A Pilgrim's Catechism
The Occasional Thoughts of a 21st-Century Roman Catholic on Journey
Towards the Reign of God
Lorenzo Ghiberti: The Creation of Adam and Eve
Made in the image and likeness of God?
The Baltimore Catechism was composed in the scholastic tradition so that here the image and likeness of God has to do with intellect and free will, the ability to reason and choose that philosophically defines humanity. This is the natural human being who then by the sacrifice of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is raised to the supernatural life.
Of course the author of Genesis knew none of this. From him the image and likeness of God has to do with a share in dominion over creation which is given to the first human beings.
The Roman Catholic Church has recently clarified its teaching on limbo which would have had infants born to the life of nature and then only raised to the divine life at baptism. Infants without baptism who died would have gone, not to heaven, but to limbo, a state of natural happiness.
A general consensus of believers, now affirmed by the teaching authority of the Church, has argued that somehow God’s grace is present from the infant’s first moment of existence.
The pilgrim would maintain that what defines humanity is not merely intellect and free will but more significantly the acceptance of a share in God’s own life at the first moment of existence. This would be the case for every human who has ever existed in every time and place. It is the presence of God in our lives that defines us as human beings.
To be made in the image and likeness of God is more than merely sharing in dominion over creature, of having intellect and free will, it means coming into existence already participating in God’s own life and being called constantly to grow in that life.