In the Image

Dick Fischer (
Tue, 28 May 1996 11:37:58 -0500

At 01:50 PM 5/23/96 -0400, Terry wrote:

>I have no problem with the pre-humans displaying human-like behaviors. I
>see no reason not to expect it given the full complexity of what it means
>to be a human being and a human being in the image of God. I have no
>problem saying that modern homo sapiens, all deriving from the ancestral
>small population (among whom were Adam and Eve), ALONE bear the image of
>I believe that Glenn errs in cast the net of image-bearing too widely and
>that he doesn't allow for "anticipatory" properties and behaviors. This
>unnecessarily rules out the possibility of correlating the events of
>Genesis 2ff. with the origin of anatomically modern man. From a
>genetic/biological perspective such a correlation makes a great deal of
>sense and is not incompatible with much of Biblical theology.

This looks to be the proper time to discuss the "image of God." The
following is an excerpt from the last chapter of my book under the
heading "Imago Dei." Remember, the first seventeen chapters are spent
explaining why Adam of Genesis appears too late in human history to have
been the progenitor of the human race. But he is just in time to start
the Jewish race (also Arabs, Armenians, and some others). Biblical
history, however, is not hominid history.

Bible expositors have taken the phrase "in the image of God" and blown
it into proportions far beyond the simper intentions of the text. An
"image" is a likeness or representation of something. In Lev. 26:1,
the children of Israel were told to make "no idols not graven image."
Idols themselves can become objects of worship, obscuring the one God
who accepts worship directly. "The image of Baal" (II Kings 3:2) was an
object of pagan worship, being a representation of that false deity.

In Genesis 1:27, Adam represented God, having been "created in His own
image." This status was passed through the godly line of Seth (Gen. 5:3).
Noah and his generations were God's chosen people, and thus were "in the
image" (Gen. 9:6). This status as representatives of God was conferred
upon the Israelites through the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 17:1-8).

Apparently, those outside the nation of Israel were outside the realm of
accountability. This can be inferred from Matt. 23:15, "Woe unto you
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make
one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child
of hell than yourselves."

When one outside the Jewish faith was brought to the knowledge of God,
he became accountable. Because of false teaching, he was condemned.
This unique status for Israel as God's chosen people was rescinded, or
at least modified, at the cross. Christ was appointed by God as His
representative. The second Adam, Christ, was in the "image of God"
(II Cor. 4:4) just as the first Adam, and the mantle was passed to the
followers of Christ.

In I Corinthians 11:7, Paul's instructions were not to unregenerate men,
but to the redeemed of the church at Corinth. According to Paul, they
were in "the image and glory of God, the firstborn of every creature"
(Col. 1:15). Fallen man has no claim to God's image lest he receives it
through redemption.

Psalm 8 points to the coming Messiah. David affirms that Christ has
dominion over all things. This was given to Adam at his creation
(Gen. 1:28), and was intended for his generations, but it was clearly in
Christ's hands either after the Fall or upon the resurrection. "Thou
madest Him to have dominion over the works of thy hands: thou hast put
all things under His feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the
field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea ..." (Psa. 8:6-8).

Dominion over the lesser animals does not accrue to man. It was inherent
first in Adam, and then Christ. Those who belong to Christ share in His
authority and in His dominion. Those who are not in Christ, though they
may act as if they have divine permission, merely usurp an authority not
granted by God.

The notion that all of mankind has "dominion" over the earth and were
created in God's "image" derives from the mistaken idea that Adam was
the ultimate progenitor of the human race. From this, Bible expositors
have gone overboard postulating the marvelous similarities between us
and our Creator.

In what manner are we, His stumbling creatures, like the Most High God?
Do we possess His holiness, or His righteousness? Can we boast of His
wisdom? Are we omnipotent? Can we transcend time? Is it in our power
to forgive sin? Can we grant immortality? No, we mere mortals presume
too much.

Our claim to being in His image is on the righteousness of Christ, not
by any birthright, lest any man should boast. "For my thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isa. 55:8).

Dick Fischer
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