The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 1


II. Creation in “Image of God” Not a Valid Argument


The contention is frequently put forth that man possesses natural, innate, and really indefeasible immortality because Of the phrase appearing in Genesis 1:27—“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” There are, in fact, five such declarations in the Inspired Chronicle: CFF1 31.2

“And God said, Let us make man to our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). CFF1 31.3

“And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” (Genesis 1:27, twice). CFF1 31.4

“God created man, in the likeness of God made he him” (Genesis 5:1). CFF1 31.5

“In the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:6) CFF1 31.6

These texts do not, of course, state in what respect God created man in His own image. That specification is left undefined. However, it is a recognized principle of sound exegesis that the certain must not be interpreted in terms of the uncertain. Nor should violence be done to the preponderant witness of Scripture or even to the logical demands of reason. CFF1 31.7

An inference might possibly be drawn here as to the immortality of man—if this one expression stood alone. But if Adam and all of his descendants are immortal by creation, and therefore by nature, then surely some hint to this effect should be found in this initial narrative, or at least somewhere within the entire range of Biblical writings, which are spread over some fifteen hundred years, and include prophets and apostles, and even embrace the witness of Jesus Christ Himself. But immortality, Scripture insists, is an attribute restricted to God alone. He “is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only bath immortality” (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). CFF1 31.8


But creation in the divine “likeness,” or “image” (Genesis 1:26)—repeated in the record for emphasis—is no more an evidence of man’s Innate Immortality than of his eternal pre-existence, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, or any other strictly divine attribute. And none of these other attributes have been ascribed to man, even in his pristine sinlessness in Eden. That God made man for immortality is clear. Beyond that sound and safe position we are not justified in going. CFF1 32.1

There is no valid reason, then, why immortality alone should be singled out as the one unique characteristic intended by the phrase “image of God.” Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 5:1 also speak of man’s being created in the “likeness” of God. This likeness to God included a moral character not shared by the brute creation over which man was given dominion. But whatever the precise nature of that original “likeness,” it was marred by man’s disobedience, during which tragic experience his original purity and position were marred or lost. CFF1 32.2

Man in his sinful condition cannot claim the full benefit of this original endowment, whatever it may have included. But, we repeat, the record nowhere states that this included immortality. We must therefore conclude that creation in the divine “image,” or “likeness,” no more proves man’s immortality than it proves his eternal pre-existence, omniscience, omnipotence, or possession of any other exclusively divine attribute. God made man for immortality. That is beyond reasonable challenge. Let us test this out by the same canons of logic invoked. Let us visualize it by putting it in syllogistic form. CFF1 32.3


As to the fundamental fallacy involved in this foray into logic, in the contention noted, the argument may he fairly set forth, in syllogistic form, thus: CFF1 33.1

Major Premise: God is immortal (1 Timothy 1:17) CFF1 33.2

Minor Premise: Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) CFF1 33.3

CONCLUSION: Therefore man is immortal. CFF1 33.4

But such a plausible yet specious deduction, based on this actually misleading syllogism, is completely quashed by a paralleling syllogism that exposes the inherent fallacy of such unsound reasoning. Note it: CFF1 33.5

1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent:

2. Man was made in the image of God:

3. Therefore man is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

Obviously, the argument from logic breaks down under the impact of this logical parallelism, as well as the contravening testimony of Scripture. We consequently maintain that there is no sound logical basis, much less Biblical foundation, for asserting that in creating man “in his own image” God bestowed on him the one distinctive attribute of immortality alone, but not the other prerogatives of Deity—unless God were to so state in His Word. This He has not done. One cannot logically insist, then, on singling out immortality, when by common consent it is recognized that man does not possess the other inseparable characteristics restricted to Deity. CFF1 33.6

Personality, dominion over the animal creation, and free moral agency? Yes: for these are declared, but not natural immortality. (The technical arguments will be presented separately.) Man was driven out of the Garden, and cherubim and flaming sword were set up to prevent access to the indispensable tree of life—“lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” (Genesis 3:22). Thus the “image of God” argument collapses by default. CFF1 33.7