God, Freedom & Human Dignity: Embracing a God-Centered Identity in a Me-Centered Culture

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9780830827114: God, Freedom & Human Dignity: Embracing a God-Centered Identity in a Me-Centered Culture
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Does God's all-encompassing will restrict our freedom? Does God's ownership and mastery over us diminish our dignity?
The fear that God is a threat to our freedom and dignity goes far back in Western thought. Such suspicion remains with us today in our so-called secular society. In such a context any talk of God tends to provoke responses that range from defiance to subservience to indifference. How did Western culture come to this place? What impact does this social and intellectual environment have on those who claim to believe in God or more specifically in the Christian God of the Bible?
Professor of religion Ron Highfield traces out the development of Western thought that has led us our current frame of mind from Plato, Augustine and Descartes through Locke, Kant, Blake Bentham, Hegel, Nietzsche--all the way down to Charles Taylor's landmark work Sources of the Self. At the heart of the issue is the modern notion of the autonomous self and the inevitable crisis it provokes for a view of human identity, freedom and dignity found in God. Can the modern self really secure its own freedom, dignity and happiness? What alternative do we have? Highfield makes pertinent use of trinitarian theology to show how genuine Christian faith responds to this challenge by directing us to a God who is not in competition with his human creations, but rather who provides us with what we seek but could never give ourselves.
God, Freedom and Human Dignity is essential reading for Christian students who are interested in the debates around secularism, modernity and identity formation.

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"For some people, God is far from being a solution to life. He is the problem. For how can I be a free, morally responsible agent if God ordains and orders the world? And what is the place of human dignity in a creation saturated with the presence of God? In this accessible and readable book, Ron Highfield engages with a host of thinkers in the history of ideas to show how we need to reorient ourselves from being 'me centered' to being 'God centered.' Only then, he argues, can we leave behind competitive views of our relationship to the Deity, in order to understand the dignity and freedom God bestows upon us as creatures."--Oliver D. Crisp, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Humans have great dignity. Yet from where does it come? How is it sustained and protected amidst the turbulence of life and ever-changing opinions? In Ron Highfield's philosophically informed meditation, he reminds us that a 'God-centered' identity is the only secure basis for our dignity. We are never as truly free, safe and whole as we are when we rest in the self-giving God of the gospel."--Kelly M. Kapic, Covenant College

"In this fine book Ron Highfield exposes the false advertising of those who call us to find true freedom and dignity apart from an obedient relationship to our Maker. And he does it with philosophical and theological savvy, charting the complex course that has gotten us to the delusions of 'modern selfhood'--delusions that can only be cured by accepting the promises of the gospel."--Richard Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Henri Nouwen claimed that the most important question anyone asks is 'Who am I?' In a world where we define ourselves by performance, conformity and image, competing with one another and relying on the blessing of others to discover and live out of a healthy sense of self, Ron Highfield reminds us that it is when we embrace God's invitation that 'we become truly ourselves and live life to the full.' Dr. Highfield's solid scholarship, theological depth and inviting style allow us to wrestle honestly with the nature of God's love as we seek to be released from the bondage of the false, 'me-centered self.' We've needed this book for a long time, but it's been worth the wait."--Chap Clark, Fuller Theological Seminary Chap Clark, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Proceeding from the axiom that genuine self-understanding requires a true understanding of the self, Ron Highfield shows how popular, modern notions of the self fail in this regard, because they construct freedom, knowledge and power in human terms and therefore in competition with God. To overcome this narrow, idolatrous image of both God and humanity, Highfield first deconstructs the modern self and then recovers the older, more profound, biblical, trinitarian understanding of human identity as grounded in God's love for humanity. Drawing with equal facility from theological sources both ancient and modern, the author unfolds a beautiful vision of human dignity, freedom, will and morality as participation in Christ, the true image of God and founder of our true humanity."--Jens Zimmermann, Trinity Western University

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