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An Embodied Imago Dei

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How Herman Bavinck’s Understanding of the Image of God Can Help Inform Conversations on Race

image of Journal of Reformed Theology

This paper argues that Herman Bavinck’s understanding of the Imago Dei is an important resource in conversations on race. While Bavinck does not specifically discuss racial differences within the context of the Imago Dei, his theology provides valuable resources for constructive conversations on race and diversity. Bavinck’s rejection of unilateral conceptions of the Imago Dei, alongside his understanding of the whole person as the image of God, leads to an affirmation of the spiritual and physical aspects of humanity. Bavinck’s view, a necessarily embodied understanding, has an explicit bearing on our understanding of the body as well as our understanding of social relationships. The particularity and universality of humanity, grounded in Bavinck’s understanding of the Imago Dei, presents a means of holding together an affirmation of the uniqueness and value of racial identity alongside of the deep unity that exists amongst humanity that transcends race.

Affiliations: 1: Fuller Theological Seminary and Calvin Theological Seminary


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