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.


Douglas Becker said...


I'm certain that you have known for a long time that it is a bad idea to look to Armstrongists to define who and what God is. All during the time of my association with the various Churches of God, I've never found a coherent realistic portrayal of the loving, kind, merciful, bountiful, righteous caring Father in Scripture.

And why would any of us expect Armstrongists to understand? After all, none of them thus far seem to have portrayed any of the aforementioned characteristics.

And after all, you cannot teach what you do not know -- not even as a happy accident, if the Armstrongists are any indication.

Mel said...

The question of genitalia is an interesting one- one which I've wondered myself but never before had the um...balls to ask. But it's a valid question. The urge to copulate and the need to pee are basic to humans. Does God pee? Does He fart, and if so, does it smell like a flowery meadow in springtime or bring reminders of the stench of men such as HWA?
In the beginning did God and Mrs. God giggle when God farted? Did they stop giggling over such, by the seventh day?

It seems to me that men should be seen as better than women since He did not create women in His image.

And did God say to himself, "Hey, if I have to look like this and make these strange noises and smells and excretions, then YOU are gonna have to, too!", when he created man?
Of course, I still don't have the balls to ask if He poops.

How can men can look so different if they were created in His image?

Does the fact that He is the same yesterday, today and forever allow that His hair or nails grow, or that He ever combs His hair differently than the way He combed it when he was busy smiting the Amelekites?

What do the other gods that He is jealous of look like?

When I start to think of Angels preparing food for Him and attending to His needs, I start to think of cult leaders.

I suppose that the answers lie in the fact that men have imagined God to be in their own image, and not the other way around.
Anthropomorphic. Word up, lol!

Anonymous said...

A loving caring God of the bible does not exist. There is no power unless fear fills your heart and there is a buck to be made off that fear. That is the hope the priest gives you! That is what has always bleed the stupid sheep (as HWA called them) and ruined lives through mind control in order to control your every thought, the make and color of your car, the clothes you wear, the correct position for sexual union. All that for control of YOUR MONEY! On and on it goes and it the end where would it stop? It would not! Just look at the bizarre evolutionary clones of Armstrongism! From spaceship nuts to the Billingsley's cultist control group, it only grows worse. It never ends until a leader goes nuts or a new leader is in charge of the kool-aid punch bowl!

Byker Bob said...

LOL. From Mel's description, you'd have to hope that Adam wasn't asked to pull the divine finger!

I've said for years, that when most ACOG members closed their eyes and attempted to visualize God, a kind of spiritual version of HWA filled their minds, hog jowls, Brylcreemed white hair and all.


Bamboo_bends said...

Bravo Gavin!

The sky God deserves to be slain....and I wonder how many reading what you wrote still don't get it???

...are you gonna take on how the paper Book became the "Living Word of God" next?

So many idols and false gods, not enough pick axes!

All religions agree that man cannot even begin to understand God and the awesome capabilities of the Deity. Yet they are all quite willing to kill each other over what they quite willingly admit they don't know.

From God's perspective, it all most look completely ridiculous.

Sleeper said...

The question posed by Gavin regarding the appearance of God belies a far greater question that being… what is your SOFA? By SOFA I mean Source of Final Authority. What do you look to find the answer to theological matters. Mormons look to the book of Mormon. The Catholics look to the Pope who has the authority to disregard scripture. The Jews look to their tradition. Indeed the reason why we have so many so many religions is because at the very core of these arguments lies the fact that everyone looks to a different source of final authority (SOFA) to find the truth. The basis for theological differences is really the struggle to find the correct sofa.

Corky said...

Just as Jews, Christians and Muslims are obsessed with sex, so is the God of the Bible.

Oh, God's definitely a man-thing. He is jealous of Israel with other gods the same as a husband is jealous of his wife with other men. He even calls Israel a whore when they go a-whoring after other gods.

Then there is the circumcision thing where men of God have to whack on their penises with a sharp rock.

Is God circumcised?

And poor ol' Eve couldn't have known what birth pains were yet and wasn't supposed to be a part of the original threat of death for disobeying anyway. God just sort of makes up the rules as he goes along just like a jealous husband does - all the way up 'til that day in divorce court.

Absolutely everything in the Bible is compared to and made to relate to sexual relationships.

Small wonder that Jews, Christians and Muslims for the most part are all a bunch of homophobes obsessed with sex. In the Bible, women are good for nothing except be a vessel to have sons for the men. But, they have to be virgins to be any good for the righteous men (and God).

Not only is God made in the image of a man but a middle eastern holy man, robes and all.

Douglas Becker said...

Why the church of gods will fail

Gavin, you are right on spot about the whole "God in the image of men" being idolatry is on spot. No matter which way it is sliced, the whole picturing of God and attempting to make God in the image of man is doomed to failure if there is a God. Furthermore, the church of gods practice idolatry in so many other ways, worshiping false gods, idols of their own making, that even if there is a One True Creator God, they'd never recognize Him if they encountered Him -- an unlikely prospect, since He would certainly hide Himself from them and cause all of their prophecies to fail, as the false prophets they are, blaspheming Him.

At this point, friends, I would like you to consider reading [or watching the video, depending on your bandwidth]:

60 Minutes: Twenty Somethings -- The "Millennials" Are Coming.

It's entertaining for starters. And it does have relevance to the discussion at hand.

As one who has spent time talking to twenty-somethings in the various incarnations of the Armstrongist churches of God, even writing professional resumes for them and helping them start careers, I have had occasion to watch and observe them over the years and see the trends mentioned in the 60 Minutes presentation develop. Particularly, just a scant four years back in United, I made friends with several of them and assisted a couple of young men in their school and business enterprises. I found that the UCG youth are much like those depicted in the 60 Minutes segment.

Anyone paying attention to the Tacoma UCG could have noted that during the regular weeks of Sabbath Services, there were between 26 to 39 people depending on. On special "youth events" and particularly during the monthly potlucks, the number would swell to as many as 97 people. The minister's sons actually attended during that time.

The church of gods seem to think the 80 million twenty somethings are stupid and ripe for picking, particularly the venue of Living. They keep trying and keep failing to attract anyone except the extremely weird or the ones warped by growing up in the church. All others stay away by the millions. The hard harsh cruel authoritative "God fearing" pastards just don't seem to realize that you have to treat these "kids" nice and be grateful to them for showing up, or they are very gone. They need praise. They also need Chri$tian Mu$ic, if the truth be told.

So here we have the church of gods promoting a hard harsh manipulative controlling god based on the imagination of Herbert Armstrong and made more insensitive by Roderick Meredith, whom we have designated as the real problem with Armstrongism, being that he was extremely controlling and nit-picky Pharisaical when he had absolute dominating control of the US ministry during the hay-day [or is that Hoeh-day] of the Worldwide Church of God.

On another forum of which I was the moderator, a young woman I deeply respect privately told me of the treatment that Roderick Meredith gave her mentally ill mother. She gave Roderick Meredith what for and backed him into a corner concerning the rotten treatment the Divine Dr. M had given her mother. RM avoided her at all costs after this, showing him to not only be a coward and an ungodly man, but someone who has all the interpersonal skills of a Tasmanian Devil.

The twenty-somethings of today expect kindness, gentleness and goodness as a matter of course. Of course, they will not find it in the church of gods because the real God of the Bible, blasphemed by the idolatry of the ministry of the church of gods, is depicted as harsh hard cruel -- the very picture of KScribe's perspective above. The truth lies in the Scriptures which depict God as having mercy that never fails, kind, gentle, loving -- a caring Father. The church of gods has depicted their own Father to depict the true God: The one who lies, deceives, a murderer from the beginning and one who transforms himself into an angel of light. This is the god worshiped by Herbert Armstrong at Satan's college in Pasadena and intensified by the cruelty of Roderick Meredith -- the real villain of this sad pathetic scenario.

Oh, the church of gods may maintain a pathetic shadow of what was built on a false god of War, disease, natural disasters, and all the devastation promoted by very sick narcissistic people with mental disorders, but truthfully, they will not hold the hearts of the best and brightest of the generation borne of the era between 1980 and 1995 -- and beyond.

The man-made religion of a War god-man has no appeal to those who value friends, family and freedom over the dedication of serving the idol of the Corporation, whether it be the misfortune 500 or the Church Corporate: They're too smart and self-centered for that.

Tom said...

Gavin said:

>>>The Armstrong god was always a bit of a monstrosity, and anthropomorphic from His (definitely His) graying head to his neatly trimmed toenails.<<<

You no doubt will be surprised that I agree with you, that HWA never had a true understanding of the nature of God. God created man in his own image, and because man has been unable to understand what is truly meant by "the image of God;" man in turn created God in the image of man.

Now it is true that God attributes to himself human characteristics. But he also attributes to himself characteristics of birds thus: He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shall thou trust.." If we take such passages literally, we are bound to conclude that the bible is conveying nonsense, or that birds are also created in God's image.

However, the more important question is, after justly criticising HWA's explanation of God, what is your alternative explanation? For it is not good enough to tell us what is wrong, without telling us what is right.

Neotherm said...

Armstrongites must jealously guard their concocted humanoid god because if informs their view of race. They believe that God racially is an Israelite just as they supposedly are. That enables white Armstrongites to think of themselves as having an inside track with the Creator.

If you take away the bodily existence of God, you remove this very convenient and affirming concept for God's "chosen".

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

I think the reference to genetalia is rather blasphemous used in the same sentence.

One would wonder why someone would engage in even thinking such a thing. This is what went on in WCG just before the changes occurred. Utter filth when it comes to thinking of the Creator.

Anonymous said...

Well Gavin, you now know enough about God to tell us what He is and what He is not.

How very nice...

How very intelligent, how very bold, and certainly how very foolish.

What revelations have come directly to you about the nature of God? Any? Just give us one?

Or has this understanding come from reading the writings of those who also have no direct connection with the divine.

SmilinJackSprat said...

Perhaps I'm missing something. Has no one thought of Michelangelo in artistic terms alone? The ceiling of the Cistine Chapel is breathtaking; centuries after its creation millions still throng to take it all in. And his sculpture of the young David, my word, how could a mere mortal have done such a magnificent thing?

Yes, David is uncircumcised, an amusing aside, particularly in light of the young king's words to Goliath at the moment sealed in stone by the artist. And the Pope's Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, whose incessant carping against the exposed genitals both on the ceiling and the wall of The Last Judgment landed him a choice spot in the lowest corner of hell, a huge snake wrapped around his body, and oh-so-modestly covering, not by fig leaf but by consuming his genitals, to this very day. (Imagine how useful a painter of his stature and humor could be in this day and age.) I tell you, it's great stuff, not to be missed if you care a whit about human genius.

Knowing that the beast, whore, false prophet and Babylon the Great will soon be cast into a bottomless pit and a lake of fire, isn't it about time to haul one's righteous fanny over there before there's nothing left to see? Because once it's gone, and all the pagans with it, it ain't comin' back.

And send Dave Pack a postcard. Good sermon material. I think he'd appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

"I think the reference to genetalia is rather blasphemous used in the same sentence."

Why? God has a penis. Why is it blasphemous to speak of it?


Anonymous said...

From the purely Biblical perspective, such purile ramblings about divine penises show you know nothing whatsoever of the one true God (the false and nonexistant pagan "gods" like Zeus and Jupiter were the ones credited with not only having such, but using them to impregnate every unaccompaiend girl or nymph they could find).

We humans have genitalia to enable us to physically reproduce. God can simply assemble some dust, change it to bone, blood, sinew, muscle, organs and skin, breath into it the breath of life, and reproduce after His own kind (Genesis 1:26; 5:1). Which is why Adam is called "the son of God" in Luke 3:38 -- who later begot a son in his own likeness and called him Seth (Gen. 5:1-3).

It is not that those who carefully study and follow Holy Scripture (i.e. the Holy Bible) have made a god in our likeness, but that the one true God pre-existed, and we humans (male and female) were created in His image and likeness (i.e. he has two arms, two legs, fingers, toes, a torso (including "back parts", hair, eyes, etc). God is never represented with female breasts, nor with a penis. He is also never represented as white, black, red or yellow, but the color of bronze burning in a furnace. There are obvious differences between God and mankind, but we are made in his form and shape--which is not an amorphous blob.

Anonymous said...

So he just made us in his ~image~ without the naughty parts? I reckon God looks like a Ken doll when undressed- hairless and smooth.


Anonymous said...

No genitalia indicated in Scrupture (and, due to being All Powerful Creator, unnecessary) in any case. As to hairless, since He has hair on His head (speaking of the cranium area for those given to purile sexualized allusions), I suppose it possible that he also has hair on his arms, legs, etc.

Personally, I would not know about Ken dolls. Never played with them, and certainly never undressed them. Was just never "curious" that way.

Anonymous said...

"Scrupture" should have been "Scripture". Sorry.

Corky said...

He and Him. God cannot be a he and a him without male genitalia and don't forget the male hormone, testosterone and the "Y" chromosome.

Anonymous said...

You folks are really hung up on sex, just like your Puritan forefathers.

You are discussing God from the prudish perspective of the 21 century religious right.

Some how I don't think it matters to God what you all think about how He looks; and whether He does or does not have a penis.

You folks are clearly ashamed of how your made.

Gospel of Thomas 37

"His disciples said, "When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?"

Jesus said, "When you strip without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample then, then [you] will see the son of the living one and you will not be afraid." "

Byker Bob said...

It's been said by a person far more knowledgeable in these things than I that mankind is made in God's image in that of all of God's creatures, we are the only ones who, like God, exercise dominion.


Anonymous said...

anonymous said:

"From the purely Biblical perspective, such purile ramblings about divine penises show you know nothing whatsoever of the one true God (the false and nonexistant pagan "gods" like Zeus and Jupiter were the ones credited with not only having such, but using them to impregnate every unaccompaiend girl or nymph they could find)."

Sort of reminds me of the bible fable of the father of Jesus being a god who impregnatse Jesus's virgin mother with him. Not only was Mary a virgin but she was engaged to be married to Joseph.

You would think a god could find a virgin that wasn't already claimed. But hey, if she was good enough for Joseph she should be good enough for god. Right?

And why didn't god just make jesus in the same manner that he was supposed to have made adam? Why did jesus have to be born of a virgin? It would have been more impressive if god prophesied that jesus would be born out of the dust like the first adam!

And what about that star that was supposed to lead the wise men from the east? It was supposed to lead them and rest over the place where jesus was so they could pay homage. Wouldn't a star that close kind of burn the earth up? But of course the bible authors thought stars were small bright objects that can fall out of the sky, so therefor the god they invented inpired them to write with the same reasoning!

These god myth stories are so far fetched at times that his followers have to stretch the limits of credulity to make excuse for their god.

Thomas Munson

Anonymous said...

"You would think a god could find a virgin that wasn't already claimed. But hey, if she was good enough for Joseph she should be good enough for god. Right?"


The historical record strongly implies that Mary was raped by a Roman soldier by the name of Pandera. God chose a raped, pregnant, teen to bear a human that would join with a wondrous existing divine spirit.

So God was very kind to a "humbled" handmade.