Originally published in Creation 4, no 1 (March 1981): 21-29.
According to the Bible, the first man was perfect, made in the image of God.
According to the Bible,the first man was perfect, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).Luke goes so far as to call Adam the Son of God (Luke 3:38).In his allegorical novel, Voyage to Venus, C.S. Lewis1paints a word picture of the dawn of history. He makesAdam resemble Jesus Christ. This is not far-fetched, for just as Christ, onearth in human form, was sinless, so Adam for a time, was sinless too. Lewiswrites,
It was a face which no man can say he does not know. You mightask how it was possible to look upon it without idolatry, not to mistake itfor that of which it was a likeness. For the resemblance was, in its own fashion,infinite, so that almost you could wonder at finding no sorrows on his browand no wounds in his hands and feet. Yet there was no danger of mistaking,not one moment of confusion, no least sally of the will towards forbiddenreverence. Where likeness was greatest, mistake was least possible. Perhapsthis is always so. A clever waxwork can be made so like a man that for a momentit deceives us; the great portrait which is far more deeply like him doesnot. Plaster images of the Holy One may before now have drawn to themselvesthe adoration they were meant to arouse for the reality. But here, where hisliving image, like him within and without, made by his own bare hands outof the depth of divine artistry, his masterpiece of self portraiture comingforth from his workshop to delight all worlds, walked and spoke, it couldnever be taken for more than an image. Nay, the very beauty of it lay in thecertainty that it was a copy, like and not the same, a rhyme, an exquisitereverberation of untreated music prolonged in a created medium.
Man in the image of God; what does this mean in practical terms?It cannot refer to bodily, biological form since God is a Spirit and man isearthly. But while it may be true that the body does not belong to the image,since God does not have a body, yet somehow we would like to see man’s body(which is a very real part of man) included in the image. Language and creativity,—twoimportant parts of the image, are impossible without a body. And God the Almightyagreed to share with man dominion and authority over the animal kingdom (Genesis 1:28),an activity in which the whole man, body as well as mind, is involved.Furthermore the Son of God honored the human body by becoming flesh and dwellingamong men (John 1:14) (Hebrews 2:14).Lewis suggests that before the Fall, the first man, Adam mirroredChrist the man of Galilee even more nearly than Christ would have resembledhis own half-brothers. If this is so, it seems almost blasphemy to considerAdam sired by a shambling ape.
Man an animal
We can think of manas placed halfway between God and the animals, possessing characteristics ofeach. Physiologically and anatomically man is an animal. He even shares thegenetic code with them. Evolutionists call him a human primate. Much of hisbehavior is controlled by Pavlovian conditioned reflexes.
The Genesis account recognizes important similarities betweenman and the animals. Of man we read “God formedman of the dust of the ground . . . .” (Genesis 2:7)And of the animals, “Now the LordGod had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field.”(Genesis 2:19)Animals are described as “living creatures”(Genesis 1:20),and man a “living being” (Genesis 2:7),the Hebrew word “naphesh” (breath) being used for both.Concerning the effects of the flood we are told, “Everythingon dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing. . . men and animals, and the creatures that move along the ground and the birdsof the air were wiped out.” (Genesis 7:22–23)
Later, it is explainedthat the “life” (naphesh) is in the blood (Genesis 9:4).Thus breathed-in life (naphesh) is not the essential factor whichdistinguishes man from animals. Something further is required.
God regards man differentlyfrom the animals. The Bible account is primarily concerned with the relationshipbetween God and man. Man was created by God, in his image, for God’s joy andglory, and exists only in the context of God. It is because God is (Hebrews 11:8)that man has being (Acts 17:28). True, the earth and animals too have a place in God’s economy, butessentially, the world was created as a place for man to live (e.g. Romans 8:19–22).
God’s attributes shared with man
The main impact ofthe image is that God endues man with some of his divine attributes, therebyseparating and making him different from the beasts. What are these specialGodlike qualities which man is permitted to share? I shall mention six: language,creativity, love, holiness, immortality and freedom. You will probably be ableto add to this list. All can be summed up by saying that man, like God, hasan intelligence, a mind.
According to Arthur Koestler,
The emergence of symbolic language, first spoken, then writtenrepresents the sharpest break between animal and man.2
As I write this I can hear birds singing. I hope they do so becausethey are happy, but to be honest I admit that probably their song is to demarcatetheir territory, a very selfish reason. Many birds communicate by sexual displaybefore their mates. Dolphins are said to “talk” and use a type of radar. A sophisticatedexample of animal communication is the “waggle-dance” of bees. A bee findinga succulent honey flower tells its fellows in the hive the whereabouts of theflower by performing a “waggle-dance.” This imparts two items of information:first the direction. Here the sun is used as a fixed direction point, and thedance made in relationship to it. Secondly the distance from the hive to theflower is shown by the number of waggles in the dance.
Another form of language has been ascribed to Sarah, a chimpanzeeat the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She uses plastic symbols to conveysuch messages as, “I want an apple.” But this is as far as she can go. Despitelarge sums of research money, no animal has raised communication above the concrete,here-and-now situation to penetrate the realm of the abstract. Even primatesgiven all possible opportunities for developing speech, including a loving andidealistic human linguistic environment, fail to develop true oral speech. Onlyman communicates by speech and writing, and this he has done from the dawn ofhistory.
“The acquisition oflanguage is the most brilliant achievement of the human brain,” according toDennis Fry in his book, Homo Loquens, Man the Talking Animal.”3To utter a word, the infant has to coordinate breathing with delicate movementsof palate, tips and tongue. Displacement by a fraction of a millimeter givesa different sound. In order to communicate he has to amass information concerningvocabulary, syntax, the phonetic system, grammar, rhythm patterns and intonation.
Take the last of theseas an example: How many meanings can you get merely by altering the intonationof the word “No”? Fry says,
It is not easy tovisualize how vast a store of information is represented by all this languageknowledge . . . .One estimate of the total storage capacity of the human brainputs it at 1000,000,000,000,000 items of information.” The authors of an infants’language test comment on the complexity of the task demanded of a young infantwho “takes encoded word symbols that are transmitted through the air as soundpatterns and learns to produce meaningful interpersonal communication throughthe articulation of words encoded in the same symbols . . . .” yet “. . . thisphenomenon is considered universal for the human infant.4
At one time behavioristsbelieved that children learn to speak by mimicking words they hear, which werethen reinforced by the mother. By chance, so the theory went, a child wouldmake a sound like “momma,” the mother kisses and hugs him so that he feels goodand says the word again. By this method, incessantly repeated, language wassupposed to develop. What a naive oversimplification! Speech is acquired toorapidly, and the utterances, even of infants, are too unique for this to betrue.
In operant conditioninga subject received an immediate reward for a correct response to a command,and punishment for a wrong one. This is known as positive and negative reinforcement.The essence of the technique lies in the immediacy of the reward or punishment.The method is used successfully in Communist brainwashing, and can be used toteach mentally retarded or autistic children to speak. But the child rarelyachieves more than repetitive single words or phrases, for unless the urge tospeak is present, little can be accomplished.
The Origin of speech
Speech happens because the infant is human; it is part of his heritage.
In Genesis 2, 3, and 4, we havea record of the words spoken by the first humans mentioned in Scripture: Adam,Eve and their eldest son Cain. These utterances are not illiterate or “babytalk.” How did they learn to speak? The only possible answer is that they weretaught by God. How does a newborn baby learn to speak? It is now accepted bylinguists that speech is innate, or inborn. That is, speech happens becausethe infant is human; it is part of his heritage. Try to stop a child from learninga task. Unless he is mentally retarded, profoundly deaf or severely emotionallydeprived, it cannot be done. Even deaf children learn to “talk” in their ownnonverbal language. If a child does not use the language he hears around him,he will construct one of his own—so-called “idiogtossia.” Young children easilylearn two languages at once, and keep them separate. They may have difficultywith three.
Fry3tells the story of a well-known psychologist who attended a four-day conferenceon the acquisition of speech by infants. At the end he was heard to say, “Iprefer the miracle theory.”
A striking fact about the Judeo-Christian God, the Lord of theBible, is that he is a communicator. Although the Christian, like the Jew, worshipsone God only—“Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, is oneLord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) (Mark 12:29)—andhas no place for polytheism, he also believes that God is three:three persons in one substance, true unity in diversity. In Genesis 1 we readthat God said, “Let us make man in our image.”Note the plural.
Another reason we knowabout the three (the Trinity), is because there is communication between thepersons. “The Lord said . . .” we read in Genesis 1:3;to whom did he speak? It could only have been to another member ofthe Trinity. As soon as man was created God spoke to him. Constantly throughoutScripture we read the phrase, “The word of the Lord . . .” For this reason theBible is known as the word of God.
As though to underlinethe importance of communication, God sent his son Jesus Christ into the worldwith the name Logos or the “Word.” John writes, “Inthe beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that wasmade . . .” (John 1:1). So there is the written word (the Bible), and the living Word(Jesus Christ).
With such a prime communicatorfor his Maker, is it surprising that innate speech was part of the image givento man? The atheist can give no satisfactory reason for the origin of speech.But the Christian can: when baby talks he is showing one of the gifts God hasgiven him.
God is creator, the great planner of the universe. He broughthis plan to a triumphant conclusion when he saw everything that he had madeand pronounced it good. God made man and woman a “them;” “maleand female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful andincrease in number” (Genesis 1:27–28).So God has given to men and women the ability to procreate newbeings in his image, little humans with bodies and minds.
We have an insatiabledesire to be creative, an urge increasingly emphasized (perhaps overemphasized)in schools, and recognized even by business management. An industrialist writes,“There is more stability among garage mechanics, to whom every repair jobis different, who meets the customer, who sees the job through, who has thesatisfaction of putting the car on the road again, than there is in the motorproduction line where the whole job has been deskilled and where the machine,in the form of the line, dominates the man who does nothing but turn a nutwith a spanner every hour of every day of every week of every year.”5
Animals are not creative.They endlessly reproduce a stereotyped design. A particular spider constructsa web of constant pattern. The song of a bird is species specific, or mimicryof another bird or human. No originality is demonstrated.
Man alone can reason and act upon his original thoughts. JohnSteinbeck puts it this way: “The last clear function of man—muscles aching towork, minds aching to create beyond the single need—that is man. To builda wall, to build a house, a dam, and in the wall and house and dam to put somethingof Manself, and to Manself take back something of the wall, the house, the dam:to take hard muscles from the lifting, to take the clear lines and form fromthe conceiving. For man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe,grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead ofhis accomplishments . . . . And this you can know—fear the time when Manself willnot suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation ofManself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”6Scientists would agree. They consider the ability to use tools and tame firethe hallmark of Homo sapiens.
Can animals love?That adoring look on the face of your dog as he awaits his daily walk; isthat love or a conditioned reflex? Is love a purely human characteristic?There is room for difference of opinion here.
Love is the quintessenceof God’s character. God is love (1 John 4:16). His love for man far outstrips human comprehension. It is themajor theme of Scripture. Even when man sins again and again to the extent thatGod must destroy him, still he loves him. Jeremiah cried out, “Likea bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path andmangled me and left me without help . . . Yet I call this to mind and thereforeI have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassionsnever fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:10–12; 21–23).Man, because of the given image, has the capacity to love—a virtue of a completelydifferent order from the reflex mothering or sex responses of an animal.
Unsinning holy Adamand Eve walked in the garden and communed with God—until the Fall. Only the faintestafterglow of that holiness is left in natural man. As a fine carving on a Gothiccathedral which after years of buffeting by storms and abuse of man is now defaced,yet still shows something of its past grandeur—so man still retains the remnantsof his original nobility. Man is still man, even in ruins. More than that: becauseman is made in the image of God whether he acknowledges it or not, he stillseeks after beauty and holiness; but beauty of body rather than of character,and personal esteem than the glory of God. A man re-created in the likenessof God puts on true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
Struggle for survivalis the basis of evolution. Animals flee death. They crawl to food and waterto stay alive. Animals in Africa will travel miles to a “salt-lick” to obtainessential sodium chloride. Furthermore the instinct to breed and nurture offspringshows that it is not only the individual but the race which has an urge tolive.
The ability to existand replicate is the essence of life even at cellular level. The magnitudeof cell growth is staggering. If the fertilized human ovum were the size ofan orange, the full-grown baby would be as large as the world. And this isaccomplished in 9 months!
Wound healing isusually rapid and complete. If you bite your tongue or lip it will heal inonly a few days. Why this universal pulse, not just to maintain a tenacioushold on life, but to reproduce more of the same kind of cell or animal orspecies? What is the dynamic which drives life on and on in plants, animalsand man? I know of no biologically valid answer. Such an impulse can onlycome from God, the author of life.
Yet man, who has beengiven this life—urge in full measure, desires something more: he yearns for immortality.
When man is estrangedfrom God, the desire for immortality often takes strange forms. The salutationto the Persian monarchs was, “O King, live forever.” Mediaeval alchemistsbrewed concoctions of toad’s liver, mouse’s dung and the hair of a dog asa potion to hold back the spectra of death. Failing the hope of personal immortality,kings needed a male heir to ensure the continuity of the dynasty. Henry VIIItook six wives before he achieved his desire. King Farouk of Egypt divorcedseveral queens because they would only give him daughters. Graveyards oftenboast massive monuments erected in honor of nonentities, or, if he can affordit, an obelisk is built on a prominent hill top even in the lifetime of theowner (2 Samuel 18:18).
God was before thebeginning. He has no end. He is. With him it is always the present. Heis outside of time. God is immortal. Man too is immortal. This is another partof the image. Jesus said, “A time is coming when allwho are in the graves will hear the voice (of the Son of Man) and come out—thosewho have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will riseto be condemned” (John 5:28–29). God’s chosen ones will live with him forever in his newly createdearth. Those who have rejected Christ still linger on, punished with “everlastingdestruction shut out from the presence of the Lord and the majesty of his power”(2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Adam was created onlya little lower than God (Psalm 8:5), as a free spiritual being. A responsible moral agent with a thinkingmind and powers of choice and action, able to commune with God and respond tohim, he could love and worship God—or if not, as he chose. Man could rebel againstGod. And the tragedy for the human race is that Adam and his wife, tempted bythe serpent, did just that. Man, with such a golden start, used his freedomto turn against his Creator.
Man now misinterprets freedom as independence. Satan’s lie wasto trick man into believing that to be independent of God was to be “free.”But there is no such thing as freedom. We are all slaves, either to Christ orto Satan.
Since the Fall, manremains a free agent in the sense that his decisions and conduct proceed fromhis inner character and not from external constraint. But because his verynature is now sinful, his decisions and acts are sinful too. When we do awrong it is because we have been tempted by our evil desire, “anddesire, when it is conceived gives is birth to sin” (James 1:14–15).Our best good is defective in the sight of God. Even our righteousdeeds are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6),for a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:18).No wonder that Paul cried out, “I knowthat nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have a desireto do what is good, but I cannot carry it out . . . .What a wretched man I am.Who will rescue me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:18–19; 24)
Man desperately desiresfreedom. But often he seeks it in the wrong place. The proliferation of newnations in Africa followed the desire to be free from the yoke of colonialism.But one tyranny has often been exchanged for another. University studentsin the seventies thought freedom came from chanting four-letter words througha megaphone. In the eighties they seek transient freedom through alcohol anddrugs. Civil liberty campaigners demand freedom from censorship, easier divorce,woman’s rights, gay liberation and the like.
Only Christ can setmen and women free: “It is for freedom that Christ hasset us free” (Galatians 5:1, John 8:16).In this verse the combination of the noun and verb stresses the completenessof what has been done—free once and for all time. Vine comments, “The phraseologyis that of a manumission (freeing) from slavery, which among the Greeks waseffected by a legal fiction, according to which the manumitted slave was purchasedby a god. As the slave could not provide the money, the master paid it intothe temple Treasury in the presence of the slave, a document being drawn upcontaining the words “for freedom.” No one could enslave him again. He was theproperty of the god.”7 So Paulwas able to call him “the Lord’s freeman” (1 Corinthians 7:22; 9:1).Recently I saw a poignant car sticker, “Why does freedom cost so much?” Thecost was nothing less than the death of the Son of God. No wonder Peter says,“You, my brothers were called to be free, but do notuse your freedom to indulge your sinful nature” (1 Peter 2:16).
Modern man has gotit all wrong. Freedom is liberty, not libertinism. We are called “intothe glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:2).Adam was created free but became enslaved to sin. All men and womensince have been in bondage. Christ came to set men free, “Whoseservice is perfect freedom.”8The yearning for freedom is part of the image. It remains unsatisfied unlessthe slave is redeemed by Christ.
Force me to renderup my sword And I shall conqueror be.
Language, creativity,love, holiness, immortality and freedom—all these attributes, and many more manpossesses or may possess because he is human, made in the image of God.
These separate himfrom the animal kingdom. They can be summed up in the phrase: Man, like hisMaker, has a mind.
The Mind of man
The agnostic scientisthas a problem: “What is mind? No matter! What is matter? Never Mind!” C.U.M.Smith discusses this in his book, The Brain: Toward an Understanding.9He devotes 300 pages to a detailed explanation of the neurophysiological andanatomical intricacies of the brain, that most complex of all computers. Hedescribes such matters as the nerve pathways by which we perceive, the physiologicaldifferences between sleep and consciousness; he unravels the modern theoriesof memory. In the test chapter, “The Brain and the Mind,” he says, “Theadvance of modern neurophysiology has both sharpened the Cartesian dilemmaand at the same time tended to obscure it. For few of us realize this scandalin the depth of our culture: this schizophrenia. For, on the one hand we feelbound to assert that minds do in fact act upon bodies, and on the other thatthey do not so act.
On the one hand it is intolerable to assert that the wordsappearing on this sheet of paper are anything other than the outcome of my consciousintention. I would feel for example, that it was a total misrepresentationof the fact if one were to allege that they were merely automatic writing. . . .Yet, on the other hand, it is intolerable to assert that minds do act onbodies. For we have seen in the previous chapters of this book that neurobiologistsare well on the way toward a satisfactory physical theory on the living brain.There is just as little room for a strange, immaterial cause like “mind”within the machinery of this liquid state computer as there is within the machineryof the solid state computers used to solve business problems by industrialists.”(Italics by author)
Can you sense the tension in this passage? 300 pages devoted toa “satisfactory physical theory of the living brain,” and it crumblesto dust because the author is honest. How can the Christian resolve such a “schizophrenia”?
The brain is a superb,intricate, physicochemical computer constructed by a master Designer. Thatit is prone to disease and damage is no fault of the original design, buthas come about because of sin. But that is not all. Man is a special creation.He is different. Because he is made in God’s image he has an original, thinkingmind. He is a free agent, and therefore responsible for his actions to hisneighbors and to God. Furthermore, the Christian has the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:16,Psalm 139:1–4, Hebrews 4:13).
The Mentally retarded and the image of God
Because I am a pediatricianand constantly see mentally retarded children and their parents, I must contributean addendum. From time to time I visit a home for such children. IndoorsI see little motionless bodies lying in cots or on beanbags. Outside, inthe garden, those with slightly higher intelligence wander around in the sunshinestirring the earth or flicking leaves. Most cannot talk. They have no creativityor desire for immortality. They lack the very essential: minds.
Do such children possess the image of God? Of course the answeris “Yes.” Christians may not deride any human being by calling hima vegetable (Proverbs 14:31). Such children have been conceived by human parents but are a sadcommentary on our fallen world.
I believe these children,along with those who die in infancy, occupy a special place in the economyof God. You remember that because of unbelief, the children of Israel on thebrink of entering the promised land were turned back and compelled to wanderforty years in the desert. All except Joshua, and “yourlittle ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this dayhave no knowledge of good or evil, (they) shall enter there, and I will giveit (the promised land) to them, and they shall possess it”(Deuteronomy 1:39, Isaiah 7:15).
You will also rememberthat King Herod, thwarted in his effort to find the Baby Jesus ordered thatall male babies under the age of 2 years living in the vicinity of Bethlehemshould be killed. But Joseph and Mary, warned by the Holy Spirit, fled withJesus to Egypt. The ecclesiastical calendar each year commemorates the eventas Innocents day. The Scripture passages prescribed to be read on that dayare Matthew 2:13–18, which records the story, andRevelation 14:1–5. I suggest you read the latter verses in full.Here are some excerpts:—“And I looked,and lo, a Lamb stood on Mount Zion, and with him an hundredand forty-four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.. . . These are they which are not defiled with women; for they are virgins.These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemedfrom among men, the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouthwas found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
Reformation theologyevidently considered that this passage referred to those who had died young.Since then many sects have taken it as referring to their own peculiar group.But none fit the description except those who are mentally or physically infants.All such children are members of the human race, they have human bodies suchas Christ honored; true, they may be deformed. Also they are sinners, as areall humans. But they have no knowledge of good or evil and therefore havenot committed actual sin, and will not do so (Romans 7:9).They are God’s specials without guile. They follow the Lamb whithersoeverhe goes. He can, and often does, use them to bring others close to himself.
To say that humans are in the image of God is to recognize the special qualities of human nature which allow God to be made manifest in humans.
It means that God has set us apart and made us a very special creation in this world. As Christians we cannot forget the significance of this special honor that God has bestowed upon all humanity. Secondly, to be created in God's image means that God himself has determined how we ought to live.
To be living in God's image, we must be in a right (i.e., moral) relationship with God and with other humans, using our minds and our authority to serve God and our fellow humans. This is what it means to be in the image of God and conformed to the perfect image, his Son.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Quote by Eckhart Tolle: “Man Made 'God' in his own image.
2 Corinthians 4:4
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Frank Wedekind Quotes
God made man in his own image, and man returned the favour.
ADAM (1) ADAM1 was the first man. There are two stories of his creation. The first tells that God created man in his image, male and female together (Genesis 1: 27), and Adam is not named in this version.
The image is a close representation, but it's not precise. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
What does it mean that human beings are made in God's image? Our creator made us with fundamental, inherent dignity. That means that all humans have rights that they are born with and that for no reason can be taken away.
- how do we reflect the image of god in our role as social beings? we love and treat everyone with respect.
- 3 truths that come from our social nature. ...
- subsidiarity. ...
- violation of sudsadarity. ...
- common good. ...
- solidarity. ...
- humanity inherited the effects of original sin because. ...
- good news.
Why did God create us in his image and likeness? God created us in his image and likeness because he wanted to shared his love freely with you and because he wanted you to have the capacity to freely receive his love, share in it, and choose to return your love to him.
An important implication of being created in the image of God/trinity for wesleyans is the affirmation of the calling of women in the church to preach, teach, and lead both men and women.
Why did God create us. God created us for our own sake to be made in his own image and likeness and to share in his everlasting life.
As World Vision's core value states, 'We are stewards of God's creation' – that is, creation is God's. The Scriptures tell us that humans are a work of God, created in the image of God. Humans find their origins in the soil of the earth and in the breath of God (Gen. 2:7).
- We are capable and can change, the same is true for others. - We can be flexible. The quality of being worthy of esteem and respect. what does it mean to have dignity?
In what ways does stewardship help to describe the relationship we should have with the earth? By taking care of the earth we will strengthen our relationship with God and will bring us satisfaction and happiness. It helps us to discover our place in the universe.