« Prev 2. Man Created in the Image of God. Next »

§ 2. Man Created in the Image of God.

Secondly. Other animals, however, besides man, were created in maturity and perfection, each according to its kind. It was the distinguishing characteristic of man, that he was created in the image and likeness of God. Many of the early writers assumed that the word “image” had reference to the body, which they thought by its beauty, intelligence of aspect, and erect stature, was an adumbration of God, and that the word “likeness “referred to the intellectual and moral nature of man. According to Augustine, image relates to the cognitio veritatis, and likeness to the amor virtutis; the former to the intellectual, and the latter to the moral faculties. This was the foundation of the scholastic doctrine that the image of God includes the natural attributes of the soul; and the likeness our moral conformity to the divine Being. This distinction was introduced into the Romish theology. Bellarmin116116De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio, I. 6. Disputationes, Paris, 1608, vol. iv. p. 402, a. says, “Imaginem in natura, similitudinem in probitate et justitia sitam esse.” He also says,117117De Gratia Primi Hominis, 2. Ibid. p. 8, d.Ex his tot patrum testimoniis cogimur admittere, non esse omnino idem imaginem et similitudinem, sed imaginem ad naturam, similitudinem ad virtutes pertinere; proinde Adamum peccando non imaginem Dei, sed similitudinem perdidisse.” Others again somewhat modified this view by making the image of God to consist in what was natural and concreated, and the likeness in what was acquired. Man was created in the image of God and fashioned himself into his likeness. That is, he so used his natural endowments as to become like God in character. All these distinctions, however, rest on a false interpretation of Gen. i. 26. The words צֶלֶם and דְמוּת are simply explanatory one of the other. Image and likeness, means an image which is like. The simple declaration of the Scripture is that man at his creation was like sod. Wherein that likeness consisted has been a matter of dispute. According to the Reformed theologians and the majority of the theologians of other divisions of the Church, man's likeness to God included the following points: —

His intellectual and moral nature. God is a Spirit, the human 97soul is a spirit. The essential attributes of a spirit are reason, conscience, and will. A spirit is a rational, moral, and therefore also, a free agent. In making man after his own image, therefore, God endowed him with those attributes which belong to his own nature as a spirit. Man is thereby distinguished from all other inhabitants of this world, and raised immeasurably above them. He belongs to the same order of being as God Himself, and is therefore capable of communion with his Maker. This conformity of nature between man and God, is not only the distinguishing prerogative of humanity, so tar as earthly creatures are concerned, but it is also the necessary condition of our capacity to know God, and therefore the foundation of our religious nature. If we were not like God, we could not know Him. We should be as the beasts which perish. The Scriptures in declaring that God is the Father of spirits, and that we are his offspring, teach us that we are partakers of his nature as a spiritual being, and that an es3ential element of that likeness to God in which man was originally created consists in our rational or spiritual nature. On this subject, however, there have been two extreme opinions. The Greek theologians made the image of God in which man was created to consist exclusively in his rational nature. The majority of them taught that the εἰκών was ἐν λογικῇ ψυχῇ; or as John of Damascus118118II. 12; Strauss, Dogmatik, vol. i. p. 690. expresses it: τὸ κατ᾽ εἰκόνα, τὸ νοερὸν δηλοῖ καὶ αὐτεξούσιον. And Irenæus119119IV. iv. 3; Works, edit. Leipzig, 1853, vol. i. p. 569. says: “Homo vero rationabilis et secundum hoc similis Deo.” The Remonstrants and Socinians were disposed to confine the image of God in which man was created to his dominion. Thus Limborch120120Theologia Christiana, II. xxiv. 2, edit. Amsterdam, 1715, pp. 133, 134. says: “Illa imago aliud nihil est, quam eximia, quædam qualitas et excellentia, qua homo Deum speciatim refert: hæc autem est potestas et dominium, quod Deus homini dedit in omnia a se creata. . . . . Hoc enim dominio Deum proprie refert, estque quasi visibilis Deus in terra super omnes Dei creaturas constitutus.” This dominion, however, was founded on man's rational nature, and therefore Limborch adds, that Adam's likeness to God pertained to his soul, “quatenus ratione instructa est, cujus ministerio, veluti sceptro quodam, omnia sibi subjicere potest.” These views agree in excluding man's moral conformity to God from the idea of the divine image in which he was created.

The Lutheran theologians were, in general, inclined to go to the apposite extreme. The image of God, according to them, was that 98which was lost by the fall, and which is restored by redemption. Thus Luther says: “So ist nun hier so viel gesagt, dass der Mensch am Anfang geschaffen ist ein Bild, das Gott ähnlich war, voll Weisheit, Tugend, Liebe and kurzum gleich wie Gott, also dass er voll Gottes war.” And: “Das ist Gottes Bild, das eben also wie Gott gesinnet ist und sich immer nach ihm ahmet.121121Sermons on Genesis, edit. Erlangen, 1843, vol. xxxiii. pp. 55, 67. Calovius and other Lutheran theologians say expressly: “Anima ipsa rationalis non est imago divina, aut imaginis pars, quia anima non est amissa, at imago amissa est.” And again: “Unde patet, conformitatem, quæ in substantia animæ reperitur aut corporis, ad imaginem Dei, stylo biblico descriptam, non pertinere, quia substantia animæ aut corporis per lapsum non est perdita, nec per renovationem restauratur.” This, however, is rather a dispute about the Scriptural use of the phrase “image of God,” as applied to man in his original estate, than about the fact itself; for the Lutherans did not deny that the soul as to its nature or substance is like God. Hollazius admits that “Ipsa substantia animæ humanæ quædam θεῖα seu divina exprimit, et exemplar divinitatis refert. Nam Deus est spiritus immaterialis, intelligens, voluntate libera agens, etc., etc. Quæ prædicata de anima humana certo modo affirmari possunt.122122Examen, Leipzig, 1763, p. 463.

The Reformed theologians take the middle ground between the extremes of making the image of God to consist exclusively in man's rational nature, or exclusively in his moral conformity to his Maker. They distinctly include both. Calvin123123Institutio, lib. i. xv. 4, edit. Berlin, 1834, vol. i. p. 130. says, Imago Dei est “integra naturæ humanæ præstantia, quæ refulsit in Adam ante defectionem postea sic vitiata et prope deleta, ut nihil ex ruina nisi confusum, mutilum, labeque infectum supersit.” H. à Diest124124Theologia Biblica, Daventriæ, 1644, pp. 73, 74. is more explicit: “Imago Dei fuit partim inamissibilis, partim amissibilis; inamissibilis, quæ post lapsum integra permansit, veluti animæ substantia spiritualis, immortalis, rationalis, cum potentiis intelligendi et libere volendi; amissibilis, quæ partim plane periit, partim corrupta est, manentibus tantum exiguis ejusdem reliquiis; veluti in intellectu insignis sapientia, in voluntate et affectibus vera justitia et sanctitas, in corpore immortalitas, sanitas, f'ortitudo, pulchritudo, dominium in animalia, copia omnium bonorum et jus utendi creaturis.” Maresius125125Collegium Theologicum, loc. v. 52, 53, 54, edit. Gröningen, 1659, p. 60. says: “Imago Dei spectavit, (1.) Animæ essentiam et conditionem spiritualem, intelligentem et volentem, quod contra Lutheranos pertendimus, quum post lapsum etiam rudera imaginis Dei adsint. (2.) Eluxit in accidentali animæ perfectione, mentis lumine, voluntatis 99sanctitate, sensuum et affectuum harmonia atque ad bonum promptitudine; (3.) conspicua fuit in dominio in omnia animalia.” While, therefore, the Scriptures make the original moral perfection of man the most prominent element of that likeness to God in which he was created, it is no less true that they recognize man as a child of God in virtue of his rational nature. He is the image of God, and bears and reflects the divine likeness among the inhabitants of the earth, because he is a spirit, an intelligent, voluntary agent; and as such he is rightfully invested with universal dominion. This is what the Reformed theologians were accustomed to call the essential image of God, as distinguished from the accidental. The one consisting in the very nature of the soul, the other in its accidental endowments, that is, such as might be lost without the loss of humanity itself.

« Prev 2. Man Created in the Image of God. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection