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Image of God: What is God?

Rev. Stephen Handy shares insight on being made in God's image, and the implications it carries for how we related to one another. In this first part of the four-part series, he talks about what exactly we're talking about when we talk about "God".

Image of God with Rev. Stephen Handy


Everything created has a source. When a mother has a baby, the baby has a source. When a car is manufactured, that car has a source. When a chicken lays an egg, that egg has a source. When a person claims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, typically that source is the church.

God is the source of perfection. Perfection is essential to God’s being. Therefore God is perfect! As a source of perfection, God determines where God’s spirit goes, anoints, connects and emerges.  

One question that continues to be evolving in places of spiritual formation, whether in the academy, local congregations or in everyday conversations, “Who or what is God?”

Often part of my discovery begins with a systematic approach to the biblical text or what is known as the Hebrew Bible, through a process called the Quadrilateral, a term coined by 20th century American Methodist scholar Albert Outler.

Who is God? First, we find God stepping out into an ordered creation process. In the book of Genesis, God as a spirit speaks, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. In these first few verses, there are some clues to who God is and isn't.

Second, as I process this text through the hearing of “tradition”, I stand on the broad shoulders of men and women who came before me. One of the words that emerge from the text is God as Creator. God creates both heaven and earth. If God created heaven, how is it that God is confined to heaven? Maybe our labeling of God is limited when indeed God is limitless. As we see in the text, Words Matter to God!

Thirdly, I use reason to process how God’s Spirit moves, speaks and creates with words. God creates heaven and earth and then humanity. Let me suggest that God is Spirit and if so then God cannot be defined by human terms, but our words are helpful in our attempts to comprehend at some level the God of all creation. If we further examine the idea that God is Spirit, then God must be gender-less, race-less and color-less. Wait just one minute. God is far more than our comfortable words that define God, right?

Finally, my experience is that God is Spirit, is scriptural. I believe that God is the source of all creation!

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