Who are you? What defines you? What makes you, you?
In the past an individual's identity was more predictable than it is today. Life's big questions were basically settled before you were born: where you'd live, what you'd do, the type of person you'd marry, your basic beliefs, and so on. Today personal identity is a do-it-yourself project. Constructing a stable and satisfying sense of self is hard amidst relationship breakdowns, the pace of modern life, the rise of social media, multiple careers, social mobility, and so on. Ours is a day of identity angst.
Known by God is built on the observation that humans are inherently social beings; we know who we are in relation to others and by being known by them. If one of the universal desires of the self is to be known by others, being known by God as his children meets our deepest and lifelong need for recognition and gives us a secure identity. Rosner argues that rather than knowing ourselves, being known by God is the key to personal identity.
He explores three biblical angles on the question of personal identity: being made in the image of God, being known by God and being in Christ. The notion of sonship is at the center - God gives us our identity as a parent who knows his child. Being known by him as his child gives our fleeting lives significance, provokes in us needed humility, supplies cheering comfort when things go wrong, and offers clear moral direction for living.
About the Author
Brian S. Rosner is Principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia https://www.ridley.edu.au/. Previously he taught at the University of Aberdeen and Moore Theological College. He holds degrees from Sydney University and Dallas Theological Seminary and has a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Brian is the author or editor of over a dozen books, including the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the Pillar commentary on 1 Corinthians (with Roy E. Ciampa), The Consolations of Theology, Greed as Idolatry and Paul and the Law. He is married to Natalie and has four children, a son-in-law and one grandchild.
Jonathan Lunde (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology of Biola University. He is coeditor (with Kenneth Berding) of Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament and has contributed articles to The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Jon and his wife, Pamela, have three children and reside in Brea, California.
Table of ContentsSection One: Queuing the Questions i. Personal Questions ii. Postmodernism – authenticity, mobility, etc iii. Unsatisfying Answers – career, relationships, possessions, finding yourself, etc
Section Two: Arriving at Answers
1. Anthropological terms – spirit, soul, mind, inner person, old and new humanity, etc
2. Known by God – Jewish background, terminology, relationship to image of God, adoption, etc
3. Kindred Ideas – the book of God, naming and not naming, remembered by God, seen by God, etc
4. Memory – Passover, Lord’s Supper, collective memory in forming identity, etc
5. Destiny – my life is hidden with Christ in God, the time is short, etc
6. Christology – Christ is known by God at his baptism, transfiguration, in the FG, etc
7. The Cross – as forging my identity
Section Three: Reflecting on Relevance
8. Personal: Significance, Humility, Comfort, Moral Direction
9. Community: Bioethics and the Disabled, Children, the Church (liturgy and leading services)
What People are Saying About This
In this timely and thoughtful book, Dr. Rosner provides a biblical, practical guide to understanding ourselves asGod understands us. He makes the persuasive case that society's call to 'find yourself,' 'be true to yourself,' and 'beauthentic' can only lead to human flourishing when these efforts are grounded in one's union with Christ and God'sprior knowledge of us. This is an ideal book to place into the hands of any believer experiencing the disorientationof life's big changes, especially when those changes involve suffering and loss. With both theological precision andpastoral experience, Dr. Rosner describes how in times of difficulty we can rest in the identity that we have as membersof God's family. -- Frank Thielman, Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
I have a deep appreciation for how Brian Rosner addresses the theme of the knowledge of God in Scripture. He makesit practical and relational, as it is meant to be. This work is an exegetical treasure trove full of spiritual encouragementsalong the way. Its message invites us, even ushers us, into the very intimacy with our faithful God that it proclaims. -- Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Chair of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary
Amidst the ceaseless clamor to 'know thyself' and the constant barrage of identity politics, Rosner offers a neededcorrective by looking at identity through a biblical lens. Known by God is a beautifully written exploration into thebiblical story of identity. Rosner demonstrates that identity is both personal and social; it is about knowing God and,even more importantly, being known by God. Woven throughout the book is his own journey from shattered identityto redemptive wholeness. Identity is not ours to make but ours to receive from the One who knows and loves us andcalls us into the family of God. -- Lynn Cohick, Chair, Biblical and Theological Studies Department, and Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College
From the very first page, Brian Rosner succeeds beautifully in doing what few today dare to attempt. He seamlesslyintegrates raw personal experience with depth of biblical insight and sophisticated cultural analysis. Known by Godis like nothing else you'll read. It deftly explores the weighty theme of human identity, with one eye firmly on theWord of God in all its clarity and another on the world in all its confusion about the self. Rosner is an expert guidethrough beautiful and largely unmarked territories, in the end opening up for the reader a marvellous vista of thehuman being from the divine perspective. To know oneself fully, Rosner shows, is really to understand and accepthow one is viewed by the Creator and Redeemer. -- John Dickson, author, historian, and founding director of the Centre for Public Christianity
Who am I? The only truthful answer is 'God knows!' Leavened by autobiographical touches, Rosner's book teachesus that God knows us when our struggles with our own identity feel hidden from everyone else. Known by God is themost balanced and down-to-earth book about personal identity that I have read. It profoundly illuminates the Bible'steaching that God fathers, owns, and remembers each of his human children. -- Francesca Aran Murphy, Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
What makes me the person I am? Who am I? These are surely fundamental existential questions with which we allwrestle. In his new book, Brian Rosner takes up the task of addressing these concerns in a biblically focused way. Hemaintains that personal identity in Scripture has to do with being made in the image of God, being known by God,and being in Christ--reframing how we think about who we are from a God's-eye view. The result is a clear andcompelling account of human personal identity that sheds new light on some of the most important and contestedissues in theological anthropology. -- Oliver D. Crisp, Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
The question of human identity is complex, interesting, and perplexing all at the same time! What is it that makesus who we are, and what sustains us in our identity when many of our earthly markers of identity are taken from us?Much of the thinking within this area has emerged from philosophy or ethics. Brian Rosner draws the debate intothe world of the Bible. In this deep but accessible book Rosner carefully lays out a biblical foundation for humanidentity and in so doing offers clarity and practical wisdom to a profound, personal, and intensely important set ofquestions. The book is deeply grounded in the practices of the church and in Rosner's own narrative. The combinationof scholarly biblical exegesis and meaningful, sometimes moving personal narrative makes this book a wonderfulresource for church and academy. In the end, we are who we are because God knows us. Our identity is gifted to usby a God who knows us and desires that we come to know God. There is beauty, hope, and safety in such knowledge.Brian Rosner has given us a vital gift. -- John Swinton, Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, University of Aberdeen