Friday, September 30, 2005

The Social Implications of Acknowledging God’s Paternity

Social Implications of Acknowledging God’s Paternity

Lactantius believes that the acknowledgement of God’s paternity radically affects social behavior. When a group recognizes that God is the Father of all and that all humans are spiritual brothers and sisters based on God’s imputation of soul and breath to every rational entity, then it becomes possible for shalom to prevail. Moreover, authentic equality obtains where the children of God live in harmony. Lactantius appears to be an egalitarian, in some ways. He professes that Christians are equals (i.e. spiritual brothers and sisters).[1] Hence, even if a believer’s social position is that of slave or one’s socio-economic status is marked by poverty and destitution, God’s adopted children still treat the poor and enslaved as spiritual brothers or sisters.[2] Only virtue brings it about that one Christian is more preeminent in God’s eyes than another follower of Christ is.[3] Spiritual equality (aequitas) exists because Christians worship God as Father: “Though we are therefore all equal in humility of spirit, free and slave, rich and poor, yet in God’s eyes we are distinguishable for virtue: the more just we are, the higher we stand with him.”[4]

[1] DI 5.15.2.

[2] DI 5.15.3.

[3] DI 5.14.4-5.

[4] DI 5.15.5.

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