The Image of God as Activity, Proclamation, and Creativity: A Response to the LDS Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons, asserts that the image of God in Gen 1:26-27 reflects physicality. A key component in their argument is the contextual proximity of “image” and “likeness” in Gen 5, where Seth is described as the image and likeness of Adam. The LDS Church believes that this passage sheds light on the meaning of both words in Gen 1. Furthermore, their views on divine corporeality buttress their viewpoint. They conclude that the physical body of God is imaged in the physical bodies of humankind.
However, in contrast to this one-dimension perspective, I propose three differing nuances to the meaning of the image of God. My proposal centers on the contextual proximity of the activity of God before the announcement of the image. For instance, there are over 40 verbs used for God in Gen 1: thus, He was active. The fact that we are in His image calls us to be active. One of the specific actions is speaking (recorded 20 times). The result of this speaking by God was created matter. My paper will explore the possibility that we have a limited ability to create with our words (although not ex nihilo). A corollary of this idea is the authority and dominion that God grants Adam and Eve in Gen 1:28. Indeed, we see Adam “speaking” and “creating” in Gen 2:19-20. Finally, I suggest a third aspect of the image that is related to creativity. A careful reading of Gen 1 highlights a creative God. We see the sky and water, plants, trees and fruit, the sun, moon and stars, and finally, creatures in the seas, sky and land. Therefore, as his image-bearers, we are called to be creative. Evidence of this creativity is seen in Gen 4:17, 20-22. The image of God is complex and multi-faceted. There are several nuances to the concept. I will argue for the image of God as activity, proclamation and creativity. These are rejoinders to the LDS insistence on the image as a physical representation.

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