NGU News

Fant Says the Image of God Is Revealed in Shared Human Experience

Posted on: March 21, 2023
By LaVerne Howell,

Tigerville, SC (March 21, 2023) Stressing that humanity’s ability to share experiences spanning time and place underscores our creation in the image of God, North Greenville University President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., took students through part of his own life story during a chapel message in early March.  

President Fant explored “The Image of God and the Liberal Arts” in his address concluding the university’s annual Christian Worldview Week. He used a brief tour of his personal journey – featuring childhood photos and a description of his first date with his wife – to demonstrate “everybody has stories.”  

“Each of us has a story to share. Each of us is human. Each of us is a creation of God, with a unique relationship with God,” he said, connecting to Genesis 1:27, that God created people in the image of God (Imago Dei). 

A long-time English professor, Dr. Fant explained that the liberal arts – including the study of literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and sciences – point to shared experiences.  

In relating the image of God to liberal arts, he said literature is “the written expression of shared human experience. History is the preservation and recovery of shared human experience. Sociology is the systemic study of shared human experience. All of the liberal arts could follow a similar pattern of definition.”  

“I often say the primary value of the liberal arts in context of the Imago Dei is what I have called intellectual empathy. This is the emotional bond that we feel with others when we realize that others are really like us.  

“This shared human experience is what unifies the humanities and liberal arts and is central to my teaching philosophy and my philosophy of life,” Fant told the students.  

He contrasted “exhausting” contemporary trends of personal attack with the “encouragement” in the awareness of common connections.  

“The idea of shared humanity is no longer mainstream in our culture,” Dr. Fant said. “We are constantly pitted against each other, such that we are encouraged or even bullied into thinking that other people are less than persons.” Decrying personal attacks through social media, he said “it is exhausting because it is not what we were designed for.”  

“The liberal arts are a way to honor the image of God that we all bear … emphasizing the fact that all humans are, in fact, brothers and sisters.  

“When we recognize our shared humanity, we flourish. We find encouragement and energy. That’s because it is rooted in our unique foundational relationship with each other and also in our relationship with God,” he explained. “God made us in His image. He made us in His image.   

In addition to sharing the image of God, we also all share sin and the effects of sin on our lives and the world itself. But the good news is that God also offers to us forgiveness of sin! This is the story of the gospel itself. God is the origin of all that is truly loving, that is truly flourishing. It’s not enough to see that He loves us, but we are called to funnel and channel that love into others,” he concluded. “One of the ways that we love others is by listening to their stories, by sharing experiences together, and recognizing the image of God that each of us bears.”  

Each spring semester, NGU’s Christian Worldview Week features a series of presentations from noted speakers, celebrating the foundational truth the school is built on: that God is the source of all truth. 

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