The Meaning and Implications of the Doctrine of imago Dei: Pt. 6b of 6—Further Implications & Conclusions
April 15, 2014 richardstevenpark

The Meaning and Implications of the Doctrine of imago Dei: Pt. 6b of 6—Further Implications & Conclusions

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In concluding this series of blogs, I offer a few further suggestions on various areas of life and ministry in which the doctrine of the imago Dei may have a significant impact. I will only sketch out the ideas in rough form so as to prod you on to further thinking, action, and prayer:

(1)  Imago Dei and creation care: Given that, as biblical scholar Gordon Wenham notes, Egyptian and Assyrian kings “were . . . devoted to the welfare of their subjects,” the Genesis narrative of creation also provides a pattern for us as God’s vice-regents to rule or care for creation as “benevolent royalty” (cf. Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 1-15 (Waco: Word Books, 1987), p. 33) …
(2)  Imago Dei and female equality: The Roman Catholic document, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, reminds us: “Man and woman have the same dignity and are of equal value [because] . . . the dynamic of reciprocity [of the] ‘we’ in the human couple [] is an image of God”. Following on this point, Dr. Peter Kreeft of Boston College insightfully notes that while the first woman came from man, now every man comes from a woman …
(3)  Imago Dei and the modern university: In the academy today, there is a growing reassertion of the need for the humanities. For example, I recently of heard a noted physicist in Japan who complained of his students that, although they are literal geniuses in physics and math, they cannot answer the question of what it the purpose of their lives …
(4)  Imago Dei and fitness: When you work out or exercise, you work on the imago Dei, treating your body as constitutive of the image of God …

There are many more ways in which humanity’s being made in the image of God impacts the way we ought to think and live in this world. But I will allow you the privilege and joy of thinking through these important connections as you consider how theology hits the streets, as it were.

Finally, then, I would like to close this series with a few concluding thoughts.

Os Guinness, talks about calling (what he calls “secondary calling”) as follows: “[C]onsidering who God is as sovereign, everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him” (The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), p. 31). I find this to be a concise and compelling characterization of calling (in terms of vocation). I would add to this helpful view of calling a dimension of considering the cultural and historical moment in which we find ourselves. That is, when we look back at, say, the 19th century, the cultural blind spot, at least for the Church in America, was racial slavery. When we consider the 20th century, it was our inability or perhaps unwillingness to see some of the long-range effects of international colonization, the Jewish holocaust, the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia.

Accordingly, it would behoove as global Christians to ponder this verse in hopes that some light might be shed on what our generation’s cultural blind spot might be: Acts 13.36: “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers.” If we were to consider what might be the cultural blind spot of our historical moment, what might we see or say it is? Perhaps inhuman trafficking (which heavily involves prostitution and pornography)? Abortion? Global poverty? All of the above? Part of the way we could address these major global injustices—the possible cultural blind spots of our day—is by reasserting and recovering a robust view of the Christian doctrine of imago Dei. Our doctrines determine our deeds as well as our misdeeds.

I must add this final point: If we need to be reminded that gospel-grounded world-change does not only or even mainly take place on the global dimension but rather in our own backyard (see previous post), we must also remember that world-change does not only or even mainly happen as a result of simply doing, but fundamentally by way of  prayer. Some time ago, my good friend and partner in ministry (at had a chance to interview Peter Kreeft on a book he at the time had recently written: How to Win the Culture War. When asked about the secret to success, Dr. Kreeft, didn’t give a three-point alliteration or diagram; rather, he answered simply: prayer.

My prayer is that you enjoyed and were inspired to action by reading this series of blogs on the imago Dei. May the Lord be pleased to take our little thoughts, acts, and prayers, and use them for his great Kingdom and glory.

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