The Lutheran View of the Imago Dei

Thanks for all that, but you don’t seem to have said anything relevant to my question. A Lutheran is apparently free to believe that there were people outside the Garden (or not, as desired), but the question is how that can be reconciled with all people losing the image of God when Adam sinned. I see you have no interest in that question, but it’s still the question.

I totally agree.

I totally agree too!

Hardly. I’m always interested. Just not always clear. :slightly_smiling_face:

I don’t see it as needing to be reconciled as I have a less literal view of Genesis and am content to live with the tension. However, if you hold as Romans says that “death came into the world through one man therefor all died” along with a more literal view of Genesis, then it’s simply retroactive and universal because those outside the Garden died as well.

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Still thinking about your specific question further…

If “image” is defined as something connected to not only being created but also called, then those outside the Garden would only bear or lose that image in terms of their “created-ness” as opposed to call. Or, if one views Adam and Eve as archetypal representatives for humanity as a whole, one could argue that both created ness and call extended to all humans. Either way, the ability to “image God” was lost universally, death came to all, and that image was not restored until Christ came.

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So you don’t take Genesis or Lutheran doctrine literally? That solves the problem. On the other hand, the “retroactive and universal” view is what creates the problem, which is still unresolved. Why should one man’s sin condemn everyone, all over the world? The problem of inherited sin is prickly, but this is worse.

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While I don’t take Genesis as literal science, I take its literal message of salvation as fact. And nothing I suggest is against the Lutheran Confessions unless you’d care to point it out. Thanks, John.

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All I know is what I was told:

I’m not clear what one has to make of this in order to be a Lutheran. What do you make of it?

The Lutheran view is usually a paradox a both-and. From what I understand, they tend to emphasize a relational understanding of the imago. In some ways the Imago Dei was lost or permanently altered, when we lost our relationship with God in the Fall. On the other hand, the Imago Dei continues with us as we all retain the destiny and capacity to return into a reconciled relationship with God. So we are and are not in the Image of God.

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I understand we aren’t supposed to use the word “gibberish”. But what do you think of this paradox? And how does it apply to the people outside the Garden?

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That is the question of the moment isn’t? I think there are several possible solutions, and different theologians are going to answer it in different ways. We are currently organizing a series at a journal where several theologians explain how they are making sense of the GAE.

Is it your opinion that all the people outside the Garden lost the Imago Dei when Adam sinned? If it’s not your opinion, is it anyone’s? Can you say anything about that question?

Yes, our confessions do state that in both the Apology of the Augsburg Confession and the Solid Declaration in reference to Original Sin. That is correct. They are silent on the issue of Creation outside of our catechism which says simply that “I believe that God made me and all creatures”.

Both our confessions and the Scriptures are silent on other biologically compatible beings outside the Garden, and Lutherans have a habit of saying where the Scriptures are silent, we remain silent. Yet, there’s the evidence of science that seems to indicate there were others. What do we then do?

Our confessions speak of the image of God as “a wisdom and righteousness implanted in man that would grasp God and reflect him, that is, that man received gifts like the knowledge of God, fear of God, and trust in God.”

I think what you’re asking is more difficult to answer for those with a more literal reading of Genesis, but let’s say we take that perspective. Did those outside the Garden receive that implanted righteousness as well? This unique calling? If they didn’t, it’s not really an issue is it? They wouldn’t have capacity to lose it. But it all ultimately is more of an academic question, I think.

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That’s right, if that’s what Imago Dei means, and if those outside never had it.

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And also, by this meaning, it isn’t really a problem either.

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