Article: The Nature of the Self: Christian Anthropology Revisited, by David B. Perrin

In this article, David Perrin focuses on “the self” as a term with profound meaning for Christians. If, according to Christian theology and spirituality, a believer is made made in the image of God, how does one’s self reflect the imago dei? Perrin proposes to answer this question from the perspective of everyday life. Here is the article’s abstract:

The word “self” comes up frequently in everyday language. We talk about “self-respect,” “myself,” “self-determination,” “self-help,” “yourself,” “him/herself,” and so on. All of these expressions refer to the subject of investigation of anthropology: the human person and what it means to be human. Thus, in everyday language when we refer to “self” or “person” or “human being,” often we are referring to the same reality. What is the nature of the self that we so often mention in everyday language? From the perspective of Christian spirituality how does the self reflect the “imago Dei” — the image in which human beings were created? This article takes a critical look from multiple perspectives at the concept of “the self” and seeks to understand its deeper meaning in everyday language use and in Christian anthropology with respect to the imago Dei. The article concludes with a description of the Christian imago Dei from three fundamental profiles. These profiles are understood as specific dimensions of the self that take on particular importance in our everyday living: 1. The Transcendent Self; 2. The Narrative Self: The Self as a Story Told; and 3. The Body Self. Together, these three profiles help us understand how the imago Dei is lived out in the ordinary experiences of daily life and assist us in constructing a specifically Christian anthropology.

Perrin, David B. “The Nature of the Self: Christian Anthropology Revisited,” in Vinayasādhana: Dharmaram Journal of Psycho-Spiritual Formation, 10, no. 2 (July 2019), 23-41.

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