Musings On the Divine Spark

     What is man?  A fair question.  Is man a beast?  An animal slightly elevated over the rest of the animals on this earth?  What exactly is the nature of the flesh that we live in (or is that “live as?”) In broader (multi-denominational) Christianity it seems there is a struggle even to find a near consensus.  In his best-selling novel “Killer Angels,” author Michael Shaara has a character say that men are, as the title of the book says, killer angels.  We have a “divine spark,” as the “idealest” Colonel Joshua Chamberlain says, remarking about how he knows that southern slaves are men just as much as their masters are.  He sees the “divine spark” in man.  On the other hand, Chamberlain’s father pointed out that if man is like an angel, as Shakespeare once wrote, he is akin to a murdering angel.  What does it mean, to have this divine spark, to be so like an angel, and yet be capable of being a killer angel?  What could having a divine spark and being a killer angel mean?
   
    To be sure, killer angels are not just a horror unimaginable, or something demonic and evil.  In Exodus 12, for example, the angel of the Lord brought death to the cruel.  But at the same time, is this truly what man is?  Is man a messenger of the Lord who does his bidding and distributes life and death as God sees fit?  Hardly.  In the novel itself, we see death being dealt by men, but these deaths are not ones that God sent his “killer angels” to deal.  These deaths are the result of men’s actions.  So men are hardly death-dealing messengers of God, as angels can be.
  
    Does Shaara’s character then mean that men are demons?  Angels turned to killing?  Fallen angels?  If this is the case, then this, too, is incorrect, for men are capable of both kindly acts and deeds of evil.  We are neither demons, nor angels.  So perhaps the term “killer angels” is one that does not describe us, which leaves us, thankfully, with the “divine spark” put forth by Chamberlain.  While Christians must obviously disagree that man is a killer angel, as discussed earlier, we must be something unique and set apart, hardly capable of comparison or analogy to angels, fallen or otherwise.  The term killer angel has been dealt with, but Shaara’s “divine spark” remains a part of what man is to the characters of this novel.  
   
    What is this Divine Spark?  It is not the mark of an angel, but the mark of a man.  It is how we know men from beast.  But in reality, what sets man apart from the rest of the animals?  Scripture tells us we are made in the Image of God, but what does that mean?  It is possible for a humanoid robot to look precisely like a human, to look like a reflection of the ‘image of God’ and yet it is not a man.  To begin, to be in the image of God, we must be.  We must ontologically exist.  We must have the nature of man, the flesh of man, the spirit of man.  But what is it about the flesh of man, the being of man, that gives him this divine spark?  It is simple.  An extremely simple six words that change everything.  Man’s flesh is in the Trinity.  Our very flesh, that which is our own, that which all men have in common, is also a part of the Trinity.  1 John 4:2 says that “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.”  Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven as a man.  He sits at the right hand of God in the flesh.  This is the divine spark.  It is not something we should boast of, for all men have it.  All men share their flesh with their God, whether they acknowledge him or not.  All men have this divine spark, the image of God, the flesh of the trinity, and this is what defines us, not as killer angels but as men.

   
   So, while we must disagree with the idea that we are somehow angelic and capable of murder, (we must object, on the side to the seeming equivocation within the novel of murder and killing) we also see great merit in Shaara’s recognition of the effects of the incarnation upon mankind.  All men have the spark, and even those who do not know God can see it, which is a mercy, a spark not only of divinity but of light to the world: a built-in arrow pointing to the Creator and Redeemer of men.

Prissy Roach  – (December 13, 2013 at 6:03 PM)  

Forgive me, but I really don't see how our cursed and ever-decaying bodies can possibly be connected with the immortal, infallible, unchanging Trinity. It's like saying we are part god, which, of course, cannot be. Perhaps I misunderstand?

Wayne Brown  – (February 28, 2014 at 11:19 PM)  

Well, in the sense that we are in the image of God, yes, we are. But I suppose a distinction is that rather than we being part God, God the Son has assumed our form (being completely divine and completely human). The incarnation... God became man, which really elevates humanity, does it not? =)

Post a Comment

Rantlings! =)