Angels and God's image

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timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Hi all,

Heidelberg 6 says:

"God created man good and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him."

This description is obviously of mankind, but it seems that this description is also true of the angels. Since angels are moral and rational creatures as we are, is there any way that we can say they were created in God's image?

Thanks for your help!
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
Exegetically, no. There is no way we can say that angels are made in the image of God. Yes, angels are rational and moral, but man is more than that. Man is also corporeal and has the special ability of communion and intimacy with one another as found in marriage. Furthermore, man is also given dominion over creation, representing God on earth, which is something angels were not given. (Perhaps this is why you opened your other thread on dominion.) It seems to me that dominion is an essential and distinguishing part of what it means to be made in the image of God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q/A 10, seems to indicate this, as well.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Because the idea of image at least presupposes the ideas of rational volition exercised by a personal subject, which angels certainly have, it is easy to think that angels too are made in the image of God.

If other ideas are included in image, of course, such as visibility or dominion over the creation, then it becomes more questionable. If those other ideas are inseparable from the concept of image, that leads theologians to deny that angels are in the image of God.

The ontological and moral connotations of "image" are not incompatible with what we know about angels. Some of the official or functional connotations may be. It seems to me that in recent times so much stress has been laid upon the latter, that the former are sometime lost from view.
 
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earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Make no mistake a non physical being such as angels does not negate what is described in Heidelberg 6. In my opinion one could say "God created angels good and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him."
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It also highlights a problem in defining "image" as a set of metaphysical properties (e.g., rationality, volition). If you do that, angels (and some animals, since they have nephesh and ruach) can legitimately be called images of God.

I reject that view, of course, but only because I define image as God's vice-regent on earth, which angels are not.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Hi all,

Heidelberg 6 says:

"God created man good and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him."

This description is obviously of mankind, but it seems that this description is also true of the angels. Since angels are moral and rational creatures as we are, is there any way that we can say they were created in God's image?

Thanks for your help!
Would the fact that Jesus died in our stead, and was willing to take on and assume the Humanity of us but not of the angel themselves, mean that we are somehow unique in being in the image of God among all of His created beings? We will be as Jesus now is in the sense of having our glorified bodies, and superior then to the angels?
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Would the fact that Jesus died in our stead, and was willing to take on and assume the Humanity of us but not of the angel themselves, mean that we are somehow unique in being in the image of God among all of His created beings? We will be as Jesus now is in the sense of having our glorified bodies, and superior then to the angels?
The problem here is that the divine nature did not substitute for humanity, but the human nature. Since we don't affirm a co-eternal human nature of Christ, the image of God in relation to man's creation has very little to teach us about substitution and does not assist us in this discussion of angels.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
The problem here is that the divine nature did not substitute for humanity, but the human nature. Since we don't affirm a co-eternal human nature of Christ, the image of God in relation to man's creation has very little to teach us about substitution and does not assist us in this discussion of angels.
Since we will be raised up and be glorified by God to have the same type of body Jesus now has though, wouldn't that speak to us being in the image of God far more so than the angels, as He decided to raise us up to be superior over all of them? He will change us, but kept them as they now are?
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Furthermore, man is also given dominion over creation, representing God on earth, which is something angels were not given. (Perhaps this is why you opened your other thread on dominion.) It seems to me that dominion is an essential and distinguishing part of what it means to be made in the image of God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q/A 10, seems to indicate this, as well.
Yes, this is related to the other thread. It seems that if angels are not created in God's image but man is, the aspect of dominion is key to the image of God.

Thanks for your thoughts.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Yes, this is related to the other thread. It seems that if angels are not created in God's image but man is, the aspect of dominion is key to the image of God.

Thanks for your thoughts.
We will have dominion over Angels once we are glorified, and the Kingdom Age is here.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
The problem here is that the divine nature did not substitute for humanity, but the human nature. Since we don't affirm a co-eternal human nature of Christ, the image of God in relation to man's creation has very little to teach us about substitution and does not assist us in this discussion of angels.
Interesting. I would use the human nature of Christ to disprove other intelligent life. With your argument this wouldn't really work. I know... Way off topic.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Not following.......
I think the argument is something like this:

1) Christ's taking upon himself human nature means that only that which is redeemable is assumed by the Logos.

2) Since Christ didn't assume alien nature (and remember, Fox Mulder reminded Scully that aliens don't have blood), there are no aliens.

But analytic theologians like Oliver Crisp have poked holes in that argument.
 

Jonathan R

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the argument is something like this:

1) Christ's taking upon himself human nature means that only that which is redeemable is assumed by the Logos.

2) Since Christ didn't assume alien nature (and remember, Fox Mulder reminded Scully that aliens don't have blood), there are no aliens.

But analytic theologians like Oliver Crisp have poked holes in that argument.
I would add Hebrews 2:16 to your consideration. The apostle's argument there is that angels are not redeemable because Christ did not assume their nature, not that there are not redeemable by virtue of their nature itself.

So point 1 is backwards - only that which is assumed by the Logos is redeemable, not the other way around.

To the rest of the discussion, I would add that several theologians in history have maintained that angels are in the image of God, Calvin and Owen being two that I've read somewhat recently. Calvin's note seems very ancillary or after the fact, but Owen states it several times throughout his writings.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Since we don't affirm a co-eternal human nature of Christ,
Tim,

I hope this is not too off topic, if so forgive me. Would you mind explaining further what you mean by the above statement ? I just want to make sure I follow you as I am thinking through this thread. Hopefully this question does not reflect me as overly ignorant, but it would not be the first time and I am sure it will not be the last as I am learning. Do you mean that Christ “IS” no longer the God-Man”? Or are you simply stating that Christ “HAS” not always been the God-Man (pre-incarnation), but he now will forever be the God-Man?

P.S. Maybe you are just guarding against the Eternal submission stuff and I am over complicating. Either way, please let me know if I am way off par.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I would add Hebrews 2:16 to your consideration. The apostle's argument there is that angels are not redeemable because Christ did not assume their nature, not that there are not redeemable by virtue of their nature itself.

So point 1 is backwards - only that which is assumed by the Logos is redeemable, not the other way around.

To the rest of the discussion, I would add that several theologians in history have maintained that angels are in the image of God, Calvin and Owen being two that I've read somewhat recently. Calvin's note seems very ancillary or after the fact, but Owen states it several times throughout his writings.
I never said angels were redeemable. I don't think they are. I was simply fleshing out a particular argument.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Tim,

I hope this is not too off topic, if so forgive me. Would you mind explaining further what you mean by the above statement ? I just want to make sure I follow you as I am thinking through this thread. Hopefully this question does not reflect me as overly ignorant, but it would not be the first time and I am sure it will not be the last as I am learning. Do you mean that Christ “IS” no longer the God-Man”? Or are you simply stating that Christ “HAS” not always been the God-Man (pre-incarnation), but he now will forever be the God-Man?

P.S. Maybe you are just guarding against the Eternal submission stuff and I am over complicating. Either way, please let me know if I am way off par.
Hi Grant,

Christ added a human nature to the divine. The human nature is neither eternal as God is eternal (i.e. from everlasting), nor essential to His nature.

Christ, after taking on our nature, will always have a human nature, or else Christ is not the firstfruit of our own everlasting life.

Does that help?
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Hi Grant,

Christ added a human nature to the divine. The human nature is neither eternal as God is eternal (i.e. from everlasting), nor essential to His nature.

Christ, after taking on our nature, will always have a human nature, or else Christ is not the firstfruit of our own everlasting life.

Does that help?
Indeed. Thanks!
 
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