Wolfhart Pannenberg on the nature of man.
WP gives a thorough survey of “image-theology” in post-Reformation history. His unique insight is that a theology of the image of God must be linked to human destiny. This avoids certain conceptual pitfalls in both the Patristics and Post-Reformation thinkers. It also has a Christological thrust to it.
- As the image of God, we are his vice-regents (203).
- Image cannot be isolated to the soul or the spirit, per some Patristic thinkers (Origen. De Princip. 184.108.40.206; Gregory of Nyssa, De Hom. op. 5). Genesis 1:26ff refers to the whole person (Pannenberg 207). Some fathers following Irenaeus rightly noted the whole-person aspect, but they separated image and likeness. This is exegetically untenable. However, it rightly links “OT statements about our creation to NT statements about Jesus Christ as the image of God and our destiny of being transformed into that image” (207).
- Our parents in their unfallen state did not have perfect knowledge, as evidenced by their not yet eating the tree of knowledge (213).
- We are not simply the image of God, but also “according to the image of God.” This implies a distinction between copy and original (215). This further refutes the separation of image and likeness. If we are made in God’s image but do not have his likeness, then we aren’t really made in his image. Pannenberg notes, “An image ceases to be an image if it bears no similarity to what it depicts” (216).