In the Image – by Jim
You ask whether or not Buddhists are made in the image of God, “Hindus also”, “[a]nd on”. I should be surprised at this question, but I am less surprised than I would have expected.
In fact, if you pay attention carefully to Torah, or in fact at all, it does not require much in the way of care, it tells you that humanity was made in the image of God. See Genesis 1:26. It is not only the Jew who is made in the image of God, nor those from your particular sect of Christianity.
Every human being is precious, regardless of his religious errors. This is the reason given for the prohibition to murder: “Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind” (Genesis 9:6). Or do you think that you may murder a Buddhist or a Hindu? Do you deny that they are in the image of God?
In fact, God loves all people. Some do earn for themselves death. But God makes clear that He does not delight in the death of the wicked. He wishes, instead, that they turn from their wickedness and live. (See Ezekiel 18). Is this not clear from Jonah? God sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh, idolaters, with word that God was going to destroy them in forty days. This was a call to repentance, and it worked. The people repented and God relented. Now, if it is as you imply, that God has no concern for them, He would just destroy them. But as Jonah says, God is “merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing” (4:2).
It is true that Israel is God’s first-born son. That does not leave the rest of us in the cold. It implies that we are also his sons. The Jewish people have a special relationship with God and also greater responsibility. They are a light to the nations. They are a kingdom of priests. And if they are priests, they have a role to play to benefit the non-Jewish world. They are here to show the beauty and truth of serving God. They are to instruct us in their ways. You have acknowledged that they are witnesses, and so they are. They testify to the One God, beside Whom there is no other. They carry this light and testimony to the benefit of the non-Jew. They are a blessing to us.
The creation of Israel is a sign of God’s great love for the world. Solomon, when dedicating the Temple, prayed that if a non-Jew should hear about the good things going on in Israel and pray toward the Temple, that God would hear their prayer (I Kings 8:41-43). He hoped that by this the nations would know God and fear Him “as do your people Israel”. In the future, the nations will stream to Jerusalem to learn the ways of God. And they will be at peace.
It is clear that God has concern for the non-Jew. Torah does not claim that only the Jew is made in the image of God. Nor does it say that one who follows idols is no longer in God’s image. The Hindu must repent. He does himself a great wrong by bowing down to false gods. But he is still a special creation of the Creator. He is still in the image of God.
You have asked a good question. What does it mean to be made in the image of God? But you have jumped to hasty conclusions. Torah says nothing about the “Son of God”. This Christian invention does violence to the text and leads you to denigrate both Torah and your fellow human being. Whatever it means to be made in the image of God, we see from Torah that all human beings are made in the image of God, and they have intrinsic value. We see that God has concern for all human beings, not Israel only.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal