Nature Grace Dualism

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

Genesis 1:26 (ESV)

Even this portion of a verse of Scripture has serious ramifications for apologetic methodology.

When “image” and “likeness” are taken not to be synonymous but rather to refer to two different concepts a false anthropological dichotomization is created which either extends to or finds inductive support from other doctrines similarly understood. Thus the ‘image’ of God might incorrectly be thought of as being natural to humans while the ‘likeness’ of God is thought of as supernatural so that an instance of a fabricated distinction between nature and grace is introduced. If we are to have the false understanding that humanity has been created in the image of God in an ontological sense then the imago dei is left untouched by the fall of humanity. The likeness of God in this view is in some sense added to what humanity essentially is because of grace.

Tradition dictates that what I will be referring to as Nature Grace Dualism need not be derived from exegesis in current understanding or consequent practice. Roman Catholics may therefore reject the interpretation in question of the portion of Scripture quoted above and still adhere to the principles derived from or supported by the interpretation. It is the case that Roman Catholicism is permeated with the dualism which is the concern of the discussion as are the works of Thomas Aquinas and most current Protestant attempts at apologetics.

I will be relying heavily upon Gospel Centered Hermeneutics by Graeme Goldsworthy for this series. You may read a brief review of the book which mentions a little about its relationship to Van Tillian presuppositionalism. The material above is discussed in more depth on pages 109-110 of this book and these pages are my main source for what I have written.


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