Book Reviews -- By: Matthew S. DeMoss
BSac 174:694 (April-June 2017) p. 242
By The Faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary
Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God. By John F. Kilner. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015. xii + 402 pp. $35.00.
Kilner holds the Forman Chair of Christian Ethics and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and serves as director of bioethics degree programs at Trinity International University, Deerfield, Illinois. This book is a comprehensive look at the diversity of views of the image of God in the Christian tradition and a defense of a clearly defined position. In the introduction the author explains his conviction about much of the literature on the imago Dei: “Many people have invoked this concept to perpetuate some of the worst oppression in history. Others, often unintentionally, have promoted views of God’s image that have undermined the idea’s ability to inspire the church’s outreach to unbelievers and engagement with challenges to human life and dignity” (p. x). He summarizes his convictions succinctly and returns to these themes again and again in the book: “Ultimately, the image of God is Jesus Christ. People are first created and later renewed according to that image. Image involves connection and reflection. Creation in God’s image entails a special connection with God and an intended reflection of God. Renewal in God’s image entails a more intimate connection with God through Christ and an increasingly actual reflection of God in Christ, to God’s glory. This connection with God is the basis of human dignity. This reflection of God is the beauty of human destiny. All of humanity participates in human dignity. All of humanity is offered human destiny, though only some embrace and will experience it. Christ and humanity, connection and reflection, dignity and destiny—these lie at the heart of what God’s image is all about” (p. xi).
The book is divided into three parts. In the first, “The Human and Divine Context,” the author surveys how aberrant views of the image of God have been used to dehumanize human beings and to justify oppression, enslavement, and destruction of some humans. He argues, “What makes the image of God so susceptible to manipulation in this way is the common tendency to think of being in God’s image in terms of having attributes today (i.e., traits, virtues, functions, capacities, etc.) that are like God’s attributes. To the degree that one’s attributes fall short of the way God intends human attributes to be, God’s image is supposedly damaged or deficient. . . . As with other things in life, a more-damaged image is not worth as much as a less-damaged image” (p. 28). Another chapter provides a biblical defense of C...
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