Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Made in the Image of God: Part 2

Another detrimental experience to developing a healthy image of God is the teaching of ‘worm theology’. I am including an article that I wrote on this subject for the Lenten Season, 2014: Day 4 of Lent, Saturday, March 8th/14
By Elizabeth J Hayduk

I’ve been contemplating the source and the detrimental effects of ‘worm theology’ (WT). In my research, I have discovered that there are two common sources to which people attribute the origin and development of WT.

The first common source is believed to have stemmed from King David’s statement in Psalm 22:6, where he says, “But I am like a worm instead of a man. People make fun of me and hate me.” (New Century Version) However, Psalm 22 is deemed to be a Messianic Psalm, which means that it is a psalm, which prophetically spoke of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. So does this mean that Jesus saw Himself as a worm? Coffman, a Bible commentator, notes that, the phrase, "… I am a worm" does not reflect Jesus’ perception of Himself. Rather, he points out that, “Jesus is not speaking here of his own estimate of his own true importance and worth, but of the estimate that his enemies have made concerning him, as proved by the second half of the verse.”He is despised (as men despise a worm) and is not recognized by his contemporaries as a human being with rights." [Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible
http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi…]

The second common source of WT arises from a line in an old hymn by Isaac Watts, called, “Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed”. The line says, “Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” Those who follow this line of reasoning believe that God will treat them more favourably if they have low or non-existent self-worth. There seems to be some confusion between humility and lack of self-worth, with the former being of value and the latter being ‘sinful’. In fact, these terms are often used interchangeably, when their meanings are distinct. Humility means having a realistic view or evaluation of one’s self. A humble individual doesn’t boast about their achievements. Self-worth encompasses a sense of our own value, our worth as a person.
Paul Coughlin, a Crosswalk.com Contributor, has written an article on, “The Dangers of Raising Kids with 'Worm Theology' “[http://www.christianity.com/11581535/]. This thoughtful expose notes that, “Many were told as kids that they are worthless in and of themselves—that they possess no inherent value, even though the Bible says that all people are created in God’s image, endowing them with innate value and worth. Making matters worse is that people who come from tough childhood experiences such as abuse and neglect have what a counselor friend calls "shame Velcro." They are actually attracted to systems of belief that demean them.”

Children develop their image of God based on their interactions and images of their parents. Many parents want to ensure that their offspring will not be obnoxious or boastful, but that they will be good citizens, fitting well into society. (Of course, they don’t want to be embarrassed by their children, either.) In fact, many parents have used the phrase, “I’ll take you down a peg or two”, which is a way of humiliating their children to “put them in their place”. But what happens if the child gets to the last peg? And what image of God is being formed in their children’s hearts and minds?

urthermore, what happens to adults who have grown up with WT? When depressed or feeling low, it’s easy to berate ourselves, maybe to even call ourselves names. Insecurities rise, any confidence may evaporate, and questioning God’s love becomes the focus. Nor is it easy to recover from the detrimental practices that stem from WT.

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer,
Canada

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