Doing Theology in the Image of God: John Webster’s “Redeemed Intelligence” and the Imago Dei

As noted by Michael Allen, John Webster did not leave us with a fully developed theological anthropology. For example, Webster said almost nothing about the image of God in his writings. However, his writings on anthropology leave us principles upon which to build. This paper seeks to build on both Webster’s writings and insights drawn from Allen’s reflections on the topic. Specifically, it seeks to answer the question: how does being made in the image of God affect our approach to the task of theology? I will argue that Webster’s concept of “redeemed intelligence” is the linchpin that brings together the needed concept of the imago dei and the task of constructing a proper theological theology. The paper will begin by analyzing Webster’s concept of human nature and the intellect, then proceed to an analysis of his idea of “redeemed intelligence” as the human capacity which has been healed by the gospel, that is called to and capable of doing theology properly. These insights will then be brought into dialogue with his theological methodology, his “theological theology,” to show that the redeemed intellect is a part of the imago dei restored by the gospel. Such dialogue provides a much-needed anthropological insight into Webster’s thought that allows us to build upon his work of doing “theological theology.”

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