Christ’s Estimate Of The Human Personality -- By: Lester Reddin
BSac 71:281 (Jan 1914) p. 132
Christ’s Estimate Of The Human Personality
Every article of merchandise has a given value, that is, a “power to command other commodities in exchange.” Value depends on utility, rarity, or the amount of thought, muscle, and time necessary to produce the article. Commercial values are expressed in terms of the unit of legal currency. When two articles have the same value, they are said to be equivalent. However great the value of any article may be, its equivalent can still be estimated in terms of the unit of currency. A monetary equivalent for the Pitt diamond in the Louvre in Paris has been estimated at two and one half million dollars, and it is alleged that the sum of six million dollars was once offered for Leonardo Da Vinci’s celebrated “Mona Lisa.” The range of values is confined to the realm of the impersonal; man, a personal being, transcends the realm of values and takes his place in the realm of worth and dignity. Therefore no equivalent for man can be fixed: personality cannot be expressed in terms of the impersonal, nor worth in terms of values.
Although Christ antedated the great German metaphysician, Immanuel Kant, by seventeen centuries, he recognized this distinction between the realm of worths and the realm of values. Hence his anthropology is at the farthest remove from that of Charles Dickens’s Mr. Thomas Grad-
BSac 71:281 (Jan 1914) p. 133
grind, “with a rule and a pair of scales and the multiplication table always in his pocket, ready to weigh and measure any part of human nature and tell you exactly what it comes to.” In the estimation of Christ, man “differs with an advantage “from the birds (Matt 6:26; 10:29) and from a sheep (Matt. 12:12), because he is a person and they are impersonal: he has worth and dignity; they have value only. In the interrogation, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? “he emphasizes the impossibility of computing, in terms of worldly values, the worth of the human soul. The “pearl of great price “can be bought, even though the price be so great as to necessitate the selling of all that the merchantman has to obtain it, but he “whom certain of the children of Israel did price “at thirty pieces of silver, conceived of nothing less than his own life that might be given as a ransom for the souls of men. There is an obvious reminiscence of the teaching of his Master in the words of Peter to his readers: “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18–19). That ...
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