Genesis 1:26–27 has served as the locus of most theological anthropologies in the central Christian tradition. However, Richard Lints observes that too rarely have these verses been understood as conceptually interwoven with the whole of the prologue materials of Genesis 1. The construction of the cosmic temple strongly hints that the “image of God” language serves liturgical functions.
Lints argues that “idol” language in the Bible is a conceptual inversion of the “image” language of Genesis 1. These constructs illuminate each other, and clarify the canon’s central anthropological concerns. The question of human identity is distinct, though not separate, from the question of human nature; the latter has far too frequently been read into the biblical use of ‘image’.
Lints shows how the “narrative” of human identity runs from creation (imago Dei) to fall (the golden calf/idol, Exodus 32) to redemption (Christ as perfect image, Colossians 1:15–20). The biblical-theological use of image/idol is a thread through the canon that highlights the movements of redemptive history.
In the concluding chapters of this New Studies in Biblical Theology (34 vols.) volume, Lints interprets the use of idolatry as it emerges in the secular prophets of the nineteenth century, and examines the recent renaissance of interest in idolatry with its conceptual power to explain the “culture of desire.”
Don't forget the other volumes in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (34 vols.) series.
“The issues of the canon are predominantly questions of human identity rather than of human nature” (Page 35)
“The irony of identity is that by looking away from ourselves we are more likely to discover our identity.” (Page 11)
“‘Image’ or ‘likeness’ language argues for a dependence upon an original.11 Whatever else may be said of an image, it must be clear that the image depends upon whatever it is an image of for its meaning.” (Page 59)
“The methodological point simply amounts to this—a mirror reflects. A distorted or broken mirror also reflects, but in a distorted or broken fashion.” (Page 22)
“Believing something false about God is dangerous, but not nearly as dangerous as worshipping something other than him” (Page 38)
Begin with the imago dei. . . . Work that out across the canon, and you discover that light shines on many topics, not least the nature of idolatry. This book manages to blend some elements of systematic theology with careful biblical theology to produce a study that is wonderfully evocative.
In Identity and Idolatry, Richard Lints shows himself to be an exceptional thinker who combines the sensitivities of a theologian with that of a philosopher and interpreter of the Bible. He not only speaks of ideas in the abstract but shows how these ideas forge the way we think and act. I recommend this book to all thoughtful Christians.
—Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
Dr. Lints has overlapping interests in systematic theology, Biblical theology, philosophy and cultural studies. He has authored the Fabric of Theology, co-authored 101 Terms in Philosophy for Theology Students, edited the collection of essays, Personal Identity in Theological Perspective, and has a forthcoming work entitled, Radical Ironies: Religion, the 1960s and the Dawn of the Postmodern World. Dr Lints joined the Gordon-Conwell faculty in 1986. He has also taught at Trinity College (Bristol, UK) Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Gordon College. Dr. Lints is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He has been a church planter and served in a variety of other pastoral positions in churches. He and his wife, Ann, reside in Boxborough, Massachusetts, and have three children, Catherine, Sarah and Lucas.