Made in God’s Image? Or Man’s?

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.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to the, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26-28 (NKJV)

This article was sparked out of a difference of opinion. I follow a blog, Bionic Mosquito, and comment often on the topics written about, as do others. One of these others made a statement which I took exception to.

“Man WAS made in the image of God, but lost that image when he sinned against God. Man by procreation is created in the image of man (Genesis 5:5) for now all men die.”

The Preacher

BTW, the scripture reference should be Genesis 5:3, not 5:5. I must be honest here. I had never seen nor heard that Man WAS made in God’s image, but is not now, so I wrote this reply–“I do not agree with this. Man was, and still is, made in the Image of God. That image, though tarnished and corrupted by the effects of sin, is still there and will always be evident to anyone who wants to see it.”

Here are two different, contradictory, incompatible opinions. They cannot both be right. Either Man WAS and still IS made in the image of God or he IS NOT, implying that he is made in the image of something else—himself. You can read the entire conversation here. Scroll down to the comments. See also the links below for reference.

I am not interested here in defining the meaning of the term, ‘image of God’. It seems to me that this can never be completely and fully explained since we will never know exhaustively what it really means. The best we can hope for is an approximation in the same manner as the six blind men of Hindustan, who tried to explain what an elephant was, each by feeling a unique feature of the beast. The consensus was that an elephant is like a tree, a rope, a snake, a wall, a fan, or a spear. This only confirmed the truth that, while they may have been accurate from their own perspective, none had an overall view of the whole animal. Deciphering the image of God is like that. Besides, there have been innumerable other people, smarter & better educated than me, who have tried to sort this out over the centuries and still are found wanting.

Instead, I will address the question of whether sinful man has lost that image or still carries the imprint even though it is impure and imperfect. Put in simple terms, The Preacher argues that Man (humanity at the beginning, Adam and Eve) were created in the image of God, but that due to the sin of “eating the apple”, that image was removed from them. All their descendants through the ages no longer bear the “mark”, but image another entity, sinful man, who is “created” through the natural act of sex, conception, pregnancy, and birth. The foundation for this argument is seen in Genesis 5:3, which reads,

            “And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.”

There are numerous definitions of the meaning of the word “image”, but for our purposes, Merriam-Webster offers this:

4aexact likeness SEMBLANCE

God created man in his own image—Genesis 1:27 (Revised Standard Version)

4b: a person strikingly like another person

she is the image of her mother

A person strikingly like another person. This easily corresponds to Genesis 5:3, in which it is recorded that Adam “begot a son in his own image, after his likeness,…” It does not take a great deal of imagination to see this as saying that Seth resembled his father, Adam. Semblance, according to the same source, means an actual or apparent resemblance. (

Now, I confess that I have never read the Bible through from start to finish in a determined, time-constricted manner. I have never studied it systematically nor rigorously. I have never been to seminary nor even received any formal Biblical education other than years of church attendance, beginning at a very early age, i.e., within days after my birth, and on and off over the rest of my lifetime. Therefore, when I make the following statement, it should be considered as springing out of ignorance and lack of knowledge, rather than a dogmatic, obtuse point of view. If The Preacher (or anyone else) can show me where I am wrong about this, then I will admit my mistake and change my course. Until then, I will hold to my belief.

This idea, that Man is now created in the image of Man rather than the image of God stems from the above-mentioned verse and ONLY from that verse. I will go so far as to say unequivocally from that verse alone. There is absolutely nothing else in Scripture which could be construed as implying that humanity is created in anything other than the image of God. The doctrine is drawn from one isolated verse and is simply not supported scripturally.

In my research, pitifully small as it was and quite reliant on Google, I found nothing which identified any other single verse of Scripture which expounded on the term “image of Man”. (I asked The Preacher to give me links to information which bolstered his case, but got no answer.) In fact, when I typed in the search term, “image of man”, I found, literally, nothing relating to Scripture. Oh, there are plenty of sites linked, but they are not scriptural and usually have to do with photographic images of “men”, some of which are probably pornographic in nature. I do not know because I did not click on them. However, as a means of exploring this issue scripturally and philosophically, there is an absolute silence on Google.

On the other hand, typing in the search term, ‘image of God’, immediately brings up a vast array of links, with many references to scriptures throughout the Bible which uphold the idea that Man is created in and contains the Image of God. Many of these have links to other sites and articles which proclaim the same message that Man is indeed made in God’s Image. In fact, there are so many rabbit trails one could explore that it would be easy to lose sight of the original mission.

If you are skeptical of my claim, check it out for yourself using the search terms I have given. The weight of Scriptural evidence in favor of man being created in God’s Image simply overwhelms any opposing assertion. For instance, among others, 

  • “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.” — Genesis 5:1
  • “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. For in the image of God, He made man.” — Genesis 9:6
  • “With it [tongue] we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.” — James 3:9
  • “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God…” – 1 Corinthians 11:7
  • “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands. You have put all things under his feet.” – Psalms 8:4-6

It is a real stretch to assume that Man no longer bears the image of God in the light of these verses. In fact, it is impossible to read anything in them except that Man was (and is still being) created in God’s image.

I have some questions for The Preacher.

First, how does he explain Enoch? “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24) Very clearly, this verse says, without equivocation or waffling that Enoch had a close relationship with God. Yet, in The Preacher’s comments, he says that this is impossible.

“After the fall of man (read Genesis 3), he cannot have access to the Father, his flesh will die, because the Spirit of God left him and now his soul, body and spirit are “on their own””

“The answer to eternal life is to regain that image that was lost by believing that God himself as a man came to redeem us from our sins, being a propitiation for them and that we embrace and put our faith in that truth, God will restore that image by the Holy Ghost (as the Comforter) and since “Christ is in you”, then you have eternal life.”

In other words, Enoch, who was born thousands of years before Christ, was a “dead man walking”. He was on his own. He did not have access to the Father. However, Genesis 5:24 and the Book of Enoch tell a different story entirely. I do not put much stock in the Book of Enoch (although it is interesting reading) and it is understandable why the Christian church does not recognize it as Scripture, but it vigorously opposes the idea that sinful man does not have access to God. On its own merits, Genesis 5:24 plainly puts the lie to The Preacher’s bald-faced assertion.

Second, what about Noah? “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:8, 9) Not only that, but Noah had sufficient access to God so that he received ample warning of the flood to come and was able to build a way out following God’s direction. Doesn’t sound to me like he lost connection.

Third, how does he explain the prophets? Samuel, who literally spoke with and heard from God, Elijah, who could call down fire from Heaven, or Elisha, who could show the armies of Heaven to his servant on a moment’s notice, and many others of the same ilk.

If Man no longer bears the image of God, then why is there so much ruckus made over the abortion issue? Are unborn children human beings made in God’s image? Are they simply “products of conception” or as The Preacher might be inclined to say, “products of procreation”? If unborn children and all other unwanted people are only images of sinful man, then why should we care? Why not adopt the attitude and policy of “kill them all and let God sort them out”? In fact, why are there any restrictions on the murderous behavior of Man anywhere? Does this not play into the hands of the tyrannical, evil version of Hell on Earth (Utopia) in which many must die so that some, a few, can live well? After all, what is Man that we should be mindful of him?

Does God inject the “spark of life” into the fusion of a sperm and egg cell at conception? Who does the “creating”? Is Man now entrusted with that task himself? Has life now become a random chance event? Since The Preacher mentioned procreation as the means of creation (see the quote above), can this be taken as saying that God no longer directly is involved with it but has removed Himself from the process? This sounds suspiciously like the doctrine of Deism on an intimately personal level. God originally created Man, including the process by which Man would populate the Earth (procreation), but then removed Himself and is now allowing it to simply play out by itself automatically. God does NOT intervene in the affairs of Man anymore and is relegated to wringing His hands, waiting and hoping that Man, sovereign Man, will come to his senses eventually.

If Man creates himself and God is absent from that manufacture, then what is the use of God at all? Does He not become irrelevant to Man and, if so, can He not be safely and completely isolated and removed from the affairs of men? This recalls Nietschze’s famous quote that,

            “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

Indeed! Now that Man can create himself and now that God can be shoved aside as an afterthought, Man can now become God in his own right. Because Man is worthy of it. Who can argue with that? Who would want to revert back to the “good old days” of Paradise. Practically everyone, but we want to do it on our own terms, not those of God.

If we adopt the idea that Man is created in his own image, then we must accept that there is nothing Man cannot do. Of course, the people at the Tower of Babel found out differently, but we have not yet learned that lesson. Even those who ought to know better fall prey to the temptation.

“The imago Dei is not a quality possessed by man; it is a condition in which man lives, a condition of confrontation established and maintained by the Creator. Thus in no sense can we speak of man losing this image. “What man does not possess he can neither bequeath nor forfeit.””29

Man is, always has been, and always will be, created in the image of God. That image defines us. It is our condition. It cannot be lost. It is what separates us from every other part of Creation. Without it, we are no longer human.

9 thoughts on “Made in God’s Image? Or Man’s?

  1. This is very good, Roger. Thank you for doing the work. I especially appreciate your Biblical references.

    It seems to me that much of Jesus’s teaching is meaningless without this idea of man continuing in the image of God. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”

    But why is the second like it? I have always pointed to the idea that the second is one way of demonstrating the first – we show our love for God by showing love for our neighbor.

    But this discussion, and your post, offered an additional understanding: There is something of God in man – the second is “like” the first.

  2. Bionic, my understanding about my life has increased enormously since I began reading (and commenting) on your blog posts (and subsequent comments). This comment is just one in a long string.

    “It seems to me that much of Jesus’s teaching is meaningless without this idea of man continuing in the image of God.”

    I could not have put it any better. Thank you.

  3. I appreciate the time you put into your comments, but I am afraid your conclusions have no scriptural basis. I will give answers to some of your questions in the hope that I can make clear why you misunderstand the “image of God”

    “If Man no longer bears the image of God, then why is there so much ruckus made over the abortion issue?”
    As a bible believer who understands that the gospel of the grace of God is the only thing that can change the heart of a man, I make no ruckus over any of mans sins, even abortion. I preach against all sin, and the sin of abortion is the murder of a child, that begins by the original sin of fornication! Abortion is to coverup for that sin. I let the woman’s conscience try to convince her of that. If she aborts the child, that child is in heaven, and that adds to her darkness. As a Christian, I have the biblical duty to preach against sin, righteousness and judgment to come and give them the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. God NEVER violates a mans will. He chooses heaven or hell based on his repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    “Are unborn children human beings made in God’s image?”
    No, they are not, they are conceived in the image of man, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5). Not only are they not made in the image of God, but they are conceived in sin by the nature of their parents, for the bible declares, “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

    “If unborn children and all other unwanted people are only images of sinful man, then why should we care?”
    What in the world do you mean by that? Because sinful man dies in the “wrath of God”, for they are condemned and that is why Christ came (John 3:16-18) to save his people from their sins! It seems by that statement that you have never been born again as a child of God and therefore take on the image of God because you would have eternal life given to you by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-7) and now take on the image of God as a new creature in Christ (Read Romans chapters 6-8 in a King James Bible).

    “Why not adopt the attitude and policy of “kill them all and let God sort them out”?” What in the world are you talking about? The Lord God will certainly take vengeance on them in due time (Hebrews 10:23-30), but please explain to me why a Christian would ever have an attitude like that unless he has no clue what biblical New Testament Christianity that Jesus Christ paid his life for, shedding his precious blood for the remission of sins, and then being resurrected that we might have life!

    “God originally created Man, including the process by which Man would populate the Earth (procreation), but then removed Himself and is now allowing it to simply play out by itself automatically.”
    If you read your bible, you would NEVER come to that conclusion! Man lost his relationship with God after the sin of Adam and Eve. He lost the image of God and now must CHOSE to get that image back by believing what God says according to the dispensations he dealt with man. He is to believe his words and put his faith in Him and then his conscience would bear witness in his heart to follow his commandments, precepts, laws, truths according to what is written, so “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Rom 10:9-11.

    “If Man creates himself and God is absent from that manufacture, then what is the use of God at all?”
    It seems by all your questions, that you have no understanding at all of God’s plan for mankind. This is what the Holy Ghost wrote through Paul:
    Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 
    Romans 1:17  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 
    Romans 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 
    Romans 1:19  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 

    That last verse clearly shows that man has never lost his ability to know God because his conscience, heart and mind bears witness of the fact that there is a God, but because of sin, he is lost and without hope. Once again, I make the biblical point that he does not bear the image of God, but rather of man (also known as the similitude of God [similar in likeness as a man (James 3:9)- Jesus Christ], the offspring of God [Acts 17:26]- the result of God designing in man the ability to procreate). What God had to do for man is for God in Jesus Christ to become the Saviour of mankind to give him hope for his sins being forgiven and a life that is eternal (image restored), “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:7-9)

    I hope that by now, you might understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that the image of God can be restored to man thereby giving him the power to become sons of God (John 1:12) and “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4-5).

    This is the joy of the Lord.

  4. From the top.

    You have replied to SOME of my questions, but I noticed you did not address the topic of Enoch, Noah, and the prophets, all of whom lived and died centuries before Christ, yet still had access to God, an impossibility according to your theory.

    “…the sin of abortion is the murder of a child, that begins by the original sin of fornication!” Bad argument. Abortion IS the murder of a child, but it does not necessarily require an act of fornication. Conception can and does occur within the bounds of marriage through the sexual act, which is most definitely NOT fornication. That is, unless I have misinterpreted some obscure “biblical” teaching.

    “If she aborts the child, that child is in heaven,…” This is debatable, but I will not address it here.

    “God NEVER violates a mans will.” Again, debatable. I would refer you to Saul, on the road to Damascus to willfully assault the Christians there, who found himself in the ditch face-to-face with the One Who could and did change his outlook on life.

    ““Are unborn children human beings made in God’s image?” No, they are not, they are conceived in the image of man,…” Obviously, we disagree on this. More importantly, for the sake of argument, this paragraph destroys your argument that unborn, aborted children, who are conceived in sin and who die before they ever know Christ, go to heaven. If sin cannot exist in God’s presence and these children are unredeemed sinners, then they are not allowed.

    “…man has never lost his ability to know God because his conscience, heart and mind bears witness of the fact that there is a God, but because of sin, he is lost and without hope.” If I get to Heaven (God’s prerogative, not yours), I will mention this to Enoch, Noah, and the prophets who are there. Unless they are not, in which case I will have to admit you are right.

    It is clear to me that you have “misinterpreted” my questions. Have you ever heard of Socratic debate? I ask a question or make a statement, often provocative, then wait for an answer, which you duly gave. However, I asked those questions as a “devil’s advocate” to make a logical point that this was a realistic conclusion to a “misinformed” belief. I did not ask them because I believed them to be true. In fact, it should be obvious to anyone that I was arguing against these, not in favor of them. But you fell into the trap. Pity.

    You made numerous unfounded assumptions about my spiritual status. There are three things to say about that:

    1. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
    2. “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
    3. “Confess your sins one to another, so that you may be healed.”

    BTW, you recommended that I read Romans 6-8 in a King James Bible, but according to the website for which you provided a link, and I quote,
    “…England exerts its unholy command and mandated imprimatur & exclusive rights over the Authorized Version of 1611,…” Now, if Anabaptists follow the “King of Jacob” bible (which I had never come across before) and consider the KJV to be unholy, then why are you referring it to me? Is this something which needs to be looked into? “Dig the log out of your own eye before you try to pull the splinter out of mine.”

    If you cannot do better than this, then any further comments from you will simply not be allowed here. “A word to the wise is sufficient.”

    See, I do know my Bible.

  5. “I did not ask them because I believed them to be true. In fact, it should be obvious to anyone that I was arguing against these, not in favor of them”

    So, you were playing games and lying to prove what? What was your point in all this?

    After reading this, there is no point to answer anymore of your questions.

    What is your spiritual status? I made no assumptions of your spiritual status. It is obvious according to what you wrote. Why would I not make those remarks if you actually believe what you wrote since it is against new testament truth concerning “the gospel of the grace of God”.

    I do not play games in such a serious discussion that involve man’s eternal destination. Hell is no laughing matter, for there is no escape from it forever, for “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

    If you do not have a final authority, then believe anything you want to believe.

    PS: The “King of Jacob’s Bible” is the King James Bible, for Jacob is the Hebrew name for James.

  6. Obviously, according to George Calvas, I am guilty and condemned to Hell. Well, since my eternal fate rests in the judgement of God and not George Calvas, I will wait and see what transpires.

    Playing games? Is applying the techniques of rigorous debate to a controversial issue playing games? If that is true, then an enormous number of people who only want(ed) to sort out and understand the complexities of life were really only playing. We cannot take them seriously. Seriously.

    Lying? Now I am lying? I ask, where specifically did I say anything which can be proven beyond doubt to be untrue? Come on now, quote the relevant text, if you can and I will address it. If you cannot, then you are guilty of false accusation and have shown yourself to the entire world to be guilty of slander. Note that Socrates is reputed to have said that, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

    You have charged me with a serious offense, that of violating the Word of God which instructs us not to bear false witness. Therefore, our conversation from here on out will be limited to this one specific topic until we get to the truth of the matter. Present your evidence or STFU. Oh, by the way, evidence and proof of guilt does not consist of simply quoting scripture which seems to validate your position. You must and will present a cogent argument or you will not be heard.

    Until and unless that happens, you are done here.

  7. The lying was posing questions in deception, calling it a Socratic technique. Socrates was a pagan intellectual who always casted doubt. He like many like him thought he was smarter than God.

    I will take back the lying and call it a deception because you did not deal with me in an honest and forthright manner like a Christian should. I will ask for forgiveness because I went to far.

    “Obviously, according to George Calvas, I am guilty and condemned to Hell.”
    The obvious answer to that question is this. Give me your testimony of how a man can escape the damnation of hell. Just like Jesus Christ said in John 3:18 that he came not to condemn because you are already condemned, it is the scriptures that condemn men to hell based on what is written. I then take the exact position of the scriptures and agree with God that EVERY man goes to hell in rejection of the gospel of the grace of God. Therefore, it is God that judges, not me. I am just his messenger to tell you and others what is clearly written.

    Jesus Christ wrote this to the religious leaders in his day:
    Mat 23:31  Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 
    Mat 23:32  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 
    Mat 23:33  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 

    When he was calling them out for their hypocrisy, many stood around and heard what he had to say (Matthew 23:1). The bible is very clear that there is only one way to be born again (Comparative religion is a method from the devil to send men to hell) and become a son of God, be given eternal life and the power to live a holy life before God and man.

    Anyone that is saved and knows it will “sanctify the Lord God in your[his] hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1Peter 3:15).

  8. Apology accepted and forgiveness granted.

    ““Obviously, according to George Calvas, I am guilty and condemned to Hell.” The obvious answer to that question is this.” That was not a question, it was a statement. It was an inference based on your comments and I do not retract it.

    Asking questions, even deceptive ones, with the intention of getting at the truth of the matter is a time-honored method of exposing falsehoods. If you were deceived, that is your problem. Quit trying to make it mine.

    I will not debate theology with you. Period.

    I have wasted enough time on this discourse. Enough said. You will get nothing more from me.

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