News • April 03, 2017

Lecturer touts theology of human thriving

Dr. Pamela King

Riverside, Calif. (March 31, 2017) — “What are you being shaped and formed for?” Dr. Pamela King, associate professor of applied developmental science at Fuller Theological Seminary, asked a California Baptist University audience. “What are you learning at this stage that will prepare you for this world?”

King, who is an ordained Presbyterian minister in addition to holding a doctorate in psychology, spoke at the School of Behavioral Sciences Culture and Justice Lecture Series on March 30.

King said she would never have predicted her life’s course.

“I never cut out to be in ministry. I never aspired to be a professor. I thought I would go into business and do marketing,” King said. “Something happened along my journey that drew me toward issues of transcendence and theology and understanding how humans function… I began to appreciate the uniqueness of each human being.”

As a professor at Fuller, King has dedicated her academic research pursuits to the concept of human thriving. She said identifying human thriving as a social scientist comes down to experiences.   

“As a social scientist, we don’t have the tools to define what is ultimate in life or what is sacred or transcendent,” King said. “Those are more of epistemological tools that theology or philosophy have.”

King said she has turned to theology to answer questions pertaining to defining human thriving.

“What would be God’s perspective on human development or a biblical perspective?” King asked.

The answer to that question lies in the claim that humans are created in the image of God, she said.

“The Bible talks about Jesus Christ as the perfect image of God,” King said. “Part of the process of imaging God is becoming more like Christ.”

King said the biblical language for imaging God is to be “conformed into the image of Christ.”

“It’s not to be uniform to the image of Christ, so I strongly believe that we are all created in the image of God, to become more like Christ in our lives, to become more virtuous, more honest, more serving, more self-giving, more advocates of justice, and we’re all called to do that in our unique ways,” King said. “God created you to be you. There is something about imaging God that involves being unique people.”

When you are yourself, your actions reflect your deepest passions, values and interests, King said.

“That’s when you experience ultimate performance and most joy,” King said. “So much of life’s journey is finding out, ‘who am I and what do I love?’”

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