On being made in the image of God

Rowan Williams explains why everyone has a role in the ideal community.



Rowan Williams explains why everyone has a role in the ideal community.


Because Christianity has this commitment to the idea that human beings are made in the image of God, then even it takes a while for this really to bed in in Christian thinking, it has to be recognised everybody has that in them, that divine image. You can see in the early Christian period even very anti-feminist thinkers gradually coming around to the idea that, well, yes, women too, and extending this further and further. You see that in the high valuation that lots of forms of Christian practice give to the dignity of the poor or the marginal, the otherwise helpless, the people who are not successful managerial figures.

So the idea that everybody has a role, everyone has freedom and dignity that they can exercise, that’s really deeply embedded in Christianity and it’s embedded in the particular theological idea in the New Testament that the ideal community – which is what the Church is supposed to be – the ideal community is one where everybody is dependent on everyone else. Where there’s a recognition that if some other individual is suffering, you’re suffering, you’re less than you are. If you are doing well, then it’s for the sake of the other. Now that both affirms the dignity of the individual and the fact that no individual can be understood or valued apart from relationship. And that’s the balance which I think is crucial, especially in Christianity, that mutuality – not just an individual dignity but a dignity in relationship.