God, Freedom and Human Dignity: Embracing a God-Centered Identity in a Me-Centered Culture by Ron Highfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book makes an important contention regarding the questions of human freedom and dignity: our efforts to source our dignity and freedom within ourselves, far from enhancing our dignity and freedom, will invariably undercut our identity. Likewise, far from diminishing our dignity, to love and trust the Triune, self-giving God leads to the fullest expression of our humanness, imaging God in the very ways this occurred in the incarnation of the son, whose deity is in no ways diminished by his humanity, nor his humanity in any sense diminished by his deity.
As you can tell from this summary, there is much careful thought and argument to be found in this book. The first part of the book explores the “me-centered” self and how this arose in western thought. In relation to God, this self alternates between Promethean defiance, sullen subservience, or indifference. God is a rival in a zero-sum game whose omnipotence is to be feared and competed with, and whose omnipresence creates in one a source of dread. Yet the challenge of such a self is emptiness and aloneness–any being is in fact a threat to its supremacy.
Much of the second half of the book dispels misconceptions about God that lays the groundwork for a God-centered self. For example, Highfield notes that God doesn’t have power but IS power and thus to grant us power doesn’t diminish God but only enhances us. Perhaps the high point for me was the discussion of the self-giving love of the triune God for each other and the fact that we are loved as greatly in Christ as Christ is himself by the Father.
This is a rich book worthy of being read slowly and reflected upon. I’ve chosen to simply outline some of the main contours of the writer’s argument because to fully do it justice would require a much longer or review. Instead, I would simply commend reading the book itself!