More on the Image of God

RDehaan237 (
Sat, 7 Mar 1998 07:44:34 EST


I want to respond to you message dated 3/5/98 8:40:10 AM.

You used many texts to support your position. I have some hesitation about
what we called in college, "proof-texting", to maintain a position. But I do
want to respond to some of the interesting texts you presented some of which I
believe, can go either way, and in at least one case support the view that the
image of God applies to all human beings. On March 5 you wrote,

<<I don't think you can separate Adam of Genesis 1 from Adam of Genesis 2
because Adam of Genesis 5 clearly parallels Genesis 1, and Adam from Genesis 2
and Adam of Genesis 5 are the same.

<<What we continue to overlook is the entirely Jewish slant on the Old
Testament. The OT is written by the Jews for the Jews and about the Jews.
There was no intent, in my belief, to broach the issue of generic man anywhere
in OT literature. Where non-covenantal man was mentioned the Hebrew 'ish was
used versus the Hebrew 'adam. Genesis 1, 2 and 5 are all 'adam or as should
have been translated "Adam" in Genesis 1 also. Thus all references to Adam
in Genesis 1, 2, and 5 are to the same man - Adam husband to Eve and father
to Cain, Abel, Seth and other sons and daughters.>>

Comment: These are impressive passages that favor your position. But I don't
think it is a shut case. The first two verses of Gen 5 read thus in my Bible
(NRSV): "This is a list of the descendants of Adam. When God created
humankind he made them in the likeness of God. Male and female he created
them, and he blessed them and named them 'Humankind' when they were created."
In the footnotes an alternative translation of "humankind" is "adam". An
alternative translation for the first "them" is "him". Not being a Hebrew
scholar or a theologian I can only surmise that such scholars find some
ambiguity in translating these words into English leaving some wiggle room for
the position I hold that the image of God applies to all humankind.

You continued:

<<Let me repeat what I said earlier in case it was missed.

<<I agree that we do seem to misunderstand what is meant by the phrase
"image of God." We want to believe that we, His creations, are somehow
reflective of the Creator, that we possess to a small degree god-like
qualities. Yet we read: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither
are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isa. 55:8). Also, wanting to be
like God was Satan's problem. I think a less grandiose translation is
in order.>>

Comment: Your warning may be well taken. I do not sense, however, that anyone
on this image-of-God thread wants to be like God. So I don't know who the
"we" in the above statement refers to.

You continued:

<<The native Americans in the Southwest built totem poles as objects of
worship. They knew the totems were not gods, but they desired having
something they could see, that was tangible. An "image" is a likeness
or representation of something. In Leviticus 26:1, the children of
Israel were told to make "no idols nor graven image." Idols themselves
can become objects of worship, obscuring the one true God who accepts
worship directly. "The image of Baal" (II Kings 3:2) was an object of
pagan worship, a representation of Baal. They knew the alters were not
Baal, but served as a medium of sorts by which they could worship a god
they could not see.>>

Comment: Are you suggesting that we may be worshipping ourselves as the image
of God? Again, your warning may be well taken, but I don't see it happening.
If you do, I think you should be more specific.

<<In Genesis 1:27, Adam represented God, having been "created in His own
image." Yes, the King James translators rendered the hebrew 'adam as
"man," but read Genesis 5:1-3. From the parallels I think we can see
that the man in Gen. 1:27 was the father of Seth in Gen. 5.>>

Comment: See my comments above. Gen. 1:27 in the NRSV read "So God created
humankind in his image..." with the alternative translation of "humankind" as

<<This status was passed through the godly line of Seth. 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).>>

Comment: I think you should read Gen. 9:6 more carefully. In the NRSV it
reads, "Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person's
blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind." Doesn't this mean
that killing a human being is forbidden _because all humans are made in God's
own image_?

In the Gen. 17: 1-8 passage you refer to, I find it full of the covenant and
of God's promises to Abraham, but I see nothing in it that is relevant to the
image of God.

<<Apparently, those outside the nation of Israel were outside the realm of
accountability. This can be inferred from Matthew 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.">>

No comment. This is irrelevant.

<<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." They received this authority
as believers in Christ, "who is the image of the invisible God, the
firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15). Fallen man has no claim to
God's image, in my estimation, unless he receives it through redemption.>>

Comment: I believe the image of God has two aspects; first, as a creational
concept. God's image is bestowed on humankind at creation, as an act of God's
grace. It is the "image of dust" as spoken of in I Cor. 15: 49. Through
human sin it was broken, but not destroyed. Second, the image of God has a
redemptive aspect. The image that will be ours in redemption is not a restored
or upgraded "image of the dust", but rather, a new image--we will "bear the
image of the man of heaven." (I Cor. 15:49).

<<Therefore, we should not expect to see "image bearers" before Adam
who appeared around 7,000 years ago. It was Adam's responsibility to
bring the heathen into accountability, not to people the planet. Adam,
in my humble opinion, was the first man of the covenant, an ambassador
for God, not the first of our species.>>

Comment: In the last paragraph you conflate "image bearers", accountability,
covenant, ambassador, first of our species. All I'm looking at is "image
bearers". I never said Adam was the first of our species. I agree with the
position you take in your book, *The Origins Solution* that Adam was created
into a peopled world. That seems clear from the Bible and from other
historical research you have done. Since these people were in the world
before Adam they are by definition, pre-Adamites. To me the Bible holds that
the people of the world into which Adam came bore the image of God, which was
gradually being degraded. Adam also bore the pristine image. But that is
less important in Adam than his covenantal responsibility. You said it well,
"It was Adam's responsibility to bring the heathen [pre-Adamite, broken image
bearers] into accountability, not to people the planet."

<<And he is the same man from the very beginning in Genesis 1:27.>>

See my comments above.

Thanks for your contributions, Dick. I join others in saying that I am still
trying to come to a fuller understanding of the image of God, and your
contributions and those of others are very stimulating to me.