Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
February 11th, 2015 by Joel Watts

St. Bonaventure on what comes with being in “the image of God”

Saint Bonaventure

Saint Bonaventure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, the loftiness of power requires that there be produced creatures that are not only traces, but also images; creatures not only irrational, but also rational; creatures moved not only by natural instinct, but also by free will. Moreover, a creature made to be the image of God is by that fact capable of possessing God and hence is called to the beatific vision; a creature that is rational is capable of distinguishing the truth; and a creature possessed of free will is capable of ordered or disordered actions in terms of the law of justice.1

Image, if you will, a creature without free will claiming to be in the image of God. Yes, while we can wrestle with what it means to have free will, we have to understand that this is what the image of God means. Are we merely minions of God, His pawns in some cosmic chess game against Himself?

Admittedly, I do not believe in free will in many ways, yet I do not believe in determinism either. Either we chose to worship God or we do not (yet). Either we are rational (which, by the way, means we have a sense of right and wrong) or we are not and thus not bound by any sense of morality.

  1. Saint Bonaventure, Breviloquium (trans. José De Vinck; vol. 2; The Works of Bonaventure: Cardinal Seraphic Doctor and Saint; Paterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1963), 278.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


One Response to “St. Bonaventure on what comes with being in “the image of God””
  1. Know More Than I Should says

    The answer may be best answered in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, aka the tax collector. Whereas the Pharisee was boastful, the Publican was penitent.

    That pretty well sums the status of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Unfortunately, far too many Pharisee-types make it into positions of leadership.

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