Defining Biblical Holiness: Two Views of Christian Perfection (Volume 1) (Heritage of Truth Series)

The Image of God in Man: A Reformed Reassessment
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The image of God is not to be conceived in bodily things, as the anthropomorphites imagined, nor yet standeth in the essence and faculties of the soul, as memory, reason, will, as Augustine took it, for wicked men have these ; nor in dominion and rule, which made man as a little God amongst the creatures, for this is a consequence that followed on the image; but as Paul teacheth, it standeth in these divine qualities , which as certain signs and forms express the divine nature, most holy, most just, so far as the Creator can be figured forth in such a creature. Therefore, when you read of the image of God in the New Testament [this would include I Corinthians and James ], it must be understood of the image of God in Jesus Christ, the second Adam.

Now this image consists in knowledge, in holiness and righteousness. If we compare Col. Similarly, London pastor, Thomas Vincent , in his oft reprinted commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, includes the following in his exposition of Q. Wherein doth consist the image of God, which was put upon man in his first creation? Negatively, the image of God doth not consist in any outward visible resemblance of his body to God, as if God had any bodily shape.

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Schwenckfeld, Caspar, Edward J. Translated by Hilda C. Whether a special office of deacon was operating in the early church is arguable. Kintner, Philip L. The End of the Modern World. The Life of John Wesley. The recognition of deacons should be understood within that context.

Positively, the image of God doth consist in the inward resemblance of his soul to God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. What is included in this image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, as man had it at first? The image of God in man at the first doth include the universal and perfect rectitude of the whole soul: knowledge in his understanding, righteousness in his will, holiness in his affections.

Prominent nineteenth century Scottish Presbyterian theologian, George Smeaton opposed the traditional view of the divine image. His understanding had been furnished with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator and of spiritual things; his heart and will had been upright; all his affections had been pure; and the whole man holy: but, revolting from God by the temptation of the devil, the opposite of all that image of God became his doleful heritage; and his posterity derive corruption from their progenitor, not by imitation, but by the propagation of a vicious nature, which is incapable of any saving good.

It is prone to evil, and dead in sin. It is not denied that there still linger in man since the Fall some glimmerings of natural light , some knowledge of God and of the difference between good and evil, and some regard for virtue and good order in society. But it is all too evident that, without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, men are neither able nor willing to return to God, or to reform their natural corruption.

This image [of God] has been lost, in the fall, and regained, in redemption. The likeness which was lost and restored must consist, then, in some accidens. Even among those preachers who desire to be regarded as orthodox, who do not deny the Fall as a historical fact, few among them perceive the dire effects and extent thereof.

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Through the breach of the first covenant all men have lost the image of God, and now bear the image of the Devil John The whole of their faculties are so depraved that they can neither think 2 Cor. They are by birth, altogether unholy, unclean, loathsome and abominable in nature, heart, and life; and it is altogether beyond their power to change themselves. Arthur Custance, an Englishman by birth who spent most of his life in Canada, expresses similar views.

He becomes related as a son to the Father and knows it. The search to locate the image of God somewhere inside man can never become concretely meaningful. It can never give us comfort and encouragement because it is basically on the wrong track. The essence or heart of man cannot be found by looking inside him at some of his faculties. Robert C. Harbach follows Hoeksema in the distinction between the formal and material image of God. And as such, he may bear either the image of God or the image of the devil. It is well, therefore, to limit ourselves to the language of our Canons and to include in the image of God only what this article [i.

Homer C. Here we find absolutely no justification for the traditional distinction. Not once do we find a reference to such a thing, instead the imago dei is identified as knowledge, righteousness and true holiness in both the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards. The Canons of Dordt take it a step further. Hoeksema, et al. In speaking of unbelieving man as possessing the image of God in the sense that he is a rational-moral, personal creature, it agrees with the Eastern Church, Aquinas and the Roman Church, ecumenical Wesleyans like Thomas Oden, 67 pentecostals like Wayne Grudem, 68 Lutheran anti-Calvinists like R.

Lenski, 69 baptists like A. Instead, this conception can fit with just about the whole spectrum of theological systems.

First, the Bible gives us explicit statements of the contents of the imago dei : knowledge, righteousness and holiness Eph. Moreover, the introduction of such terms as rationality, spirituality, morality, etc. Furthermore, arbitrariness is involved. Who is to say in what this broader aspect consists? Second, since fallen man is no longer a son of God, he is not the image of God either.

The image of God is intrinsically related to sonship. Adam was the image of God Gen.

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Surely, no one can be possessed of the image of God without the mediation and cross of Jesus, the perfect image of God. Yet the traditional view posits just that. It presents the unregenerate man as the image of God without Christ, the image of God. And if the unbeliever is in the image of God why cannot he see in Jesus the same image that he possesses II Cor. Fourth, if man is the image of God because he is possessed of intellect, will and emotions then the demons and Satan himself are also the image of God. Indeed, the devil is the archetype of the imago diaboli and he is the imago dei.

At this point, even Gordon Clark observes that he is moving in the sphere of the paradox, a seeming contradiction. Fallen man is a slave of Satan. Yet he is the image of God in a different sense, we are told. Fifth, if unregenerate man is the image of God in some sense then there must be some good in him. The image of God cannot be bad, nor can it be merely neutral. God is good and, therefore, the image of God is good.

Thus He blesses those in His image Gen ; Moreover, if God loves all men, since His love is a giving love cf. John , Christ must have given Himself on the cross for all men cf. It necessarily involves His seeking the good of the one beloved and bringing him into covenant fellowship with Himself, the Holy Trinity.

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This is demanded, for how could God possibly suffer even a tiny part of His image to reside eternally in Hell? To conclude, the doctrine that all men are in the image of God in the wider sense is both theologically and biblically untenable. Theologians of false or departing churches exploit this faulty doctrine of the imago dei in support of their heresies.

Total depravity is the first doctrine to go. A spark can start a fire. Faith like a mustard seed can remove mountains. The life of God does not depend on its quantity but on its actuality, its reality, its authenticity. Thus God desires to save all. He even uses the divine image as a basis for universalism—the hope that all men eventually will be saved.

The wider aspect of the divine image takes on a life of its own and eats up the Reformed faith. Geerhardus Vos evidently also realized the difficulties presented by the broader sense of the divine image to total depravity. In the extent that these capacities [i. The purpose here is not to ascribe any good to fallen man, but rather to present him in the deepest recesses of his being and in his true destiny as somebody who has to take in the glory of God and allow it to shine through him.

Nevertheless if words mean anything—for the divine image can hardly be anything other than good—this is the effect. In other words, the traditional view teaches that fallen man is the image of God in order to declare his duty to image God. This would magnify the awfulness of the fall, increase the urgency of the call that unbelievers repent of their imaging the devil, and avoid all Pelagianizing tendencies.

If anyone, then, can use this word without understanding it in the bad sense, I shall not trouble him on this account. But I hold that because it cannot be retained without great peril, it will, on the contrary, be a great boon for the church if it be abolished. I prefer not to use it myself, and I should like others, if they seek my advice, to avoid it. There is much wisdom in this because words carry meaning. No matter how one might seek to avoid it, the mistaken idea that fallen man is the divine image in the broader sense is—and will be—used by heretics to deny total depravity. The time has come to reconsider the traditional Reformed formulation of the doctrine of the image of God.

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Surely the Reformed world must realize the inconsistency of this conception with Reformed theology. The right way is obvious. The Reformed churches ought to return to the fountainhead of the Reformation on the imago dei. Many Reformed men have gone this way too and, unlike the traditional position, understanding the imago as knowledge, righteousness and holiness fits with the genius of Reformed theology, more specifically, its doctrines of sovereign particular grace and the covenant.

Beside the facile objection that this view of the divine image is Lutheran, two charges against the confessional view are made. First, it is alleged that three Scriptures teach that fallen man is in the image of God in some sense. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

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This refers to all men without exception. Therefore, all men are the image of God, in some sense. Paul is speaking about prayer vv. I Cor. Therefore I Corinthians provides no support for a divine image in every man head for head. The exponents of the traditional view are correct in their assertion that this text speaks of all mankind and not just believers.

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They are wrong, however, in stating that it says that all men are now in the image of God. The text simply does not say this.