Summary: Creation, Sin, and More Sin The Image of God and the Value of Human Life Gen 1:26-28 David Taylor December 17, 2016
Creation, Sin, and More Sin
The Image of God and the Value of Human Life
December 17, 2016
Emil Brunner said that “the most powerful of all spiritual forces is man's view of himself, the way in which he understands his nature and his destiny; indeed it is the one force which determines all the others which influence human life. Plato pictures Socrates as a man obsessed in his quest for wisdom – namely, to know himself. But herein lies the problem for all of us, outside of divine revelation, we are incapable of knowing ourselves, our destiny, and our rightful place in the scheme of things. So let's look at what the bible say about the image of God.
Human Life is Unique to all Creation
The whole account of creation builds up to the creation of humanity. Humanity is the pinnacle of God's creative handiwork. You see a change in the flow of chapter one at verse twenty six, “then, God said let us make man in our own image.” And because prose is not sufficient Moses must use poetry to show the grandeur of the subject matter. God has not said anything like this about the rest of creation. All this points to the uniqueness of humanity compared to the rest of creation. When I want to express my love and affection in an extraordinary way to Karen, I use poetry because it communicates my love more effectively than just saying it. Moses, who wrote Genesis, used poetry to describe the creation of humanity to emphasize our uniqueness over all the rest of creation. This is contrary to the well known philosopher, Peter Singer, who wrote a book in 1979 called Animal Liberation where he argued that we ought to extend to animals the same equality of consideration that we extend to humans. Yet I wonder what Singer would do if a child and their dog fell off a cliff and he was sent to rescue them. Who would he rescue first? Animals are magnificent creatures and I am frequently in awe of them. But none of them are on par with humans. My cat does not question whether attacking the shrew or vole is right or wrong. She is not even thinking about it because she is acting on instinct without any moral compass. Humanity is unique in all creation.
Human Life is Sacred
As we saw last week, being created in the image of God means that humanity uniquely reflects God. The stamp of the divine image means that every human life is sacred. Every human being has intrinsic value not just because of what they do or contribute but just because they are human. Remember, that word is where we get the word icon. An icon represents something else like a logo. Another metaphor to describe the divine image in humanity comes from “St. Gregory of Nyssa, the 4th century bishop who wrote: ‘The measure of what is accessible to you is in you, for thus your Maker from the start endowed your essential nature with such good. God has imprinted upon your structure replicas of the good things in his own nature, as though stamping wax with the shape of a design.' In ancient times, people signed documents by putting hot wax on the paper and pressing into the wax a seal carved with their unique design. The wax then bore the seal’s imprint and showed that the document was theirs. God is like the seal, and our human nature is like the wax that shows forth the same design as God, but on a smaller scale. The wax receives the imprint by direct contact with the seal, and the copy receives its likeness to the model by direct contact with it. So God is present within his image, making it to be an image of God.” So being created in the image of God means that all human life has the thumb print of God on them so that every life sacred, even malformed life.