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Friday, July 29, 2011

Does God have a body?

Question: The Bible says that God walks (Genesis 3:8; Deuteronomy 23:12-13), stands (Exodus 34:5), has a face (Exodus 33:11, 20), hands (Exodus 33:22-23), has loins and “backparts” (Exodus 33:23; Ezekiel 1:27, 8:2) and there are other passages refer to his eyes, breath, feet, even wings; yet Jesus says that God is spirit (John 4:24) and does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). Does God have a body, or not?

Answer: Let’s approach from this direction: God is a living person with intellect, sensibility, emotions, volition (power of will) and attributes. He is also immaterial. These and other texts use anthropomorphic language to describe God, apart from those instances when God appeared in human form as the Angel of the Lord. Jesus is God in observable form. Since He is unlimited and independent of time, space, matter and motion, God is unrestricted in how He chooses to manifest Himself. These anthropomorphisms help us makes sense of his interests, powers and activities.

Here is a bigger question: why should it matter if God has a body or not? The answer is seen first in the fact that we are His handiwork, made in His image; second, in that everything is essentially spiritual (the physical world is only a subset of the spiritual world, if you will); third, God makes sense of our existence; finally, He is our life. Someone once said that the fact of God is necessary to the fact of man; man apart from God would cease to exist. We understand Him through the ways He reveals Himself, and He is not so far removed from us that He cannot be known.

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