Q&A: The Image of God and the Fall of Man

The Image of God and the Fall of Man

How did the Fall affect the image of God in mankind?

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Answer

How did the Fall affect the image of God and humanity? Fundamentally it comes back to the category of relationship. To be made in the image of God means to be made for relationship, and the relationships for which God made us are there's our primary relationship with God our Creator, but then there's also our relationship with other human beings, with our neighbor, and our relationship with the created world as its governors and caretakers. And those are fairly standard. I would add also there's sort of the relationship with self. You know, how do we self-perceive? The whole thing about the problem of identity. Now, since we are made in such a way that the relationship with God, the vertical relationship, governs the right outworking of all the others, when the relationship with God is disordered everything else goes sideways. And we see this in Genesis right away. The first thing that God says, you know, "What have you done?" and immediately there's dissension in the ranks: "That woman you gave me, she gave me the fruit and I ate." So, there's a breaking of the relationship between human beings. And there is also the idea of "Because you've done this the ground is going to bring forth thorns and thistles." There's a breaking of the relationship with the created world. And as far as the relationship with self, I don't know that that's as immediately clear in Genesis, but it's certainly there by the time we get to somebody like Paul, and there's this whole "what I want to do, I don't do, and what I don't want to do, that's what I wind up doing." There is his language of the old man and the new man and the sort of uncomfortable flux between the two that we live in. To summarize, I guess what I would say is the Fall affects humanity because it consists of a disordering of our relationship with God. It's not that we're unrelated to God anymore because in him we live and move and have our being, but when our relationship with him becomes disordered, all of our other relationships become disordered as well.

Answer by Dr. Carey Vinzant