Kline on Physical Image
Dr. Meredith Kline, instructor at the Presbyterian Seminary, Westminster West, is better known as a harsh critic if not through-and-through enemy of theonomy or the old Boson camp, rather hostile to any application of divine pattern, or customary natural law, to modern civil questions. Yet, in his book entitled Images of the Spirit, Kline inadvertently provides some provocative commentary on the significance of what otherwise might be considered genetic kinship between father and son. Kline’s speculations on the “image idea” occur amid his discussion on the Genesis work of the glory-spirit prefiguring two Adams. He says,
“The Glory theophany, in which God was present as Logos-Wisdom and Spirit-Power (Gen. 1.2), stood as archetype at the creation of man as God’s image. As Genesis 2.7 pictures it, the Spirit-archetype actively fathered his human ectype. Image of God and the son of God are thus twin concepts. This reading of that event in terms of a father-son model and the coneptual bond of the image and son ideas are put beyond bout by the record of the birth of Seth in Genesis 5:1-3. There, a restatement of Adam’s creation in the likeness of God is juxtaposed to a statement that Adam begat a son in his own likeness. Unmistakably, the father-son relationship of Adam and Seth is presented as a proper analogue for understanding the Creator-man relationship and clearly man’s likeness to the Creator-Spirit is thus identified as the likeness of a son derived from his father (p.23).”
In the footnote found at the bottom of the page further expounds Kline’s idea of “glory-likeness”,
“34. For the connection between the divine image and fatherhood-sonship see Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:2f.; James 3:9; I John 3:2; cf. Luke 20:36. By setting the image-likeness formula in the context of sonship, Genesis 5:1-3 contradicts the suggestion that the image idea is a matter of representative status rather than representational likeness or resemblance. For Seth was not Adam’s representative, but as Adam’s son he did resemble his father. The terminology “in his likeness” serves as the equivalent in human procreation of the phrase “after its kind” which is used for plant and animal reproduction and of course refers to resemblance.”
Thus, Kline gives something of a working definition for ‘kind after kind’ by which ‘resemblance’ normally denotes something genitive as the physical similarities between father and son. Physical attributes of genetic lineage obviously involve more than bipedal or mammal qualities but those immediately familial and particular. The degree the image conforms to, say, a familial progenitor or father, naturally, the greater the parent is otherwise glorified, witnessed, or declared. When family relations are relatively displaced from specific physical qualities pertaining to likeness, God’s royal glory-image or language of Incarnation as given to mankind through nature is more or less denied. Therefore, modern redefinitions of family away from divine patterns of male-female, father-son, or ancestor-descendant obscure the personal and promisary aspects of God, having probably greater affinity with deistic concepts. Kline provides three sorts of “image-likeness”, two of which are popular and safe for contemporary expositors—“ethical” and “official”—being reductionist characteristics nations and families are often reduced in modern definitions, but a third sort—formal/physical likeness—having bearing upon family and tribal relations of men. Also, Kline hints that such physical likeness among sorts of men can experience relative degradation (perhaps even deracination) when struck by providential disfavor:
Both image and glory mean likeness. Moreover, such is their equivalency that where all that constitutes the glory is gone, no vestige of the image remains. Though the image-likeness is terminable, it is otherwise constant. The glory aspect of man’s God-likeness, on the other hand, is variable; it is subject to degrees of reduction as well as to termination and it also may undergo instensification and expansion in the historical-eschatological process.
Under the concept of man as the glory-image of God the Bible includes functional (or official), formal (physical), and ethical components, corresponding to the composition of the archetypal Glory. Functional glory-likeness is man’s likeness to God in the possession of official authority and in the exercise of dominion. Ethical glory is reflection of the holiness, righteousness, and truth of the divine Judge (not just the presence of a moral faculty of any religious orientation whatsoever). And formal-physical glory-likeness is man’s bodily reflection of the theophanic and incarnate Glory.” p. 31
What does bodily reflection to incarnate Glory imply? Kline says it is the fully resurrected body of man (p. 33), but he gives no further details to its glorification. However, following a speculative vein which Kline avoids tapping, it seems the resurrected body would be restored not only to an ethical innocence but also physical purity of prelapsarian Adam-hood, including not only the absence of physical decay but perhaps dark color. We might speculate upon biblical color schemes of light v. dark, noting Adam and David’s ruddiness against the swarthiness of Canaan and traditionally conceived “blackness” of Ham, but these are only theological opinions perhaps not rightly pressed too far.
Curiously, against over-scrutinizing physical differences in mankind, Kline says gender was not essential to man’s image-likeness. However, he then defends distinctions in gender for nearly two pages afterwards, saying gender-creation pertained to royal dominion rather than formal or biological features elucidating Godhood (p. 33). This may be the case, but Kline does not explore traditional accounts of maleness supposedly essential to priestly and especially sacerdotal vocations. Nor does he touch antique ideas on the woman as weaker vessel—both physically and ethically. That said, “likeness”— be it physical, official, or ethical—are features usually inseparable from Incarnationalism and likewise genitive descent in general. ?