Reclaiming Self: An Augustinian Understanding of the Importance and Power of the imago Dei.
The following work explores identity from overlapping vantage points; biblical/theological, historical and practical to establish a robust understanding of identity in our present time. This thesis explores the ontological elements of God and the meaning of “image bearer” through Scripture in Genesis 1-2; Psalm 8; an overview of Wisdom Literature in Job and Ecclesiastes; and the New Testament in Ephesians and Colossians. From a historical view, this thesis focuses on the work of St. Augustine and how humanity was “naturally created” in the imago Dei. Even those that are not Christ followers share in the imago Dei, as hidden as it may be, to be discovered and set free. Through this process, we see holiness (in contradistinction to morality) as foundational to our existence and reflective of God. Holiness is expressed through love in its proper order. For Augustine, our love of God conditions our love for all other things. This establishes an objective starting point, fundamental to all Christians, a proper understanding and embodiment of the Great Commandment. Finally, by practically applying a fresh understanding of one’s identity, humanity has an opportunity to thrive by acknowledging the positive implications of the embracing and embodiment of the imago Dei.The primary methodology of this thesis is through interpreting Scripture in light of the question, “what does it mean to be created in the imago Dei?” Using the work of the early Church Fathers such as Ambrose and Augustine give interpretive grounding to passages in both Old and New Testaments. Reading both primary and secondary sources on the imago Dei and its impact upon humankind and specifically the Church. Lastly, incorporating and integrating the work of modern psychology in understanding the modern person in light of the creative work of God in the beginning to our current day.