Prerequisite: Theses #15-16
(Painting: "Elohim Creating Adam," by William Blake, 1795, oil on canvas)
17.) Human Immortality - It is God’s intention to make these mortal human persons eternal (for we are not immortal by nature), so that that relationship can continue on to the fullest heights of growth and love. Thus, he has decided (and enacted in Christ) to take the information-patterns that make each person what they are and preserve those souls after death and render them everlasting. In this sense, then, our spirits are similar to angels—we have rational minds like God, and our souls—the information-patterns that define us—have been rendered everlasting through Christ, just as angels’ own patterns were created everlasting from the beginning.
18.) The Image of God as It Regards Human Nature- We are, then, “in the image of God,” in that we reflect his nature as "mind" and his moral nature, especially in our capacity for growth towards love (and, to my thought, this is to a far greater degree than angels/demons; perhaps that is why they, though being spiritual and intelligent beings, are never described as being made in God’s image).
19.) Humanity as a Microcosm of All Created Things - Humanity, then, is a microcosm, standing at the juncture of matter and spirit. Of all the things in reality, some of which are timeless minds/spirits and some of which are material beings, human beings seem to be the only ones that fully unite in themselves both sides of God’s universe. (The only exception to this observation is that God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, also stands at this juncture, by taking human flesh and human nature into his own being.) Being in this privileged position means that humanity stands out from the rest of material creation and acts, in a sense, as its representative in the spiritual realm. Genesis describes humanity as being ruler and steward over all creation. So, in addition to an explanation of “the image of God” based on the nature of humanity, we can also say that we are the image of God because of our role as the mediator between spirit and matter, and as God’s viceroy over all creation. The apostle Paul hints that it will be through the redemption of humanity that material creation will be delivered and restored from its “bondage to decay” (and here there is perhaps a hint of a future for all material creation in the life to come, separate from the suffering-fueled road that marks the character of this age). One might be tempted to suggest that, for the mere sake of symmetry (which applies to God’s creation in the realm of physics, so why not in spiritual things?), that it is also through the redemption of humans that the other half of God’s creation, the spiritual world, will likewise be delivered and restored. This supposition seems to fit the role of humans as the microcosm of both parts of God’s creation (and gains an interesting advocate in Paul’s enigmatic statement that we will “judge angels”), but it will always remain supposition.