From the 2019/2020 Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh
In God’s Image describes how centering our culture on the human and divine spirit can revitalize four universally acknowledged characteristics of a thriving human existence: justice, freedom, truth, and peace. Inspired not only by religious sources but also by scientists, philosophers, economists, and legal and political theorists, Michael Welker develops the idea of a “multimodal” spirit that generates the possibility of living and acting in the image of God.
Welker’s new approach to natural theology explains why the human and the divine spirit cannot adequately be grasped in simple bipolar relations and why the human spirit should not be reduced to the rational mind. Addressing the question What is the calling of human beings? in the context of late-modern pluralistic societies, he aims at explaining to believers and nonbelievers alike what it means to be persons created in the image of God, moved by a spirit of justice, freedom, truth, and peace.
Table of Contents
Preface 1. Lecture 1: The Breadth and Abysses of Human Existence 2. Lecture 2: Human Spirit and Divine Spirit 3. Lecture 3: Called to Justice 4. Lecture 4: Called to Freedom 5. Lecture 5: Called to Truth 6. Lecture 6: Called to Peace
Michael Welker is senior professor at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and executive director of the Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology. He is the author or editor of dozens of books, including God the Spirit, The Work of the Spirit, God the Revealed, Creation and Reality, What Happens in Holy Communion?, and The Depth of the Human Person.
“In this published version of his 2019 Gifford Lectures, Michael Welker develops a natural theology that discerns the activity of the divine Spirit in human culture. Though embattled, the Spirit is constantly at work in movements that incline toward justice, peace, freedom, and truth. Drawing upon his rich experience of interdisciplinary conversation, Welker develops an impressively flexible, dynamic, and historical approach. With its expanded notion of natural theology and capacious doctrine of the Spirit, this is set to become a landmark study in the field.” — David Fergusson University of Edinburgh
“Welker offers us a truly embodied vision of the human spirit as it reaches for God, but he does so from the context of what various disciplines tell us about the complex dangers and possibilities of life as it is actually lived. He has made natural theology an engaging topic of interest again.” — Frank D. Macchia Vanguard University of Southern California
“This is vintage Welker—wonderful to read! Those who know his work will recognize the ripened fruit of familiar convictions, insights, and trajectories. At the same time, they may be pleasantly surprised. Welker offers an innovative natural theology by way of ‘bottom-up thinking,’ arguing that popular views of humanity as the image of God are hardly convincing, given the abysses of the human spirit that are so painfully obvious in our time. Instead, he argues that being in the image of God means being called to justice, freedom, truth, and peace—thus growing into the image of God.” — Dirk J. Smit Princeton Theological Seminary
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