Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Week in Review

The Image of God: Why Did God Create Me (part 2)?
Written by Minister Jewel D. Williams
December 11, 2008

Sin: Its effect on God’s Image

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (Rom 5:12-14)

Jones states the image of God is not something that can be destroyed. It is not a thing. Jones argues, “understanding at this point will affect our understanding of what happened when Adam and Eve sinned, and will affect our concept of our human need, and what God does for us in salvation.”[1] Finger poses the imago dei of Genesis 1-2 points not only toward God, nor merely to other humans, but also toward the created world. Man was given dominion over the lower creation (Gen 1:26). Adam was told to name the animals (Gen 2:19-20) and to tend the plants (Gen 2:9, 15). However, “these relationships are adversely affected when humankind sins (3:17-19)”[2]

McGrath states, “For Tertullian, humanity retained the image of God after sinning; it could only be restored to the likeness of God through the renewing activity of the Holy Spirit.”[3] McGrath also present that Origen’s approach was that the “image of God” referred to humanity after the fall, whereas the term “likeness of God” referred to man after its perfection at the final consummation.[4] While these two approaches take different positions they do agree that man had the image of God even after the fall, the sin of Adam and Eve.

Berry and Jeeves argue the relationship with God has been disrupted by the fall, although the capacity for relationship remained (Gen 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7). Greathouse and Dunning pose, “the most obvious fact about the human predicament is that man has fallen away from his original right relation to God.”[5] They further explain their stand regarding the scripture in Romans 5:12-21. They state Paul gives the historical meaning of the original sin. Adam’s disobedience allowed sin to enter the human race and death by sin. They explain, “in this passage Adam and Christ are more than two individuals, they embody the old humanity and the new humanity – the old humanity dead in sin and the new humanity alive in God and free from sin.”[6]

Towner asks the question, “Can the image be smashed or defaced? Since early times, many Christian theologians have taken the ‘fall’ recounted in Gen 3 to be the story of the smashing of the mirror, the irreparable loss of the ‘image of God’ within us.”[7] Towner however presents a different view, “sin and rage, human frailty and perverseness can obscure or distort the capacity – indeed, the inborn need – for relationships with God, people, and the world around us. . . But human nature, shaped in the divine image, remains constant”[8] Richard E. Howard in his book, Newness of Life states, “Sin, then, is self-separation from God in the sense of decentralization, the place which should be occupied by God being assumed by the self.”[9] Howard adds that sin is a relationship, a perverted relationship between God and man. This would agree with the understanding that man does not lose the image of God; it is simply marred or distorted. The relationship has moved from dependency upon God to one desiring to be self-sovereign. Howard states that sin darkened the heart and the mind was depraved. Clark also believes sin has affected man’s ability to think correctly. Clark states, “one result of the fall is the occurrence of incorrect evaluations by means of erroneous thinking.”[10] Sin interferes with thinking. It does not prevent one from thinking, Clark affirms as he states, “sin does not eradicate or annihilate the image. It causes a malfunction, but man still remains man.”[11] Thomas L. Brodie the writer of the article, Genesis As Dialogue – A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary, presents another view of the effect of the fall on the image of God. He presents the break in the relationship with Adam and Eve. Brodie states, “When God came around, he found them hiding and denying responsibility – shifting the blame. The result was a stinging call to reality – to their actual states and to the results of their own actions.”[12] Brodie poses that their lives from that point forward would involve pain, especially in relationship and work. When they have children, the children do as the parents have done. “Cain dissatisfied with his status, kills his brother, and when confronted by God, evades reasonability.”[13]

Brodie sums up this understanding in this way, “The alienation between humans, begun in the Garden (covering up, undue desire, and domination), become total in the murder. The relationship with the ground, already difficult in the initial punishment (Gen 3:17-19), becomes more so for Cain (4:10-12).”[14] This learning thus far has shown that the image is not something one possesses but the ability to have a relationship with God. Sins effect on that image is how the relationship has been marred. As stated previously there is still a relationship; however it is one that is distorted. Additional study shows that this relationship is not only distorted between God and man, but also between man and man, and man and all creation. As this study moves to the next section, one will be able to understand how this distorted relationship can be restored to a right relationship (come back next week for installment 3, Jesus: Restoration of the image).

[1] Jones, Theology of Holiness and Love, 106.

[2] Finger, “Christian Theology Vol. 2/: An Eschatological Approach”, 108.

[3] McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 441.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Greathouse and Dunning, Wesleyan Theology, 54.

[6] Ibid, 55.

[7] Towner, “Clones of God”, 351.

[8] Ibid, 351-352.

[9] Richard E. Howard, Newness of Life. (USA: Richard E. Howard, 1975), 42.

[10] Clark, “The Image of God in Man”, 218.

[11] Ibid, 219.

[12] Thomas L. Brodie, “Genesis as Dialogue – A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary.” New York: Oxford University Press, (2001): 141-145. Oxford Scholarship Online. Oxford Press, (accessed December 8, 2008), 142.

[13] Ibid, 143.

[14] Ibid.

Week in Review

Written by Minister Jewel D. Williams


Ballenger makes the point that the called have not reached perfection. It is a community is process. Bryant states outside of the Christian community individuals seek to elevate one’s self over others. “People strive to impress with their wealth, power, knowledge, reputation, and popularity. But as Paul sees it, the driving force of Christian fellowship cannot be proud self-assertiveness, jealousy, envy, anger or competitiveness.”[1] Ackerman presents Paul as stating gifts of the Spirit can be wonderful tools for the church only if they are filtered through the cross, but if used for self-service they can become the fuel for problems. Ackerman asserts that Paul wanted to set up a protective boundary of love and holiness around the Corinthian church (when addressing the issue of tongues). In order for this to happen, the believer has to have the mind of Christ, which imitates him by living a life of love as the Holy Spirit moves.

Boa warns of the dangers of abuse. He presents that spiritual gifts are not merely for personal use. They can be abused, however when the gifts are exercised in the power of the flesh. The discovery and use of spiritual gifts is not an option. It is the gifts that shapes one’s ministry. Spiritual gifts should not be a cause of discouragement. Development of the gifts requires time. Spiritual gifts should not be cause for pride. God gives the gifts as he chooses and they are not status symbols or trophies of ones achievements. Spiritual gifts should not be exalted. One should not exalt the gift above the gift Giver, God.

Hays warns that no one should boast about being “spiritual” no matter what gifts one may possess. All the manifestations of the Spirit are to serve God’s purpose for the benefit of the community. Kraus states, “instead what counts is evidence that those spiritual gifts are enabling the church to worship and witness in whatever culture it finds itself.”[2] The believer must be careful to present authentic gifts. These authentic gifts are in harmony with the character of Jesus Christ. They invigorate, they build up and they consol the body of believers. The beauty is the body is continually being changed, formed and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. As the believer continues to present himself or herself as living sacrifices to God, the Holy Spirit can help the individual to remove selfish motives in the usage of the gifts. This is what maturity does in the body to unity them in purpose.


Mission was absolutely fundamental to the early church, as it rose from God’s own mission of drawing the lost into a right relationship. The church today must be rooted in God’s love to be energized and empowered to draw others. This is the mission of the church. This purpose is why God equipped each believer with spiritual gifts. The spiritual gifts were given to men by the Holy Spirit to prepare them to work in unity for the purpose of building each other, adding to the kingdom and glorifying God in the process. This writing has shown that love has been the driving force behind the mission of God. It is essential motivation for the believer to be enabled to use ones gift. If the motivation is done without love it becomes selfish and self-seeking. Waldrop states regarding the mission as fulfilled through Christ “ . . . finding its course in a mandate given by him to his followers who would form the Church empowered for mission by the Holy Spirit. In this way, the Church participates in the mission dei as sign, agent and sacrament unto the consummation of the reign of God as the eschanton.”[3]

The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts to the body to facilitate maturity in the body as she fulfills the purpose of why Christ left her here in this world. Therefore, it is love that is vital to the believer fulfilling the mission and being the sign to a dying world as the gifts are exhibited.


[1] Robert A. Bryant, 2004. "Romans 12:1-8." Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology 58, no. 3: 287-290. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 22, 2009).

[2] Norman C. Kraus, God Our Savior, 168.

[3] Richard E. Waldrop, "PENTECOSTAL PERSPECTIVES ON HOLISTIC CHURCH MISSION TODAY." Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 10, no. 2: 178-191. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 23, 2009).