Thursday, October 20, 2011


In August of this year I had the privilege of being with my friend as she went home to Jesus.  I will tell you how she died, but first I will tell you how she lived.

When I first met her, Jessica was on the long end of nine straight months in the pediatric unit in a hospital.  Nine months of hospitalization and one of the sickest people in the area, Jessica was making bracelets for all the other kids in the ICU.  She was the kind of girl who gave to everyone around her.  She invited me into her hospital room and about 45 seconds later I was making bracelets too.  She had a way of doing that, bringing people, as they were, into her world.

As I understand it, Jessica was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 9 months old.  After being treated aggressively by receiving several experimental drugs, the doctors still did not know what it was, or how to treat her.  The experimental drugs had unknown side effects which resulted in continual hospitalizations, surgeries and treatments for the rest of her life.

But the girl I knew, wasn't bound by a hospital bed. 

If you took sunshine, bright colors, sugar and spice, a smile that lights up a whole room and a fair bit of sass, you would get pretty close to knowing Jessica.  She had lots of dreams, crushes on boys, LOTS of love and a wise and witty remark at the ready whenever the time called for it. In spite of her circumstances Jessica had this radical kind of joy in the very depth of her being and it lit her up from the inside out.

You see Jessica had the kind of faith that made everyone stop and think.  At 15, she had endured more suffering than most people do in their entire life.  And yet she did so with her heart firmly fixed on Jesus.  I remember one time she excitedly showed me a picture of a garden with red roses all around it.  She pointed to the picture with such joy in her eyes and told me, "Look!  This is my rose garden in heaven!"  Skeptically I thought it was a sweet thought, but her passion convinced me otherwise.  She had seen a glimpse of her home in heaven with Jesus and she wanted everyone to know how excited she was to go there one day.  After, of course, she accomplished all the many dreams she had in her heart.

Jessica believed in Jesus with her whole heart.  She loved and trusted him with such passion, she challenged me to the core of my being.  How can one who has suffered so much, love a God who is capable of healing her and making it so she doesn't have to suffer any more?   And yet, she loved.

When asked how she handled the challenges that she faced on a daily basis, her response was, "I look at Jesus."  Someone asked her, then why did she ever get scared, when she knew that God was holding her in spite of it all.  She said very honestly, "That's when I forget to look."

I can say with joy that my friend is no longer suffering.  She passed away at home with her family and friends close by.  What a precious and holy moment it was to watch her go.  It was as if heaven and Earth got really close for a moment, and when she passed from this place into heaven, the two returned to their normal locations and the residue of heaven remained in the room.  Peace, joy, rest.  Yes, sadness too.  But relief that our friend was no longer hurting.

Jessica's story is one of radical faith.  Of unrelenting trust and hope for her place in heaven, sitting on Jesus' lap and hearing Him tell her how proud He is of her.  She walked through the most impossible circumstances with a realness and a grace that was made possible on by the presence of God in her life.  Without Him, she wouldn't mind me saying this, she could not have lasted as long as she did. 
The end of life on Earth for Jessica was not filled with loss, but with hope.  Hope of eternal life with Jesus. 

Her life makes me hope for several things:
Hope of my eventual home in heaven.
And hope that I could live my life in such away where I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, no matter what happens.

No matter what you are walking through, there is hope.  Turn your eyes, turn your heart to Jesus and let HIM carry you through the hard stuff.  Jessica did it.  And you can too.

Friday, May 20, 2011



Talk about a loaded word. 

I used to be scared of that word.  Kind of like when you were a kid you walked down a dark hallway and even though you knew nothing was there, your heart beat got a little faster, and your eyes got just that much wider so you would be sure to discern any possible sign of a threat.  Know the feeling? 

But here's what I want to know: When did change become so terrifying?

The dictionary defines change like this:

change | ch ānj|
• make or become a different substance entirely; transform
• give up (something) in exchange for something else
• remove (something dirty or faulty) and replace it with another
• the substitution of one thing for another
• an alteration or modification
• a new or refreshingly different experience

Now I don't know about you, but none of the things listed above seem that scary.  So what is our deal?  Honestly, I think it comes down to another word: fear.

We fear making the wrong choices, wrong spouse, wrong career...
We fear getting jipped in our interactions: If I give you this, what will I get back?
We fear making the changes we need to because we don't know what life is going to be like after.
We fear changing our routine, rocking the boat, having conflict.
We fear new experiences, not having enough, need.
We.  Fear.  A lot.
As I sit her and ponder all the reasons why we fear, I begin to recognize a pattern:  This is about me, mine, and what I'm going to get/keep/preserve without having to give up/lay down/risk anything.  On some very deep level, we are pessimistically convinced that if everything is going to turn out all right, it will be because we have made perfect decisions, flawlessly executed them, and not had to rely on anyone but ourselves to make that happen.

We have become the gods of our own universe, wholeheartedly believing that we have control. 

Newsflash: We don't.

Somewhere along the line we have taken back the faith we placed in our ever-loving and faithful God and substituted it for something that... well, it's just plain weird.  The foundational truths of the goodness of God, His love toward us, and our absolute reliance on Him have been exchanged for a puppet god that we can control sometimes but certainly don't have to give our lives fully to, who is moody and changes his mind a lot and waits for us to screw up so he can punish us with gleeful vengeance.

So let me ask you this:  Do you trust God?

Not just some assent to the fact that He holds the whole universe.  But that He holds you.  That He knows you.  That He wants the best for you. 

Because if we did, I mean REALLY did, the commands of God saying, "Do not fear," would be invitations to intimacy and trust, instead of isolating ourselves with worry and fear of the unknown. 

Isaiah 30:15 says this:

  This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
   “In repentance and rest is your salvation,
   in quietness and trust is your strength,
   but you would have none of it.

Trust and faith are a choice that we can choose to walk in or walk away from.  Your ability to manage your inner world of fear, worry, and rest come from your willingness to trust that God is who He says He is.  That may or may not change your circumstances, but it will change your stance toward them.  Rest will be your portion and quietness will be your strength.  Choosing trust is the first step toward overcoming fear, and in turn conquering our fear of change.

I think we get stuck on what we're giving up and not believing that the best is yet to come when it comes to our faith walk with God.  We fear giving up our fears.  Because our fears are what we use to justify our lifestyle before God.  We try to use the things in our life as barganing chips without realising that it was God that gave us those blessings to begin with.  We so fear losing our stuff/relationships/control (Whatever it is, you fill in the blank), that we don't realize that we have complete and total access to the God who has it all to begin with.

I've been walking this trust/rest thing for a little while now.  The last six months have been loaded with changes for me:  I moved to Texas.  Then I left Texas.  And then ended up in Colorado Springs.  Jobless.  No direction whatsoever.  In one of the worst job markets in the country. 

In all of this I could be trying to control what is happening to me.  Bargaining with God, accusing him of taking me to Texas and then not caring what happened there.  Accusing Him of not caring for me as I watch my savings account dwindle rapidly.  Taking things into my own hands and thinking I'm in charge.  Getting worried about what's going to happen next.  Fearing for the future...

But here's the thing.  He holds me.  Tight.  And He's never letting go.  Why?  Because I'm the apple of His eye.  I'm the beloved of His heart.  He turns every circumstance I experience into a cause for praise.  I am His child.  He doesn't ever forget me.  He knows exactly where I am.  And before I cry He hears me. 

I could try to fight all that stuff, but I'll be honest with you.  Fear sucks.  And trust, although its hard sometimes, is waaaaaay more fun because I'm not in this alone.  These circumstances are an invitation to intimacy with God that I might not have known without them.  I am thankful for the times I am afraid, because I can run to my Shelter and be safe.  Do I know what's coming next?  Nope.  But God's got it covered.  His heart is for me.  He wants the best.  And He WILL provide.  Because that's Who He is.

Remember those definitions for change?

• make or become a different substance entirely; transform
• give up (something) in exchange for something else
• remove (something dirty or faulty) and replace it with another
• the substitution of one thing for another
• an alteration or modification
• a new or refreshingly different experience

As Christians we're to be transformed daily by the renewing of our minds.  It's time for change to stop being scary and become a word we embrace with excitement of what's to come.

You choose change because you are becoming a different person entirely, you are being transformed by the renewing of your mind.
You choose to give up old patterns of thinking, ways of living, and belief systems in exchange for the Living Hope found in Jesus.
You actively work to eradicate sin in your life and replace it with fruit from the indwelling Spirit of God.
Your identity is held in Christ, who substituted himself for you.
You are changing daily anyway, so you might as well enjoy it.
And change is no longer terrifying, but it is an adventure lived out with radical trust in a Loving Savior.

And then it get's bigger!  You're not afraid of life altering change because God holds you.  He is not stingy with you.  He is not waiting for you to screw up!  He's cheering you on!

What change have you been afraid of?

Thinking you can control the outcome of anything is kinda silly.  Use wisdom, make good choices, but ultimately God's the one who has got you.  Your job is to trust and enjoy the ride.

Isaiah 49:16
"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands"  He'll never let you go.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Life and Other Such Musings: The Impact of Being Present

Life and Other Such Musings: The Impact of Being Present

The Impact of Being Present

We live in a culture that knows little about being fully present, or even appreciates the stillness of complete focus. Data overload has become the norm of today's culture. We multi-task all the time! Walking and texting. Driving and listening to music. Doing homework while watching TV, checking your facebook, messaging your friends, checking email, skyping, and "stumbling" for new websites that we might find interesting. We do too much. We hurry. We can't do one thing at a time. We call it efficient. But it takes a toll.

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who's phone was incessantly buzzing? And even if they didn't pick it up right away, you knew because you could see it, suddenly you did not have their full attention. They glance down at their phone, nodding, even smiling, laughing and commenting back. But then their sentence trails off. The conversation stops, they cease interacting and they dissapear for a moment into that little screen. That little buzz, bing, chime or ring has the power to draw attention away from face-to-face, heart-to-heart interaction, for a data exchange.

The other day I had an unexpected opportunity to interact with one of the great women of influence in this country: Lisa Bevere. I have been admiring her and her husband's ministry Messenger International for years now. When I was a student at Hillsong International Leadership College we were blessed with being at church that believed that resourcing the Body of Christ is the best possible way to go, and they made sure to fly in world-class teachers, pastors and prophets to inspire us of all the amazing things God is doing on the Earth. In 2005, Lisa came to Colour Your World in Sydney and as a student volunteer, I was afforded a few brief minutes of rest, and got to listen to her session. The things she said during that session stirred my heart in ways that are difficult to describe, I am an answer, not a problem. And from then on I have followed her ministry from a distance.

Years later, at another women's event, I have now had the opportunity to meet her and here are a few things that struck me about that interaction.

First off, she was swarmed by women who wanted to interact with her. At least 75 women (probably more) gathered around her on all sides hoping to meet her, tell her about the impact her words have had on their lives, and get a photo with her. And she took time. She took time with every one of those girls. She graciously gave each person a few minutes to talk and interact, when, in my view, she probably could have signed the book and been on her way. That invested time communicated value to each person she talked to: "You matter, I care, you are loved."

The second thing I noticed is her intentional touch of every person she met. Meeting "famous" people can be an intimidating situation. What do you say? How do you act? Why should they care? The distance of separation often seems so great that we, without thinking about it, become insecure about interacting with certain people. So when Lisa reached out and touched, grabbed your hand, gave you a hug, put her arm on your shoulder, it broke down the distance. Suddenly she was relateable. You are her long lost friend that she's never met, but missed you terribly. You kind of think that maybe you have her phone number and could call her up for coffee because you get along so well. Just like she has mattered to you, you matter to her.

Third, she made eye contact. None of this, "I'm partially focused on what we're talking about but needing to hurry up and get done talking with you so I can get to these other people" kind of sense at all. Looking you straight in the eyes she wants to know your name, who you are, what's going on.. Again, VALUE.

And finally she spoke life. When I met her, I experienced all of the above, but also something much richer. She prophesied into the destiny that God has for me. She heard heaven and released what I needed to hear right in that moment. She said that I was needed, that she (an other leaders like her) are unafraid of the dreams that God has put into my heart, that I have been waited for and watched over.. That they are ready for me to take my place along side them serving Jesus and leading others into His Presence. Not only did I matter, but I am a teammate in the building of the Kingdom of God here on Earth. And I needed to hear it.

By Lisa being fully present, I was reminded of a lot of things. That my words and actions convey value or lack of value in a human being. That if I will take TIME, be fully present, interact, draw people close and listen to heaven as I love on them, that maybe, just maybe, a destiny defining God moment could happen and someone's life could be changed. And it's the same with you. If we will slow down. Allow ourselves to disconnect from our communication devices (computers, tv, whatever!) and make a choice to be here, right now, totally focused on the people in our world we could be used as a mouth piece of God, releasing His plans, His destiny, His desire for them and watch the world change. How great would that be?

Looking around, being in a hurry, glancing at your watch, nodding and then "ok that's great" with a moving on sort of tone, all convey to the people around us that they don't matter.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tim Keller and Gender Roles

This article was on It is extremely well written and very carefully worded so the wrong conclusions are not drawn. Check it out :)

Tim Keller and Gender Roles

:If you know me very well, then you know that I’ve struggled with different positions concerning gender roles. I think that the following article is the best treatment I’ve read on the subject. Tim Keller has shown in his preaching and writing to be a theologian of great skill but also one of nuance. If you read anything on the subject, I suggest you read this. Here is a quote to get you interested,

“There is therefore no indication that women in general society need to defer to men. Women can be executives, presidents of banks, or the president of a country”. -Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church”


Women in Ministry

by Tim Keller


The Debate in the Church

Redeemer is committed to a high view of Scripture. We believe that, unless the Bible is God’s word to us, we live without any real moral authority. “Right” and “wrong” would then become matters of personal taste or popular opinion. We would not really be able to talk of justice or truth at all, for there is no way to know objective truth.

Today, many people charge that the church and traditional Christianity are oppressive to women, denying them the right to the full use of their gifts in ministry. Many claim additionally that the Bible in general (and Paul in particular) is specifically guilty of this unjust treatment of women. These are extremely serious issues, especially for Redeemer Presbyterian. We are committed to the authority of the Bible and also to the liberation of all Christians to use their gifts in ministry.

The following paper represents many years of reflection, discussion, experimentation and practice. It is not an exegetical paper, studying passages in detail. It will, we hope, serve as a foundational paper for future patterns of women’s ministry in the life of our congregation.

The Problem of “Objectivity”

I (Tim) recognize that it may seem easy for me to talk in an objective, studied way about what this or that verse means about this subject. I have had women say to me in the midst of such a discussion, “For you this is a discussion, but for me this is my life you’re messing with!” I realize my disadvantage. But please realize that neither men nor women can come to Scripture “objectively”. Both men and women will find it difficult to hear God’s voice clearly and to submit to God’s authority. But only when we do can we even begin to submit to one another.

The Problem of Divisions

The divisions among evangelical Christians over this issue are very tragic. For many centuries, the church did not let the Scripture lead it away from the general oppression of women conducted by society. The church should have seen that the Bible does not teach the inferiority of women. Now, we fear, the fruit of the church’s sin are coming home to it.

We live in an era of tension. In many churches, a particular view of women-in-ministry has become a basis for fellowship. Sometimes the message is: “though we believe in the Scripture, in Jesus as the Son of God, the need for repentance and faith in order to be born again, the importance of spreading the kingdom through the ministry of the Holy Spirit—if you don’t share my view of women-in-ministry, there’s the door!” Some 15 years ago, we would have entered the Presbyterian Church USA to minister, but we were told that our view of women-in-ministry precluded us from serving there. Though we would have worked beside people with different views, those on the other side of the fence would not work with us.

We do not want that to be the case at Redeemer. If you hold a view that differs from church policy or of the personal approach of the pastor, you should not feel bound to leave. We know what it was like to be “disfellowshipped” over this issue once! We will not do it to anyone else.

The Trinitarian Pattern

“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of woman man, and the head of Christ is God.” -1 Corinthians 11:3
Here Paul says that the man is the “head” of the woman. But what does that mean?

1. Biblical headship involves servanthood.

Let’s look at the two analogies. First, Christ’s headship of man is clearly one of authority (there is submission), and yet his authority is expressed through sacrificial service. He discovers our needs and meets them. “Christ did not please himself”, therefore we must “please our neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:2-3). A “head’s” job is to use authority to please, to meet needs, to serve.

2. Biblical headship involves voluntary, respectful submission between equals.

The second analogy is critical: “the head of Christ is God”. Whereas Christ is of a higher order of being than human beings, the Father and the Son are equal in power, greatness and dignity. The Son is not inferior to the Father all. This second analogy proves that “headship” does not imply superiority. Philippians 2:6 tells us that the Son was equal to the Father, but voluntarily took on a subordinate role, obeying the Father. He did this to accomplish our salvation.

What do we conclude about “headship” from the Christ-to-mankind and God-to-Christ analogies?

3.”Headship” is something given by one person to another. The giver is equal to the receiver: the receiver has a real and final authority, but uses it only to serve and please and build up the giver.

The traditionalist misunderstanding

What does it mean, then, when Paul says (when discussing the role of women in the church) “the head of the woman is man?” There is a traditional view that comes to Scripture with a prejudice. It believes that women are inferior in many ways, unfit for leadership. This leads to all sorts of conclusions: “it means women should stay home, should not have careers, should not take jobs of leadership, and so on.” This view looks to the first analogy of headship (Christ and man) but not the second one (the Father and the Son), where there is no inferiority at all. Men and women are both given the mandate to rule the earth (Genesis 1:28), and they are joint-heirs in God’s grace (I Peter 3:7; Galalatians.3:28). Even here in I Corinthians 11 Paul makes it clear that there is equality of being. In v.8, he points out that Eve came from Adam, so “woman was created for man, not man for woman”. Yet in v. 11-12, he points out that each human male is born of a woman, so “man is not independent of woman”. Man should not lord it over women with his authority, since “everything comes from God”. All authority is derivative from God and partial. We exercise authority only as an act of submission to God.

The feminist misunderstanding

But others come to Paul’s statement on headship and try to ignore it. Some say, “Paul only means that Eve came out of Adam”. Many interpreters point out that the Greek meaning of “head” {kephale) means “source”, not “authority”. Virtually all evangelical feminist interpreters make this point. The problem is that, while Christ did create humankind, God did not create Christ. He was not the “source”. A survey of 2,336 example of the use of kephale in Greek literature reveals only two times that it is used as “source” and not “authority”. Actually, Paul probably means kephale in both senses. In I Corinthians 11:8 he says, “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” There the two are combined. Paul grounds male headship in creation, while in I Corinthians 11:3 he grounds it in the Trinity.

Evangelical feminist interpreters also point out that Paul told slaves to submit to their masters and also told wives to submit to their husbands. Isn’t it (the reasoning goes) natural to assume that, just as slavery has gone by the boards with time, that female submission should as well? The difficulty is Paul’s basis. Does Paul ever say: “slaves, obey your masters because of the way you were created?” Does Paul ever ground the basis for slave-master submission in the nature of creation or in the nature of the Trinity? Many feminists say that Paul was simply accommodating himself to the times. But the relationship of man to woman in Paul is not based on customs of the times but the relationships within the Trinity itself.

The evangelical feminists do not come to the Scripture “neutrally” (who does?). They come with this conviction:

“Many Christians thus speak of a wife’s being equal to her husband in personhood, but subordinate in function. However, this is just playing word games and is a contradiction in terms. Equality and subordination are contradictions.’-L Scanzoni and N. Hardesty. All We’re Meant to Be (Word, 1974), p. 110

This crucial statement is completely at odds with the God-Christ analogy. Christ was equal with the Father, yet took a submissive, subordinate role. It ignores the I Corinthians 11:3 definition of headship, just as does the traditionalist.

The biblical pattern of headship is neither the traditional nor the feminist. The feminist rejects the idea that subordination can ever co-exist with equality (though this is the basis of the trinity’s relationship). The traditionalist believes that subordination assumes inequality. So both of these groups agree! They reject the biblical concept of headship as inconsistent.

Now let’s see how the Trinitarian pattern of rule-and-submission-among-equals works itself out in marriage, in society in general, and in the church.

The Pattern In Marriage

1. A head may never use authority to please self.

In marriage, wives are told to give headship to their husbands (Ephesians 5:21 ff.) This does not mean that the man simply can make all the decisions nor does it mean that he gets his way whenever there is a difference of opinion. Why? A “head” may never overrule his spouse simply to get his way or please himself (Romans.15:2-3). A head sacrifices his wants and needs to please and build up his partner (Ephesians 5:2ff.).

2.Headship is “tie-breaking” authority.

Well, since this is also true of the wife (Ephesians 5:21 -”submit to one another,” then what is the difference? A head only exercises authority to over-rule when he believes his spouse is doing something destructive to her or the family. In a marriage, where there are only two “votes”, now will the stalemate be broken in cases where there is not just a difference in taste or preference, but in cases where both parties believe the other is seriously mistaken? There can be no unity unless one person has the right to cast the deciding “vote”. That person knows that, along with this “right’ comes the greatest accountability and responsibility.

The Bible directs that a wife, when she marries, give that “right/responsibility” freely to her husband. The husband realizes that ordinarily, his authority does not take the form of “over-ruling”—in fact, the servant-model directs the “head” to usually put aside his own tastes and preferences in deference to pleasing his spouse. But when there is a “hung jury”, and it is critical for one person to take both leadership and responsibility, the “head’s” service takes the form of initiation. He leads by over-ruling.

3. Why do men and women have these callings?

It is fairly obvious that the need for “tie-breaking authority” is necessary in a marriage partnership. But why does God direct in his Word that it go to the man? Many people struggle the most with this very point. If they cannot see a practical reason for a command of God, they hesitate to commit to it.

We must reject the traditional rationale.

The traditionalist says: “Women must submit because women aren’t fit for making decisions, for leadership.” But many couples will admit that the wife is more decisive and has better judgement than the husband. Besides, the Bible no where gives that as a reason.

Our likeness to the Trinity.

The “reason” given by the Bible is simply that man-and-woman were made in the image of the Triune God. Women are called to follow Christ, who voluntarily subordinated himself in response to the Father’s call. To put this in perspective, let’s ask this question: “Why was Christ the one who gave up authority to become subordinate? Why did Christ answer the call from the Father to give away authority?” We don’t know, but if anything, it is a mark of his greatness, not his weakness! A case could be made, then, that women have this calling because they are greater than men!

4. The Biblical pattern calls both parties to submit.

Many godly couples have come to realize, then, that the Biblical pattern is equally difficult for both parties. The woman and the man both must submit first of all to their roles, their call from God.

Society traditionally gave to men the authority to over-rule their spouses for their own pleasure. But the Bible’s “headship” authority is quite different, we have seen. As a result, many Christian men would gladly give up “tie-breaking”, servant authority to their wives. They don’t like the heavy responsibility for service and self-denial that “headship” brings.

On the other hand, many women would gladly take the authority themselves, because they see how men abuse it, just as God predicted (Gen. 3:16). But both must struggle to submit to God’s call.

5. Tapping into the mystery.

When a Christian couple does so submit, however, they do so because God’s Word directs them to. And after years of practice, they begin to see that this pattern somehow gets them in touch with something deep within them. Neither is demanding submission from one another, but after first submitting to God they are enabled to submit to one another’s needs. It makes them both strong and tender, bringing them to serve one another yet in different ways.

Woman was created as a “helper” (Genesis 2). This word indicates no weakness at all, but complementary strength. In the Bible, God is our Help. A helper is someone who can help because he or she is stronger than the one being helped. For example, I can help my son with his homework because I know more than he. On the other hand, if I do his homework for him, I have stopped using my strength as a helper. In the same way, women have inherent strengths, insight and endurance and adaptability that men do not generally have. Women “help” their husbands through a willing submission through strength.

Mysterious it is! Real “masculinity” is full of tenderness and real “femininity” is full of strength. But they are still different from one another in many indefinable ways. Submission to God’s pattern for marriage gradually gets you back in touch with these deep truths and you begin to discover your true self.

The Pattern In Society

The next logical question is: “is every man the head over every woman?” Paul’s statement might lend itself to that conclusion, but the Bible’s testimony is otherwise.

1. Women achieve leadership in society.

Even in ancient Israel, at a time where women in society were the property of their husbands or fathers, women were endued with unusual power in civil affairs. For example, women could not inherit property in those days. Yet, God specifically dictated that daughters could inherit the property of their father (Numbers 27:8). Also, Deborah eventually became the political leader, the “president” of Israel (Judges 4). There is no indication that she was acting illegally or extraordinarily.

There is therefore no indication that women in general society need to defer to men. Women can be executives, presidents of banks, or the president of a country. Does this seem inconsistent? Why would the Bible insist on a Trinitarian pattern in marriage, but ignore it in society?

Again, we must speculate a bit, because the Bible does not answer all of these “why” questions. One good possibility, however, may lay in the Biblical basis for democracy.

2. Democracy is for society while rule-submission is for our spiritual lives.

Christians are for democracy because we believe in sin. Many folk believe in it for the opposite reason. Rousseau believed in democracy because he thought that people were so wise and good that no one is fit to be a slave. Of course, Christians wish for no one to be a slave, but we believe democracy is good because no one is fit to be a master!

Because of sin, people misuse absolute authority. Thus it is clear that monarchy, wise and good kings, would be a form of government that very much fits the Trinitarian pattern. God is a King, not a President, and our spiritual lives are based on monarchy. So why don’t we have Kings? The answer is that we have to abolish monarchy due to sin. We have to treat all people as equal.

C.S. Lewis explains the Christian view of equality:

“This introduces a view of equality rather different from that in which we have been trained. I do not think that equality is one of those things (like wisdom or joy) which are good simply in themselves and for their own sakes. L think it is in the same class as medicine, which is good because we are ill, or clothes which are good because we are no longer innocent. I don’t think the old authority of kings, priests, husbands, or fathers, and the old obedience of subjects, laymen, wives, and children was in itself a degrading or evil thing at all. I think it was intrinsically good and beautiful as the nakedness of Adam and Eve. It was rightly taken away because men became bad and abused it. To attempt to restore it now would be the same error as that of the Nudists. Legal and economic equality are absolutely necessary remedies for the Fall. and protection against cruelty.

This whole question is of immense practical importance. Every intrusion of the spirit that says, ‘I’m as good as you’ into our family and spiritual life is to be resisted as jealously as every intrusion of bureaucracy or privilege into our politics. Let us wear equality, but let us undress at night.”

When equality is treated not as a medicine or safety-gadget but as an absolute ideal, we begin to breed that stunted and envious sort of mind that hates all superiority. That mind is the special disease of democracies, just as cruelty and servility are the special diseases of monarchies. It will kill us if it grows unchecked. The man who cannot conceive of a joyful and loyal obedience on the one hand, nor an unembarrassed and noble acceptance of obedience on the other, the man who has never even wanted to kneel or bow, is a prosaic barbarian. There are men whose taproot to Eden has been cut: whom no rumor of the polyphony, the dance, can reach—men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where we are forbidden to honor a king, we honor millionaires, athletes, film-stars, even famous prostitutes and gangsters. For our spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.

We must wear clothes since the Fall. Yes, but inside, under what Milton called these troublesome disguises”, we want the naked body, on proper occasions, to appear. It is still so in the marriage-chamber. In the same way, under the necessary outer ‘covering” of legal equality, the whole hierarchical dance and harmony of our deep and joyously accepted spiritual differences should be alive. It is there when, as Christians, as laymen, we can obey the priest all the more because the priest has no authority over us on the political level. It is there in our relation to parents and teachers—all the more because it is now a willed and wholly spiritual reverence.

It should also be there in marriage. Husbands have so horribly abused their power over women that to women, of all people, equality is in danger of appearing as an absolute ideal. Naomi Mitchison speaks of women so fostered on the defiant idea of equality that the mere sensation of the male embrace rouses an undercurrent of resentment. This is the tragi-comedy of the modem woman; taught by Freud to consider the act of love the most important thing in life, and then inhibited by feminism from that internal surrender which alone can make it a complete emotional success.

In summary, the pattern of rule-and-submission is greatly muted in society because of sin. People abuse authority, so politically, all authority must be elected authority—and all individuals must have access to places of authority.

The Pattern In The Church

When we come to Scriptural teaching on women-in-the-church, we discover again a different pattern. Unlike in marriage, all women do not submit to all men. But unlike society, there is a Trinitarian pattern. It is not muted.

On the one hand, women are clearly partners with men in ministry. The Christian church is far ahead of Judaism and pagan religions in this.

Women were full members of the covenant community (Acts 1:14). They were deaconesses (I Timothy 3:11; Romans 16:2); this meant they were ministry leaders, initiating and supervising ministries. It is wrong, therefore, to say that women cannot be area directors in para-church ministries, or to say that women cannot lead evangelistic, discipling, educational, or teaching ministries. Tabitha (Acts 9:30) was a leader of mercy ministry to the poor, while Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2,3) were Paul’s evangelistic associates. Priscilla discipled and instructed Apollos (Acts 18:26) and led a house church (Romans 16:4,5). As in the Old Testament (Exodus 15), women were prophets and did prophesy. They spoke and prayed in public worship (I Corinthians 11:5).

It appears from this that there are no ministry gifts nor ministries that are forbidden to women. And yet, Paul draws some limits.

The office of elder is forbidden to women.

Elders are to be men (1 Timothy 3:1-3). In 1 Timothy 2:11, Paul forbids women to “teach or have authority” over men. In 1 Corinthians 14:35-36, women are not to take part in determining whether a teacher is teaching sound doctrine. (Note: Paul’s command for women to “keep silent in church” cannot mean that they may never speak publicly. That would contradict I Corinthians 11 where women are told to pray and prophesy. It means they are to keep silent when the prophets are judged.)

Elders are leaders who admit or dismiss people from the church, and they do “quality control” of members’ doctrine. These are the only things that elders exclusively can do. Others can teach, disciple, serve, witness.

There are a number of qualifications for this office—God must call and give elder gifts. When the congregation elects elders, it is not to elect people it likes, but people God has gifted along the lines of 1 Timothy 3:1ff. Most men and all women do not qualify and will never be elders. It is not something they can attain through hard work. It is a calling from God the King.

Why does God call certain ones? Because they are inherently more worthy? That has never been the case. It is the same question: why did the Father rule while the Son submitted? The answer is that both were great and wise persons who did not resent the submission-and-rule pattern but rejoiced in it.

Does exclusion from the eldership mean that women are inherently unfit for leadership? The only thing we can conclude is that women do not fit this particular kind of leadership. Consider the types of leaders in Israel. There were prophets, kings, priests, and elders. Though kings had physical, political power over the priests and elders and prophets, they could not take over their duties. Saul, for example, was forbidden from doing priestly work, offering sacrifices.

Women were prophets and also were heads of state (a queen-Attialiah, and a judge-Deborah). On the other hand women could not be priests or elders. Not only were women precluded from the priesthood, but all men not of the tribe of Levi. Was God being arbitrary? No, he was acting like a King. He called some people into some kinds of leadership and precluded other people from other kinds. Sometimes the preclusion was done on the basis of gender, other times on the basis of nationality. All people gladly submitted to his Lordship if they understood his rights over them.

Women and non-elder males can use any and all spiritual gifts in ministry.

Though the job of elder is a high calling, every believer is a “prophet, priest, and king”. All non-elders in the church must and can use their gifts in the church, whatever they are.
In a nutshell, our position is this: whatever a non-ruling elder male can do in the church, a woman can do. We do not believe that I Timothy 2:11 or I Corinthians 14:35-36 precludes women teaching the Bible to men or speaking publicly. To “teach with authority” (I Timothy 2:11) refers to disciplinary authority over the doctrine of someone. For example, when an elder says to a member: “You are telling everyone that they must be circumcised in order to be saved—that is a destructive, non-Biblical teaching which is hurting people spiritually. You must desist from it or you will have to leave the church.” That is “teaching authority”—it belongs only to the elders.

Thus, women at Redeemer will be free to use all the gifts, privately and publicly. There are no restrictions on ministry at all. There is a restriction on the office of elder. Why? Because the Bible precludes it, and therein it points us back to the Trinitarian pattern which is strong in marriage and muted in society, but which is practiced in the church.

Aren’t Paul’s prohibitions to women in authority specific instructions just for those local church situations?

Evangelical feminists have for years recognized the difficulty of denying Paul’s prelusions to women and yet maintaining a high view of Biblical authority. There are two ways they have argued:

1. First, they say we must distinguish between absolute norms and circumstantial advice, instruction given only to some churches at some time. Paul’s advice about women and authority has only to do with particular churches at that time.

The serious problem with this view is that everything Paul wrote he wrote to specific situations. All his writings were letters, not theological essays. When we hear Paul say, “In Christ there is no Jew and Greek, no male and female,” he has written it to Galatians who are embroiled in a particular problem. When he says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” in I Timothy, he is speaking to a man (Timothy) whose job it was to plant churches and set up an organizational structure. 1 Timothy is all about how to appoint elders and deacons, how churches are to function. If anything, I Timothy 2:12 could be said to be a general principle in a book of general principles about how churches are to be operated!

But our point here is that even 1 Timothy is a particular letter to a particular situation. Everything Paul teaches is to a specific situation. To distinguish between “timeless” and “temporary” is to set up a “canon within a canon”, and one based on your own opinion. In fact, if the ordination of women is a “justice issue”, then surely to preclude women from speaking or having authority in even one church would be horribly wrong. This leads us to the second approach.

2. The second way for evangelical feminists to respond to Paul is to frankly admit he was in error.

This is the position of virtually all folks who favor women’s ordination to all offices.
Feminist interpreters continually point out that there are ambiguities and difficulties in the passages on women. What does it mean that “because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head” (I Corinthians 11:11)? Or “women will be saved through childbearing” (I Timothy 2:15)? By bringing up these difficulties, it is often implied that “these are difficult passages and who knows what they really mean?” But actually, Paul’s basic points are extremely clear. Hardly anyone doubts that Paul meant to exclude women from ruling office. So, the real question is: how do we regard his view?

The basic answer of evangelical feminists is: he was wrong. Usually, this kind of blunt statement is avoided in print, but it is everywhere assumed. One of the first evangelicals who wrote in favor of women’s ordination was the most frank:

Because these two perspectives—the Jewish and the Christian-are incompatible, there is no satisfying way to harmonize the Pauline argument for female subordination [which Jewett considers "Jewish"] with the larger Christian vision of which the great apostle himself was the primary architect. (P.Jewett, Man as Male and Female, p.113)

In other words, Paul’s teaching on women cannot be avoided. It is there. But it is wrong, contradicting the rest of the Bible. We are, then, really back to the same thing-a “canon within a canon”, set up arbitrarily, determining which parts of Scripture are “higher, and purer” and which parts are backward, retrogressive. If Scripture alone is our final authority, where we get a standard for judging Scripture?

Virginia Mollenkott, an evangelical feminist, gives great insight into how it was necessary to change a view of Scripture to accommodate women’s ordination. In an interview with The Other Side magazine (TOS) she tells how she was speaking at a conference with Paul Jewett and others on women in the church.

Mollenkott: Anyway, the night before Jewett spoke, some of us had a long and painful private meeting. We were discussing whether he dared say his thing on the Pauline self- contradictions. We decided he didn’t dare to because it would jeopardize the job of the person who had set up the conference. So Jewett retreated into what is the safe thing to do: that is, talk about Jesus’ behavior…
TOS: If we interpret the Old Testament by the New, we have some sort of criterion for the Old Testament. But how do we tell in Paul? If his teaching about women is merely cultural, then maybe what he says about justification is, too….
Mollenkott: It seems to me that at this point we have to rely on good, careful scholarly exegesis. We have to place passages in context… We have to pay attention to word choice, literary form…
TOS: But…your approach will help us find out what a passage means, but so far you haven’t said much that I can see which helps me pick out what passages are true. In literature it is one process to determine what something means and quite another to determine if it’s true…Now how can I tell which are records of errors and which are normative?
Mollenkott: When we find a passage, a spirit which runs all the way through the Bible-at that point I know which one is for all time and which one for the hardness of our hearts. Another guideline is the analogy of what Jesus said and did. If something doesn’t fit the life and teaching of Jesus, again I know which is for all time…
TOS: I am gradually moving toward your position…But if l wind up where you are, l am seriously considering resigning from The Other Side. Our stance has been to call America and the church back to the Bible. It seems to me that calling people to that is one very important thing which accepting your position makes hand to do. Maybe I should just clear out and go work for some less evangelical magazine…
Mollenkott: I don’t think you should do that….I think before long many, many evangelicals will come along toward a more scholarly approach to Scripture…Let the rest have their iron maiden of a definition of inspiration which they use to oppress other people. Let them declare themselves as fundamentalists. Let’s the rest of us get on with the job”. The Other Side. May/June 1976

This interview does show that it requires a shift in one’s view of Scripture to work around Paul’s limitations on women’s authority in the church. Moltenkott says that we can choose the normative from relative passages on two criterion:

1) If a teaching is repeated more often in the Bible, an apparently contradictory one can be rejected if it appears less often, or

2) if a teaching contradicts the life and teaching of Jesus, it can be rejected.

These criterion do not work, if you hope to find Biblical support for the ordination of women! Consider the first criterion. In the Old Testament, God is the “husband” of Israel, who is the “wife”. In the New Testament, Christ is the “husband” of the church as we are the “bride” of Christ. When God wishes to express his loving authority over us he depicts us as feminine and himself as masculine. This is a repeated, broad-based Biblical theme, throughout. All believers are “feminine” toward God, for we give ourselves in surrender to him. See Romans 7:1-6. By putting ourselves in his arms, he bears his fruit into the world through our bodies.

And consider the second criterion: Jesus’ life and ministry. Not one of his apostles was female. Feminists are quick to point out that he was adapting to his culture. But now they are doing the same thing to Jesus that they did with Paul. What really is the standard, now, by which we judge Jesus? If women’s ordination is a real justice issue, can we excuse our Lord on the basis of cultural pressure? Was he the type of person to succumb to popular opinion?

We feel that there is a deep inconsistency in the phrase “evangelical feminism”. The feminists who are consistent recognize the Bible as a sexist book throughout. They reject it. The feminists who try to hold to complete Biblical authority have, really, an impossible balancing act to conduct.

The Pattern At Redeemer Presbyterian Church

On the basis of the above position paper, how will women function in ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian church?

Leadership structure at Redeemer Presbyterian.

We hope to have two boards of officers: elders and deacons/deaconesses.

The Deaconesses themselves.

The Deaconesses will be women elected by the congregation who will do discipling, counseling, and shepherding in the church, particularly among the women. Spiritual maturity is the qualification. They will probably also exercise a teaching ministry in the church, depending on their gifts.

The Deaconesses and the Deacons.

Together with the deacons, they will equip and guide people into ministry in the church. At Redeemer we want to help laypeople begin and conduct ministries. Deacons and Deaconesses will do this together.

The Deaconesses and the Elders.

The church will continue to have broad-based planning and strategizing. Deaconesses will serve on planning/oversight committees (e.g. evangelism, education, worship) with other officers and non-officers. Deaconesses could chair such a committee if the group so elects. Also, the Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses will meet regularly for strategy and oversight of the church. In matters of discipline and doctrine, the elders have the final say-they have “tie-breaking authority”! Also, the elders represent the church at denominational meetings. But deaconesses will sit in positions of influence and will have regular part (along with many women on program committees) into the strategizing and decision-making process of the church.

The real challenge will not be to create a structure, but to create a climate in which men and women truly work together as equal ministry partners in the church, still recognizing the principle of male headship in the eldership. Will we really let women lead ministries? Will we really release women’s gifts to witness, nurture, and serve in the church? Will we incorporate the wisdom of all the mature Christians into the planning of the church? Or will we have a paternalistic attitude which in thousands of subtle ways puts women down and does not listen to their advice or concerns? That remains to be seen! But that is our goal—to create a community that even non-believing feminists recognize as not oppressive, yet one that honors the Biblical distinction between the genders.


We know from experience that our position on women-in-ministry dissatisfies many people. Many friends from the traditional evangelical church find it far too “liberal” and “permissive”, while many other friends on the other side still feel it is oppressive. Our position is not totally unique. See J. Hurley’s book, Man and Women in Biblical Perspective or Susan Foh’s book, Women and the Word of God. They come close to where we are.

The fact remains that nearly everyone we meet is more “conservative” or else more “liberal” than we are. Thus we appeal to our friends to work with us on this. We do not to make this issue a cause of division, as we said above. We see no reason why friends with the same view of the Bible cannot work together, all the while influencing each other and refining one another’s viewpoint in order to become truly Biblical. Please be partners with us.

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I was reminded by my mother tonight that I come from a long line of "no, get it right," prophetic, Biblically literate, type-A, leadership driven, stubborn people.

And it's a good thing.
Some people get intimidated by that. Others don't know what to do with that kind of confidence. Depending on the person there are a million different responses someone could have to the personality cocktail that God made me to be. Being a change-agent does that. Some people respond well, others not so great. Some options could include:

Full Engagement
"Gotta get them to change"
"Yay! Someone I can rely on!"

I am discovering that an enormous amount of my personal well being flows from the ability to figure out if an issue that someone is having with me, is really about me, or is really about them. I have spent far too much time worrying, wrestling and struggling with the breakdown of interactions and relationship-maybe because of my whole girl thing, exploring ever nuance of a conversation to discover hidden meaning, or my love for people that drives me to such detailed examinations- when really, the issue was NOT with me. Let me expand...

We've all got our stuff. The lens that we interpret the world through is influenced by the way we were raised, the values that were instilled into our hearts as kids, healthy and dysfunctional relationships, circumstances, socioeconomic groups, beliefs... That lens that we read the world through is far from flawless. A hurt, or experience in our past can influence our pattern of thinking and affect our interactions with others, ALL without us even realising it.

Each of the negative responses I listed above could have lots of underlying issues. My aim is not to generate an extensive list, but to awaken you to the possibility that, the person you are having the most conflict with in your life, may not in fact, have an issue with you personally. You may represent something negative that they themselves are unaware of. On the flip side, positive responses flow out of identity being firmly rooted and established in love (Eph 3:17) and a firm grasp on who God made you to be.

Possible underlying causes for the negative responses could be:

  • Avoidance: I'm intimidated by your ______(gift, personality, way you do things), so I stay away.
  • Frustration: I cannot manipulate you, and that irritates me because I need control (or something else.. you get the picture)
  • "Gotta get them to change" --> "If you loved me, you would do it my way"
  • Feeling threatened: You represent change (something I'm uncomfortable with) and my response is to stifle it.

Powerful people (those who understand who they are in Christ) might respond with:

  • Full Engagement: I am a powerful person and you are too, so as powerful people, let's engage in life-giving, mutual respect relationship
  • Communication: I'm feeling __________, and I don't know how to deal with that.
  • "Yay! Someone I can rely on!" --> "I can trust you to care about what matters to me."
  • Collaboration: You and I can sharpen one another, let's team up and get 'er done.

So here's the truth: Powerful people recognize when who they are challenges the "stuff" in other people's lives and choose to not take their reaction as a personal affront, but instead allow the responsibility to lie with it's rightful owner: the person with the problem.

Obviously if you have done something that has damaged someone- fix it. That's a no brainer. But when it comes to taking on battles that are not yours to face, ask the question:

Is this my issue or theirs?

And then pick up and go on living.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Image of God?

This is an essay that I did several years ago on the meaning and implications of being made in the image of God. It's a little "thick" but if you wade through it you might discover some new things! If you have any questions or want to go deeper comment and I'll send you some resources!!


What Does It Mean to Be Made in the Image of God?

Modern science has long debated what it means to be a human being. With abortions and in-vitro fertilization becoming more prominent in its availability, science has attempted to define our “humanness” in terms of conception and birth.[1] Still the debate rages on with polarity between scientific views. Presenting a different perspective, Christian doctrine claims that humanity is created by and made in the image of God as seen in the Genesis account of creation. Such claims can have a dramatic affect on the way in which we go about our lives.

An impossible task

It must be understood that to fully comprehend what it means to be made in the image of God would require a total understanding of God. Christian tradition has declared God as incomprehensible.[2] Since Scripture asserts that humanity has been made in the image and likeness of God[3] it stands to reason that on this side of Eternity we will not grasp the fullness of the statement “made in the image of God.” This does not however exempt us from looking in-depth at the data we have available to us, not only in Scripture, but also the opinions held by theologians. Having assessed the data, we will look at the impact this information has for the individual, the church and society as a whole.


There is minimal scriptural data available on the subject of humanity being made in the image of God, however because of the significant theological implications of such assertions, the data we do have needs to be taken quite seriously. We begin at the Creation account in Genesis:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness’…So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Gen. 1:26a-28a).[4]

From the data alone in this passage several conclusions can be drawn. First, human beings have not always existed, nor are they self-existent. Rather human beings are created beings. Second, within the context of the whole passage, the creation of humankind is the final creative act of God in this account therefore human beings are the “climax of creation.”[5] Along with the assertion that humankind is made in the image of God, there are two commands given: First to be fruitful and multiply and second, of dominion, to oversee the created order.[6] Having viewed the data given at face value we take a look at the language choice and its historic interpretations.

There are two descriptive words in this passage, they are: “image” (tselem[7]) and “likeness” (demuth[8]). Historically these words have had separate meanings. Irenaeus was the first to make the distinction. For Irenaeus, the use of “image” referred to humanities capacity for intellect and rationality and “likeness” referred to the spiritual capacity of human beings.[9] However, lack of Scriptural evidence, caused many theologians to reject Irenaeus’ belief. Through the progression of time[10], there are now three commonly held views on what it means to be made in the image of God: the substantive view, the relational view which is inclusive of the functional view, and the dynamic view.

Essential Qualities

The first view, the substantive view, deals with the substance, inner traits or qualities of humankind that reflect attributes of God. Louis Berkhof states in his book Systematic Theology that these characteristics are various traits, which belong to humans as human beings such as intellect, their capacity for emotion and moral freedom.[11] Such attributes, he claims, cannot be lost without the person ceasing to be human. Stanley Grenz echoed Berkhof’s stance by saying that even in our fallen state, we maintain these essences as a reflection of God.[12]

Although this idea has some credence, there are a few flaws with the idea.[13] For example, what stance is taken with the case of mental retardation? Is the mental function, or lack thereof that which defines our humanity? There seems to be an exclusive nature to this argument, making it impossible for beings that do not have mental function, or the ability to reason, to be human by definition.

Relational Capacity

The second view is more inclusive than the first. The relational view by defines humanity in the context of relationship: With God, other human beings and with creation. Many theologians agree that humans are social creatures but the thing that truly sets humankind apart from animals and the rest of the created world is the unique capacity for relationship with God. [14] It has therefore been concluded that the thing that completes our definition as human is relation to God. As Emil Brunner stated succinctly, “’Image of God’ is a metaphor for relationship with God, not an action or task, but relationship.”[15] Brunner also takes it a bit deeper than that, arguing that relationship is a primary function of love. This argument can be supported scripturally. The Bible states, “God is love.”[16] If humanity is made in the image of God, one could logically conclude that because God is love, we are created for love, with the capacity to love. Hart supports this understanding by declaring that this view helps us describe the purpose for which humanity was made: to love.

This purpose of relationship also translates to the concept of community. Not only is our divine purpose to have relationship with God, but with other people. Emil Brunner once again has strong arguments for this theory stating: “For love can only operate in community, and only in this operation of love is [a human truly] human.”[17]

I have also included in the relational view some of the concepts of the functional view because they are closely linked. The idea of dominion is presented in the Genesis 1 account through God’s command to rule and subdue the earth. If relationship is the primary purpose of humanity, then dominion of humankind is the task of humanity. These two ideas, relationship and dominion are intertwined in the implied responsibility and accountability that comes from the divine directive. We are “called to manage and utilize together the created world not as wholly independent agents, but as persons accountable to our Creator.”[18] There can be no accountability without relationship.

The relational view breaks down once the idea of sin enters the picture. Sin, as Grenz describes it, is “the destruction of community.”[19] In other terms, it is the destruction of relationship. If humanity is defined by it’s relationship to God, then the breakdown of relationship would shatter our distinctiveness as human. Proponents for the relational view argue that Christ restores the divine image that was lost at the fall.[20]

In the Process of Redemption

The final view is the dynamic view. First offered by Luther, suggested that the image of God humanity lost through sin, “can be restored through the Word and the Holy Spirit.”[21] John Calvin added emphasis to the restorative concept by stressing the sanctifying work of Christ in the believer’s life as drawing them towards Christ-likeness.[22] This places additional focus on eschatology as we will not receive the fullness of the image of God until Christ Jesus returns. As Daniel Migliore states: “Being created in the image of God is not a state or condition, but a movement with a goal; human beings are restless for a fulfillment of life not yet realized.”[23]

These three views offer suggestions as to what it means to be made in the image of God. Each are composed of truth, but as mentioned before, we will not fully grasp what it means to be made in the image of God this side of eternity. I would therefore like to assert that the image of God is not just a function or capacity for something, but a metaphor of the intrinsic value God has placed upon humanity.

An Additional Thought

Each of the three views can be perceived through this perspective of value. God saw fitting to endow humanity with intelligence, emotion and a spiritual capacity.[24] These gifts show the value of humanity in that no other creature or aspect of creation has these capacities. Our value as humans is defined in our capacity to have relationship with God. Nowhere in scripture does it say that anything in creation has the capacity for relationship with God as humankind does.[25] And finally, the intrinsic value of humanity is located in the Incarnation, in the passion of Jesus Christ as an act of redemption. The famous passage, John 3:16 declares that “God so loved the world, that He gave,” God sent His Son, of ultimate value, to redeem humanity. Such an act implies the tremendous value that God places upon humanity.

Significance for Humanity/ Conclusion

The image of God clearly has tremendous value regardless of the viewpoint held. If an individual believes what the Scripture claims, that humankind is created in the image of God, then that individual can have confidence in the value God places on them. Such and understanding can and rightfully should draw the individual into loving relationship with God, which is humanity’s primary purpose.

The understood value God places on humanity should also be understood and outworked in human-to-human relationships, embodying the Gospel by loving one another.[26] As Emil Brunner said, love is the basis of community.[27] It is only through reconciled relationships that humanity can function in community and as a community. The command for dominion and its implied responsibility is not only left to the individual but also the community as a whole. This understanding of value should shape our views on issues such as abortion an in-vitro fertilization. It should also shape humankind’s reaction to the inhumanity than many other human beings face, whether it be extreme poverty, inability to feed their children, or the horrors that civil war cause. Our status as beings of tremendous worth and value should demand response in light of these tragedies.

Finally, it is the responsibility of the Church to draw an unknowing humanity into relationship with the One in whose image they are made. To partner as a community of believers, operating in love, to reconcile a fallen humanity to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Thus restoring the intended purpose of our creation as persons whose value is found in the distinctive and loving relationship with the Creator, outworked in and through community and expressed in the uniqueness of the individual.

[2] Stanley Grenz, in his book Theology for the Community of God, said that this “divine incomprehensibility” is a theme throughout scripture (e.g., Job 11:7-8, Ps. 145:3; Is. 45:15; 1 Cor. 2:11) and means that God is hidden from us, in that “God’s essence is not totally displayed to us” (p. 45).

[3] Genesis 1:26a (TNIV) “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness.’”

[4] All Scripture references are from the Today’s New International Version. (Sydney: Hodder and Stoughton, 2004).

[5] Eldridge, S., Captivating. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005). P. 22.

[6] Hart, L., Truth Aflame: A Balanced Theology for Evangelicals and Charismatics. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers Inc. 1999) P. 190.

[7] Baker, W., Carpenter, E. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003). P. 952-953.

[8] Baker, W., Carpenter, E. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament. P. 241.

[9] There are several issues that arise with this line of thought. First, the use of either word in those capacities does not allow for an inclusion of our physical bodies, which Emil Brunner states in his book, Man In Revolt: A Christian Anthropology, “the body is given that [we] may come into contact with the world, empirically, and also that [we] may shape the world; the body has been set as the creaturely boundary of the individual between [themselves] and the Creator, and also between [themselves] and other individuals” (P. 108). Thus, the Genesis command of dominion is outworked (1:28). Second, the Hebrew words used are synonyms, that is to say, they can be used interchangeably. There is therefore no support of the separation in meaning of “image” and “likeness,” but rather an instance of Hebrew parallelism.

[10] There are other views that have been held throughout history on what the image of God is. Early church fathers felt that our capacity for reason and morality defined our status as human beings (more discussion on this topic in another footnote). Later, Clement of Alexandria rejected the possibility of any bodily analogy for the image of God and like Irenaeus, delineated between “image” and “likeness” by saying that the word “image” reflected characteristics human beings as human, and “likeness” as qualities that can be enhanced or even lost. And in more recent times, John Calvin claimed that the image of God can only be humanity’s receptivity to God. (Berkhof, L., Systematic Theology, 1984) p. 202-203.

[11] Berkhof, L., Systematic Theology. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth and Trust, 1984.) P. 204.

[12] Grenz, S. Theology for the Community of God. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eedermans Publishing Group, 1994.) P 169.

[13] This view found its origin in Greek thought. Reason, was seen as the highest and most distinctive characteristic that identified human beings as human. This thought greatly influenced early Christian thought, and was linked with the idea of what it means to be made in the image of God. Thus reason, rationality and our cerebral functions are what the early church felt defined the image of God. (Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. P. 169)

[14] Hart, L., Flame of Love, 1999. P.187).

[15] Brunner, E., Man in Revolt: a Christian Anthropology. (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 1957)

[16] 1 John 4:18b.

[17] Brunner, E., Man In Revolt, 1957. P. 106.

[18] Sherlock. The Doctrine of Humanity. P. 27.

[19] Grenz, S., Theology for the Community of God. 1994. P. 181.

[20] Grenz, S., Theology for the Community of God. 1994. P. 171.

[21] Luther, M., Lectures on Genesis, in Luther’s Works. As found in Grenz, S., Theology for the Community of God, 1994. P. 172.

[22] Ibid., 172.

[23] Migliore, D., Faith Seeking Understanding. 1991, 128. As found in Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. 1994. P. 173/

[24] There is no need for scientific explanation as such evidence is manifest in every human being one comes in contact with.

[25] Larry D. Hard states in his book, Truth Aflame, that “we are only creatures to be sure, but we stand apart from the rest of creation by virtue of the unique relationship we have with God.” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers Inc. 1999). P. 190.

[26]John 13:34.

[27] Brunner, E., Man in Revolt: A Christian Anthropology, 1957).

And so it begins...

Today marks a new chapter in my life. I'm starting a blog. Why? Because it's time that I no longer restrict the things that God has put in me to those in my immediate sphere of influence.

So join me. We're going deep, diving in.