Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I0304-Image of God in the Soul of Man 1.15.3ff

This post is part of our group read of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

What is meant by "Image of God" in the Scripture which reads?:

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

To the one who understands this to refer the idea that our bodies are made to look like God. As though the image of God refers to external appearance Calvin writes:
"...extending the image of God indiscriminately as well to the body as to the soul, confounds heaven with earth."

Looking at what it is that man is restored to in Christ sheds some understanding on what it means to be made in the "image of God."

Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

To these verses Robert L. Reymond writes:

"The allusion in these verse to Gen 1:26-27 is inescable, and the renewal through Christ is described in terms of true righteousness and holiness in the former verse and in terms of knowledge in the latter verse. "
Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theolgy of The Christian Faith, Thomas Nelson Publishers, P 429.
And the Westminster Confession of Faith affirms that this was their understanding as well:
"Chap 4.
II. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female,[4] with reasonable and immortal souls,[5] endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image;" click here

SO CALVIN Further adds: "To the same effect Paul elsewhere says, that beholding the glory of Christ with unveiled face, we are transformed into the same image (II Cor 3:18). We now see how Christ is the most perfect image of God, into which we are so renewed as to bear the image of God in knowledge, purity, righteousness, and true holiness."

Once again Calvin writes a denial that this IMAGE refers to bodily form:
"This being established, the imagination of Osiander, as to bodily form, vanishes of its own accord. "

Futher (and note the explanation of John 1:4)
"The same thing, in different terms, is declared by St John when he says, that the light which was from the beginning, in the eternal Word of God, was the light of man, (John 1:4.) His object being to extol the singular grace of God in making man excel the other animals, he at the same time shows how he was formed in the image of God, that he may separate him from the common herd, as possessing not ordinary animal existence, but one which combines with it the light of intelligence."

But with the FALL ruined, corrupted, tainted with impurity:
"Therefore, as the image of God constitutes the entire excellence of human nature, as it shone in Adam before his fall, but was afterwards vitiated and almost destroyed, nothing remaining but a ruin, confused, mutilated, and tainted with impurity, so it is now partly seen in the elect, in so far as they are regenerated by the Spirit. Its full lustre, however, will be displayed in heaven."
Concerning the Worlds View of man unenlightened by scripture:
"Thus they always presuppose in man a reason by which he is able to guide himself aright."

The World's wisdom confounds the two states of man, before and after the fall:
"For philosophers, being unacquainted with the corruption of nature, which is the punishment of revolt, erroneously confound two states of man which are very different from each other."

An attempt to describe the will and the intellect as the two parts of which the soul consist:
"Not to lose ourselves in superfluous questions, let it be enough to know that the intellect is to us, as it were, the guide and ruler of the soul; that the will always follows its beck, and waits for its decision, in matters of desire."
"Adam, therefore, might have stood if he chose, since it was only by his own will that he fell; but it was because his will was pliable in either directions and he had not received constancy to persevere, that he so easily fell."

"There was soundness of mind and freedom of will to choose the good. If any one objects that it was placed, as it were, in a slippery position, because its power was weak, I answer, that the degree conferred was sufficient to take away every excuse. For surely the Deity could not be tied down to this condition, - to make man such, that he either could not or would not sin. Such a nature might have been more excellent; but to expostulate with God as if he had been bound to confer this nature on man, is more than unjust, seeing he had full right to determine how much or how little He would give."

Further more - if you would charge God with not giving Adam enough power so as not to fall:
"Why He did not sustain him by the virtue of perseverance is hidden in his counsel; it is ours to keep within the bounds of soberness. Man had received the power, if he had the will, but he had not the will which would have given the power; for this will would have been followed by perseverance. Still, after he had received so much, there is no excuse for his having spontaneously brought death upon himself. No necessity was laid upon God to give him more than that intermediate and even transient will, that out of man's fall he might extract materials for his own glory."

So What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

What have we fallen from and to what will we be restored in Christ but this same image of God which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

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