Saturday, June 21, 2008

In His Image

I’ve been thinking about this subject lately and have consulted several books, articles and essays regarding the image of God in man. What does it mean when the Bible says " the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.?" What is the Image of God that, evidently, we all bear? Kenneth Copeland says (God is) "very much like you and me … A being that stands around six foot two inches or six foot three inches, that weighs around a couple of hundred pounds, and has a [hand] span nine inches across." Is that the image about which the Bible speaks? Is Copeland correct? How could he know this? Why doesn’t Copeland say that God is about 5’2" with eyes of blue, since he may be rather feminine according to Copeland’s eisogesis, given the fact that He created them "in the image of God..male AND female. Or... why wouldn’t a Danny DiVito image be a better likeness for Copeland? By the way, in Christmas pageants, why is Christ always portrayed by a Charleton Hesston type rather than a Danny DiVito type? Wouldn’t a Danny DiVito type be just as reasonable, if not more so? We may be getting into pure speculation and a 2nd Commandment issue here, inadvertently. Back to the topic.

Can any serious student of the Bible give any credence to the Copeland claim? I hope not! So, now that we have that out of the way, what IS the image that we bear? The WCF states: "After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it." This statement in Chap 4.2 says basically, man has a logical or thinking capacity, has been designed to never cease to exist, endued with a capacity for learning about God and His creation, and in the original version empowered or created with true righteousness and true holiness. In the spirit of a Hank Haanegraff or any others that love to create acrostics God’s I.M.A.G.E in man could be defined as Immortal, Moral, Analytical, God-fearing, or Goodly and Ethical.

Berkhof writes, "To sum up it may be said that the image consists: (a) In the soul or spirit of man, that is, in the qualities of simplicity, spirituality, invisibility, and immortality. (b) In the psychical powers or faculties of man as a rational and moral being, namely, the intellect and the will with their functions. (c) In the intellectual and moral integrity of man's nature, revealing itself in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10. (d) In the body, not as a material substance, but as the fit organ of the soul, sharing its immortality; and as the instrument through which man can exercise dominion over the lower creation. (e) In man's dominion over the earth." Louis Berkof, Systematic Theology , pg 174. The key, in my opinion, to an understanding of what constitutes the image of God in man is found in Ephesians 4:24, "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." This is the "paradise lost" of which Milton wrote. This is what was lost at Eden. True righteousness and holiness was gone and all other moral, rational, and spiritual apects of God’s image in man were drastically defaced. And these are the areas of life that the Gospel of Jesus Christ effects and renews most drastically. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor 5:17 And that new man (that new critter) as Ephesians says (is) after God created in righteousness and true holiness.

I operate on no illusions of special revelation or esoteric knowledge regarding the Imago Dei. I have read enough to know that this subject has been debated or discussed all through Church history and a true consensus on exactly what constitutes the Image of God in man has not yet been achieved. However, I think we can come to some universal agreements as brothers in Christ. These areas of agreement, I believe, would be in the practical application of the fact the we do bear His image, whatever it is. How does this work out in our relationships with others? It, at the very least, requires an acknowledgement of the worth and dignity of each and every soul that is born into this world. And especially as we are "in Christ" a high value is to be placed upon that soul no matter what stage of development we encounter it; from the womb to the tomb, as someone has said. And, finally, how does this work outwardly in our relationships with things? In other words, stewardship of possessions, property, and environment would be affected based upon our understanding that we DO bear the image of our Heavenly Father. Col 3:10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—And verse 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.


Caron said...

Justin speaks out on the WoF movement and is considered by some to be an expert on it... At you can click on "demo" and see a presentation he gave to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on this... It is a brief overview of his seminar called, "A Call for Discernment." He spoke at my church and comes highly recommended by my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.

Dave Van said...

Thanks for the comment. I watched this "Call for Discernment" the other day on someones blog. He's quite and impressive speaker. Someone you may know from MacArthur's church is one of my favorite bloggers:
Fred Butler.

DKV said...

Very interesting. Very well researched!

Why does everyone always pick on Danny Devito??