Ethos: Equality and the imago dei

artwork adapted from the 6th century icon "Cristo Pantocrator" found at St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai, Egypt.

In our Mesa conversations we've kicked off a summer series on Ethos, or what it is that makes us distinct.

At Christ Church we think it is important to remember that essential to the good news of Jesus is the ancient, Jewish understanding that everyone is made in the image of God. That's what imago dei means - everyone, no matter who they are or where the come from or even what they've done or not done, is made in the beautiful, mysterious image of God.

This isn't some sort of new age philosophy - this is in the first pages of the Bible, in the book of Genesis. 

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’                  

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.   - Genesis 1:26,27 

So we wrestled with this Biblical notion that despite human proclivities toward brokenness, each of us are somehow mysteriously created as glimpses of the divine. Therefore, everyone has inherent dignity and should be treated as equals. Tricky business, for sure. But that's what's so good about the good news.

To know God is to see God in humanity.

As Hebrew scholar Walter Brueggemann puts it, "This God is not known through any cast or molten image. God is known peculiarly through this creature who exists in the realm of free history, where power is received, decisions are made, and commitments are honored. God is not imaged in anything fixed but in the freedom of human persons to be faithful and gracious."

This is important to us as a key "marker" or component of our ethos because too often we forget this essential, foundational part of our story. Equality is rooted in the Story of God. Equality is not simply about tolerance or rights, but is about dignity and worship. When we treat others with dignity, we worship the one true God, who saw it fit to create us in the image of the very Divine.

How cool is that?