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:
4a: exact 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. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/semblance)
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?” https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/22827-god-is-dead-god-remains-dead-and-we-have-killed
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 — https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-image-of-god
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.