Made in the image of...angels?

I’m in a debate with a person who believes that we have no immortal soul, in part because the promise of immortality was the promise of the serpant who lied (who also is not Satan, so the argument goes). There is also an attempt to divorce “spirit” from “soul”, an argument that a resurrection is obsolete if the soul is alerady immortal, etc…

I asked the question of how any of the reasons given negate the fact that we are “created in the image and likeness of God” and that “God is spirit”. The person said *, “we are created in the image of ‘elohim’, which means ‘angels’, not ‘God’, which is an English word the translators used.”

Anyone run across such an argument? The person has not identified their faith, but it sounds like Unitarian or JW. Thoughts?

I can provide more details of the back-and-forth if needed.*

I’m going to provide the details of the argument. These are largely word-word quotes, but there are a couple snips. However, this accurately represents the argument so far. It will be at least a couple posts long:

Opponent: Opening Argument:
So you think you have an immortal soul?

Another truth-destroying doctrine is the doctrine of the inherent immortality of the soul. If men are naturally immortal, and if the “ego” is a never-dying soul, why a resurrection? If, on the other hand, men are deprived of all consciousness in the death state, resurrection becomes imperative for a future life. This false doctrine concerning man’s nature is spread like a pall before the vision of all people. That dogma will vanish at… the return of Jesus Christ as the mist of the morning before the rising sun. This theological error is the great obstacle in the way of correctly dividing the word of truth. The doctrine of eternal torture also is based upon the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, while much of that which is taught in the Scripture is made of none effect because the Bible is read under the influence of this pre-conceived idea. For instance, if it be true that man is a never-dying spirit and goes to heaven at death, what necessity is there for the return of Christ?

[In response to another]: “The soul that sinneth it shall die” immortal souls can’t die.

Dave [me] : “Die” in Biblical terms, if that’s a Biblical quote you just gave, does not mean “cease to exist”. The quote you provided in the OP ignores a critical fact: we were created to have bodies. Adam and Eve, the first of God’s human creatures who were created without any stain of sin were created perfectly as God desired to create them…with physical bodies AND a soul which is spirit. So, to say that having an immortal soul negates a resurrection is a logical fallacy because it presumes that we are only in our perfect natures when we are EITHER physical OR spirit. The reality is that we are BOTH.

Opponent: A soul is not a spirit…where do you get that?

Dave: Our soul is a spirit because we are created in the image and likeness of God, Who is Spirit.

Opponent: God is a God of the living…that’s why we have to raise from the dead and put on immortality. That God is “elohim” = “angels” that we were created in the image of.

Dave: So, when Jesus is speaking with Moses during the transfiguration, even tough Moses’ body has been long buried in a tomb, the spirit of Moses (or soul, whatever you want to call it) was not alive but dead?
And, what is an angel? Is an angel “spirit” or a “physical body”? If it suggests a physical nature, please provide for me the physical properties of “spirit”. But you will still be arguing with fallacious reasoning. Christ tells us “God us spirit”, and the word “spirit” does not mean “angel”, but rather it translates “breath” in the Aramaic (or was it Greek?).

Opponent: David, that [the Transfiguration] was a vision. The image is a physical image …like perhaps a son is an image of his father but [h]e is not actually the father himself. Christ said…tell the vision to no one.

Dave: So, why do you believe that the Transfiguration did not portray a reality? Because it was a vision, that means it was not real? I would argue the contrary, that it was very real AND that this makes an even stronger argument for the immortality of the soul [spirit] BECAUSE Moses and Elijah were recognized, but not because their physical bodies, but because of their souls which appeared in that vision.
Of course we can make an exception for Elijah, because we know he was taken up into Heaven on a chariot and there is no suggestion at all in Scripture that he experienced physical death. Though, if we do that, it makes your “vision” argument even weaker because now we have both a physical person AND the soul [spirit] of Moses appearing at the same time with Christ during the Transfiguration.

Opponent: What was the lie the serpent told?

Dave: He said God wanted to restrain us from our true potential and that we could realize this true pootential by dis-obeying God. What’s that got to do with the fact that “God is spirit” and that “man is created in the image and likeness of God”?

Opponent: No…he said…thou shalt not die = immortality of the soul like you believe.

Dave: Why do you believe that this was in reference to only the immortal soul? And what makes you think “die” in this sense means not being immortal? Every Christian that I know of recognizes that an immortal soul can be “dead” in the sense of eternal damnation.

Opponent: I believe the Bible teaches the soul that sins will die…and therefore everyone is dead until Christ returns to raise the dead for judgment…then and only then will a person know if he’s a sheep or goat. Dead is dead.

Dave: You didn’t answer my questions. Please go back and answer the questions. One of them touches on your most recent comment, but I will ask it more explicitly here: why do you believe that “soul that sins will die” means it is not immortal? Why do you think “dead” means the same things as YOUR definition/understanding of “dead”, even though nothing in Scripture suggests that “dead” means it ceases to exist or have conscience?

To recap the sets of questions [with clarifications in brackets.]…and please provide any pertinent Scriptural passages:

#1-So, why do you believe that the Transfiguartion did not portray a reality?
-Becuase it was a vision, that means it was not real? (Scripture please that supports this?)

#2-What’s that [the lie of Satan] got to do with the fact that “God is spirit” and that “man is created in the image and likeness of God”? [Does Satan’s lie undo what Scripture plainly tells us? (Scripture please that supports this?)]

#3-Why do you believe that this “you shall not die” being Satan’s lie] was in reference to only the immortal soul [as opposed to a physical death]? And what makes you think “die” in this sense means not being immortal [in spirit]?

[You can omit set #3 and replace with #4 since this gets more specific]
#4 -Why do you believe that “soul that sins will die” means it is not immortal? Why do you think “dead” means the same things as YOUR definition/understanding of “dead”, even though nothing in Scripture suggests that “dead” means it ceases to exist or have conscience? (Scripture please that supports your position?)

Opponent: There is no thought or device in the grave where you go…all thoughts perish…in the proverbs I believe. Oh and the serpent is not satan. It was the crafty beast God had made. I believe satan is an adversary…could be man…could be angels…could be God. I know for a fact peter was called satan by Christ because peter was thinking human thoughts not God thoughts.

Dave: I agree there is not thought in the grave where my body lies. You still have not answered how that somehow undoes the fact that “God is spirit” and that we are “created in the image and likeness of God”, nor have you shown how this negates an immortal soul which is spirit. You have not answered any of the questions I have asked.

There is no evidence that the serpent in Scripture does not represent Satan [who Scripture calls the “father of lies” and such “from the beginning” ], or that a creature-serpent was not under Satan’s influence. Rather, since Satan is the “father of lies”, it is perfectly reasonable to assume this was either Satan or a creature that had given itself over to him. Likewise for Peter, it makes sense that putting man’s desires before God’s, he would be rebuked as a “satan” [only to repent later…but that’s a different topic altogether].

At any rate…you STILL have not answered any of my questions at all…

Opponent: I said…we are created in the image of Elohim not God. God is an English word the translators used. There is proof that Elohim are angels…I am not home at the moment but I’ll surely show you proof when I get home.

Okay, so there you have it. It is that last statement, ***"…we are created in the image of Elohim not God. God is an English word the translators used. There is proof that Elohim are angels…***", that has got me scratching my head. Has anyone run across such a claim, and is this representative of JW or Unitarian…or something else??

ETA: Oh, and I just realized I misspelled the title of the post. If anyone knows how to fix that “angles” to “angels”, please let me know. :o

The only thing that I can think of is that there are places in the OT where the word ‘elohim’ shows up in the Hebrew, but in the Septuagint, it was translated “angels” or “judgement seat (of God)”. For instances, in Psalm 8, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor.” Here, ‘god’ is elohim, but the LXX translated it as “you have made him little less than the angels.” (Likewise, when Hebrews 2:7 quotes this psalm, it says, “You made him for a little while lower than the angels.”)

Now, it would seem that this was a pious interpolation – rather than directly comparing a person to God, the translator(s) used the Greek word for ‘angel’. But, to state that this therefore implies that all instances of ‘elohim’ mean ‘angel’ is just naive. ‘Elohim’ comes from ‘el’, or ‘god’, and takes on the grammatical plural.

Yes, this is an excellent observation. I’m also curious as to why this person asserts we are made in the image and likeness of “angels” despite Genesis stating we are made in God’s likeness and image. I wonder what the Greek is in that account of creation?

ETA: I just checked and “God” is rendered from “elohim” in Gen 1:27 as well. So, yeah, I think it’s naïve to say that “elohim” equals angels. I think the person also ignores the question of WHAT an “angel” is. Angels don’t have bodies, they are “spirit”. So, to say that man being created in the image of a “spirit” still does not equate to a mortal soul [spirit]. The whole arguments is just an assumption with zero Biblical basis. :shrug:

Okay, so in other dialog with another person, my “opponent” has stated she is a Christadelphian.

catholic.com/quickquestions/what-do-christadelphians-believe

Soooooo, if there can be only 1 Person in the God-Head, according to THEIR theology (circa 1848) and GOD created man in GOD’s image, and this is rendered from “elohim” in the creation account, then this person is logically going to have to admit that “elohim” does NOT necessarily mean “angles”, OR she must admit that there are more than 1 Person in the God-Head. Any other conclusion is logically inconsistent.

Have I missed anything, or does this make sense?

i am new to CAF but it seems to me there is a misinterpretation of the Hebrew going on here
El was the designated title of Diety in Pagan cultures before Hebrew came along and was pollinated into their ( Israel’s) ideologies so well that any negative biases of the Pagan religions was forgotten.
Eloi / Elohi is defined as possibly, my God . Remember Jesus’ cry on the cross …" Eloi, Eloi , Lama …,"

The im at the end is a suffix in Hebrew which denotes a plurality. The same thing as an s in english at the end of word(s)
Judiasm today sees this as " The heavenly council " in existence at time of creation

Personally I see it as just another identifier of the theology of the godhead . However we view the God head, there seems to be an intimation of plurality in the opening verses of scripture

PS… . Sounds a little like Hubert Armstrong’s Church of God Theologies. Boy!! are they confusing.

I think I get what you are saying. For example, in Gen 1:27, it says “God [elohim…plural] created man in HIS [singular] image…in HIS [singular] image God [elohim…plural] created him…” would be more likely describing 1 God 1Nature] in 3 Persons. That would make much more sense that this “Christadelphic” position.

Here is what the summary ended up being:

Dave: …According to YOUR theology, there is only 1 Person in the God-Head. The creation account in Genesis 1:27 says GOD made man in HIS image, and “God” here is rendered from the Greek “elohim”. Soooooo, if there can be only 1 Person in the God-Head, according to YOUR theology (circa 1848) and GOD created man in GOD’s image, and this is rendered from “elohim” in the creation account, then you are logically going to have to admit that “elohim” does NOT necessarily mean “angles”, OR you must admit that there are more than 1 Person in the God-Head. Any other conclusion is logically inconsistent…

Opponent: There are more then 1 angel…Elohim is plural.

Dave: Elohim is indeed a plural use of the word “El”, which means “God”. Now you have to decide what you believe: 1) whether this usage in the creation story is in regards to the plurality of Persons in a Nature (1 God, 3 Persons), OR 2) “angels” suddenly have power to create “existence”…which would also require to have created themselves, since angels are a creation of God. Notice that in Genesis, it does NOT say that God (“elohim” in the Greek here) created man in “their” image, but in “his” image. The singular identifier is used despite a plural usage of “elohim”. So now you are on your way to the Trinity.

OR, you have to admit that “elohim” does not mean “angels” in all of it’s occurrences. I happen to believe that it would be naïve to believe that each occurrence of the word “elohim” literally means “angels”. There is no Biblical support for believing this.

But then, this STILL gets you nowhere in regards to your position that we have mortal souls. None of the above, regardless of your position, supports such a notion as to deny the immortal soul. WHY? Because, if we are really created in the image of angels, you are going to have to prove that angels are mortal souls…and I don’t think you can do that. Angels are ALSO spirit…just like God.

And then still we have the 4 sets (3 if you substitute #4 for #3) of questions which you cannot seem to answer.

I think I’ve said enough for any reasonable person to realize that the Christadelphian position both illogical and unBiblical. I’ve enjoyed the dialog, and this will conclude my participation here.

God bless you and have a wonderful day, [name removed]. Please pray for me and I will do likewise for you.

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