Author Topic: Anthropomorphism  (Read 529 times)

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Offline Niko92

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Anthropomorphism
« on: September 27, 2014, 09:53:23 AM »
Hi Everyone,

I have been going through the topics here extensively and came across ones in regards to God and anthropomorphism.

There seems to be some different views in regards to this but to cut this old topic short, what is the orthodox christian view of God and the characteristics attributed to him for example in the Old Testament?

Happy to hear everyones views.

Kind Regards,

Nik

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2014, 11:31:57 AM »
As I understand it:

Man is created in the image of God, not the other way around. Human beings do not describe God anthropomorphically; rather, human beings are described Theomorphically, in terms of how they reflect God.

For example:

When St. Irenaeus speaks of God having two hands, human hands are revealed to reflect something of God. When God is said to have a face, we learn that faces somehow reflect the way God is, etc.

God's Otherness, of course, is something beyond this method of description. But in terms of God's ecstatic relation to, and communion with, the world, this way of speaking seems right and just. And we learn of God's Otherness by acknowledging the absolute otherness within/about every human person, too.

When people say that we describe God "anthropomorphically," they are probably just being imprecise. They could also mean that God is being described in terms of how fallen humans are; I personally don't believe that the Old Testament describes God in terms of how fallen humans are. That would be Marcionism, and (to use harsh language) a rather cowardly way to address the Old Testament.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 11:37:23 AM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2014, 12:22:55 PM »
Well, you do have to consider how in many ways, the Church tended to take the "God is described "anthropomorphically" as a counterpoint against the pagan tradition of making their gods in their own image.  Not to say that I disagree with what you wrote, but I think many times it becomes quite a semantic issue that you make a big deal out of it, especially since I know you don't believe God to have flesh and bones, or created out of non-existence or pre-existing matter, or merely imminent.  We always take God both cataphatically and apophatically.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 12:23:13 PM by minasoliman »
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2014, 12:39:38 PM »
Well, you do have to consider how in many ways, the Church tended to take the "God is described "anthropomorphically" as a counterpoint against the pagan tradition of making their gods in their own image.  
Isn't to describe God anthropomorphically, to describe God in our own image?
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 12:40:04 PM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2014, 12:44:16 PM »
It is a way of saying that we are describing God in a limited fashion, recognizing our limitations in describing God.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2014, 01:02:26 PM »
It is a way of saying that we are describing God in a limited fashion, recognizing our limitations in describing God.
The Theomorphic approach does the same, does it not?
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2014, 02:10:02 PM »
Not necessarily.  When an Orthodox person (not pagan) talks about God and says "I'm describing Him anthropomorphically", He is stressing how limited language can be to describe God.

When an Orthodox person says he's describing man theomorphically, you are stressing how man transcends everything else in creation, man in his ideal perfection that God meant for him when He created him.

One is balanced with the other.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2014, 05:29:56 PM »
The former is contained in the latter, but the latter is not easily understood from the former.
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2014, 06:17:26 PM »
The former is contained in the latter, but the latter is not easily understood from the former.
not necessarily.  The latter alone can also give way to pantheism.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline Niko92

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2014, 07:49:23 PM »
So to clarify that I am on the right track here, we say God is angry, jealous, has a face and hands in order for us to relate to him somehow in our limited ways?

Or its more or else a way of us saying that we are with or without God depending on if we attribute positive or negative charactersitics to God?

Offline minasoliman

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2014, 08:24:45 PM »
This is an often repeated quote, but I quote St. Anthony the Great on this question, which you can read from this blog, which will also answer the question for you from other Patristic sources as well:

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2009/01/27/loving-an-angry-god/
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 08:26:11 PM by minasoliman »
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2014, 08:27:58 PM »
So to clarify that I am on the right track here, we say God is angry, jealous, has a face and hands in order for us to relate to him somehow in our limited ways?
It is a way of speaking about God which uses the human characteristics which reflect God, inasmuch as man is made in the image of God.

God really gets angry and jealous. God's anger and God's jealousy are real uncreated Divine expressions of God toward creation.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 08:29:38 PM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline Niko92

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2014, 12:43:51 AM »
Thanks for this guys appreciate all the help especially that article with all the comments in it, it was a very interesting read.

Seems like the East and West view are quite different regarding the matter.

Warm Regards,

Nik

Offline minasoliman

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2014, 12:51:36 AM »
I'm at least glad you weren't confused ;) but I would caution at least in trying to say that the West takes a different view on this; the West is pretty broad and filled with a lot of opposing ideas within one another.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2014, 12:52:35 AM by minasoliman »
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Anthropomorphism
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2014, 12:21:00 AM »
I would caution at least in trying to say that the West takes a different view on this; the West is pretty broad and filled with a lot of opposing ideas within one another.
Very true.
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