The Garbage and Glory of the Universe

Blaise Pascal, theologian from the 1600’s, captured in his writings the paradox of being an image-bearer and a sinner in a cursed world. Look at what he says.

What sort of freak then is man!  How novel, how monstruous, how chaotic, how paradoxical, how prodigious!  Judge of all things, feeble earth-worm, repository of truth, sink of doubt and error, glory and refuse of the universe… Man’s greatness and wretchedness are so evident that the true religion must necessarily teach us that there is in man some great principle of greatness and some great principle of wretchedness! (Quoted in from Pascal’s Penseesin God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom[Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009], 53).

In other words, both realities exist side by side. The height from which we have fallen along with the damage of the fall point to the glory of a previous held position and the goodness of being a creature. Sin itself speaks of humanity’s glory.

Perversion has a way of pointing to what is pure—it points to what we were and what we can be again through Christ. The helpful truth of what Pascal is pointing to here is that we must always recognize this paradox in humanity. The paradox demands that all are treated with tremendous dignity and that all stand in need of tremendous grace.

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