Humanity in God's Image

Exercise: What are humans for, and what human qualities suit us for that purpose?
In developing your answer, consider someone in your life who needs to hear it, and try to make your response sensible to him or her.

I. What Distinguishes Humans among Creatures?
Humanity enjoys unique roles within and over creation (Ps 8).
Two images: Sistine Chapel, National Cathedral.
Imago dei names our resemblance to God in some way that derives from God (Gen 1:26-27, 5:1-3, 9:6, James 3:9).
Though a minor trope in scripture, it dominates classical theological anthropology.
Proposals differ on how we image God:
Personal faculties:
Having souls (metaphysical dualism, versus reductive or nonreductive physicalism).
Our human appearance (cf. Finis Jennings Dake, who heretically inferred that God is physical).
Powers of reasoning or speaking (Athanasius).
Contemplation of God and self, through our human mind (Augustine).
Social faculties (cf. Gen 2:18):
Gendered families (tribes, tongues, and nations) rather than alternatives (hives, herds, schools, collectives, other animal social structures, or individualism) (Barth).
Official faculties (functions):
Vocation: cultivation of creation (Gen 1:26, Gen 2:15, Ps 8, Gen 9:6) as God's earthly representatives (Childs).
Israel's covenantal fellowship with God, cosmic authority, and holy likeness (Calvin, Ps 8:4).
In sum, humanity enjoys unique relationships with
God, each other, the rest of creation, and ourselves (Abraham Kuyper).
II. Jesus, Icon of the Invisible God
Two more images: Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, a modern Pantocrator.
Jesus Christ displays the fulfillment and determinative meaning of imago dei (Rom 5:12-21, 1 Cor 15:49, Eph 4:22-24, Col 3:10, Barth), (Col 1:15, Heb 1:3):
In his official faculties,
his redeeming power displays royal authority (over creation)
that realizes lordship in hope,
loving God and neighbor with all his strength (Luke 10:27).
In his social faculties,
his justice (relationship with one another)
is covenantal righteousness (grace, love, humility) that cultivates others,
loving God and neighbor with all his heart.
In his personal faculties,
his character manifests God's holiness in personal particularity,
loving God and neighbor with all his mind;
and his integrity (self-relationship)
is peace, insight, and honesty,
loving God and neighbor with all his soul or self.
Jesus grounds a divine-human conversation
(e.g., 'royal priesthood', Christian mission, worship, prayer, confession)
that contrasts with both the modern 'turn to the self' (C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man) and postmodern decentering.
III. Where Do Humans Come From?
Contemporary issue: To maintain these claims, is it necessary
to affirm or deny human evolutionary prehistory (cf. Gen 2:5-7)?
to affirm a historical Adam (cf. Rom 5:12-21)?
IV. Was Death Good Too? (skipped)
Hellenistic conviction: Souls are inherently immortal (Rev 20:10?).
Traditional position: Humanity was created "able not to die" (Church Fathers, Gen 2:17, Rom 6:23) in a relationship of sustaining grace.
Recent revision: Death is original to God's good creation (John Leith; Ps 104:29-30, Ps 8:4, 1 Cor 15:36, 42-57, 1 Thess 4:13-18).
How does each position affect the Christian attitude toward life, death, and resurrection?
How does each position relate to the apostolic paradigm?
What would a 'good death' look like?

Self-Test