(Continued-Chapter VIII-Man Created in the Image of God)
C. The Traducianist Hypothesis
Tertullian advocated this position. It was implied in the teaching of Augustine and seems to be held by the leading theologians of the present day.
This theory holds that God directly created Adam, soul and body, and that he and Eve were given the power to propagate their species. This position is taught in Genesis 1:27,28; 2:7; 4:1; and in other places. When one looks at the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and notes that they reproduce after their own kind, it is only reasonable to suppose that man has the same powers of reproduction--to produce after his own kind. This position is further confirmed by observations innumerable. The offspring usually reflects--in both soul and body--the characteristics of the parents and ancestors. The Mendelian ratio seems to govern in all particulars the offspring. When all the facts are taken into consideration we are justified in believing that the offspring is begotten--both body and spirit--by the parents. The Mendelian ratio will account for all the celebrities* and distinguished ones in various lines of activity and also the subnormals.
V. MAN IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
An examination of our data shows that man was made in the image of God in a twofold manner: first, in the natural likeness of His Creator--personality; second, in the moral image of God--holiness. It is of the greatest importance that we distinguish between the elements of these two sides of his spiritual nature. By reason of his being in the natural image of God he possesses certain faculties: intellect, sensibility, will. By reason of his being in the moral image of the Almighty he possesses certain right tendencies: bent, proclivity, inclination, disposition. Because he has intellect, affections, and will, he has certain definite powers. Because of bent, proclivity, inclination, and disposition, he moves in a certain definite direction. Because he was created in this twofold manner in the image of God, he had a moral nature and a holy character.
A. The Natural Image Of God
As we have already seen, man's personality differentiates him from the animal creation and places him upon the highest plane of beings inhabiting the earth. He therefore has self-consciousness. Moreover, he has world-consciousness, recognizing the material universe external to himself. Furthermore, he has a God-consciousness and may move toward moral ends.
Man's natural likeness to God is an inalienable characteristic. When the Lord authorized human government (Gen. 9:6), He instituted capital punishment for all murderers. No man has a right to take the life of his fellow-man, because his victim is made in the image of God--even though he now is in a fallen state. According to I Corinthians 11:7, man in general is in the image of God. James deplores the fact that men with their mouths curse others "who are made after the likeness of God" (James 3:9). From these and many other passages which could be quoted, we learn that man is still in the image of God and should be considered in this light. It is true that he is not at present in the perfect image of God because he is a finite being and because, as we shall later see, this image has been marred by the Fall. Nevertheless, he is still in this image, possessing the natural likeness of God's spiritual image--personality. Regardless of man's condition intellectually, socially, and morally, he is still in this image and should be respected because of this fact alone.
Polish, culture, and education do not make the man. They are not essentials of personality but only incidental. The real personality lies in his intellectual and spiritual endowments which, as we have already suggested, are the very essence of his make-up. Men should therefore treat their fellow-beings with the utmost consideration, realizing that they are upon the same level and are placed in the same category notwithstanding the circumstances which may outwardly differentiate them.
B. The Moral Image Of God--Holiness
In addition to the powers inhering in man's personal nature, there was that proclivity or inclination of his affections and will which inclined him toward God and gave him a bent in the direction of holiness. Since holiness is one of the attributes of God, and since man was created in the image of his Maker, naturally he possessed holiness of character when he was created. It is not a matter of speculation that man originally possessed this holiness, for we are told in Ecclesiastics 7:29 that "God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." This statement gives us an insight into the righteousness of holiness which characterized man when he was created.
The Apostle Paul urged the Christians at Ephesus to lay aside their former manner of life which was according to the old man and to "put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth" (Eph. 4:24). From this passage we learn that man who is regenerated upon his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour is after God created in righteousness and holiness of truth. This passage has reference to man's being re-created in the image of God. If laid beside the account in Genesis which asserts that man was created in the image of God, it becomes very luminous and in turn sheds much light on the original statement. In both instances God was the pattern after which man was first created or is now re-created. What is the full significance of the phrase, "after God"? This same idiom occurs in Galatians 4:28: "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise." Just as Isaac was a child of promise so are we who are born again, argues the Apostle Paul. God is a spiritual being. Man was created in His image. Hence he as a spiritual being has a spiritual nature. God is infinite and independent; man is finite and utterly dependent upon his Maker.
When man is made after God at the time of his regeneration, he is created in righteousness and holiness of truth. We logically infer from this fact that man originally was created in the moral image of God, with the righteousness of his Maker stamped upon his very being. The impression is heightened by the addition of the phrase, "holiness of truth." From this scripture we see that man was thus created in the moral image of God and was in possession of pure righteousness and holiness.
In Colossians 3:10 appears the following statement: "And have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him." Man's new nature which he receives at the time of accepting Christ, when he is regenerated, is renewed unto knowledge after the image of God who created him. One who is thus born again--regenerated, saved--is brought into a new relationship to God in which he can walk by faith with Him and thus be renewed unto a more perfect knowledge of the Almighty. Thus we can see and understand that man originally was created with a capacity and an aptness to learn more and more about his Creator as he had fellowship and communion with Him. As we learn in Genesis, chapter 3, such occasions were afforded man when his Maker visited him in the Garden of Eden.
In our belief that man possessed this original righteousness--being made in the image of God--we are not to conclude that this holiness was a part of his real substance and essence: because, if this were true, when man sinned, he would have ceased to exist; for at that time he lost his original righteousness and holiness. Neither was this righteousness or holiness a gift that was conferred upon him at the time of his creation or by a subsequent bestowal. But it was a bent or inclination of the soul toward God and a delighting in doing His will. Had Adam remained in fellowship with Him, he would have transmitted this original righteousness to his offspring who were begotten after his likeness. But when he sinned, he lost this original righteousness, and the children born to him afterward were begotten in the likeness of their fallen father. So have all men since been begotten in the likeness of the depraved nature of their parents.
In view of these amazing facts we can only say regarding man that which Dr. A.H. Strong proclaims: "The dignity of human nature consists, not so much in what man is, as in what God meant him to be, and in what God means him yet to become, when the lost image of God is restored by the union of man's soul with Christ. Because of his future possibilities, the meanest of mankind is sacred. The great sin of the second tablet of the Decalogue is the sin of despising our fellow-man. To cherish contempt for others can have its roots only in idolatry of self and rebellion against God. Abraham Lincoln said well that 'God must have liked common people--else He would not have made so many of them.' Regard for the image of God in man leads also to kind and reverent treatment even of those lower animals in which so many human characteristics are foreshadowed."
As has been seen, man was made in the natural and moral image of God. Since there was complete accord between man's spirit and the body into which the perfect spirit was breathed (Gen. 2:7), we might properly conclude that man's natural image likewise reflected the splendor and the glory of God. Some have concluded that man's physical body was after the image of God from the fact that God in the cool of the evening (Gen., chap. 3) visited man and conversed with him. Such a belief is erroneous and farfetched.
Man's bodily nature was under the control of his spirit. As suggested above, there was no conflict between body and soul, but there seems to have been room for growth and development. This seems to be implied in the temptation which Satan placed before Eve in his saying that her eyes would be opened and that she would become as God, knowing good and evil, if she would only partake of the fruit of the tree of which she was forbidden. After the transgression the Lord God said that "the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." From these facts we undoubtedly see that man was capable of growth and development--even though he was perfect, having been created in the image and likeness of God.
Man being the highest of God's earthly creatures, the Lord gave him authority and dominion over the fowls of the air, the beasts of the fields, and the fishes of the sea. Being of the nature that he was man was in a position to control the lower animals. This authority he lost; but, as we shall learn in a later chapter, this same authority will be given back to him in the great Kingdom Age in the future.
Being in the image of God, man had blessed communion and fellowship with the Lord who paid frequent visits and conversed with him--doubtless for his spiritual growth and development. Created in the image of his Maker, man was placed in the Garden of Eden, which was a most suitable location calculated to contribute to his happiness, contentment, and joy. Here he was to grow and develop. Though he was holy and righteous, he was not confirmed in holiness but was rather in the state of innocence with a life of testing and temptation lying before him. Only one prohibition was placed before him. If he has resisted the temptation and had obeyed God, that fact would have strengthened him and he could have continued to grow and develop.
It seems that in this condition he was nevertheless in a mortal state, for the natural precedes the spiritual and eternal (I Cor. 15:45,49). If, on the other hand, Adam had maintained his integrity, it is altogether possible that his body might have been transfigured as those of the saints will be at the second coming of our Lord. But he did not do this. Although he was in a state of holiness, he substituted his will for God's and brought wreck and ruin upon himself and his descendants. But this phase of his history we shall investigate later.
* While the Mendelian ratio accounts for such unique characters as Hammurabi, Cyrus, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Shakespeare, et al., it cannot give a scientific explanation of such men as Isaac whose birth, according to the Torah, was the result of a biological miracle which was performed by the Almighty upon the bodies of Abraham and Sarah when they were past the age of parenthood (Gen., chap. 21). The same thing was true with regard to John the Baptist, of whom we read in the New Testament records. Moreover, Jesus of Nazareth cannot be accounted for upon biological principles, but solely upon the activity of God in fulfillment of Old Testament predictions.