Anthropomorphism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    Anthropomorphism: the representation of objects (especially a god) as having human form or traits (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)


    Why is it that some theologians will dismiss some parts of the OT as anthropomorphic language, such as when God appears to change his mind or "relent" at the request of Moses' appeal of mercy. BUT, when OT scripture appears to credit or blame God for moral evil they insist it must be perfectly descriptive of God? Why are some so concerned with protecting His sovereignty but so willing to besmirch his holiness?

    James clearly reveals God doesn't do evil or tempt men to evil, regardless of what it may have appeared to those with a limited revelation of Him in OT times.

    In the OT they thought salvation came through law, but in the NT we learned it comes by Grace through faith.

    In the OT people were God fearers and slaves of God, in the NT they are given a spirit of adoption and are called "friends."

    In the OT it is an eye for an eye, in the NT it is love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you.

    In the OT many mistakenly blamed God for what Satan did and God permitted, but James clearly reveals that God didn't do evil or even tempt men to evil.
     
  2. freeatlast

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    ]Anthropomorphism: the representation of objects (especially a god) as having human form or traits (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)


    Why is it that some theologians will dismiss some parts of the OT as anthropomorphic language, such as when God appears to change his mind or "relent" at the request of Moses' appeal of mercy. BUT, when OT scripture appears to credit or blame God for moral evil they insist it must be perfectly descriptive of God? Why are some so concerned with protecting His sovereignty but so willing to besmirch his holiness?

    James clearly reveals God doesn't do evil or tempt men to evil, regardless of what it may have appeared to those with a limited revelation of Him in OT times.

    And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
    Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:

    And it came to pass, when the [evil] spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
    Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give [them] unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

    In the OT they thought salvation came through law, but in the NT we learned it comes by Grace through faith.

    While it is correct that some thought salvation was by the law, just like today it is not correct thta everyone did. The law verified their faith or lack of it The OT clearly teaches that salvation is by faith. Hab 2:4 Behold, his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

    In the OT people were God fearers and slaves of God, in the NT they are given a spirit of adoption and are called "friends."

    We too are called slaves of Christ; Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
    1) a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
    a) a slave
    b) metaph., one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
    c) devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests
    2) a servant, attendant


    In the OT it is an eye for an eye, in the NT it is love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you.

    In the new it is the same as the old. The OT was speaking of carrying out the law of the land when speaking of an eye for an eye. Tha has not changed. The NT passage is speaking of personal relations and thta we are not to take revenge on a personal level, but the eye for an eye remains for the govenment in doing justice. The problem is thta the government is not doing its job.

    In the OT many mistakenly blamed God for what Satan did and God permitted, but James clearly reveals that God didn't do evil or even tempt men to evil.

    Even in light of James people still blame God today for satans deeds. However at the same time God does bring evil things about, not sinful, according to His own words.
     
  3. Skandelon

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    Freeatlast,

    I really don't take issue with anything you have said. My point was showing how God's revelation is growing and we are learning more about him and his nature as Jesus reveals many "mysteries."

    With regard to fear and slavery. Yes, they still have a place, in that fear is the beginning of wisdom and we offer ourselves to Christ's service. But that is not the ultimate desire of God for his children as Paul explains in Rom 8:15 and Jesus explained in John 15:15. Like in my own relationship with my father, as a child I obeyed because I feared his punishment or sought a reward. Now, we are friends and I do things for him because I love him. Love drives out fear. Love replaces obligation. That was my point.
     
  4. ReformedBaptist

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    Do you mean how God's revelation was growing? Or do you think God's revelation is still progressive?
     
  5. ReformedBaptist

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    This part of what I wrote for my Hermeneutics class as a summary from a chapter from Terry Milton's work on biblical hermeneutics from Chapter 4. See http://ergatestheologia.blogspot.com/2010/09/chapter-4-hebrew-language.html

    What would need to be done is not to just lob a question out there assuming the party your attacking guilty, but rather demonstrate from an author how they failed to recognize either an anthropomorphism or anthropopapthism.

    Do you have any specific examples?
     
  6. Skandelon

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    I meant the first, but as long as God continues to speak to his people, create and show himself the more we can learn of Him. I don't believe his current revelation would contradict what we learn through the scripture, but yes God can reveal more of Himself over time...that is what scripture teaches us the HS will do..."teach us much more."
     
  7. ReformedBaptist

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    Thanks for the clarification. I won't go further on this point because its off-topic.
     
  8. Van

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    Anthropomorphism: the representation of objects (especially a god) as having human form or traits (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

    This is a tool for both understanding the Bible correctly, and in the wrong hands, for nullifying what scripture says. Note the concept includes both form and traits. Since God does not have form, for He is Spirit, when we see stuff like "the hand of God" or "God's eyes are everywhere" we rightly conclude this is figurative language to present a spiritual truth using a physical illustration. So far so good.

    But when those who use this tool inappropriately say that God exhibiting human traits such as regret, anger, jealousy, are not true of God, they go too far. We are made in some sense in the image of God, and so to say God does not possess intellect, will and emotion because they are "anthropomorphisms" takes the principle too far, in my opinion.

    When we talk about phyical traits such as eyes, we can see the underlying truth, He knows what we are doing and thinking. But when someone dismisses regret as an anthropomorphism, do they point out the underlying truth? No, they just say it is not true of God.

    Anyway, that is my take.
     
  9. Skandelon

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    I agree with this take. Who are we to dismiss clear revelations of God's characteristics simply because they don't fit our finite logical constructs? It is just interesting to me that some are willing to dismiss things that make God look merciful, like when he relents to destroy Israel, but insist on emphasizing passages that appear to blame God for moral evil without ANY qualification. While such passages could easily be understood as being within God's permissive decrees, some insist to make them appear as a work of Gods direct agency so as to blur the lines between the good God chooses to do (like inspiring scriptures and saving souls) and evil God permits to exist in a fallen world.

    I just don't see the logic in believers who think that emphasizing the "evil God does," while dismissing the mercy he shows as "anthropomorphic," is in any way glorifying to Him
     
  10. glfredrick

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    First, is your "assumption" that they are "dismissing" some parts of the OT (or NT as the case may be) when in fact, if you READ the theologian that writes on these issues they may have actually handled the text with proper exegesis and hermeneutics. Do you know that these (unnamed) theologians are in fact "dismissing" some part of the OT or are you speculating such because you are at odds with their proposition and proofs?

    Of all the theologians I have read, I've not found a one (save for some heterodox examples who are actually at odds with God altogether) that dismisses anything, nor do they protect God's sovereignty at the cost of His holiness. In fact, reading most sound theologians, whether Reformed or Arminian will most often leave one in a state of despair over sin and worship toward God who has the ultimate remedy for that sin.

    I'm of a mind that you will have to name names and cite sources for a debate along these lines. Otherwise we're shooting "bogeymen" in the dark and cannot even begin to respond in any sound or accurate fashion against a true charge instead of the strawman argument that you have presented.

    Don't worry about offending the theologian... If you have actually read much true theology, you'll find that much of their writing is taking each other to task over their take on things, the debate concerning Rob Bell as a current example.
     
  11. DHK

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    The question then becomes: Does God have feelings, or are they also anthropormorhic?

    Often the Bible speaks of God's wrath, anger, etc.
    However are they just expressions of God's justice?
    Is it possible for God ever to lose his temper? Of course not.
    Sometimes it is our definitions of "feelings" that are wrong.

    I don't believe we serve an emotional God, but emotions are certainly portrayed in God. But are they not portrayed to help man understand who God is? We often equate love with an emotion. But love is sacrificing oneself for another. That is what Christ did. There was no wishy-washy, gushy feeling in heaven for mankind.
     
  12. webdog

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    Wouldn't "pre" and "fore" also be anthropomorphic to a timeless, eternal, omnitemporal God? Can something be done "before" (time-based language) the creation of time?
     
  13. ReformedBaptist

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    Was there a time when there was nothing?
     
  14. Skandelon

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    Exactly. How can God ever even originate a new thought? If he foreknows even the thoughts he is going to think is there ever a "time" he doesn't know what he is going to think sometime in the "future?" If not, he can never originate a thought because it would have already be thought of, right?

    Way too infinite for our brains, which is why speculation on such matters probably makes for a good laugh in the angelic realms.
     
  15. Skandelon

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    Ok, what do you think the scripture meant when it says God relenting at moses' request? Did God change his mind as the scripture seems to reveal or was that merely anthropomorphic language?
     
  16. freeatlast

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    Just a note, Jesus got angry and acted on it and He is God. I assume He would not do something the that the Father would not.
     
  17. glfredrick

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    I'd say merely anthropomorphic language to accommodate our puny human minds.

    How does saying this in any way impugn God's holiness?

    Also, way to go post-modern on me by answering my questions with another question... :tonofbricks:
     
  18. webdog

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    Bingo! This is one reason reject the ordo salutis of reformed theology. Those He foreknew and predestined is anthropomorphic and shouldn't be viewed literally from God's end, but from ours.
     
  19. glfredrick

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    It would benefit you to actually read some theology before making silly statements like this.
     
  20. webdog

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    ...or you should rely less on man's theology and more on God's.
     

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