The

Imago Dei

Ministry Initiative

Experience Life. Encounter God.

The Theology

 

Recall the biblical creation accounts as told in Genesis 1-3. What is the original sin? Many may say that it's disobedience, or more creative scholars will say that eating of the "forbidden fruit" is some sort of euphemism for sexual misconduct. However, if we examine the story more closely, we find something much deeper.

 

According to Genesis 1:26, "God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.'" God created a human prototype of divinity and perfection and deemed it "very good" (Gen. 1:31). Fast forward to the serpent's conversation with Eve in Genesis 3, before the humans make the gravest of mistakes ever recorded. When the serpent questions Eve about eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Eve retorts that they should not ear from that particular tree because it would cause death. The serpent twists the story and tells Eve that eating from the tree would not lead to death, but would rather make them like God (Gen. 3:5).

 

We tend to breeze past this verse to get to the drama of judgment and sentencing, but this verse answers our initial question of what is the original sin. You see, before Eve ever takes a bite from the tree, the sin was already committed. The serpent convinced Eve to eat from the tree because it would make them like God--but this is problematic because Genesis 1 taught us that humans were already like God; they already possessed the Imago Dei (Latin for "image of God"). The serpent convinced them to doubt themselves, to question their divine heredity, and to believe that they were not good enough. The original sin is questioning the presence of the Imago Dei in humankind.

 

As a result, self-consciousness set in. Rather than fully embracing their beautiful selves and being able to walk proudly naked in front of one another, the humans began to feel flawed and instead covered themselves (Gen. 3:7) and even worse, hid themselves from God (Gen. 3:10). Doubting the presence of the Imago Dei is the gateway for sin, which I define was separation from God. Because of insecurities, we cover things up, we lie, we kill (as in the story of Abel and Cain), we lust, we covet and we steal. We do these things because we feel inadequate--because we feel as though we are not good enough.

 

Each time we question the presence of the Imago Dei in ourselves or in others, we commit the same grave sin as the primordial humans, opening the door for a tsunami of acts that separate us from God. We believe that God's image can be found in all humans, and it is never appropriate to question an individual's status as divinely created person, be it ourselves or others. Consequently, we affirm Jesus Christ's teaching in Matthew 22:36-40 that loving God and loving each other go hand in hand because to love our neighbors is to love God's very likeness, and that loving and embracing the Imago Dei in all of us leads to life and unity with God.

Luther's Bio

At an early age, Luther developed a strong passion for music. He sang in the children’s choir until he began playing drums at age 7, violin at age 9, saxophone at age 10, and piano at age 13. Luther has served in music and media ministry for nearly 12 years. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Audio Engineering Technology from Belmont University in 2012. He also earned a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University Divinity School in 2018, with a certificate in Religion and the Arts in Contemporary Culture, and emphases in Black Church Studies and Gender and Sexuality. Luther is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology at The Ohio State University with interest in the intersections of race, gender and sexuality, religion, and mental health.

 

Luther has performed across the U.S. with various artists and is a former member of the group Donnie, Darryl and the JoyBoyz (MALACO Records), who made multiple appearances on BET’s Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel, and was featured in a National Geographic documentary.

 

Luther was first licensed to ministry in 2011, and was licensed by the Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ, Inc. International College of Bishops in 2013. He is now completing the process for ordination within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and serves the congregation at New Covenant Christian Church (Nashville, TN) in music and youth ministry.

 

Much of Luther’s work seeks to address class inequalities, racial injustice, and systems of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, youth, and other disadvantaged groups. Luther has presented across the country on intersectionality, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ inclusion, as well as held held workshops for queer and trans* people of color on reconciling spirituality, sexuality, and gender identity. He works with the Nashville Freedom School Partnership (an initiative of the Children’s Defense Fund) and served on the Board of Directors for Youth for a Peaceful Community (a Nashville-based nonprofit organization). He is also part of the Pro-Reconciling Anti-Racism Commission for the Tennessee Disciples of Christ. Luther was a featured author in Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible published in January of 2018.

 

A native of Beaufort, SC, Luther now lives in Nashville with his husband.