catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Made in God's Image


Apr 07 2002
05:05 pm

Do we know what that means? Can we guess?

After thinking about it for a while I have come to think that being made in God’s image is at least partially due to man’s ability to create and be creatinve. But is that all?

What do you think (or believe for that matter)?


Jul 16 2002
02:58 am

Farming does have an audience, but sometimes lacks creativity — when farming, we tend to do the same things over and over again. Of course, so does God when he creates. I guess though, I think of the creative act as having something new about it. Each new corn stalk is new, but contains no new relavlation or ideas, nor even a new visual experience. I would argue that cultivating roses, writing a book, or creating a new kind of cake, does those things.


Jul 16 2002
03:24 pm

Has anybody ever heard of the book, Heaven Is Not My Home by Paul Marshall (w/ Lela Gilbert)?

It is my first official college assignment and I couldn’t be more pleased about it. This guy talks about a million things that I had questions about and comes up with biblically sound and right on answers. I can’t put it down.

Because this book helped me think this stuff through I feel like I can contribute to this thread again.

I still think that creativity is a big part of being made in God’s Image and that the ability to create is huge gift. But if being stewards of the earth for God, effectively trying to do what God wills and trying to take care of the World, not only the geographical earth but also culture and everything. This would mean that creativity or the use of God’s gift, the ability to create, is only a part of the bigger picture.

Therefore, something that “lacks” creativity really doesn’t. Because creativity is just one correct application of stewardship, just as working. It is all about whether we feel that putting a seed in the ground is below intellectual activities. Imagine you are planting a garden, the soft tilled soil, the seed, and the water: To me that could be as fulfilling as the creation of a work of art, because it is done for the glory of God.

To add to that, It takes creativity to plant and grow crops in a way that shows good stewardship of the land. It takes creativity to come up with rotations that benefit the land and do not simply drain its resources. Innovation is the result of human creativity and even if a farmer is involved in repetitive activity, which I doubt, even the smallest act of nuance can be as creative as splashing paint on a canvas.

Albeit, some creativity requires more work to do, that just depends on what your calling is.

PS What makes cultivating roses different from growing corn?


Jul 29 2002
02:45 am

Look, I don’t mean to put down farmers or gardening in any way. I love growing and eating food. And I will concede Sam’s point about cultivation involving creativity — but can’t we agree that there is a distinction between the two? Sam says it takes creativity to be good at cultivation. The creative part is the new approaches to soil, the experimentation with seeds or contour farming or whatever. But the cultivation, the caring for and nurturing the plants, that is a different sort of activity. Certainly not a lesser activity, and certainly one that requires creativity — but the creativity remains a seperate componant. It takes a great deal of creativity to nurture a child, but I wouldn’t then propose that all creative acts be called child rearing. Do you see my point?


Jul 29 2002
11:45 am

I know this may seem like a pointless semantic exercise, but I’m merely trying to broaden the definition of cultivation with my comments.

Of course I do not want to call all creative acts “child-rearing”. I prefer to use “cultivate” as one of the broadest possible terms for our creational human calling. Cultivation is a creative activity that includes child-rearing, corn-growing, song-making, email-making, even thinking itself.

However, I see no reason to make a distinction between creative as that which brings something new into the world and cultivate as that which is doing with what you’ve been given. I do agree that God’s particular creation differs from ours. His creation began ex nihilo (out of nothing). Our creative activity begins out of God’s creation. The description of God’s ex nihilo creation serves to set God apart as the supreme Creator, as the God who has the authority to make us co-creators of His creation.

Does this make us gods? No. The description of an ex nihilo Creator shows us that our creative activity depends on the creative power of Him who created out of nothing. Our creaturely creativity depends on God’s creation. Therefore, the distinction between God’s creative act and our creative acts is meant to show that God’s ways are infinitely higher than our own; it is not meant to show that creation is ALWAYS that which brings something completely new into existence. God’s creation was such a pure creation that it brought creation itself into being! Therefore, we cultivate creatively (this does not imply “imaginatively”) because God made it possible via His own creative acts.

I write these many words only to try to clarify the types of distinctions we’re making. This continues to be an excellent help for me as well in trying to discern our role as creative creatures in God’s creation. Does any of this speak to what you’ve been trying to say, BBC?


Aug 12 2002
02:28 pm

Yes it does, and i appreciate your patience with me. I guess i want to hold on to that distinction because it is an important one to me. I have an MFA in fiction writing and have spent a fair amount of my life trying to create worlds in what I write, not, as you say, to try to be a God and rule over my little paper worlds (although i think when i was in junior high, that was my intent) but as an act of worship.

Maybe you are write, and I need to broaden my notion of creation. I am worried, though, that if we expand the notion of creativity to include everything — intentional or not — we may be unfairly limiting the worshipful aspect of artistic creation. Having said that, I don’t wish in any way to give the impression that I would call child rearing or planting and cultivating non-worshipful acts. I believe that all actions must be worshipful in some way. But i still want to hang on to that deliberately imitative act of artisti creation as a nobel attempt to worship God through imitation.

I also think that when we engage the arts, we have access to glimpse of grace and truth. Here again, I acknowledge that such a thing can happen at any time, as a result of any activity, but because the arts seem a deliberate attempt to reach for that grace and then share it with others, I am reluctant to dilute the term with activities that are not as intentional.

Although obviously I am still thinking a lot of this out.

And I’ve read a lot more Coleridge and Wordsworth than I have Hume and the like. Maybe that’s dangerous.

Anyway, thanks, Grant (and others) for helping me think this through. (I don’t think I’m done yet)


Aug 15 2002
08:19 am

I’ve read through the responses here in regard to humanity being made in the image of God, and thought I would add to the discussion. If any of you are familiar with Richard Wurmbrand, then perhaps you will find the following an inspiration. In his book called, “If Prision Walls Could Speak” he writes about the “Imagio Deo.” I recommend the book (all his books for that matter) to any of you truly seeking something of Christ beyond modern rationalism and post modern spiritualism—which means you’re thirsting after Spirit and Truth, seeking what the mystics called “union” with Christ.

I’m only going to intersperse some of the chapter for the sake of space. Here it goes: Chapter 2: My Image.

The examining officer was in a good moood today. You could sense it from the very beginning. There would be no beating. He just wanted to amuse himself with some pleasant conversation. He asked me, “Do you believe that God created man in His own image?” I answered, “I certainly do.” “Do you believe that you are in the image of God?” “Of Course.” Then he took a mirror out of his pocket and handed it to me. “Look into the glass. See how ugly you are? You have dark circles under your eyes. You are all skin and bones. Your whole appearance is haggard, like a madman. If you are in the image of God, God must be as ugly as you are. Why should you worship Him?”

[I was ugly.] Happily Christians don’t have to think beforehand what to answer. The words are given to them. I said, “Yes, my God has an ugly face like me. In Hebrew there is no such word as ‘face.’ You can only say ‘faces’—panim. The word has no sigular. There is a deep meaning in this, because no man has only one face. He shows one countenance when he speaks to a superior, another when he bullies an inferior, one when he is grieved, another when he hears good news. Our God also has many faces. One is a face of complete serenity, the serenity of a Being who has foreordained everything and can see from the beginning the happy end of the tortuous road. He has a face radiant with joy, sharing the pleasure of all who rejoice, even that of a little girl who has been given a new doll. But He has also another image, one of even worse suffereing and ugliness than mine. We saw this face on Golgotha. His hair was disordered, His brow was disfigured by wounds. Spittle and blood mingled on His face. He had dark circles under His eyes. He had no form or comeliness. This, too, is one of the faces of the Godhead. Christ is not ashamed to call me His brother.”

Now back in my cell my thoughts which are not divereted by the events….continue to dwell on the question asked of me. Everyone who suffers bears the image of the God who became “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” But what about my soul? God, too, has a soul (Isaiah 42:1; Zechariah 11:8). Is His soul also like mine, a bird that continually flies from place to place, from ugly thoughts to the most lofty and back, tossed to and fro by passions, a mixture of holiness and worldiness? Does my soul, polluted by sin, bear the image of His, as my face, vilified by sufferings, is surely an image of the Godhead; yes, of the Godhead in its highest form—the self-sacrificing Godhead.

Socrates taught: Know yourselves.
Scripture teaches: Examine yourselves.

But can we do this?

When I think about myself, as about everything else, I do so in words. [We cannot name all the stars or the cells in our bodies.] With what poor instrument (word/thought) I think about myself!

All psychoanalysts would agree that there is no possiblity of a thorough and valid self-examination. The examiner is I. The examined is I. The subjects on which I shall be examined are decided by the teacher, I, with the knowledge of the pupil, I. The examiner is biased. The apparatus with which I examine the I is I. There is not the slightest possibility of achieving an objective result. ….The thinker, the subject of his thought, and the act of thinking are one, as God is one.

The One God, with many faces, remains One. The number one is the foundation of everything. The faith is one. God is one, Christ is one. I am this one. I died, and it is Christ who lives in me. There is nobody to analyze himself. There is no analyzer and no analyzed. There is only the One God in whom we all live, move, and have our being. We belong to an inner world, of the one Soul, full of beauty. What appears in the distoring mirror of my mind as ugliness is the splendor of His all-understanding and all-pardoning love. My cursed mind considers me ugly. In the eyes of the only One who judges rightly, I am pleasing.

A great miracle occurs. The highest possible beauty, the Godhead, is beautified even more when mirrored in the soul of a bride of Christ, who like Mary sits quietly at the feet of Jesus, instead of torturing herself with self-examination, which can result only in pride or despair.

One with Him and one with yourself. There is no greater beauty than that of oneness. I have this beauty. Yes, my soul bears His image…."

W. delinates here between those saved and unsaved, but one can conclude that all humanity, created in the image of God, bears His face in one form or another. St Augustine said, “Love God, and do what you will.” God says to love Him, love yourself and love others….

I have come to rest in that command, knowing that as I love, God loves through me. As God loves, a face of Himself loves another face of Himself, and all is returned to Him, to whom, by whom and through whom all things exists. (Colossians 1-2) He is One. Christ is One. We are One. It all bears His image. Image then is oneness, the mystical union, the intimacy of God within to God without, actualized in love through relationship. God’s image is always active, never static. He is the LIVING God, the I AM. Always present, always active, always one.

W. goes on to say, "Don’t examine yourselves, my brothers, by criteria chosen by yourself, by a book declared by yourself to be holy (your fellow men do the same thing with the Talmud, the Koran, or the Vedas), according to an interpretation of it chosen by yourself, according to a standard of morality that changes when you cross a frontier or when the century changes. Believe that God blesses you in what you do. The church needed the intransigence of Paul, the courage of the first martyrs, the compromise with the State made in the time of Constantine, the quarrelsome spirit of Luther, the calm of Melanchthon, and the neutrality of Erasmus….

Be happy that God has chosen you to bear His image in your soul. It is a free gift. Be thankful for it. And cease to judge yourselves and others. The Sasover rabbi once gave his last coin to a man of evil reputation. His disciples asked him why he did so. He replied, “Should I be more particular in my choice than God, who gave the coin to me?” God has chosen you to be moulded in His likeness without any merit of yours. Now you also must love other men independently of their moral and spiritual status."

I pray this stirs some thought. I’d love to hear any responses….


Aug 15 2002
09:28 am

Well said (and welcome).

Inspirational is the right term. It is that. It still raises more questions than it answers, though, doesn’t it (and that, I think, is the best part of this life God has given us — there are always more questions). The questions reamin. How was we see that image of God is ourselves. How can we see it in each other. What does it mean when we say we have that image. And i guess part of Wurmbrand’s point is that, looking through distortion upon distortion of sin, it is a wonder we see anything.

And yet we do. There are moments, when i catch my students doing something good or noble and they think no one is watching, when I think I have seen the image of God come through them. Probably I have just seen a slightly less distorted view.

And coming back to art. I think the creation (or cultivation) of art, at its best, can be another moment when the clouds part a little bit and the sun (still distorted, but the sun nonetheless) shines through. Maybe gardening can do that to.


Aug 15 2002
09:54 am

I would answer all of those questions with an ambiguous response, for I recognize my limitation even while the image of God responds within with an absolute, “I AM!”:

The image of God within and without, in its Infinity, always recognizes Itself. He is Himself in us, and knows Himself in us better than we know ourselves. I believe He is responding to Himself, and we, humanity, through thought and action, discover what was already there, what always has been, is and will be. The I AM.

And that discovery is facilitated through several medium: art, science, creation at large, but most profoundly through those who carry that image—relationship with Himself, yourself and each other.

Language is a gift, while also a burden. And so, I struggle to communicate what cannot be communicated, rather found in communion. May our spirits commune together as we speak without speaking, in the Oneness of the One, in unity and in love, where He Is, you are and i am in the Fullness.


Aug 17 2002
04:23 am


Though I am struggling to understand your third paragraph. I guess I don’t understand the “but” part of the sentence. To be sure, God’s image is clearest in me when I am worshipping him, interacting with creation, or interacting with my fellow humans (though that covers about all of my life), but how does art, science, etc constitute a difference from those interactions. I guess i would argue (and contradict what i said earlier in the process) that the image of God, if we are true believers, must come through everything we do (though, strangely, the corruption of our sinful nature comes through everything too — doesn’t it?)


Aug 17 2002
09:08 am

Let me quote something else from Wurmbrand. It might help clarify. Sorry, I’m expressing this rather poorly. Again, I plead the limitation of language or my lack of savvy with it.

“The waters have become still in my relationship with God. Things have taken on a crystalline clarity. A god from whom I can depart, who would let me go, who would not keep me to the end, never was a god. I can rest completely tranquil. The real God will uphold me. I have passed through the period of remorse for past sins, and the period of moral perplexities over lying or not lying. I know the evil in me, and I know the good. I can use both. The Lord said, “You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart” (Deut. 6:5). How can a man love God with all his heart, if in the heart there are so many wicked passions?

There will be many ups and downs, tossings and turnings. The faithful soul does this, until it ceases to judge itself. There are no such things as good flowers and bad flowers. There are simply flowers. So our souls are as God has created them.

I try not to compare myself with anyone. I am what I am, and in this knowledge I lie down in green pastures. I no longer live between two states of existence, [past or future]. I am able to recognize the kingdom of God present within me at this moment.

Heaven is a narrow place. There is room in it only for One. The soul who wishes to enter must be able to say at the gate, “It is You, Christ….”

If we are One in Christ, Christ is One with the Father and the Father One with Him, then there is only One. God is One. God is Truth. We are in the Image of One.

Art, science, nature, gardening, interaction with others all serve to faciliate the discovery of what already exists: One. It all reveals truth. All evil, all good, all things created and not created are to reveal Himself.

Facilitating the discovery of truth is different than being One with it. I’m not, in an Eastern context, one with all things—but God’s transcendant nature, One, is in everything He has created. Though He is separate from it, it reveals Him—and as it does so, I am unified with it.

God’s image was bestowed only to man, in Eden. And that Oneness of relationship can, I believe, only be expressed between Himself and those who bear Himself.

Read John 17:11-16 and Colossians 1:13-19.

Does the above answer how mediums which facitilate the discovery of Truth (like art, science, history) and people who bear the Truth, as Truth is God Himself both “REVEAL” His Oneness, His image?

I don’t know if I’ve delinated enough between Truth revealed in nature—through things and various medium—and Truth in man, which is God’s Image. All of that Truth, within and without—flows from the Unity and Oneness of God.

If you can stop thinking of yourself as separate from all of it, you might discover the Oneness of which I speak. Recall W. said there is not room for two, but only One.