"Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views
which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke
and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books. Hence,
instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm." - (Emerson The American
DESTINY JANUARY 1995
The Destiny of Man
Jack D. Zwemer
MAN IS NOT DESTINED to achieve
"singularity" or "oneness"--that is, to absorb deity or be absorbed by
deity. Man is not destined to become a demigod or demiurge (a lesser god).
Man is not destined to endure repeated or cyclical reincarnations. Nor is
man destined for extinction or oblivion. Rather, through the presence of
the risen Christ, man is destined to become truly and fully human in
collegial fellowship with the human God and in relationship with all other
human beings, with oneself and with the universe. As Jesus declared, "No
longer do I call you servants, . . . but I have called you friends" (John
From the "beginning" God's
purpose in creation has been to attain this destiny for his intended
humanity. God's concern, therefore, is for the 11 other." Because of his
concern for the "other," God himself is not the universe, nor is the
universe God. God does not imprison the universe, nor does the universe
imprison God. Some primal "essence" or substance is not the universe,
A generation ago R. C.
Mortimer, the former Lord Bishop of Exeter, addressed the destiny of man in
his book entitled The Elements of Moral Theology. In the
first chapter, "The End of Man," he stated:
We shall have a better idea of
what man is, when we know why he is. Our first business, therefore, is to
consider the end of man, or the reason why he was created....
It is ... of the utmost
importance to us in the ordering of our lives to know what is man's true
All religion, culture and
civilization are grounded in a perception of mankind's future. The past and
present have significance only in relation to that future. Our universe,
our world, our fellows, ourselves and even God have no meaning for us apart
from our future. Then how important it is, in all these relationships, to
discern our end!
nor is the universe some primal "essence." "Nothing" is not the universe,
nor is the universe "nothing." Rather, in the beginning of the age-long
process of creation, God's command formed time and space out of nothing (creatio
ex nihilo). He then arranged for cosmic time and space, as the "other,"
to respond to his command with the emergence of matter and energy, form and
structure (creatio continua). In time and space God again spoke,
bringing forth life (creatio vivificatio). He then arranged
for life to respond to his command through the process of emergent evolution
(creatio continua). It is thus that the cosmos was formed and
continues to expand. The formation of stars and planets included Earth,
which provided a home for innumerable living forms--microbial, plant and
The Role and Limitations of Law in Creation
God has always been
present in effecting his creative purposes. However, in order to
preserve the integrity of the "other," that presence is not
"immediate." Rather, it has been mediated. God has always
employed the mediatorial instrument of natural law - physical,
chemical and biological to govern energy, matter and life.
The laws which God
himself created and ordained have been essential to the emergence
and preservation of natural reality. They have provided stability
and boundaries for physical, chemical and biological entities.
Nevertheless, because even God's laws are "creatures" and are
imposed commands, they have limitations:
1. Laws are
commands directed to another, duties imposed on the other,
requirements of obedience from the other. Because of this, laws
inevitably generate a relationship of domination and submission.
Ultimately, therefore, law is predatory. Under the administration
of law there is no escape from predation, for legal justice always
involves domination by one party and submission by the other.
Because it thus generates alienation, law can suffice only for an
inanimate world and for a world of prehuman life.
themselves cannot confer or evoke positive aims or purposes.
Moreover, laws cannot produce creativity in the sense of
self-determination or final causation.
With no final
causation toward some ideal possibility, no role exists for ideals,
possibilities, norms, or values to play... With no
self-determination aimed at the realization of ideals, no value can
therefore, laws are incapable of conveying purpose, freedom,
responsibility, value or meaning to life.
3. Law is
command, but human personhood is not commandable.3 Is
human personhood therefore "antinomian"--that is, against law and
its administration? No! Rather, human personhood transcends law.
Personhood exists in a realm above and beyond the commands, demands
and consequences of law. In this realm personhood takes precedence
We have seen that law
is limited. It is predatory, requiring both domination and
submission and generating alienation. It cannot confer purpose,
value or meaning. Finally, it does not reach to the domain of human
personhood. Personhood is not predatory. Its relationships with
others are not those of domination and submission but of faith, hope
and compassion. Thus, human personhood is not commendable but
creative. It is characterized by purpose, freedom, responsibility,
value and meaning. In light of personhood, the limitations of law
have profound implications for humanity today.
Implications of the
Limitations of Law
We must conclude that
law cannot be the vehicle by which man is able to reach his human
destiny. Obedience to law is essential to the operation of the
universe and to the existence of the inanimate world and prehuman
life. But law cannot extend to the emergence of human personhood.
Law is thus wholly incapable of helping man to reach his final
destiny with God, others, himself and the universe.
For those longing for
humanity - for human personhood - it is therefore critically
important to reexamine our religious presuppositions. If the
purpose of religion is to unite man with God, then obedience to law
as the means to such union must be explored in light of the
limitations of law.
No law - natural,
positive, moral or otherwise - and no obedience to law are capable of
conferring humanity upon mankind. No external law, internal law,
autonomous (self-contained) law, "self-evident" law, rational law or
irrational law can elevate mankind to human personhood. In this regard
the fundamental presuppositions of Judeo-Christianity for the last 4,000
years are faulty. Let us be clear. Obedience to law with or without
ritual, with or without sacrament, with or without Christ, with or
without mediation, is incapable of elevating mankind to true humanity.
Law has an essential role
in ordering the universe. It occupies an essential place in sustaining
prehuman fife. Law and obedience to law are necessary in the
transitional period of man's emergence and transformation from animal to
human. But to interpose law and obedience to law between man and his
destined humanity is to interpose an insurmountable obstacle. The stark
reality is that this is the ultimate delusion, the ultimate "antiChrist."
Law and the mediation of
law in the presence of God are essential to nonlife and to prehuman
life. But law and the mediation of law are obstacles to the realization
of humanity It is supremely for this reason that God acted to become the
incarnate Christ. It is for this reason that he was made "under the
law" (Gal. 4:4). It is for this reason that he transcended the dominion
of law. It is for this reason that he became "the end of the law for
righteousness" (Rom. 10:4). God is now ultimately present to man, not
as a commanding legal presence, but as an invitational personal presence
(Matt. 11:28-30; Rev. 3:20). Through this new mediatorial presence he
longs for us to accept humanity, to embrace personhood, to rejoice in
faith, hope and compassion, to enjoy meaning, value and purpose in
life. The time for the disclosure of our humanity is at hand.
Man (male and female)
is destined for fellowship with the human God, with all others, with
himself and with the universe. This destiny was discerned by God from
the beginning of creation.
God has employed and
necessarily maintained law as the mediator of his presence for the
creation and integrity of the universe and of prehuman life. Yet law
cannot reach to human personhood. In the realm of human personhood law
can only generate predatory domination, submission and resulting
alienation. It can only perpetuate restriction, purposelessness,
meaninglessness and valuelessness. Because of the limitations of law,
God condescended, as Jesus Christ, to establish human personhood so that
he might become the Mediator of personhood in relationship with mankind.
The time has fully come
for man to go beyond the legal barriers which bind him to a prehuman
state. The time has come for mankind to discern the mediatorial
presence of the risen Christ. Indeed, the time has come for us to
welcome his invitation to our imminent destiny - the freedom to be truly
and fully human. §
1. R. C Mortimer,
The End of Man, in The Elements of Moral Theology (New
York: Harper & Brothers, 1947), pp. 1-6.
2. David Ray Griffin, The Reenchantment of Science:
Postmodern Proposals (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New
York Press, 1988), p. 2.
3. See Viktor E. Frankl, The Unconscious God: Psychotherapy
and Theology (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1975).