The Reformed Confessions on the Image of God in Man
Large Emden Catechism (1551):
Q. 81. How should I understand this?
R. Indisputably, the image and likeness of God, in which man
was created in the beginning, along with all inclinations
for good, was lost in him.
Q. 82. How should I understand this?
R. This image of God was in Adam in the beginning, by virtue
of which he was immortal, holy, wise, and lord of the entire
world, and thus was endowed with the freedom and ability to
either completely execute or disregard the commandment of
God. However, the image of God in himself and in all of us
he so destroyed by his sin, that henceforth, all offerings
intended for goodness were utterly destroyed both in himself
and in all of us (Reformed Confessions of the 16th and
17th Centuries in English Translation [Grand Rapids,
MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008], vol. 1, p. 607).
Scottish Confession (1560):
3. By which transgression, commonly called original sin, was
the image of God utterly defaced in man; and he and his
posterity of nature, became enemies of God, slaves to Satan,
and servants to sin.
14. We believe that God created man out of
the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own
image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in
all things to will, agreeably to the will of God. But being
in honour, he understood it not, neither knew his
excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and
consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the
words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he
had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself
from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his whole
nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and
spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and
corrupt in all his ways, he hath lost all his excellent
gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a
few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave
man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is
changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying:
The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness
comprehendeth it not: where St. John calleth men darkness
Heidelberg Catechism (1563):
Q. 6. Did God then
create man so wicked and perverse?
A. By no means; but God created man good, and after his own
image, in true righteousness and holiness, that he might
rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him and live
with him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise him.
Q. 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery merely
of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why
must we still do good works?
A. Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by His
blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own
image; that so we may testify by the whole of our conduct
our gratitude to God for His blessings, and that He may be
praised by us; also, that every one may be assured in
himself of his faith by the fruits thereof; and that by our
godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.
The Synod at Szikszó (1568):
XII. They err exceedingly who speak the nonsense that the
image of God in which man was made was the future humanity
of Christ, since it is the virtues that are communicated to
men: righteousness, holiness, wisdom (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10).
And the first man is said to be the form of the future, not
the image of man (Reformed Confessions of the 16th and
17th Centuries in English Translation [Grand Rapids,
MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012], vol. 3, p. 151).
Craig's Catechism (1581):
Q. In whose image made He them? (Gen. 1:26)
A. In His own image.
Q. What is the image of God? (Eph. 4:24)
A. Perfect uprightness in body and soul.
Q. What was the craft of Satan here?
A. He persuaded them that good was evil and evil was good.
Q. How could they be persuaded, having the image of God?
A. They had the image, but not the gift of constancy.
Q. What things did they lose through their fall? (Gen. 3:17)
A. The favor and image of God, with the use of the
Q. What succeeded the loss of the favor and image of God?
A. The wrath of God and original sin.
Q. What is original sin? (Rom. 5:19; 7)
A. The corruption of our whole nature
Q. In what did their salvation stand?
A. In the remission of their sin and repairing of God's
Q. What followed upon the repairing of God's image? (Rom.
A. A continual battle both within and without.
Q. From whence does this battle proceed?
A. From the two contrary images in mankind.
Q. What are these images?
A. The image of God and the image of the serpent (Reformed
Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English
Translation [Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage
Books, 2012], vol. 3, pp. 545, 546, 549).
Canons of Dordt
III/IV:1. Man was originally formed after the image of God.
His understanding was adorned with a true and saving
knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart
and will were upright; all his affections pure; and the
whole man was holy; but revolting from God by the
instigation of the devil, and abusing the freedom of his own
will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and on the
contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible
darkness, vanity and perverseness of judgment, became
wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and
impure in his affections.
III/IV:R:2. [The Synod rejects the errors of those] Who
teach that the spiritual gifts, or the good qualities and
virtues, such as goodness, holiness, righteousness, could
not belong to the will of man when he was first created, and
that these, therefore, could not have been separated
therefrom in the fall.
4:2. After God had made all other creatures,
he created man, male and female, with reasonable and
immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and
true holiness, after his own image; having the law of God
written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it: and yet
under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the
liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change.
Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a
command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil; which while they kept, they were happy in their
communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.
Westminster Larger Catechism (1647):
Q. 17. How did God create man?
A. After God had made all other creatures, he created man
male and female; formed the body of the man out of the dust
of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued
them with living, reasonable and immortal souls; made them
after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and
Q. 10. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in
knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over
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