Monday, September 14, 2009

Imago Dei And Christian Confessions

Traditionally speaking Baptists have never been a creedal people though the Southern Baptists are becoming more creedal what with their insistence on rule by the ever revised Baptist Faith And Message. (This controversial document has produced such nonsense as forced coercion of the false doctrine of biblical inerrancy on Baptists which is typified by uneducated babbling such as this: Rhoblogy: Eastern errancy. Sorry had to get a dig at the SBC in there).

However, Baptists have always recognized confessions as helpful as needed but not as a rule of faith. Anyways here are some confessions about the Imago Dei from the more creedal denominations of Christianity:

Starting with the Presbyterians and the Westminster Confession---referring back to Fred Anderson---here you go:
When we read the Bible according to Sproul and Wolgemuth, we see a divine purpose for your existence and for mine. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says,
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

In Westminster-speak, "end" means "purpose." So with this foundational idea in place, let's look at the story of how God created human beings.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26 NRSV).

Lutherans' formal statements on the Imago Dei in the Book Of Concord's creedal confessions about humanity focus primarily on humanity's fallen nature such as from the The Epitome Of The Formula Of Concord:
I. Original Sin.
The Principal Question in This Controversy.

1] Whether original sin is properly and without any distinction man's corrupt nature, substance, and essence, or at any rate the principal and best part of his essence [substance], namely, the rational soul itself in its highest state and powers; or whether, even after the Fall, there is a distinction between man's substance, nature, essence, body, soul, and original sin, so that the nature [itself] is one thing, and original sin, which inheres in the corrupt nature and corrupts the nature, another.

Affirmative Theses.
The Pure Doctrine, Faith, and Confession according to the Aforesaid Standard and Summary Declaration.

2] 1. We believe, teach, and confess that there is a distinction between man's nature, not only as he was originally created by God pure and holy and without sin, but also as we have it [that nature] now after the Fall, namely, between the nature [itself], which even after the Fall is and remains a creature of God, and original sin, and that this distinction is as great as the distinction between a work of God and a work of the devil.

3] 2. We believe, teach, and confess also that this distinction should be maintained with the greatest care, because this doctrine, that no distinction is to be made between our corrupt human nature and original sin, conflicts with the chief articles of our Christian faith concerning creation, redemption, sanctification, and the resurrection of our body, and cannot coexist therewith.

4] For God created not only the body and soul of Adam and Eve before the Fall, but also our bodies and souls after the Fall, notwithstanding that they are corrupt, which God also still acknowledges as His work, as it is written Job 10:8: Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about. Deut. 32:18; Is. 45:9ff; 54:5; 64:8; Acts 17:28; Job 10:8; Ps. 100:3; 139:14; Eccl. 12:1.

The Roman Catholic Church's Christian anthropological statements can be found in Part I Paragraph 6 Points 355-384 of The Catechism Of The Catholic Church.

Here is a statement from the Methodist/Wesleyan tradition's THE CONSTITUTION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN GENERAL CONFERENCE:
VIII. Personal Choice

224. We believe that humanity's creation in the image of God included ability to choose between right and wrong. Thus individuals were made morally responsible for their choices. But since the fall of Adam, people are unable in their own strength to do the right. This is due to original sin, which is not simply the following of Adam's example, but rather the corruption of the nature of each mortal, and is reproduced naturally in Adam's descendants. Because of it, humans are very far gone from original righteousness, and by nature are continually inclined to evil. They cannot of themselves even call upon God or exercise faith for salvation. But through Jesus Christ the prevenient grace of God makes possible what humans in self effort cannot do. It is bestowed freely upon all, enabling all who will to turn and be saved.

Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:15; 1 Kings 20:40; Ps. 51:5; Isa. 64:6; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Luke 16:15; John 7:17; Rom. 3:10-12; 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22; Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Tim. 2:5; Titus 3:5; Heb. 11:6; Rev. 22:17.

Next here are some non-creedal confessions from who else but us Baptists:

First from two of the most important early Baptist confessions---being that they are from the most influential early Baptists, John Smyth and Thomas Helwys---are A Short Confession of Faith, 1610:
4. This only God bath created man good, according to his image and likeness, to a good and happy estate, and in him all men to the same blessed end. The first man was* fallen into sin and wrath and was again by God, through a sweet comfortable promise, restored and affirmed to everlasting life, with all those that were guilty through him so that none of his posterity (by reason of this institution) are guilty, sinful, or born in original sin.

5. Man being created good, and continuing in goodness, had the ability, the spirit of wickedness tempting him, freely to obey, assent, or reject the propounded evil: man being fallen and consisting (sic) in evil, had the ability, the T—himself moving freely to obey, assent or reject the propounded good; for as he through free power to the choice of evil, obeyed and affirmed that evil; so did he through free power to the choice of good, obey and reassent that propounded good. This last power or ability remaineth in all his posterity.

6. God bath before all time foreseen and foreknown all things, both good and evil, whether past, present, or to come. Now, as he is the only perfect goodness, and the very fountain of life itself, so is he the only author, original, and maker of such good things as are good, holy, pure, and of nature like unto him; but not of sin, or damnable uncleanness. He forbiddeth the evil, he forewarneth to obey evil, and threateneth the evil doer: he is the permitter and punisher. But evil men, through free choice of all sin and wickedness, together with the spirit of wickedness which ruleth in them, are the authors, Interlined. originals, and makers of all sin, and so worthy the punishment.

7. The causes and ground, therefore, of man’s destruction and damnation, are the man’s free choice of darkness or sin, and living therein. Destruction, therefore, cometh out of himself, but not from the good Creator. For being perfect goodness and love itself (following the nature of love and perfect goodness) he willeth the health, good, and happiness of his creatures; therefore hath he predestinated that none of them should be condemned, nor ordained, or will the sinner, or means whereby they should be brought to damnation: yea, much more (seeing he hath no delight in any man’s destruction, nor willing that any man perish, but that all men should be saved or blessed) hath he created them all to a happy end in Christ, hath foreseen and ordained in him a medicine of life for all their sins, and hath willed that all people or creatures, through the preaching of the gospel, should have these tidings published and declared unto them; now all they that with penitence and faithful hearts receive and embrace the gracious benefits of God, manifested in Christ, for the reconciliation of the world, they are and continue the elect which God hath ordained before the foundation of the world, to make partakers of his kingdom and glory. But they which despise and co~itemn this proffered grace of God, which love the darkness more than the light, persevere in inipenitence and unbelief, they make themselves unworthy of blessedness, and are rejected, excluded from the end whereto they were created and ordained in Christ, and shall not taste forever of the Supper of the Lord, to which they were invited.

And---Propositions and Conclusions concerning True Christian Religion, containing a Confession of Faith of certain English people, living at Amsterdam.:
12. That God created man to blessedness, according to His image, in an estate of innocency, free without corruption of sin (Gen. i. 27; ii. 17, 25); He created them male and female (to wite) one man and one woman (Gen. i. 27); He framed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into Him the breath of life, so the man was a living soul (Gen. ii. 7; I Cor. xv.45). But the woman He made of a rib, taken out of the side of the man (Gen. ii. 21, 22). That God blessed them, and commanded them to increase, and multiply, and to fill the earth, and to rule over it and all creatures therein (Gen. i. 28, ix. 1,2; Psal. viii.6)

14. That God created man with freedom of will, so that he had ability to choose the good and eschew the evil, or to choose the evil and refuse the good, and that this freedom of will was a natural faculty or power, created by God in the soul of man (Gen. ii. 16, 17; iii. 6,7; Eccles. vii.29)

15. That Adam sinning was not moved or inclined thereto by God, or by any decree of God but that he fell from his innocency and died the death alone, by the temptation of Satan, his free will assenting thereunto freely (Gen. iii. 6)

16. That the same day that Adam sinned, he died the death (Gen. ii. 17), for the reward of sin is death (Rom. vi. 23), and this is that which the Apostle saith, dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. ii. 1), which is loss of innocency, of the peace of conscience and comfortable presence of God. (Gen. iii. 7,ll).

17. That Adam being fallen did not lose any natural power or faculty which God created in his soul, for the work of the devil, which is (sin), cannot abolish God's works or creatures: and therefore being fallen he still retained freedom of will (Gen. iii. 23, 24)

18. That orginal sin is an idle term, and that there is no such thing as men intend by the word (Ezek. xviii. 20), because God threatened death only to Adam (Gen. ii.17) not to his posterity, and because God created the soul (Heb. xii.9)

19. That if original sin might have been passed from Adam to his posterity, Christ's death, which was effectual before Cain and Abel's birth, He being the lamb slain from the beginning of the world, stopped the issue and passage thereof (Rev. xiii. 8).

20. That infants are conceived and born in innocency without sin, and that so dying are undoubtedly saved, and that this is to be understood of all infants under Heaven (Gen. v. 2, i. 27 compared with I. Cor. xv. 49), for where there is no law there is no transgression, sin is not imputed while there is no law. (Rom. iv. 15 and v. 13), but the law was not given to infants, but to them that could understand (Rom. v. 13; Matt. xiii. 9; Neh. viii.3).

21. That all actual sinners bear the image of the first Adam, in his innocency, fall, and restitution in the offer of grace (I Cor. xv. 49), and so pass under these three conditions, or threefold estate.

22. That Adam being fallen God did not hate him, but loved him still, and sought his good (Gen. iii. 8-15), neither doth he hate any man that falleth with Adam, but that He loveth mankind, and from His love sent His only begotten Son into the world, to save that which was lost, and to seek the sheep that went astray (John iii. 16).

23. That God never forsaketh the creature till there be no remedy, neither doth He cast away His innocent creature from all eternity; but casteth away men irrecoverable in sin (Isa. v. 4; Ezek. xviii. 23, 32, and xxxiii. 11; Luke xiii. 6,9).

24. That as there is in all the creatures a natural inclination to their young ones, to do them good, so there is in the Lord toward man; for every spark of goodness in the creature is infinitely good in God (Rom. i. 20; Psaa. xix 4; Rom. x. 18).

25. That as no man begetteth his child to the gallows, nor no potter maketh a pot to break it; so God doth not create or predestinate any man to destruction (Ezek. xxxiii. ; Gen. i. 27; I Cor. xv. 49; Gen. v. 3).

26. That God before the foundation of the world hath determined the way of life and salvation to consist in Christ, and that he hath foreseen who would follow it (Eph. i. 5; 2 Tim. i. 9), and on the contrary hath determined the way of perdition to consist in infidelity, and in impenitency, and that he hath foreseen who would follow after it (Jude 4th verse).

27. That as God created all men according to His image, so hath He redeemed all that fall by actual sin, to the same end; and that God in His redemption hath not swerved from His mercy, which He manifested in His creation (John i. 3,16; 2 Cor. v. 19; I Tim. ii. 5,6; Ezek. xxxiii. 11).

Finally one modern confession and the only worthwhile version of the Baptist Faith And Message is the 1963 edition as it was not corrupted by Fundamentalism like the 2000 edition which perverts this correct statement on the bible:
I. The Scriptures
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is the record of God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.

Ex. 24:4; Deut. 4:1-2; 17:19; Josh. 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isa. 34:16; 40:8; Jer. 15:16; 36; Matt. 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Rom. 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.
into this bibliolatrous and false statement:
I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

As you can see---the 1963 Baptist Faith And Message is the only Baptist Faith And Message that is correct on the bible. Anyways, returning from my rabbit trail---here is the 1963 Baptist Faith And Message's statement on the Imago Dei:
III. Man
Man was created by the special act of God, in His own image, and is the crowning work of His creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by His Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence; whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin, and as soon as they are capable of moral action become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore every man possesses dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Gen. 1:26-30; 2:5, 7, 18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalm 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isa. 6:5; Jer. 17:5; Matt. 16:26; Acts 17:26- 31; Rom. 1:19-32; 3:10-18, 23; 5:6, 12, 19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18, 29; 1 Cor. 1:21-31; 15:19, 21-22; Eph. 2:1-22; Col. 1:21-22; 3:9-11.

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