The Lord be with you
In classical Lutheran theology, the “Image of God” that humanity was created in is typically defined as original righteousness, holiness and blessedness. Other adjectives may be used, but this type of thinking is the essence. Therefore Adam and Eve were completely without sin, like God. They were pure, like God. They were completely righteous, like God, and so forth. When Adam and Eve sinned they lost this Image of God. Now Adam and Eve are not sinless but sinners. Now they are not pure but polluted, and so forth.
Most passages dealing with the Image of God can comfortably fit with this understanding. However there are a few which are more difficult. This leaves one with the feeling that, while “original righteousness” as the meaning of the “Image of God” is correct and necessary to the point where to omit it from ones definition is to have a false definition, it may not be full. Therefore, I read with real interest the article “Another Look at Imago Dei: Fulfilled in the Incarnate One,” by Burnell F. Eckardt Jr. in the latest issue of Concordia Theological Quarterly.
As anyone who knows me and how I read the Old Testament can testify, I’m always looking for Jesus on those pages. I feel so strongly about it that I have often said, if you aren’t finding Jesus in the Old Testament you aren’t reading it correctly. One of the things I like about Eckardt’s “wide” understanding of the Image of God is that it leads him to write, “In short, the creation of Adam is the first and most prominent of all the ways in which Scripture foretells the coming of Christ the perfect man.”
While I shall ponder the implications of this article for awhile, I can certainly recommend the article as worth reading. I should say that it isn’t for novice theologians. If the extent of your theological training is Jr. Confirmation class or an Adult Instruction class, the subject may prove a bit challenging. He quotes Church Fathers, refers a bit to the words in the Hebrew text, uses some Latin, refers to some big-player theologians from modern times (1500 to the present) and assumes you have an understanding of a classical Lutheran approach to the Image of God. However, if you value grappling with the richer meanings of biblical concepts, you will value this article.
You can download it at this link: ANOTHER LOOK AT IMAGO DEI
Back issues of CTQ, including the ones reference in the Imago Dei article, can be found by clicking on this link: CTQ
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert