Image of God Posts
November 1, 2012 by Jason Hood
One of the themes of my current research is the role humanity plays in the Kingdom of God. It’s a theme that first arises in Genesis 1 and appears throughout the Bible. (You can see an older post on this theme here.)
As Chris Wright notes, “Only when we link the kingship of David and his successors to the kingship of God can we make sense of texts that envision the reign of David over the nations or even over the earth.” (Mission of God, 345). Wright particularly cites the Psalms as the source of this emphasis.
In the introduction to his commentary on Psalms, James Mays explains the significance of this theme for the Psalter’s approach to Messianic Psalms. Psalm 2 has a central role to play in the Psalter’s overall message. This Psalm shows that the establishment of God’s anointed human king is
the response by the kingdom of God to the kings and rulers of earth. The king represents the kingdom of heaven on earth and will extend the reign of God over the unruly, rebellious kings of the world.
Despite the devastating failure of this mission, highlighted especially at the conclusion of Book III in Psalm 89, the Psalms continue to develop the theme, and in such a way that these psalms function as messianic prophecy.
[I]n Psalm 110, the promise that the king will represent the kingdom of God the nations of earth is renewed.
In these psalms . . . the entire history of kingship in Judah has been collapsed into the question of God’s steadfast love to David as the secret of God’s coming rule in the world.
Mays goes on to cite the way in which the assocation of Psalms with David adds one more important Christological piece. Citing Psalm 22 in particular, these psalms produce a surprising shift in the view of the Messiah; he is not just the king who bears God’s kingdom, he is
one of the lowly, beset by all of the predicaments that belong to common humanity, vulnerable and needy. . . . The prayers even imply that it is in the travail of his human nature that this David mysteriously will carry out his vocation . . .
September 11, 2012 by Jason Hood
Here’s an image I like to use when I work through biblical theology with students; I’ve no idea whether it’s original to me or not. Lots to say about this little analogy, but here’s a snapshot: after the Fall and after each successive failure of humanity, God gives fresh “downloads” of the original mission of humanity, each of which recall the original mission and identity given in Genesis 1-2.
Adam: Humanity 1.0 (after emptiness, Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 2)
Noah: Humanity 1.0.1 (after corruption, redeemed through judgment + fresh covenant)
Abraham: Humanity 1.1 (after the wreckage of Babel, Genesis 12:1-3, 22:15-18)
Isaac: Humanity 1.1.1
Jacob: Humanity 1.1.2 (Genesis 26:1-5)
Israel: Humanity 1.2, with her priests and kings serving as 1.2.1 and 1.2.2 and so forth…some of whom have more bugs than others!
and climaxing in
Jesus as Humanity 2.0 (Eph 4, the “Son of Man,” etc)2 Comments
June 6, 2012 by Jason Hood
I’ve written elsewhere on Greg Beale’s work on “becoming what we worship.” I recently came across a precursor that nicely sums up Beale and goes beyond him to include some macro-analysis as well. It was written before I was born.
The author, Bob Goudzwaard, offers “three basic biblical rules”: (1) “every man is serving god(s) in his own life”; (2) “every man is transformed into an image of his god”; (3) “mankind creates and forms a structure of society in its own image.”
“In the development of human civilization, man forms, creates and changes the structure of his society, and in so doing he portrays in his work the intention of his own heart. He gives to the structure of that society something of his own image and likeness. In it he betrays something of his own lifestyle, of his own god.”
Bob Goudzwaard, Aid for the Overdeveloped West, 15
(cited by Goheen and Bartholomew, Living at the Crossroads, 49-50)0 Comments
May 20, 2011 by Jason Hood
I ended Part One by mentioning Romans 8:17, which contains Paul’s challenging caveat—“…if we share in his sufferings.” Some attempt to explain this verse as merely passive participation in Jesus’ suffering for sinners. But Paul is simply repeating the same requirement given by Jesus in each of the four gospels: he requires self-denial and cross-bearing from every disciple.
Christians are predestined to morph into the shape of the Messiah: a resurrection body in the future, a cross and suffering in the present. As Calvin put it, in the present time, “to be elect is to be marked out for slaughter.” While Paul regards Jesus as the Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7) who takes away the penalty of sin, Jesus is not the only sheep to be slaughtered. After describing the glorious inheritance for the saints and the blessing of being free from condemnation, Paul cites Psalm 44 and applies it to believers:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Rom 8:36-37)
The preposition used to describe the location of Christian conquerors is in all these terrible things–not apart from them. The Messiah conquered sin and death in suffering and sacrifice; our share in that victory will follow his example. Each word in the list of tragedies and difficulties here is also found in the different versions of Paul’s résumé in Corinthians, with one exception: when writing Corinthians, Paul has not yet been put to the sword. Such experiences are neither tragic nor shameful, but opportunities to experience the unfailing love of God and to contribute through suffering for the kingdom. When he and other belivers suffer after the pattern of a rejected Messiah, they fulfill OT prophecy.
While we are on this cross-shaped path Paul does not want us to lose sight of the destiny we share in Jesus as fully human children of God, resurrected and reigning in God’s creation. That is what the Son of God is from Adam until Jesus. That is what Jesus’ siblings will be, which is why Paul tells the Roman Christians that they are not fully adopted until their bodies are fully redeemed (8:23). Only then will they be able to inherit, as “heirs of God and co-heirs of the Messiah (8:16),” the whole redeemed world, the cosmos that was promised to Abraham and his descendants (4:13).1 Comment
January 12, 2011 by Jason Hood
Idolatry is something of a hot topic right now. Tim Keller, Greg Beale, and Brian Rosner have recently published good books on the topic and its significance for Christians. The topic brushes up on a book I am under contract to write for IVP, so I am reading on this topic and others related to it. One really thought-provoking quote on idolatry:
In the Old Testament, the
image-of-God-in-humanity theology says that idolatry is ruled out of court because to locate divine presence and action in another part of creation or in that which we create is to absolve ourselves of our own responsibility to bear divine presence and action.
The idolatrous humanity, like Narcissus, clings to those objects made in its own image [and those of creation] which it believes will affirm its being [and values] and guarantee its security and prosperity. The true humanity in the biblical vision is one which affirms, gives security to and [multiplies] the life of creation. The mark of the former is passivity and that of the latter activity.
Any pious resurrection of divine (privilege and) responsibility for the one human Jesus Christ must therefore be mindful of the besetting danger at the root of idolatry: a self-absolution from the responsibility given to us at creation of bearing divine presence.
Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “God’s Image, His Cosmic Temple and the High Priest: Towards an Historical and Theological Account of the Incarnation,” in Heaven on Earth: The Temple in Biblical Theology, ed. T. D. Alexander and S. J. Gathercole (Paternoster 2004), 92, emphasis original, paragraphs added.
CHTFL rightly responds to “low anthropology” by pointing to the biblical vision for humanity, and the idol-nurturing consequences of pushing that vision into the edenic past or the eschatological future so as to accept no weight or responsibility in the present.3 Comments
December 1, 2010 by Jason Hood
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates in order to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.” (Acts 14:11-15)
As frequently happens in the ancient world when a Jew or Christian encountered the pagan world, there is significant irony at work here, for the pagans are not as far off from the truth as we often think.
Granted, they need to learn the creator-creature distinction, which places Paul and Barnabas with them on the human side of the divine-human split (14:15). They need to learn monotheism. Paul immediately instructs them accordingly.
But ironically, God has in fact come down to Lyconia in Paul and Barnabas. His Spirit resides in them; He is encountered and known through them. In two of his servants, who are themselves putting on Christ, “the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4), God is showing up via his image-bearers.0 Comments