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Created In The Image Of God?


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Guest wayfarer2k

This topic is a carry-over from another thread. What does it mean to you when the bible says that mankind is created in the "image of God"?

 

I am not so much asking if you take the Genesis accounts of creation as literal truth, but, rather, what do you think the image of God is?

 

Is it something that only, as the bible says, "men" have? Or do women have it to?

 

Is it something that animals or plants have?

 

Is it material? Psychological? Moral? Physical? Social?

 

What do you think?

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And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness

Gen 1:26 (KJV)

elohim amar asa adam selem demut (Hebrew)

 

It seems to me the verse is a poor translation translated by men who were no longer spiritual but identified with flesh. This would be more accurate.

 

gods said let us make mankind a phantom (figuratively an illusion, especially an idol) a concrete model resemblence

 

It seems to me this is not God speaking because it uses the plural form of God . The same word as in Psalms 82:6 where it says ye are gods which was the scripture Jesus is recorded referring to in John 10:34.

 

In my view, God is not as a man nor is mankind an image of God as in likeness any more than any other creature is. More could be said to explain this verse but it is very deep so I will leave it for now at this.

 

Just something to consider.

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Guest wayfarer2k

Very interesting, Joseph. Thanks for your thoughts.

 

I have heard, most of my life, that "elohim" is plural. Of course, many Christians would say this is OT reference to the doctrine of the trinity but I find that explanation to be...well..contrived. Reading back into the OT of a 4th century doctrine, so-to-speak.

 

I know you don't want to get too deep, but how do you think this verse or this concept links divinity and humanity? Or does it?

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Many believe that the the creation story in the Bible was derived from an earlier Babylonian myth, hence the reference to multiple gods.

 

This is an early work on the subject (1902):

 

The Enuma Elish has long been considered by scholars to be primary source material for the book of Genesis. It has also been hypothesized that this is a legend about the overthrow of the matriarchy or records of some cosmic catastrophe.

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/stc/index.htm

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Very interesting, Joseph. Thanks for your thoughts.

 

I have heard, most of my life, that "elohim" is plural. Of course, many Christians would say this is OT reference to the doctrine of the trinity but I find that explanation to be...well..contrived. Reading back into the OT of a 4th century doctrine, so-to-speak.

 

I know you don't want to get too deep, but how do you think this verse or this concept links divinity and humanity? Or does it?

 

Yes. It is a piece of the puzzle that indeed links divinity to humanity at least according to my current understanding which has been given me. I would be getting in rather deep if I got into the how part of your question.

 

As far as the doctrine of the trinity, the Jews, as you know, had no such thing.

 

Joseph

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Guest wayfarer2k
As far as the doctrine of the trinity, the Jews, as you know, had no such thing.

 

Shhh...I'm a closet Unitarian. ;)

 

At the same time, I think God's image is capable of being seen everywhere in everything.

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Guest wayfarer2k
How?

 

I guess my belief here stems from two different things in the bible. The first is that God is "I Am", that God exists, that God is existence itself. The second is Paul's notion that "in him, we live, and move, and have our being". In other words, because God is Being, we ourselves also exist in him. Not too sure I made sense with that last sentence. Kind of hard to put into words.

 

If this is true, then everything we see, feel, and experience comes, in some sense, from God. Even when bad things happen, we can usually find something redeemable or something of worth in those experiences.

 

I tend to think, though I could be wrong, that "God image" is, therefore, self-awareness i.e. knowing that "I Am". Of course, self-awareness can lead to both the betterment of ourselves and humanity or the destruction thereof. Sort of like a double-edged sword. But the fact that we are, in some sense, self-aware and, therefore, response-able creatures shows, to me, that God's image is everywhere.

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I guess my belief here stems from two different things in the bible. The first is that God is "I Am", that God exists, that God is existence itself. The second is Paul's notion that "in him, we live, and move, and have our being". In other words, because God is Being, we ourselves also exist in him. Not too sure I made sense with that last sentence. Kind of hard to put into words.

 

If this is true, then everything we see, feel, and experience comes, in some sense, from God. Even when bad things happen, we can usually find something redeemable or something of worth in those experiences.

 

I tend to think, though I could be wrong, that "God image" is, therefore, self-awareness i.e. knowing that "I Am". Of course, self-awareness can lead to both the betterment of ourselves and humanity or the destruction thereof. Sort of like a double-edged sword. But the fact that we are, in some sense, self-aware and, therefore, response-able creatures shows, to me, that God's image is everywhere.

 

Bill,

 

It seems to me that what you are saying is very profound. The only different perspective I would have with your last paragraph is that the awareness of truly knowing 'I am' does not lead to the double edged sword. It is rather the false sense of self (the ego) which thinks "it is" that uses the potential of God for its own creation of duality and destruction. When one identifies with that we see it is the source of all conflicts and problems. Awareness of 'knowing' that "I Am" is complete in itself and has no need for the follies of the ego. That is often referred to as the mind of Christ and no 'sin' can be found within it. In it are no opposites and only peace beyond the understanding of the world. Just a view to consider.

 

Joseph

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I guess my belief here stems from two different things in the bible. The first is that God is "I Am", that God exists, that God is existence itself. The second is Paul's notion that "in him, we live, and move, and have our being". In other words, because God is Being, we ourselves also exist in him. Not too sure I made sense with that last sentence. Kind of hard to put into words.

 

If this is true, then everything we see, feel, and experience comes, in some sense, from God. Even when bad things happen, we can usually find something redeemable or something of worth in those experiences.

 

I tend to think, though I could be wrong, that "God image" is, therefore, self-awareness i.e. knowing that "I Am". Of course, self-awareness can lead to both the betterment of ourselves and humanity or the destruction thereof. Sort of like a double-edged sword. But the fact that we are, in some sense, self-aware and, therefore, response-able creatures shows, to me, that God's image is everywhere.

 

Thank you for the clarification. At first I wasn't following you, but your last paragraph has a familiar ring to it. C. G. Jung placed a strong emphasis on the "image within", linking it at times to the Self and other times to the Soul. At one point he declared that the Self is the "God within". The "double-edged sword" is also found in Jung where he discusses the "curse" of consciousness. We all would like to go back to Paradise where there are no problems, but that was never God's plan, in my opinion. So we make the best of the capacities we have, realizing that "in God's image" does not mean equal with God. After all, an "image" is not the same as the real thing?

 

My thoughts,

 

Myron

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Wow! What a wonderful discussion.

 

I would add that since Creation is the context of the Genesis story, it seems pertinent to think of God as the Creator. So if humans are created after the image of God, the humans must therefore be Creators. That sets us apart from other animals.

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Wow! What a wonderful discussion.

 

I would add that since Creation is the context of the Genesis story, it seems pertinent to think of God as the Creator. So if humans are created after the image of God, the humans must therefore be Creators. That sets us apart from other animals.

 

Yes, I think this fits a model proposed by Francoeur (1990) for "Type B Theologies":

 

1. The universe is evolving.

 

2. We are incomplete and not yet fully formed.

 

3. Evil is a natural part of a finite creation. As imperfect beings we are groping for the fullness of creation.

 

4. Revelation of perennial truths and values is ongoing as we particpate in the creation process.

 

5. We seek the epiphany of a numinous cosmos.

 

6. As part of the ongoing creation we need to emphasize personal responsibility.

 

7. The goal is the revelation of the divine in all.

 

8. We create the human of the future and the future of humanity.

 

Progressives might not agree on all of these points, but it does seem to bring a number of elements together into a coherent picture.

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Guest wayfarer2k

Good stuff, everyone. Lots to think about.

 

We were having a discussion in Sunday School (Methodist) recently, when the concept was brought out that God wants to restore humanity to the "innocence" of the Garden of Eden. Of course, this was in Cokebury material so it couldn't possibly be wrong. ;)

 

Anyhow, I gently disagreed with this conclusion. I believe in the Garden of Eden as a metaphor, but, nevertheless, I think it was God's plan all along for humanity to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I feel like it was the "timing" of the eating, not the act itself, that was wrong. Perhaps it was intended all along that we know good and evil. After all, in our culture, it is mainly children that are considered "innocent" and even they are expected to grow up.

 

So I said that, IMO, God isn't interested in restoring us to innocence. He expects us to "grow up" as a race -- going far beyond innocence to actually doing good.

 

Some Christians, of course, feel like paradise was lost with the Garden of Eden events. That Adam and Eve's giving into temptation ruined everything and God had to scramble to come up with a Plan B. But I tend to think that we could never become who we are meant to be if we lived in a state of perpetual innocence. It takes knowing good and evil in order to mature us, in order for us to become more like God.

 

Just my 2c.

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You guys express it so clearly. I hope I don't muddy up the waters. Here is my complex look at it.

 

This Word within a Word can be referred to as the microcosm within the macrocosm each containing all the qualities of the other. That is why we can say we are made in the image and likeness of God.

 

"And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

 

We are like a mirror facing God, our microcosmic mind being more outward and objective and God's macrocosmic mind being inward and subjective. As ordinary men and women we see everything in its outward appearance. God the Father sees everything in His inward appearance because all of creation is within Him. All that exists in this world from the vast universe down to the minutest atom exists in God so only the form changes. God the Father is the eternal witness seeing everything inwardly, and in reference to us he sees everything internally and externally through our eyes. Pure consciousness pervades everything and is the linking force of all that is. Therefore, our duty is to expand our minds and make contact with this force that maintains our life. Peace out!

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You guys express it so clearly. I hope I don't muddy up the waters. Here is my complex look at it.

 

This Word within a Word can be referred to as the microcosm within the macrocosm each containing all the qualities of the other. That is why we can say we are made in the image and likeness of God.

 

"And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

 

We are like a mirror facing God, our microcosmic mind being more outward and objective and God's macrocosmic mind being inward and subjective. As ordinary men and women we see everything in its outward appearance. God the Father sees everything in His inward appearance because all of creation is within Him. All that exists in this world from the vast universe down to the minutest atom exists in God so only the form changes. God the Father is the eternal witness seeing everything inwardly, and in reference to us he sees everything internally and externally through our eyes. Pure consciousness pervades everything and is the linking force of all that is. Therefore, our duty is to expand our minds and make contact with this force that maintains our life. Peace out!

 

Excellent!

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  • 2 weeks later...
This topic is a carry-over from another thread. What does it mean to you when the bible says that mankind is created in the "image of God"?

 

Is it something that only, as the bible says, "men" have? Or do women have it to?

 

Is it something that animals or plants have?

 

Is it material? Psychological? Moral? Physical? Social?

 

What do you think?

I think it's exciting to see this board considering man being created in the image of God.

I think with a clear understanding of God the definition of the word 'image' becomes clearly understood.

I think Man as he is, is a personal being with aspirations and personality. And I think that requires a personal beginning that matter+time+chance can't answer. And I think that requires a personal and infinite God.

 

I think there are two divisions, Fatherman. First, there is the infinite divide between God and creation. Then there is the personal divide between the personal God and man and the impersonal rest of creation.

I think the rest of creation lacks the high order of personality that is man's. It is well understood and relied upon. We observe it. We experience it. We act on it every day.

 

I think contextually, 'illusion', 'phantom', and 'idol' as possible meanings for the word 'image' are eliminated as it is being used in, for example, Gen 1:26, 27, the text of which also answers the question of including women.

 

Check out #'s 1 and 8.

image\ 'imij \ n, 1: a reproduction of a person or thing. 2: a thing actually or seemingly reproducing another. ie; mirror. 3: exact likeness. 4: a tangible, visible representation. 5: a mental picture. 6: a marketdly vivid, effective, or graphic representation. 7: something concrete or abstract introduced in communication to represent something else which it strikingly resembles or suggests. 8: a person who is strikingly like another person in appearance, manner, or thought; ie, a son who is the image of his father.

---

I think some of you may not know, the Jews believe in God, His Spirit, and the coming of the Messiah/God in human form.

 

Did anyone in either testament call it the Trinity- NO! That was, of course, a term derived later simply to describe what the Biblical texts of God, His historic and observable character are (OT & NT). The triune God explains and gives meaning for the communication, love, and relationships that we need.

 

I think this "double-edged sword", mans nobility yet his cruelty, is our dilemma the space-time "Fall of man" explains.

 

I don't think God uses our eyes to see anything.

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I don't think God uses our eyes to see anything.

 

I don't think God is an underachiever. God can do anything. I don't think we should half-believe in God. Yes, we Christians attribute to God externally, but we forget that God is also inside us. He is an on looker and an in looker, He sees all in and through us. If we give God time in silence, we can feel His presence. He moves in mysterious ways. I know some want to see God with their eyes as they see a statue , to love Him as they love an object and profit from Him externally, but God is behind and in the everyone. He manifests as energy, as life, as beauty, as thought, as conscience, and as love. God's center is everywhere seeing everything from the inside and outside. People say they want to find God, but they are looking for Him with their eyes as if God is lost, when God is inside doing the looking. He is the search loving, hoping and waiting, speaking to all of us through what happens to us each moment by moment because He sees what we are seeing externally and internally.

 

Let God love and see us through others and let God love and see others through ourselves. Our eyes are God's gift to us and letting God see through us is our gift to God.

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[snip)

 

I think some of you may not know, the Jews believe in God, His Spirit, and the coming of the Messiah/God in human form.

 

(snip)

 

Interesting comment Davidk. Where did you get your information from concerning that Jews believe the coming of the Messiah is God in human form. WHO DO YOU SPEAK FOR? It seems to me that that is not the meaning of the word translated to Messiah according to what I have read and Judaism at least according to this Jewish site..

 

From a Jewish site.... Judaism online...

 

"What exactly is the Messiah?

The word "Messiah" is an English rendering of the Hebrew word "Mashiach", which means "Anointed." It usually refers to a person initiated into God's service by being anointed with oil. (Exodus 29:7, I Kings 1:39, II Kings 9:3)

 

Since every King and High Priest was anointed with oil, each may be referred to as "an anointed one" (a Mashiach or a Messiah). For example: "God forbid that I [David] should stretch out my hand against the Lord's Messiah [saul]..." (I Samuel 26:11. Cf. II Samuel 23:1, Isaiah 45:1, Psalms 20:6)

 

Where does the Jewish concept of Messiah come from? One of the central themes of Biblical prophecy is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Isaiah 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)

 

Many of these prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5)

 

Since every King is a Messiah, by convention, we refer to this future anointed king as The Messiah. The above is the only description in the Bible of a Davidic descendant who is to come in the future. We will recognize the Messiah by seeing who the King of Israel is at the time of complete universal perfection. "

 

 

Joseph

 

PS Messianic Jews Are Not Jews

by Rabbi Jonathan Waxman

 

What's in a Name

 

Hebrew Christian, Jewish Christian, Jew for Jesus, Messianic Jew, Fulfilled Jew. The name may have changed over the course of time, but all of the names reflect the same phenomenon: one who asserts that s/he is straddling the theological fence between Judaism and Christianity, but in truth is firmly on the Christian side.

 

Possibly you speak for one of these groups? Yes?

Edited by JosephM
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  • 2 weeks later...
I think contextually, 'illusion', 'phantom', and 'idol' as possible meanings for the word 'image' are eliminated as it is being used in, for example, Gen 1:26, 27, the text of which also answers the question of including women.

 

Check out #'s 1 and 8.

image\ 'imij \ n, 1: a reproduction of a person or thing. 2: a thing actually or seemingly reproducing another. ie; mirror. 3: exact likeness. 4: a tangible, visible representation. 5: a mental picture. 6: a marketdly vivid, effective, or graphic representation. 7: something concrete or abstract introduced in communication to represent something else which it strikingly resembles or suggests. 8: a person who is strikingly like another person in appearance, manner, or thought; ie, a son who is the image of his father.

 

Davidk,

 

That is an understanding if you use the dictionary to look up the word "image" but the point being made that you are referencing must go back to the Hebrew word for accuracy. It may be translated as image but I would challenge you to use the Hebrew dictionary of the actual word used rather than an English one of the translation.

 

Also Genesis 1:26 and 1 :27 does not change the context. Genesis is the story of creation of the world of form. Form is an illusion or phantom of God. When used as an image it is an idol, hence the Hebrew translation of the word. God is the invisible God and though form would not exist without God's essence, anything created in form to be an image of God is by definition an idol. The true image of God is Christ. Christ is formless because Christ is Spirit, not form. Christ can manifest within form but is not form since to worship form is to worship an idol. Hence Jesus is recorded saying "the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24 (KJV)

 

Joseph

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  • 1 month later...

Wayfarer,

 

I agree with Fatherman, created in the image of God means we are co -creators with God, having self awareness and freedom of choice, determining our own future.

 

To me, the view that seems most true or appealing at least, is Clark Pinnock’s open theism-- a dynamic, personal God who seeks fellowship with us, shares our joys and sorrows, limits his own power to enlarge our freedom, longs for our well being but rarely interferes. “Humanity is the created image of God’s social nature…because we are made in God’s image, we encounter God in other people.”

 

Another perspective -- as Paul Tillich says, we live in two orders – the finite, growing & dying order of history; and the order of eternity—and we should not confuse them. [just as we need to keep politics and religion separate] The divine order can never be embodied in the historic, no matter how much technological progress civilization might make; yet it does reveal itself through history-- forgiveness or divine help breaking through unexpectedly. We are bound to the historic order, but we also belong to the eternal order--the Logos (the living Word of God, not literal words taken out of context) stands forever. Humanity transcends the limits of our given world, and participates in something beyond - not tragic, transitory, and self destructive, but infinite, holy, blessed.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Dear Joseph,

 

It seems you've slept through the Judaism 101 classes, again.

 

Belief in the eventual coming of the moshiach is a basic and fundamental part of traditional Judaism. It is part of the minimum basic principles of traditional Jewish belief. While they are not dogma they do maintain that the messianic idea has always been a part of Judaism. They still say He wil come. For every generation, they say a person is born with the potential to be THE moshiach. If the time is right within that person's lifetime, then that person will be THE moshiach. But if that person dies before he completes the mission of the moshiach, then that person is not the moshiach. He is expected by the Jews.

 

The term "moshiach" literally means "THE anointed one,"(not AN anointed one) and refers to the ancient practice of anointing kings with oil when they took the throne. The Moshiach is the one who will be anointed as king in the End of Days. Isaiah prophesied this man, this Moshiach, would also be the Mighty God.

 

May I add, you have misrepresented I Samuel 26:11. Cf. II Samuel 23:1, Isaiah 45:1, and Psalms 20:6. Although admitting having been anointed by God, David never claimed nor was believed to be THE anointed one- THE Moshiach, and for that matter, neither was Cyrus.

---

As far as "in the image of God, according to His likeness" is concerned it is what is in our nature that is God-like, without being equal to the infinite, personal God who thinks, acts, and feels: that likeness is personality. It is being in that likeness that seperates God and us from the rest of His creation. To say we are only an 'illusion' or 'phantom' just runs counter to all we know about ourselves.

---

October's Autumn's take is more on the mark when she speaks of the relationship with God and our uniqueness.

 

Fatherman and Rivanna know we are different from all else, though we may disagree why.

 

Wayfarer2k is in there with- self-awareness.

 

Minsocal and Soma also realize we are different but that "in God's image" does not mean equal with God. Since an "image" is not the same as the real thing?

 

No one, that I can tell, really considers man being created in God's image/likeness makes man an idol.

 

As you say, just something for you to think about.

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When we speak of being 'made in the image of God', what are we referring to? In the Biblical sense, this is a powerful message, but the language becomes a problem for us in the 21st Century. We question the word 'Man', attempt to understand this ancient writing out of its context, apply it to our own lives, and we stumble. Perhaps this is an idea expressed in the best way at the time, an idea that needs further thought and development, and not to be taken as a completed and final statement. Perhaps when the writer states that we are made in the image of God, it is not meant in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense. Look out onto a group of trees for a moment. We see individual trees, but what binds them together? What do they have in common on a deeper, universal level? They have sunken their roots into the same earth that is shared with other trees...both nearby and on the other side of the world. Imagine, then, a spiritual presence within the earth that is within all of the trees on earth, within the bark, within the branches, within the leaves, within the fiber, within the roots. In this way, all of the trees on earth are connected. Now, think of each and every one of us, you and me. Let's imagine that we are not physical replicas of God, but spiritual beings made up of God. In this way, just like the trees, we are all connected, we are all one, we are all with God...right now, as yesterday, and as tomorrow. I believe it is in the spiritual sense that we are in God's image, an image that we can only come to know following a Faith Journey inward. It is there, Within, that we find The Gate, The Door, and The Way. Be at Peace knowing truly that God is with us all.

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When we speak of being 'made in the image of God', what are we referring to? In the Biblical sense, this is a powerful message, but the language becomes a problem for us in the 21st Century. We question the word 'Man', attempt to understand this ancient writing out of its context, apply it to our own lives, and we stumble. Perhaps this is an idea expressed in the best way at the time, an idea that needs further thought and development, and not to be taken as a completed and final statement. Perhaps when the writer states that we are made in the image of God, it is not meant in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense. Look out onto a group of trees for a moment. We see individual trees, but what binds them together? What do they have in common on a deeper, universal level? They have sunken their roots into the same earth that is shared with other trees...both nearby and on the other side of the world. Imagine, then, a spiritual presence within the earth that is within all of the trees on earth, within the bark, within the branches, within the leaves, within the fiber, within the roots. In this way, all of the trees on earth are connected. Now, think of each and every one of us, you and me. Let's imagine that we are not physical replicas of God, but spiritual beings made up of God. In this way, just like the trees, we are all connected, we are all one, we are all with God...right now, as yesterday, and as tomorrow. I believe it is in the spiritual sense that we are in God's image, an image that we can only come to know following a Faith Journey inward. It is there, Within, that we find The Gate, The Door, and The Way. Be at Peace knowing truly that God is with us all.

Very interesting.

Personally, I feel a truly powerful message experiences no language problems. There may, however, be a problem in the 21st century listener's manner of processing the message, which is really what seems to be the current issue facing 21st century man. He stumbles over not being able to understand absolutes, which are what provide us with meaning. Understanding God as the infinite-personal beginning for all else, with a clear distinction between the Creator and all that was created, provides us with the absolute basis from which to reasonably understand all else. One 'else' to understand is man in God's image. Our likeness with God is- personality.

---

If all is God, then you have made a good argument to explain the problem of unity. However, it doesn't address our need to explain the diversity and complexity of all that exists. By way of your argument, everything is finally the same; leaving no explanation for any meaning and significance for diversity. In reality, if everything is to be finally relegated to being only one, there is really no reason for significance in variance, and gives no meaning to things such as freedom and morality.

How can we possibly answer the question of existence if there is no reason for individuality?

 

Since the premise you have presented is arguably insufficient by only addressing half of the problem, we need another premise that can answer both of the needs- unity and diversity. The only answer that fulfills both of these needs is the infinite-personal God who created all else.

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Dear Joseph,

 

It seems you've slept through the Judaism 101 classes, again.

 

 

The term "moshiach" literally means "THE anointed one,"(not AN anointed one) and refers to the ancient practice of anointing kings with oil when they took the throne. The Moshiach is the one who will be anointed as king in the End of Days. Isaiah prophesied this man, this Moshiach, would also be the Mighty God.

 

 

Yes, I must have slept through that class cause I don't even remember attending it. :lol:

 

Davidk, You err greatly when you say "would also be the Mighty God". read the jewish Bible for yourself. Not the Christian translation. Also it would be good if you spoke to some ordodox Jews instead of researching on Christian sites. you might get a more accurate Jewish perspective since their Messiah is not God.

 

Love Joseph

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