The Image of God continued
Recently Sam and I have been debating issues surrounding the Image of God in relation to Man. We left off agreeing on some basic principles but still there is a residual difference and I want to create a new blog trying to highlight those differences for clarity sake so that those who may be interested can summarize my position and check it out for themselves.
Here are our ending blog remarks for a starting point and the link to our prior discussions from my first article on the Image of God.
Norm said …Ok then can we both agree that the primary purpose of the Image of God was inferred upon believers through Jesus Christ?
Sam said …I would say the primary purpose of the image of God is RENEWED in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, along with Paul.
Ok now let’s see if we can distinguish some of Sam and mine differences and commonalities. Both of us believe that the Image of God through Jesus Christ was of primary importance. No matter then how we define the Image of God in Genesis there is the recognition and agreement along with James Jordan that the church was the primary emphasis and end result of the Image of God.
Next it appears that Sam affirms that the Image of God was an original attribute of Adam’s creation while I affirm that it was only in the lesser LIKENESS attribute in the beginning. Sam refers to Gen 1:26-27 and Gen 9:6 as his proof text for this while I turn to Gen 5:1 for mine. The differences between the two texts in IMO are that Gen 5:1 is directed specifically to the individual Adam while Gen 1& 9 are dealing with a plural (corporate application) of Adam/Mankind according to some scholars. This appears to be James Jordan’s inclination as well as he strongly states that Gen 1 & 9 both are prophetic toward the collective church which Sam appears also to agree.
Jordan … “It is the Church that is commanded to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (9:1; as in Gen. 1:26-28).”
Jordan … “We have seen, and we shall see again, that it is the Church that is being addressed in Genesis 9, not humanity in general. The fact that the Church is in view means that the Church is going to fulfill God’s original intention regarding the "image."
Thus one of the key issues I incur with Sam is this disagreement over the application of the Image or the Likeness attribute upon Adam as the original state of his creation. To clarify my understanding I see both the likeness and the Image as covenant designations upon what Jordan calls the “church. In defining the church I would include all to be redeemed into the body of Christ at the Parousia. This includes all of humanity standing in Righteousness at the white throne judgment back to Abel and along with those living at the Parousia. (Heb 11:39,40) I would state that the Likeness attribute begins with and matches Adam as a LESSER STATE OF CREATION which IMO Paul defines as the “natural” man from the earth in contrast to the spiritual man from Heaven which is clearly the Image of God and is the higher plain of covenant man created through Christ with eternal life. Paul definitively addresses this by stating that the natural was first and not the spiritual and we know that the corporate body did not posses life until Christ.
1Co 15:46-47 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. (47) The first man (likeness nv) was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man (Image nv) is from heaven.
This then is the basic foundation from a methodological examination and application derived from Pauline applied theology. There is clearly a difference then between the two stages of covenant life as represented by the Adamic body of Death and the messianic body of Life through Christ there can be no doubt. My position simply is that the Likeness attributed to individual Adam’s creation (Gen 5:1) represents the natural and the image of God represents the Spiritual. First the natural and then the spiritual.
I also want to explore what Sam calls a renewal of the Image of God from the lesser form of what he calls the first Image of God. IMO there is an entirely new creation of a completely different mode of existence in contrast to Adam’s old mode. If there was a renewal of Adam’s “natural” “earthy” man then this would simply imply an upgrade of this “natural earthy” mode of existence. Is that what we see or do we see a NEW CREATION on a higher plane of existence that is much more than a renewed old model. The Barnabas letter in which Sam brought this up was being renewed in the remission of sins and it is made clear that there was “A RECREATION, A SECOND CREATION AND WE HAVE BEEN CREATED ANEW”. This image language in Barnabas is hardly about a renewal of an old image but a New Creation entirely.
2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATION. The OLD HAS PASSED AWAY; behold, THE NEW HAS COME.
The Greek word for “renewed” is used twice in the NT concerning the new created Image. However the renewing as we can see in 2 Co 4:16 is not used as Sam appears to be explicitly applying its intent. The renewal is an ongoing process of the corporate body awaiting the Parousia regarding the knowledge and understanding of God and is a “process” description. It is a not yet progression to be consummated.
Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
2Co 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
I also see language like transformed, change or fashioned anew in Phi 3:21 but where exactly do we get this renewed understanding that carries a different connotation altogether of what happened at the Parousia concerning the New Creation?
There also seems to be a concern that my position is not a traditional historical application of which I would simply state that this is absolutely incorrect. It is in fact quite old and finds itself in the heyday of the end of the Old Covenant within the Barnabas letter and also is found in some of Augustine’s observations. It however should not be surprising that this understanding lost it’s way over time because quite simply the church lost their understanding of the meaning of what Paul was discussing concerning Adamic death in 1 Cor 15. If one doesn’t understand the corporate view found there and the spiritual death application concerning Adam then they will not grasp this discussion in its technical examination. So it is hardly a new observation that things viewed from a Preterist perspective would not be a predominate view found in the futurist minded church and in fact should be quite rare under those literal conditions.
There is also a concern that what I consider to be the original biblical view somehow undermines a definition of humankind at large by removing the Image of God from humanities characteristic. First I would venture that this idea is not found within scripture which is the reason I have no qualms about discarding it. In fact I would say this is a philosophical innovation by biblical scholars to round or flesh out a rational understanding of human characteristics when there was a void of biblical understanding that should have been applied in the first place. In other words philosophy filled the void and appropriated the spiritual Image of God because of a lack of biblical coherence by many on this subject.
Take a look at how explicitly man is described in his mortal state as no different than the physical beast. Adam was given opportunity to avoid this state in the Garden but at the end he like the beast returns to the Dust because of the fall.
Ecc 3:17-20 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. (18) I said in my heart, It is because of the sons of men (adam), that God may prove them, and that they may see that they themselves are but as beasts. (19) For that which befalleth the sons of men (adam) befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man (adam) hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity. (20) All go unto one place; ALL ARE OF THE DUST, AND ALL TURN TO DUST AGAIN.
It was only through God’s Image that man escapes the Dust which is reserved for the Serpent and his seed. Isa 65:25 … and DUST SHALL BE THE SERPENT'S FOOD.
This approach of declaring all mortal men with the Image of God IMO turns what Christ accomplished in bestowing the Image of God upon the faithful into a collective philosophical human characteristic and dilutes the Biblical proposition. It also has theological implication when carried to its extreme universal application by those who desire to declare the eternal salvation of those created in God’s image yet they are outside of faithful covenant with God. There are further ramifications also in that we have God’s judgment upon those whom some posit still retain God’s Image. This is in effect what we allow when we suppose that the apostate Jews subject to the second death retained a form of God’s Eternal Image yet were relegated to outer darkness and gnashing of teeth? Mortal man from the dust yes, but how were those created in God’s Image expunged if they still retained Gods own Image? Would God destroy any with His own Eternal Image? These are reasons why there are some who cling to some form of Universalism and believe they are biblically correct in doing so.
In 1 Cor 15 we have an examination by Paul of the two covenant bodies if you will; the first was Adam’s created attributes and the second was the new creation through Christ the second Adam. This is not a philosophical discussion built around human individual characteristics but are solely corporate covenant characteristics describing attributes of the different BODY LIFE within those two covenants. Philosophy may want to speak to those characteristics but is it entirely accurate to do so considering they are corporate modes of existence and are not individualistic. There is then a tendency to overstep the biblical bounds of discussion and incorporate the idealistic and philosophical which is driven by a void of knowledge concerning the biblical background. How many times do we encounter futurist concerning 1 Cor 15 who read it as individual and start applying far ranging human attributes in their debates with us.
This is why I believe this is an important Preterist observation that comes to the forefront when examining the language and theology of early Genesis. Paul drew the spiritual out of Genesis and applied it to the church. I believe we should take Paul’s lead in this and pursue our investigation in a similar manner. Notice in Ephesians that Paul makes it abundantly clear that his understanding of Gen 2 concerning the “TWO SHOULD BE ONE FLESH” was prophetic of the church. This is the same point that Jordan was making about the image of God being applied to the church from Gen 1:26-28 and Gen 9:6. Paul guided by the Holy Spirit understood that this message of body life here in Genesis WAS A MYSTERY language that needed to be explained under the influence of the Holy Spirit and then proceeds to say “IT IS ABOUT CHRIST AND THE CHURCH”.
Eph 5:29-32 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, (30) because we are members of his body. (31) "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH." (32) This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
So the question becomes whether we as the futurist and literalist minded church have been correct in properly identifying theological language from Genesis? How does it affect our faith and relationship to God if we determine that error has been made and that the Image of God was not a mortal man attribute because it is qualified in the NT as that quality that brings us immortal life with God through Christ. How can we once this ignorance is illuminated continue to hold onto an understanding that undermines the sacredness of what was foretold and prophesied from the beginning. What did we hear from the scriptures that will abide in us? Was it a lesser form of the Image of God called the Likeness of God or the Natural man that Paul says died or was it mortal humanity completely outside of God’s covenant people that philosophers say must have been formed in God’s Image.
1Jn 2:24-25 Let what you HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING abide in you. If what you heard FROM THE BEGINNING abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. (25) And THIS IS THE PROMISE THAT HE MADE TO US--eternal life.
Brothers I realize these concepts are new to most just like many other concepts developed from Preterism are. What I suggest is that if one is interested in pursuing this issue that they meditate upon the consequences of what is being presented here in accordance with scripture and search these things out for yourself. I believe I have performed my responsibility to the scriptures in making these things known and comprehensible now it is up to you individually to search whether these things be true or not from your own investigation of the scriptures.
1Jn 5:11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image
The Image of God was His promise “from the Beginning” to his created covenant people at the last day before entering into his 7th Day Sabbath Rest.
Gen 2:1-2 And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (2) And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
Heb 4:4-10 for He spake in a certain place concerning the seventh day thus: `And God did rest in the seventh day from all His works;' (5) and in this place again, `If they shall enter into My rest-- …. there doth remain, then, a sabbatic rest to the people of God, (10) for he who did enter into his rest, he also rested from his works, as God from His own.
See original article and discussions here