Image of God: Men and Women, Cremation of the Body, Evolution, Genetics and Genesis

John Frame's Systematic Theology
Part 7 - Doctrine of Man
Chapter 34 - Man in God's Image

Genesis 1:26ff is the key passage: "Let Us make man in our image, after Our likeness..."

What is the image of God in man?  Our intellect, soul, social relationships, dominion, or "knowledge, righteousness and holiness" (Eph 4:24)?

It has to do with the tri-perspectival Lordship attributes of God as Prophet (normative authority), King (situational control) and Priest (existential presence).

Control as King
Man is to take dominion, though this is not really granted before the 3rd day of creation (no power to hold back the waters of the 2nd day).  Somehow, our bodies relate to the image of God, though He has no body.  See Psalm 94:9 for an example.

Authority as Prophet
This involves language - God speaks to man first thing.  He in turn is to name animals.  God gave Him creation ordinances: worship and the Sabbath (God-focus), subduing and tending (earth-focus), and procreation, marriage and work (man-focus).

Presence as Priest
Man can fill the earth only by procreation.  He is to bless it wherever he goes, not exploit it.  It should produce fruit, give rest, and be given rest.

The Bible speaks of man as the son of God, meaning he resembles God (Luke 3:38; Deut 1:31; Rom. 8:14).

Male and Female
This isn't the key factor that makes us God's image, but it is important.  Both are God's image equally.  1 Corinthians 11:7 doesn't undo this, when it says woman is the glory of man.  She is to honor man, an additional layer, but this doesn't detract from her imaging God.  Men also must honor other men in authority, and that doesn't make them less of an image-bearer.  Jesus submits to the Father.  This is part of God's image, not a detraction from it!  Our sexuality also pictures God's creativity, begetting, love, Lordship, and servanthood.  Both male and female represent God, also.  "Scripture makes no sexual distinction" in Genesis 1:26-28, or regarding our restored image (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26-29).  This doesn't conflict with authority of man over woman in home and church.

Body, soul and spirit
The traditional understanding that the body and soul make up the person, that the body stays in the ground at death while the soul/spirit goes to God alive, has some Biblical support (Ecc. 12:7; James 2:26).  But the full picture is more complicated.  The list of spirit, soul and body in 1 Thess. 5:23 is just Paul "piling up terms" (799), and he could have used more, like mind, heart, understanding and will.

When the body lies in the grave, it is still the person - see John 5:28.  Words of comfort to children at funeral homes often mislead here: the body is still the person, not just a shell, but the person is also alive with the Lord apart from the body.  So don't cremate bodies!  God can restore bodies burned, of course, but it's still a mistake.

So the trichotomist idea that we have 3 parts of our being, body, soul and spirit, is mistaken.  The idea that the spirit died at the fall while the soul and body remained functional, doesn't fit well with total depravity.  Redemption isn't the spirit part regaining its primacy over soul and body.  This is more Plato than Bible.

So the Traducian view is also mistaken, that the soul is added to the body some time after conception.

The way Adam and Eve are made in Genesis 2:7, 21-22 emphasizes their difference from the animals.

Adam and Eve were historical people.  Luke 3:38; Romans 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; Matthew 19:4-6 all assume this for those texts to make any sense.  "A literal reading of Genesis 1-2 cannot be reconciled with an evolutionary account of man's origin" (804).

Modern genetics poses that the original gene pool was around 10,000 people, about 150,000 years ago.  This might be made to fit Genesis, with Adam and Eve and leaders of this "tribe," though several passages need to be taken figuratively, then (Gen. 2:7, 21-22; 3:20).  But it's just as likely the science is wrong or undeveloped.

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