Thursday, October 28, 2004

Genesis 1:26-27 and God's Body (Morg) has in its FAQ a fairly standard Trinitarian response to Genesis 1:26-27. It is, however, like all Trinitarian responses to this verse, false.

As noted before, Morg does not like to quote verses, apparently because they usually contradict their sophistry promulgated around the scriptures. So let's start with the verses:

Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [2] and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (NIV)

The typical tripe written of this verse is man was created in the moral image of God. Scripture directly contradicts that:
Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
Morality is the understanding of good and evil: "
of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior" (Merriam Webster online).

Notice "now man has become". He was not created that way, he became it. So whatever the image and likeness of God means, it is not about morality.

So what is it.? It is the physical appearance of mankind. We know this from both the use of the words in Hebrew, but from clear parrallels in the same book of scripture:
Genesis 5:1 This is the written account of Adam's line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man. " 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.

Seth looks just like Adam. We have already seen the words "image" and "likeness" do not mean morality, and they would not make sense here anyway. But whatever image and likeness meant of the relationship between God and Adam, they mean the same thing as the relationship between Adam and Seth.

Morg gets so many things wrong in his opening paragraph, it is hard to know where to start.
Morg twists the LDS position by saying "So for LDS, technically God is in man's image." What is the point of saying something this dumb? No really. The word image means "1: a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person" or "2b: a likeness of an object produced on a photographic material", "3a: exact likeness : semblance" (Incidentally, 3a is cited as the definition for Gen 1:27 by Webster), or "4 a : a tangible or visible representation" (Webster online). Image is the reflection of the original. God in LDS thought is the original. Men are the reflection or image of God.

So technically, Morg is apparently lying about the LDS position. It is not a lie if Morq is ignorant and fails to understand the LDS position. However, since Morg cannot cite a single source among anyone Mormon who would agree with his "technical" definition, it is his position, not the LDS position. It is a deliberate mis-statement of LDS thought, if in fact Morg actually is an expert on LDS theology.

Morg asserts the LDS people are so simple and narcissistic, we just looked at our hands and face and said "Yup, that be what God looks like." Forget the fact the LDS position is more Biblical. Forget the fact the Hebrew words support the LDS interpretation. Forget the fact the Trinitarian position contradicts direct statements of scripture by saying God is immaterial.

We know god has a body, based on numerous passages in Genesis: 32:30 "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." See 32:24-30 to note the context of the passage is speaking about Jacob physically wrestling with a "man", who it turns out is God, leading to the statement in quotes above. See also Gen. 17:1; 26:24; 35:7; 35:9; 18:1-3 "AND the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw [them], he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And [Abraham] said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:"

Morg makes a common, unscriptural statement: "
God can appear any way He wants..."
ere does that come from? A chapter and verse would be nice, even if you don't bother to quote it. Oh wait, there is no such reference. A trinitarian is not beholden to things scriptural, but if they feel the need to attack Mormons as unBiblical, it would be nice if they were. Since the doctrine of an uncorporeal God dates from the 3rd and 4th century, please don't palm it off as an anachronism on the Bible.

So then Morg launches into a completely unfounded description of the word "invisible". On the one hand, a being could by nature not be visible, such as people observing the wind. But it is not "impossible" to see molecules in motion, which is what the wind is, and so it is simply a perspective. God is invisible, that is not seen, by people. Phil 2:6 is in fact emphatic in stating God has a visible form: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: The form is explained by no less a conservative evangelical linguistic authority than A.T. Robertson as:
Being (uparcwn). Rather, "existing," present active participle of uparcw. In the form of God (en morph qeou). Morph means the essential attributes as shown in the form. In his preincarnate state Christ possessed the attributes of God and so appeared to those in heaven who saw him. Here is a clear statement by Paul of the deity of Christ." Word Pictures of the New Testament."

Notice "and so appeared to those in heaven who saw him". Christ in his nature looks like God, which has a visible nature since Christ was, by definition, visible to those who saw him in heaven. While this also is a wonderful proof text contradicting the Trinitarian doctrine of one God in 3 persons sharing a single substance, since Christ and God, not the Father, are what look alike, it is likewise an absolute statement that God and Christ are in fact visible beings. God is called the invisible God because he is in heaven, away from mankind. The word in Greek is aoratos, and means "pertaining to not being subject to being seen, unseen, invisible, of God" BDAG, 3rd edition, pages 94-95. Romans 1:20, which uses the word invisible says this of those invisible things:
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

So by nature, the word does not mean impossible to see, it simply means out of sight. Specific examples include: Col 1:15-16:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

We have already looked at what it means that Christ is the visible form or outward appearance of God. Here Paul says he is also the eikon or image. In Greek, this word means it is a tangible copy of the original. Look at Matthew 22:20 for example: Whose is this image and superscription? Christ asks of the Pharisees whose picture or image, eikon, is on the tribute coin. Whose picture is on a nickle or dime or penney? There can be no confusion, Christ is asking whose image appears on the coin. Paul uses the same word to describe who Christ looks like. He looks like the God they have never seen. Thus when the apostles ask Christ to show them the Father, he answers (John 14:7-12) that those who have seen Christ have seen the Father. The Father is in Christ, and Christ has the physical appearance of the Father. Clearly the Father did not make an appearance, or Philip would not have asked the question. The nature of the question is pleading "start showing us the Father, and that will be enough." Christ does not say he is the Father, even the Trinitarians don't believe that. He states that because of his relationship to the Father, seeing him is like seeing the Father. In the context of Paul's teachings and the Old Testament, this is literally fulfilled in the physical appearance of Christ.

The abuse of the scriptures about "
God is too big for the heavens and the earth, let alone a body (1 Kings 8:27)" deserves special derision. Morg uses this and several other verses, all ripped from context. Let's do what Morg hates, and actually read the verse:
27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!"

Well, the word 'contain' does not mean there are more jelly beans being poured out of a bag than the jar can contain. It means he cannot be restrained or kept in any certain place. So instead of being an observation that God cannot fit into the existence he has created, it is an invitation to come visit the temple.
1 Kings 8:28-29 Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.
May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, 'My Name shall be there,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.

We know this from the text: Turns out he is in heaven, which according to Morg cannot contain him, is where he actually "dwells", as Solomon relates in the very next verse:
1King 8:30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

Seven more times in 1Kings 8 Solomon notes that Heaven is God's dwelling place: verses 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49. If Solomon meant what Morg spews forth, it is not discernible from the text. The Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, translates the word 'contain' as arkeo, meaning "be enough, sufficient, adequate", and cites 2 Cor 12:9, Mt 25:9, John 6:7 and John 14:8. Look these verses up. Also look up 1 Kings 8:64. The word "receive" is the same Hebrew word kuwl. See Brown, Driver, Briggs or even Strongs Hebrew Dictionary. It means to restrain or hold in. This gives a great deal of insight into the text. Use that as an alternate translation. The Temple cannot "hold in" or "restrain" God, since even the heavens cannot hold him in or restrain him. The idea of God being transcendently too vast to be contained in heaven or the Temple, or a body, is not anywhere in the text.

Since Morg phrases his assertion as
" if the Bible affirms that God is too big for the heavens and the earth, let alone a body (1 Kings 8:27)", we have now presented clear evidence to discard the assertion, at least based on this 'evidence'. It is false. I am assuming this was his best shot, since it is the only one he lists. It fails upon review. Very poor scholarship with a single point: Refute the Mormon position. Who cares if it is valid. Again, this is why most Mormons ignore anti-Mormons. They either don't know spit about the Mormons, or they don't know spit about the scriptures.

The big finish for Morg is "God is not a man by nature". Well, true. But then again, man is not immortal by nature, but he can become that. (Phil. 3:21; Romans 8:11; 1Cor 15:21-22, 42-44, 52; 2 Cor 4:14; Col 2:12; Heb 9:27). Man is not necessarily good by nature (Romans 3). We can be changed (1 Cor 15:1; 2Cor 5:17). Even a trinitarian looking at the fact Christ took a body unto himself must acknowledge that for a time he took upon him a human nature. If not, he could not have died. Yet the changing between natures did not force him to cease being divine, and his godhood did not prevent him from becoming man. Man's spirit has its existence from God (Genesis 2:7). Man's existence had its source with God, so there is a part of man, according to the Bible, which is eternal. Early Christians believed that through Christ, man's nature would be changed. Irenaeus :
"but through His love and His power, He shall overcome the substance of created nature" (Against Heresies, book IV, 38:4). In the footnote, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, page 522, notes "That is, that man's human nature should not prevent him from becoming a partaker of the divine." Irenaeus wrote this around 188 A.D., or more than 125 years before the Nicene Council. This of course dovetails perfectly with 2 Peter 1:4, and Irenaeus like many others, believed we were to become like God, becoming gods ourselves (Against Heresies, IV, 38:3-4: "For we cast blame upon Him, because we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods").

The idea that we cannot become like God because of our natures is in fact a late development, long after the scriptures were written or the early Christians lived. To think that philosophers living 500 years after Christ were smarter than the Apostles or the people taught by those first generation Christians is pure fallacy.

Morg uses an analogy that man is to God, as a dog is to man. This is really pretty inane. While our state of advancement is like an amoeba to mankind, God created only man on the 7th day. We are the only species to be created in his image and likeness.

Ps 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all [things] under his feet:

I don't really feel much like a dog. I have never designated any of my pets as joint heirs with my son. As a non-LDS Catholic priest once noted, the question is not why do Mormons believe man has a potential to be like God, but why do evangelicals and others not. It was the doctrine of Christianity up until the dark ages. Look what has emerged from the other end of the dark ages. Sad, but true.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Antis are obtuse on purpose.