Monday, September 25, 2006

embracing grace 4: cracked Eikons

Along with the beauty and wonder of us Eikons, reflecting the image and glory of God in our original creation, and especially in the new creation in Christ, there is another equally important truth. We are cracked. Cracked Eikons.

In western theology this means we're "fallen" in the sense of loss (like "Humpty-Dumpty" who had the great fall, and could not be put back together again). The Eastern Orthodox theologian, Auxentios says, that it "was not a departure from an originally static and perfect nature; it was the interruption--the cessation of a priceless process." As Scot adds to that: "They were on their way and they got lost."

Scot recounts a story in his childhood, depicting his own crackedness in the throwing of snowballs at unsuspecting cars. We can all relate with stories from our own lives. That while there is much good, there is also something wrong at the core of who we are. Particularly in our relations to God, and to each other.

Of course this all started in the garden. This is when the "tohu va-bohu" (see Genesis 1:2: Hebrew; this means a mess) entered into the human race, and through that, into the world. The garden was gone. In its place would be a struggle, at the heart of which is disrupted relationships.

Sin, to be understood correctly is about violating relationships. Toward God, and toward other human beings. Jesus' teaching emphasizes this, as reflected in "the Jesus Creed". And in his instruction to the rich man. After naming the second part of the Ten Commandments- violations against other humans (the first being violations against God), Jesus adds the command from Leviticus: "and love your neighbor as yourself." Sin is not, at its heart law breaking. Certainly God is King. And humankind ought to obey their king. But more so, sin is relational. Our union with God is diminished, and obliterated. Our communion with each other is under strain, and involves struggle. As Scot puts it:
Union with God was weakened, communion with others was twisted, life became mortal, and the glory faded.
"Post-moderns" recognize this. They have a healthy scepticism about the goodness of humanity. There is more to it. Humanity is flawed. And their approach to life is measured in their view of politicians, religious leaders, and really everyone (themselves included).

Scot gives the interesting, and in some ways, inspiring story of Alexander Cruden, called "Alexander, the Corrector". He was a person who was devout towards God, but cracked in his relations to humans. He got in trouble, but in the midst of that worked for years in compiling the first complete concordance of the Bible. As well as working for prison reform and against the practice of putting those considered ill according to society, into "madhouses".

Sin disrupts relationships across the board, but it also disrupts God's good creation. The garden is indeed, gone. The problem is not only relational with personal responsibility. But it is also systemic; the system is wrong. In the words of Cornelius Plantinga:
Sin is the disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony.
God is for shalom and therefore against sin....Sin is culpable shalom-breaking.
In sum, shalom is God's design for creation and redemption; sin is blamable human vandalism of these great realities and therefore an affront to their architect and builder.
Scot adds:
If Shalom is another term for the kingdom of God Jesus came to establish, then sin is anything that impedes the kingdom of God.
How do we view our sin and sinning? Do we see it as violating relationships? Or just as breaking a law (and getting caught and convicted)? How should this view of "cracked Eikons" help us? We conclude with Scot's words in his fine study guide of this book (there is also a helpful study guide to The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others):
Commit yourself to confessing your crackedness and to the plan of God to restore cracked Eikons.

(In this posting is a little more of my own interaction than usual, so hopefully there is not any misrepresentation of what Scot is saying in this chapter.)


L.L. Barkat said...

The other night I tried to grab something from the dish drainer... a glass dish fell off the top and smashed on the granite countertop. More than cracked, it was absolutely splintered.

I marvel that this is really more like our souls... not just cracked, but hopelessly splintered... yet, that God chooses to show his glory through us anyway... perhaps not so much in our ability to reflect it as in his ability to gather and mend us. And, how glorious is that...

Anonymous said...


Thanks. it reminds me of OT I class in seminary where the professor said that human beings were fashioned, as the Hebrew states, from a "clump" of ground, meaning that from the beginning, we were clods.

Ted Gossard said...


Thanks. Good analogy. If by faith we can just get our brokenness into God's hands, then he mends it, and even we begin to reflect his glory. To ourselves and to others.

Sometimes I'll take it back, if the trial seems severe enough. Than the glory is departed.

Ted Gossard said...

THEN the glory..... ha, ha.

Ted Gossard said...


Thanks. Yes, we're just jars of clay, to be sure. Amazing how God can fashion us as vessels for his honor and glory. Though cracked, as we are.

L.L. Barkat said...

Thought you might enjoy this... another take on the brokenness thing... Robinson's discussion from Common Grace on the quest for perfection (which is how some of us handle our brokenness).

"Most of our ventures at perfection hunt smaller game. The perfect family. The perfect job. The perfect spouse. Perfect children. Perfect yards or gardens. Perfect looks and perfect bodies. The game may be smaller, but the hunt is still costly. It requires that we surrender our humanity and that of those closest to us. Moreover, it separates us from our brokenness and the brokenness of humanity." (p46)

Ted Gossard said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ted Gossard said...


I like that. Really we need to "own" our crackedness. It is part of the real us, who we really are. And as we do that, people really can identify with us. And come to hopefully be followers of Jesus, as they see that is our passion, desire and endeavor- in life.

Thanks again.

(I ought always to preview my remarks.)

KM said...

Ted, you just said (and said well) precisely what I felt last night. While mishandling one of my relationships and feeling very much mishandled myself, I began reading an old book about the life of Jesus. One of the phrases that immediately jumped out at me from the page and had me cut and tearful was "self-sacrificial love" -- which is basically God's answer to our crackedness.

And, yes, when I think of shalom, I do think of it as you have said, as restorative and renewing, as the presence and process of peace, rather than just the absence of personal breaks or relational dischord. And that reminds me of another word, tikkun, I believe, which also speaks to a wholistic process of repairing and restoration.

Forgive my micro-ramble. I guess this is just my insight for the weekend. :smile: Thanks again. I'll be linking to this post, I think.

Ted Gossard said...


Good thought. Our lives certainly speak to us, loud and clear over the long haul, as we're listening.

Thanks, and thanks for sharing.