Friday, April 15, 2011

What God Has Joined Together

In Faithfulness In Action, Katharine Doob Sakenfeld makes an important point about the scope of anthropomorphisms vis-a-vis our talk about God:

…it should be recognised that whenever we speak of the loyalty or faithfulness of God, we are speaking anthropomorphically. While we notice this anthropomorphic element readily enough when we speak of the face or hand of God, we tend to overlook it when we turn to highly charged theological terms such as “faithful” or “righteous”. Somehow it seems as if we know the content of these terms, and that such understanding frees them from their anthropomorphic character. But when we are called upon to explain the meaning of such words to describe their content, the illustrations that we give relate to modes of behaviour rooted in human experience.

"Spiritual" language needs flesh and blood in order to make sense to us earthlings. When it comes to speaking about the divine, everything is anthropomorphism.

Or is it? What does the incarnation have to say to this?

Surely the love of God enacted in and through Jesus of Nazareth was/is no anthropomorphism (if I'm understanding the term correctly). To speak of this love embodied and made known to us in a human being is not to speak of a shadow that hints at the substance, a reflection of the Platonic Form. The life of Jesus which lead to death on a cross is the love of God. The fullness of divine revelation comes to us in utterly human terms.

Therefore at the cross of Christ human love and divine love are found not to be two things but one.

The incarnation brings together anthropomorphism and theomorphism, and what God has joined together let no man separate.

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