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by Kenneth Samples
Lethal acts of terrorism, controversial police shootings, and attacks upon law enforcement officers have left many unsettled in America. These horrific public killings cause many to wonder whose lives really matter in life.
So do all human lives have value? And, if so, on what basis do they carry worth? Without debating the controversial social and political issues involved, I will briefly explore the biblical answer to these two critical questions.
A World-Changing Biblical Truth: Imago Dei
The Bible states that of all God’s creatures, only human beings were created in the express image of God. While the Judeo-Christian Scriptures specifically mention the imago Dei (Latin for divine image) only a half-dozen times (Genesis 1:26–27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Colossians 3:10; James 3:9), it seems all of Scripture is written with the imago Dei in mind.
Genesis 1:26–27 is the most important text that describes this vital doctrinal truth:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Though certainly marred by humanity’s fall into sin, all people—believers and nonbelievers—reflect the image of God. Therefore, this foundational biblical teaching grounds and projects the Christian view that each individual person possesses inherent dignity, moral worth, and eternal value…
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