God Made Man in His Image

John ArmstrongBiblical Theology

One of the most important doctrines in the Christian faith is creation. And the most important part of the biblical doctrine of creation is not the length of the seven days in Genesis or the method or manner by which God created all things. The fact is what matters—God is the sovereign creator. This too is an article of faith and the creed rightly places it in a prominent place when it speaks of God the almighty.

Not until the late 19th century did the various debates about how to understand time in Genesis 1-3 become a divisive issue. These debates arose in response to the claims of evolution. But centuries ago great theologians, such as St. Augustine, were quite sure that issue was not that important to a correct understanding of what really mattered in the Genesis account. Like so many debates carried on by modern conservatives, especially by fundamentalists, the forest is often lost to the trees. To listen to some argue about Genesis you would think that the really big thing is to refute all forms of evolution rather than to assert the truth claim that God is the sovereign creator and man is distinctly and truly made in his image.

Blaise Pascal once wrote: "God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment." That says it well. The real problem with modern man, when it comes to the creation debate, is that men and women have conveniently made God into their own image in order to suit their idolatrous views and actions. Sometimes those who argue for "literalistic" readings of every word in Genesis 1-3 actually miss this main point and thereby reduce God the creator to their own views. How much better to allow for the actual language of the account, which involves both metaphor and a certain type of Near-Eastern narrative, to stand on its own and then to stress what really matters in this majestic account.