Saturday, 8 December 2007
In Man's Own Image
Many have tried to twist God’s omnipresence to portray Him as some kind of shapeless “blob”—even though the Bible clearly shows that God has a body and a shape—and it is a shape like ours! Consider Genesis 1:26, which tells us that man is made in God’s image and likeness—words that do convey a sense of shape. We do not use human philosophies to avoid the clear statements of Scripture! Consider, as well, the passage in which God says unambiguously that He has a face, a hand and a back (Exodus 33:18–23)! The only way to understand this passage from Exodus without making a mockery of God’s word is to agree that God has a shape and a body!
I'd forgotten just how numbingly literal Armstrongism was in its doctrine of God till I came across this bit of nonsense in the latest Living Church News. The writer is Wally Smith, the bright new hope among the sect's geriatric generals, but the guy is clearly not an original thinker.
The Armstrong god was always a bit of a monstrosity, and anthropomorphic from His (definitely His) graying head to his neatly trimmed toenails. There's not the slightest subtlety here, the concept of metaphor never reached through the wooden mindset of HWA and his sometime-beloved disciple, Roderick C. Meredith. Does the Eternal have divine genitalia, one wonders? If He does (and if He means He it seems inevitable), they're composed of Spirit, whatever that might mean, and without a Mrs God in evidence, it seems a moot point.
This vision of God, as a man-shaped Sky Father, is about as pagan as you can get. The Old Boy adorns the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and sits enthroned in classical mythology as Zeus and Jupiter Olympus. Among the Israelites this crass literalism was mercifully offset by forbidding images. The Sky Father is a time-honored idol, and a projection of the imagination for those without much imagination.
It's not that the Hebrew Bible doesn't contain anthropomorphisms - as Wally indicates by citing the revelation of Yahweh's "back parts" in Exodus... but honestly, what purpose does he think the celestial buttocks serve? If this is God, then we should all be atheists.