THE IMAGE OF GOD IN MAN IN VATICAN II: AN INQUIRY INTO THE THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF HUMAN DIGNITY IN THE PASTORAL CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD, "GAUDIUM ET SPES"

ANTHONY OJAGBEROVWE ERHUEH, Fordham University

Abstract

The Second Vatican Council wanted to dialogue with all mankind in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes. This dialogue was made possible through the Council's consideration of man as imago Dei.^ As image of God, man embodies in himself a three-fold relationship--with God, with fellowmen and with the created universe. Thus in man, God, the world and the family of mankind have a meeting place. Hence the image of God in man forms the basic ground for dialogue between the Church and all mankind, Christians and non-Christians, believers and atheists, in short, all categories of mankind.^ This dissertation tries to examine the precise meaning the concept imago Dei had in the Pastoral Constitution and its significance for the Fathers of Vatican II. It shows how imago Dei forms the basis for human dignity and the intimate connection between the religious and the secular.^ God Himself is the author of human dignity; he promotes it and conserves it; he summons man to higher dignity relentlessly through the Word-made-flesh and His Holy Spirit. Hence, wherever anything that promotes human dignity is found, God is in some way present.^ The Church, therefore, is not opposed to man's temporal activities: culture, technological progress, human solidarity, community, etc. because they are willed by God by the very fact that He created man in His image. The Church, the defender and protector of human dignity, like Christ stands for the preservation of human dignity. This is why she accepts customs, cultures and humanizing practices of all peoples into the given of her pastoral practice.^ African Traditional Religion, for instance, as it is found among the Urhobo of Nigeria, contains many humanizing religious beliefs and practices. Because of the firm belief in God, respect for the dignity of the human person, alive or dead, the practice of universal brotherhood of all mankind, etc. . . . , African Traditional Religion is truly praeparatio evangelica. For the Church to be firmly rooted in Africa, it must be African as it is Christian. This is why the type of Christianity that tries to impose European culture on Africans is both un-Christian and de-humanizing.^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

ERHUEH, ANTHONY OJAGBEROVWE, "THE IMAGE OF GOD IN MAN IN VATICAN II: AN INQUIRY INTO THE THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF HUMAN DIGNITY IN THE PASTORAL CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD, "GAUDIUM ET SPES"" (1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8219240.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8219240

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