In His Image
Dr Paul Brand & Philip Yancy
Zondervan Publishing House,
Having reviewed Fearfully and Wonderfully Made recently I couldn’t resist offering a review of its companion volume, In His Image. I wanted to read the second book for the satisfaction of getting the full picture that the authors desired to present. So here it is: a further expose on the Body of Christ via dissection and description of the human body.
In His Image attempts more specifically to account for the relationship we have with God as His people through detailing the dynamic processes of the body – its circulatory system, the function of the brain and the central nervous system. The emphasis is on the connectivity that exists within the body, that mysterious relational force that yields life. The authors thrill us with same fascinating combination of scientific information and anecdotal experiences in the laboratory, hospital and mission field as in their first book. But in this one they seem more intent on drawing out the theological implications of what it means for us to bear the image of God. For God is spirit, so how is it possible for Him to express an "image" of Himself?
The answer that the book gives is that God does indeed give His likeness to us. We know what it is because it is exemplified by the humility, servanthood and love of the incarnate Christ. It is a likeness that the church, His Body, is called to show to the world. If this book does nothing more than return us to a correct understanding of what it means to bear God’s image it would have accomplished its purpose. For it makes a strong plea to readers to look beyond the physical and material facade of the body to the spirit that is behind it. And because many of the stories in the book deal with the diseased, deformed and despised and their heartbreaking struggle for acceptance and love the book challenges us to respond to the needs of the world with the image of God that Christ has restored in us.
In order for the human body to function as it should all of its biological processes need to be in place. By describing both the healthy and dysfunctional states of these processes the authors illustrate the corresponding states of the Body of Christ. Just as the human body is sustained by blood, whose function is to give life, to cleanse and to overcome threats to its well-being, so too the Church depends on the blood of Christ for its health. In a marvellous illustration of the way blood cleanses the body of its toxins and overcomes the invasion of harmful, alien microbes that bring disease, the authors portray the power of Christ’s blood which cleanses us of sin and helps us overcome temptation. The marvel of the body’s faculties of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell is possible only because of their connection to the brain which is the source of all reality for the living person. So too the Church’s response to the headship of Christ has to be one of obedience and dependence.
A most useful analogy in the book is the comparison made between the nervous system and the work of the Holy Spirit. Firstly, there is the importance of breathing for without oxygen the body will die in five minutes. Next, the cells live in co-operation and connection with each other producing every essential action necessary to keep the body vitally alive. They serve one another; they maintain a state of homeostasis, they heal the body. In much the same way, the presence of the Holy Spirit enables the individual members of the Body of Christ to work in unity, to follow its direction and to maintain a state of vitality. Lastly, just as the human body depends on the sensation of pain to alert itself to danger and disease, so the Body of Christ needs to be sensitive to the pain of the suffering world.
The book ends with a poignant contemplation of the destroyed hands of Christ on the Cross. Poignant because restoring diseased hands was Paul Brand’s medical speciality. He wants us to make no mistake that Christ identified in the fullest sense with the pain of humanity. If His Body were to bear His image it has to identify just as fully with the suffering of all men.
The impact of In His Image lies, not with the verve of theological argument for analogies will always have their limitations, but with its deeply moving commitment to help us see with new eyes the miracle of the life that is in us. And it valiantly communicates to us that same awe for Body of Christ of which we are a part.
Chapel on 26 July 2006 by Mr Chris Chin
The Day the Sun Stood Still (Josh 10:10-13): A Scientific Explanation?
Chris explores various theories and proposes that the most elegant among them is that by meteorologist Camuffo: given the unusual atmospheric conditions following a hailstorm, and the relative position of the Israelites, the Israelites would have witnessed first an inferior mirage, then a superior mirage, with the net effect of the sun being optically refracted upwards by a difference of two solar diameters. The fact that the Josh 10 account conforms accurately to expected meteorological effects, recorded by someone who would not have known about superior mirages in the first place, is good testimony to its veracity. A miracle is no less a miracle when the means is "natural" – the rarity (a hailstorm in summer!?), location (over the Amorite army) and timing (the Amorites were getting out of reach) of the event are more than sufficient. The verses in the original Hebrew can be consistent with this explanation. This has profound implications for those who dismiss the account as unbelievable myth. But equally, it has implications for believers who eschew scientific investigations in favour of blind faith. We do not have to be afraid of science. Who are the Galileos, the Copernicuses of today? Perhaps a better way is a more informed, and hence more mature, faith, a faith that is prepared to interface intelligently with the world around us. After all, we no longer live in the Bronze Age nor the Middle Ages. Finally, the Church needs more people like Camuffo, who are laity, but use their expertise to contribute in unexpected ways that only laity can – this should be an encouragement to BGST to persevere in its mission.
There is no chapel service next Wednesday, August 9, as it is a public holiday (National Day). Chapel speaker on August 16 will be Dr Tan Lai Yong.
Closure for Public Holiday. BGST Library and Offices will be closed next Wednesday, Aug 9, for the National Day. However, TS101 tutorial class will be on as usual.
New courses in August/September. We invite you to consider taking the following courses, venue: 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd:
Visit our website for the course descriptions.
Ms Esther Ong 8/8
Ms Joyce Wee 9/8
Ms Teoh Cheng Ping 10/8
Dr Aquila Lee 10/8
Mr David Leong 10/8
Mr Ong Teck Chye 10/8
Ms Tan Lay Yim 10/8
Ms Daisy Sim 11/8
Mr Ong Hock Chye 11/8