Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

an Anthropomorphic concept of god

2/1/13

 

You'll notice that when the Bible speaks of God, in many cases, He is pictured as man-like. He has a face. He stretches out His arm. He walks in the Garden. He gets angry and reacts violently. All very human attributes and behaviors.

 

As a respected friend noted recently, this anthropomorphic representation of God is perfectly natural, especially in the past ages, when men were surrounded by other religions, many of which depicted deities with characteristics similar to animals or humans. In these earlier times, man had not develop more nuanced conceptions of God, given the limited time for the mental reflection necessary. Man's understanding was developing, gradually building on the ideas of previous generations and cultures. These earliest attempts to define God pre-dated any written texts, including the Bible.

 

In the intervening centuries, man has grown and not just in a scientific or technological sense. Man has developed a higher level of moral and ethical understanding. Despite the insistence of many that man's moral standards have digressed over the years, a true accounting of the trend of human behavior over the course of centuries will reveal an obvious improvement in ethical discernment and subsequent behavior. This improvement has happened non-linearly for sure, but the overall trajectory is a matter of historical record.

 

In our day, many folks are continuing to see an ever changing picture of God, a change commensurate with the continuing development of ethical discernment in our societies. Old paradigms about who is right and who is wrong, who is in and who is out, are being challenged daily. In this atmosphere of evolutionary thinking, old concepts of God appear ever more inadequate or even just plain wrong.

 

The simplistic, man-like depiction of God which prevails throughout the Bible certainly raises many questions and challenges many characteristics which we would normally associate with divinity. Being too human-like is not a particularly majestic and inspiring way to see and understand God. Such representations also seem at odds with the more sublime attributes of God: graciousness, loving kindness, forbearance, faithfulness.

 

Taking the anthropomorphism of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament accounts, and continuing to draw conclusions about God's overall work and plan for humanity there from, just seems antiquated, limiting as it does our current knowledge of God to what was conceived 2000 plus years ago. People can believe that God was perfectly revealed and known way back then if they choose; but, given the  ways God must be dramatically different from man, especially in thinking and actions, anthropomorphism as the form of divine representation appears woefully misleading.

 

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