What it means to be godly


Kelly Kopic, in his article on anthropology (theology of man) from Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Catholic Church, has a fascinating discussion on what it means to be a godly person. He begins by asking: what does it mean for a human being to image God as a person created in his likeness? What does it mean to be like God?

His thesis is this:

We never embody God’s image more clearly than when we love, delight in, and commune with his incarnate Son, who has reconciled all things in himself. Simply put, we are never more like God than when we love his Son through his Spirit (p 160).

To image God, to be like him, to be godly, is nothing less than to delight in and commune with Christ. Kopic fleshes this out by examining a fascinating little homily by John Owen. In it, Owen lists four reasons why a godly person is one who delights in Christ. Kopic explains:

First, Owen reflects classic orthodox conceptions of the immanent (ad intra) Trinity, arguing that from all eternity there was “an essential blessedness of the holy Trinity” that “consists in the mutual love of the Father and the Son, by the Holy Ghost; which is the love of them both.” Even before the incarnation, the Son is “the only full, resting, complete object of the love of God the Father.”

Second, “it is in the nature of rational creatures” to experience love in such a way that “it might shadow and represent the ineffable, eternal love that the Father had unto the Son, and the Son unto the Father, by the Spirit.” All love experienced and known outside this intratrinitarian love is a “free emanation from this eternal love between the Father and the Son”

Third, Owen believes that the “first act of the love of God the Father wherein there is any thing ad extra, or without the divine essence, is the person of Christ considered as invested with our nature… Now having taken on a human body and soul, the Son becomes the great delight of the Father who fills his incarnate Son with his Spirit. Here in Jesus is God’s great yes to creation in general, and humanity in particular.”…

[Fourth], Because Jesus is the fullness of God’s self-revelation, we reflect God to the degree that we love the incarnate Son (p 160-62)

What Owen is saying simply, is that to be like God is to love the Son as the Father loves the Son. To imitate him is to imitate the delight which the Father takes in the Son. What a valuable insight!