February 20, 2015
Sir John Newton, famous Christian hymn writers, was a slave trader. He wrote “How sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” and “Amazing Grace.” The name of one of the most famous British slave vessels was “Jesus.” The Christian Church quoting apostle Paul gave sanctioned to the global industry of slavery. After slavery, Blacks lived in absolute terror in which they were segregate, burned, and lynched by Christians. During Jim Crow, it wasn’t unusual to see a Sunday service interrupted so that clergy and members of the church could join a mob attack against Blacks. When the punishment had been enacted, usually the death of a Black man, the participants would return back to church and resume their worship of a white God. When Blacks demanded civil and equal rights and/or reparations for the pain and struggles that are clearly documented it was Christians who opposed this with all their power and influence.
The Creator (God) made man in His own image, it wasn’t anything physical but it was that man has the ability to emulate a will similar to God’s will. Of all the creatures created by the Creator (God), only the human has the ability to implement his will freely. Man, possesses a mind, a heart, and a will. The mind, or intellect, allows him to think rationally, not by sheer instinct like an animal. The heart, or emotion, enables him to feel, unlike a robot or machine, human experience. The will, enables him to make decisions and choices that have “real” consequences. It is his capacity for action, a capacity that allows him to choose this over that and those instead of these (free will). The humans have the ability to make certain choices on their own (i.e. free from compulsion, force, or coercion). Those choices are extremely compromised when he doesn’t know his purpose in life set forth by the Creator.
For example, humans have the ability to choose to go to the store or stay home, to buy a newspaper or not, to eat beef or to eat fish, etc.; such choices are within the natural capacity of human beings. People are free to act according to their nature. People are not free to act contrary to their nature. I cannot choose to fly. Yes, I can choose to travel by airplane, but I cannot choose to sprout wings or become a bird. My will, you see, is not entirely free. It is bound by the limits of my nature. We do not have the freedom to be anything we are not. Man, in other words, is not free to act outside the boundaries of his human nature. He cannot live the life of a fish in the ocean or fly like a bird in the air without external resources enabling him to manipulate his natural environment. Just as that is true on a natural level, it is also true on a spiritual level he is not free to associate himself with the Creator (God) he is a member of Creation. There is the Creator and there is Creation and the two shall never be combined.
The God likeness is also linked to man’s intellect. God has endowed man with intellectual ability, which is far superior to that of any animal. Man was given a mind capable of hearing and understanding at a very high level, intellectual emotions capable of responding to humanity in love and devotion, and a will, which enables him to make choices. Man has been equipped, not only to love the Creator, but also to be the sovereign vice agent of the earth. Like the Creator, man’s intellectual gifts are further seen in his ability to design things and then make them, to appreciate beauty, to compose glorious music, to paint pictures, to write, to count to large numbers and do mathematics, to control and use energy for his own benefit (e.g. fire, electricity, nuclear power), to organize, to reason, to make decisions, to be self-conscious, to laugh at himself, and to think abstractly. All this behavior is non-instinctive, as distinct from animal behavior, and as such it is of unlimited variety.
In my next article I will discuss how and why human beings are described as the caretaker for all of Creation and are prepared to be the world’s custodian when man knows “how” he is made in God’s likeness.
Rahim Islam is President/CEO of Universal Companies, one of the largest African-American led businesses in Philadelphia, employing nearly 650 professionals across disciplines such as education, real estate, community development, social work, technology, finance, and preventive health. He has been at the forefront of resolving many of the community and social issues facing Philadelphians and currently works directly with a number of organizations in the areas of childcare, youth and recreation programs, drug and alcohol prevention, faith based efforts, block associations, political activity, and k-12 education. He can be reached through his website, www.universalcompanies.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rahimislamuc and Rahim Islam on Facebook.