Scripture tells us that humanity was created in the image of God. “So, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27) While the doctrine is clear that man possess God’s image, still the question remains; “What is the image of God?”
There are three general views regarding humanities creation. Each one possessing a plausible, biblical belief behind their definition of the image in which we were created. The Substantive View holds the belief that the image of God is found within the nature of humanity. It holds the view that God’s image can be found physically or mentally within an individual. The Relational View believes that the image of God is found within developed relationships between oneself, Lord and fellow men. Finally, The Functional View regards the image of God as something one does rather than one is or has. Its view is that humanity reflects the image of God by having dominion over God’s creation.
While it is true that each of these views have opposing opinions, I personally believe that all can be supported biblically. I do believe that the image of God is found somewhere within human nature, as does the Substantial View. I believe that the “image” can be found within the make of a person, both physically and psychologically. I believe that God’s image is a tangible part of man’s structure. Furthermore, I also believe that our relationships (with self, others, and God) reflect the image in which we were created in. We love others as God loves us, we build and grow with one another because God desires to build and grow with us, and so on. Lastly, I also believe that man was created to have dominion over God’s creation. I believe that humanities purpose is designed uniquely to inhabit the earth with authority over it, just as God has authority over us.
The Bible does not come right out and tell you where to align your theology. If only it were that easy. Scripture does not specifically state what the image of God is, therefore one can only assume to support a position in which they feel best represents truth. Regardless of the choice, it all boils down to faith. Personally, I have faith that each one of these views reflect biblical truths that I agree with. Since there is no definitive answer to the question, “What is the image of God?” I choose to have faith and simply accept that we will never know… that is, until the day we’re face to face.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase…” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Erickson, M. J. (2015). Introducing Christian Doctrine (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group.
The Holy Bible. English Standard Version, Crossway, 2011.