Re: In the Image

Dick Fischer (
Sat, 01 Jun 1996 01:57:05 -0500

Keith wrote:

>I must strongly object to the conclusion that the image of God (however
>corrupted) does not belong to all of humanity.

As does nearly every theologian I can name, which is why there has not
been a solution forthcoming from this community. All, liberals and
conservatives alike, try to start the human race with Adam of Genesis.
In a nut shell, that is the mistake. If you substitute the word
"representative" then it is easier to understand. We who are Christians
have been commissioned to serve as Ambassadors for Christ. Pagans are not
God's representatives.

>Scripture is firm in its
>declaration that all bear the image of God. Genesis 9:4-6 bears a warning
>against taking human life -- "Whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall
>his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."

Notice that in Hebrew 'adam is the word that has been translated "man"
in those verses - not 'ish, the word for common man. God is speaking
directly to Noah, this is part of the Noahic covenant, Noah and his
generations are all Adamites. Non-Adamites did not fall under the
covenant. Kill one of your own kin and suffer the consequences, kill
Philistines, and that's a different story.

Having said that, there are other rules which cloud the issue. In
conjunction with a beast, a "man" is always 'adam. In conjunction with
a wife or woman, a "man" is always 'ish. So also a "man" of God is 'ish.
So I don't mean to imply that it is an open and shut case. There are
instances where 'ish and 'adam are used almost interchangeably.

But the prophets occasionally did distinguish between Adam's kin and those
who weren't. To get a sense of how common man differs from "Adam" or
"Adamite," read Gen. 19:8-31. Everywhere you read "man" it is 'ish in
Hebrew. Where the difference is more easily seen is where 'adam and 'ish
appear in the same sentence, i.e., Num. 23:19: "God is not a man ['ish]
that he should lie; neither the son of man ['adam] that he should repent."
Non-Adamites do not repent of their sins before God.

There are many other examples. The one I like best is in I Chronicles.
In I Chron. 17:17, "God ... hast regarded me according to the estate of a
man ['adam]." But in I Chron. 20:6, "...there was war at Gath, where was
a MAN of great stature, whose fingers and toes were four and twenty, six
on each hand, and six on each foot." Care to guess which Hebrew word was
used for a "man" with 12 toes and 12 fingers?

>James 3:9 is based on the assumption that all bear the image of God.

I'm glad you brought in James. Martin Luther omitted the Book of James
from his Bible, which shows that even a scholar of Luther's stature can
make a mistake. First, let's see what James said:

Jas. 3:9: "Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse
we men which are made after the similtude of God."

It's the word "made" that looks similar enough to "created" that it might
cause confusion. The Greek word *ginomai* is not synonymous with the
Hebrew *bara* which means to create. Here are instances in the NT where
the Greek word is translated various ways.

1. be
2. come to pass
3. be made
4. be done
5. come
6. become

But there is no question that the book of James is addressed to the
redeemed. He starts out, "James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus
to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad ..." This is a designation
for believers everywhere, or perhaps, Jewish Christians at that date. And
he does not depart from his intended audience. "This you know, my beloved
brethren ..." (Jas. 1:19). "My brethren, do not hold your faith ..."
(Jas. 2:1).

In the passage you quoted, James is decrying their wicked tongues. Why?
Because we are supposed to set an example. Unregenerate men don't need
to set an example. There was backbiting going on, something we need to
watch out for. We don't bless God and curse our brothers. (Glenn
notwithstanding :)

Dick Fischer
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