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April 5, 2023

Homily on the Anthropomorphic Representation of God (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On the Anthropomorphic Representation of God

(Delivered on April 21, 1948 - 
Wednesday of the 6th week of Great Lent)

Recently I spoke about anger, about this passion that we all have, but I know that there are many Christians who think and say to themselves: “Is it a great sin when I am angry? For God Himself is angry.” Are there any texts of Holy Scripture that speak of the anger of God, the wrath of God? In the 6th Psalm we read: “Lord, do not rebuke me with your wrath, nor punish me with your anger” (v. 2). You see, both the wrath and the anger of God are spoken of in this Psalm of David. Well, are those really right who justify their anger by the fact that God Himself is angry?

No, they are completely wrong, they do not understand what you all need to understand; they do not understand that not only in these places, but also in many places of the Holy Scriptures, God is presented as humanoid. You will find words in Scripture that God has a head, ears, eyes, arms, legs, muscles; that God walks, approaches and withdraws, sleeps and wakes, sits and walks. Shall we understand these words of Scripture in their literal sense, shall we not see indulgence here towards our human understanding?

"God is spirit" (John 4:24). God is indescribable, unimaginable, Angels and Archangels tremble before Him. God, of course, does not have a human image, of course He does not have legs and arms, for all these are members of the human body, and God is a spirit. Why does Holy Scripture say He does?

Because it condescends to our human understanding, for we, in the narrowness of our mind, are only able to think in a human way. We do not know how to distract our thought so that it is completely alien to everything human; we cannot imagine the Almighty, Omniscient God, the Holy Spirit in the way that we should imagine, which is why the Holy Scriptures allow such human-like descriptions about God, which I just told you about.

Of course, by no means are we to understand these sayings in their literal and exact sense. If we read in Holy Scripture that God has eyes, ears, what He sees and hears, then, of course, we should not imagine truly human eyes and ears: by these words we should understand God's all-seeingness, God's all-hearingness, God's omniscience.

When you hear about the ears or the eyes of God, you must understand by this that there is nothing hidden from God, that He, having neither eyes nor ears, sees everything: He sees human hearts, and not a single word of ours, not a single thought of ours will be hidden from Him.

When we read about hands and feet, of course, we should not think that God has hands and feet; behind the hands and feet of God, we should spiritually understand that God never ceases His lofty activity. “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17).

This work is represented in Saint John's Gospel as humanoid under the guise of the hands of God, because, according to our ideas, everything is done by hands. When you hear about the feet of God, you should not think that He walks with his feet, like us, that he passes from one place to another, for He is omnipresent, like a spirit. He doesn't need to move from place to place, He doesn't need legs.

By feet, we must understand the omnipresent God, we must understand that He is continuously everywhere in every place, in the whole universe, that He constantly has care for His creation. We should think about the Providence of God when we hear words about the hands and feet of God.

When we read about the muscles of God, we should understand only the power of God, for the strength of man is in the muscles.

Remember this: do not succumb to the temptation of the human idea of God, remember that God is great, inexplicable by our mind, cannot be depicted by any human words - Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent, All-Righteous!

Remember this: imagine Him just like that, and then no one will dare to say that his anger is forgiven, for God Himself was angry.

Keep this in mind and change your human-like conception of God, for this is how the pagans represent their gods, who have human-shaped idols, either in the form of animals, or in the form of monsters, as we still see in temples in India.

Remember, remember that our God is infinite and incomprehensible, remember that this is the Holy Spirit, and do not think that we have the right to justify our human weaknesses on the basis of human ideas about God.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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