Figure 1: Meaning of incorporeality among pigeons lol
So many people that I have talked to have no problem with the idea of ELOHIM as infinite. They could logically allow that, and then draw up heretical doctrines/ conclusions that Elohim is logically pantheistic or strongly panentheistic and then extrude from such conclusions/ assumptions into believing that on a moral realm that Elohim is evil since HE is Infinitely Omnipresent and being APC – Active, Present and Conscious at every space in time – this they do heretically because they confuse that the infinity of Elohim does not leave room for distinction between the Creator and the Creature. They fail to see that IT IS BECAUSE that God is Infinite that distinction CAN occur between the creator and the creature. We have solved all these heresies when we spoke in our last discussion how we, as Christians, can logically defend Elohim. We are not like Islamic Muhammadans who when we face are faced with distressing theological contemplations, we say like Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari “Bilakiv … meaning, “WE DON’T KNOW!” and neither do we obey a Quran that says that we should not ask distressing questions because people who tend to ask such distressing intellectual questions tend to leave the Islamic faith ? (Surah 5:101-102). Such a very weak and vulnerable and insecure faith/ ideology ???
Sadly, I am grieved to see that people, especially some Atheists and some New Age Spiritualists are vehemently against the logical compatibility of personhood and infinity. For these kinds of people, God (even generalising it to the Christian God = Elohim) is more logically compatible with being some sort force or ether or “the All” or some ultimate reality but HE is not a personal being. I think that this alleged incompatibility is quite logically unjustified especially when talking about Elohim. First and foremost, according to Christian Theology, Elohim possesses all of the attributes of personhood that we do such as
[Comment Below: What other personal attributes does Elohim possess that is not listed above?]
However, I believe that Elohim has all these attributes to an infinite degree. So, in a sense, these attributes are infinite in Elohim but nevertheless, they are personal in this special sense that they are shared attributes with us human beings because we are also created by Elohim in Elohim’s Image. So you see why some atheists and some new age people cannot wrap their minds around this? They wonder and ponder how intellect, emotions and will can be infinite. For example, what does it mean to have an infinite emotion? This, by God’s Grace, I hope to answer in this lesson. We are persons/ personal. You will remember that gap on the first outline where I showed how where Elohim is personal, humans are also personal because we are created in the image of Elohim, and there is a great chasm between us and the rest of creation which is not personal because other creatures are not made in the Elohim’s image according to Christian Theology.
[Comment Below: (1) How would you define “personal” or “person”? (2) Would you agree that animals demonstrate “personhood” too or do you believe that they are not persons?
We believe that man is a person because Elohim is personal. This is what we logically believe enables us to relate to Elohim in a family-manner. Let’s now look at Elohim’s attributes which are HIS in virtue of HIS being essentially an infinite person.
The first of these attributes is incorporeality or another way of saying this would be HIS bodilessness. Let me present you first with some scriptural data concerning Elohim’s incorporeality.
1. INCORPOREAL IN ESSENCE
Elohim is not corporeal – HE is incorporeal. John 4:24,
Elohim is not of the order of material reality. THEY is not a physical being. HE is Spirit. HE is incorporeal; all to be seen from the perspective of HIS essence.
2. OMNIPRESENCE IN ESSENCE
Elohim is Omnipresent. Here I would just simply refer you back to all of the verses that we looked at when we studied Elohim’s Omnipresence. Remember Psalm 139 talked about
Elohim is omnipresent. So rather than relook at those verses here I just refer at this point to all of those verses we looked at before that describe Elohim’s omnipresence. THEY is not located in a particular spot as a corporeal being would be. Any being that has a body must be in a specific spatial location. But Elohim isn’t. THEY is omnipresent, and that again shows HIS incorporeality – with regards to HIS Essence, THEY doesn’t have a body.
3. (PHYSICALLY) IMMEASURABLE
Thirdly, Elohim is indiscernible to the five senses. 1 Timothy 6:16:
Notice there that it says that no man has seen or can see Elohim which again would indicate THEY is not a bodily being because anything that is physical will reflect photons off of it and you could see it. But Elohim is physically invisible. HE is not perceptible by the five senses. All these by virtue of HIS essence.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 1: But Elohim can make HIMSELF visible, such as Elohim making HIMSELF visible to Moses via the burning bush?
I will soon say something about PQ1. It is good to be thinking ahead. For now, I am showing you that by virtue of Elohim’s Essence, THEY isn’t able to be (physically) seen.
Also, open your Bible to 1 Timothy 1:17:
There it says THEY is invisible. No man can see Elohim in HIS Essence. HE is invisible because THEY is incorporeal.
4. NO IMAGE OF ELOHIM CAN BE MADE BY MAN
Fourthly, images of Elohim are forbidden. Look, for example, at Exodus 20:4-5a in the Old Testament that Jesus set us free from, which forbids making any images of Elohim:
There, images of Elohim are proscribed – you are not to make any image. Not to be conflated with “don’t only make any idol”. That would be almost self-understood. But don’t make any likeness of anything in heaven above that you should worship, (it is important to emphasise this because you will hear Muhammadans or people of other faiths interject that this is why we should never make an image of God. However, the context is all about WORSHIPPING these images) … including the real God. So not only should there be no images of false gods, there shouldn’t be any images of Yahweh either. There shouldn’t be any images of the true God.
Also turn over to Deuteronomy 4:15b-16:
Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female.
Notice there HE is telling them don’t make any kind of image of Elohim. Again, that just emphasises the point that it is not just false Gods that are to be made images of, but don’t make any image of the true God as well. The reason for this probably is any sort of image of Elohim will never approximate to the full glory and majesty and greatness of God. Any finite portrayal of Elohim – a painting, a sculpture, any kind of physical portrayal of Elohim– will involve a lowering, a diminishing of the essential true nature and glory of Elohim. So it will represent an energy less than what God essentially is. Therefore there are to be no images of Elohim. THEY doesn’t have a physical form. This underlines the fact of HIS incorporeality. Elohim doesn’t have a physical form that could be depicted correctly. Also, we could see it in the historical context. You see, Jesus said in Matthew 5:22:
You see, in those days, “RACA” could have been a word even much worse than say the F-Word. However, in that historical context, “Raca” means almost nothing to a native speaker nowadays in the same way that it meant in the days of Jesus. So you and I can bear in our Spirit, under this new dispensation of Grace that we are never to use the F-word, why? Because of the historical context that we find ourselves and how we are allowing the sanctification of Jesus over our lives. Likewise, in the same vein, I believe that Elohim commanded that no graven image of Elohim be made because it was the norm of idol worship in those days to artistically sculpt an image of your god. So Elohim forbade it. Not everybody looking at a picture of Jesus thinks that we should bow down to it and worship – except the Catholics (which we will discuss another time). Heck! Even the Muhammadans will tell you that the Kaaba they bow to is not Allah – they know that. So we can make that distinction.
I think it is in Isaiah 47 where we see Elohim mocking these idol worshippers for charbroiling food with half of the tree and making a god that they fall down of with the other. This is an excellent satirical passage.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 2: Was there any images used for Elohim in Jewish Culture before Elohim spoke in Isaiah 47 or long time ago in the Jewish Culture?
I cannot find any in my research. I think that right from the time of Abraham, the Father of the Jewish Faith, that Elohim called him out of Idol worship out of Ur. I believe that Abraham left his idols behind. I do not think you will find any kind of physical image portrayed in God’s revelations to Abraham or Isaac or Jacob or anything like that.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 3: The Bible says that Abraham saw Elohim. Thinking of the culture that Abraham came from in his context and knowing that it was Elohim whom he was talking to, wouldn’t have Abraham have created any images of Elohim before Moses brought out the Old Testament?
I think that the Law of Moses (LoM) consistently and coherently fall in line with what we mostly see Abraham doing and God approving of Abraham. I believe that Abraham, even as Elohim introduced/ revealed HIMSElF to Abraham, he (Abraham) knew that Elohim is too great to be pictured by any kind of physical form; that those physical forms would be misleading rather than helpful. The Children of Israel took pride in being children of Abraham too … if this was the case, the Bible would have mentioned something about Abraham doing this (and all Christians nowadays would do the same thing too) OR Elohim would have told Moses via the LoM that it should be forbidden, to which, Elohim would have disciplined Abraham about, if Abraham did that. Remember, this is a very serious issue to Elohim.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 3: Are you saying that paintings done by Christians like Michelangelo are a sin?
Not really in this New Testament dispensation. The worshipping of those paintings would be a sin. However, as beautiful as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling might be, I will say that they could be entirely misleading especially to the layman Christians (new Christians or old Christians) who has never taken a theological class or thought about the Christian faith logically. Elohim is made to be essentially an old man with a long white beard in the paintings if confused. That could be identified as Elohim by virtue of one of HIS many energies hypostatically. We cannot deny that Michelangelo has thwarted many laymen’s (and even elite Christians) conception of Elohim throughout history. Paintings of Elohim or any finite physical portrayal of HIM into some sort of finite human figure confuses the identity of Elohim’s Essence for HIS Energies. If we were living under the Old Testament (OT) Law of Moses (LoM), these paintings would be in direct violation of Elohim’s commandments. That is one reason that in the Protestant Reformation all of these sorts of portrayals of Elohim were removed from the churches and were excised from Christian worship. They rejected the use of images in this way.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 4: What about portrayals of Christ?
This is more controversial because what a painting of Jesus portrays is not HIS essential divine nature. It portrays HIS energised human nature hypostatically. And in HIS energised human nature, Christ was a man. HE was fully man. HE was just like you and me. So I think that one could argue that portrayals of Jesus would not violate these OT commandments because you are portraying the energised humanity of Christ rather than HIS essential divinity. But one might also say by that very fact you are forgetting about HIS essential divinity. If you only focus on HIS energised humanity then you miss out the essential divinity. So that would be something that would need to be kept in mind as well. But I think most Christians would not have a problem with images of Jesus precisely because of this – that hypostatically, he does have an energised bodily physical form. In the incarnation the word became flesh as John says, so there is a corporeal form there that could be pictured.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 5: Doesn’t the Bible say that Jesus is the express image of El the Father? So to be consistent, why do we worship Jesus, an image of El the Father rather than just worship the Father directly?
That is very right and this logic is sound with regards to rational theological consistency. In Colossians, Paul says that Christ is the image of God the Father and we worship Jesus not necessarily because we conflate the identity of the Father and the Son, we worship the Son as the Son and Worship the Father as the Father. Now someone could point the place in the Bible in John 5:23 where it says
We could play the literal linguistic game and say that “honour” is not the same as “worship” but let us take it realistically existentially. The questioner could say that not-honouring/worshipping the Son is equal with not-honouring/worshipping the Father. This way, the questioner could postulate these logically sound premises in the following syllogism
How shall we respond to this questioner? We Christians do not run away from the tough questions in life. We face them and come out victoriously. The solution to this problem requires one to rise above the level of being a layman and to think about this. You see, that passage is silent over the fact if this is a “direct honour/worship” or an “indirect honour/worship”. So let us be careful of not falling into the logical Fallacy called “Argument from Silence”. You see, compare this with what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40-45
So one should ask, if how the way I treat you is identically equal to the way I treat Jesus? As we stay in consistency, are you, a finite human being identically Jesus according to the above bible passages? No. This is more of an indirect effect of what I do to you. Does this mean that if I worship you, then I indirectly worship Jesus? Here I would simply say that I would be conflating your identity to the identity of Jesus. You are you and Jesus is Jesus. So I treat you as you in regards to who you are and I treat Jesus as Jesus in regards to who Jesus is. There is something about treating you good as you with regards to who you are that pleases/ honours Elohim and there is something about honouring Allah as Allah with regards to who Allah is that honours the Muhammadan. All in all, identities are not confused or conflated and existential life still remains logically coherent. Likewise, the Father is the Father and the Son is the Son. I believe that these indirect responses should only be seen as indirectly or vicariously and not direct identities. So, worship Jesus not because HE is the Father (that would be a mistake of logical identities and bad Christian Theologies) but that Jesus is Jesus and the Father is the Father. Do not treat Jesus as the Father or the Father as the Son. The Father is El, The Son is El … combined together, all 3 is 1 Elohim. Worship THEM in light of that knowledge.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 6: What do you think of the sentimental affections that Christians give to crucifixes and to the Holy Communions?
I don’t think, again, portrayals of the crucifix would violate this old Testament (OT) commandment because it portrays Jesus in HIS human nature which doesn’t seem to violate this OT commandment. Now, the practice of genuflecting (means to lower one’s body by bending one knee to the ground typically in worship or as a sign or respect) is because of the doctrine of transubstantiation which we will talk about in more detail in the future – they believe that on the communion table the actual body and blood of Christ are present. The wine and the bread are literally turned into the body and blood of Christ. Therefore, this is an act of respect. So whether or not you think such an act of respect would be appropriate would depend, I think, on whether or not you think this is just bread and wine up there or whether you think this is really the body and blood of Christ. If you don’t think that that is really the blood and body of Christ, if you think that these are just symbols, then it would be completely inappropriate to bow before some bread. So I won’t be definitely answering this question now because I want to elaborate on it in the future in more detail but you have some clues and pointers here.
5. ALTHOUGH ELOHIM IS DESCRIBED IN BODILY TERMS
Look at the poetic Psalm 18:6-10. This is just one of the many places in which Elohim is described in bodily terms:
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
What bodily terms do you see in this poetic passage that describe Elohim? You can see all these bodily terms that are used to describe Elohim here, even though we’ve seen these other passages that say that Eohim is spirit, THEY is omnipresent, in the Old Testament there aren’t supposed to be any images of ELOHIM created by man, HE is indiscernible to the five senses. Yet here you have a poetic description in Psalms in very crude bodily terms – nostrils and feet and so forth.
Also, there are non-poetic visions of Elohim in which Elohim is bodily displayed. For example Exodus 33:20-23.
“But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
Here Moses is going to have a vision of Elohim, and I am very inclined to believe that this is a literal vision of Elohim and not a figurative one as we saw earlier in Psalm 18:6-10; and you see the bodily parts that are described – his hand, his face, his back.
So we have here scriptural data that pulls in different directions, don’t we? On the one hand, we have scriptural data that indicates Elohim is a spiritual, incorporeal, nonphysical being. But then we have these bodily descriptions and visions of God in corporeal manner. So that requires some sorting out; some logical systematic thinking which we will come to in the future.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 7: What is the significance in saying that “Elohim is Spirit” rather than “Elohim is A Spirit”?
I can’t see that there is any significance to saying “Elohim is Spirit” rather than “Elohim is a spirit” because if we imagine that it said “Elohim is A spirit” then it wouldn’t make any difference. It would just mean Elohim is a particular spirit, and that is true according to Christian Theology. But Elohim is not the angels, he is not demons. He is a different spiritual being than those. So when we say “Spiritual” in our terminology, we are not distinguishing “what type of Spiritual”. We have the Spiritual Angels different from the spiritual demons, different from the spiritual cherubim, different from the spiritual tools. We simply mean “spiritual” in this case as in “non-physical”. Moreover, In the Greek, there really isn’t any indefinite article. So you could translate it either way because the Greek language doesn’t have an indefinite article. So there wouldn’t be a different way to express it. You could translate it either way – “Elohim is Spirit” OR “Elohim is A Spirit”. I don’t think either translation would make much difference. No matter how open this interpretation is, I personally do not think that it does Christianity any harm theologically. And if heresy can be drawn from it, then I believe that there are logical and theological methods to go about debunking such heresies. Maybe the one would emphasise constitution more (“Elohim is Spirit”) and the other would maybe emphasise his particularity (“HE is a spirit”). By Constitution, it’s like saying, “This rug is wool” rather than “This rug is a wool”.
POTENTIAL QUESTION (PQ) 8: I know that the appearances of Elohim in the Bible are reduced energies of Elohim. However, can we say that those appearances of Elohim in corporeal forms are really Elohim? Wouldn’t you think that if Elohim wanted to have a relationship with us that HE would come to us in HIS Essence?
So for example we got the visit of the three men to Abraham, El in a corporeal form. We got Jacob wrestling with El. This mysterious figure of the angel of the Lord which seems to be El HIMSELF and yet as you have said it appears in this corporeal way and interacts with physical people in this coporeal way. A theophany would be a vision or appearance or apparition of El. Theos is the Greek word for God and phaneroo is to appear. So this would be an appearance of God, a theophany. Instead of Theophany, we also have Christophany which would be an appearance of Christ. For example, in the book of Revelation, John sees this Christophany, a vision of the lamb on the throne. That would be a Christophany. What we described in the last point about visions of Elohim, those are theophanies. I called them visions of Elohim, but you could call them theophanies. These are where El appears to people and HE does so in this corporeal way, this physical way. But the question is how do we make sense of that if THEY doesn’t have a body? What is it that these people are seeing if HE doesn’t have a body when they had these theophanies? Can the Holy Spirit appear too in a physical body? Can the Father appear in a Physical Body too? These are energised manifestations of Elohim that are a sort of visionary mental seeing but not of some kind of real physical reality even though HE can still interact with real physical realities in these forms. It would be as if I were to cause you to mentally project a vision of your childhood home or something. You would see it in your mind, but you wouldn’t be actually seeing the real building. But it would be an accurate portrayal of the building, and that mental projection can affect your body too. Think of hypnotism and how mental imageries move the body correspondingly. Maybe the building is even gone now, it’s been torn down, but I stimulate your brain to project a vision of your childhood home. So you see it as it is accurately (or as it was). In fact, when the physical entity doesn’t even exist. I think something like that is going on in these theophanies. We will talk more about these in my Part 2.
Daddy God, thank you for giving me this amazing blog to write, I pray Daddy that you bless it, multiply it and let it bless mightily all those who would read and study it in Jesus’ Name. Let the logic the accurate, let every question be answered accurately, in firm love and firm gentleness …. to the Glory and Honour of YOUR Name my Daddy, in Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen
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