Bibliotheca Sacra 129 (1972) 235-46.

Copyright © 1972 by Dallas Theological Seminary.  Cited with permission.

 

 

                        The Image of God

 

                                        Charles Lee Feinberg

 

            It is true beyond cavil or dispute that the focus of interest today

is upon man, his life, his actions, his feelings, his struggles, and

his potentialities.1 In fact, some theologians have so occupied them-

selves with the study of man, that they have left little or no time

for a discussion of supernatural themes, an interesting reversal of

the emphasis manifest in theological realms in the Middle Ages.

Zabriskie has correctly stated: "At no time in the history of the-

ology has the doctrine of the imago Dei had a more challenging

pastoral relevance or more provocative theological implications

than it does within the current of contemporary theology."2 Carl

F. H. Henry acquiesces in the significance of the subject. After

asking in what way man reflects God, since he is the resemblance

of God, he presses the questions: "What of the vitiating effects

of his fall into sin? Is the NT concept of the imago in conflict with

the OT conception? Is it in conflict with itself? These questions

are among those most energetically debated by contemporary the-

ology."3 The heated discussions and debates which have gone on

relative to the image of God reveal somewhat the weighty char-

acter of the subject.4 One has only to delve into the almost intermin-

able battle on the doctrine of the imago Dei to realize before long

 

1 G. C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God (Grand Rapids, 1962), p. 12.

2 Stewart C. Zabriskie, "A Critical View of Karl Barth's Approach to the

Christian Doctrine of the Imago Dei," Anglican Theological Review, XLVII

(October, 1965), 359.

3 Carl F. H. Henry, "Man," Baker's Dictionary of Theology, ed. by Everett

F. Harrison and Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, 1960), p. 339.

4 Berkouwer, p. 35.

 

235



236 / Bibliotheca Sacra - July 1972

 

how complex and at times abstruse the factors are. Moreover, the

biblical doctrine has wide ramifications that touch every area of

theology with the possible exceptions of bibliology and ecclesiol-

ogy. The doctrines of God, angels, man (the fall, sin), salvation

(atonement, sanctification), and future things (glorification, resur-

rection) are directly involved.5 The concept of the image of God, im-

plied or expressed, underlies all revelation.6 Thus it is not too much to

maintain that a correct understanding of the image of God in man

can hardly be overemphasized. The position taken here determines

every area of doctrinal declaration. Not only is theology involved,

but reason, law, and civilization as a whole, whether it views re-

generate or unsaved humanity from its origin to eternity.7

Any treatment of this vital theme must address itself to three

basic questions: (1) In what specifically does the image of God

consist? (2) What effect did sin and the fall of man have on this

image? (3) What results accrued to the image of sinful man because

of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ?8

Relevant passages on man as the image of God are Genesis

1:26-27 (the creation account); 5:1, 3 (the transmission of the

image from Adam to his posterity); 9:6 (the doctrine of the image

relative to homicide); 1 Corinthians 11:7 (discussion of headship

in the family); Colossians 3:10 (exhortations to the believer to put

on the new man); and James 3:9 (treatment of the proper use

of the tongue). Psalm 8 does not contain the words "image of God,"

but the passage deals in poetic form with the creation of man and

the area of his dominion.9 Cf. also Heb. 2:6-8. The only method for

arriving at a correct solution of the problems related to the image

of God is to carry through a careful and accurate exegesis of the

Scripture passages involved.

Exegesis is possible only by beginning at the lexical gate of

 

5 Gordon H. Clark, "The Image of God in Man," Journal of the Evangeli-

cal Theological Society, XII (Fall, 1969), 215. Wrote James Orr, "It is not

too much to say that every crucial question in theology, almost, is already

settled in principle in any thorough-going discussion of the divine attributes"

(cf. James Orr, God's Image in Man [New York, 1906], p. 7).

6 James Orr, "God, Image of," The International Standard Bible Encyclo-

paedia, ed by James Orr, et al., II (1929), 1264.

7 Henry, p. 339.

8 Berkouwer, p. 66.

9 Cf. also Heb. 2:6-8, which is based on Ps. 8; 1:3 (underscoring the deity

of Christ); Acts 17:26-29 (Paul's address to the Athenians on Mar's Hill).

Psalm 51:6; Rom. 1:23; and 2:15 have important implications for the doc-

trine now considered.



The Image of God / 237

 

the words used. Genesis 1:26, 27 employs the Hebrew words tselem

and demuth (lit. image and likeness). The New Testament equiva-

lents lents are eikon and homoiosis. Words, in addition to these, are

apaugasma and charakter (both in Heb. 1:3). The words of Genesis

1:26 appear in the Vulgate as imago and similitudo. The use of two

words in the original passage has occasioned a strange spate of

interpretations in the history of theology. The employment of two

nouns has been seen as teaching two aspects of the image of God.

One is said to denote man's essence, which is unchangeable, whereas

the other is held to teach the changing part of man. Thus the first

use of image relates to the very essence of man, while the likeness

is that which may be lost. This distinction came to be a continuous

element in theological anthropology.10 A careful study of Genesis

1:26-27; 5:1, 3; and 9:6 will show beyond question that it is im-

possible to avoid the conclusion that the two Hebrew terms are

not referring to two different entities. In short, use reveals the words

are used interchangeably. The Greek and Latin Fathers distinguished

between tselem and demuth, the first referring to the physical and

the latter to the ethical part of the divine image. The words, how-

ever, are used synonymously, the second emphasizing the first.

Irenaeus (A.D. 130 - ca. 200) made a distinction between “image”

and "likeness." The first was said to refer to man's freedom and

reason and the last to the gift of supernatural communion with God

(still the official view of the Roman Church). Genesis 5:1 and 9:6

will not support such a difference in meaning.11

What is the reason for the wide differences on the subject?

Laidlaw's explanation is correct: "Although thus definite and signi-

cant, however, the phrase [image of God] is not explicit. . . . This

 

10 Berkouwer, p. 43. Today this distinction is held to, be invalid. A

naturalistic view holds that man was created only in God's image, but

gradually evolved into God's likeness. Many have affirmed that the image

was basic, to which was added the likeness, called donum superadditum.

Origen held that Genesis speaks of man's creation in the image, but can

obtain the likeness by works. The Church Fathers made a distinction be-

tween image and likeness, but Luther and Calvin refused to follow this tradi-

tion. Consensus today rejects a differentiation on both exegetical and theolo-

gical grounds.

11 Cf. R. G. Crawford, "The Image of God," Expository Times, LXXVII

(May, 1966), 233-36. See the position of the Eastern Church, Edo Oster-

loh, "Anthropology," The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, ed. by

Julius Bodensieck, 1 (1965), 83. For the view that the image speaks of the

physical and the likeness to the ethical part of man, see J. I. Marais, "An-

thropology," The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, ed. by James

Orr, et al., 1 (1929), 145.



238 / Bibliotheca Sacra - July 1972

 

is why the doctrine of the Divine Image in man has been a topic

so fruitful of differences in theology."12 Many have expressed their

desire that the Scriptures had given a clear definition of the image

and what it denotes. After all, what is the image of God? The bibli-

cal data furnish no systematic theory of the subject, no clue as to

what is implied.13

Much light may be shed on the doctrine of the image of God

if attention is directed to the unique setting of the creation of man

in the Genesis account. All exegetes are agreed that the climax of

creation is reached in Genesis 1:26. Even evolutionary theories must

agree with the truth of Scripture that man is the apex of all creation.

Man's creation by God comes as the last and highest phase of

God's creative activity. To highlight this event the wording is

entirely altered. To this point the simple, forceful statement was

"God said, Let there be . . ." Now there is counsel or deliberation

in the Godhead. No others can be included here, such an angels,

for none has been even intimated thus far in the narrative. Thus

the creation of man took place, not by a word alone, but as the

result of a divine decree.

Another distinguishing feature in the creation of man is his

special nature. Although man is related on the physical side of

his existence with material nature, so that physiologically he shares

with lower organisms, yet he is far superior to all natural creatures,

combining in himself certain immaterial elements never duplicated

in the lower creation. Orr states it succinctly: "The true unique-

ness in man's formation, however, is expressed by the act of the

divine inbreathing, answering somewhat to the bara of the previous

account. This is an act peculiar to the creation of man; no similar

statement is made about the animals. The breath of Jehovah

imparts to man the life which is his own, and awakens him to con-        

scions possession of it."14

A third distinctive factor in man's creation is his special domin-

ion. None of the lower animals had power or dominion delegated

to it. Man on earth was meant in a measure to reflect the dominion

of his Creator over lower creatures. Concerning this dominion more

will be discussed below. In sum, the creation of man is clearly

separated and delineated by a special counsel and decision in the

 

12 J. Laidlaw, "Image," A Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by James Hastings,

II (1899), 452.

13 Berkouwer, p. 69.

14 Orr, God's Image in Man, pp. 41, 46.  



The Image of God / 239

 

Godhead, marked off by a special nature (in the likeness and image

of God), and characterized by a special dominion and sovereignty.

Coming to the heart of the matter, one is still faced with the

perplexing questions: In what does the image consist? What is in-

cluded? What is excluded? What factors may have a detrimental

or beneficial influence on the image? How is Christ Himself related

to this whole question, since the New Testament designates Him as

the Image of God also? Is any viable option possible in a field so

thoroughly traversed and so warmly debated for centuries by both

Jews and Christians, theologians and naturalists, humanists and be-

lievers? The mind of the reader must, first of all, be disabused of

the illusion that there has been unanimity in any camp, or that

there has been an unbroken continuum of view in any school. Ac-

tually, Jewish authorities have differed widely on the subject; the

rabbis of the Talmud, the medieval philosophers in Judaism, the

later Jewish mystics, and modern liberal Jewish opinion span a wide

spectrum of views. Christian interpreters have been no less diverse

in their positions. Scientists, humanists, sociologists, psychologists,

and psychiatrists of all shades of belief and unbelief have espoused

varying viewpoints according to their reasoning and predilection.15

Many have seen the meaning of the image in man's dominion

over nature with the corollary concepts of endowment with reason

and upright stature. They point out that Genesis 1:26 unmistakably

affirms man's dominion in the immediate context where image is

found. Thus it is reasoned, the image consists in man's lordship

over lower creation about him, which is meant by God to be sub-

ject to man. It is more correct to declare that the image is the

basis or foundation for the dominion. Psalm 8:6-7 does not sub

stantiate the view that image equals dominion. Man as a free being,

regardless of how he uses this freedom, is said to reflect the sov-

ereignty residing in God.16

Could the image consist in man's immortality? Jamieson answers

in the negative: "And in what did this image of God consist? Not

in the erect form or features of man; not in his intellect--for the

devil and his angels are in this respect far superior; not in his im-

 

15 A. Altmann, "Homo Imago Dei in Jewish and Christian Theology,"

Journal of Religion, XLVIII (July, 1968), 235.

16 Erdman Harris, God's Image and Man's Imagination (New York, 1959),

p. 199. Of course, this is not meant to remove the distinction between God

and man, but rather to assert the unique status of man in comparison with

all other creatures; cf. Berkouwer, p. 70.



240 / Bibliotheca Sacra - July 1972

 

mortality--for he has not, like God, a past as well as a future

eternity of being; but in the moral dispositions of his soul, commonly

called original righteousness . . . ."17

Some have espoused the view that the image of God in man

consists in his corporeality. It would appear that this position is

not difficult of refutation, for God is Spirit and has no human form

and man's form has no divine likeness.18 Smith, on the other hand,

feels man's body is after God's image insofar as it is the means

whereby man exercises his dominion, and surely dominion is an

attribute of God, seeing He is the absolute and final Lord. For this

reason man's body is erect, being endowed as well with speech in

order to issue words of command.19

If corporeality has had its advocates as an explanation of the

meaning of the image of God, non-corporeality has an even greater

number of protagonists. Gordon H. Clark shows how the image

and likeness cannot be man's body, for (1) God is spirit and has

no body, and (2) animals have bodies but are not in the image

of God.20 Adam Clarke, the noted commentator among the Metho-

 

17 Robert Jamieson, Genesis - Deuteronomy, Vol. I of A Commentary,

Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, by

Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown (London and Glasgow,

n.d.), p. 8. It is interesting that Calvin (Institutes of the Christian Religion

i. 15. 4), expounding Ephesians and Colossians, stresses the righteousness

of the new creation, thus interpreting the Old Testament by the New.

18 Gerhard Kittel, "ei]kw<n," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,

ed. by Gerhard Kittel and trans. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, II (Grand Rapids,

1964), 394.

19 R. Payne Smith, "Genesis," A Bible Commentary for Bible Stu-

dents, ed. by Charles John Ellicott (London and Edinburgh, n.d.), I, 17

Skinner is surely more correct when, admitting that the image qualifies man

for dominion, he affirms that such rule is a consequence, and not the essence

of the image of God (John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary

on Genesis, The International Critical Commentary, ed. by Samuel Rolles

Driver, Alfred Plummer, and Charles Augustus Briggs [Edinburgh, 1910],

p. 32). Mauser has recently presented a rather novel approach to the ques-

tion, when, discussing the position of Hempel, he speaks of an anthropomor-

phous God answering to a theomorphous man. His article may be summarized

thus: "In the book of Hosea the prophet of Israel is depicted in a remark-

ably ably theomorphic fashion in that his life story as a man becomes, at least

partially a representation of God by participation in God's condition. Human

life is consequently understood as an image of God which in turn presupposes

a concept of the divine in which Yahweh is so essentially God for and with

Israel that the human is lodged in Him" (Ulrich Mauser, "Image of God and

Incarnation," Interpretation, XXIV [July, 1970], 336-56, esp. 336 and 342).

The introduction into the discussion of so many tertium quids can only serve

to confuse the issue.

20 Clark, p. 216.



The Image of God / 241

 

dists, holds that the image must be the intellect and the mind, not

a corporeal image. The mind and soul were certainly, according

to Clarke's reasoning, created after the perfections of God. His

emphasis is: "God was now producing a spirit, and a spirit, too,

formed after the perfections of his [that is, God's] nature."21 Keil

and Delitzsch find the image of God in the spiritual or self-conscious

personality of man. Therein exists a creature copy of the holiness

of the life of God.22 Since God is incorporeal, reasons Chafer, the

likeness of man to God must be limited to the immaterial part of man.

Man's personality and self-consciousness, then, are the vantage point

from which the personality of God is to be studied.23 Calvin forth-

rightly affirms that ". . . there is no doubt that the proper seat of

his image is in the soul." The image of God is explicable only on

the basis of the spiritual. The view that man is the image corp-

oreally is "repugnant to reason," because it would have Christ speak-

ing in Genesis 1:26 of Himself as the image of Himself.24

At this point it may be well to ascertain how the image concept

fared through successive centuries and among Jews and Christians

to the present time. The rabbis manifested a reluctance to define

precisely the phrase "image of God." This is unmistakable in the

Aramaic translations of the Pentateuch. Radical anti-anthropomor-

phism is seen in numerous ways.25 The rabbis of the Mishnah em-

braced braced the image of God concept in the Philonic and Platonic sense,

and utilized the idea for rabbinical enactments. For instance, the

image was to remind men of the dignity of each person; it argued

against celibacy; it underscored man's-beauty and original androgyn-

ous nature; and it led to much speculation concerning the Adam

Qadmon (The Primordial Man or Urmensch).26 The rabbis made

 

21 Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments

(New York, n.d.), I, 38.

22 C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, Vol. I of Biblical Commen-

tary on the Old Testament, trans. by James Martin (Edinburgh, 1866), pp.

63-64.

23 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Dallas, 1947), I, 181, 184.

24 Calvin Institutes i. 15. 3. He concludes: "I retain the principle ... that

the image of God includes all the excellence in which the nature of man

surpasses all the other species of animals" (ibid.). Zenos concurs in under-

standing the image to be that which relates man to God, namely, his per-

sonality (cf. Andrew C. Zenos, "Man, Doctrine of," A Standard Bible Dic-

tionary, ed. by Melancthon W. Jacobus, et al. (1909), pp. 512-13.

25 Altmann, pp. 235-39. In vivid contrast to the Aramaic versions are the

Greek, which, apart from Symmachus, translated the text literally (cf.

ibid., p. 240).

26 Ibid., pp. 243-44.



242 / Bibliotheca Sacra - July 1972

 

much of man's ability to think, create, and be aware of God. He

is capable, not only of communing with God, but in later rabbinic

literature he is designated as a "partner" of God the Creator.27

Medieval Jewish theologians generally followed Philo's view,

replacing his Logos with Plotinus' Intellect (Nous) or Aristotle's

Active Intellect. Man's superiority over lower creation resided in

his rational soul or intellect. The summum bonum for man was

to achieve through the exercise of reason a union of his intellect

with God or with the Active Intellect. Maimonides subscribed to

this interpretation of the biblical terms, and it became standard

for Jewish exegesis and philosophy.28

            Early in Christian interpretation the Pauline concept of Christ

as the image of God (Col. 1:15; see also Phil. 2:6 for the form of

God) was made determinative for an understanding of the full im-

port of man in the image of God. The appellation of Jesus Christ

as the image of God related to a number of concepts, namely, the

eschatological idea of "Son of man," the Pauline phrase, "last Adam"

(1 Cor. 15:45), and the exhortation to put on the "new man" (Col.

3:9, 10).29 Before entering into a fuller consideration of Christ as

the image of God, it may be helpful to continue the historical ob-

servations on the doctrine of the image through the Reformation

era. Luther attacked Augustine's view that the image consists of

memory, understanding, and will. In this case even Satan could

be said to exhibit the image of God. Luther understood the image

as essentially man's response to God by loving and glorifying Him.30

Calvin, who has been referred to above, claimed man could be like       

or resemble God only in the area of spiritual and rational attributes.31

Reformed theologians as a school subscribed to the position that

the image was knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.32

            When one views the theological scene at the early twentieth

century, he is aware that religious liberalism is in its heyday. How

have liberals dealt with the problem under discussion? Enamored

 

27 Israel Adler, "Man, The Nature of," Encyclopaedia Judaica, ed. by Cecil

Roth, XI (1971), 842-46, esp. 843.

28 Altmann, p. 254. The Jewish writer of Egypt, Saadya Gaon (892-942),

however, held that the image referred to man's rule as lord of the earth--

Gen. 1:28-30--reasoning from Elohim as "rulers," "judges" (ibid., p. 255).

29 Ibid., pp. 244-45.

30 Berkouwer, p. 57.

31 Ibid., p. 76.

32 Ibid., p. 88. See also Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (New York,

1871), II, 96 ff.



                                                                                    The Image of God / 243

 

of the Wellhausen approach to the religion of Israel, they saw the

entire concept of the image of God as probably dependent on Baby-

lonian mythology. It was the intention of God, according to this

view, to make a man who looked like Him and the divine beings

in His retinue. Included were spiritual powers like power of thought,

communication, and self-transcendence, couched in concrete, rather

than abstract teiuns.33 Because this school was reluctant to take

the Genesis narrative in the literal sense, it felt itself comfortable

in the relational view, that is, the image consisted in man's relation

to God.34 This shifts the emphasis in the consideration from the

creation account to the redemption account of the New Testament.

            Emil Brunner saw a double aspect of the image, the formal

phase which is unchangeable and cannot be affected by sin, and

the material image which was lost through the fall.35 Karl Barth

stressed the "I-thou" or "face-to-face" relation as in the divine life.

He originally denied that God had created man in His own image,

since He was "totally Other," but in later writings he admitted a

divine image in man.36 However, the central thrust of the image

of God for Barth is relationship. Man is God's partner in the cove-

nant of grace and a counterpart to God in creation.37  Carrying the

concept of the image to its eschatological conclusion, Barth places

it in the body of the resurrection. It is the oft quoted dictum of

Irenaeus: "His becoming what we are enables us to become what

he is." Thus the imago resides in the present hope of the resurrec-

tion of the body through Christ.38

            The discussion must now turn to the consideration of Christ

as the image of God. Prominent passages are 2 Corinthians 4:4;

Colossians 1:15-17; and Hebrews 1:2, 3. When these citations are

carefully scrutinized, it will be seen from the context in each case

 

33 Walter Russell Bowie, "Exposition, The Book of Genesis," The Inter-

preter's Bible, ed. by George Arthur Buttrick, et al. (Nashville and New

York, 1952), 1, 484-85.

34 Crawford, p. 234.

35 Berkouwer, pp. 51-52.

36 Clark, p. 221. When Barth unfolds his exposition, he makes the image

the sexual distinction between man and woman. Clark is to the point when

he observes: "Since this distinction occurs in animals also, one wonders

how it can be the image that sets man apart from the lower creation. And

since there are no sexual distinctions in the Godhead, one wonders how

this can be an image of God at all" (ibid.).

37 Zabriskie, pp. 360-61. Barth, along with other Christian exegetes, is guilty

of reading New Testament doctrine into Old Testament citations, which is

an unhappy exegetical procedure.

38 Ibid., p. 376.



244 / Bibliotheca Sacra - July 1972

 

that the phraseology is dealing with Christ not so much as the in-

carnate Savior as the eternal Son. Reference is made to the specific

teaching of Christ's essential deity.39 A word of caution is in order

here: when the Scriptures represent man in the image of God, it

is of the Godhead, not of Christ exclusively. Because man, even

when redeemed and glorified, cannot be equated with God, his

image of God must necessarily be imperfect. Says Chereso: "This

is because man can never achieve equality or identity of nature

with God. Only the Son is so perfect an image of His Father as

to be equal to, and identical in nature with, Him. Hence it is that

the Word is called the image of God, while man is said to be created

to that image."40

            That the New Testament clearly designates Jesus Christ to be

the image of God par excellence has been the point of greatest ten-

n sion between the Jewish and Christian viewpoints on the image of

God. Altmann meets the issue squarely: "The difference between

Jewish and Christian exegesis in the area of the homo imago Dei

motif concerned not so much the philosophical concept of man's

dignity as a rational creature--this remained, in fact, common

ground throughout medieval Christian scholasticism--as the the-

logical equation of Logos and Christ."41

            What effect did the fall of man have upon the image of God

in man? The discussion of the image of God should not and cannot

be restricted to the original creation. What of man after the fall?

Can one still regard him as in the image of God? In what sense is

this true? The matter of sin's effect on man was debated in contro-

versies with Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, with synergists and Ar-

minians. How can man fallen and corrupt (Rom. 1:21, 23) and

rebellious against God still be viewed as the image of God? If he is

a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3), does he still bear the image of his

Creator? Man's deeds show that he is not essentially good. And if

he is not essentially good, then how can he reasonably be expected

to mirror the nature of God?42 Has man lost the image partially or

enti rely?

 

39 Laidlaw, pp. 452-53. Along with John 1:1-3 the passages cited speak

of creation and the upholding of the universe as the work of Christ as Word,

Image, and Son respectively.

40 C. J. Chereso, "Image of God," New Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. by

William J. McDonald, et al., VII (1967), 369. For the same emphasis, see

Orr, God's Image in Man, pp. 267, 271.

41 Altmann, p. 254.

42 Harris, p. 201.


 


                                                                                    Image of God / 245

 

            Lutheran theologians have been positive that man through

the fall lost the image of God completely: "Lutheran thinking as-

sumes that this ‘image of God’ as well as the ‘righteousness given

with creation’ were lost through the Fall. It is not considered to be

part of man's creaturely structure which indestructibly survives also

in the sinner. This interpretation sees man, at one and the same

moment, as creature and sinner, but as the bearer of the image of

God only in the state of original integrity and again after the resur-

rection from the dead."43 Reformed theologians held that the image

included man's rational faculties and his moral conformity to God.

They spoke of the essential image of God (the very nature of the

soul) and the accidental image (what could be lost without the loss

of humanity itself).

            Nowhere does the Old Testament indicate that the divine image

and likeness are lost. For this reason some theologians who held

first that the image was lost, have reversed themselves and have

spoken of "remnants" of the image in man as fallen. When one

contemplates Genesis 9:6; James 3:9; and 1 Corinthians 11:7, it

can be seen that it is incorrect to say unqualifiedly that the image

of God was lost through sin. There are references where man's

nature after the fall "is still the ‘work and creature of God’ (see

Deut. 32:6; Isa. 45:11; 54:5; 64:8; Acts 17:25; Rev. 4:11; Job

10:8-12; Ps. 139:14-16)."44 The insurmountable obstacle to the

position that the image of God is entirely lost through the fall is

the fact that even fallen man is man and is not shorn of his humanity.

In short, if the divine image speaks of an inalienable part of man's

constitution, such as reason, freedom, will, and the like, it remains.

But it is in a marred, corrupted, and impaired state. When moral

likeness to God is in question, then this must be seen as largely

defaced in man, who cannot naturally claim holiness with love and

fear of God.45 However, that which relates to rationality, conscience,

and self-consciousness cannot be less, for then man would cease

to be man. In spite of the fall man did not become a beast or a

demon, but retained his humanity. He did lose, however, his com-

munion with God, his righteousness, his conformity to the will of

God. And he became mortal.

            When the New Testament refers to the new creation, it is speak-

ing of the restoration of the image (cf. 1 Cor. 15:49). Christ is the

 

43 Osterloh, pp. 83-84.

44 Berkouwer, p. 133.

45 Orr, God's Image in Man, p. 59.



246 / Bibliotheca Sacra - July 1972

 

pattern of the redeemed humanity. The principle emphasis in Pauline

anthropology is the restoration of the image (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18). See

Romans 8:29; Ephesians 4:24; and Colossians 3:10. A caution is

here in order. To project back from the renewed image to the

original image can lead to confusion, because here there would be

an evaluation of the original image in terms of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4;

Col. 1: 15). Regeneration and sanctification serve to renew the be-

liever after the image of his Creator. In redemption the divine image

is restored and perfected in man. God has predestinated us to be

conformed to the image of His Son.

            Certain concluding observations are in order here. The image

of God constitutes all that differentiates man from the lower creation.

It does not refer to corporeality or immortality. It has in mind the

will, freedom of choice, self-consciousness, self-transcendence, self-

determination, rationality, morality, and spirituality of man.46 The

ability to know and love God must stand forth prominently in any

attempt to ascertain precisely what the image of God is.

            Thus the treatment of the image of God in man is eminently

vital for proper views of creation, sin, redemption, Christology, and

the future life. Only in theology--not in the natural or social

sciences--can the true meaning of man's existence and destiny

be correctly discerned.

 

46 There is no need to restrict the image too narrowly to mind, reason, or

logic. Man is far too complex for this alone. When the image is too de-

limited to reason, the conclusion may be: "Then in heaven we will not make

mistakes even in arithmetic" (cf. Clark, pp. 218, 222).    

 

 

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

            3909 Swiss Ave.

            Dallas, TX   75204

            www.dts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:  thildebrandt@gordon.edu