The phrase Imago Dei is Latin for Image of God, and speaks of the Christian doctrine which asserts that human beings are created in God's image and therefore have inherent value.
I believe this principle is a very vital one for people today to remember and embrace. We live in an age when technology and science have assumed the appearance of a god-like spectre over the doings of mankind. When everyone is going agog over Google, ("Google knows everything!" a man told me recently), then it just may be time to pause and consider just where were heading with our values and focus.
Mankind is neither all-knowing nor all-powerful and neither are any of his programs or accomplishments. However, we recognize that mankind has been created by God in heaven who truly is all-knowing and all-powerful and has been given a measure of His image.
Understanding that every human being is created in the Imago Dei, bestows each person with dignity a dignity that is theirs by virtue of Imago Dei and is not dependent upon their quality of life, nor their contribution to society.
There is ample evidence in history how a false worldview in regard to the worth of human beings can run terribly wrong. During the 1930s there were those in America who watched with interest as Germany introduced their eugenics program, which imposed sterilisation upon unfit people in order to purify the race. However, by the time the story ended, it was not only 200,000 allegedly inferior citizens that would not have children, but by the end of the Second World War, likely over 140,000 mentally ill and handicapped people had been killed in the name of eugenics. 1
This is history. And it is what happens when man forgets the God-established principle of Imago Dei. We have been created in the image of God, by the hand of God Himself. Man is not the result of some cosmic accident, but the purposeful result of the choice of Divinity. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).
That man became a living soul indicates how God put something of Himself into man. Mankind has life in a way that no other living creature on earth does. Beyond that, God bestowed His special love upon humankind whom He first created, and then redeemed. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16, 17).
The Christian worldview teaches that humans are made in the image of God. The life of each person has worth in the eyes of God. Thoughtful people will recognize that from conception to natural death, life is sacred. To decide otherwise is to start down a slippery path that has no convenient stopping place. Those who don't believe this need only look to history for evidence.
- Mervin Brubacher,
1. Source: "Perfect People-Perfect Country", by Allan Levine, in "The Beaver, Canada's History Magazine" April 2005.