Disputation about the Creation of Man in the Image of God and the Horrible Destruction of that Image

by Jakob Andreae
translated by Aaron Jensen

In this disputation, Andreae points out that arguing about words for the sake of words is a waste of time that only brings about confusion and discord, yet the words are vitally important insofar as they preserve and defend God’s revealed truth, and in that case are worth fighting for. Andreae shows that only through a correct understanding of the image of God and of original sin is our salvation and God’s honor properly upheld.

May God the Father govern us in this through Jesus Christ by virtue of the Holy Spirit.

To be defended by the reverend and most famous man, Jacob Andreae, Doctor and Professor of sacred theology, most dignified Provost and Chancellor of the Church and Academy of Tuebingen, its rather respected author. M. Israel Wielandt, pastor of the church which is in Weil, will respond for the sake of exercise at 6 o’clock A.M. on July 6th in the New Hall.

Tuebingen 1571.

After the disputation about the most holy Trinity and the person of Christ, it follows that human nature must be examined. Even philosophers deplore it as being horribly corrupt but they are completely unaware of the cause and origin of its depravity. Holy letters hand down the truth about this.

  1. It is clearly testified that in the beginning, man was the most perfect of all the creatures on earth, was the lord of all other creatures, and was created in the image of God.

  2. Although ecclesiastical writers relate the image of the true God to the ability of the mind whose cognition is able in some part to bring us to a consideration of the most holy Trinity with the Word of the Lord preceding, we however, along with Dr. Paul, relate it to the true righteousness and holiness with which the entire human nature, both body and soul, was decorated.

  3. For God created man righteous and holy, and rays of divine wisdom, truth, righteousness, and holiness shone within his nature that he was truly able to know God his creator, and worship him in perfect righteousness with the abilities God gave him in his creation, and perfectly satisfy the law inscribed on and placed before his mind.

  4. But after he transgressed against God’s mandate, he completely lost this true image of God, namely, true righteousness and holiness, and in its place followed the image of Satan, which is the horrible corruption and destruction of the human nature with respect to its divine image.

  5. But it is not the abolition of the human nature, by which its substance is said to have been simply reduced to nothing or mutated into its opposite.

  6. For after the Fall Adam remained, with respect to substance, essence, and nature, the same Adam which God had created before the Fall.

  7. Just as it is not another Adam with respect to substance and essence who will rise from the dead than the one who was in the beginning created in the image of God and was horribly corrupted after the Fall and transformed into the image of Satan. Job speaks on this sentiment: “I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another.” (Job 19:27)

  8. Rather, this corruption of human nature is a wretched and horrible deformity, because of which nothing is healthy in the entire nature of man, from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Whether you consider bodily strength or mental ability, the Apostle deplores this nature as wretched, saying, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” (Romans 7:18)

  9. This corruption of human nature and horrible destruction of the image of God renders the mind of man not only misty towards heavenly things, but completely blind, so that he is completely unaware of the way back to the eternal homeland for which he was created in the beginning. As it is written, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14)

  10. Also, the will, the substantial ability of the mind, is not corrupted in such a way that although it is turned away from God it still remains whole, like a man bound hand and foot who has his strength intact but is just unable to use it because of his chains and shackles. Rather, the Holy Scriptures teach that it is so depraved that in matters pertaining to eternal salvation it desires nothing good, but desires what is bad and chooses it for that reason.

  11. This blindness of the mind and aversion of the will from good and conversion to evil is followed by an insolence which resists divine law with all the strengths of mind and body.

  12. Therefore they err who teach that man’s reason is like a blank slate on which nothing good or bad has been written.

  13. They also err who say that his reason is inclined to nothing but the best.

  14. For even if reason sees in something which pertains to civil life a vestige of the image of God and a perfection which remains from his first creation, and judges that its own substance does not seem to have been completely reduced to nothing, it is, however, because of its inherent vice, not good, that is, least pleasing to God . Therefore when it wishes to strive for that true blessedness, it falls short in two ways because it both is unaware of what is truly good, and in the place of true good embraces what is seemingly good because of the blindness of the mind.

  15. But the cause of this horrible destruction is in no way God, who because of this corruption and depravation of nature hates the man which in the beginning was created by the LORD in the image of God. Rather, man himself, without any secret divine compulsion or will but by his own most free will, turned himself away from the highest good, God the Greatest and Best, when he was deceived by the ancient serpent who devilishly slandered the clear word of God.

  16. Therefore just as man could not give credit to anyone except for God alone for both why he existed and why he was good, righteous, and holy, so also he is not able to ascribe his own corruption to anyone except himself and the devil, for having been ensnared by Satan’s traps he, by his own fault, summoned ruin upon himself.

  17. But Satan is not to be called the creator of the corrupted human substance after he became for man the author of sinning.

  18. For this honor is bestowed upon God alone, because he is called creator of all things which exist through him, just as he is also the only author of wisdom, righteousness, and good.

  19. And it is rightly said that just as God is not the author of sin, so also Satan is not the creator of substance but the one who depraved and corrupted the substance created by God.

  20. We do not contract this corruption of the nature by imitation, rather our heredity, which we receive from our parents and is inherent to the mass of human nature and to the seed in its conception, is bad, as the Psalmist says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

  21. For the sake of amplifying this corruption so that greatness of Christ’s favor might be understood, certain Doctors of the Church in our age have called this sin “the very heart of man” or his “rational mind,” just as we say that a very human man is humanity itself.

  22. But there must be diligent discernment in the use of the phrases “heart of man” and “mind of man,” as opposed to “sin,” so that we do not make God the author of sin (for he is the creator of the rational mind and the human heart but is in no way the creator of sin) or appoint the devil to be the creator of any substance (for he is the destroyer of the image of God in the most noble creature).

  23. It must also be taken sensibly when Church writers relate to the description of this evil the example of the half-dead man whom the Samaritan restored to his former health. This refers no more than to the substance of the man himself, which is not entirely abolished by sin, and whatever of rational judgment is in some way remaining must be resummoned.

  24. For because of sin man is half-dead and half-alive, because his substance and strength of mind, with respect to external matters, are not completely extinct or erased.

  25. But in spiritual matters man is as good as blind, and therefore not half-dead, but just plain dead, as the Apostle testifies when he says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.” (Colossians 2:13)

  26. But there is a very great difference between the phrases when they say, “The substance of man is corrupt” and “Man is corrupt according to his nature.” For the latter is a way of saying that the human nature is simply erased and extinct, but the first phrase, when understood correctly, indicates that the human nature is not entirely abolished but is depraved.

  27. The equivocation in the term “nature” must be diligently noted when it is said that the nature of man remains whole, yet corrupted by accidents.

  28. For since Holy Scripture does not regard nature in and of itself but considers it just as it was created good by God or is depraved through sin, after the Fall the term “nature” does not simply mean essence, but the substance with its accidents. It is said to be corrupted by sin, and ignorance and unrighteousness follow in place of righteousness and truth. The wholeness of this nature cannot be restored by the strength of any man but only by the merit and virtue of Christ.

  29. But it was not because of its accidents but rather its substance that the Son of God descended from heaven to free the substance of human nature from its accidents, or as I prefer to say along with Dr. Paul, to free us from that which is “right there with me.” (Romans 7:21) Because of its accidents the substance, that is, man, who was first created in the image of God, had to be cast into the eternal fire of hell (Hebrews 2), as it says in the Nicene Creed, “For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven.”

  30. By this teaching honor is bestowed upon Christ, man’s mediator and redeemer, who took something no different than what was created in the image of God in essence and substance but rather the same man in essence after the Fall, only spiritually dead, and resuscitated him and restored him to eternal life.

  31. Also, original sin and wickedness is in no way reduced, because the wickedness which lies near the nature created by God is greater than the mind of any man can understand or the tongue of any man can explain.

  32. Also, the creation of any substance is not ascribed to Satan, but the horrible depravation and corruption of the creature is ascribed to him, for he himself is its author, but he is the creator of no substances.

  33. For just as a disease is not a trivial accident, but such an accident which kills a man unless it is met by a physician’s cure, in the same way sin is a disease which completely strips the same man which was created for eternal life unless it is banished by the medicine of the one and only Christ, who is the only physician of souls infected by the disease of sin.

  34. But as it pertains to the phrases of Holy Scripture by which the depraved human nature is named: “brood of vipers,” “bad tree,” “wild grape,” “plantation and son of Satan,” “yeast,” “heart of stone,” and “the darkness,” and when it speaks about removing their heart and creating a new one, all these things are said together about human nature not in a simple and absolute manner but through metaphor because of the adjacent, or accidental, vice inherent to our nature. But in no way can they be understood to be about the form of the substance of man, for then the wicked Satan would be appointed as the creator of a new form of substance.

  35. It stands in this way concerning the matter that sin is neither the essence nor part of the essence of man, nor is there in respect to goodness any positive accident created by God and exposed by deprivation clinging on to human nature, but only accidental, or adjacent, vice, for which reason human nature is most justly sentenced to eternal death, because it does not completely destroy human nature but horribly corrupts it. Nevertheless it is according to the admonition of the faithful Apostle to not contend about words because it is good for nothing except the subversion of the hearers by that same testimony.

  36. But they also believe the phrases by which the church guards not only its peace and tranquility but also its own salvation must be thrown away when they seem to give birth to strife because the apostle warns us to abstain from every kind of evil.

  37. For since the Apostle is not ashamed to write, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again so that I will not cause him to fall” (I Corinthians 8:13), why must the same thing not also be done by those who with strange phrases not only disturb the peace of the church with but also seem to introduce foul and damned errors?

  38. If they refuse to agree with these statements, let them restrain their minds and correct their tongues with Dr. Augustine.

A correct understanding of the image of God and of original sin.

 Nov 11, 2010