The Image of God -- By: Charles Lee Feinberg

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 129:515 (Jul 1972)
Article: The Image of God
Author: Charles Lee Feinberg

The Image of God

Charles Lee Feinberg

[Charles Lee Feinberg, Dean, Talbot Theological Seminary, La Mirada, California.]

It is true beyond cavil or dispute that the focus of interest today is upon man, his life, his actions, his feelings, his struggles, and his potentialities.1 In fact, some theologians have so occupied themselves with the study of man, that they have left little or no time for a discussion of supernatural themes, an interesting reversal of the emphasis manifest in theological realms in the Middle Ages. Zabriskie has correctly stated: “At no time in the history of theology has the doctrine of the imago Dei had a more challenging pastoral relevance or more provocative theological implications than it does within the current of contemporary theology.”2 Carl F. H. Henry acquiesces in the significance of the subject. After asking in what way man reflects God, since he is the resemblance of God, he presses the questions: “What of the vitiating effects of his fall into sin? Is the NT concept of the imago in conflict with the OT conception? Is it in conflict with itself? These questions are among those most energetically debated by contemporary theology.”3 The heated discussions and debates which have gone on relative to the image of God reveal somewhat the weighty character of the subject.4 One has only to delve into the almost interminable battle on the doctrine of the imago Dei to realize before long

how complex and at times abstruse the factors are. Moreover, the biblical doctrine has wide ramifications that touch every area of theology with the possible exceptions of bibliology and ecclesiology. The doctrines of God, angels, man (the fall, sin), salvation (atonement, sanctification), and future things (glorification, resurrection) are directly involved.5 The concept of the image of God, implied or expressed, underlies all revelation.6 Thus it is not too much to maintain that a correct understanding of the image of God in man can hardly be overemphasized. The position taken here determines every area of doctrinal declaration. Not only is theology involved, but reason, law, and civilization as a whole, whether it views regenerate or unsaved humanity from its origin to eternity.7

Any treatment of this vital theme must address itself to three basic questions: (1) In what specifically does the image of God consist...

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