theological aversion to being made in the image of God

The starting chapters of the Bible always seem to make the classical theologians very uncomfortable. Not only is the text very incriminating to timelessness and omniscience (after all God creates and then observes in a repeating pattern), but it also contains an interesting statement that God made man in His own image:

Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Gen 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Now the Calvinists like Norman Geisler will use this text in a mocking manner. One book he wrote is entitled “Creating God in the Image of Man?” The one glaring thing that Geisler does NOT do in this book is explain what it means to be made in the image of God, much less set up Biblical parameters for what would fit inside this and what would not. It is abundantly clear from Geisler’s work that he in no way thinks man is made in the image of God. He (and other Augustinians) treats the idea with contempt. Here is how he defines God:

God’s Attributes: Nontemporal, Simple, Pure Actuality, Unchangeable Will, Unqualified omniscience, Foreknowledge of freedom, Cannot learn anything, Unchangeable nature, Infinite, Omnipotent.

So Geisler must read a text like Genesis 1 and then think to himself that the text in no way depicts what happened: God is hanging out with the angels or the trinity (take your pick) and then decides to create man in “their” image and “their” likeness. And then gives man dominion over the animals.

That story destroys just about every one of Geisler’s attributes for God. When the classical theists come up with ways in which mankind is “created in the image of God” it is always through gross assumptions not present in the text of Genesis.

Gene Cook also attempts this “making God into the image of man” line. This is in his context of an Open Theism debate against Bob Enyart. Cook, like Geisler, is banking on the audience giving them a pass on the issue.

But the problem is that the Bible actually uses the terminology, and not in the context of Cook and Geisler:

Rom 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

The subject matter is very familiar to anyone who studies the Bible. This is just one of countless references to idols. Idols share one very familiar theme with God (as God is described by Cook and Geisler). Idols are immutable. God rifts on this fact in various mockings of idols (1Sa 5, Psa 115, Isa 46). God contrasts this heavily with Himself, describing Himself as living. Living is the polar opposite of timeless and immutable. One has to wonder if Paul would use his statement in Romans 1:23 against classical theists.

When classical theists just dismiss the statement in Genesis about being “made in the image of God” or if they give a wildly improbable interpretation in the context of the statement, their ploys should be brought to light.

NT Wright actually gives the most contextually sound understanding of the purpose of being created in the image of God: the world was created as God’s temple, and temples have in them an image of the god. In God’s creation, that image was man. (NT Wright @23:00 mark)

The author of Genesis was not implying that God only made man related to Himself in obscure and hard to define ways. The author was saying that when we look at man, we can see God.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Calvinism, God, Immutablility, Omnipresence, Open Theism, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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