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ISBN/ASIN : 0802808506
Manufacturer : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company|
Release data : July, 1994
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Nice book on the question of the Image of God
Anthony Hoekema does an admirable job of explaining and defending a biblical view of man by arguing that man is both a creature and a person. Man is a creature in the sense that he is totally dependent on God for everything he has and is, but man is also a person who has freedom and can make choices. Thus in Hoekema's words man is a created person and herein lies the central mystery of biblical anthropology. How can man be both a created person when supporting one aspect of man's being virtually eliminates any support for the other aspect. I think this is the primary concern that drives Hoekema's work and it is one that he think he deals with admirably in the book.
I liked how Hoekema showed from biblical exegesis that the image of God is retained in man, although damaged, and is not destroyed. This is one area of belief where most Reformed theologians are either oppossed to Hoekema or utterly inconsistent. Hoekema argues from Scripture and demonstrates how the view of Berkouwer that God's image in man is gone and is only said to be there as a possibility is wrong. Furthermore, he shows how John Calvin was inconsistent on this question at one point saying the image is destroyed and at another saying the image of God is present in man in some capacity and this is why we should love all men. Moreover, I like how Hoekema dealt with the views of other great Christian thinkers like Ireneaus, Aquinas, and Barth on the question. Furthermore, I really enjoyed Hoekema's argument that man is a psycho-psomatic unity and is composed of both a body and a soul. I think Hoekema illustrates why the view of man as trichotomy of body, soul and spirit is unwarranted. Hoekema argues that soul and spirit are virtual synonyms in the Bible and I believe he is correct. Lastly, I enjoyed Hoekema's treatment of the subject of man's self-image. I think that this was an interesting and stimulation chapter in the book.
The were a few areas where I thought the book was weak, but I think this was caused more by confusing argumentation than by poor reasoning or exegesis. I wish Hoekema would have gone deeper into the question of how God is totally sovereign in salvation, but yet man still must respond in faith. Since Hoekema lies squarely within the traditional Reformed camp and seems to espouse the view that regeneration proceeds faith, I don't see one can argue that it is man's responsibility to respond in faith since this only happens in the spiritually revived. Also, I think the doctrine of common grace is one with little scriptural support. Now, I don't deny that such grace may exist, but I think the Reformed distinction between common and irresistible or sufficient and efficient graces is one that is not directly supported by the Bible. In fact, such a notion seems to be more a necessary construct of Reformed theology than it is a valid component of Scripture.
All in all, Hoekema's book is an excellent discussion on the question of the image of God in mankind. Hoekema states his point by using, Scripture, exegesis, and some Greek word studies. Although there are few elements that detract from the overall quality of this work it is still an excellent piece of literature and an nice defense of modern Reformed scholarship on the issue.
A wonderful book for every Christian
While attending Bible college, I took a class called "Biblical View of Persons." One of the many books we read for this class was "Created In God's Image." From the first to the last chapter I was totally subdued and challenged. It truly gave me many things to think about and study even more. One of the more challenging chapters was chapter 3 that focused on "The Image of God: Biblical Teaching." This caused me to have many questions as far as interpretation of the passages he looks at from the OT. The topic of man losing the image and/or likeness of God was quite reeling and forced mew to think more on the subject than maybe I had previously thought. My second challenge in this book was in chapter 6 with "The Question of the Self-Image." he brought out things that I had thought of before but muffled and I must say I feel he was right on target. His point about the three-fold relationship - to God, others and nature - really being four - to himself - is ideal. I could not agree with Hoekema more when he states that the relationship to himself is not alongside the other three, but underlies the other three. His definition of self-love and self-esteem are right on target and I must agree with him that the term "self-image" is much more suitable.
Helpful Yet Confused Treatment of Man's Image
Hoekema is a careful and thorough theologian. Here he takes on a difficult, yet more pivotal doctrine that many take far too much for granted: imago Dei, human sin, grace, etc.
His survey of doctrinal history is adequate, however concentrates as it should on Hoekema's Reformed heritage.
He comes out with a position that appears to be untenably suspended between soverignty of God and man's freedom, while all the time upholding total depravity. This is part of the Reformed dillemma, which focuses not on Christology but on soverignty. There is no issue with soverignty if primarily tied to Christology and soteriology.
In this reviewer's analysis, the tensions left are not Biblical tensions, due somewhat to this faulty anthropology.
For a different look, try and locate a magnificent treatment: "The Doctrine of Man in Classical Lutheran Theology" by Chemnitz and Gerhard. Here anthropology jives with Christology and soteriology, as what is central to imago Dei is lost righteousness before God, restored in justification in the "now and not yet" of proper eschatology. Original sin has its way, thus freedom in spiritual matters is gone with Christology and means of grace working.
Hoekema is certainly worth the reading and careful attention to his opinions, and this volume certainly delivers such.