Thursday, August 10, 2006

Creation and the Image of God in Mankind

God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days. God created the universe for His own glory. That was the reason, the goal, the end of creation. Humanity is the crown of creation. Only humanity is made in the image of God. However, the questions become this: "What is the image of God?" and "How do we speak of the image of God after the Fall?" There are three main answers to that question. The first question is that of the Roman Catholic Church. They say that the image of God consisted entirely of the ability to choose, plus a superadded gift (the so-called donum superadditum) by which Adam was enabled to transcend his physical side in order to obey God, and keep the concupiscence (read here "anything physical") of the flesh under control. When Adam sinned, he only lost this super-added gift. He lost nothing of the rest of the image. The second answer is the Lutheran answer. Luther argued that the image of God consisted entirely in moral excellence. Inasmuch as Adam obeyed God, he was in the image of God. Consequently, when Adam sinned, he entirely lost the image of God. As you can possibly guess, the answer lies in between these two extremes. The Reformed view of the image of God is that mankind was created with moral agency (similar to the RCC view) and moral excellence (the Lutheran view). After the Fall, the former was retained, but the latter was entirely lost. This seeks to do justice to passages that seem to suggest that we still have the image of God (Gen 9:6, which is post-fall), and passages which seem to suggest that we have lost the image of God (Romans 1-3). We have not lost moral agency, but we have entirely lost moral excellence. When Jesus Christ came to redeem the image of God in mankind, He accomplished much more than that: He accomplished a new heavens and a new earth. They are in promise right now. But it has broken in upon us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reads like this (my translation): "If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation." That is, being in Christ is proof that there is a new creation of which we are a part. When the resurrection happens, we will not all be in heaven in some kind of disembodied state forever plucking our harps. Heaven is a holding place for the disembodied souls of Christians. Rather, we will have new bodies (1 Cor 15), and will live on the new earth, with no barrier (like there currently is) between heaven and earth, with full communion between heaven and earth. One is reminded of the old Narnia/new Narnia contrast that C.S. Lewis speaks of in The Last Battle. I believe that he has captured it precisely. The reason we like this world is because it gives us a glimpse of what the real future world will look like. But the future world is the real one. We are merely in the Shadowlands, passing through.


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