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Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) offers three practical applications to learn from the doctrine of the image of God in man. The first is to acknowledge God’s goodness in both creating us in the image of God and that image in believers through Christ. The third application is that the doctrine of the image of God strengthens the hope of believers reminding them  that all things will be restored. The second is,

¶It should lead us to acknowledge our misery. Having been endowed originally with a heavenly dignity, we are now born of parents who make us sinners even before we are born.

¶Esdras tells us that the elders who had seen the beauty of the first temple built by Solomon were moved to tears when they saw the new temple as it was restored by Zerubbabel after the Babylonian captivity.

How much more reason for sorrow and tears should we have when we call to mind the first man as he was created in the image of God–as the most beautiful temple and dwelling of the most holy Trinity–and then look at him as he was horribly ravaged by the infernal Chaldeans and robbed of all the divine gifts with which he had been first endowed.*

What imagery! That’s the kind of theology I love. It’s like Grudem‘s “Questions for Personal Application,” but much better and nearly 500 years older.


*Johann Gerhard, “The Image of God,” in The Doctrine of Man in Classical Lutheran Theology, eds. Herman A Preus and Edmund Smits (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Publishing House, 1962), 65-66.