Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Genesis 1:26 : the dignity of man rooted in God

Man is accorded profound dignity in the beginning: he is a ruler, and he is made like God.

It’s a astonishing fact that man is made in God’s image and likeness. While not losing sight of our sinful condition and many valid reasons for humility, we should also properly marvel that we are wonderfully made, designed like God.

What does it mean to be made in God’s image and likeness? In other words, what characteristics and qualities in us that are also in God? A non-exhaustive list: we are creative (no one does not create – even the least artsy jock re-‘creates’ when he creates a game out of a ball and lines in the ground); we have minds, wills, and emotions; we are moral actors; we can act upon the world.

To see how wonderful this is, simply imagine if a rock said to you 'I have an idea...' or even if your cat or dog came to you with a water-color painting it had made.

As a political, moral, philosophical, and aesthetic matter, our dignity and worth is rooted in being created in God’s image. This is why some argue that our country must acknowledge God – because to do otherwise unmoors us from the very source of our worth. If a man is not made in the image of God, then he is just another beast.

Man is immediately established as ruler over the other animals on earth. Here is one example of God’s establishment of authority (others are government/citizen, husband/wife, parent/child, elder/congregation, Jesus/everything).

Circling back around to man being made in God’s image and likeness, this is something profound and helpful to meditate on. In our cynical, competitive world we do not look upon ourselves and others as God-like. Would we slander each other if we thought of each other as God-like? Would we cut each other off in traffic? Would we kill each other? Would we not love each other more if we considered each other God-like? Would we not enjoy each other and ourselves more? Wouldn’t we be more secure and more happy if we thought of ourselves as a God-like race instead of members of the rat race?

There is a movement in the world to make human beings believe they are nothing but animals, driven by bestial urges just like rats and chimps. This is a lie. You and your neighbor are like God.


-Dave said...

Man is an animal, in that man is a biological organism with predictable urges. I would not say that this is a lie. I would say it is incomplete.

Man was created to multiply, but was ALSO created in the image of God. Man was created to be more than animal. Man often chooses to simply live as an animal. The tragedy of this is that of potential unrecognized - the star who suffers a career-ending injury. The child who never stops wearing a diaper. The artist who loses the sense that births their art - (a musucuan's ear, a painter's sight, a cook's taste).

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

I think I understand where you're coming from, saying "You and your neighbor are like God". And I think I understand the concept of man as an animal (a biological organism), as Dave wrote. These are two aspects of our human nature. To say we are all divine is a lie (the New Age lie). To say we are all animal is a lie (the naturalist lie). The truth is that we are both spiritual and physical. This was all worked out by our Christian ancestors when they struggled with Christology, who or what is Christ. Since Christ is our pattern, we are like Him as a piano transcription is like the orchestral piece it was derived from. This is all in C.S. Lewis, as well as in the ancient Church fathers.

For a related subject, an excellent essay on the dual natures of Christ, of marriage, and of the Church, take a look at this:

Kenny, I appreciate the careful reasoning you have been sharing with us in this and the previous post. Keep it up! said...

Thanks, Romanos, for your helpful comments.