Mar 4

Session 1 Recap: Strachan, “Image: How Theocentrism Shapes our Public Lives”

2016 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 16

Editor’s Note: Adam Viramontes is the Lead Pastor at Mosaic Church, Albuquerque, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Owen Strachan’s message from Friday evening at Clarus, March 4, “Image: How Theocentrism Shapes our Public Lives.”


The glorious doctrine of ‘the image of God’ was the centerpiece for the opening session of Clarus 2016. Owen Strachan helped us understand six guiding principles for this foundational doctrine.

1. Theologically, the image of God implies the uniqueness of the human person.

From the very beginning of human history, from the very first page of the Bible, mankind is an enchanted being. Humanity, made in the image of its Maker, is the pinnacle of creation from the outset. This status, the enchanted nature of mankind, is unique to humanity alone. We are unlike any other creature made by God, simply because we were chosen by God to stand out.

We are not only representatives of God as image-bearers but also vice-regents called to rule and subdue God’s creation under his Kingly authority from chaos into order. There is a summons for God’s people to have their feet in this world.

The central question of the age is, ‘What does it mean to be human?’ We are made to be God-centered beings and there is no other religion or worldview that contributes such an exalted attribute to humanity from the beginning. Though the world offers a plethora of ‘isms’ in an attempt to answer this pressing question, Christianity alone gives true meaning to humanity.

2. Philosophically, the image of God implies solidarity with the broader group.

According to this precious Christian doctrine, there are no indispensable people. Even the graveyards are filled with indispensable people. The truth of this doctrine compels to one simple thing—neighbor love. The fulfillment of the second commandment as we love people. We love all people because all people are made in God’s image.

Does this not have deep implications for our public engagement with the world? We are not having a conversation with the public sphere to win culture wars or to impose our views. We are in this to love our neighbors. We are to love all of humanity—disabled children, the lonely, socially awkward, the friendless, unborn children, homosexuals, transgender, outcasts, homeless and even our enemies.

3. Personally, the image of God tells us that we have an identity, we don’t have to construct one.

We don’t have to make up our identity. We are free from the great modern project of constructing our own identity. God has already given it to us. We are free from image-maintenance. God has told us who we are. We are his likeness.

4. Economically, the image of God drives us towards meaningful work and thus meaningful public engagement.

We are to pursue the dominion mandate of Genesis 1:28. Building families is world-changing work. The small things—familial life and raising children—are glorious things. There is honor and eternity in the midst of the small things.

Our calling as image-bearers is to overcome the chaos of this world. Taming Excel spreadsheets, fitting pipes, nurturing wayward children, perfecting batting stances, founding new companies. This is what it means to be an image-bearer and bringing glory to our Maker. The spirit of secularism is to level things. Christianity calls us to build things for the glory of God.

5. Societally, the image of God means we must love our neighbors as ourselves.

The image of God calls us into community. Political activity as Christians in the world is an outworking of the gospel in our hearts. Chuck Colson declares, “Christians need to be against the world for the world.”Voting in elections and advocacy in the political arena is an outworking of the gospel in our public life.

6. Morally, the image of God means we cannot make up our way of being.

We inherit morality. Morality is not a buffet of palpable options. We are called to stand for the world-shaking reality that every being has worth and value. The secular world we live in is a false shadow that is passing away. We engage in our world but only as those who recognize this is not our true home.

We are engaged in ‘cosmos war.’ There is a raging war around us. We are involved in far worse than a culture war, we are in the middle of a cosmic war. This world is far worse than many of us realize. The true battle is not between the left and the right. The battle is against ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’ (Ephesians 6:12) Paganism is the force whispering in our ears that there is no morality except the morality we choose for ourselves. We are morally called to stand against the spirit of the world.

Why should we enter into the city of man? Why should we engage in the public sphere? The image of God and the grace of Jesus Christ!