Analysis: DEXTER NJUKA
THE debate of what it means for man to be in God’s image has continued among theologians.Needless to mention, the two sides of the fence are that the context could either be spiritual or physical.
The problem, especially for the proponents of the latter, could be because of their immense adherence to anthropomorphism. As in attributing human behaviours, traits or characteristics in defining the deity.
Let me, if you will, that I present in this write-up the challenges anthropomorphism can pose in fully understanding who God is. Omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence are at least some of the divine nature that most religions attribute to God.
And so true they are.
Man as a creature lacks this. Either before or after sin.
The complexity of God appearing as human is as old as when He physically visited Abraham, the forefather of Israel, en route to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness. Abraham saw God in human form and, above all, He served him a meal before He proceeded to the said two cities for a fact-finding mission about the badness of their sin, (Genesis 18).
Being served food and physically going down to the two cities may seem to counter the two attributes of being omnipotent and omnipresent. Literally speaking, God doesn’t need food either for vitality or enjoyment because He is all round within himself that He doesn’t need external sources for this.
When He is seen to do this, it is just for His glory. At times, He deciphers Himself for the sake of human comprehension. In the first place, He didn’t even need to be seen heading towards the two cities pending the findings. He is all-knowing and all-present. Even when He was talking to Abraham, He was already from before overwhelmingly present in the two cities.
Even when He is said to be walking, God doesn’t need legs for a fact. Legs are for enabling one to be in one place or the other. If anything, legs limit presence. The same can be said about the nostrils. The day God had a nose is the day He would depend on another force for breath. Yet, He is the breath himself. He is the originator. Breath doesn’t need breath.
But it is important to embrace anthropomorphism to aid human understanding about God. Otherwise, God can decide to appear in any form like He appeared to Moses in a flame of fire during the burning bush encounter. And that doesn’t mean a fire is Him. Or a thunder. He can appear in any form and still be who He is – Holy. So holy that no one can see Him and remain alive.
This can be further explained by the trisagion in the book of Isaiah 6, which has more to do with the superlative purity of his nature – Holiness. Those strange beings called seraphim chanted in unison about this Holiness. The chapter reveals that they had each three pairs of pinions or wings. With two, they covered their feet, which I am told is a Hebrew play at words to mean nakedness. With the other pair, they covered their faces from the glory of God.
In fact, it wasn’t God literally sitting on that throne that the Prophet Isaiah had glimpse of but just His Holy presence. Imagine if these holy creatures couldn’t dare look at God’s holiness, who is mortal and sinful man to look at God?
This sixth chapter of Isaiah does diffuse the teaching of beatific pontification that insists that on that day, the saints will see God (God the father being implied) eye to eye. Guy, we can’t see God and live. Moses, the writer of the first five books of the Bible, tried this. He was there in the mountains insisting and entreating God that he could have a glimpse of Him.
God insisted no human had seen him before. The mere fact that Moses had communed in His holy presence proved this point. Every time he went down the mountain to communicate God’s message to the Israelites, some would pass out because of the face radiating with holiness.
Later, Moses decided to be covering his face each time he came back from communing with God in the mountains. Otherwise, Jesus only became human after the virgin birth through Mary, as recorded in the first chapters of the four gospels of the New Testament Bible.
Furthermore, Philippians 2 states that in order for Jesus to become human, He had to give up certain attributes such as omnipresence and omniscience. That is why He was at a particular place at a given time. That’s why when asked by His disciples when His second coming would be, He insisted He didn’t know and only His father knew.
When we couldn’t see God as He is, He sent His son Jesus, who became human so that through His humanity we could have a glimpse of what and who really He is.
The author is a media and communications enthusiast and pastors Garneton Mission of the Seventh-Day Adventists in Kitwe.
Analysis: DEXTER NJUKA