The Power of the Image of God! Lessons Herman Bavinck can teach us.


23rd 10 2020

Humanity did not start at the bottom of the rung make its way up the animal and plant ladder.  This cannot be the case. Adam and Eve were created good.  Then the fall happened… generically or literally, a Fall took place and humanity fell into an Autumnal abyss.  Only through the second Adam (Jesus Christ) could humanity look to the Springtime again with the promise of eternal life which is a gift (cannot be earned).


Let us find out then how the Christian view is different to these worldly philosophical views. On pages 42 to 43 in Bavinck’s ethics we find the conclusion to this debate and reflection on what the standard of Ethics should be.  At the end of page 42 Bavinck writes;

 ”…that which is considered to be ‘normally’ human cannot truly serve as the standard of ethics”.

I think the word ‘normally’ is a defining word.  It may even be related to the sociology term ‘Norm’.  If this is the case that it means; ‘They are most commonly defined as rules or expectations that are socially enforced’. (

Durkheim a contemporary of Bavinck would think; Norms are a ‘social fact’ (Durkheim: 1982). These are the words from the famous French sociologist Emile Durkheim. He went on to explain that we are born into a pre-existing order, with rules and norms that have already been premade and set. And that if we want to live in this society we are born into, we must learn to abide by these ‘pre-determined sanctions’ (Durkheim: 1982/1895, p56-57). ‘’ (

This cannot be the standard then.  Herman Bavinck finds another and true centre for  the grounds of Ethics and takes ethics completely out of the hands of Humanity and puts our accountability to God because true ethics can only be done when we live and move as the ‘image of God;

’ According to Bavinck a lot of humanity got ‘dominion over nature wrong’.  ‘It is not enough to be a person exercising dominion over nature’.  We can only be truly good (ethics) at home, in the public square, and everywhere else, when we are the image of God.’ (Bavinck’s ethics volume 1 page 42)

So what sort of characteristics does God have that we ought to follow? 

This is a very important point because it takes the responsibility out of humanity and into God’s hands.  Jesus Christ is our standard and I don’t have time to write about this yet.  However, God certainly wouldn’t want his creation damaged after making it perfect including the beginnings of the human race in Adam and Eve.  The second Adam came to make things right.  Ecologically Christians following the standard of the image of God ought to fight the greed that is in the world that causes forests to be burned down.  Greed that destroys the fishing stocks of the world.  Hate that causes the deaths of countless and the building of atomic weapons. 

The most powerful weapon in the world is not the nuclear bomb, it is love; God is love; we ought to walk in love.  We need to share love to turn the hearts of people away from the destructive elements found at the individual level and social level since the Fall. Ghandi and Martin Luther King knew this.

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