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New City Catechism 4.1

This week we come to Question 4 of the New City Catechism, found in Part 1 of the catechism (questions 1-20), which focuses on God, creation and the fall, and the law.

Question 4: How and why did God create us?

Answer: God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him. And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.

The image of God is not something that is one part of us. It is not the secret ingredient that, when mixed together with everything else, produces a human being. Instead, humanity itself is the image of God. Every human being, in his or her totality, is like God in certain ways and represents God with respect to creation.

This biblical teaching has important ramifications for our understanding of the dignity of human beings. It means that we were created to relate to God above us as priests who dwell in his presence and to relate to creation below us as kings who steward the realm entrusted to us by him. Adam was created to be the son of God, who knew his Father intimately and represented the rule of his Father over the world. This is the essence of what it means to be human, and it is the basis of the dignity of all human beings.

Societies that devalue whole categories of people (e.g., the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, Jews, African Americans, etc.) are societies that dishonor God by failing to recognize the dignity of his image. Any assault on the dignity of an individual human being is an assault on the dignity of his or her Creator. The doctrine of the image of God has profound implications for our approach to ethical and political issues today.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8. What do these passages teach us about who we are? How should we treat other people in light of what the Bible teaches about humanity?

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