inky2010 (courtesy openclipart)
By Spencer D Gear
It is unusual to find a person on a Christian forum online who is promoting the view that God has a physical body. I found such a person on a smallish Christian forum. He wrote:
To be made in God’s image is to be formed in a body like God’s. It is not related to being spiritually or morally like God…. God the Father and God the Son have physical bodies according to multiple scripture. The only part of the Trinity that is bodiless spirit is the Holy Spirit.
A. Responding to God having a body
My initial response was, ‘This is an error of fact because ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’ (John 4:24 ESV)’.
In reply to his second post, I wrote the following:
You have committed the question begging logical fallacy. You have started with your own belief, ‘God the Father and God the Son have physical bodies’ and then you set out to prove your presupposition by providing a list of Scriptures. That’s what a question begging fallacy does. Your conclusion is in your premise and that is what you have created here.
I notice that you conveniently left out John 4:24 (NIV), ‘God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth’. This verse DOES NOT say, ‘The Holy Spirit is spirit’. It says God (the Trinitarian God revealed in the NT) is spirit.
The verses you use to try to prove that God has a body do not prove that at all. Let us look at the first two verses you gave to try to support your view:
Gen 1:26-27 (ESV) and man being made in God’s image. There is little in that text to tell us exactly what it means for the first man to be made in God’s image. There is nothing here to demonstrate that it means that human beings have a body, just like God has a body. That is not stated here. It can’t be, because ‘God is spirit’ (John 4:24). Note the beginning of Gen 1:26, ‘And God said, “Let US make….”‘ Since God is a plurality here with the use of ‘us’, it must refer to the Trinity. It is simply stated. It is not fully explained. That happens further in the Bible.
Hermaphrodite.png (Wikimedia Commons)
In Gen 1:26-27 we have the double description that the man will be made by God ‘in our image, after our likeness’. These terms ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ of God do state that human beings are patterned after God, but that does not state that God is a physical being, just as a human being is physical. HOWEVER, verse 27 affirms that ‘man’ made in the image of God included ‘male and female’. To require that human features be attributed to God, which will they be, male or female? Is God a hermaphrodite, having both male and female sex organs (Oxford dictionaries)? This is a ridiculous and blasphemous conclusion.
We get some further insight into what they mean in Eph 4:24 (ESV): ‘Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness’. Ah, there we have a glimpse of what the ‘likeness of God’ means. It refers to righteousness and holiness. Col 3:10 (ESV) explains further: ‘And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator’. So the image of the Creator includes knowledge, renewed knowledge.
Martin Luther wrote, ‘I understand this image of God to be … that Adam not only knew God and believed in Him that He was gracious; but that he also led an entirely godly life’ (in Leupold 1942:89). Don Stewart has refuted your view that God has a body in ‘Does God have a body?‘
So, your interpretation of God having a physical body is NOT supported by your use of Gen 1:26-27.
In other verses, you seem to be confused by the use of anthropomorphisms in Scripture. What are they?
‘Anthropomorphisms [from Greek (anthrwpos) = man/human + (morph?) = form] are figures of speech which represent God as having human characteristics, form or personality. They are symbolic descriptions, which help to make God’s attributes, powers and activities real to us’ (‘Does God have body parts?‘).
They are figures of speech used in Scripture and are not descriptions of God having physical attributes.
I encountered ewq1938 in another thread where I said to him, ‘Your view of God having a body does not come from the Scriptures, no matter how much you protest’. His reply was:
Yes it does. You simply misinterpret it through the dark glass of the doctrines of your denomination.
God had a face that Moses could not see, but he could see God’s hand and back. That cannot be disputed. Claiming they are figurative contradicts the obvious and plain context of the event that transpired. If God has no actual face then Moses could not have seen it and not died but the truth is God has a literal face and if Moses saw it he would have literally died. Not a figurative face, not a figurative death.
How do we know this language uses anthropomorphisms and not literal language? John 1:18 (NIV) states: ‘No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known’.
My response at that time was:
When will you ever get it that John 1:18 (ESV) is true: ‘No one has ever seen God…’, and your interpretation is wrong. The fact of the matter is that when it speaks of God’s face, hand and back in relation to Moses, it is a theophany, using anthropomorphic language, i.e. ‘The attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, or object’ (Oxford dictionaries).
When will you ever admit you are wrong? ‘No one has ever seen God’, full stop, period, end of story, but ewq1938 wants to go on and on about God being ‘seen’ and having a body. Your failure to understand the hermeneutics of Scripture is causing you to come to a false understanding of the essence of who God is. He DOES NOT have a body with face, hands and back. Yes, he is described as having face, hands and back, but that is the use of an anthropomorphism (figure of speech). Or is that too big of a word for you to understand?
I presented more details to refute the view that God has a body:
In Walter Kaiser Jr’s commentary on Exodus 24:9-10, he wrote:
That Moses and his company see “the God of Israel” at first appears to contradict 33:20; John 1:18; and 1 Timothy 6:16; but what they see is a “form [‘similitude’] of the Lord” (Nu 12:8), just as Ezekiel (Eze 1:26) and Isaiah (Isa 6:1) saw an approximation, a faint resemblance and a sensible adumbration [foreshadowing] of the incarnate Christ who was to come. There is a deliberate obscurity in the form and details of the one who produced such a splendid, dazzling effect on these observers (Kaiser 1990:449).
In Scripture, we will meet passages that speak of God being ‘seen’ by people such as Abraham, Moses, one of the prophets, or others. We are to understand this as these people seeing either a theophany (a visible manifestation of God), or that they did see God but it was not and could not be the full glory of God. We know that Moses asked for this according to Exodus 33:18 (ESV), ‘Please show me your glory’. What was God’s reply? ‘You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live’ (Ex 33:20 ESV). So, nobody can see the full glory of God. God denied this to Moses and he denies it to everyone else.
We have examples in Scripture of how God made himself known to people in various forms:
(1) For Abraham and Lot it was from passing visitors;
(2) For Moses it was through a burning bush;
(3) The people of Israel encountered a pillar of fire and a cloud.
However, God has made it clear in Scripture that NOBODY can see the pure essence of God and live. God made this blatantly clear to Timothy: ‘… he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen’ (1 Tim 6:15-16 ESV).
This agrees with John 1:18 (ESV), ‘No one has ever seen God’. That is, nobody has ever see the pure essence, the full glory of God – ever!
Tim Challies explained that to see God in his pure essence or radiant holiness, is ‘like trying to stare at the sun—it cannot be done without destroying your eyes’.
B. His view is unorthodox – heretical
(image courtesy public domain) Answers to the question are at this link.
I told him that his position is outside that of orthodox Christianity. What is your theological persuasion? From where do you gain these unorthodox views of the nature of God?
You are promoting a Mormon view of God having a body of flesh and bones. See HERE.
Your doctrine of God conforms with that of Mormonism. Here they defend your view of God in, ‘The Nature of God / Corporeality of God‘. This is a Mormon source and it aligns with what you have been stating in this thread about the corporeality of God – God having a body. Thus, your view of God harmonises with that of the cult of Mormonism.
To refute the idea that God has a physical body, see, ‘Does God have a physical body?‘
I asked sincerely: Are you a Mormon or Mormon sympathiser? His reply was:
It doesn’t matter if it’s non-orthodox as being orthodox is completely meaningless. The fact that the Father has a physical body comes directly from scripture. I don’t make lame excuses to explain the verses away….
No, I am promoting a biblical view of God having a body. I am not Mormon and do not agree with a great deal of their beliefs because they aren’t biblically based. They simply happen to be correct about him having a body….
[In answer to whether he was a Mormon or Mormon sympathiser] Not in the slightest. I am a person whose beliefs come solely from scripture, regardless of what orthodoxy says about those scriptural things and regardless of what various cults agree with or not agree with.
This is a typical used fallacy when you can’t dispute the scriptural facts you try to claim it must be false if a cult promotes it. It just happens this is one of the rare things a cult happens to get right which is amazing given the same people think they will become God’s and live on other planets lol. It reminds of the old saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day.
That could not go unchallenged so I responded:
If being orthodox in theology is meaningless to you, then you are promoting unorthodox theology, which you are with your requirement for God having a physical body. That is a Mormon view of God. I’ve demonstrated that to you. No matter how much you try to demonstrate that God has a body, you happen to be dead wrong. How do I know? Scripture tells us so in John 4:24: ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’.
No matter how much you try to mount a case for God having a body, you fail because the Scriptures are adamant: ‘God is spirit’. End of story!
You are promoting a Mormon God whose theology of God comes straight from Joseph Smith and not from the Bible. Your view, ‘It just happens this is one of the rare things a cult happens to get right which is amazing given the same people think they will become God’s and live on other planets lol’, demonstrates how wrong you are when I’ve already given you the link to where Joseph Smith taught your view of God in Doctrine and Covenants 130:22. The Bible teaches ‘God is spirit’, therefore, he cannot have a body. We are not talking about the incarnation of Jesus here.
So what is the fallacy I’m using? You didn’t name it. I am not using a fallacy because what you are doing is twisting Scripture to make it agree with your presuppositional view of God. I’ve already demonstrated to you that you have used a question begging fallacy. It is you who is engaged in a circular reasoning fallacy.
Is Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, telling the truth when he wrote: ‘The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us’ (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).
Is Scripture telling the truth when it says, ‘God is spirit’ (Jn 4:24)?
C. What does John 4:24 mean?
Concerning John 4:24, he wrote: ‘You don’t understand what that verse is saying. It doesn’t say “God the Father is spirit” does it?’
How should I respond? Here goes:
1. I DO understand what John 4:24 states: ‘God is spirit’. It is speaking about God’s essence. He is completely spiritual – spirit! Ho theos (the God) is not a deity of stone, tree, or mountain where he has to be worshipped on a mountain like Mt Gerizim. Ho theos is the one and only true God and the context of John 4:23 tells us John is talking of the Father. The Father God is the God of spirit – not the God of flesh that you are trying to make of him.
2. God CANNOT be the God with a body when John 4:24 clearly states the essence is: ‘The God is spirit’.
3. I’m not lying about your view. The view that God has a body is a Mormon view of God (and of Audianism). You have already acknowledged to me in a post that this is one area when the Mormon cult got it right. Do you remember your saying that? I asked you if you were a Mormon or Mormon sympathiser and you said you were not. I accept that. However, your view of God having a body coincides with the Mormon doctrine of God and you’ve already stated to me that this is one area where the cult got it correct.
4. I’m not in any way suggesting that all of your theology agrees with Mormonism. I never said that, so to go into the Mormon view of Messiah is irrelevant. I was simply comparing your view of God with that of Mormonism. They synchronise.
5. I do NOT insert my own belief into ‘God is spirit’. I try to exegete the text.
6. You say, ‘in Genesis when Adam could hear God walking. That alone proves God had a physical form because walking requires a body’. No it doesn’t! Gen 3:8 (ESV) states that Adam and his wife ‘heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden’. Since we know that ‘God is spirit’ and here Scripture states that they heard the sound/voice of Yahweh God walking about in the garden, ‘there is extreme likelihood that the Almighty assumed some form analogous to the human form which was made in His image. Nor is there anything farfetched about the further supposition that previously our first parents had freely met with and conversed with their heavenly Father’ (Leupold 1942:155). This could have been a theophany – a manifestation or appearance of Yahweh to a human being. However, it does not demonstrate that God has a permanent physical body since ‘God is spirit’ by essence.
7. God appearing to Adam & Eve in a theophany must not be confused with anthropomorphism, which is ascribing human attributes in describing God and his activities – by use of figures of speech.
D. It’s a heresy from the early church
The view promoted by ewq1938 on this Christian forum that God has a physical body is not new. This is a heresy from the fourth century known as Audianism, popularised by Audius (or Audaeus). You can read the nature of this heresy in ‘Audianism Explained‘.
See an explanation of the heresy in Ecclesiastical History (Theodoret), Book IV, Chapter 9, ‘Of the heresy of the Audiani‘. It explains that
Audæus, a Syrian alike in race and in speech, appeared at that time as an inventor of new decrees. He had long ago begun to incubate iniquities and now appeared in his true character. At first he understood in an absurd sense the passage Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. From want of apprehension of the meaning of the divine Scripture he understood the Divine Being to have a human form, and conjectured it to be enveloped in bodily parts; for Holy Scripture frequently describes the divine operations under the names of human parts, since by these means the providence of God is made more easily intelligible to minds incapable of perceiving any immaterial ideas. To this impiety Audæus added others of a similar kind. By an eclectic process he adopted some of the doctrines of Manes and denied that the God of the universe is creator of either fire or darkness. But these and all similar errors are concealed by the adherents of his faction.
Audaeus used Genesis 1:26-27 to support his view. These are two verses used as the first to support this view by the person on this forum.
E. It’s a heresy endorsed by Mormonism
The Mormon’s believe ‘God has a body’ (Mormon Handbook). It’s a false doctrine of Mormonism. This article states that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, taught, ‘The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us’ (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). The Mormons claim that ‘’his unique Mormon doctrine is an extension of the belief that God was formerly a mortal man’ (Mormon Handbook).
F. Examples of Anthropomorphisms
The Creation of Man, Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo (‘Gender of God’, Wikipedia)
There is biblical language where God’s actions are associated with his feet, hands, arms, ears, eyes, and face. Are these to be understood literally or in some other way?
There are passages that refer to God’s feet. Examples include Isaiah 66:1 (NIV), ‘This is what the Lord says, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool”’; 1 Cor 15:25 (ESV), ‘For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet’; I Cor 15:27 (ESV), ‘For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet”’.
God is said to have ‘hands on occasions: ‘And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt’ (Ex 7:5 NIV). Psalm 110:1 (ESV) states, ‘The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool”. There is this statement in Isa 23:11 (NIV), ‘The LORD has stretched out his hand over the sea and made its kingdoms tremble’. Similar statements can be found in the New Testament: ‘Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him ‘ (1 Peter 3:22 ESV); ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God’ (1 Peter 5:6 ESV); ‘My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand’ (John 10:29 ESV).
This website lists 61 verses that refer to the ‘hand of God’ in both Old and New Testaments.
Both Old and New Testaments speak of some dimension of ‘arms’ in association with God. These are but a few samples, firstly from the Old Testament: ‘By a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes’ (Deut 4:34 NIV); ‘Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm’ (Deut 5:15 NIV); ‘You crushed the great sea monster. You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.’ (Ps 89:10 NLT).
The New Testament gives these examples: ‘He has performed mighty deeds with his arm’ (Lk 1:51 NIV); ‘To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?’ (John 12:28 NLT); ‘The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it’ (Ac 13:17 ESV).
4. Ears / he hears
When speaking of prayer, Scripture can refer to God’s ears and God hearing. ‘Give ear, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God’ (2 Kings 19:16 NIV); ‘let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel’ (Neh 1:6 NIV); ‘God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there”’ (Gen 21:17 NIV); ‘Therefore, say to the Israelites: “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment”’ (Ex 6:6 NIV). See also Exodus 24:10-11 (NIV).
Does the New Testament give this emphasis as well? This is one of the most profound verses to encourage Christians to pray: ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him’ (1 John 5:14-15 NIV). Other NT verses include: John 9:31 (ESV), ‘We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him’. James 5:4 (NIV), ‘The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty’; and, ‘For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil’ (1 Pet 3:12 NIV).
The Old Testament affirms: Deut 11:12 (NIV), ‘It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end’; Job 34:21 ‘His eyes are on the ways of mortals; he sees their every step’ (NIV); Psalm 33:18, ‘But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,’ (NIV), and Prov 15:3, ‘The LORD is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good’ (NLT).
The New Testament is also as clear with its anthropomorphisms: 2 Cor 8:21, ‘For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man’ (NIV); Heb 4:13 (NASB), ‘And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do’; 1 Pet 3:12 (ESV), ‘For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil’, and Rev 1:14 (NIV), ‘The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire’.
See the article on bible.org, ‘The Pupil Of Your Eye”: God’s Eye And Our Perception’ (bible.org).
6. Mouth / he speaks
At the start of the Bible we have God speaking, according to Genesis 1:3 (NIV): ‘And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light’; Psalm 33:6 (ESV), ‘By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host’; Heb 11:3 (NASB), ‘By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible’; 2 Pet 3:5 (ESV), ‘For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God’;
What about the concept/theology of God having a ‘face’? Leviticus 20:6 (NIV) states, ‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them’; Numbers 6:25 (NIV) confirms that God has a ‘face’: ‘The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you’. Psalm 31:16, ‘Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love’ (NIV); Ps 67:1, ‘May God be merciful and bless us. May his face smile with favor on us.’ (NLT); Jer 18:17 describes God as showing ‘them’ his back and not his face, ‘Like a wind from the east, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back and not my face in the day of their disaster’ (NIV). Ezek 39:29, ‘I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD’ (NIV).
In the New Testament, we have these details: Matt 18:10 (NIV) refers to children, ‘See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven’. When will the believer see God face to face? First Cor 13:12 reveals that: ‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ (NIV); 1 Pet 3:12, ‘The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil’ (NLT); See also Rev 6:16, ‘And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb’ (NLT), and Rev 22:3-4, ‘There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads’ (NIV).
The Dictionary of Bible Themes records this information about the face of God:
The face of God as a sign of blessing
Nu 6:25-26 See also 2Sa 21:1; 1Ch 16:11; Ps 4:6; Ps 31:16; Ps 67:1; Ps 80:19; Ps 105:4; Ps 119:135; Eze 39:29….
His face cannot be seen Ex 33:20-23 “The face of God” may mean here God’s real and true self, the inference being that no-one can look on God as he is in his total purity and majesty.
Apparent exceptions where God is seen face to face Ge 32:30 After Jacob’s wrestling with a figure whose exact identity is not explicit in the preceding verses. Jacob did experience a real encounter with God but God was in a real and approachable form, not in his transcendent and visible glory. See also Ex 33:11; Nu 12:8; Dt 5:4; Dt 34:10; Eze 20:35
The angels in heaven look upon the face of God Mt 18:10
God must reveal himself if people are to see his face Job 34:29 The Greek word for “revelation” literally means “removing a veil from one’s face”.
The righteous will see God’s face in the life to come 1Co 13:12; Rev 22:4
When God hides his face, blessing is withheld
Complaints at God hiding his face Ps 44:24 See also Ps 13:1; Ps 88:14
Cries for help Ps 27:9 See also Ps 69:17; Ps 102:2; Ps 143:7
Statements concerning God’s anger and judgment Isa 54:8 See also Dt 31:17-18; Ps 22:24; Ps 30:7; Ps 51:9; Ps 104:29; Isa 8:17; Isa 64:7; Jer 33:5; Eze 39:23-24; Mic 3:4; Rev 6:16
Other phrases synonymous with God hiding his face 2Ch 30:9; Jer 18:17; Eze 7:22
God sets his face against sinners Lev 17:10; Lev 20:3; Lev 26:17; Ps 34:16; Eze 14:8; 1Pe 3:12; Eze 15:7
God’s face as a symbol of his favour
Seeking the face of God in prayer 2Ch 7:14 See also 2Sa 21:1; 1Ch 16:11; Ps 24:6; Ps 105:4; Ps 119:58; Hos 5:15
Seeking the favour of God Ex 32:11 See also 1Sa 13:12; 2Ki 13:4; 2Ch 33:12; Jer 26:19; Da 9:13; Zec 7:2; Zec 8:21; Mal 1:9
Appearing before God in worship Ex 23:15 The phrase seems to recall the fact that in ancient religions worshippers came before carved faces of their idols. In Israel such physical representations of God were forbidden but the phrase was still used underlining the belief that Israel’s God was present in his sanctuary. See also Ex 23:17; Ex 34:20; Dt 16:16; Dt 31:11; Ps 42:2; Isa 1:12
The shining of God’s face upon his people indicates his blessing Nu 6:25-26 See also Ps 4:6; Ps 31:16; Ps 44:3; Ps 67:1; Ps 80:3,19; Ps 119:135
God’s face accompanies Israel as a symbol of his presence
Ex 33:14 Literally “my face will go …” Here this phrase may allude not only to God’s presence but also to the manifestations of his presence (e.g., the cloud in verse 9). See also Dt 4:37; Isa 63:9.
‘The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done’ (Gen 8:21 NIV). See also Lev 1:9; Ezek 16:19 (ESV); 2 Cor 2:15; Eph 5:2, and Phil 4:18.
Here is an unusual anthromorphism, ‘Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by’ (Psalm 57:1 NLT). The psalmist continues this theme, ‘He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart’ (Ps 91:4 NIV).
10. Anthropopathisms – God’s emotions in human terms
In addition to anthropomorphisms that use physical traits, God is often described as having emotions that sound like human emotions. These are known as anthropopathisms, which the dictionary describes as ‘the ascription of human feelings to something not human’ (Merriam-Webster 2015. s.v. anthropopathism).
Among these are included God’s regret or sorrow (Genesis 6:6), jealousy (Exodus 20:5), grief (Isaiah 54:6), anger/wrath (Psalm 7:11; Jer 7:20); he hates (Prov 6:16; Amos 5:21; Rom 9:13); rich in mercy (Eph 2:4); loves (Ex 20:6; Ps 86:15; Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8; 8:37-39) and God’s favour or blessings (Ex 23:25; Num 6:24-26; Prov 10:22; Matt 25:34; Mark 10:16; Eph 1:3; Heb 6:13-14; 1 Pet 2:19).
The Audian heresy of the fourth century and the Mormon, cultic false doctrine of God having a body are alive and well on an evangelical forum on the Internet.
Does God have a physical body? No, because he is spirit (John 4:24) and whenever language of hands, feet, and other aspects of the body are used to describe God in Scripture, the writers are using figures of speech known as anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms, which include ‘the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, or object (Oxford dictionaries 2015. S v anthropomorphism).
I don’t expect the person on the Christian forum to be changing his mind too soon as he is resistant to the idea that God is spirit and that does not mean God has a body.
See the excellent brief article, ‘Does God have a body?’ (Paul Kroll, Grace Communion International) that refutes the idea that God has a physical body.
Kaiser, Jr., W C 1990. Exodus. In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol 2, 285-498. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Regency Reference Library (Zondervan Publishing House).
Leupold, H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis, vol 1. London: Evangelical Press.
 ewq1938#2, #8, 20 September 2015, Christianity Board, ‘God’s likeness’, available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/21930-gods-likeness/#entry261628 (Accessed 21 September 201).
 Ibid., OzSpen#3.
 Ibid., ewq1938#8.
 Ibid., OzSpen#15.
 ewq1938#554, 1 September 2015, Christianity Board, ‘The Nicene Creed is not Christian’. Available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/21727-the-nicene-creed-is-not-christian/page-19 (Accessed 21 September 2015).
 Ibid., OzSpen#559.
 Ibid., OzSpen#563.
 Ibid., OzSpen#528.
 Ibid., ewq1938#541.
 Ibid., OzSpen#543.
 Ibid., ewq1938#544.
 This is available at BibleGateway, ‘1255 Face of God’, at: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionary-of-bible-themes/1255-face-God (Accessed 22 September 2015).
Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 March 2020.