own image, He proclaimed that it “was very good,” thus man (and woman), individually made in the image of God, revealing some of the nature of God, has great value and worth.
While, each individual, has distinct physical characteristics, we are also diverse in our inner qualities, those things which make up the intellect, ideas, motives, opinions, creative abilities, and character. Although the things which are easily evident about an individual are external, how we look, our demeanor, our gestures, and our actions; it is the internal things which are most important. The internal causes or dictates the external.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” -Proverbs 4:23
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he...” -Proverbs 23:7
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” -Matthew 15:18
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks -Luke 6:45
It is important to teaching our youth the importance or preeminence of the internal qualities, such as, character, temper, will, and conscience. Noah Webster in his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, indicated that, “Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. ”God’s Word instructs us to renew our minds, this renewing of our minds, adopting the mind of Christ, will lead to external actions which comport to the will of God as revealed in the scriptures. Webster went on to say that “to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.” Secular society teaches that value lies in the externals, upon physical appearance, upon athletic prowess, upon status or money. God’s Word teaches that those internal qualities, such as, character, honesty, integrity and a clear conscience are to be valued.
God creates each individual with unique gifts and talents, equipping each for varying tasks in order to meet the needs of the community around them. In 1 Corinthians 12 we are taught that there are many gifts but the same Spirit; members of the Body of Christ have been given diverse or varied gifts, but the same Spirit. God equips us differently (often in ways we do not understand) to work for the common good of His body.
The Christian view of individuality acknowledges that as God is our creator; we, His image bearers, have a duty to Him. That duty is to consent, of our own free will, to be governed by Him, to obey His commands and will for our lives. This view also acknowledges that we will be judged by how well we keep the Great Commandments; by how well we honor our duty to God and to our fellow man.
Societies which adopt the Christian view of man or individuality will have a different view of God’s role in society, the value of the individual, and how men should order their lives in relation to each other, then societies which adopt a naturalistic or humanistic view of man. A Christian view of man acknowledges that all men have a duty to God; that all men are equal before God; and that as image bearers of God, society should protect the individual. In these societies the individual is superior to the state, power is vested within the individual, and the purpose of government is to protect the life, liberty and property of the individual.
History teaches that societies which adopt a naturalist or humanistic view of man tend not to place the same value upon the individual, they often assume the natural inequality of man. Civil government becomes superior to the individual, decisions are made based upon what is best for the collective, or ruling class, rather than protecting the rights of the individual or minority.
We must individually follow the great commandments, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.”