Created in God's Image Review

 

Created in God's Image Review

July 2, 2018

Hoekema book reviewIn just one of a three volume set written by Anthony Hoekema, a former professor of systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, I learned how to see God’s image in man more fully. Or, should I write, how to see man more fully, since Hoekema argues that man is God’s image.

Though the Bible tells us man is made in the image and likeness of God, Hoekema argues that, after the Fall, both the material and immaterial parts of man that proclaim God’s image were devastated. God’s image was not taken from us, it is tainted by us. As a result, we are created persons whose Hoekema book reviewmaterial and immaterial aspects are in need of regeneration by the Holy Spirit and salvation through Christ (God’s perfect image).

In his book, Created in God’s Image, Hoekema proclaims, “The image of God in man has been perverted after the Fall. The image is now malfunctioning—and yet it is still there. The loss of the image of God in the functional sense presupposes the retention of the image in the structural sense. To be a sinner one must be an image-bearer of God—one must be able to reason, to will, to make decisions; a dog, which does not possess the image of God, cannot sin.

Man sins with god-imaging gifts. In fact, the very greatness of man’s sins consists in the fact that he is still an image-bearer of God. What makes sin so heinous is that man is prostituting such splendid gifts. Corruptio optimi pessima: the corruption of the best is the worst.”

In other words, sin is a perverse way of using God-given and God-reflecting powers. But why does this relation between God’s image and sin matter? Because if we look at the image of God as not just reason, rationality, intellect, consciousness, will, or even love, then we bear a greater responsibility as humankind. If sin has no independent existence and is always related to God and His will, then it weakens us not just in mind or spirit but as a complete unit. As a whole person we are affected by sin, because as whole persons we bear the image of God.

If you want to understand more of a Reformer's outlook on sin, its devastation of God’s image and its effects on man’s freedom, read this book.

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