Tag Archives: Rushdoony

Language and Dominion: Results of the Image of God (Part 3)

(2) Language and Creativity as the image of God:

The following two views are seen by their proponents as being the imago dei.  I would like to demonstrate that although these views come close to hitting the mark, they fail to see the difference between the the results of man being created in the image of God and man being the image of God.

The second view has many things to commend to itself.(1) Language is definitely something unique to man, and we see the first thing God did in the beginning was create, and man likewise is a creative being. After all, a few contrasts can be given between man and the beasts in this regard. While humans construct beautiful architecture, communicate in propositions, build societies and make things for the purpose of beauty, beasts do not. They don’t speak an intelligent language or communicate in propositions.  However, I do not think we are totally left to speculation as to what the image of God in man is. We have already quoted thus far from Genesis and Job. The Job passage makes clear part of this image is understanding and Colossians mentions knowledge. That language is unique to man is clear, and that man has knowledge, indeed, innate knowledge is clear from such passages as Romans 1 and 2. But is there something more foundational to the image of God in man than language and creativity? The point is that we don’t have the biblical basis to say the image is language and creativity. We have conjectures once again. We will leave this view and come back to it later. We come now to the third view.

(3) Dominion in Righteousness as the image of God:

Some Scriptures seemingly show the third view to be correct:

Genesis 1:26-28:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

However, an aspect of the image of God should be noted which I think makes this view not as plausible as perhaps might be seen from a superficial reading of Genesis 1. It is this: before and after the fall, man is the image of God.(2) There are a few problems with asserting that dominion is the image of God. First, some men don’t take dominion. Most men are rebels against God and don’t think they need to take dominion. Secondly, whatever limited dominion some men may take in an analogous fashion, is not the dominion talked about in Genesis 1 which is dominion under God or in righteousness.. One could say the Socialist is taking dominion in terms of his Socialistic ideals, but to say dominion in general is what is referred to in Genesis 1 cannot be substantiated by the context. Even Christians are not as faithful as they ought to be in taking dominion for Christ the Lord. Does this mean in a Christian’s life he wavers from being the image of God and not being the image of God? Scripturally and Confessionally, this cannot be so. Man is the image of God; he is not, as some have put it “imaging God” as if the image of God in man is something man does.(2) It is who he is. As Dr. Robert Reymond writes,

“[I]t is because man is God’s image that God bestows dominion over the earth upon him”.

Gordon Clark says something along the same lines,

“The image of God is not something man has, somewhere inside of him, or somewhere on the surface, as if God had first created man and then stamped him with a signet ring. No, the image is not something man has, man is the image. First Corinthians 11:7 pointedly says “He [man] is the image and glory of God.” (4)

“[And since man is the image] the image must in some way or other be a permanent characteristic of personality.” (5)

One reason adduced in the Scripture for the immorality of killing an innocent person is man is the image of God (see Gen 9:6). This was stated after the fall.  Note too that this bears upon those who assert that the image of God is an activity of man (“imaging God”) rather than something man is. The full significance of all this will be elaborated on later. However, the conclusion from what has been presented is clear: Dominion in righteousness is not the image of God. Dominion is given to man as a result of his being the image of God, just like language, but it is not what constitutes that image. This does not alter the significance of dominion under God but this just means that this will not be discussed at this point. Dominion in righteousness is an application of the image of God in man, but is not the image. Next we shall come to the fourth view.

(1) See www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v4/i1/man.asp for an example of this view.

(2) See Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, page 449. The logical implication of Rushdoony’s position is that after the fall man ceases to be the image of God. The reformed view is that the image of God in man has been marred, not eradicated.

(3) See Stewart, The image of God in man: A Reformed Reassessment: http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/imageofgod.htm

(4) Clark, The Biblical doctrine of man, pg. 9

(5) Ibid. pg. 8