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Ask an Evangelical: Who or What do Evangelicals Believe God Is?


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Ask an Evangelical: Who or What do Evangelicals Believe God Is?

What questions do you have about Evangelicalism? Submit them online, or fill out the form below.

Commentary by Scott McIntyre | FāVS News

Who or what do Evangelicals believe God is? Is God for them an image of a human man but not a woman? Do Evangelicals believe in scientific evolution or do they believe each and every species was individually created?

ask an evangelical

I want to preface this answer with my opinion that evangelicals do not believe universally, the same thing, about every aspect of the Christian faith. For instance, in a previous ‘Ask an Evangelical’ question, our reader, who was wondering if I shared their definition of evangelical, told me about the Christian denomination they belonged to and several aspects of its beliefs; none of which I would have used to describe my faith.

Assuming that we aren’t the only two people, identifying as evangelicals, to disagree, on spiritual topics, I conclude that my opinion, stated above, is accurate. The main point of this is that my reply to our reader’s question is a personal belief and how much it’s shared with the rest of the evangelical Christian community is beyond my knowledge.

Who or What Is God?

Who or what do evangelicals believe God is? Is God for them an image of a human man but not a woman?

Since I don’t know of a single passage in the Bible which refers to God as a female, I do not see him as the image of a woman, especially with references to ‘male’ being very common. For instance, “God the Father” is mentioned 18 times in the New International Version of the Bible, and all references are in the New Testament. One of those, Colossians 1:3, calls God “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It’s natural for humans to think of ‘fathers’ as men, since that’s what we know them as.  But applying the same thinking to God, even though he’s identified as the ‘Father’ of Jesus, doesn’t work for me. More on that in a moment, but first, another passage that could turn my whole idea on its head.

Created in God’s Image

In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, a verse in chapter one says, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Boom … men and women were created, and I’m assuming are still born, in the image of God. Sounds like God is both male and female. But if that’s true, how can the Bible refer to ‘him’ as “God the Father”? I think the key is what the “image” (or likeness) of God means, and I found an article on GotQuestions.org that explains this in much better words than I could have come up with.

“Having the “image” or “likeness” of God means, in the simplest terms, that we were made to resemble God.” This doesn’t mean that God has a physical body like ours. In fact, as I concur with Got Questions, Scripture teaches God is spirit and exists without a body. So how do we share this ‘image’ thing with God?

Referring back to the Got Question article, we read, “The image of God (Latin, imago dei) refers to the immaterial part of humanity … It is a likeness mentally, morally, and socially.”

The article continues by focusing on these three characteristics. First it identifies how our creation reflects each one in different ways, with all serving as reflections of God’s character. 

  • Mentally, humanity was created as a rational, volitional agent. In other words, human beings can reason and choose. This is a reflection of God’s intellect and freedom.”
  • Morally, humanity was created in righteousness and perfect innocence, a reflection of God’s holiness.”
  • Socially, humanity was created for fellowship. This reflects God’s triune nature and His love.”

God as My Father

Next, using these traits, it spells out several potential behaviors for each one. As each deed echoes aspects of God, they write it’s a way of “proclaiming the fact that we are made in God’s image.”

With this understanding of how I’m made in the ‘image’ of God, I can feel comfortable with him as a father, even though I don’t see him as a ‘male’ like my earthly father; and I don’t have concerns that he’s ‘male or female’, or both, even though people of each gender are made in his image. 

Hope this adequately answers our reader’s question but if it has created another, ‘hmm, I wonder’ query for anyone, feel free to ask away. The second part of this question: “Do Evangelicals believe in scientific evolution or do they believe each and every species was individually created?” will be Part II of this article, and we hope you’ll stay tuned for when it appears.

The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

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Scott McIntyre
Scott McIntyre
Scott McIntyre is glad his parents didn’t name him Vladimir or he’d be listed last on this page. While a long time California resident, he was the Oakland Spirituality Examiner for Examiner.com from 2011-12 and about the same time began blogging on several topics. The first, teaching Christians how to lovingly share their spiritual beliefs, emphasized skills that can benefit all forms of one-to-one interaction. He also writes on marriage, travel, downsizing, humor and the motive behind people’s words and actions. After retiring in 2016, Scott embarked on some major ‘R & R’ — Relocating and Rebranding. Following in his sister’s footsteps from the early 80’s, and later in the decade, his parent’s, Scott left the Golden State to become a Washingtonian in a small town just west of Spokane County.

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