What exactly does it mean to say that we are in the image of God? How should that idea impact how we view things like our identity, our work, sexuality, body image, disability and transgender issues? We’ll talk about these and much more with our colleague Dr. Carmen Imes and her new book, Being God’s Image.

Dr. Carmen Imes is Associate Professor Old Testament at Talbot. She brings a passion for helping students and other laypeople engage the Old Testament and discover its relevance for Christian identity and mission. She is the author of six books, including the widely acclaimed work, Bearing God's Name: Why Sinai Still Matters.

Episode Transcript

Scott: What exactly does it mean to say that we are made in the image of God? How should that idea impact how we view things like our identity, our work, sexuality, our body image, things like that? We'll talk about these and much more with our colleague today, Dr. Carmen Imes, and her new book, “Being God's Image.” I'm your host, Scott Rae.

Sean: I'm your co-host, Sean McDowell.

Scott: This is Think Biblically from Talbot School of Theology here at Biola University. So, Carmen, thanks so much for being with us. Delighted to have you here, and congrats on the book.

Carmen: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Scott: So, what motivated you to write on this subject? You're an Old Testament scholar. You've got lots of things, lots of really interesting things you could talk about. Why this one? Why is it important to you?

Carmen: Yeah, this actually happened for me kind of in reverse. So, I was doing a podcast interview after my first book came out on, “Bearing God's Name", and an interviewer asked me, what's an idea that needs to die in the church or in biblical scholarship? It was a great question, and right away, I knew what I wanted to say, and that was that we go to heaven when we die, like that we ask Jesus into our hearts so that we can go to heaven when we die. Like this way of recapping the gospel message was anemic and needed to be set aside for a more robust biblical vision of the new creation and human embodiment in that new creation. And I realized that in order to make that point, I would have to start at the beginning with creation, and be able to show how creation actually matters, that our bodies are not a husk to be discarded, but that they are part of God's design for what it means to be human, and that they come with us into eternity. And so, in order to make that case, I needed to start at the beginning.

Sean: Okay, so the title of your book, “Being God's Image,” let's jump straight to the chase, so to speak. What does it mean to be made in God's image? And maybe what are some things it doesn't mean?

Carmen: Yes. So, the history of interpretation is full of people's ideas, speculations about what does it mean to be the image of God, or to be made in God's image. And many people throughout history have supposed that it has something to do with a human capacity. So, rationality is one of the common ideas that because we're rational beings, we're the image of God, because God is rational. And as I came back to the book of Genesis and took a closer look, I realized, that's nowhere in Genesis 1. It's not saying, it's not attaching our status as God's image to any particular capacity. When you do that, when you attach it to a capacity, then people are more or less the image of God, depending on how smart they are, or how able-bodied they are, or how relational they are, depending on what people's concept is. But as I came back to Genesis 1 and was trying to read it in its Ancient Near Eastern context, in its biblical context, I became convinced that it's physicality, it's our human embodiment that is what makes us the image of God. Regardless of our abilities, regardless of our intellect. And so, this is mostly based on just the word “image” in Hebrew, which is “tselem.” And tselem is something very concrete. If you build a temple to an Ancient Near Eastern God, you put tselem in the holy place to receive the worship of worshipers. And so, any ancient Israelite who heard this message about humans being God's image would have imagined, oh, we're like the idols in the temple. We're the physical three-dimensional representatives of the presence of God.

Sean: Okay, so obviously God is not physical. God is spirit. He's invisible. So, this is for other physical beings to best understand God's image.

Carmen: Yes, and this is how it actually worked out in the ancient world as well. So, we have one example, one statue of a king, the king of Guzan, who made a statue of himself, because he attacked and conquered a large new territory. He couldn't be everywhere at once, but he wanted to remind the people in this newly conquered territory who's boss. And so he set up a statue of himself. And that statue has a nice inscription on it that tells us what it is. And it's a tselem. It self-identifies as a tselem, which is kind of giving us a nice glossary of what it means to be an image. And so, a tselem or a statue makes, is physically present or represents the presence of someone who cannot be physically present or is choosing not to be physically present. So, in a similar way, God makes the created world, and then he places humans as the physical visible reminders to all creation and to each other of God's righteous rule.

Scott: So Carmen, what if anything, does the general entrance of sin in Genesis 3 have to impact the image of God?

Carmen: Yeah, this is the other place where this project started. It was back in my very first time that I attended the Evangelical Theological Society meetings, New Orleans, 2009. And John Kilner was one of the plenary speakers, and his whole plenary address was about the image of God. And he gave us a PowerPoint with all the names of all of these theologians and biblical scholars through the years who had talked about the image of God being lost or damaged or destroyed. And he was one of them. And then he disagreed with himself and said, I have changed my mind. I do not think that the scriptures actually support the idea of the image being lost or destroyed. So, so yes, something happens at the fall, something bad happens, but it's not the loss of the image of God. I would describe it as the loss of the glory that's supposed to come along with being the image of God. And the best way I've found to explain it is that every one of us in our core human identity is the image of God. But all of us live out of alignment with that identity. If we were living in alignment, then there would be a kind of glory or honor that goes along with living who we are, being who God made us to be. But because we live according to lies, and we're out of alignment with that true identity, there is a loss of glory. There's a loss of the honor that should be there for human beings, but often isn't. Because we end up, instead of representing God, we end up trying to represent ourselves, or climb the ladder or gain glory for ourselves, instead of deflecting the glory to God. An image in a temple doesn't receive the glory for itself, it reflects it to the deity that it's supposed to represent. So when we fail to do that, things don't go well.

Sean: What about original sin? Because I think about it, you're right, if we fail to live and line it up, then we're not reflecting God's image to the world. But since you, you just used the example of a statue, if a statue loses its color, it gets chipped away, you can't see it as well. Is that a fair way to say, we haven't lost being made in God's image, but it's been marred in some fashion because it's physical, and the physical world itself has been marred by sin?

Carmen: I don't wanna use the word marred, 'cause John Kilner tells me no. [laughs]

Sean: Oh, he does.Okay, okay.

Carmen: It hasn't been marred. But I would say another illustration that's been helpful for me, is if you think of a parent-child relationship, and imagine that there is a great strain in that relationship, and the parent and child become estranged from one another, maybe they don't even talk with one another anymore. The essential genetic and biological relationship between parent and child is unchanged by the fact that they're estranged from each other. And so, they can be reconciled, and they already have—the situation is already such that they are related to one another genetically. That doesn't need to be redone, or you don't need to adopt your child again. There's already a relationship. And I think that Genesis actually presents the familial relationship as a way of understanding what it means to be the image of God. Because in Genesis 5, when it describes Adam giving birth to Seth, or fathering Seth, it says that Seth is the image of God, or sorry, it says that Seth is the image of Adam, the way Adam is the image of God. And so, I think the parent-child relationship provides us with a kind of analogy. So, again, there can be an estrangement, and most human beings on the planet are estranged in some way from their creator. But the actual DNA or the genetic code is still there.

Sean: Fair enough.

Scott: I think that's helpful to see the image of God as fundamentally a status, and not a function.

Carmen: Yes.

Scott: And the status has not changed. Regardless of how we exercise those functions, or fail to.

Carmen: And then there are so many implications for ethics. If every human being is the image of God, and that hasn't been marred, or lost, or destroyed, then it has all sorts of implications for how we treat each other.

Scott: And she did the segue instead of me doing it. [ all laugh] Which is sort of what I had in mind.

Carmen: I'm looking at an ethicist, so I know you care about this.

Scott: Exactly, so there's a whole series of issues that a certain way of thinking falls out of our view of the image of God. So, let's take these sort of one at a time.

Carmen: Okay.

Scott: What about our identity formation? What does being made in the image of God have to do? Now we could, I mean, obviously we would say it's obviously important and significant, but how, exactly?

Carmen: Yeah, yeah. Our world these days is really obsessed with identity creation, identity formation, seeking an identity. And what I find super liberating about this biblical teaching is that it shows us that our identity is God given. It's something we receive from the God who creates us. So, we're not self-made. We're not on a quest for self-actualization. What we're on a quest for is to recognize who we are in light of what God says about us and who he says we are. So, that I think is really freeing to somebody out there who's like, I just, I'm trying to find myself and I don't know where to look. How can I figure out who I am? We can look to scripture and we can look to God. And I think that we have lots of examples of this in the Old Testament. My favorite is Moses. The way Moses discovers who he is as he encounters the God who made him and who calls him. Moses in the early chapters of Exodus is so—he's wrestling with his identity. His identity is very ambiguous. Born a Hebrew, adopted by the Egyptians, shows up in Midian and they call him an Egyptian, but he doesn't seem to really know where he belongs. The Hebrews have rejected him. The Egyptians have rejected him. He marries a Midianite. And when he encounters God at Sinai, the Lord says to him, I am the God of your father. Which is a very interesting thing to say, because most of the time when God uses this phrase, he says, I am the God of your fathers, plural. And for Moses, who's had a biological father and presumably an adopted father, maybe father figure, we don't know if the daughter of Pharaoh was married, for Moses, this is the big question. Who is my father? And God says, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And in that one moment, he identifies which deity he is. And he tells Moses where he belongs in relation to that deity. And I just think that's true for all of us. None of us can find out who we really are outside of knowing the God who created us and calls us into a relationship.

Sean: So identity is discovered, not created. Bottom line.

Carmen: Yes.

Sean: Okay. So, how does the image of God affect the way we think about work?

Carmen: Yes. So, Adam and Eve are placed in the garden and they're given work to do. So, work is something that's part of what it means to be human is to work. I think we make a mistake if we attach the image of God to the work too directly, so that the work that we do is what qualifies us to be the image of God. That's problematic because if one of us gets hit by a car later today and is in a coma and can no longer do anything, I would argue that we're still the image of God.

Sean: So, even if you choose not to do anything—

Carmen: Yes, even if you choose not to do anything, you remain the image of God. However, God does give us work to do. And that work I think is an implication of our status as God's image. So, we are the image—that's our identity—the work we do is the vocational implication or outflow of that. And so I would say, Genesis presents a picture of our work as something that matters. God gives meaningful work for humans to do, but it doesn't make us matter. So we already matter, but the work we do matters. So, we need to carefully distinguish between our identity and worth and the work that we do. Because if somehow we don't do well, or if we're not able to work or we choose not to work, that doesn't diminish our value.

Scott: That's really helpful. Because I've always wanted to affirm that our work has intrinsic value.

Carmen: It does.

Scott: But it doesn't determine our value.

Carmen: Yes, exactly.

Scott: That's a really helpful distinction. All right, let's go a little deeper here. What about the image of God and our sexuality? How does it impact that?

Carmen: So, this is another place where there are some fuzzy conversations, I think, in biblical studies and theology around the image of God. I think what's clear to me, is that male and female is something God came up with. And the difference between male and female is something he instituted at creation. But the animals are also male and female. So, it's our gender or our sexed embodiment, if you will, is not what makes us the image of God. But it is a way—it's the means by which we fulfill our vocation. Because part of our vocation is to fill the earth and sun, and subdue it. And you can't fill the earth if you have only one sex. You would need both. And so, our sexuality is one of the tools that God gives us maybe, or a part of our human experience that allows us to fill the earth. So, if you imagine all of the earth needs this physical representation of an invisible God. And so, Adam and Eve can't do it on their own. And so the more humans we have, the more reminders, there will be all over the place of the rule of God. And so I think our sexed embodiment is in service to that.

Sean: How about this topic of body image? This is huge. I am still outside of teaching here at Biola, teaching one high school class, and speaking to high school students a ton. And this just comes up all the time with guys, but even, it seems more particular with girls. How does the subject of God's image portray how we should think about body image issues?

Carmen: Yes. So, there are many people alive today who do not like the bodies they have and would like to modify them in some way or get rid of them and they're looking forward—I think sometimes Christians are looking forward to the day when they won't have a body. Like they'll just be floating around maybe on the clouds and they won't have this thing anymore, this trapping. And that's where the doctrine of the new creation actually challenges that picture of being freed from these bodies as if they're husks. The bodies we have are the bodies God gave us. And we are stewards of our bodies as well as being stewards of creation. And so I think we need to make wise choices about what we eat and how we exercise and how we inhabit these bodies. And we need to recognize that we're in them for the long haul. There is a sense of permanence to our bodies. And so, when Jesus is raised from the dead, he's in the same body. He has the same scars that he had when he was put in the tomb. And so, there's a sense of continuity between his earthly body and his forever body. And so that means we need to become used to or work to become used to or comfortable with the bodies God gave us. That's a hard word, I think, for many people to hear because they've been really looking forward to getting away from these bodies.

Sean: But the flip side of that is that if people are looking forward to being completely disembodied. If they would understand, no, you will have a perfected spiritual body, that seems to be the truth that could bring some freedom right now.

Carmen: Yeah, that there's gonna be a kind of transformation somehow to our bodies so that what is so imperishable will be raised imperishable. There will be some enduring quality. So, we know that we won't have sorrow or mourning or sighing. We won't have pain. And so, whatever we do, we're gonna be able to do it. If somebody finds their embodiment painful in some way, whether physically or emotionally, that will be removed.

Scott: So, just a quick follow up on that. Yeah. How would you use this notion of being God's image, say, to counsel a 16-year-old girl who's been anorexic for the last three or four years?

Carmen: I would tell her that her body is a gift from God, that it is part of how God's given her a mission in this world to physically represent His presence. I think our culture tells us to look at ourselves and to obsess over our body image, like how we look to other people, instead of focusing on what the scriptures tell us is more important, which is how are we living out the character of God in the world? How are we representing God to others? And so I think sometimes the solution might be to take our eyes off ourselves and to look outside, to look wider.

Scott: Carmen, not too long ago, I was sitting around the conference table with a group of co-authors for a book that our friend John Kilmer was editing. And somehow we got onto the subject of what our bodies will be like in eternity. And I made the comment that I'm really looking forward to having two good shoulders, because I've had more surgery on that than I know what to do with. And John Kilner mentioned that he has a Down Syndrome adult son. And one of the people around the table, a very renowned theologian, commented that he didn't believe that in eternity, or put it this way, he did hold that in eternity, John's son would still have Down Syndrome. And the reason he gave was that if he didn't have Down syndrome, he'd be a different person. So how should we translate the image of God to those who have physical challenges and disabilities? And what specifically can we tell them about the state of their disability post-resurrection?

Carmen: This is such a hot topic. And as I ventured into some speculation in “Being God’s Image” that has gotten me more pushback than any other part of the book, where I speculated that maybe not all disabilities would be healed in the new creation. And my reason for that was the scars of Jesus that are still visible. And also because, as I did some research in disability studies, I found there are many people who experience life with a disability who say they wouldn't know who they would be without it. These would be people who are visually impaired, or hearing impaired, or someone with Down’s. And so, I found that there's a lot of speculation. Some people who experience these disabilities say, "This is part of who I am, and without it, I don't know who I am." Others tell me, and I've had conversations with people with disabilities who've said, "Oh, I can't wait to be able to see in the new creation," or, "I can't wait to have this behind me." So, I can't say anything with confidence, because all I have to go on is the continuity of Jesus' body that still has scars. We also have the book of Isaiah talking about how when God comes to live among His people and to reign, it would be evidenced by the healing of bodies. So, we have blind people who will see, and the deaf will hear, and the mute will speak. So, the coming of God will have that effect, and we see that in Jesus' ministry, right? He goes around and He heals people, but He doesn't heal all the people. There were still other visually impaired people who never could see, even if they encountered Jesus. So, I don't know if we can say for sure that everyone will be sighted and hearing and able-bodied in the new creation. I'm not sure. What I would say is that we're not going to have any crying or pain, and I don't know that there will be a one-size-fits-all for every person. I wonder if God will respond to people based on how they've experienced their disability. Did this come as part of an accident, or were they born with it? God tells Moses that He makes people seeing or blind, deaf or dumb, and that He knows full well that Moses has this speech impediment disability that makes him think he is disqualified for doing this particular job. So, I don't know, I have all these things running around in my head. I don't feel like we can say with certainty what will happen.

Scott: Let me give you one more thing to run around in your head.

Carmen: Sure, sure.

Scott: Because what I challenged the theologian with was, if that's true, that the person with Down syndrome would not be the same person in eternity without Down’s. I thought, where do you ground your sense of personal identity? If it's in a physical feature, then that strikes me as a capitulation to a form of materialism.

Carmen: Sure, it might be.

Scott: Which is, in my view, clearly unbiblical because we are who we are because we bear the image of God. It's wrapped up in our bodies, but it's not fundamentally a material thing.

Carmen: Yeah, that's a possibility—I don't feel certain about this. I just feel curious. And another thing that's made me curious is as I was reading about disability studies, I was recognizing more and more how, at least in the West, we have independence as our highest ideal. And I wonder how much we hope for resurrected bodies that have no limitations because we don't want to need anyone or because we want to go through life without needing anyone. And I wonder if God is actually inviting us instead into a collaborative form of community where we see each other's needs and we don't erect barriers so that people don't have access, but that we actually love each other well enough that no one's disability will actually feel like an impediment.

Scott: I so appreciate that you say you're not certain, and this is speculation. We could debate these things forever. A couple of things that went into my mind when you said this and then tell me what you think. I think about Jesus' scars and they don't strike me as a disability, right? And they also seem very unique to his calling the lamb crucified before the foundation of the world. So, I somewhat hesitate to say, what can we take from Jesus to others that's not actually a disability? Does that make sense?

Carmen: I hesitate on that too. That's why we have this thin basis. We've only seen one body that's a new creation body. And so, to what degree is the body of Jesus representative of what will happen to all of us? Will we have all of our scars? Or is it only the scars of the crucifixion? Or is it only the scars that we've received because we've been loving towards other people? Like, if you've gotten hurt helping someone, will those scars be there, but not the ones that happened just for dumb accident reasons? ][laughs] And I don't know.

Sean: I love that; it's kind of what makes theology fun. I also think of people, and I haven't read all these accounts, but I've recently been studying a lot of near death experiences and how much they line up with the biblical view of heaven. And there are accounts of people who are deaf who can hear and the blind who see, and nobody says: I was better off without seeing and hearing. They see more vibrant, they hear in ways. There's this sense where your senses are just heightened, which matches up with the kind of visions we have within scripture. So, in one sense, you have somebody who experiences a blindness or deafness that I don't have and can't obviously understand the world that way. And that is defining to them. But on the other hand, if we've been made to see and hear and it's heightened in heaven, I would say, I would tend to say, maybe I'm just completely off base. I tend to say probably the person who thinks this is defining who they are in our fallen world and fallen bodies doesn't quite understand the glory of what the resurrection will be.

Carmen: And that could be.

Sean: And maybe I'm just wrong.

Carmen: Yeah. I am excited to find out.

Sean: Love it.

Scott: Here here. Now, we just read the other day that euthanasia is now being performed in parts of Europe for people who are autistic, which is another slide down the slippery slope that we all knew was coming. And it's been liberally applied in Canada and Australia and it's legal in lots of states in the US and most of Europe. So, what does the image of God have to say to people who say they have severe neurological compromises or people in a vegetative state, things like that, who would be candidates—our friend Peter Singer would say they would be ideal candidates for euthanasia. I mean, why not? And what difference does the image of God make for that?

Carmen: It's such an unbiblical vision to say that someone's life is not worth living if they can't do X or if they can't experience X. And I think that this is one of the most insidious ways that the world has crowded in on our behavior to say that we can now decide between particular people and say whose life is worth living and whose is not. Now, obviously, if someone is seeking euthanasia, it's the person themselves who feels that they have no better options. And this is where I think the church needs to come in and be able to demonstrate every life is worth living, even if it's a life that includes physical or emotional pain, which means we have to do a much better job as the church, including people who are neurodiverse or who are mentally disabled in some way. Churches have not always been places that are safe spaces for people to flourish when they're on the spectrum. And so I think it's on us to send the message in as many ways as we can: your life is worth living and that there are other options than ending it.

Sean: One of the hottest topics, so to speak, in the culture and in the church are the larger LGBTQ conversation, but in particular, the T. Transgender. How does the idea that we're made in God's image intersect with some of that discussion and conversation today?

Carmen: Yeah, this is another really tricky issue that involves deep and complex emotional and mental factors. I would say that my one contribution to the conversation is just to say, look, our bodies are not disposable or mutable—that they're given by God. And so, at some level, the body that you have is God's intention for you. And so, for us to say, no, I think I'd like to be in a different body is a way of rejecting the gift that God gave us. And for many, that's a hard word because they feel trapped in the body that they have and they don't feel like themselves. And so, then what I would recommend is just pursuing whatever kind of therapy or prayer ministry or whatever to come to peace with the body that they have. Yeah, it's a complicated issue.

Sean: That seems to be a thread that underlies so many of these different issues that we've talked about. There's a lot of people struggling with the bodies that they've been given and understand that that's a part of the image of God. It's difficult to get there, but when we're there, it's a very freeing thought.

Carmen: It is. To be comfortable in our own skin because we recognize that I'm made as God's image and this is not, I'm not a mistake and I don't have to achieve a certain level of some performance or some feeling to be authentically myself—to be authentically human. I think that's really freeing.

Scott: So, God has given us the bodies that we have, even the ones where the person is born with a genetic abnormality.

Carmen: Yes, again, we don't have a lot to go on in scripture on this, but the story of Moses is so striking to me because he comes into his ministry of speaking and says to God, who am I that I should go to Egypt and go to Pharaoh? I'm not, I can't do this. And the way he describes his speech uses the same phrase that's found in Akkadian medical texts listing disabilities. So, I don't think that this is an issue of Moses just being afraid of being on stage. You know, afraid of public speaking. I think he actually has a medically diagnosable condition. And God says, who made your mouth? And his plan is not to snap his fingers and heal Moses of this disability. His plan is to bring Aaron alongside him and to send them together to do the work. But if we live according to a vision that I need to do this all myself and I need to be independent, then we're going to miss out on the kind of collaboration that I think God's designed us for.

Scott: That's really helpful because when I first heard this idea—it was at a bioethics conference—it was by a theologian who essentially was making the argument that God bestows genetic abnormalities for His glory. And you could see the tension just rise in the room because people really, and I was one of them, people had a really tough time choking that down.

Carmen: Because we'd like to attribute it to sin. Oh, this is just the results of the Fall. And I feel like, Exodus 3 and 4 kind of smacked me upside the head and went, oh, wait, God says, who made your mouth? He makes it very clear that he made Moses this way on purpose. Again, I don't know how much we can extrapolate that, but in that passage, he says it more generically, who made people seeing or blind or, you know, he lists a whole bunch of different physical embodiments, disabilities, and says, this was my idea.

Scott: Yeah, I got to think a little harder about some of that because, I mean, I've for some time attributed that to the general entrance of sin and not being a part of God's specific design. But it sounds like we need to rethink that a bit. That's a hard one emotionally to wrestle with, too.

Carmen: It is, especially because it then puts it under the sovereignty of God. And now there's the problem of theodicy. If I could just blame this disability on the entrance of sin into the world, then I wouldn't have to reckon with, why did God make me like this?

Scott: Carmen, one final question for you. I think, probably the top thing that our undergrad students here wrestle with in terms of their mental health is depression and anxiety. You know, everything we hear is just, that's sort of overwhelmingly at the top of the list. And you claim in your book that the image of God is capable of helping people work through anxiety and depression. How does it contribute to that? How does that work?

Carmen: So, I think that some anxiety and depression comes from the way we view the world and the way we view our place in the world that puts all the pressure on me to figure out who I am and to figure out what to do with my life. And so, some of that anxiety can be relieved by recognizing I am placed on this earth by God in this body and he's given me a job to do. And so, instead of searching and all the pressure is on me to figure this out, I can rest in God's good intentions for me and for my place in this world. I think that is a great place to start. I don't think it's a magic bullet for any and all depression and anxiety. Part of the rapid increase that we've seen probably has complex factors that have to do with the technology we use and our social media. And having traversed through a pandemic and all of the ways that it impacted, especially our young people. And so, I don't want to say there's just this one easy solution. If you just knew this, it would all be gone.

Sean: Sure. But there's a difference in saying it's one easy solution and it's a significant contributing factor, feeling of hopelessness, a feeling of despair versus you having value in a God who's made you a certain way that can significantly shape—amongst other pieces—how you deal with issues like depression.

Carmen: Exactly. And some of those other pieces may well involve medication and therapy and pursuing medical answers for some chemical imbalance in your body. And some of it might mean changing your technology habits so that you're not constantly being told by the world that you're not enough or you're not beautiful enough or you're not able-bodied enough or you're not smart enough or whatever it is. The world has lots of messages for us that we don't quite measure up. And so, I think one of the very practical steps we can take is to turn down the volume on that, on those messages, and to turn up the volume on what does God say about me? And we hear those messages, hopefully in church, in Christian community with each other as we read the scriptures. But I think what I would want to leave people with is that we're never meant to do this alone. Adam is not placed on earth all by himself to be the image of God and do the whole job. The very first thing God says is it's not good for him to be alone. This job is too big for one man. And so we need each other. We need community. And so whoever out there is struggling with anxiety and depression, don't try to go it alone.

Scott: Hear, hear. This is really insightful stuff. In my view, this is the way we ought to be doing theology is being true to the biblical text, providing some theological depth, but at the end of the day, applying it to issues that we're reading about in the newspaper and the issues that people care most about. And it's very encouraging for me to know that something as basic as being the image of God is so relevant and so powerful in addressing some of these really crucial and gut-wrenching issues that are at work in our culture.

Carmen: It is so interesting how when you just shift and nuance this one doctrine, how many other things fall into place. Even without trying that, like, oh, when we see that the image of God is our human identity, that we're embodied, that, oh, all of a sudden it has relevance for all these different issues.

Scott: Yeah, it's no accident that it appears in Genesis 1 as foundational. So, I want to commend to our listeners your book, “Being God's Image.” And you title it that way intentionally.

Carmen: I did.

Scott: We're not bearing God's image, we're being God's image.

Carmen: Right. Because if we were bearing God's image, then if you bear something, you can set it down and walk away from it. And I wanted to say, no, we are the image of God. It's not something that we can accidentally lose, or on purpose.

Scott: Hear, hear. Another good word. So, Carmen, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate all the effort that went into writing this. This is the second of the trilogy. And the third one coming is what?

Carmen: “Becoming God's Family: Why the Church Still Matters.”

Scott: Very good. Very good. So, I commend you to keep your eyes out for that. Commend your book, “Being God's Image.” It's great stuff. So, thanks so much for being with us.

Carmen: Thanks for having me.

Scott: This has been an episode of the podcast, Think Biblically: Conversations on Faith and Culture. Think Biblically podcast is brought to you by Tablet School of Theology at Biola University, offering programs in Southern California and online, including an accelerated Bible theology and ministry program that allows students to earn a bachelor's and a master's degree in just five years. Visit biola.edu/talbot in order to learn more. If you have questions or comments or would like to make suggestions on issues you'd like us to cover or guests you'd like us to consider, you can email us at thinkbiblically@biola.edu. Enjoyed our conversation today with Dr. Carmen Imes. Give us a rating on your podcast app and please share it with a friend. Thanks so much for listening. And remember, think biblically about everything.