Re: Origins: Neaderthal Burial Customs

Murphy (
Sun, 22 Dec 1996 17:04:31 -0500

Dick Fischer wrote:
> George Murphy wrote:
> >The important question about what constitutes humanity in the
> >theological sense, image of God ...
> I would contend that "image of God" has nothing to do with what
> constitutes humanity. IMHO it merely meant that Adam was a
> representative of God, an emissary, or an ambassador of God,
> chosen to do what Christ eventually had to do because of Adam's
> failure.
> Those of us today who are "in the image" only have such standing
> IF we are followers of Christ, "who is the image of the invisible
> God, the firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15). Thus being in
> the image of God accrues to believers, it does not appear to be a
> birthright of degenerate man.

What I said was "what constitutes humanity in the theological
sense, image of God, &c". The "&c" is non-trivial here. What I
intended was to suggest a list of important _related_ topics, not the
precise equation of "what constitutes humanity" with "the image of God".
I agree:
a. That "in our image, after our likeness" in Gen.1 means
primarily that humanity is to represent God in the world: "Let us
create humanity in our image ... and let them have dominion ...". I.e.,
humanity is to have dominion as God's representative.
b. Only in Christ do we see the image of God in the full sense
- and this means that to see what humanity is supposed to be, we have to
look at Christ (not Adam, about whom, even if he is understood as an
historical individual, we know virtually nothing).
c. Renewal of the image of God in human beings comes about
through being in Christ (Rom.8:29 &c).
But I would also note:
d. Being God's representatives in creation requires having the
appropriate tools to do the job. Thus the classical idea that the
_imago_ is rationality is not completely wrong, though that is not the
primary sense in Gen.1. This can also be connected with b & c above if
rationality is thought of as participation in the Logos, as with
e. Even many theologians who have had a very strong doctrine of
original sin have believed that there are some vestiges of the image of
God in fallen humanity - though I can see reasons for dissenting from
such a view.
f. In passing, the "dominion = domination" misunderstanding of
Gen.1 which Lynn White blamed for our ecological crisis would not have
happened if the christological content of the _imago_ and the real
character of Christ's rule had been taken more seriously by Christians.
George Murphy