An article was recently published by the Washington Post chronicling Bethel University’s new stance, which strongly encourages their students to not use words like “man” or “mankind” when referring to the human race. The university in St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote in a statement to its students, “The Bible teaches us to value all people because they are created in God’s image. … To be clear in our Christian witness, the faculty encourages the use of inclusive language.”
The phrase, “image of God,” seems to be the focal point of the controversy at Bethel. Genesis 1:26-27 states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Bethel University appears to interpret verse 27 as saying that the image of God is both male and female. Therefore, according to that interpretation, the use of the words “mankind” or “man” when referring to humanity is not inclusive and a denial of 50% of the image of God.
A different Bethel has taken this line of reasoning a step further.
Kris Vallotton, the Associate Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California, proclaimed at a women’s conference, “God made you after His kind, and God made Adam. The word “Adam” and the word “man”, the Hebrew word is the exact same word. He made Adam both male and female as you know. How many of you know God is not a man? God is both male and female. … It took a man and a woman to demonstrate the revelation of who God is.”
God is both male and female? Really? Adam was created as both a male and a female? Wow. Vallotton even expands this point in a different message by suggesting that Adam had the sexual capacity to replicate himself independent of Eve. Unbelievable.
But you know, Kris may not be in the minority for much longer. The book and movie, The Shack, represent both God the Father and the Holy Spirit as women. Perhaps to balance things out in his mind, the writer chose to allow Jesus to still be a man.
Pastors across the country are lauding this new film, but perhaps they wouldn’t be so quick to sing its praises if they knew the origins of these strange beliefs about the image of God.
The early Church faced intense opposition throughout the first three centuries. The persecutions they endured by various Roman Emperors are well-documented historical atrocities.
However, just as it is today, the greatest threat to Christianity in the first three centuries of the Church was not persecution by violent unbelievers. The greatest threat to the Church came from wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. Gnosticism ravaged the Church in those days, and its deceitful influence upon modern Christianity is clearly evident in these descriptions of the heretical beliefs of Gnostics about members of the Trinity.
They go on to say that the Demiurge imagined that he created all these things of himself, while he in reality made them in conjunction with the productive power of Achamoth (mother). … This mother they also call Ogdoad, Sophia, Terra, Jerusalem, Holy Spirit, and, with a masculine reference, Lord. – Irenaeus 180CE, Volume 1, p. 528 [CD-ROM]
Hereupon the Father by and by, being moved, produces in his own image, with a view to these circumstances the Horos whom we have mentioned above; (and this he does) by means of Monogenes Nus, a male-female (Æon), because there is this variation of statement about the Father’s sex. … Meanwhile you must believe that Sophia has the surnames of earth and of Mother—“Mother-Earth,” of course—and (what may excite your laughter still more heartily) even Holy Spirit. In this way they have conferred all honour on that female, I suppose even a beard, not to say other things.
– Tertullian 200CE, Volume 3, p. 887, 898 [CD-ROM]
Marcus, making a similar attempt with this (heretic), asserts that the Tetrad came to him in the form of a woman,—since the world could not bear, he says, the male (form) of this Tetrad, and that she revealed herself who she was, and explained to this (Marcus) alone the generation of the universe.
– Hippolytus 225CE, Volume 5, p. 171 [CD-ROM]
To sum up these quotes, the Gnostics wrote that a heavenly mother and father created all things. They said the divine father is literally both male and female, and that another name for the Holy Spirit is “Mother-Earth”.
Though Gnosticism is almost 2,000 years old, remarkably, it is obviously still doing damage to Christians in the 21st century. The transgender false god of the new Christian Gnostics is steadily sweeping away masses of church-goers into serious doctrinal error.
What does it mean to be made in God’s image? Biblical languages scholar, Dr. Michael Heiser, argues that perhaps we’re asking the wrong question.
“It’s not an attribute given to humanity. Think of it as a verb. … I think we should understand Genesis 1:26-27 as referring, as meaning that humankind was created to function in the capacity of God. Let us make humankind as our image. All of this points to viewing the image in a functional sense. We are created to “image” God. … We are His representatives. It’s a status given to us. It’s a function that we need to fulfill.”