Christ at the Center (Pt.3a)
Series so far: Christ at the Center: The Fulcrum of Biblical Covenantalism –
The Covenant God Incarnate
We have seen that Jesus Christ is both the Instrument of Divine Creation (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:16a), the Owner (Jn. 1:10; Col. 1:16b), Upholder (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3), and Savior (Jn. 1:29; Matt. 19:28a) of that Creation. We shall also see that Christ will rule over that which is His (e.g. Zech. 14:9; Matt. 19:28b; Rev. 19:11f.), before Himself presenting it back to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24).
Our main thesis is that Christ will perform all this restorative and promissory work by the New Covenant, which in Him (Isa. 49:8) provides the requisite cleansing unto righteousness that obligates God to fulfill His covenants. This Christ-centered approach is what I call “Biblical Covenantalism.”
But before we go further we must stop to consider the marvel of the Incarnation of the Son of God. This is because His mediatorship is tied unavoidably to His becoming flesh (cf. Jn. 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16 MT).
Not too many people are familiar with Anselm’s work Cur Deus Homo? In that book the great theologian asked about the meaning of Christ’s incarnation. In II.6 of that work he writes about the necessity of the incarnation to bring about a true atonement (although he was the author of the Commercial Theory, which I do not subscribe to):
while no one save God can make it and no one save man ought to make it, it is necessary for a God-Man to make it.
What Anselm gives is the basic reason why Jesus had to be born and die: why He had to become physical. True enough, this basic reason for the incarnation is a crucial aspect of the Gospel. That understood, there are still some rudimentary truths about this doctrine which can be easily passed over. God became physical in the special sense that Christ, the second Person, assumed a body – “a body you have prepared for me” (Heb. 10:5).
God became a man. He became the second Adam.
For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Cor. 15:21-22)
He is related to the physical realm, then, by virtue of His relationship to our first parent. Adam was given dominion over everything God created on this earth. He was to subordinate it to His loving care in concert with the appreciative gaze of God. The earth was to be the focal point of praise to the Creator, and man “in Adam” was to be the Voice of earthly worship. But Adam fell and death ensued for all those “in Adam.”
This catastrophic fall of the first man, and the resultant curse upon the physical earth, did not catch God out. Jesus is “the Lamb slain since before the foundation of the earth” (Rev. 13:8). His “Book of Life” was written before the creative work began. Thus, the Second Person knew He would become the “Second Man” (1 Cor. 15:45, 47) before Time began.
The Second Man as “Archetype” of the First Man: A Fascinating Speculation
(Because this does contain speculative theology some readers may choose not to read on).
However, Meredith Kline teaches the fascinating idea that the Spirit that hovered or brooded over the pre-creation was the enthroned Son, who just as he proceeded from the Spirit in his Incarnation, in a sense proceeded from the Spirit in creation, and that is why he is present as the Word in John 1:1-3. I do not agree with Kline on a lot of things, but I think he may be on to something here.
Kline sees a correspondence between the Angel of God’s presence and the Holy Spirit during the wilderness journeys of Israel (cf. Isa. 63:9-11) and this has to do with the glory cloud, the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire that was present with Israel in the wilderness. This glory cloud is what Moses entered into in the book of Exodus and that’s why his face shone. He spoke to God face to face, there was a face there to talk to, a theophanic face, a theophany, an appearance of God as a man.
When the inner-reality veiled within the theophanic cloud is revealed we behold God in his heaven. The world of the glory theophany is a dimensional realm normally invisible to man where God reveals his presence as the King of Glory enthroned in the midst of myriads of heavenly beings. It is the realm into which the glorified Christ disappearing from human view entered to assume his place on the throne of God. It is the invisible or third heaven brought into the cloud-veiled visibility, thus the Spirit glory of Genesis 1:2 answers to the invisible heavens of Genesis 1:1 and represents a coming forth of the Lord of glory out of invisibility into a special earth-oriented and adapted manifestation to create and consummate, to reveal himself in earth history as Alpha and Omega. – Meredith Kline, Images of the Spirit, 17
Basically what Kline is saying here is that God has dwelt in this “glory-cloud” and on this throne before the creation and this “cloud” is seen first hovering over the preparatory creation of Genesis 1:2 to form it. Then it is seen in the visions of the prophets as it was also seen guiding the children of Israel in visible form as a cloud. It is the invisible becoming visible for the sake of man in earth history in certain times in history.
Therefore when God says,” Let us make man in our image”, what is happening is that man is some kind of representation of the One who was enthroned within this glory cloud – even his physical form.
Kline again (I feel I must apologize for the obtuse language):
Once we have recognized the Spirit of the creation narrative as the glory presence, we realize that it is not the case after all that the image of God idea appears in Genesis out of the blue, an unexplained riddle inviting nebulously abstract solutions. The statement in Genesis 1:27 that God created man in his own image instead finds a concretely specific, and in fact a visible point of reference, in the glory-spirit theophany of Genesis 1:2. This conclusion is enforced by the data in Genesis 1:26 and 2:7 which bring the Spirit of Genesis 1:2 into connection with the act of man’s creation. – Images of the Spirit, 21
Now this image that is within the glory cloud is the Son of God!
The eternal firstborn Son furnished a pattern for man as a royal glory image of the Father.” – Images, 24
In his application of this to his description of man as made in the image of God, Kline says that the bodily representation in the form of the theophany, though it is incorporeal, is also part of the image.
Under the concept of man as the glory image of God, the Bible includes functional or official, formal or physical, and ethical components corresponding to the composition of the archetypal glory.
- Functional glory likeness is man’s likeness to God in the possession of official authority and in the exercise of dominion.
- Ethical glory is reflection of the holiness, righteousness, and truth of the divine Judge, not just the presence of the moral faculty of any religious orientation whatsoever.
- Formal physical glory likeness is man’s bodily reflection of the theophanic and incarnate glory. – Images, 31
Unpacking what he is not saying…earlier Kline has made it clear that he believes in the view of the image not as representative like most Old Testament scholars, but as resemblance; that is, the substantive view of the image (with which I would agree). However, within that substantive or structural view of the image, he sees the reflection of the theophanic glory of the Son of God in the glory-cloud from the original creation.
Therefore putting together Genesis 1:2:
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
with John 1:1-3:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
and Hebrews 1:2-3:
But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint [GK. charackter] of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
We come away with the impressive idea that the Son, being the charackter, the distinct impress of God’s nature, is the one who formed the worlds. Now because of that Kline sees in Genesis 1:2 the theophanic glory of Christ in the Spirit that was hovering over the inchoate earth ready to fashion it. And because of that he says that the image in Genesis 1:26-27 is the image of the glory of God in Genesis 1:2 as the pre-incarnate Logos (Jn. 1:1-3).
This glory is brought into view in the pillar of cloud in the wilderness in the book of Exodus and in the books of Ezekiel and Daniel in the prophets; this being so, the image of God also includes, or better, depends upon, the bodily pre-incarnate Christ appearing as a man.
Kline is on to something when he talks about the image of God being made after something that is there: viz, the image of God is not necessarily a body. The image is more non-material, the body is given as a physical expression of the image.
Now it is so closely connected to the image that is in the soul, that body and soul are what form a human being. A human being is not a complete human being if he is a soul who is disembodied. He must have a body, which is why the incarnation; to say nothing of the resurrection, is of such importance.
The body expresses the soul, and therefore can be called a “companion” to the image, or a necessary vehicle of the imago Dei. Therefore the image of God is substantive; man resembles God. This means that in the creation of man in the image of God, man has something important to do that expresses that image, and he needs a body to do it. In the expression of the image through the body man has dominion, and man has proper relationship both with God and with his fellow physical creatures (e.g. family, then society, then the natural world), and this is a picture of the peace and the dominion that man will have when the physically resurrected Christ, who is the Last Adam, returns to earth.
End of speculation. We pick things up next time…