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The Meaning and Implications of the Doctrine of imago Dei: Pt. 1 of 6—Key Biblical Passages
April 4, 2014 richardstevenpark

The Meaning and Implications of the Doctrine of imago Dei: Pt. 1 of 6—Key Biblical Passages

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In this six-part blog series, I explore in some depth and at some length the meaning and implications of the Christian doctrine of imago Dei—human persons’ being made in the image of God. The series is broken up into these six main themes:

(1)  Several key biblical passages on the imago Dei
(2)  The traditional views of the imago Dei
(3)  The imago Dei and human nature
(4)  The imago Dei and imitation Christi (the “imitation of Christ”)
(5)  The imago Dei and (in)human trafficking
(6)  The imago Dei and other implications

The main theological thought that unites these themes is: that every single human person, being made in the image of God, has a divine dignity in virtue of which certain profound implications follow. I hope that this series of blog posts will encourage and challenge the reader to think more seriously and clearly about the Christian doctrine of imago Dei, and to apply what she learns about the doctrine to a world which desperately needs a more biblical faithful and robust articulation of the Christian view of the nature of human persons.

I begin by looking at several key biblical passages from which the doctrine is derived, beginning with Genesis 1.26-27.

“26 Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.…’ 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

The term “image” shows up in several other places: for example, Gen. 5, Gen. 9, and Num. 33 (v. 52). The last passage has to do with destroying the images of idols, making it somewhat unrelated to our present concern. The passage in Gen. 5.1-3 reads as follows:

“1 … God created man … in the likeness of God…. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.”

And in Gen. 9.6 we read about the covenant that God made with Noah after the flood:

“‘6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.’”

At the very least, we could say that there are some important and obvious implications that derive from the doctrine of the imago Dei. For example, Genesis 9 seems to suggest an inherent dignity, an indomitable dignity, which every human person has in virtue of being created in God’s image. Later in this series, we will look at verses which round out a Christian view of the image of God by considering the one who perfectly exhibits the image of God, namely, Jesus Christ. Before doing so, in the next blog post, I will discuss the three traditional views of the doctrine of imago Dei, as we consider the various biblical passages quoted above.