Anthropomorphism: God relates to us in human terms.

Anthropomorphism comes from two Greek words:  anthropos (man) and morphe (form).  Therefore, an anthropomorphism is when God appears to us or manifests Himself to us in human form or even attributes to Himself human characteristics.  We see this all over the Bible -- and rightly so.  After all, we cannot ascend to where God is, but He can descend to where we are.

Following are a few verses from the Bible that ascribe to God human actions, attributes, and emotions.  Remember, God works with us in our time frame.  He has endured not only eternity, but also human history as He moves through it and through and with people to bring about His sovereign will and purpose.  Should we then assume that God would not relate to us in terms familiar to our own actions?  And should we not also assume that in so doing God will present aspects of Himself to us that would be paradoxical?  Take for example the fact that God is all powerful (Jer. 32:17,27 ), yet He rests (Gen. 2:2).  We see that God is in all places (Psalm 139:7-12), yet He asks Adam, "Where are you?" (Gen. 3:9).  We see that God knows all things (1 John 3:20).  Yet, we see that God says, "Now I know that you fear God..." (Gen. 22:12).

If, as the Open Theist wants to assert that God does not know all future events because He says, for example, to Abraham, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me,” (Gen. 22:12) then can we also not assert that since God asks "Adam, where are you?" that God is not in all places since if God was in all places He would know exactly where Adam was?  Or if God rests that does it mean that God is not all powerful?  Of course not.  Open Theism simply reduces the attribute of God's omniscience by exalting the condition of man's freedom.  Whenever man is exalted, God must be lessened.  This is the fundamental problem in Open Theism: it raises man's sovereignty so much, that God's qualities and attributes must be lessened; namely, God is not all knowing.

Following are various verses that demonstrate God's human-like manifestation to us in actions, emotions, and physique.  Thus we can see that such condescension on God's part to us will naturally result in God saying things that will require a deeper examination:

  1. Human actions - changed mind, relented, remembered, rested.
    1. Exodus 32:14, "So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people."
    2. 2 Sam. 24:16, "When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity, and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!”
    3. Gen. 9:16, “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
    4. Gen. 2:2, "And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done."
  2. Human emotions - sorrow, jealousy, pity, regret.
    1. Gen. 6:6, "And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart."
    2. Exodus 20:5, "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me."
    3. Judges 2:18, "...for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them."
    4. 1 Sam. 15:35, "And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel."
  3. Human physique  - hands, face, mouth, eyes, arm.
    1. Exodus 7:5, "And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”
    2. Num. 6:24, "The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you."
    3. Psalm 33:6, "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host."
    4. Psalm 34:15, "The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry."
    5. Psalm 89:10, "Thou Thyself didst crush Rahab like one who is slain;
      Thou didst scatter Thine enemies with Thy mighty arm."
  4. Other - Wings
    1. Psalm 57:1, "Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in Thee; and in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by."

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.