World Mission Society Church of God and Genesis 1:26-27

by Luke Wayne
8/10/16

"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," (Genesis 1:26-27)

The World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) claims that this passage proves that there were actually two Gods involved in creation, a mother and a father. They explain:

"Both males and females were created in the image of God, and thus it is clear that God has two images: a male image and a female image. When God said, "Let us make man in our image," God used the word "us" a plural term instead of using "me." We come to understand that not one God, but two Gods a Father and a Mother worked together during the Creation."1

This argument consists of two central assertions:

  1. Because both male and female are made in the image of God, two different divine images must be in view. One male image and another female image.
  2. Because plural pronouns like "us" and "our" are used, there must have been more than one God talking to each other

Let's briefly address each of these assertions:

Two distinct images?

The WMSCOG insists that because both men and women are made in the image of God, there must be to different images. But is that what the passage says? Let's look at the passage again:

"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," (Genesis 1:26-27)

The term "image" here is never in plural form. The passage always refers to a singular image of God. Further, this singular image is attached to the masculine, singular pronoun "He" for both the creation of male humans and female humans. Note:

"God created man in HIS own image, in the image of God HE created him; male and female HE created them."

They are created, both male and female, in HIS image. Not in HIS and HER image or in THEIR image, but in HIS image. We are not talking about two separate images of a male God and female God, but rather one image of one God who can rightly be called "He". The passage is not ambiguous on this at all. Further, if we look ahead a few chapters, we see God say:

"Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man," (Genesis 9:6)

This passage speaks again of only one image, and it is the image in which man was made. If there are two separate images of two separate Gods, and man is made in one image and woman in the other, then this passage would only apply to the male image. If woman is made in a different image than man, this passage offers no protection for woman. It demands no justice for those in the female image, only those in the male. Obviously, that is not what the passage is doing. It is insisting on justice for all humanity for the reason that they were all made in the same singular image of God.

While the WMSCOG will try to point out that the Hebrew word for God in these passages, Elohim, is plural and therefore (they claim) really means "gods", this is a flawed argument. It can be easily demonstrated that Elohim often means only one God (see the article on that subject HERE). Further, James 3:9 also refers to this image, stating:

"With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God."

The word for "God" in this passage is the Greek word "theos" and is clearly singular. We are made in the likeness of one single God, Our Lord and Father. There are not two images and there are not two Gods in these passages.

Us and Our?

What are we to make, then, of the plural pronouns God uses in His discourse? This is a very interesting point, because a careful reading actually shows that this actually upholds the traditional Christian view of God and contradicts the WMSCOG position. Note that the passage begins with God saying "let Us make man in Our image," but then goes on to narrate, "God made man in His image." God speaks of Himself in the plural, but the passage is clear that it is actually one God doing this. It is He that created us in His singular image. The God (Elohim) here is a singular "He" who speaks as an "Us". This does not fit with the idea of two gods, but it does fit quite well with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Christians have always believed that there is one and only one God, and that this one God has eternally existed in three distinct, co-equal, and co-eternal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is not sometimes Father and other times Son and still other times Holy Spirit. Rather, He is always all three, sharing completely in one divine nature and yet in fellowship as distinct persons. This is the unique and glorious nature of the one true God of the Bible. This is why we see clearly that God created the world and formed humanity all by Himself without anyone with Him:

"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone," (Isaiah 44:24).

And yet we also see that God's eternal Word was personally with God in creation, and yet truly was God:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being," (John 1:1-3).

We also know that the Spirit of God was present and active in the work of creation, (Genesis 1:2). So we see one and only one God giving life and creating all things alone, and yet this one God is simultaneously Father, Son, and Spirit. So God is rightly called "He" for He is indeed but one living God. Yet He can commune and fellowship within Himself as "Us" for He is a Trinity. This was the understanding of the Christians throughout the earliest centuries of the church:

"When God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness,' He first intimates the dignity of man. For God having made all things by His Word, and having reckoned them all mere bye-works, reckons the creation of man to be the only work worthy of His own hands. Moreover, God is found, as if needing help, to say, 'Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.' But to no one else than to His own Word and wisdom did He say, 'Let Us make,'" (Theophilus of Antioch, mid-2nd century).2

"He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, that He spoke to Himself in plural terms, making Himself plural on that very account? Nay, it was because He had already His Son close at His side, as a second Person, His own Word, and a third Person also, the Spirit in the Word, that He purposely adopted the plural phrase, “Let us make;” and, “in our image;” and, “become as one of us.” For with whom did He make man? and to whom did He make him like? (The answer must be), the Son on the one hand, who was one day to put on human nature; and the Spirit on the other, who was to sanctify man. With these did He then speak, in the Unity of the Trinity," (Tertullian, late 2nd/early 3rd century).3

"The Father hath said: 'Let us make man in Our image and likeness.' At the beginning of the universe itself, as I read, the Father and the Son existed, and I see one creation. I hear Him that speaketh. I acknowledge Him that doeth: but it is of one image, one likeness, that I read. This likeness belongs not to diversity but to unity," (Ambrose of Milan, late 4th century).4

"God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;” and a little after it is said, “So God created man in the image of God.” Certainly, in that it is of the plural number, the word “our” would not be rightly used if man were made in the image of one person, whether of the Father, or of the Son, or of the Holy Spirit; but because he was made in the image of the Trinity, on that account it is said, “After our image.” But again, lest we should think that three Gods were to be believed in the Trinity, whereas the same Trinity is one God, it is said, “So God created man in the image of God,”" (Augustine of Hippo, early 5th century).5

This passage has been clear to Christians from the beginning. One God who can also speak and commune within His own nature as "Us" is not only consistent with but affirming of the Christian biblical doctrine of the Trinity. The WMSCOG must emphasize the "Us" but downplay or ignore the "He." Their doctrine of two Gods and two images cannot take the whole passage into account. It is forced into the text, not drawn out from it. The context simply doesn't allow for this interpretation. Genesis 1:26-27 does not teach a Mother God alongside Jehovah.

Conclusion

To assert that there is a second creator God and that Jehovah God depended on this second God to bring life to His creation is nothing short of blasphemy. There is no softer way to put it. The Bible says:

"For this reason You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears," (2 Samuel 7:22).

The very reason God is great is that there is none like Him. There is no other God. To assert that there is, in fact, a second God is to seek to diminish the biblical greatness of our sole Creator. The Triune God who created us will not share His glory with another, much less a false goddess of our own creation. Genesis 1:26-27 makes it clear that we were made in the singular image of this one magnificent God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. May we lay aside our idols and worship Him alone.