PRYOR, OK —
Ryan W. Kepke
Adair Church of Christ
The Bible speaks of the hand, the arm, the finger, the eye, the ear, the face, and even the “hinder parts” of God. Are we to take these terms literally or are they figures of speech the inspired writers employed to help us relate to the Infinite? The Pagan religions have consistently attributed literal physical characteristics of various creatures (including men) to their false concepts of God (Rom. 1:22–23). However, the nature of true Deity is beyond and above such physical forms: “God is Spirit” (John 4:24), and “a spirit hath not flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39).
The notable exception to this, of course, is the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1–4, 14). Paul’s description of the Incarnation is similar: Our Lord existed “in the form of God” while with the Father, but He “emptied himself...being made in the likeness of men” (Phi. 2:6–7). Obviously, the “form of God” is not the same as the “form of man,” otherwise there would have been no need for Him to become flesh and be made in the likeness of men. To attribute literal physical form to the true and living God is to make God in man’s image. Those who do so doubtless believe they are being true to the Word of God. However, they are just as mistaken as Roman Catholicism, which insists on taking literally Jesus’ words concerning the unleavened bread (“This is my body”) and the fruit of the vine (“This is my blood”) (Mat. 26:26, 28).
The actual name of the figure of speech that attributes human characteristics and forms to God is anthropomorphism (a Greek word which literally means “human form”). For failure to recognize this figure of speech, the Mormon Cult insists that both the Father and the Son have fleshly bodies and are material beings.
It is not difficult to understand that when our Lord said, “I am the door” (John 10:9), He did not mean that He literally was a slab of material that could be opened or closed, attached to a post by hinges. We correctly perceive that He used a figure of speech, meaning that in some ways He behaves as a door. So it is with the human parts and traits that are attributed to God in Scripture. Deity, in His very nature, is infinitely above anything we in our finiteness can conceive, and thus He is sometimes described in terms with which we are familiar and which we can grasp. Those who think they are being true to God’s Word by taking these descriptions of God literally (and accuse those who do not of denying the Word of God) grievously mishandle the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
Adair Church of Christ is located on Highway 69 (3 blocks south of the main traffic light) in Adair. Morning service is at 11 a.m. For FREE Bible course, call 918.253.4897 or e-mail AdairChurchofChrist@Yahoo.com