Like Father, Like Son

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Like Father, Like Son
In the preface of his book, Like Father, Like Son, Tom Smail gives us the reason for his writing: "This book is an attempt to discover what it might mean for our humanity that God is Trinity."(p. xi) He goes on to give his readers a general outline of what he'll be covering, beginning with how the view of Trinitarian doctrine has changed in recent times, and ending with a discussion on what we say about the triune God has deep implications with how we handle our relationship with others.

The first chapter, Whose Image, deals with the issue of who made whom. Smail begins by giving an example of a mother and a child. The mother claims that her son looks the same as the father, but the viewer can only affirm that if he/she knows what the father looks like. He sums this up by saying "what you can say about the image depends on what you know about the original. We can tell whether and in what ways we are like God, only if we also know what God himself is like...Our being is dependent on his being."(p. 2)

The basic Christian doctrine of humanity is that we are made in the image of God. But that doctrine isn't necessarily held outside of the Christian faith, as Smail points out. The opposing argument is that "God has not made us in his image, but rather that we have made him in ours."(p. 3) This view was first upheld by Ludwig Feuerbach. Feuerbach's argument is that "when we think we are talking about God, we are, in fact, just talking about ourselves...Just as a film projector throws images on to a blank screen, we project these ideas on to that ultimate reality and call them God."(p. 5) This view has been adopted and adapted, as Smail points out, by two contemporaries of Feuerbach, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Both Marx and Freud push this argument further by saying that "God is, psychologically, nothing other than an exalted father..."(p. 8) In refute to these arguments, Smail points out that Paul, in his writing in Ephesians, has the projection turned around. In Ephesians 3:14, Paul writes that "I bow my knees before the Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth takes its name." Smail puts it as such: "...we are in touch with a process of projection that is moving in exactly the opposite direction, not from us to God, but from God to us."(p.17)

Smail summarizes the chapter by saying "If God's revelation in Christ is true, then we should be able to see how it shows us the ultimate truth about ourselves. When we know the original, we will be able to recognize the image. If the original is phony, the image will be a shadow; if the original is glorious, the image will be bright."(p. 36-37)

The focus shifts to a Biblical Image, with special interest in the creation story; most particularly Genesis 1:26, 'Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."' It is noted that the first creation story deals with humanity in regards to the setting of creation with heaven and earth, and all living things, while the second focuses more on the relationship with God and living creatures, including Eve. It is also noted that the first creation story is where we derive the image of God language from. Smail includes key words such as selem (image) and demut (likeness), and explains the implications the use of those words has on our understanding of how we are made in the imago Dei. The biblical image is summarized by Smail: "Like the rest of the creation we owe our being entirely to the will and purpose of God, but our distinctness from the rest of creation is that God has mirrored himself in us, made us to be like himself so that he can relate to us and we to him in a way that is unique."(p. 47)

Smail moves from Biblical Image to God's Image. In doing so, he gives a brief history of the doctrine of the Trinity. His view of the Trinity falls closely in line with that of Augustine who believes that "the Father is the lover, the Son the beloved, and the Spirit...
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