Genesis 1:26 is the first introduction in Scripture of the idea that mankind is similar to God.
In this verse, God proposes to create a race of humans in His own image and after His own likeness.
The creation account had previously listed numerous life forms that were said to “bring forth after their kind” suggesting that there was a similarity, a likeness among each kind of creature.
Grass and herb and trees after their kind, great whales and water creatures after their kind, and every winged fowl after their kind, cattle and everything that creeps after its kind.
Everything that was created to this point was similar and related to other creatures.
But then God, for the first time, says, Let us make mankind in our image and after our likeness.
Humankind is distinguished from all the other living creatures by having the honor of being made in God’s image and in God’s likeness. The animals are made like other animals, but man is made like God. The animals are copies of other animals, but man is a copy of God—in some way.
Ellen White informs us that this likeness included appearance and form.
In the beginning, man was created in the likeness of God, not only in character, but in form and feature. GC p. 644.3
God is a spirit; yet He is a personal being, for man was made in His image. Education p. 132; 8T p. 263.1
God is a being, and man was made in His image. 3MR p. 304.1; Ms 117, 1898
Created to be "the image and glory of God" (1 Corinthians 11:7), Adam and Eve had received endowments not unworthy of their high destiny. Graceful and symmetrical in form, regular and beautiful in feature, their countenances glowing with the tint of health and the light of joy and hope, they bore in outward resemblance the likeness of their Maker. Nor was this likeness manifest in the physical nature only. Every faculty of mind and soul reflected the Creator's glory. Education p. 20 1903
For many decades the Advent people recognized that our earthly human father-son relationships were modeled after the great type in heaven where “the Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands” John 3:35. Man was made in the image of God and His Son.
We understood that the laws of inheritance observed in giving “the fathers unto the children” were based on the Son of the living God whom the Father “has appointed heir of all things” Heb 1:2. Man was made after the likeness of God and His Son.
But today, in discussing the image of God, it is now said that God exists in the image of man.
Man and his family structure is regarded as the original from which God has copied and adopted. God has assumed the roles of Father and Son as a response to the creation of mankind.
Because humans have fathers and sons, they claim, two divine persons who are God have adopted the human roles of Father and Son so we might better understand them. While humans have real sons who inherit their father’s human nature, we are to better appreciate God whose person called the Father acts the part of a human father, but is not a real Father Himself, and calls another person of God called the Son who acts the part of a human son, but is not a real Son, does not inherit anything from the one playing the part of Father, but is rather completely self-existent and always has been.
This reversal of type and antitype, allegedly, assists the human race in correctly appreciating the full divinity of each God person. After all, if God were a real divine Father who bequeathed His divine nature, character, power, and life to His real divine Son, then there would be only one God the Father and only one Son of God. John 17:3, 1Cor 8:6, 1John 1:3, 2John 3 would be shown to be true. The Son of God would be equal with God because he is the Son as John 5:18 explains. The Son of God would be equal with God because he "came out from God" John 16:27; 17:8 and would naturally be "in the form of God" Phil 2:6 and by inheritance have dwelling in him "all the fullness of the Godhead" Col 2:9--His Father who is his Head 1Cor 11:3.
But, object the triune God proponents, a real literal Son of God must be disqualified from being fully God because he would have a beginning. Consequently, because triune theory demands that there be three perfectly equal, absolutely eternal persons each of which are fully God, a real Father and Son are impossible in the face of the a priori prerequisites.
There are problems with the God-in-Man’s-Image hypothesis. Why were roles necessary before there were any created beings to appreciate them? Why did the Father create all things by the Son? What purpose did that fulfill?
The authors of “Trinity” (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2002, p. 277) state, “His subordination was only temporary. Furthermore, the scriptural evidence is that the subordination of Christ to the Father and the Holy Spirit to both the Father and the Son is merely for the practical purposes of creation and redemption.”
Creation? This is a very important point. The apostles John and Paul take specific notice that Christ, the Word, creating all things, by whom are all things, by whom the Father created the worlds, by the word of the LORD…etc. Why? He is before all things, Paul says. But so was the Father. If they are all equal, why didn’t the Father create everything all by Himself? Why specify that it was through His Son?
In the framework of the Great Controversy understanding as long held by Seventh-day Adventists, the assertion that God adapted “Themselves” to the anthropomorphic roles of Father and Son (and Mother Holy Spirit?) even before the entrance of sin, has serious implications. God thus becomes responsible for Lucifer’s fall. It was the fabricated roles imposing artificial hierarchy and dependencies that created jealousy in the mind of Lucifer over the Son’s position. If the status of Christ was only assumed and not real, then Lucifer had every right to regard himself as a “son of God” like all the other angels and on an equal level with Christ. Both were anointed; Lucifer “the anointed cherub that covers” Ezek 28:14 but Michael “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows” Heb 1:9. And if it should become known that these titles are not real, then God is guilty of deceiving the angelic host.
The Bible declares that “we love Him because He first loved us” and then mankind was created in the image of God, the great Original, of whom we are but a copy. Thus the human relationships of father and son are an image, a reflection of “Him that is true and His Son” 1John 5:20. We were made to experience fatherhood and sonship because God was the First Father who “brought forth” the “Firstborn of heaven” Heb 1:6, His own Son, the begotten of the Father (John 1:14).