Philosophical Reflections on Self-Worth and Self-Love

Volume 13
Spring 1985
Philosophical Reflections on Self-Worth and Self-Love

There is both good and evil in the biblical view of the human self. But because of the biblical emphasis on human sin, the importance of positive self-love is sometimes overlooked. This article seeks to resolve this tension by distinguishing "€œworthy"€ (which we are not) from "€œworthful"€ (which we are). If we are worthy, we merit salvation; if we are worthful, we are worth saving but not deserving. If we are worthy, grace is unnecessary; if we are worthful, grace is necessary. Worthiness implies pride; worthfulness implies humility. This worthfulness is grounded in the image of God. Though "€œlove your neighbors as yourself"€ does not prove we ought to love ourselves, the need for positive self-concepts is evidenced by the gifts of providence and atonement. Nygren'€™s argument that agape creates value rather than recognizing value in us is interpreted in light of the worthy/worthful distinction. Finally, the interplay of pride and humility is discussed in light of this distinction.

Dr. D.K. Clark
3 - 11
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