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June 11, 2010

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In a similar manner, a human being cannot escape the boundaries or perspective of what it means to be human and therefore can never define or describe what it means to be God.

Now there's an argument that proves too much. If our inability to escape the boundaries or perspectives of what it means to be a human means that we can't define or describe what it means to be anything other than humans, then not only can we not define or describe God, but we can't define or describe anything else either. And if that means we can't know anything about God, then it also means we can't know anything about horses or ants, which is absurd.

A common mistake I see a lot of people making is that because we can't know everything about God (or whatever), we can't know anything about God (or whatever). I wonder how Spong knows so much about God that he can tell us God is unknowable. I would like to ask Spong, "So what is it about God that makes him unknowable?" It would be hard to answer that question without claiming to know something about God.

Spong also misses something rather obvious: If God wanted us to be able to know about him, then we would be able to know about him.

Spong is wrong, again. He and those who voice that objection are just displaying false humility. They sure write and talk a lot about God for people who claim we can't know enough about him.

I can see his point. People reduce God all the time to a personal caretaker or cosmic bellhop, and describe Him in terms we would use to describe other human beings. For example, if something small happens in our favor, like making a green light at the last minute, we might say "Thank you, Lord," ignoring that we broke the law by speeding up to get through the intersection, which is also unsafe. Certainly, God is above certain descriptions. Human language is inadequate to describe spiritual things fully, although we can name certain attributes. That is why it is ultimately fruitless to try and describe Heaven and Hell, for example. They end being being better or worse Earths.

It seems to me that if we were created in God's image, then we'd have to have something in common with him.

What reason is there to say we are created in the image of God? I thought we were supposed to be totally depraved.

RonH

Ron, just as an image (ie. photograph) of an object may not correspond perfectly to the object itself, depending on the quality of the camera used to produce the image (think impurities, digital resolution etc), just so we are not necessarily a perfect likeness of God. This does not preclude our being an image of God in many relevant aspects.

Yes, we are totally depraved. If you drop the Mona Lisa into a tub of thinners so that it ends up all smudged and barely recognisable, will it stop being an image of whomever Da Vinci meant to depict in it? Evidently not. The resemblance will fade, but the essence of the likeness will not.

Just so our resemblance to God might have taken a couple of hits over the course of human history, but I believe our essential connection to Him has not altered from when He created us.

More importantly Ron, the Bible describes both, total depravity, and also that man continues to remain in the image of God (See Gen. 9:6, James 3:9). The question that needs to be wrestled with is what did man lose in the fall. The Westminster Confession describes this as "knowledge, righteousness and holiness." The Bible says this is what is being restored in our sanctification.

Sam, there must be something "in common" with Him, but we also need to keep in mind that God is creator and man is creature. Whatever we have is derived. This can not be said of God.

Clarification: When I said I pray they have their own Christian network I meant as in World wide television. Let's pray for this!

You've offered a reason Jeff, but I don't go for 'the Bible says so' type reasons and I see no reason to start now.

What I was looking for some quality we have that we have, God is thought to have, and that other animals don't have. That would be a reason to think we were made in His image.

Amy seems to say personhood is such a quality. We have it; horse doesn't. But I don't see it that way. I've never known any horses but from what I hear they have some personhood. I have known other animals and find them to be persons to a degree. Sometimes to such an extent that it moves me. From what I've heard the animals I've known - dogs and cats, etc. - aren't even the most 'personal' of animals.

It's easy to see us on something of a continuum of personhood with other animals and not that far from them. For any reasonable meaning of person, there's a gap between us and the next most personal animal. I'll grant that. But it's nothing like the gap between us and God - personally speaking. Long story short, I'd draw Amy's picture like this:

Personal God (infinite person)
====================================
===================== CHASM ========
====================================
Personal Man
Personal Animals
Less Personal Animals
Even Less Personal Animals

I guess that's one way I disagree with the Bible. (Wish I knew the trick for centering pictures like this the way Amy did.)

RonH

RonH,

You've offered a reason Jeff, but I don't go for 'the Bible says so' type reasons and I see no reason to start now.

Ask a 'the Bible says so' question....

What reason is there to say we are created in the image of God? I thought we were supposed to be totally depraved.

and expect a 'the Bible says so' response.

Ron,
(thanks SteveK for your approriate response). Ron, I'm not interested in offering an answer that doesn't come from the Bible, given the fact that I believe it is the very voice of God; but that's another issue.

The response was appropriate to your question. The Bible teaches that we are both in a state of total depravity and that man was man, and still is, in the image of God.

Second. I was discussing this with my children this morning as we were looking at the children's catechism:

Q. 18. What did God give Adam and Eve besides bodies?
A. He gave them souls that could never die.

Q. 19. Have you a soul as well as a body?
A. Yes; I have a soul that can never die.

Q. 20. How do you know that you have a soul?
A. Because the Bible tells me so.

The difference between man and any other creature is that God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living being. This is never said of animals/beasts. Obviously God keeps animals alive in some way, but we know that it is not the breath of life that animates animals. Man is said to be made in the image of God, this again, is never said of animals.

So where there is likeness (if that is a word) between man and beast(there must be, we are both creatures from the one who created), but animals are not made in the image of God.

Spong: "God is surely beyond the boundaries of human life."

Odd, Spong seems to think these works accurately describe God.

Here is Spong on Faith Under Fire:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EdxuC12-g0


In my last paragraph above, I say "so where there is likeness (if that is a word). When I first typed that out I had a different word then likeness and forgot to delete "(if that is a word)."

Sorry for the confusion.

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