Tuesday, September 8, 2015 4:26 AM

What is the Image of God?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 4:26 AM
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 4:26 AM

I recently read an article that speaks of the qualities of the image of God. “The image of God in humanity: a biblical-psychological perspective” R. Ward Wilson and Craig L. Blomberg[i]

Note especially the underlined section. (The underline is my emphasis) Then think through how you, as a Christian, represent God—especially in the light of Paul calling believers to be “ambassadors for Christ”.

After the incident of the golden calf, Moses despairs of his ability to continue to lead the children of Israel. He asks God for reassurance that Yahweh’s personal presence will continue to guide him and requests further insight into the nature of that presence. Specifically, he asks to know God’s ways (Ex. 33:13) and to experience God’s glory (33:18). In response, Yahweh promises to ‘cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence’ (v. 19). Four key terms in these verses include God’s ‘ways’, ‘glory’, ‘goodness’ and ‘name’. The meaning of each of these terms in Hebrew more generally, and in this context specifically, translated into the language of modern psychology, suggests that Moses is enquiring about God’s motives (‘ways’) and character traits (‘glory’). Yahweh replies by declaring that he will reveal his value system (‘goodness’) and personality profile (‘name’).16

God’s glory is thus defined in terms of cardinal qualities, specifically those which later Christian theology would call his ‘communicable attributes’, that is, those which humans can share—compassion, graciousness, slowness to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiveness and justice.17



[i] Wilson, R. W., & Blomberg, C. L. (1993). The Image of God in Humanity: A Biblical-Psychological Perspective. Themelios: Volume 18, No. 3, April 1993, 8.

16 Cf. John I. Durham, Exodus (Dallas: Word, 1987), p. 444, who translates ‘ways’ (from Heb. derek) as ‘intentions’. ‘Glory’ (k?bôd) as ‘character traits’ is plain from 34:6–7. On ‘goodness’ (tôb), Durham, Exodus, p. 452, comments: ‘What he [Yahweh] gives rather is a description, and at that, a description not of how he looks but how he is.’ On ‘name’ (š?m), see Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Vol. 2, p. 934: ‘The concept of personal names in the Old Testament often included existence, character and reputation.’

17 Cf. esp. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), pp. 513–514, who agrees that the communicable attributes constitute God’s image in humanity, but who does not defend this postulate in any exegetical detail nor highlight the specific attributes stressed in this essay.

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