Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
What does it mean to be created in the image and likeness of God? Johann Gerhard has this to say: “In fact since goodness, wisdom, and righteousness constitute the very essence of God, man who was made in the image of God was created in goodness, wisdom, and righteousness, on the other hand, since man shines the image of divine goodness, wisdom, and righteousness, it is rightly said and believed that he was made in the image of God.” (Pg. 33)
Accordingly we do not believe that this image is the physical image of God, this is born out by other things, but also in the fact that both man and woman were created in the image of God, and aside from “Pat” on Saturday night Live, most men and women have very different images when they look in the mirror. But rather man was made righteous, was given wisdom etc in his creation. He was separated thereby from animals.
But some then wonder why two words? Why image and likeness? It is common in Hebrew writing, especially poetry to use synonyms to reinforce one idea. Some have argued that the image was the essence of the soul, things like, mind, will and memory, where as the likeness denoted the qualities of the soul illuminating the mind with faith, confirming the memory with hope, and augmenting the will with love.
This is the way the Catholic theologian Bellarmine went, and why he condemned as heretical those who would say we lost the image of God, a least in spiritual things, was lost. And this indeed would be a hard thing to say, that man no longer has a soul after the fall, if the soul itself was the image of God. But then perhaps that would be where some liberal theologians would come up with their annihilation theory? That before you are saved you have no soul, therefore nothing to live after death?
I throw that out there. Have no idea where they come up with such nonsense. One problem with the above is the belief in the resurrection is one of bodily resurrection, and I at least believe people will have both body and soul in hell, as well as heaven. The other option is to say that man is given a new soul by God, one that is corrupted by sin, but that would make God the author of sin.
In the end, we believe that image and likeness refer to the same thing,