By: Luis Dizon

Dignity, Morality and the Image of God - Part Three

Having looked at Genesis 1:26-28 and its interpretation in the previous article, it is also important to look at other related passages that bear on the subject. First is the account of Adam’s begetting of Seth. This is found in Genesis 5:1-3, which reads:

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.”[1]

Two observations need to be made here: First, even though man has fallen, the image of God is still present in him, albeit in a marred state. This continued presence of this image will later be important in discussing the dignity of man. Second is that there’s a link being made between the creation of man by the Lord, and the procreation of offspring by man. In Stephen Dempster’s words: “By juxtaposing the divine creation of Adam in the image of God and the subsequent human creation of Seth in the image of Adam, the transmission of the image of God through this genealogical line is implied.”[2]

Another important passage that should be discussed in connection with Genesis 1:26-28 is Psalm 8:5-8, where it is written:

“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under his feet,

all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”

It is widely held that this psalm is a direct commentary on Genesis 1:26-28.[3] It is interesting how verses 6-8 echo Genesis 1:28’s command for man to subdue the earth and have dominion over all creatures. Though the phrase “image of God” is not explicitly used here, the concept is clearly assumed, especially in the way that man is said to be crowned “with glory and honour” (וְהָדָ֣ר כָבֹ֖וד). The use of these words is important since these are royal terms which the biblical authors usually reserve for God. However, since man becomes His image-bearer and is given authority over the created order, the use of such terms for humanity becomes warranted and is more than appropriate given the context.

Thus, we see how the Bible presents a consistent witness on the importance of the Image of God in showing the value of humanity in God’s created order. Over the next few articles, this view point will be contrasted with alternative views of humanity. In particular, we will be looking at the views of humanity presented by the Naturalistic worldview, the Eastern Religious worldview, and the Islamic worldview. We will see how well these views fare when juxtaposed with the Christian worldview’s view of God.

[1] All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.

[2] Stephen Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 58.

[3] Ibid., 61, and Peter J. Gentry, “Kingdom Through Covenant: Humanity as the Divine Image,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 12.1 (Spring 2008): 29.

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