What Does It Mean to Have Been Created In the “Image of God”?
by J Warner Wallace
My dog, Bailey, is the best pet I have ever had the privilege to live with. We’ve had a number of dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, lizards and guinea pigs over the years, but in my mind, Bailey sits at the top of the list. As I enjoy her company (now that I’m working at home more than ever before), I can understand why so many of us hope that our pets will be part of our eternal life with God. I’m convinced from scripture that animals have souls, but I still have my reservations about whether or not the souls of animals are eternal. I’m not sure that the Bible is emphatically clear on that issue. One thing is certain, however: we humans are different. According to Genesis 1, we have been created in the “image of God”; we are His last creation, placed carefully in our world after God prepared our environment and filled it with other creatures. Much can be said about what distinguishes us from the other creations of God, but three characteristics of humans seem to stand out as the key to understanding what it means to bear the image of God:
Humans seem to be uniquely capable of measuring difficult and weighty moral issues. We understand the value of sacrifice, even when a noble cause may cost us our lives. As humans, we are able to move beyond survival mechanisms and base desires. We have the capacity to distinguish between what “is” toward what “ought to be”. This ability defines us as humans and it is something that we share with our creator. In fact, this innate understanding of morality comes from the creator (Romans 2:14-15). God’s moral law is not written for animals. We don’t assign or recognize moral culpability on the part of creatures other than humans, and the Old Testament also recognizes this difference between animals and humans (Exodus 21:35-36). Humans are held to a different standard; a standard that is a direct reflection of their ability to comprehend and act on the moral law written in their hearts…
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