You are hereAnthropomorphisms: God's (Supposed) Communication Breakdown

Anthropomorphisms: God's (Supposed) Communication Breakdown

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 842.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/vaduva/planetpreterist.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 149.

By SuperSoulFighter - Posted on 27 March 2005

by John McPherson
A few weeks ago, I submitted an article titled “The Nature of Divine Knowledge”, examining the various elements of God’s cognitive abilities and the sum total of information available to Him at any given moment in time (as we understand those terms). In response, various individuals (not unexpectedly) introduced the “anthropomorphic” argument to the discussion. I would like to examine and critique that hermeneutical means of handling Scripture in some detail in this article.A few weeks ago, I submitted an article titled “The Nature of Divine Knowledge”, examining the various elements of God’s cognitive abilities and the sum total of information available to Him at any given moment in time (as we understand those terms). In response, various individuals (not unexpectedly) introduced the “anthropomorphic” argument to the discussion. I would like to examine and critique that hermeneutical means of handling Scripture in some detail in this article.

Anthropomorphism:
The act of attributing human forms or qualities to entities that are not human. Specifically, anthropomorphism is the describing of gods or goddesses in human forms and possessing human characteristics such as jealousy, hatred, or love.
Mythologies of ancient peoples were almost entirely concerned with anthropomorphic gods. The Greek gods such as Zeus and Apollo often were depicted in anthropomorphic forms. The avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu possessed human forms and qualities.
Current religions hold that it is not logical to describe the Christian God, who is believed to be omnipotent and omnipresent, as human. However, it is extremely difficult for the average person to picture or discuss God or the gods without an anthropomorphic framework.
In art and literature, anthropomorphism frequently depicts deities in human or animal forms possessing the qualities of sentiment, speech and reasoning. (Funk&Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia, 1979, ii, 143)



As can be seen from the definition above, this literary and linguistic tool represents a means of “simplifying” the gods or God Himself, through “humanizing” certain traits and characteristics He possesses. Thus, when God states that He is a God of LOVE – perhaps He doesn’t really mean what we THINK He means at all!! To ascribe the HUMAN characteristic of “love” (as we think of it) to the “transcendent God” (supposedly infinite in every respect) would be futile since the “infinite God” cannot, ultimately, be defined according to some finite human characteristic or quality.


Here is how the Catholic Encyclopedia defines the argument for “anthropomorphism” and the interpretation of Scripture according to this principle.

A term used in its widest sense to signify the tendency of man to conceive the activities of the external world as the counterpart of his own. A philosophic system, which borrows its method from this tendency, is termed Philosophic Anthropomorphism. The word, however, has been more generally employed to designate the play of that impulse in religious thought. In this sense, Anthropomorphism is the ascription to the Supreme Being of the form, organs, operations, and general characteristics of human nature. This tendency is strongly manifested in primitive heathen religions, in all forms of polytheism, especially in the classic paganism of Greece and Rome. The charge of Anthropomorphism was urged against the Greeks by their own philosopher, Xenophanes of Colophon. The first Christian apologists upbraided the pagans for having represented God, who is spiritual, as a mere magnified man, subject to human vices and passions. The Bible, especially the Old Testament, abounds in anthropomorphic expressions. Almost all the activities of organic life are ascribed to the Almighty. He speaks, breathes, sees, hears; He walks in the garden; He sits in the heavens, and the earth is His footstool. It must, however, be noticed that in the Bible locutions of this kind ascribe human characteristics to God only in a vague, indefinite way. He is never positively declared to have a body or a nature the same as man's; and human defects and vices are never even figuratively attributed to Him. The metaphorical, symbolical character of this language is usually obvious. The all-seeing Eye signifies God’s omniscience; the everlasting Arms His omnipotence; His Sword the chastisement of sinners; when He is said to have repented of having made man, we have an extremely forcible expression conveying His abhorrence of sin. The justification of this language is found in the fact that truth can be conveyed to men only through the medium of human ideas and thoughts, and is to be expressed only in language suited to their comprehension. The limitations of our conceptual capacity oblige us to represent God to ourselves in ideas that have been originally drawn from our knowledge of self and the objective world. The Scriptures themselves amply warn us against the mistake of interpreting their figurative language in too literal a sense. They teach that God is spiritual, omniscient, invisible, omnipresent, ineffable. Insistence upon the literal interpretation of the metaphorical led to the error of the Anthropomorphites.



Never trust a Catholic source to accurately identify and differentiate between that which is false and that which is not. That’s a very important rule of thumb. In the article above, they treat the idea that God experiences “human-like” emotions and feelings as mere “anthropomorphisms” and, essentially, inaccurate expressions of His Person and Mind. Their justification for this argument is founded in the idea (note the bold-type statements, above) that human language and cognitive capacities do not permit any measure of real understanding of God and His Person. He, in His infinitude (and utter “transcendence”) is simply beyond human comprehension. In effect, God is so “other” that His whole effort to reveal Himself to man and attempts to have any real relationship with finite man were doomed to failure from the beginning, and God was foolish to ever think He could somehow interact with man on a personal, intimate level. In fact, it was foolhardy of God to even attempt to reveal Himself to man either orally or in written form. Although He created the human mind and linguistic abilities, it is ultimately impossible for Him to accurately reveal Himself to man in language any man can comprehend. The Bible is an inaccurate, fallible failure. THOSE are the true implications of the Catholic argument, as presented above. The article goes on as follows:

A few decades ago thinkers and writers of the Spencerian and other kindred schools seldom touched upon the doctrine of a personal God without designating it Anthropomorphism, and thereby, in their judgment, excluding it definitively from the world of philosophic thought. Though on the wane, the fashion has not yet entirely disappeared. The charge of Anthropomorphism can be urged against our way of thinking and speaking of God by those only who, despite the protestations of theologians and philosophers, persist in assuming that terms are used univocally of God and of creatures. When arguments are offered to sustain the imputation, they usually exhibit an incorrect view regarding the essential element of personality. The gist of the proof is that the Infinite is unlimited, while personality essentially involves limitation; therefore, to speak of an Infinite Person is to fall into an absurdity. What is truly essential in the concept of personality is, first, individual existence as opposed to indefiniteness and to identity with other beings; and next, possession, or intelligent control of self. To say that God is personal is to say that He is distinct from the Universe, and that He possesses Himself and His infinite activity, undetermined by any necessity from within or from without. This conception is perfectly compatible with that of infinity. When the agnostic would forbid us to think of God as personal, and would have us speak of Him as energy, force, etc., he merely substitutes lower and more imperfect conceptions for a higher one, without escaping from what he terms Anthropomorphism, since these concepts too are derived from experience. Besides, he offers violence to human nature when, as sometimes happens, he asks us to entertain for an impersonal Being, conceived under the mechanical types of force or energy, sentiments of reverence, obedience, and trust. These sentiments come into play only in the world of persons, and cannot be exercised towards a Being to whom we deny the attributes of personality.



Note that the Catholics teach that “personality” is predicated upon individuation and “autonomy” or “the intelligent control of self”. “Self-awareness” and independent cognition are two concepts essentially expressing the same idea. God must possess these characteristics in order to be thought of as a “person”. The Catholic Encyclopedia makes the following statements, above: “To say that God is personal is to say that He is distinct from the Universe and that He possesses Himself and His infinite activity, undetermined by any necessity from within or without. This conception is perfectly compatible with that of infinity.” In actual fact, of course – such a ‘conception’ is NOT “perfectly compatible with infinity”. Those statements are illogical and irrational. An “infinite god” CANNOT be distinct from the Universe He brought into being, because He must be found in every particle, molecule and atom of it. His thoughts and very Being must be in all things at all times. We ourselves, therefore, are God as are the trees, rocks and animals. We should worship everything, including ourselves. That is the very essence of pantheism, and here we find it at the heart of Catholic doctrine. We can thank Catholicism for introducing and popularizing the “anthromorphic” argument and means of discrediting God’s clear revelation of Himself and His attributes.


The Catholic Encyclopedia article concludes with the following:

Anthropomorphites - A sect of Christians that arose in the fourth century in Syria and extended into Scythia, sometimes called Audians, from their founder, Audius. Taking the text of Genesis, i, 27, literally, Audius held that God has a human form. The error was so gross, and, to use St. Jerome's expression (Epist. vi, Ad Pammachium), so absolutely senseless, that it showed no vitality. Towards the end of the century it appeared among some bodies of African Christians. The Fathers who wrote against it dismiss it almost contemptuously. In the time of Cyril of Alexandria, there were some anthropomorphites among the Egyptian monks. He composed a short refutation of their error, which he attributed to extreme ignorance. (Adv. Anthrop. in P.G., LXXVI.) Concerning the charges of anthropomorphism preferred against Melito, Tertullian, Origen, and Lactantius, see the respective articles. The error was revived in northern Italy during the tenth century, but was effectually suppressed by the bishops, notably by the learned Ratherius, Bishop of Verona.



Note how Catholic clerics have effectively withstood the Truth as it resurfaced time and again, historically suppressing it and denying it any foothold in the thinking and understanding of the common, lay person. Certainly, no Catholic “worth his salt” would ever ascribe to God any remotely human characteristic or quality, in a definitive sense. It is tragic to see Protestants (and even some Preterists) buying into the idea that there is any shred of accuracy or integrity in the Catholic “anthropomorphic” argument against God’s unequivocal, clear, precise and definite revelation of His own attributes and characteristics.


God makes statements concerning His own Nature and Person throughout the Scriptures that (if we are NOT to understand and interpret them literally) are utterly misleading and without value, when treated in a manner consistent with the “anthropomorphic” argument. Here is just a sampling of a few such statements:

“Therefore He also says in another Psalm: 'You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' “ (Acts 13:35)



What does “Holy One” mean? In GOD’S understanding (as a supposedly “infinite, transcendent Being”), perhaps “Holy” means something totally other than what we have been led to believe it means here. For all we know, according to the anthropomorphists, this title referring to Christ Jesus is no more than a rough approximation of a character quality belonging to God that may or may not have any relationship to, or basis in, fact and reality (either His OR ours).

“The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" “ (Rev. 4:8)


Again, these four “living creatures” in heaven, glorifying and praising God in these terms, may be using language that is misleading, because it involves terminology pertinent to the HUMAN condition and comprehensible in HUMAN terms. When God is referred to as “holy”, we immediately understand that He is both PERFECTLY SINLESS and FLAWLESS. There is an utter absence of evil in Him, for truly as the Scriptures themselves state, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1John 1:5). But if THIS text is an “anthropomorphism”, then the Scriptures are truly robbed of all objective meaning (particularly where any statements pertinent to God and His Being are concerned), and we are left with a worthless, flawed “revelation” of God that actually reveals NOTHING about Him. "Darkness" and "light" MAY be metaphors for God's Being (representing divine goodness and purity vs. evil and corruption), but they could ALSO be literal expressions of God's fundamental reality and essence.


A term similar to “anthropomorphism” is “anthropopathism”. It is defined as follows: “The ascription of human feelings or passions to God, or to a polytheistic deity.” (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1996,1998) . Essentially, the Scriptures are incapable of accurately communicating ANYTHING substantive in terms of God’s emotions, feelings, Mind or Will – because all such ideas and concepts must be couched in human language and terms, and because such terminology has its source in finite, human thinking – it falls short of the reality where the supposedly “infinite, transcendent God of the Bible” is concerned. R.B. Thieme takes this line of thinking to its logical outcome, demonstrating the extreme to which this reasoning leads:

“God does not love Satan. God does not love the world. God does not love fallen man. All we can offer Him are sin and human good, but both are equally objectionable to His absolute righteousness (Isa. 64:6; Tit. 3:5). What the righteousness of God rejects, the justice of God condemns. Therefore, God can no more love us than He can be angry, jealous, impatient or changeable. “Love” in John 3:16 is simply an anthropopathism.” (Thieme, Jr. R.B., The Integrity of God Houston: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1979 pgs. 13,14).



It can readily be seen that anthropomorphists (and anthropopathists) find themselves in a deep epistemological quandary. God becomes essentially “unknowable” and unapproachable in their interpretive system, and the Scriptures are a flawed, imperfect, ineffective failure as an attempt on God’s part to communicate Himself and His Person to man.


Paul effectively invalidates the “anthropomorphic” argument in the following statements:

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For "who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:7-16)



As those who have been spiritually reborn by the Spirit of God – and have had the mind of Christ implanted and developed within us – we have both the capacity and, indeed, the OBLIGATION to comprehend God’s very Being in terms of His Personhood and the characteristics by which HE has defined it for those who are His.


God did NOT fail to communicate, CLEARLY, the essence and fundamentals of His Person to us. HE created the human mind and ability to communicate intelligently via language. He chose to communicate to man through both the written AND oral Word. He manifested Himself to us in CHRIST (who demonstrated distinctly HUMAN characteristics, emotions, etc.) and He - in His perfect wisdom and knowledge – SUCCEEDED in accurately conveying to man WHO He is and HOW He thinks. THAT is the God of the Bible and THAT is the God who I worship and serve. The “god” of anthropomorphists is both imperfect AND utterly unworthy of anyone’s worship and devotion. Such a “god” who is evidently utterly incapable of simple, effective, accurate, forthright communication is certainly incapable of either relationship OR any other benevolent activity on behalf of those who commit themselves to him.


Let us recommit ourselves to understanding and desiring deeper relationship with the wise, loving, holy, righteous, perfect God of the Bible - the God who clearly expressed who He was in very precise, humanly comprehensible terms. This, indeed, is the very same God who clearly expressed the reality that His knowledge is limited where man is concerned, and no “anthropomorphic” treatment of the relevant texts can justifiably devalue those statements in any legitimate way.


Serving the Truth,


John McPherson

SuperSoulFighter's picture

John,

I appreciate that you took the time to respond to this objection to your last article. Let me be honest with you... I still don't get it. You can say that the arguments for anthropomorphism/anthropopathism mean that God failed in His communication all that you want (and you can write it in ALL CAPS, bold it, underline it, throw seven exclamation points after it!!!!!!! or whatever), but if you want me to believe you then I need to see why that is. You said:

"Darkness" and "light" MAY be metaphors for God's Being (representing divine goodness and purity vs. evil and corruption), but they could ALSO be literal expressions of God's fundamental reality and essence.
So you are willing to admit the possibility that these are metaphors? How can you admit this possibility and yet demand literalness in other places without providing contextual warrant for such a demand in each case? This is inconsistent. Boil this down for me man. Either God does not have the liberty to use nonliteral language at all, or He does. If He does, which you seem to admit above, then how can I know when the language can be nonliteral and when it must be literal? Give me your method for discerning between the two. If you have no reasonable method (and I'm not even asking that it be clear and simple) then you should ask yourself if your desired conclusions are not driving your interpretations.

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Hi, Jarod! Good objections and questions! I believe my argument is founded on much, much more than "all caps" and "bold-type" statements. Those tools simply permit me to emphasize key elements in my statements in a way that is truer to how I would express them if you and I were enjoying a real-time chat over a cup of coffee.

Here are two, simple "rules of thumb", for starters, when handling God's statements concerning Himself and His attributes. When a concrete, material thing is associated with God, it is permissible to consider its relevance to Him in a more metaphorical sense. "Light" and "darkness" may not necessarily fall into this category, and I introduced them in that statement of mine you cited as an example of the need for careful handling of the text in every case to determine the nature of the originally intended meaning.

God's temperament is composed of immaterial qualities and characteristics, just as ours are. I do not believe that it is appropriate OR legitimate to consider immaterial elements in God's Being in a metaphorical sense. God tried to be clear in expressing anything about Himself in mostly literal terms, and clearly differentiating between any figurative statements and those of a literal nature. When God refers to Himself as a "jealous God", He is referring to the real emotion he felt towards His People, in terms of their devotion and commitment to Him vs. their idolatrous inclinations. This was, of course, within the more metaphorical context of God's "marriage" to His People as a Nation. So even though there may be layers of meaning in a statement, when the basic, core statement is considered (pertinent to the nature of God's actual Being and Person), in every case we find that God expressed literal realities about Himself in very literal terms. In other words, God is jealous in the same way that a husband is jealous for the exclusive attentions, love and commitment of his wife. It is appropriate and essential to interpret God's statements about Himself in terms of such a direct equivalency.

If I failed to make myself clear enough in the article, I apologize, Jarod. My goal was to expose the fallacious element in the anthropomorphic argument more than advance criteria for establishing which texts should be handled literally and which should be considered in a more figurative sense.

JM

Dana_Nathan_Salsbury's picture

John,

Thank you for giving more information and answering my question. I think we're on the right track now (in terms of helping me understand what you're saying). Let me ask some follow-up questions, sticking with the example you gave. You said:

So even though there may be layers of meaning in a statement, when the basic, core statement is considered (pertinent to the nature of God's actual Being and Person), in every case we find that God expressed literal realities about Himself in very literal terms. In other words, God is jealous in the same way that a husband is jealous for the exclusive attentions, love and commitment of his wife. It is appropriate and essential to interpret God's statements about Himself in terms of such a direct equivalency.1) How can I know that God's "jealousy" is the same as mine? Is there anything that demands that this be the case? How do I know that God didn't use that term because "jealousy" is the closest concept that I have to what He feels? It is certainly possible that this is very literal; show me why it is essential.

2) If God's jealousy is exactly like mine, how do I know it's not a hasty generalization to then say that the same is true of all immaterial qualities? Is His love the same? His hate? What argument can you give me to show that God's repentance (you know what I'm referring to) must also be the same as mine? Again, I know it's possible that this is literal; show me why it's esential.

SuperSoulFighter's picture

In answer to questions 1 and 2, jarod - I give you the following Scripture, with an accompanying interpretive treatment, including the significance of that which is implied therein.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Within the context, here, it is evident that the pre-AD 70 Israelites/Jews are the focus in this passage, and in their written Law, God provided them with a unique revelation of His hidden or "invisible" attributes. In other words, God revealed Himself to the Israelites in a highly unique way. His desire was that they would be aware of who He was in a much more specific, detailed way than that which was available to the rest of mankind. From the creation of THEIR "world", God revealed His invisible attributes via the Israelite/Jewish sacrificial system and the elements involved with it. The "law and the propehts" (the Torah) likewise provided them with a unique, highly specific revelation of God's intangible qualities and characteristics. The Israelites/Jews however, did not retain the knowledge of their God in their hearts as they were expected to. Rather, they turned to idolatry (as this passage indicates) and they became exceedingly corrupt. In fact, they became more degraded and evil than their non-Covenantal neighbors.

The point in all of this, Jarod, is that God clearly desired to have a close, intimate relationship with man through man's heightened awareness of His Person and the specifics pertaining thereto. THAT is the real purpose in God's provision of the Scriptures as a written revelation of Himself. If we have no clear, concise, verifiable interpretive framework for establishing the veracity of God's statements concerning Himself - we have nothing. The Bible is no more than an ancient artifact of interest only to classicists and anthropologists.

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen. 1:26,27)

What does it mean to be created "in the image of God", jarod? Male and female are somewhat similar and yet dissimilar, physically. We have emotional and psychological distinguishing characteristics, and yet we are BOTH "in the image of God". Both male and female share certain temperamental/psychological/emotional traits. Jealousy is jealousy. Anger is anger. Hatred is hatred. Understanding is understanding. Wisdom is wisdom. Knowledge is knowledge. Love is love. Truth is truth. The nature of the MIND is, fundamentally, the SAME. Thought processes and the self-determinative cognitive capacity all human beings share have their source in our Divine Creator, and we can justifiably view our own invisible attributes as being lesser representations and reflections of His own. He has verified this reality in His written Word. Without that verification, all would be speculation on our part. But the Word is clear. His invisible attributes are revealed therein, in order for us to gain knowledge and understanding of Him as a Person, enabling us to enjoy a personal relationship with Him.

And this is why it is essential to interpret God's character qualities, cognitive characteristics and attributes according to a literal hermeneutic. His straightforward assertions concerning Himself and His own Mind and Will are not couched in figurative terminology, thereby robbing us of any objective basis for comprehending any aspect of His Person. He understands our limitations, and made Himself comprehensible without distorting the reality and Truth of who He is, in any way. His revelation of Himself can be taken at "face value", with no "anthropomorphic qualifiers" necessary as footnotes to the plain language He chose to employ.

The primary difference between God's emotional responses (to any given situation or person) and ours, Jarod, would be that He can react and yet remain sinless. He can emote and yet do so in a way that consistently finds expression in holy, righteous, merciful and loving actions (as we understand those terms). This is why He could issue the command (via His Holy Spirit, writing through Paul), "Be angry and do not sin..." (Eph. 4:26). He is the perfect example of finding that perfect balance, and He expects us to acquire His mind in these ways.

We cannot possibly develop the Mind and Wisdom of God through meditation on His Word, if His Word has no objective meaning - particularly where God Himself is concerned. The "anthropomorphic" argument robs the Word of God of that very thing. And this is why it is so critical to refute and reject it as anathema. It represents a direct attack on the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture (not to mention an attack on the very perfection and Person of God Himself).

SuperSoulFighter's picture

John,

Thank you for the thoughtful response. There are a number of things in it that I do not agree with, but my interest is not to argue with you but to understand you better, so I want to focus now on what was helpful.

Genesis 1:26-27 is very helpful to your position. You asked me what it means to be made in the image of God. I think that it primarily means that we are creatures with a God-like capacity to reason. I would not exclude our emotions from the list of things that we have in His image either. It is interesting, however, that my dog, who is not said to be made in the image of God, also has emotions like love and fear (although to some extent he can reason as well :D). While I have mentioned it, is fear an emotion that we have in God's image? Anyway, the fact that we are made in God's image is a good reason to believe that when He says He is angry, it is the same emotion that we experience (though in a perfect form, as you said), etc. It's not enough to convince me of your position as a whole (which is very demanding in it's literalness), but it's a start.

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Good thoughts and comments, Jarod. I appreciate your open, honest spirit of inquiry and ability to dialogue calmly and intelligently. If I have prompted further thought and study on this matter - that is sufficient. Thought-provoking dialogue ensuing from these articles is a worthy goal in and of itself. Thank you for engaging in further discussion on this one, Jarod.

MichaelB's picture

Good point Jerod.

Mike Bennett

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Never trust a Catholic source to accurately identify and differentiate between that which is false and that which is not.

Dude, could you put any more poison in that well?

SuperSoulFighter's picture

I could, but I believe the average person has enough discernment to take a casual comment like the one you cited and determine for themselves the credibility of (or actual lack thereof in) Catholic sources. The only reason I quoted the Catholic Encyclopedia to the extent that I did was in order to expose the fallacious thinking involved with the "anthropmorphic" argument at its source.

JM

Jamie's picture

John, I definitely would not identify the catholic encyclopedia with the catholic church. The church has done, continues to do a lot of good things in the world,and there is also some good theology coming out of it. Not everything about catholicism is bad or wrong....

SuperSoulFighter's picture

John, I definitely would not identify the catholic encyclopedia with the catholic church. The church has done, continues to do a lot of good things in the world,and there is also some good theology coming out of it. Not everything about catholicism is bad or wrong....

Really, Jamie? You wouldn't identify the Catholic Encyclopedia with the Catholic Church? Over at www.newadvent.org they seem to differ with you on that point. You can access the Catholic Encyclopedia at that site, along with a great many other Catholic resources. The site seems to promote the Catholicism in an institutional sense, rather heavily. In fact, I would go so far as to refer to it as an RC site.

Here's a published breakdown of the history of the Catholic Encyclopedia, Jamie, and who published it:

The Catholic Encyclopedia is an English-language encyclopedia published in 1913 by the Roman Catholic Church, designed to give "authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine". Starting in 1993, the encyclopedia (now in the public domain) was placed on the Internet through a world-wide effort of volunteers.

The writing of the encyclopedia began on January 11, 1905 under the supervision of five editors:

Charles G. Herbermann, Professor of Latin and Librarian of the College of the City of New York
Edward A. Pace, then Professor of Philosophy at the Catholic University
Cond頂. Pallen, Editor
Rt. Rev. Thomas J. Shahan, then Professor of Church History at the Catholic University
John J. Wynne, S.J., Editor of The Messenger
The editors had their first editorial meeting at the office of The Messenger, in West Sixteenth Street, New York City.

In addition to having frequent informal conferences and constant intercommunication by letters, the editors subsequently held 134 formal meetings to consider the plan, scope and progress of the work, until April 19, 1913.

The encyclopedia was later updated under the auspices of the Catholic University of America and republished as the New Catholic Encyclopedia, first in 1967, and then in 2002.

In 1993, Kevin Knight, a 26-year-old resident of Denver, Colorado, inspired during the visit of Pope John Paul II to that city for World Youth Day, initiated the project to put the 1913 edition of the encyclopedia into cyberspace. Knight founded the website New Advent (http://www.newadvent.org) to house the undertaking. Volunteers from the United States, Canada, France, and Brazil helped in the transcription of the original material. The site went on-line in 1995 and was completed in 1997.

As you can see by the very first statement, the RCC was absolutely and directly involved with bringing the Catholic Encyclopedia into existence. I'm not sure where you get your information, Jamie, but you can verify my quote above at this address: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Catholic_Encyclopedia

I realize that the RCC does many "good" things on this planet, Jamie, but good theology is not one of them. And their bad theology outweighs any "good" they may do in terms of humanitarian efforts or moral/ethical positions they hold. If you have access to some "good theology" popular within Catholicism today (and fully authorized by the clerical hierarchies at the highest levels), then by all means - please introduce such information here, appropriately documented.

Not everything about Catholicism is evil or bad, no - but because it is a fundamentally false institution, and founded upon a hoax, it represents no more than (ultimately) a parasitic barrier to man's free involvement with God in the liberty God designed man to enjoy with Him, spiritually. Catholicism denies its adherents the privelege and right that is theirs, to interact with God in a very personal and yet TRUTH-0RIENTED way. The RCC is on lover of the Truth OR of the God of the Bible. It loves its own traditions, dogma and self-perpetuating falsehoods more than God and His Word. That is the sad reality and Truth. And that is why I aggressively and forthrightly denounce Catholicism when the occasion demands it.

I have known several Catholics over the years. Two of my piano students have grown up in Catholic homes. I have considerable respect for their parents, and I am quite good friends with the parents of one of them - but I have no interest in their institutionalized spirituality. I am careful not to offend in any way when interacting with them on spiritual things (as happens once in a while), but I make it clear what my own view of the Scriptures and their clear implications are. They respect and appreciate me and my views, and are open to discussing them in an environment of mutual respect. I find that most Catholics, however, are highly resistant to any doctrine or idea that my jeopardize the validity of their beloved "Mother Church" in any way. One couple with whom I visited tried to "proselytize" me (unaware that I was fully aware of their beliefs in terms of their nature and basis, and that my own position was both highly controversial and a return to the original orthodoxy of Christ and His apostles). I allowed them to segue (a little clumsily) into the tenets and benefits of Catholicism from their initial forays into modern ethics and cultural mores and how the Scriptures conflict with the disintegrating values of our society. I recognize a good Catholic segue when I hear one. When I finally began to gently and graciously introduce some of my own views and their Scriptural basis, they really sat up and took notice. They became very much on their guard and on edge, but the wife in particular quickly grasped the essentials of what I was telling them, and how drastically my views and beliefs conflicted with their own. Needless to say, the conversation wrapped up shortly thereafter, and we parted ways. But I think of these dear folk often, and am burdened over their spiritual condition and the darkness within which Catholicism has bound them. My own mother grew up a Catholic, and the fear/guilt combination ingrained within her from an early age haunts her to this day. Futurism runs strong in both of my parents, and I directly attribute this centuries-old fallacy, hoax and "cult" to the RCC.

Again, Jamie - if you happen to stumble across a nugget of Truth in RC doctrine, by all means bring it to the table here, and we can offset it against the mountain of falsehoods which that false "church" has perpetuated and maintains to this day.

JM

Sam's picture

Machen, Clark and Henry seriously.

Samuel Frost

SuperSoulFighter's picture

For my part, I suggest you review Jeffrey Bowman's argument at this address:

http://www.experiencegrace.com/Anthropomorphisms.html

I think Mr. Bowman has some very good things to say on this subject and is essentially in agreement with the position I've presented in my article, above.

Sam's picture

John,

The sources you cited were, for the most part, empirical (Roman Catholic philosophy is empirical). So, yes, unless you are familar with non-empiricist presuppositionalism (and not Van Til, either), they are very different. I would like to interact with you in our magazine the Millennial Post. My e-mail address is samuelmfrost@yahoo.com. Perhaps we can set up a two or three part debate in writing. As stated in the article posted here announcing the beginning of Regnum Christi Ministries (see article), we are very much wanting to move forward with theology within a fulfilled eschatological framework. The article I posted on the Neccessity of Systematic Theology (see article here) is the first few pages of a work I have been doing for about a year (almost 90 pages to date). Anyway....send me an e-mail.

Sam

SuperSoulFighter's picture

I'll be sure to do that, Sam! And thanks! I agree with your overall focus and stated objectives per Regnum Christi Ministries et al. Further dialogue between us in your Millennial Post magazine sounds like a good idea also.

I'll be in touch via email.

JM

SuperSoulFighter's picture

I take it that you would like me to review Machen's, Clark's and Henry's arguments in favor of the anthropomorphic treatment of God's statements concerning Himself, Sam? Is that what you are implying here?

I'm fully prepared to do so, of course. I really can't see how their arguments could possibly differ fundamentally from those I have already considered and examined, above, in my article - but each detractor deserves a hearing, I suppose.

John

Waidmann's picture

It seems to me that the "anthropomorphic" argument assumes that God exists and man exists, and God somehow wants to communicate with and have a relationship with some creature who exists completely independent from Himself (including origins). Kind of like the old Star Trek paradigm--the crew of the Good Ship Enterprise journey around the galaxy meeting differents species who don't think at all like humans do because they have absolutely no biological connection to humans.

I think what we actually have here is a God who designed and planned for how He intended to create his universe. He made sure that in the design of us humans, the wireing was there to understand Him and commune with Him.

IOW, for example, I'm not saying that God is masculine because in some way He resembles me, but rather that he created me masculine because I resemble Him in some way. So I can understand His masculinity (to an extent). I can understand God's anger for the same reason. He created me in such a way that I can experience anger that is like His.

That make sense?

Waidmann

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Exactly, Waidmann. I agree completely. We are created in HIS image, so it is hardly surprising that God felt that we are fully capable of comprehending certain aspects of His Being and Person. He was able to communicate those elements of His Mind and Person in the written Word because human emotions, feelings and perceptions were created to be so similar to His own.

JM

Roderick's picture

But I wonder, how literally we should understand God's anthropomorphisms? As you say here: "We are created in HIS image, so it is hardly surprising that God felt that we are fully capable of comprehending certain aspects of His Being and Person."

Perhaps then we should also consider that God does indeed have limbs? Can get tired? How far do we go with this? Maybe God thinks we should take his references to his physicality as literal too eh? Who can say, since we are going in this direction, where do we stop?

Roderick

SuperSoulFighter's picture

We have Biblical evidence indicating that God can assume a form with physical limbs, Roderick. Yes. Whether He possesses any sort of visible, "human-like" form in the realm of spirit wherein He dwells is an open question. He has the capacity, I believe, to assume any one of many forms.

Does He get tired? According to Gen. 2:1-3, God required rest after bringing the entire physical creation into being, so yes - evidently He DOES become tired. In our OWN case, bringing one blade of grass or tree into being would be enough to wipe ANY human scientist out. The difference between God and ourselves is readily discernible in this context.

How far do we go with this, Roderick? As far as the context indicates and permits. What type of literature is involved in each and every case, and does the language employed require a metaphorical or more literal treatment? As far as I'm concerned, the texts introduced in "The Nature of Divine Knowledge" article present God's knowledge limitations in very literal terms.

9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. (Jer. 17:9,10)

I really see no textual OR contextual basis for treating God's statements, above, concerning His need for research in order to ascertain the nature of an individual's heart and mind as being anything other than a literal revelation of His own limitations. I honestly don't see how you can objectively and legitimately make a case for any other interpretive perspective on texts such as these, Roderick. When the broader context of the Scriptures as a whole is considered, my position is further reinforced as completely True to the Biblical revelation of God and accurate to the highest degree exegetically possible.

If you feel strongly that you have a solid case against my position, I invite you by all means to introduce it here, and permit us to examine your ideas and the supporting textual evidence for them, together with you! I enjoy the way in which you express your views, Roderick, and will treat your presentation of them with respect.

Thank you for commenting on this article, and for introducing these objections.

JM

Bonefide30's picture

I have to agree with Roderick! When David said," Hide me under the shadow of your wings" what then do we make of that? Does God have wings like a duck or chicken or some other winged fowl? I think taking away the anthropomorphic elements in Scripture would and does present "god" who is more a man than a supreme being. Surely God spoke/communicated to us for our understanding i.e. so we could get the meaning of what He was saying by using phrases, figures of speech, and word pictures which "those to whom he spoke" would comprehend. I believe taking your approach will lead only to more theological error and heretical teachings.

Brian

In Christ
Brian Hildebran

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Do angels have wings, Brian? Perhaps all spirit beings have wings (or can appear to have them)? And how far do we go with treating all of God's statements concerning Himself as metaphors? Metaphors for...WHAT?

I don't really think you've given these things nearly enough thought, Brian. There IS nothing to "comprehend" about God if we have no clearly defined guidelines for interpreting that which is an "anthropomorphism" or "metaphor" and that which is not. "God is love". What is THAT supposed to mean? It means absolutely NOTHING within YOUR interpretive framework. THAT is the reality as presented most effectively within my article. And THAT is the factual situation with which you are confronted every time you open your meaningless (to you) Bible. You just aren't aware of that reality as yet. But if you re-read my article and make every effort to objectively assess the case I'm making therein - you will be left with no option but to re-examine your approach to the Word of God in this very light.

Welcome to Scriptural reality and Truth.

JM

Bonefide30's picture

Just to add one thing.

This kind of interpretation comes from a lack of or from faulty hermenuetics.

Brian

In Christ
Brian Hildebran

SuperSoulFighter's picture

You have no basis for that bald, blanket statement, Brian. You haven't even begun to address the points and Scriptural reasoning presented in my article.

Go to square 1 and start over, Brian. Your statement, above, is baseless and unacceptable.

JM

Recent comments

Poll

Should we allow Anonymous users to comment on Planet Preterist articles?
Yes absolutely
23%
No only registered users should comment
77%
What are you talking about?
0%
Total votes: 43