Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 16:1 (Nov 1953)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous


Reviews Of Books

David S. Cairns: The Image of God in Man. New York: Philosophical Library. 1953. 256. $4.50.

Modern man is asking about himself in recent times. He has become a puzzle to himself. His interpretations of his environment have led him to an impasse. Seeking to know everything, he wonders whether he knows anything. Is the trouble, perhaps, in himself? Has he, unawares, introduced so much of himself into the picture that objectivity has disappeared?

Theologians are trying to answer this question. They call men back to Christianity. Christianity, they say, can tell man what he is. And knowing who and what he is, he can safely trust himself. Is he not a creature of God? Is he not made in the image of God? Without God he is a mystery to himself; with God he knows himself and the world too.

It is to show the relevance of the biblical doctrine of man to the modern scene that Dr. Cairns writes his book.

By and large his position, he tells us, is very similar to that of Emil Brunner, and, to a lesser degree, like that of Karl Barth. Like both of these dialectical theologians, his aim is to give a “christological” interpretation of man.

Only by means of a truly biblical or christological principle is it possible, he thinks, to find unity between the Old Testament and the New Testament picture of man.

On the surface the Old Testament and the New Testament teachings about man seem to conflict (pp. 29 f.). Yet in reality, “the fundamental conceptions of the New Testament are the legitimate descendants of those in the Old Testament” (p. 55). For by means of this principle it becomes apparent that the Old Testament concept of the image of God in man, based upon the gift of God in creation, is subordinate to the New Testament concept which entails God’s ultimate purpose for man.

Moreover, when we take our position in the christological principle the biblical view in its entirety can be set off clearly from all non-biblical conceptions. “In our opinion … the personal relation of the Creator to his creature is fundamental, and any power of reason given to the created

person is secondary to this” (p. 63). The doctrine of creation provides a foundation for that of revelation. It shows that man’s knowledge is analogical; it cannot penetrate the essence of God. Yet man’s knowledge is true because it comes from God. No form of identity philosophy can assert this much (idem). Human reason is not a spark of the divine fire, “‘a piece drawn off from Zeus’”, “‘an emanation of him who administers the universe’” or a “‘god dwelling as guest in the human frame’...

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