Image of an Invisible God?
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
I’ve been told by missionaries that Christ is the image of the unseen, invisible God. Rationally speaking, the image of an invisible God…..should be invisible, no? Is it perhaps wrong of me to assume that the image of something unseen is…..unseen? I think the problem stems from a misappropriated verse in Genesis 1:
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.” – Genesis 1:26.
We maintain that the first rule of exegesis is to interpret scripture with scripture. When we read this verse, we must ask a very important question, what is its context? The context of this chapter is to enlighten us as to God’s dominion over all creation – His power over the earth, the heavens and its inhabitants. In verse 26 He mentions creating mankind in His image. Any sane minded person upon reading this will eventually ask, what does ‘creating mankind in His image‘ mean? Well, the meaning is given in the very same verse, YHWH answers this by saying, ‘so that they may rule…‘. Therefore, according to the immediate context of the verse and the overarching plot of the chapter, in His likeness is referring to mimicking God’s authority to rule, to have dominion, albeit on two very different scales.
Most interestingly, the place of a God who has a viewable image is something actively argued against in the New Testament. We’ll now read from one of Paul’s epistles, written decades before the Johannine Gospel:
“20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” – Romans 1:20-23.
Paul duly informs us that foolish men with blackened hearts, exchanged the glory of an immortal God for images that looked like mortal human beings. Does that sound familiar? Modern Christians believe Christ is the image, the incarnation of an unseen, immortal God. The irony is simply astounding. Let’s continue to read from the New Testament:
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.” – Acts 17:29.
Statues of Christ? Carvings of Christ made from wood? Paintings? These are all images of an alleged divine being, the unseen divine being, made by human design and skill. En toto, we see that the New Testament argues against the incarnation of God, we see that it is absurd and foolish (according to Paul), that we should accept men who claim an immortal unseen God looks like a mortal human being.
wa Allaahu ‘Alam.