“When our understanding of the imago Dei is refracted through a warped philosophical glass and skewed Biblical understanding, the result is that our image, and especially the images of women and minorities along the margins, is tarnished and distorted.”
Introducing our series "The Image of God & the Feminine Experience," we explore the primary Christian views of the imago Dei and how they have impacted women throughout Church history. Tracing the shifts of doctrine in conjunction with dominant philosophical trends, we investigate how they have influenced the roles, spiritual practices and experiences of women within the historic Church context.
Episode 1 addresses how women think of themselves as image-bearers of God, the dominant historic Christian interpretations of the imago Dei, and what the Bible specifically says about mankind and the image of God.
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Part 2: The Substantive View and "Female Men of God": In conversation with Church Historian Dr. Hannah Hunt, we explore the Substantive view with an eye to Hellenistic influences on early Christian concepts of the imago Dei. This led many virtuous women to reject their gender and femininity, forsake marriage and pursue spirituality through masculinization.
Part 3: Enlightenment Rationalism and the "Google Memo": Are women capable of philosophic reason? Let's ask Philosopher Dr. Rachel Douchant! She connects the theological work of Thomas Aquinas with Aristotle's philosophy to reveal a shift in the concept of the image of God during the Middle Ages. She teases out how women were characterized as partially-rational during the Enlightenment and how these concepts continue to impact women today.
Part 4: The Relational View. Emerging from (and in response to) existential thought, modern Christianity recast the imago Dei as primarily relational in nature. This view sees the image of God as manifested in both God-to-human and human-to-human relationships. Theologian Meagan DeFranza describes how the body, particularly sexuality and gender, became deeply significant within this framework.
Part 5: Power or Service? Dr. Richard Middleton leads us through the historic shifts which led scholars to redefine the imago Dei in terms of how humans function as God’s royal representatives on earth. Examining how scripture likens and contrasts man as the image of God with man-made images of gods (idols) within its historic and cultural context, are we to understand the human role as royal dominion or priestly service? Also, we explore how the Functional view fuels the Egalitarian vs. Complementation debates which mark significant denominational boundaries in contemporary churches.