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August 12, 2005

Ch. XIV. Q. 86. The Image and Likeness

THE divine is reflected in man partly by what is native and essential to human nature as such, and partly by the moral and spiritual elements of divine character which by grace he is enabled to acquire. Technicalizing an accidental turn of phrase in Genesis, Catholic theologians call the former resemblance the divine "image'' and the latter the divine "likeness."1

2. So long as man is man the image of God in him is ineffaceable, and his nature contains functional capacities designed to be employed for spiritual development after the moral likeness of God. But man was made for filial relations to God, relations with which human self-sufficiency would be inconsistent. Therefore man was made to be dependent by nature upon divine grace for the achievement of the development and destiny to which his nature points. He is in a sense an unfinished product, having part, it is true, in his own perfecting, but unable to fulfil his part without supernatural aid.2 Catholic doctrine teaches that in man's original state this aid was available. He was endowed with sufficient grace for sinless development, a condition which would still prevail if originally avoidable sin had not disturbed it.3

3. The function of grace is to preserve a harmonious use and interaction of man's natural faculties, which is called integrity, and to enhance the power of the human spirit to rule the lower and animal faculties and to enlist all natural powers in spiritual development. Grace does not therefore subvert or alter human nature, but, is a necessary factor in its being brought to perfection.

4. It is a part of man's natural insufficiency that, although made for immortality, he depends upon power from above to overcome his animal inheritance of mortality. This power was conditionally bestowed upon Adam, his retention of it depending upon his avoidance of sin. It is now bestowed upon man—not in a form which enables him to escape dying, but—in the power of resurrection from the dead through Jesus Christ.

5. A full development of the likeness of God in us carries with it a glorification of human nature, and a final subjection of the flesh to our perfected spirits. In the meantime, the divine likeness in us, so far as we are enabled to acquire it in this life, is not indelible. We can efface it by sin; and then we cannot recover it except by repentance and renewal of grace.

1 On the divine likeness, see refs. given in prev. Q., n. 1; and A.P. Forbes, Thirty-Nine Articles, pp. 140-142, 162-167; J.A. Mæhler, Symbolism, § 2; Archd. Wilberforce, Incarnation, pp. 47-50; H.W. Robinson, Christ. Doctr. of Man, pp. 164-165.

2 Cf. Creation, pp. 206-208.

3 Q. 88, see below.

Posted by AKMA at August 12, 2005 07:43 AM