Volume 18 - Issue 3

The image of God in humanity: a biblical-psychological perspective

By Craig L. Blomberg

In 1984, Dr Ward Wilson and Dr Craig Blomberg, our N. American Reviews Editor, team-taught a course at Palm Beach Atlantic College in Florida entitled ‘The Image of God in Humanity: Biblical and Psychological Perspectives’. In 1986, Ward presented his own perspective in two papers presented to the American Scientific Affiliation meetings at Houghton College in New York. In 1988, he refined them further in a presentation to the International Congress on Christian Counseling held in Atlanta. In the months just before his death from leukemia in 1991, he had written a preface, two chapters, and three appendices to what he had hoped would be a book entitled God’s Image, Our Potential and Eternal Living. He had projected several additional chapters for which he left no extensive notes. Because of Dr Wilson’s earlier ministry as a staff member for Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, his lifelong commitment to students preparing for ministry, and his special interest in international and cross-cultural studies,1 it is particularly appropriate that this synthesis of his perspectives,2 edited by Craig Blomberg, should be finally published in Themelios.

Theologians and biblical scholars continue to debate the nature of the image of God in humanity.3 The rapid rise of Christian counselling and psychology has produced numerous attempts to integrate the observations of the social sciences with biblical exegesis and systematic theology. Recent studies suggest the possibility of emerging lines of agreement concerning certain aspects of human nature.4 But in the light of diverse theological and social-psychological views of the essence of humanity, those who would integrate biblical and social-scientific insights need a more refined picture of the qualities comprising the imago Dei within humans. This article briefly surveys several of the classic views of the image of God, highlights relevant scriptural data, proposes a view which is both moral and interpersonal, unpacks this perspective in the light of Exodus 34:6–7, notes correspondences with psychological and cultural-anthropological research and Christian apologetics, and suggests several practical applications of the theory for persons active in Christian ministry.

Influential views of the image of God

The view that God’s image in humanity reflects certain physical characteristics has dominated various periods of church history but is now almost universally abandoned, inasmuch as Scripture, apart from anthropomorphic language, consistently denies bodily attributes to God the Father.5 The first occurrence of the expression ‘the image of God’ appears in Genesis 1:26a, leading others to look in the immediate context of that verse for clues to its content. In 1:26b, God gives man dominion over all other creatures, which has suggested that God’s image could be humanity’s vice-regency over creation.6 1:27 describes the creation of male and female; perhaps the image involves our sexuality, our separation into two genders, or our need for interpersonal fellowship or community.7 But although these concepts are the ones most immediately juxtaposed with the creation of people in God’s image, nothing in the text explicitly links them together or identifies them as what the imago comprises.

The influential views of Augustine and Aquinas anticipate some of the approaches of modern psychology. Augustine supported a triune capability to know God by means of memory, understanding, and will, within the soul’s rationality and comparable to God’s Trinity.8 Aquinas pictured our imago in three ways: (a) a natural aptitude for understanding and loving God; (b) our imperfect habits of knowing and loving God by conformity with grace; and (c) acting perfectly in knowing God, according to the likeness of his glory.9 Reinhold Niebuhr held to this rationalistic tradition by identifying the image of God with our power of self-transcendence, which enlarges the reason’s conceptions.10 But all these views depend less on exegesis than on philosophy, as they try to answer the question of what humans and God have in common that sets them apart from the rest of created life. The contemporary evangelical theologians Lewis and Demarest identify metaphysical, intellectual, moral, emotional, volitional and relational aspects of the image,11 but it is not clear that Scripture uses all five of these categories with specific reference to the imago Dei, even if all are important dimensions of the human person.

The Reformers, especially Luther and Calvin, followed the lead of the NT, comparing especially Colossians 3:10 with Ephesians 4:24, and advocated righteousness and holiness as the essence of God’s image.12 This understandably led to the conviction that such an image was severely corrupted if not entirely effaced by the fall, but that it is in the process of being restored through the new life in Christ on which believers embark.13Yet Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9 both seem to require that God’s image, to some significant degree, remains in all humans even after the fall. In addition, moral awareness (knowledge of good and evil) is precisely what the creation narratives suggest Adam and Eve did not have, prior to the fall.14 Still, being in a state of moral perfection is not the same as consciousness of that perfection or of the means to maintain it. And the Reformers’ views can be rehabilitated by speaking not of righteousness per se, but of the capacity for righteous or holy living (or for a personal relationship with God), which remains after the fall, but which requires redemption for its actualization.

Numerous other proposals have been made but none has commanded as widespread attention as these.15The major problem with the biblical data is that nowhere does Scripture directly provide a definition or description of what the image of God involves. More indirectly, however, there are important clues. We believe the most crucial text, usually overlooked in discussions on God’s image, is Exodus 33:12–34:7, particularly 34:6–7.

A moral-interpersonal perspective

After the incident of the golden calf, Moses despairs of his ability to continue to lead the children of Israel. He asks God for reassurance that Yahweh’s personal presence will continue to guide him and requests further insight into the nature of that presence. Specifically, he asks to know God’s ways (Ex. 33:13) and to experience God’s glory (33:18). In response, Yahweh promises to ‘cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence’ (v. 19). Four key terms in these verses include God’s ‘ways’, ‘glory’, ‘goodness’ and ‘name’. The meaning of each of these terms in Hebrew more generally, and in this context specifically, translated into the language of modern psychology, suggests that Moses is enquiring about God’s motives (‘ways’) and character traits (‘glory’). Yahweh replies by declaring that he will reveal his value system (‘goodness’) and personality profile (‘name’).16

The Exodus narrative continues with God warning Moses that he cannot see him directly (his ‘face’), but that he will see him indirectly (‘his back’) and that this will occur ‘when my glory passes by’ (33:22). 34:6–7 then describes the actual event: ‘And he passed in front of Moses.…’ Here unfolds the revelation of God’s glory. But it is unclear if Moses saw anything or not; what is related is that God spoke to him, itemizing crucial attributes of Yahweh. God’s glory is thus defined in terms of cardinal qualities, specifically those which later Christian theology would call his ‘communicable attributes’, that is, those which humans can share—compassion, graciousness, slowness to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiveness and justice.17

The centrality of this revelation of Yahweh to Moses is demonstrated by the fact that direct quotations of this personality profile recur in eight other OT passages (Nu. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15, 103:8, 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jon. 4:2; Nah. 1:3). Still other texts contain probable allusions to Exodus 34:6–7, most notably Jeremiah 9:23–24. Exodus 20:5–6, in turn, with its rationale for the second commandment of the decalogue, may supply the background for part of Yahweh’s disclosure formula here.18

If the OT links the glory of God with his communicable attributes, the NT associates his glory with his image. The most crucial passage here is 2 Corinthians 3:7–4:6, which is clearly expounding Exodus 33–34.19In the context of a contrast between the fading glory of the old dispensation and the enduring glory of the new, Paul delineates the transformation which believers are undergoing: ‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect [niv mg: ‘contemplate’] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (3:18). But the word translated ‘likeness’ here is eikōn, more commonly rendered ‘image’, and the very word used by the lxx to translate the Hebrew ṣelem (‘image’) in Genesis 1:26. Again in 2 Corinthians 4:4, ‘glory’ and ‘image’ are closely associated in the phrase, ‘the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’. That glory and image are at least partially interchangeable seems to be confirmed by 4:6, which contains the parallel phrase, ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’. Instead of the order A-B-C, we have A-C-B, but it seems self-evident that ‘the light of the gospel’ and ‘the light of the knowledge’ are synonymous. So too, therefore, at least in this context, must be ‘the glory of Christ’ and ‘the face of Christ’, both referring to the clear revelation of his being, and ‘the image of God’ and ‘the glory of God’, referring to those attributes of his character which are increasingly replicated in regenerated humans.20

With the Reformers, it is fair to speak of this image of God as ‘moral’; with more recent theologies, it is important to point out that all the elements are ‘relational’ or interpersonal in nature. As the image of God is increasingly perfected in redeemed humanity, persons are enabled not only to relate more adequately to God but also to other people. A variety of other biblical data supports this moral-interpersonal interpretation of God’s image. Although the plural pronouns of the Genesis 1 creation narrative remain an enigma, a defensible case can still be mounted for seeing them as evidence for some form of plurality or interpersonal communion within the Godhead.21 Leviticus 19:1 commands God’s people to be holy as he is holy; the laws of the ‘holiness code’ which this verse introduces focus primarily on treating one another with compassion, love, forgiveness and justice. Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount echo the structure of Leviticus 19:1: ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt. 5:48). But Luke’s version of this saying replaces ‘perfect’ with ‘merciful’ (Lk. 6:36). Is it coincidental that the first item in the list of Yahweh’s character traits in Exodus 34:6 is a term for compassion or mercy? Is Luke employing ‘synecdoche’ (a part for the whole) to refer to the entire list of qualities of the image of God in Exodus 34:6–7? Might Jesus have, in fact, expounded all of them, whereas Luke, adopting characteristic practices of abbreviation, mentions only the first on the list?22Surely such a list would admirably define the type of perfection or maturity (‘the greater righteousness’) which the Sermon on the Mount/Plain as a whole requires.

We have already alluded to the Reformers’ combination of Colossians 3:10 and Ephesians 4:24. The former passage speaks explicitly of believers being recreated in the image (eikōn) of God. The parallel passage in Ephesians does not employ the term ‘image’ but refers instead to being created ‘to be like God in true righteousness and holiness’. But if the image is that which believers and God share, then to be like God must be to have that image fully restored. And the Ephesians text explicitly identifies ‘righteousness and holiness’. But if the image is that which believers and God share, then to be like God must be to have that image fully restored. And the Ephesians text explicitly identifies ‘righteousness and holiness’ (or wholesomeness, or health) as central to that image. Moral and interpersonal categories are clearly present.23But we may utilize Colossians further. Not only does Colossians 3:10 link up with Ephesians, it also links back with 1:15. It is because of Christ, who is ‘the image of the invisible God’, that we are enabled to be redeemed and recreated.24 Then, as we read on from Colossians 3:10, we see that the renewal of the knowledge of God in the image of our Creator is a moral and interpersonal knowledge, in which we clothe ourselves ‘with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’ (v. 12). We ‘bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances’ we may have against one another (v. 13). This list of virtues is strikingly similar to Exodus 34:6–7.

One additional scriptural link between God’s image and his glory as reflected in humans appears in 1 Corinthians 11:7: ‘A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.’ In the first clause ‘image’ and ‘glory’ seem roughly synonymous. The second clause suggests a distinction, however, which explains the absence of a second use of ‘image’. Woman is not the image of man; she, like man, is equally created in God’s image (Gn. 1:27). But just as Paul develops a play on the word ‘head’ throughout 1 Corinthians 11:2–16, comparing and contrasting one’s anatomical ‘head’ with one’s metaphorical ‘head’ (Christ for the man and the man for the woman), so too he seems to shift in this verse from using ‘glory’ as synonymous with ‘image’ to using it to mean something like ‘honour’.25

In fact, the rainbow of character traits revealed in Exodus 34:6–7 finds echoes in virtually every major NT listing of cardinal attributes incumbent for believers. Most significant among these are James 3:17 on the wisdom that comes from above (‘pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere’), the catalogue of Christian virtues in 2 Peter 1:5–7 (‘faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love’), explicitly in the context of receiving what we need for life and godliness ‘through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness’ (v. 3; recall Ex. 33:18–19), and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23 (‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’). Ephesians 4:1–16 suggests that the two foundational qualities of Christian living are Christ-like character and Spirit-led unity. John 20:22–23 highlights the importance of forgiveness in the post-resurrection ministry of Christ and his disciples, using language which harks back to Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, in which Jesus empowered first Peter and then all the twelve to bind and loose (‘forgive or not forgive’, based on the presence or absence of repentance, as in Ex. 34:7) according to the divine will. Even Paul’s favourite term for spiritual gifts (charismata) suggests the idea of ‘gracious gifts’, echoing the element of graciousness in the personality profile of God’s image revealed at Sinai.

In sum, Exodus 34:6–7 is probably not an exhaustive list of the qualities which comprise the image that God creates and recreates in humans. Doubtless, it must be supplemented by the attributes added in catalogues of Christian character traits such as those noted above. But it provides an excellent foundation for further analysis and corroborates a moral-interpersonal interpretation of the imago Dei. An elaboration of the qualities itemized in these two verses in light of contemporary psychological understanding proves especially fruitful.

An analysis of the imago qualities


A merciful person is not only emotionally compassionate but also active at meeting others’ needs. These include the primary needs which psychologists stress as well as higher-level needs according to hierarchies of self-actualization. Mercy assumes that the caregiver is wise and sensitive to others’ conditions and willing to make interpersonal contact and to use one’s resources to meet needs. The merciful person will also try to influence others who could help the needy. God’s compassion or mercy shines in a variety of places in the Bible. The Psalms sparkle with requests and praises for God’s mercy. David, for example, pleads for this mercy to wipe out his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah (Ps. 51:1). In 25:10 David sings, ‘All the paths of Yahweh are merciful and faithful to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies’. Central to the worship services of Israel was the mercy seat. Speaking to Cornelius, Peter focused on Jesus’ mercy in describing how he ‘went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38). The gospels picture him feeding the poor, healing the sick, exorcising the oppressed, refreshing the weary, befriending sinners, and providing love and safety to his followers.

Interestingly, the attribute of mercy is curvilinear (or ‘U-shaped’) in its value and effectiveness. That is to say, too much mercy is as detrimental as too little. In Japanese culture, for example, this is proverbial (‘too much is as too little’). It is unhealthy to lavish others with many goods and benefits, in effect telling an individual, ‘You aren’t a good provider’. Some recipients of such extravagance have committed suicide. Western cultures, too, react against spoiled children (and adults) or those who waste public monies from welfare or the dole. Early believers were to work in order to show mercy to the needy, including themselves (‘If a person is not willing to work, he or she shall not eat’—2 Thes. 3:10), yet they were not to refuse charity when they were in need (Acts 2:45). In fact, five of the seven imago attributes listed in Exodus 34:6–7 are curvilinear: mercy, graciousness, slowness to anger, preserving love, forgiveness and justice. There are times when it is appropriate to withhold each of these. But two of the seven are linear in their value and effectiveness: self-giving love and truthfulness. Is it coincidental that these are the only two which the text specifically describes as that which God ‘abounds in’—that is, overflowing and unlimited in nature?


Gracious persons are interpersonally warm and relaxing—people feel at home in their presence. The Psalmist praises the advantages of a person who is gracious and compassionate in right relationships out of respect for Yahweh (Ps. 112:4–5). Jesus’ beneficial manner of dealing with friend, enquirer and critic helped those who accepted his style of relationship to develop a sense of fulfilment. So impressed was John, who labelled himself Jesus’ beloved disciple, with Jesus’ graciousness, that he focused on it and truthfulness as Jesus’ primary character traits (eikon—Jn. 1:14, 17). But we also find a curvilinear relation between psychological health and the amount of graciousness one experiences. We need an adequate amount of truth-supported grace to survive. Without interpersonal warmth, infants may experience marasmus (a wasting away of the body) and even die, or children may develop psychological dwarfism and other extreme problems. At the other end of the spectrum, some subcultures train people to be hypocritical in face-to-face graciousness, but critical or dishonest behind one’s back. This is often manifest in sickly-sweet, hollow, or supercilious hospitality.

Slow to anger28

God is very patient with people about their sin, giving time for repentance and change. He predicted the destruction of many cities’ (e.g. Tyre and Jerusalem) and empires (e.g. Assyria and Babylon) generations before judgment fell, trying to get them to do what they knew was good according to God’s image in them. The prophet Jonah predicted Nineveh’s destruction for their evil, but when they repented God relented, explaining to Jonah that he was a ‘gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in self-giving love …’ (Jon. 4:2). Jesus was patient with his disciples, correcting but not firing them, when they thought he was running the kingdom wrongly (Lk. 9:51–55; Mt. 16:21–27).

The best parents are patient with their developing children. Intergenerational conflicts increase when parents continually condemn their youth, who recognize parental hypocrisy and condemn back (contrast Lk. 6:37). Many forces in modern culture press for instant change; Paul stresses that it is tribulation which will develop the persevering patience that adds to our Christ-likeness and results in mature character (Rom. 5:3–5). We must remember, however, that God eventually does get angry at unrepented and unreconciled evil, so he cannot show complete unconditional positive regard as Carl Rogers and other clinicians have advocated.29There must be legal and psychological limits to clients’ behaviour. Similarly, parents need to set limits for unhealthy behaviour at appropriate levels for different stages of child development.

Abounding in self-giving love30

Instead of unconditional positive regard, Yahweh is rich and overflowing (abounding) with self-giving love. This steadfast loving-kindness is one of the two second-order clusters of all of Yahweh’s goodness, tying with justice the right combination of need-meeting experiences. God continued to love Israel in spite of her sin, even when he had to punish her periodically—which also reflected his self-giving love. In Proverbs God’s wisdom is personified and declares, ‘I love those who love me, and those who diligently seek me will find me’ (Pr. 8:17). Jesus’ agapē love included loving his disciples and family even when he was being denied justice, ridiculed, tortured and executed. By his teaching and actions, Jesus included loving his enemies even unto death.

Whereas God’s mercy, graciousness and patience are curvilinear in relation to healthfulness, self-giving love (like the next attribute to be discussed, truthfulness) is linearly related to wholesomeness. The maximum amount of steadfast loving-kindness is the most healthy. This love builds up all our created potential through its stabilizing and maturing processes. It involves sacrificial concern, warm-hearted kindness, active neighbourliness, health-creating friendship and dirt-cleaning servant-hood. As believers more clearly model Jesus’ love, they will actively include their enemies in their love-circle. This maximal love, however, does not spoil children nor take away the loved ones’ responsibility to develop their own potentials.

Abounding in truthfulness31

Just like self-giving love, the maximum amount of truthfulness, faithfulness or integrity is the most healthy. God is rich and overflowing with interpersonal honesty. He is faithful to his commitments in creation and salvation. His fulfilled prophecies demonstrate that we can trust him concerning predictions which have not yet come to pass. What is more, we can trust in his promise to complete the development and full restoration of the imagoin the lives of believers (Rom. 8:28–29). All of the believer’s experiences should combine together to promote goodness, because those he knew ahead of time would believe in him he predestined to be conformed to his Son’s image. This is not a rigid, blind determinism, for God works his will through free human agents. The primary observers of Jesus’ life were impressed with his personal veracity. As noted above, John was especially cognizant of Jesus’ truthfulness—cognitively and morally (Jn. 1:14, 17).

We, however, often yield to cultural pressures, motivated by personal narcissistic choices, and so we lie and fake wholesome living. Some cultures train people to lie more cleverly than do others, even though persons in all cultures want to know the truth. In Japan, for example, there is much lying, especially to superiors, under the guise of courteously telling them what they want to hear, even as the ideal remains to know someone truly or ‘inwardly’. Codes of honour among thieves, as among Mafia clans, reflect the universal desire of people to experience the truth and the reality that no-one can function well without being able to trust someone. History under numerous Communist regimes was regularly distorted or fabricated; post-Communist cultures now reflect the immense hunger for truth, including spiritual truth, which this vacuum created. The entire complex Western economy functions on the basis of certain levels of trust in commitments. Marriages disintegrate without faithfulness. However, ‘if we are faithless [Christ] is faithful, for he cannot deny himself’ (2 Tim. 2:13).

Preserving self-giving love32

Although the same term for ‘love’ appears in Exodus 34:7 as in v. 6 (ḥesed), here it introduces a contrast between God’s love and forgiveness on the one hand and his justice on the other. In other words, ‘maintaining’ (preserving, reinvesting) love ‘for thousands’ is again curvilinear; it has its limits, as established by God on the basis of his sanctions against evil. Humans, too, in wholesome interpersonal relationships must give and receive God’s ḥesed within appropriate parameters. But a distinctive focus here also lies in the concept of preserving. As we love God from our whole selves and love our neighbours as we love ourselves, God will always guard and reinvest that self-giving love in the lover. Yahweh is ‘the faithful God, who keeps his covenant and his self-giving love to a thousandth generation with those who love and keep his commandments’ (Dt. 7:9). God does not misuse love, like a manipulative sociopath, to seduce or cheat someone, but he redirects the love to make it of value in the lover’s life. This preservative love is not merely reciprocal altruism but a multiplication of refreshing experiences. God guides his lovers through tough situations in which stabilizing love results in greater love: ‘To him who has will more be given’ (Mt. 25:29). In fact, Jesus immortalizes this love into eternal living, stressing that any expression of the imago, even giving a cup of cold water to the needy, will be rewarded. Any reflection of God’s character will magnify benefits in this life and into all eternity.

Our predestination to conform to God’s image, particularly in maintaining his self-giving love, may require various modifications of the human potential movement’s emphases. Not only does our potential include the various gifts of the Spirit distributed as he wills (1 Cor. 12:11), but it also involves the fruit of the Spirit (another way of itemizing the character traits of the imago Dei). We will never maximize our potential, therefore, without helping our neighbours maximize theirs, especially including their realization of eternal life. Even Down’s Syndrome children who are unspoiled and not abused can develop many of the elements of God’s image within them, when they are treated with self-giving love. Their gifts may be few and their speed of response slow, but they can show great love, and they sense when they are mistreated.

Forgiving all kinds of evil33

The essence of God’s being is to forgive the repentant of all categories of evil: (a) iniquity34—wickedness, including wilful or planned evil; (b) transgressions35—rebellion, specifically violating known laws; and (c) sin36—the most general of the three terms, with the sense of missing the mark of any moral ideal. We have already seen how David pleaded with God to wipe out his transgression (Ps. 51; cf. also Ps. 32). Jesus built on John the Baptist’s message of repenting and producing evidence of change (Mt. 3:2; 4:17). As a prophet, John applied the imago characteristics practically to illustrate appropriate fruit of repentance (Lk. 3:7–14); Christ in the Sermon on the Mount modelled the same. Jesus’ interpersonal life provoked people to reconciliation or to wrath. People who do not wish to change often react negatively to a righteous person. For those who desired to improve and repented, Jesus transformed them, irrespective of where they fell on the socio-economic spectrum—from prostitutes to government officials.

Jesus clearly taught in and after ‘the Lord’s prayer’ that receiving forgiveness was directly correlated with forgiving others (Mt. 6:12, 14–15). We are to ask our heavenly Father to forgive our moral debts as we forgive our debtors. Otherwise God will not forgive us! Forgiveness is thus one area where God models us; heaven is a place only for reconciled people. Forgiveness actively uses the keys of the kingdom to bulldoze the gates of hell, shrinking its territory. As Jesus modelled the Father by creating an interpersonal climate for forgiveness and full imago development, so our modelling his interpersonal forgiveness reflects eternally matched dependent behaviour (Jn. 20:21–23).37 Jesus even offered forgiveness to his persecutors and enemies (Lk. 23:34). One thief repented, and perhaps the centurion had a change of heart. Sadly, the betrayer, Judas, refused Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, in contrast with Peter, the denier, who accepted it. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, echoed Jesus’ words of forgiveness for his executors on the threshold of his death (Acts 7:60). There are times and places when forgiveness must be withheld, most notably when it is unrelentingly spurned (e.g. Mt. 18:15–18). But most of us could do with a far more lavish endowment of this imago character trait.

Practising justice38

Exodus 34:7b stresses the punitive side of God’s justice with respect to unrepentant sin. Yahweh, however, is also completely positive in justice—he is fair in all his dealings with us. All the imago qualities are summarized in God’s self-giving love and justice, which leads us to conclude that God is wholesome (holy)39 and a right-relater (righteous).40 Casual readers of the OT sometimes conclude that God is primarily judgmental in his dealings. Closer examination, though, shows that his punishment of the unrepentant arises from his love.41Often because of the pervasiveness of evil in our world and because of God’s patience, we may doubt the existence of a wholly just God. The major model we have for demonstrating the imago characteristics in the face of gross injustice is Jesus’ laying down his life and setting aside his rights for his friends and for the world. Yet after his unfair treatment and death, God vindicated Jesus through the resurrection and exaltation. If we die (either literally or metaphorically) for doing good, eventually his justice will create a resurrection.

However, it may take generations for God’s retributive justice to be executed. We know much evil is modelled and passed on from generation to generation—everything from child abuse to cheating others. When there has been no repentance and change, God’s punishment must eventually fall. Believers, though, are to be just and fair in their roles of responsibility (e.g. as parents or administrators); we must not take vengeance into our own hands (Heb. 10:30). Instead we must love our neighbours as we love ourselves, because this is the essence of Yahweh (Lev. 19:18). Although most of the armour of God that Christians are to wear (Eph. 6:10–20) comes directly from Isaiah’s depictions of Yahweh’s armour (Is. 11:5; 52:7; 59:17a), Paul never asks us to put on God’s garments of vengeance (59:17b). When we pray for concrete ways by which to love and genuinely reflect Jesus’ personality, many enemies become friends and make restitution for their past injustices (e.g. Lk. 19:1–10), and our churches develop into healthy growth groups.42

Perhaps an amplified or paraphrastic translation and diagram of Exodus 34:6–7 can best summarize the ‘shekinah rainbow’ of character traits central to the imago Dei:

A God merciful (compassionately meeting needs),

gracious (interpersonally warm and fulfilling),

slow to anger (patient), and

abounding (rich and overflowing) with

self-giving love (steadfast Iovingkindness), and

truthfulness (interpersonal honesty and faithfulness);

preserving (guarding and reinvesting) self-giving love for thousands,

forgiving iniquity (wilful or planned evil),

transgressions (law violations and trespasses), and

sin (falling short of any moral ideal); but

who will by no means clear the guilty (unrepentant),

visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the

third and fourth generations.

Modern psychology and cultural anthropology


The major contemporary psychological theories of the human person are humanistic in essence and disagree with the biblical doctrines and world-view in important ways. For Carl Rogers, each human is basically good, with a tendency to actualize his or her potentialities. This self-fulfilling force may be constricted by one’s evil social environment, resulting in maladjustment, or it may be freed by other fully-functioning people. The major self-expressed values in the fully-functioning person (i.e., one with a healthy personality) are unconditional positive regard, openness to experience, existential living, organismic trusting, experiential freedom, and creativity.43 But how is it that naturally good individuals always become evil in a group rather than helping others to become better? Most of us have seen sociopaths with a deceptive ideal self who are creative at harming others. And not every existential choice or openness to a new experience is constructive.

Abraham Maslow’s self-actualization theory has been widely encouraged in education, including allegedly Christian education. His hierarchy of needs is well known for being more specific than Rogers’ list of healthy qualities. Before one’s self-actualizing force can be freely expressed, one must have needs of physiology, safety, belongingness, esteem, cognition and aesthetics met. But again inner human nature is not evil, but good or at least neutral, and it is largely one’s evil society which restricts the number of self-actualized persons to about one per cent of the population. Still, Maslow’s Jewish background has perhaps left its stamp on his list of desirable values in the self-actualization process: wholeness, perfection, completion, justice, aliveness, richness, simplicity, beauty, goodness, truth, honesty, uniqueness, effortlessness, playfulness, reality and self-sufficiency.44

Alfred Adler, an early defector from Freud, saw people’s main motivation in the striving for superiority or perfection. Humans are especially attracted by some fictional finalism that pulls them to exercise their creative self to will to power. An aspect of this perfectional motivation is an inner harmony and a striving to co-operate with fellow humans. Of the four possible personality types seen by Adler (ruling-dominant, getting-leaning, avoiding, and socially useful), only the last of these lead rich and purposeful lives. They confront problems and solve them in active and constructive ways. The most healthy people choose a lifestyle and ultimate goals agreeable to the ideals of society.45 But what if that society is demonic? Many use their creative selves to become superior at living mistaken lifestyles, according to biblical norms. We would appreciate more elaboration of the most socially-useful and therefore healthy personality characteristics. Is there one ultimate goal pattern which is not fictional and fills out our desire for socially healthy characteristics?

Gordon Allport, referred to as the dean of American persono-logists, did not abandon his Christian upbringing in the development of his psychological theory. He credited his lifelong concern for human welfare to childhood experiences such as caring for some of his father’s medical patients in their home, his parents’ philosophy of hard work and earning only enough money to meet family needs, and his mother’s role as teacher and philosopher in helping him search for ultimate, religious answers to his questions about life. Allport tried to develop his theory by studying healthy humans. Although he is known as a trait theorist, he stressed the individuality, dignity, and constant becoming of each person. Functional autonomy is governed by three principles: (a) organizing the energy level beyond mere survival to appropriate striving; (b) mastery and competence to be more efficient; and (c) appropriate patterning to integrate all motives around the total self. The result of his evaluation of normal, healthy adults led to seeing these qualities: the capacity for self-extension, the possibility of warm human interaction, demonstrating emotional security and self-acceptance, realistic perceptions, self-objectification, and a unifying philosophy of life.46 Allport’s healthy personality partially meshes with the imago characteristics but suffers from various deficiencies in clarity. What, for example, are the better unifying philosophies which really improve persons and societies?

Victor Frankl concluded from three years in Auschwitz and Dachau that persons determined meaning for themselves out of experiences of suffering. He felt there was a spiritual core which integrated the total personality. But there is no one moral or religious drive we are forced to satisfy—religion is one’s search for ultimate meaning, differing for everyone. One is responsible for one’s own existence and becomes authentic when one chooses responsibly for oneself and one’s relations with others. Reaching self-transcendence is for Frankl the ultimate state of being for the healthy personality. Self-transcendence is attained by choosing to relate to someone or something beyond the self. The closest thing to the functioning imago for Frankl is the work of the conscience, which is the unconscious source of our existentially authentic decisions—prelogical and premoral.47

This brief review of a few of the most influential theories of personality and motivation of recent generations48 shows that some views of the essence of human nature are so general and ambiguous that each theorist construes the specific components from his own motive system. To the extent that a given researcher is influenced by a Judaeo-Christian world-view (and most of the more prominent personality theorists have been, both positively and negatively), vestiges of the imago may be perceived in their theories. It is in recent studies in the field of cultural anthropology, however, which has largely rejected the relativism of a former era,49 that more specific points of correspondence with the biblical view of God’s image may be discerned.

Cultural anthropology

After premature claims earlier in this century that anthropology had proved that there were no cross-cultural moral or interpersonal absolutes common to humanity, recent research has tended to refute these claims. A spate of studies enables one to compile a fairly lengthy list of universally desirable moral or ethical behaviour traits and/or sanctions against failing to exhibit these traits.50 The following list culls from these sources those cross-cultural ethical universals which most closely correspond to the characteristics of God’s image in humanity and related biblical ethics:

sanctions against unjustifiable murder or maiming

sanctions against certain kinds of lying, especially breaking of oaths

obligations to keep certain promises

various property rights (land, clothes, tools, etc.)

restrictions against theft

loyalty to one’s social unit (family, tribe, nation)

preference of certain common good over certain individual good

demand for co-operation within the group

provision for the poor and unfortunate

reciprocal duties of children and parents

restrictions against various forms of sexual practices

prevention of violence within in-groups

obedience to leaders

respect for the dead and proper ritual disposal of corpses

desire for and priority of immaterial qualities

inner sanctions preferable to external ones

economic justice—reciprocity and restitution

distributive justice as an obligation.

To list these traits as ethical universals does not, of course, mean that they are universally practised but rather that they are seen in every culture, to one degree or another, as desirable. What is more, even among individuals and peoples who are notorious for not following one or more of these standards, often there is an expectation that others will follow them, especially when those others are interpersonally relating to oneself.

One might argue here for empirical confirmation of the Golden Rule (Mt. 7:12) as a summary of the imagocharacteristics. People expect to be treated in certain ways, obligating them to treat others in similar ways (whether or not they realize it). The principle of the Golden Rule surely lies behind Jesus’ conclusion to the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:36–37). Interestingly, there is considerable evidence that young children exercise Good Samaritan behaviour very early. In one important study, mothers of 12–18-month-olds were trained to make tape recordings at home. The mothers were to recount in detail what their children did when they saw someone in distress, such as another child get hurt or an adult looking sad. These records were kept over a nine-month period. The researchers found that there were twice as many helpful and understanding behaviours as aggressive and insensitive ones.51 If parents continue to foster such altruistic behaviours, children usually grow up and continue to display altruism. Children whose parents ignore or punish helpfulness usually ignore or are aggressive to people in need. Even newborns usually cry to other crying infants, whereas they will not cry to a recording of their own crying. Among hardened criminals, rules of rehabilitation based on a strict application of the Golden Rule have at times proved the only means of altering the behaviour of certain individuals.52 All this evidence points to human beings being created in the moral and interpersonal image of God.

Various objections, however, may be put to these lines of reasoning. One is to point to societies, usually ‘primitive’ in nature (i.e., having had limited contact with the modern world), in which the imago characteristics seem significantly absent or diminished. Colin Turnbull’s influential description of the Ik people of the mountains of north central Africa, for example, contends that ‘The Ik teach us that our much vaunted human values are not inherent in humanity at all, but are associated only with a particular form of survival called society, and that all, even society itself, are luxuries that can be dispensed with’.53 The older members of the tribe gave verbal hints and a few behavioural evidences that the more basic values seen in the imago were firmly rooted in the Ikean past, but the elders’ influence declined rapidly in the selfish torrent of the present. But this merely confirms Paul’s teaching in Romans 1:18–32, that humans, in their depravity, may lapse into stages of extreme rebellion against God and his righteousness. W. Goldschmidt, for example, has claimed to find two moral universals among all cultures: (a) the search for some kind of ‘symbolic eternity’, and (b) ‘the essential self-interest of the human individual’.54 In other words, we want something about us to last eternally, yet we are universally selfish—observations which directly correlate with the biblical doctrines of creation and the fall.

Turnbull’s description of the Ik is an excellent example of Goldschmidt’s second universal leading to something close to hell on earth. Yet behind the Ik’s greed, cruelty, and interpersonal frozenness, clues appeared that the imago was not entirely effaced—that is, if we take their evaluative statements seriously. For example, individual Ik did not want anyone stealing or being unfaithful to them, although they expected it would occur. Recognizing that mercy was more highly prized among neighbouring tribes, the Ik tried to take advantage of it, assuming that it was right that others should provide for the poor and needy in their midst. A certain amount of graciousness was even required for the Ik to permit Turnbull to remain in their midst for two-and-a-half years.

A second, quite different, alternative to the biblical doctrine of God’s image in humanity attributes universal expectations of altruism to genetics. The recently developed science of socio-biology, for example, postulates altruistic genes which are passed along from parent to child, and are present in greater abundance in some individuals than in others.55 Evil, selfish genes are also hypothesized.56 Donald T. Campbell suggests that if such polygenetic bio-altruistic forces do exist, we would expect them to be more highly concentrated in those cultures which evolved into complex civilizations, cultures which ‘all preached against human selfishness and cowardice’.57 So, ancient complex civilizations like China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Peru and Mexico would show higher concentrations of the altruistic genes than other cultures which did not evolve into such complex societies over so long a period of time.

Currently, the actual existence of such good or bad genes has not and, by virtue of the state of the science, cannot yet be proved or disproved. Nor are social scientists able to interview ancients to ask them about their moral experiences. Still, we may contact their descendants who remain as linguistically and psychologically in continuity with their ancestral traditions as possible. Familiarity with the world’s religions and ethical systems, however, does not inspire confidence that such research would elicit what the socio-biologists’ theories require. Instead, linkage to the biblically faithful branches of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, however recent or ancient that linkage has occurred, would seem more likely to be the significant factor.58 Missiologist Don Richardson’s experience and theories, moreover, suggest that the vestiges of the knowledge of the one true God and his ways may remain in other cultures, but that the further removed one is from the origins of those cultures, the more likely those vestiges are to have been blurred or effaced.59

Implications for ministry and mission

If a moral and interpersonal image of God remains, however distorted, in all human beings, then Christian witness and evangelism, especially in cross-cultural contexts, ought to utilize this fact to its best advantage. We can expect the characteristics of compassion, love, truthfulness, forgiveness, justice, and so on, to be desired, to varying degrees, among all peoples and by all individuals. Ministry should build on this common ground rather than immediately pointing out differences and tenets of competing ideologies with which Christians must disagree. Closely related is the use of the Golden Rule in Christian apologetics. We can expect others to believe that they should be treated in certain ways; we have the obligation, therefore, to insist that they treat others in those same ways. Pre-evangelism as well as post-evangelism (Christian nurture and discipleship) needs to rely heavily on the modelling of the imago characteristics. Such modelling may need to replace exclusively or even primarily verbal and cognitive instruction, thus enabling others to see that these goals are realizable, to significant degrees, in this life.

Herein lies a key distinctive of Jesus’ own ministry. More so than any other founder of a major world religion or so-called great religious teacher, Jesus modelled what he demanded of others across the entire ‘shekinah rainbow’. Contrast Jesus, the suffering servant, particularly with Mohammed the warrior; and the Bible (particularly the NT), and its enormous emphasis on love, not-withstanding periodic emphases on punishment, with the Qu’ran, and its unrelenting hostility and calls for holy war against infidels, punctuated by the refrain which lauds Allah as the Compassionate and Merciful One.

Christians active in counselling ministries, however formal or informal, may well also have to come to grips with the modelling implications of a moral-interpersonal theory of the image of God. Adequate therapy may not always (or often?) be possible within the constraints of professional client-therapist relationships. Opportunities for positive, wholesome interaction between clinicians and their clients in a variety of real-life settings may be needed. The positive role of small groups, particularly those with relational objectives as central, often called growth groups, may prove essential. Whether an outgrowth of one local church or of a parachurch ministry, wholesome Christ-like living needs to be encountered on a regular basis, as it is modelled by a variety of more mature Christians, especially as increasing numbers of men and women in our modern society come from destructive and dysfunctional backgrounds.

Ours is also a day in which individuals and special interest groups lobby vocally for human rights of many different kinds. Much counselling in assertiveness training has focused on the need for the oppressed to demand or defend their rights.60 Clinician David Viscott advocates a list of basic rights for all humans: to grow, to be oneself, to be loved, to privacy, to be trusted, to be respected, to be accepted, to be happy, to be free, and to defend oneself.61 If all people have the right to such treatment, who has the duty or responsibility to show it? We cannot talk about receiving our rights without being held responsible for meeting others’ needs. The gospel focuses more on the voluntary relinquishing of our human rights than on demanding that we receive them. Christ said it was better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). The number of lawsuits brought by Christians against other Christians, in flagrant defiance of 1 Corinthians 6:1–11, shows how far removed even much of our Christian world is from modelling the Christlikeness which the imago spectrum epitomizes.

It would be easy to despair of expecting substantive character change and healthy personality profiles among God’s people. But a correct understanding of the inaugurated eschatological framework of the Christian ethic means that we can expect precisely such change, even as we admit that we will never come close to perfection this side of Christ’s return. The process will often be painfully slow, but significant progress can be made over time. But it will require commitments to faithfulness and integrity, long-term discipleship and interpersonal modelling of the ever-increasingly redeemable imago Dei in the lives of members of the church of Jesus Christ. Ward Wilson personally modelled these character traits throughout a lifetime of ministry, even and especially during his protracted struggle with cancer. It is our hope that, even as he did, more Christians might follow in Jesus’ steps to demonstrate to a desperately needy world the possibility of healthy, wholesome relationships in Christ.

1 After receiving the MA in Christian Education from Wheaton Graduate School, Ward Wilson pastored a church in Oakland, California, served InterVarsity in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and received the MA in psychology from Eastern Michigan University and the PhD in psychology from the University of Florida. He then embarked on a teaching career in psychology which took him from Viterbo College in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, to Wheaton Graduate School, to Greenville College in Illinois, to Palm Beach Atlantic College, and finally to King College in Bristol, Tennessee. He went to be with our Lord in the sixtieth year of his life.

2 Parts of the article are written entirely in my words [Craig Blomberg], parts entirely in Dr Wilson’s, and parts reflect a combination of the two. I am grateful for the initiative and help of Ward’s wife Betty in encouraging me to edit his materials and to Themelios for agreeing to publish them. Because of the nature of those materials, references to the secondary literature in psychology are not always as up-to-date as they might be. Hopefully this will not in any way detract from the value of the thesis itself. I have added numerous footnotes in the exegetical discussions and occasionally elsewhere.

3 For the state of the question in biblical scholarship, see Gerald Bray, ‘The Significance of God’s Image in Man’, TynB 42 (1991), pp. 195–225. For a recent survey of the most influential views in the history of systematic theology, see Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), pp. 124–134, and for the relevant biblical data, pp. 134–142.

4 Cf., e.g., Darrell Smith, Integrative Therapy (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), esp. pp. 37–48; with Harry R. Boers, An Ember Still Glowing: Humankind as the Image of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990).

5 The most important exception to this trend is Mormonism, based on its belief that God the Father appeared to Joseph Smith in a body.

6 E.g., J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962), p. 232.

7 See esp. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics Vol. 3.1 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1958), pp. 183–206.

8 On the Trinity 10:11.18.

9 Summa Theologica 1:93.4.

10 Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951), pp. 150–177.

11 Lewis and Demarest, Theology Vol. 2, pp. 143–160. The categories are posited at the outset of the discussion, and then scriptural teaching on each is marshalled, but it is never demonstrated that all are part of the imago.

12 Luther’s Works 1:61–63; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1:15.3–4.

13 See esp. G.C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962).

14 Herein lies the primary reason Bray, ‘Image’, rejects the classic moral interpretation, a point he claims (with some overstatement) has virtually never been noticed by exegetes or theologians (p. 207).

15 For a history of recent exegesis, see G.A. Jónsson, The Image of God: Gen. 1:26–28 in a Century of Old Testament Interpretation (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1988).

16 Cf. John I. Durham, Exodus (Dallas: Word, 1987), p. 444, who translates ‘ways’ (from Heb. derek) as ‘intentions’. ‘Glory’ (kābôd) as ‘character traits’ is plain from 34:6–7. On ‘goodness’ (tôb), Durham, Exodus, p. 452, comments: ‘What he [Yahweh] gives rather is a description, and at that, a description not of how he looksbut how he is.’ On ‘name’ (šēm), see Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Vol. 2, p. 934: ‘The concept of personal names in the Old Testament often included existence, character and reputation.’

17 Cf. esp. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), pp. 513–514, who agrees that the communicable attributes constitute God’s image in humanity, but who does not defend this postulate in any exegetical detail nor highlight the specific attributes stressed in this essay.

18 Durham, Exodus, p. 454.

19 Perhaps even a ‘midrash’, as in A.T. Hanson, ‘The Midrash in II Corinthians 3: A Reconsideration’, JSNT 9 (1980), pp. 2–28.

20 Cf. Colin Kruse, The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Leicester: IVP, 1987), p. 101: ‘The continuous and progressive transformation by which believers are changed from one degree of glory to another is the moral transformation which is taking place in their lives so that they approximate more and more to the likeness of God expressed so perfectly in the life of Jesus Christ.’

21 Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1–17 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), p. 134.

22 G.B. Caird, Saint Luke (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963), p. 105, comments,’ “Be merciful” might appear to be less exacting than Matthew’s “You, therefore, must be perfect” (Mt. 5:48). In the Old Testament, however, … mercy is the very character of God. The son must inherit the attributes of his Father.’

23 Cf. A.T. Lincoln, Ephesians (Dallas: Word, 1990), pp. 287–289.

24 Cf. N.T. Wright, Colossians and Philemon (Leicester: IVP, 1986), pp. 138–139: ‘This passage clearly looks back to 1:15–20; the intention of creation is fulfilled in redemption, and, conversely, redemption is understood as new creation.’

25 Cf. further James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Leicester: IVP, 1981), pp. 171–174.

26 From the Heb. rāhûm, ‘the deep inward feeling we know variously as compassion, pity, mercy … most easily prompted by small babies (Isa. 13:18) or other helpless people’ (TWOT Vol. 2, p. 841).

27 From the Heb. ḥēn, ‘favour, grace, charm’. Cf. the root ḥānan, referring to a ‘heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need’ (TWOT Vol. 1, pp. 302, 303).

28 An idiomatic translation of the Heb. ’erek ’appayîm—see BDB, p. 60.

29 E.g. Carl R. Rogers, Freedom to Learn (Columbus, Ohio: C.E. Merrill, 1969); Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving (New York: Harper, 1956).

30 From Heb. ḥesed, widely agreed to reflect the OT’s distinctive concept of God’s covenant loyalty.

31 From Heb. ’omet, meaning both truthfulness and faithfulness. Cf. TWOT Vol. 1, p. 52: ‘This word carries underlying sense of certainty, dependability.’

32 The verb comes from the Heb. root nāṣar, to watch, guard, or keep (TWOT Vol. 2, p. 595: ‘guarding with fidelity’).

33 To ‘forgive’ comes from the Heb. root nās̀a’, to lift, carry, take, here in the sense of taking away, and hence forgiving, various kinds of sin (BDB, pp. 669–671).

34 Heb. ’awôn—‘iniquity, guilt or punishment for guilt … infraction, crooked behaviour, perversion’ (TWOT Vol. 2, p. 650).

35 Heb. pešā‘, rebellion—‘a breach of relationships, civil or religious, between two parties’ (TWOT Vol. 2, p. 741).

36 Heb. ḥaṭṭā’āh, feminine derivative of hāta’—‘to miss a mark or way’ (TWOT Vol. 2, p. 277).

37 Neal E. Miller and John Dollard, Social Learning and Imitation (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1979), pp. 132–152.

38 The concept implied by the sentence, ‘Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.…’

39 The word ‘health’ is one of several English words derived from the proto-Anglo-Saxon hal or hol. These derivatives may be grouped into three basic categories: physical, interpersonal and transcendental. Most psychologically healthy people function by a transcendental or cosmic belief system about one’s unique worth. In religious communities such a person is labelled holy; in other settings, wholesome—integrated and psychosocially approved, with a sense of a special place in the universe.

40 On any combination of the views of imputed and infused righteousness, righteous people become rightly related to God and increasingly rightly related to one another.

41 See, e.g., Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983).

42 On which see, e.g., Em Griffin, Getting Together: A Guide for Good Groups (Downers Grove: IVP, 1982).

43 Carl R. Rogers, ‘A Theory of Therapy, Personality, and Interpersonal Relationships’, in Psychology: A Study of Science Vol. 3, ed. Sigmund Koch (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959), pp. 184–256; idem. On Becoming a Person (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1961).

44 Abraham H. Maslow, Motivation and Personality (New York: Harper & Row, 1970); idem, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature (New York: Viking, 1971).

45 Alfred Adler, Understanding Human Nature (Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, 1927).

46 Gordon W. Allport, Personality: A Psychological Interpretation (London: Constable, 1937); idem, Pattern and Growth in Personality (New York: Holt, 1961).

47 Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970); idem, The Doctor and the Soul (New York: Vintage, 1973).

48 For more detailed surveys, Cf. J.S. Wiggins, K.E. Renner, G.L. Clore and R.J. Rose, Principles of Personality (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1976); and S.R. Maddi, Personality Theories (Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey, 1980).

49 As stressed esp. by Paul Hiebert, ‘Critical Contextualization’, IBMR 11 (1987), pp. 104–112.

50 G.P. Murdock, ‘The Common Denominator of Cultures’, in The Science of Man in the World Crisis, ed. R. Linton (New York: Columbia, 1945), pp. 123–142; L.J. Luzbetak, The Church and Cultures (Techny, Ill.: Divine Word, 1963); R.H. Beis, ‘Some Contributions of Anthropology to Ethics’, The Thomist 28 (1964), pp. 174–224; L. Kohlberg, ‘From Is to Ought’, in Cognitive Development and Epistemology, ed. T. Mischel (New York: Academic, 1971), pp. 151–235; D.T. Campbell, ‘On the Conflicts between Biological and Social Evolution and between Psychology and Moral Tradition’, American Psychologist 30 (1975), pp. 1113–1126.

51 E.M. Cummings, B. Hollenbeck, R. Iannotti, M. Radke-Yarrow, and C. Zahn-Waxler, ‘Early Organization of Altruism and Aggression: Developmental Patterns and Individual Difference’, in Altruism and Aggression: Biological and Social Origins, ed. C. Zahn-Waxler, E.M. Cummings, and R. Iannotti (Cambridge: University Press, 1986), pp. 165–188.

52 Stanton E. Samenow, Inside the Criminal Mind (New York: Random House, 1984), pp. 211–243.

53 Colin M. Turnbull, The Mountain People (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972), p. 294.

54 W. Goldschmidt, Comparative Functionalism (Berkeley: University of California, 1966), p. 136.

55 See esp. E.O. Wilson, Sociobiology (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1975); idem. On Human Nature(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1978).

56 Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (New York: Oxford, 1976).

57 Campbell, ‘Conflicts’, p. 1118.

58 Contrast, e.g., the classic Hindu devaluation of human life with the dignity for it brought by Christian missionaries, or the somewhat fatalistic traditional religions of the Andean Peruvians with the contemporary evangelical Christian resurgence leading to social action.

59 Don Richardson, Eternity in Their Hearts (Ventura: Regal, 1981)

60 E.g. Manuel J. Smith, When I Say No I Feel Guilty (New York; Bantam, 1977).

61 David S. Viscott, How to Live with Another Person (New York: Arbor House, 1974), pp. 31–43.

Craig L. Blomberg

Craig L. Blomberg
Denver Seminary
Denver, Colorado, USA