Know Thy God, Know Thyself – interview with Hannah Anderson {and a book giveaway!}

image credit: Hannah's website
image credit: Hannah’s website

I’m so excited to have Hannah Anderson on the blog today answering some questions about her book and her study of imago dei.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win one of two copies of Made for More! I will randomly select winners on Tuesday, November 18th.

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What sort of changes have you seen in your life/thinking/relationships since delving into the doctrine of imago dei?

The most basic thing that has happened for me is that I find everyday life infused with a lot more purpose and meaning. I think a lot of us have these unspoken categories about what constitutes “real” living. We think that certain callings or certain work is more necessary to the Kingdom. But the truth of imago Dei undercuts all this. By the sheer nature of our existence, we are reflecting and representing God on this earth. We are doing the most profound, most radical work that we could ever do—even if we’re only doing the laundry.

I’ve also learned that living in the truth of imago Dei is not a one time event where you finally “get” it. It’s a constant process of re-examining, re-aligning, re-ordering my thoughts and actions to reflect His nature. Just when I think I’ve gotten it, I find myself struggling to live out the very principles that I wrote about. Talk about a humbling experience!

How do you see identity as image-bearers currently reflected in church involvement and discipleship? What sort of changes would you like to see?

Viewing ourselves as image-bearers changes how we understand the goal of the gospel. If the gospel is the good news of what Christ has done for His people in reconciling us to Himself, our understanding of it will be contingent to how we understand what it means to be people in the first place. When we have an expansive view of what it means to be people made in God’s image, the gospel can be applied to all the nooks and crannies of our identity. When I understand that God is redeeming everything about me–from my work to my role in my family to my need to be creative—suddenly the gospel is much bigger than how I’d previously understood it.

I’m afraid that a lot of good churches are still operating on a very narrow definition of human identity; this shows itself in our discipleship efforts. We often aim for only one aspect of identity. For example, women’s discipleship tends to emphasize our hearts or our hands—we either look for emotional responses from women or we elevate specific roles that we fill. But both these approaches overlook that women are also called to be thinking, wise women who reflect the wisdom of God Himself. It’s not that any one of these aspects is wrong, but they are too small. Our discipleship efforts must be multi-dimensional because we are image bearers of a multi-dimensional God.

Your book is directed mainly toward women understanding their identity as being rooted in God’s image. Do you think men have a part in helping women to arrive at this understanding, in work, marriage, parenting, the church, etc.?

Absolutely. And here’s why: living as an image bearer means living in relationship with those around us. One of the fundamental aspects of God’s nature is the He exists in relationship within the Trinity. This inter-dependence is reflected in our nature. We literally cannot exist as individuals; we cannot be ourselves apart from community. So finding identity rooted in God’s nature is not is not something that women (or men!) can pursue by themselves.

On a more practical level men have an invested stake in this conversation because they have mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and nieces. For example, husbands must understand that they are engaged in the process of “husbandry” of their wives and daughters; this role demands that they invest and cultivate the God-given abilities and desires of the women in their lives, that they are responsible to help them become the image bearers they are destined to be.

What have you learned on this topic since your book was published?

How much I didn’t know. Thankfully I don’t think I made any major theological errors, but I realize that the call to live in God’s image is much more expansive than I’d originally thought. This isn’t simply a starting point from which we move on; it’s a paradigm that gives shape to our entire existence. Everything can be traced back to this truth.

One positive review I read for Made for More, called it, “the conversation before the conversation on gender roles.” If the doctrine of imago dei is the starting point in discussions about identity, what do you see as the “next step” for women seeking to understand their identity and calling? In what direction has your study developed?

For many women, the next step is re-evaluating their understanding of womanhood in light of the core principles of imago Dei. Whether we know it or not, we carry a lot of assumptions into our experience as women and we need to consider whether our ideas are based on being image bearers or whether they are based on our culture (and sometimes subculture).

For example, a passage like I Timothy 5 where Paul calls women to be hard-workers in their homes is rooted in the truth that we work hard as women because God is a working God. But too often, this passage is interpreted in light of our womanhood and not in light of God’s nature. It’s two different things to call a woman to be a good manager of her home because she’s a woman and to call her to be a good manager of her home because she’s made in the image of a God who orders and maintains His creation. The first interpretation puts womanhood at the center of the conversation; the second puts God at center.

I’m optimistic that this work is already starting. As I hear from readers, they are telling me how the truth of imago Dei has changed their frame of reference. Now, it’s time to start making practical applications in our homes and churches.

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Remember to leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Hannah’s book! Winners will be notified via email on Tuesday, November 18th. {Thanks to Moody Publishers for the chance to do a giveaway!!}

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knowthyGodlogo-100pxThis post is part of my Write 31 Days series, Know Thy God, Know Thyself. To read more posts from this series, visit the Introduction here.

To learn more about the book that inspired my series, visit Hannah Anderson’s blog.

 

 

16 Responses

  1. You are awesome, Kendra! Thanks for sharing about your thoughts while reading- it’s been great to follow. 🙂

  2. Michelle Holder

    Thanks for the invite, I love to read!! ☺

  3. Britta S

    You’ve peaked my interest! Love you friend!

  4. casey spark

    I love reading about what you are learning!

  5. This series has been great – affirming, questioning, full of wisdom. I wanna read the book!

  6. Ive loved following your blog! I’d love to hear any and all book recommendations you have. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I’m so glad you have taken the time to explore this topic more and write about it!!

  8. Woo! Exciting stuff here. Thanks to my pal Alisa for pointing me in this direction!

  9. Lea Thompson

    Such a great topic!

  10. Excited for this book! Can’t wait to read it!

  11. Thank you for sharing, look forward to the book!

  12. danielle

    So glad for friends pointing me to truth! Excited for this book!

  13. This is great! Thank you for writing on this topic; can’t wait to get my hands on it 🙂

  14. This has been a great series. So thankful for your wisdom! I am really excited to dive into the book myself!

  15. Thank you for your encouragement & direction. I look forward to reading the book.

  16. […] Kendra Dahl’s 31 Days: Know Thyself, Know Thy God […]