Bavinck on the Imago Dei

Just love this from Herman Bavinck:

So the whole human being is image and likeness of God, in soul and body, in all human faculties, powers, and gifts. Nothing in humanity is excluded from God’s image; it stretches as far as our humanity does and constitutes our humanness. The human is not the divine self but is nevertheless a finite creaturely impression of the divine. All that is in God-his spiritual essence, his virtues and perfections, his immanent self-distinctions, his self communication and self-revelation in creation – finds its admittedly finite and limited analogy and likeness in humanity. There is a profound truth in the Kabbalah’s idea that God, who is the Infinite in himself, manifests himself in the ten sefiroth, or attributes, and that these together make up the Adam Cadmon [human being]. Among creatures human nature is the supreme and most perfect revelation of God. And it is that [revelation] not just in terms of its pneumatic side, but equally in terms of its somatic side; it is that precisely as human, that is, as psychic, nature. In the teaching of Scripture God and the world, spirit and matter, are not opposites. There is nothing despicable or sinful in matter. The visible world is as much as beautiful and lush revelation of God as the spiritual. He displays his virtues as much in the former as in the latter.

All creatures are embodiments of divine thoughts, and all of them display the footsteps or vestiges of God. But all these vestiges, distributed side by side in the spiritual as well as the material world, are recapitulated in man and so organically connected and highly enhanced that they clearly constituted the image and likeness of God. The whole world raises itself upward, culminates and completes itself, and achieves its unity, its goal, and its crown in humanity. In order to be in the image of God, therefore, man had to be a recapitulation of the whole nature. The Jews used to say that God had collected the dust for the human body from all the lands of the earth. Though the image is strange, a true and beautiful thought is expressed in it. As spirit, man is akin to the angels and soars to the invisible world; but he is at the same time a citizen of the visible world and connected with all physical creatures. There is not a single element in the human body that does not also occur in nature around him. Thus man forms a unity of the material and spiritual world, a mirror of a universe, a connecting link, compendium, the epitome of all of nature, a microcosm, and, precisely on that account, also the image and likeness of God, his son and heir, a micro-divine-being (mikrotheos). He is the prophet who explains God and proclaims his excellencies; he is the priest who consecrates himself with all that is created to God as a holy offering; he is the king who guides and governs all things in justice and rectitude. And in all this he points to the One who in a still higher and richer sense is the revelation and image of God. To him who is the only begotten of the Father, and the firstborn of all creatures. Adam, the son of God, was a type of Christ.”

-Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2., 562.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s