Monday, October 12, 2009

Theodoret of Cyrus: Human-esque Descriptions of God are Anthropomorphisms

These simpletons fail to understand that the Lord God, when speaking to humans through humans, adjusts his language to the limitations of the listeners. Since we see with our eyes, he refers to his power of vision as "eyes." He refers to his power of hearing as "ears," since it is through those organs that we hear, and to his command as a "mouth." But they should have paid attention not only to those words but also to those that teach of God's uncircumscribed nature: "Where am I to go from your Spirit, and where am I to flee from your face? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I descend to Hell, you are present" and so on. Furthermore, the Lord said to the Samaritan woman, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." Now, if God is spirit, surely he is simple, without composition, and beyond representation. There is no point, however, in prolonging the argument, for their folly is obvious.

- Theodoret of Cyrus (around A.D. 393 to around A.D. 457), Questions on the Octateuch, Question 20 on Genesis, p. 51 (2007), Robert C. Hill translator.