Christ as Creator: Origins of a New Testament Doctrine


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Even if God created just one molecule per year so that the work was spread out, it is still a fact that creation per se is instantaneous. This concept relates to our teaching on original sin— not to be confused with the doctrine on 'the origin of sin. Paul writes Rom. Another aspect of the individual Adam was bara creation— bara a word only occurring the creation account in Gen. The man—the individual. In the New Testament genealogies, Luke quotes Genesis—in Luke —38 , in which the specific individuals are recorded back to Adam.

The Adam individual lived years. Tribes and clans are not referred to in genealogies but individuals belonging to each generation. Paul in 1 Cor. This reference by Paul to Adam opposes the idea of any 'pre-Adamic' man necessary to substantiate any gap theory. Does not any prior creation deny Genesis as Genesis? This is a very significant verse in relation to the whole view of creation because it rules out any pre-Adamic man.

If there were a pre-Adamic race, then the Bible cannot be trusted. Writing to the Corinthians Paul reminded his readers that 'the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man' 1 Cor. Beyond the thought of Adam as an individual first man, there lies the teaching regarding his specific flesh Regarding the creation of Eve, again I suggest we have to accept literally what the Word of God says. Either the creation of Eve was a special creation or it was a myth.

However, if evolutionary development were taking place there would be no purpose or need for a special creation because production of males and females would spasmodically occur in all generations.

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Yet in the Genesis account we see Adam a single individual for whom God goes to great pain in bringing all those living creatures before Him, but finding none suitable as a help fit for him. So Adam remained alone, and God saw that he needed a companion. And so God undertakes His second creative act. When the Word of God says that 'male and female created He them' , that is exactly what it means. Each was an individual creative act of God. Notice here that mankind is only mankind insofar as it is a complementary relationship of man and woman, not equal but complementary.

Genesis describes the innocence before the fall in one word—'unashamed'. This is mentioned here because later when God clothed them, it was for moral necessity, not for physical protection. This moral need for clothing has prevailed ever since. Very few primitive tribes have been discovered who go totally naked. As an expression of rebellion and defiance towards God some 'civilised' people attempt to bypass the cross of Christ simply by throwing off their clothes.

They think they can go back to a state of being unashamed by ignoring the necessity of the cross, i. Without pressing these thoughts too far, it nevertheless must be affirmed that we are spiritual beings, as God is a spiritual being. Man's ability to make a choice emphasizes our 'likeness' to God.

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Man is not a machine. He was given the ability to trust, to choose, and the opportunity to exercise these abilities in relation to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve refused this responsibility of trust and their failure resulted in sin, and so sin passed upon all men; all men however, having the individual responsibility for being sinners.

Death entered too as a result of this failure 1 Cor. A pre-Adamic race, or any evolutionary process, would require that when Adam was made, all previously existing life forms would still be alive since death was unknown. Now that would hardly be evolutionary because selective advantages could not be in process of happening. New Testament doctrine lays down the thesis that death is the result of sin and therefore not something built in, as it were, with creation and its deterioration.

That of course is consistent with our Second Law of Thermodynamics. Adam had this authority uniquely. In the New Testament Heb. Notice however, that it is only a derived power 1 Cor. Because of sin, mankind by and large does not recognise the hierarchy of authority but any dominion that is exercised responsibly is recognised as being derived from God. Any failure to recognise God means an abuse of authority which we see with tragic and widespread results today.

I believe the acceptance of the authority as described in 1 Cor. All the miracles recorded in the New Testament required instantaneous creative action. At the marriage feast in Cane, the water was made wine. What did not exist at one moment was made to exist, and it happened instantaneously. The water needed an ingredient God alone could give. Lepers were healed instantly Matt. Lazarus was called forth from the tomb and obeyed at once Some sort or considerable creative activity of a significant scale is indicated here, since Lazarus had been dead four days.

John The blind man saw Mark , John All these things happened of that 'which did not appear'. The purpose of the miracles was to reveal God's glory John , just as creation was to reveal God's glory as Paul wrote to the Roman Christians Rom. It is important to grasp that there was instantaneous creative ability of the same God through the same Christ who had worked together with the Father in the beginning. In that way the miracles are quite natural. Let us especially appreciate the purpose: that God's glory might be revealed. One further point is drawn from the concept of miracles—which is that of the mature age creation, or as some writers express it, 'the superficial appearance of age'.

Furthermore, let us note that God created man—Adam, the individual—a mature man; and gave him Eve—a mature woman. The creation waits eagerly, expectantly, for the sons of God to be revealed. The whole universe is hanging on tenterhooks, as it were, in hopeful anticipation of the second coming of Christ. We are hoping, waiting, longing—but creation is also, for that will mean its release from bondage as well. When man sinned, God placed creation under that deterioration—so creation at His coming will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Also, obviously inherent in this reversal of deterioration in creation, is the restoration of all things. God in intervention will turn it back and that will come through judgment. To look at these facts, to understand what they say, means to do something about it. An alternative model for evolution would be a dead end if no response is forthcoming. Peter referred to this restoration in his sermon in Acts —21— ' Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.

Philosophy once again had a significant effect on Western Christian theology in medieval Europe after the re-discovery and translation of ancient texts. Aristotelian philosophy and an emphasis on applying rationality and reason to theology played a part in developing scholasticism, a movement whose main goals were to establish systematic theology and illustrate why Christianity was inherently logical and rational.


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Reformation theologians , like Martin Luther , focused their reflections on the dominant role mankind had over all creation in the Garden of Eden before the fall of man. The Imago Dei, according to Luther, was the perfect existence of man and woman in the garden: all knowledge, wisdom and justice, and with peaceful and authoritative dominion over all created things in perpetuity. In the Modern Era, the Image of God was often related to the concept of "freedom" or "free will" and also relationality. Emil Brunner , a twentieth century Swiss Reformed theologian, wrote that "the formal aspect of human nature, as beings 'made in the image of God", denotes being as Subject, or freedom; it is this which differentiates humanity from the lower creation.

Paul Ricoeur , a twentieth century French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutics, argued that there is no defined meaning of the Imago Dei, or at the very least the author of Genesis 1 "certainly did not master at once all its implicit wealth of meaning. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, " It is in Christ, "the image of the invisible God," that man has been created "in the image and likeness" of the Creator.

Hence it means the capacity for relationship; it is the human capacity for God. Richard Middleton argued for a reassessment of the Biblical sources to better understand the original meaning before taking it out of context and applying it. In Christian theology there are three common ways of understanding the manner in which humans exist in Imago Dei : Substantive, Relational and Functional.

The substantive view locates the image of God within the psychological or spiritual makeup of the human being. This view holds that there are similarities between humanity and God, thus emphasizing characteristics that are of shared substance between both parties.

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Some proponents of the substantive view uphold that the rational soul mirrors the divine. What is important is that the substantive view sees the image of God as present in humanity whether or not an individual person acknowledges the reality of the image.

The substantive view of the image of God has held particular historical precedence over the development of Christian Theology particularly among early Patristic Theologians see Patristics , like Irenaeus and Augustine, and Medieval Theologians, like Aquinas. Irenaeus believes that the essential nature of humanity was not lost or corrupted by the fall, but the fulfillment of humanity's creation, namely freedom and life, was to be delayed until "the filling out the time of [Adam's] punishment. And we were in the likeness of God through an original spiritual endowment.

While Irenaeus represents an early assertion of the substantive view of the image of God, the specific understanding of the essence of the image of God is explained in great detail by Augustine , a fifth century theologian who describes a Trinitarian formula in the image of God. Augustine's Trinitarian structural definition of the image of God includes memory, intellect, and will. Augustine's descriptions of memory, intellect, and will held a dominant theological foothold for a number of centuries in the development of Christian Theology.

Medieval theologians also made a distinction between the image and likeness of God.

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The former referred to a natural, innate resemblance to God and the latter referred to the moral attributes God's attributes that were lost in the fall. Aquinas , a medieval theologian writing almost years after Augustine, builds on the Trinitarian structure of Augustine but takes the Trinitarian image of God to a different end.

Like Irenaeus and Augustine, Aquinas locates the image of God in humanity's intellectual nature or reason, but Aquinas believes that the image of God is in humanity in three ways. First, which all humanity possess, the image of God is present in humanity's capacity for understanding and loving God, second, which only those who are justified possess, the image is present when humanity actually knows and loves God imperfectly, and thirdly, which only the blessed possess, the image is present when humanity knows and loves God perfectly.

Medieval scholars suggested that the holiness or "wholeness" of humankind was lost after the fall, though free will and reason remained. John Calvin and Martin Luther agreed that something of the Imago Dei was lost at the fall but that fragments of it remained in some form or another, as Luther's Large Catechism article states, "Man lost the image of God when he fell into sin. Furthermore, rabbinic Midrash focuses on the function of image of God in kingship language.

While a monarch is cast in the image or likeness of God to differentiate him ontologically from other mortals, Torah's B'reishit portrays the image as democratic: every human is cast in God's image and likeness. This leveling effectively embraces the substantive view and likens humankind to the earthly presence of God.

The rabbinic substantive view does not operate out of the framework of original sin. In fact, the account of Adam and Eve disobeying God's mandate is neither expressly rendered as "sin" in B'reishit, nor anywhere else in Torah for that matter. It is instead likened to a "painful but necessary graduation from the innocence of childhood to the problem-laden world of living as morally responsible adults.

Midrashim, however, finds common ground with the Thomist view of humanity's response to the image of God in the stories of Cain and Abel filtered through the, "Book of Genealogies" Gen Insofar as the image and likeness of God is transmitted through the act of procreation, Cain and Abel provide examples of what constitutes adequate and inadequate response to the image, and how that image either becomes fully actualized or utterly forsaken. The murder of Cain is cast as preempting the perpetuation of the image through Abel's potential descendants.

Midrashim interprets Gen as Abel's blood crying out not only to God, but also "against" Cain, which lays the onus squarely on Adam's firstborn. The relational view argues that one must be in a relationship with God in order to possess the 'image' of God. Those who hold to the relational image agree that humankind possess the ability to reason as a substantive trait, but they argue that it is in a relationship with God that the true image is made evident. Later theologians like Karl Barth and Emil Brunner argue that it is our ability to establish and maintain complex and intricate relationships that make us like God.

For example, in humans the created order of male and female is intended to culminate in spiritual as well as physical unions Genesis , reflecting the nature and image of God. Since other creatures do not form such explicitly referential spiritual relationships, these theologians see this ability as uniquely representing the imago dei in humans.

Archaeology discovered many texts where specific kings are exalted as "images" of their respective deities and rule based on divine mandate. With the rise of contemporary ecological concerns the functional interpretation of the image of God has grown in popularity. Some modern theologians are arguing for proper religious care of the earth based on the functional interpretation of the image of god as caregiver over created order.

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Thus, exerting dominion over creation is an imperative for responsible ecological action. One of the strongest criticisms of the functional interpretation of the imago Dei is the negative message that it conveys about persons with disabilities. Within the functional view, it is often thought that disabilities which interfere with one's capacity to "rule," whether physical, intellectual, or psychological, are a distortion of the image of God.


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The Imago Dei concept had a very strong influence on the creation of human rights. Glen H. Stassen argues that both the concept and the term human rights originated more than a half-century before the Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke. Imago Dei in reference to religious liberty of all persons was used by the free churches Dissenters at the time of the Puritan Revolution as an affirmation of the religious liberty of all persons.

The concept was based not only on natural reason but also on the Christian struggle for liberty, justice, and peace for all. The background of this struggle lay in the time of the English Revolution. The king had been alienating many Christians by favoring some churches over others. According to the scholar of Puritan literature William Haller, "the task of turning the statement of the law of nature into ringing declaration of the rights of man fell to Richard Overton. One of the themes that foreshadowed Richard Overton's reason for giving voice to human rights, especially the demand for separation of church and state , is implicitly connected to the concept of the image of God.

That the magistrate is not to force or compel men to this or that form of religion, or doctrine but to leave Christian religion free, to every man's conscience [ Any concept of human rights will therefore include: first, democratic relationships when humans rule others, cooperation and fellowship with other humans, cooperation with the environment, and the responsibility for future generations of humans created in God's image.

Judaism holds the essential dignity of every human. One of the factors upon which this is based is an appeal to Imago Dei: "the astonishing assertion that God created human beings in God's own 'image. Interpretation of the relationship between the Imago Dei and the physical body has undergone considerable change throughout the history of Jewish and Christian interpretation.

Old Testament scholars acknowledge that the Hebrew word for "image" in Genesis 1 selem often refers to an idol or physical image. The Apostle Paul at times displays both an appreciation for and a denial of the physical body as the image of God. An example of the importance of the physical body and the Imago Dei can be found in 2 Corinthians , in which Paul claims that Jesus Christ, in his entire being, is the image of God.

Paul states that in proclaiming Jesus, the renewal of the image of God is experienced, not just eschatologically but also physically cf. In 2 Corinthians , Paul states that Christians are "always carrying the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. In sum, for Paul it seems that being restored in Christ and inheriting the Image of God leads to an actual corporeal change.

As one changes internally, so too does one's body change. Thus, the change affected by Jesus envelopes one's entire being, including one's body. Many theologians from the patristic period to the present have relied heavily on an Aristotelian structure of the human as an inherently "rational animal," set apart from other beings.

This view was combined with Pre-Socratic notions of the "divine spark" of reason. Middleton contends that Christian theologians have historically relied more on extra-biblical philosophical and theological sources than the Genesis text itself. This led to an exclusion of the body and a more dualistic understanding of the image found in dominant Christian theology. Irenaeus was unique for his time in that he places a great deal of emphasis on the physicality of the body and the Image of God. In his Against Heresies , he writes "For by the hands of the Father, that is by the Son and the Holy Spirit, man, and not a part of man, was made in the likeness of God.

Further, because the Son is modeled after the Father, humans are likewise modeled after the Son and therefore bear a physical likeness to the Son. This implies that humans' likeness to God is revealed through embodied acts. Humans do not currently just exist in the pure image of God, because of the reality of sin. Irenaeus claims that one must "grow into" the likeness of God. Because of sin, humans still require the Son's salvation, who is in the perfect image of God.

Because we are physical beings, our understanding of the fullness of the image of God did not become realized until the Son took physical form. Further, it is through the Son's physicality that he is able to properly instruct us on how to live and grow into the full image of God. Jesus, in becoming physically human, dying a human death, and then physically resurrected, "recapitulated," or fully revealed, what it means to be in the Image of God and therefore bears the full restoration of our being in God's image.

By so doing, Jesus becomes the new Adam and through the Holy Spirit restores the human race into its fullness. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, a small population of theologians and church leaders have emphasized a need to return to early monastic spirituality. Thomas Merton , Parker Palmer , Henri Nouwen , and Barbara Brown Taylor , among others, draw from aspects of mystical theology, central to the Christian desert ascetics , in order to provide theological frameworks which positively view the physical body and the natural world.

Similarly, feminist thinkers have drawn attention to the alienation of the female experience in Christian thought. For two millennia, the female body has only been recognized as a means to separate women from men and to categorize the female body as inferior and the masculine as normative. The understanding of Imago Dei has come under new scrutiny when held up against the movement of transhumanism which seeks to transform the human through technological means.

Such transformation is achieved through pharmacological enhancement, genetic manipulation , nanotechnology , cybernetics , and computer simulation. Transhumanism's assertion that the human being exist within the evolutionary processes and that humans should use their technological capabilities to intentionally accelerate these processes is an affront to some conceptions of Imago Dei within Christian tradition.

In response, these traditions have erected boundaries in order to establish the appropriate use of trashumanisic technologies using the distinction between therapeutic and enhancement technologies. Therapeutic uses of technology such as cochlear implants , prosthetic limbs , and psychotropic drugs have become commonly accepted in religious circles as means of addressing human frailty.

Further, they correct the human form according to a constructed sense of normalcy. Thus the distinction between therapy and enhancement is ultimately questionable when addressing ethical dilemmas. Human enhancement has come under heavy criticism from Christians; especially the Vatican which condemned enhancement as "radically immoral" stating that humans do not have full right over their biological form. In these stories, God was in no real danger of losing power; however, Patrick D.

Hopkins has argued that, in light of technological advancement, the hubris critique is changing into a Promethean critique. According to Hopkins, "In Greek myth, when Prometheus stole fire, he actually stole something. He stole a power that previously only the gods had. Within progressive circles of Christian tradition transhumanism has not presented a threat but a positive challenge.

Some theologians, such as Philip Hefner and Stephen Garner, have seen the transhumanist movement as a vehicle by which to re-imagine the Imago Dei. Many of these theologians follow in the footsteps of Donna Haraway 's " Cyborg Manifesto. Building off of Haraway's thesis, Stephen Garner engages the apprehensive responses to the metaphor of the cyborg among popular culture. For Garner, these "narratives of apprehension" found in popular movies and television are produced by "conflicting ontologies of the person. Therefore, it is understandable that a person's first reaction to the image of a cyborg would be apprehension.

For Garner, the wider scope of Haraway's "cultural cyborg" can be characterized by the term " hybridity. Brenda Brasher thinks that this revelation of the hybridity of human nature present insurmountable problems for scriptural based theological metaphors bound in "pastoral and agrarian imagery. He says, that in the three major areas of hybridity in Christianity are eschatology , Christology , and theological anthropology.

In eschatology Christians are called to be both in the world but not of the world. Finally, in theological anthropology the hybridity of human nature is seen in the concept of the imago of God itself. Humans are both formed "from the dust," and stamped with the divine image. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. Learn how and when to remove these template messages.

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