In the first session of the Aldersgate Mission Conference (October 18, 2023, 9:00AM to 11:00AM, Wednesday), Rev. Joey Umali, shared about the Life and Mission of the UMC: Starting Years, Growing Years, and Challenging Years, and Looking Ahead. In his lecture, he made mention about the word “Imago Dei.” While delivering his explanation about homosexuality and marriage, I am intently listening and at the same time compelled to take note some ideas resounding in my ears regarding that “Imago Dei.” In this post, I wrote a short overview about this extensive topic that can help us understand the meaning, theological considerations, practical demonstration, in views of Wesleyan theology, and its call to action.

Meaning of Imago Dei

Imago Dei, a Latin phrase meaning “Image of God,” refers to the theological concept in Christianity that asserts that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. This foundational belief underscores the inherent dignity, value, and purpose of every individual, shaping the way believers perceive humanity and their relationship with the divine.

Theological Considerations

  1. Biblical Basis

    The central idea of Imago Dei finds its roots in Genesis 1:26-27, where it is stated that God created humans in His own image, endowing them with intellect, moral capacity, and relational capabilities.

  2. Human Dignity

    Imago Dei emphasizes the intrinsic worth of every human being, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status. This concept is foundational in shaping Christian ethics and social justice initiatives.

  3. Creation and Redemption

    The understanding of Imago Dei influences the Christian view of creation and redemption. Through Christ, believers are restored to the divine image, and their lives are transformed to reflect God’s character and virtues.

Practical Demonstration of Imago Dei

  1. Respect for Life

    Valuing human life from conception to natural death, advocating for anti-abortion initiatives, and supporting healthcare and education.

  2. Social Justice

    Pursuing equality, addressing poverty, fighting discrimination, and promoting fair treatment for all, aligning with the belief that every person carries the image of God.

  3. Compassion and Empathy

    Demonstrating love and empathy towards others, including marginalized communities, refugees, and those in need, acknowledging their inherent worth as bearers of Imago Dei.

Views of Wesleyan Theology

Wesleyan Theology, rooted in the teachings of John Wesley, emphasizes the transformative power of God’s grace. In this context:

  1. Holiness

    Wesleyan theology stresses the concept of sanctification, where believers, through the work of the Holy Spirit, are continually transformed into the likeness of Christ, embodying Imago Dei in character and actions.

  2. Social Holiness

    Wesleyan tradition advocates for social engagement and service, emphasizing the importance of reflecting God’s image through acts of love, mercy, and justice in society.

Call to Action

  1. Promote Education

    Encourage theological education and discussions about Imago Dei within religious communities to deepen understanding and awareness.

  2. Advocate for Human Rights

    Support initiatives that uphold human rights, equality, and dignity, working towards a society where every person is treated with respect and fairness.

  3. Foster Dialogue

    Engage in interfaith and intercultural dialogues to promote mutual respect and understanding, recognizing the divine image in people of various beliefs and backgrounds.

In conclusion, Imago Dei stands as a foundational concept in Christian theology, shaping beliefs about humanity’s worth, purpose, and ethical responsibilities. By embracing this doctrine and translating it into compassionate actions, individuals and communities can contribute to a more just, empathetic, and harmonious world, reflecting the divine image in every interaction and endeavor.

By Roge Sison

An ordained clergy of The United Methodist Church.

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