Our friends at WCG produced a paper in 2004 titled “Does God Have a Body?” As you can well imagine, it is so much hoo-ha and hand waving. The idea that God has “no form” comes from the Catholics. Along with the doctrine of the Trinity, it seems that the idea is to make God to be as incomprehensible as possible, as though that puts Him far above mere mortals.
It has already been covered here that the purpose of human beings is so that God the Father can have children. All of the animals were created after its kind. Man, however, was created in the image of God – after the God kind. In order for God to relate to us, we must be somehow like Him. If you haven’t considered this wonderful truth before, I’d like to invite you to first read “God’s Plan 2: What Is Man?“
So, let’s look at the arguments WCG put down in their paper to see if they are valid or not.
God Is Spirit
As we proceed, we’ll briefly examine each of these ideas to see why they do not teach the idea that God has a body. But first, let us see what the Bible says about God’s nature and being. In John 4:24, we read, “God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Here Jesus states clearly that God is spirit. Since God is spirit, he does not have a body. By nature, God must be an incorporeal being, and not be limited to existing within a certain size and shape. We should point out that the scripture says God is spirit, not that he has a spirit. Since he is spirit, he lacks parts or a body, entirely.
Jesus himself defined what spirit is – and pointed out that it is different from a human, physical body. After his resurrection, he told his disciples, “Touch me and see; a ghost [Greek, pneuma, “spirit”] does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). A spirit does not have flesh and bones. God is spoken of as being invisible, that is, God in his glory does not exist in a body that has shape, as a person who has flesh and bone does. Please see Colossians 1:15, Romans 1:19-20 and 1 Timothy 1:17).
Actually, it is strange that they took this tact in answering the question, as it is self-refuting. Jesus was undeniably raised from the dead. We know at the first resurrection, we will be glorified (1Jn 3:2).
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
~ 1Co 15:50
So, Jesus was composed of spirit and not flesh and blood or else He could not Himself enter the Kingdom. So, what was Jesus saying here? Remember, He appeared in a locked room, apparently able to pass through the walls! He is saying He has a body! He was raised up with a spiritual body. This is where the argument against so-called “anthropomorphism” usually falls down! He wasn’t a “ghost” without a body! The Bible says “God is spirit”, but there are spiritual bodies!
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
~ vv 35-49
Oddly enough, WCG goes on to contradict themselves by saying, “Christ became incarnate and came to exist as a human being, with a real body. Also, this body, now in a glorified state, continues to exist.“
Christ “Took On” a Body
The Son in his incarnate state as Jesus took on the form of a human being. We read in Philippians 2:5-8 that “Jesus Christ: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” He did not have a body in eternity past – he had to take on this form.
They simply state “He did not have a body in eternity past”, yet provide no Scriptural proof for such a statement. This verse in Php 2, however, simply states that Jesus was humble enough to empty Himself of His divinity and become human. He was still the “Word”, but now He was the Word made flesh. He was still God, but now in human form. Nothing more, nothing less.
Anthropomorphisms As Metaphor
What of those passages that seem to speak of God in human terms? Those are called anthropomorphisms, that is, descriptions of God’s being, actions and emotions put in human terms. Though God is without a body, his acts for his people are said to be by “his mighty arm” (Exodus 15:16). God is also pictured as having a face, hands, fingers and a back (Psalm 27:8; 10:12; 88:5; Deuteronomy 9:10; Exodus 33:23). As well, God is described as talking, walking, laughing, and weeping. Such anthropomorphisms are poetic symbols or metaphors representing that which would otherwise be indescribable, because God in his being is invisible and unknown. Such symbols of God’s being are condescensions to us – put in words that we can understand. We have to have some way of describing God’s relationship to us. The only way this can occur is through symbols that are understandable to our finite minds and experience.
Just because God is invisible, to us at any rate, why does the WCG seem to automatically assume that means God cannot have a spirit body? This makes no sense. The whole idea that God “condescends” to us shows how far they have come from the truth that God wants a family relationship with us. How can we relate to God as our Father if He is in every way unlike us?
Granted, there are verses which are metaphorical. I doubt the earth is literally God’s footstool. However, that does not necessarily translated into God not having feet!
Consider that it would be logically impossible for God to be a six-foot-four inch (or whatever height and weight) individual with a body of flesh and bone.
Why does “body” equate with “flesh and bone”?
Unless God were a hermaphrodite – having both male and female sexual organs – the scripture that is sometimes cited as “proof” of God having a human-shaped body – would be reduced to an absurdity. Genesis 1:27 has God saying that he created both males and females in his image.
Actually, the absurdity is in ignoring that there were 2 God beings in existence at the time, and the creation of Adam and Eve reflected that. God is a family, and therefore He created humans as a family unit.
The nature and size of the universe itself tells us that it would be impossible that a God made in the image of humans could create, maintain and control the universe. How could God, as a human-sized being, direct a universe of 10-12 billion light years across? He would be incomprehensibly dwarfed by the universe, as we humans are. Yet, precisely the opposite is said of God – that the universe cannot contain him (2 Chronicles 2:6).
Again, WCG is putting its own spin on this. Where is it written that God has to be “human-sized” to have a body? Furthermore, even if He did decide to do that, then what difference would it make? God speaks, and things happen. The Holy Spirit is the power that does God’s will, no matter His “size”. Yet, even if He is larger, and I think it is evident that He is, then how does that mean he doesn’t have a body? What they are doing is distracting from the real question at hand.
Literal anthropomorphism, as mentioned earlier, makes God in our image and forgets that we are made in his image – which has reference not to shape, size or composition, but to something of his spiritual qualities. Human beings have been given the ability to reason and to express many divine qualities, such as communication, invention and the creation of new things, but only from existing materials. God has also given humanity dominion and stewardship over his creation, which shows humanity’s place as ruler and king, much like God. This is the meaning of God creating us “in his own image,” not that God is like humans in having bodily parts and shape. [For more on “the image of God,” click here.]
Paul explains that literal anthropomorphism is a dangerous and pagan doctrine that we should avoid. He explains what happened in human philosophy and religion: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:21-23).
Herein lays the problem. We are not creating God in our image to look like mortal man. God created us in His image.
God is not anthropomorphic; humans are theomorphic….
But I don’t think the anthropomorphic criticism is truly criticizing the idea of a corporeal God. I think the true, underlying problem people have is with the idea of a personal God. Their reservations are largely removed when they consider abstract entities, higher orders, and life forces.
~ Deus Decorus Est: The Myth of the Anthropomorphic God