On Humankind in the Image of God (imago Dei)
God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.(1)
The Genesis story of the creation of humankind embodies two conspicuous elements.
The more prominent (obvious!) is that God, as Creator, establishes the relationship between divinity and humanity.
The second is that humankind, as created, is created to respond to God; to be in a dialogical relationship with God. To put this another way, to be human is to be aware, to know that we are created to answer God.
Answering God means something more than reacting to God.
I react (re- “again” + act) when I am affected by an external force or stimulus and respond.
I touch a hot stove and, feeling pain, reflexively, pull my hand away…
I gaze into the star-lit sky and, in awe, my eyes widen and my mouth falls agape…
I walk through the woods and, in the distance, behold a brown bear, which, trailed by two cubs, I assume is the mother bear and, fearful, having invaded their territory and seeking safety, slowly back away, retracing my steps.
In each of these examples, I react. However, my essential nature, who and what I am, is unchanged.(2)
I answer (an- “in front of” + swer- “to swear” or “to declare”) by responding to (“in front of”) you to the word you have spoken to me. To answer you, I must understand the meaning of your message. Even more, to understand your message, indeed, to understand you (who, by your very nature, are “other” to me as I, by my very nature, am “other” to you) involves a transformation, a change in my individual way of thinking and feeling, perceiving and reasoning.
So, I believe, it is in our human dialogical relationship with God, which is rooted in our being made in God’s image.
Other than human beings, no other creature can respond to God, can answer a word of/from God.(3) We human beings are the only creatures who can appropriate and apply God’s word to the conduct of our lives, and, thus, in freewill, take part in our transformation.
(1) Genesis 1.26a, 27a
(2) I remain unchanged, assuming, in regard to my third example, that the mother bear doesn’t chase me down and dismember me!
(3) God’s word is and can be spoken through a variety, aye, infinite ways; among them, through the Bible, in prayer, through dreams and visions, in nature, through another person (whether a preacher, a prophet, a family member or a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger, even an enemy), and through the voice of one’s conscience.
Illustration: The Creation of Adam (Creazione di Adamo) (1512), Michelangelo (1475-1564)
2 thoughts on “My Theological Opinion…”
I was so swamped yesterday and this morning that I didn’t have a second to read and reply to this Paul BUT I’m soooo glad to have read this before my spiritual writing class tonight!
Last week I wrote about You the person in class, this week I’ll write about God and how I react and answer HIM based on your theological opinion!!
I know that I can react badly to others at times but I try not to react badly to God. But I guess one of the lessons here is to react to others in the same way I react to God….that’s a thought right??
In terms of answering….that can be hard too, especially if the answer isn’t what we WANT it to be. I try to think about the answer before I REACT and try to figure what the best course on the path that God would want for me is. Tough work to find the right answer!
Awesome theological opinion!! Thanks
for this!! Wow!!
Loretta, here’s the thing for me about reacting vs. answering…
As I considered, in this My Theological Opinion…On Humankind in the Image of God (imago Dei), I perceive a distinction between reacting to God and answering God. In considering this distinction, I, first, in order to be clear in the sharing of my supposition (and in mine own mind!), offered some examples from my very human, very worldly experience…
That said and done, I moved on to contemplate the relation of these two responses to God. What I didn’t say/write, which you, by your comments make clear to me that I wish I had had the foresight to do, is that, yes, I could react to God. And, for me, reacting to God is tantamount to my acknowledging that, yes, “Okay, God, you exist. Now, let me go about my daily business.” That said, my major point (I think!) is that only we humans, as creatures, that is, as created by God, are capable of answering God; that is, responding to God’s word (however it is that God speaks). And being God’s co-respondent, that is, in dialogical relationship with God, is the sole purview – of all created beings – of humankind. And to be God’s co-respondent and in dialogical relationship with God is a direct manifestation of being created in the imago Dei…
Or, at least, this is what I think I was…and am getting at here!