Finding our way back: fall, redemption, glorification

Fundamental to the historic, orthodox Christian faith (biblical theism) is the understanding that God created humanity in his own image. A related understanding is that what was given humanity at creation was in some way lost or at least greatly diminished as a consequence of the Fall. But the good news is that there is a solutionthere is a way back: redemption and ultimately glorification.

"Expulsion from the Garden of Eden" by Masaccio
(public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

In The Universe Next Door (5th edition, 2009), James W. Sire describes the consequences of the Fall and what God is doing to reverse its effects: 
Human beings were created good, but through the Fall the image of God became defaced, though not so ruined as not to be capable of restoration. Through the work of Christ, God redeemed humanity and began the process of restoring people to goodness, though any given person may choose to reject that redemption. (38-39)

Sire notes that by rebelling against God in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve "set themselves up as autonomous beings, arbiters of their own way of life" (39). The result was death for Adam and Evea death (way of death) that spread to all humankind, leading to "long centuries of personal, social and natural turmoil" (39). 

Sire describes in detail his understanding of what happened to our humanity (as originally created in God's image) in the Fall. He notes generally that our humanity was "defaced in all its aspects," then gives illustrative specifics. What follows is my paraphrase of what he writes on pp.39-40 concerning how fundemental aspects of our humanity were defaced by the Fall:

  • Personality. We humans lost our capacity to know ourselves accurately, thus losing the ability to determine our own course of action freely in response to our God-given intelligence.
  • Self-transcendence. In the Fall we slipped from close fellowship with God, the ultimate transcendent One. As a result, we lost our ability to stand over against the external universe, understand it, judge it accuraely, and thus make truly "free" decisions. We became more servants to nature than to God.
  • Intelligence. We lost a fully accurante knowledge of the world around us.
  • Morality. We became less able to discern good and evil and less able to live by the standards we do perceive.
  • Social capacity. We began to exploit other people.
  • Creativity. Our imagination became separated from reality. Imagination became illusion, and artists who created gods in their own image led humanity further and further from its origin.
Thankfully, despite being fallen beings, we humans are redeemable and God, in Christ, has provided a way back for usa way that includes our participation. Just as Adam and Eve were not forced by God to fall, God does not force us to return. 

Concerning that redemption, Sire writes that it involves restoration of the defaced image of God in us in all its aspects: personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, social capasity, and creativity. The ultimate result of his redemption (healing/restoration) is glorification. Sire comments:

Glorified humanity is humanity totally healed and at peace with God, and individuals at peace with others and themselves. But this happens only on the other side of death and the bodily resurrection, the importance of which is stressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. Individual people are so important that they retain uniquenessa personal and individual existenceforever. Glorfied humanity is humanity transformed into a purfied personality in fellowship with God and God's people. In short, in theism human beings are seen as significant because they are essentially godlike and though fallen can be restored to original dignity.