Anthropomorphism is the human assignment of human attributes to non-human things. The reason that anthropologists, post-modern philosophers, intellectual elites, and atheists argue that God is anthropomorphic is because how alike to humans he is made out to be in the Scriptures. In the book of Revelation, Jesus as God is seen coming down as a warrior riding a stallion, for example. Why would that be something that God does?
Some theologians themselves consider God anthropomorphic. Maybe it sounds more reasonable. Surely God is not planning to ride in on a horse in his second coming. If in our times, surely his second coming will be in a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor because that just makes more sense, anthropomorphically. A warrior with a sword on a horse is substantially outdated and inferior to high-tech fighter jets, right?
In Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary God is said to be “indescribable” and a “Deity who by his very nature cannot be described or known.” Thus when Genesis 3:8 tells of God “walking” it is an anthropomorphic description—a figure of speech—God doesn’t actually walk. This idea carries into the rest of the descriptions of God in Genesis: God creates ( 1:1 ), moves ( 1:2 ), speaks ( 1:3 ), sees ( 1:4 ), divides ( 1:4 ), places ( 1:17 ), blesses ( 1:22 ), plants ( 2:8 ), walks ( 3:8 ), shuts ( 7:16 ), smells ( 8:21 ), descends ( 11:5 ), scatters ( 11:8 ), hears ( 21:17 ), tests ( 22:1 ), and judges ( 30:6 ).
Baker’s dictionary is flat out wrong on this point, and their entry for anthropomorphism is a sub-par collection of points slapped together haphazardly which turns words that describe the living God into useless “figures of speech.” The idea that God is beyond knowing or indescribable is more akin to Buddhism or even Islam. Correctly taught, the Christian will understand that it is his sin that darkens his knowledge of God. It is sin that cut off Adam from God and from knowing him. God is eternal and infinite but not indescribable or unknowable. It is the exact opposite really. He is knowable and describable. In fact he is so knowable and so describable that it will take an eternity to describe him and knowledge of him will extend through eternity. He is not, nor ever was, an abstract idea out of touch with human sensibilities. If we are left to rely on figures of speech to know God then we don’t really have the truth do we? Truth is concrete, not abstract. When asked what it was, Jesus said, “Me. The Father is in me and I am in the Father.” The Bible never, anywhere, describes God as an abstract being.
In Genesis 1:26 it is written, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image [צֶ֫לֶם tselem], after our likeness [דְּמוּת demuth].”
The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon describes these words in terms of concrete realities.
Strong's 6754. צֶ֫לֶם tselem
Ezekiel 16:17 image (something cut out, compare מֶּסֶל; Nö ‘Schnitzbild’); — ׳צ absolute Psalm 39:7, construct Genesis 1:27 +; suffix צַלְמוֺ Genesis 1:27; Genesis 5:3, צַלְמֵנוּ Genesis 1:26, צַלְמָם Psalm 73:20; plural construct צַלְמֵי 1 Samuel 6:5 (twice in verse) +, suffix צְלָמָיו 2 Kings 11:18; 2 Chronicles 23:17, צַלְמֵיכֶם Amos 5:26; —
images of tumours and mice (of gold) 1 Samuel 6:5 (twice in verse); 1 Samuel 6:11; especially of heathen gods Amos 5:26 (text dubious; strike out We as gloss, compare GASm Dr), 2 Kings 11:18 2Chronicles 23:17 (both with verb שִׁבְּרוּ), Ezekiel 7:20, so זָכָר ׳צ Ezekiel 16:17 (i.e. in male form, according to figurative of harlotry for idolatry); צַלְמֵי מַסֵכֹתָם Numbers 33:52 their molten images; of painted pictures of men Ezekiel 23:14.
Strong's 1823: דְּמוּת demuth
likeness, similitude, of external appearance, chiefly in Ezek.: Ezekiel 1:5 (likeness, i.e. something that appeared like) so Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 8:2 דְּמוּת כְּמַרְאֵה (אֵשׁׅ (compare Co), Ezekiel 10:1 כִּסֵּא ׳כְּמַרְאֵה ד; compare also Daniel 10:16 כִּדְמוּת בְּנֵי אָדָם i.e. one like the sons of man; similitude, resemblance Ezekiel 1:5,10,16,22,26; Ezekiel 10:10,21,22; דְּמוּת כְּמַרְאֵה אָדָם Ezekiel 1:26; ׳מַרְאֵה ד ׳כְּבוֺד י Ezekiel 1:28; also 2 Kings 16:10 (pattern of altar), 2 Chronicles 4:3 (images of oxen); of son in likeness of father Genesis 5:3 (P); so also of man in likeness of God Genesis 1:26 (“” צֶלֶם) Genesis 5:1 (both P); compare Isaiah 40:18 what׳ד will ye compare to him (אֵל) ? “” דִּמָּה q. v.
We can see all over the Bible the use of the same word ‘image’ as it pertains to idols which are formed by hands in the likeness of man. Look at how the words image and likeness are used by God in Exodus 20:4:
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
Idols were called images and were concrete things of concrete substance, not mere ideas. Adam was cut, shaped, and formed out of dirt in the image of God. When God took on our flesh did he cease to resemble himself when he made Adam in his image at the beginning? Let that soak into your mind awhile. Adam was not a prototype of an altogether abstract idea that had no existence prior. Adam’s blueprint existed in eternity in God himself. In fact, God’s creativity is not abstract creativity but real creativity. All things come from him, are through him, and to him. (Rom. 11:36). And it’s all objective! This cycle of creation and creativity is not quite the same as when you or I throw paint in front of a fan to have it splatter all over a white canvas and then call it art. I’m not sure that the overtaking of the Church by “creatives” has been helpful on account of this due to the abstract nature of that class of work. But I am not an iconoclast either; we just need to be rooted in reality and the existing creative process of God and not our own. This is because I believe that truth is conveyed by words and not by art. God left us no pictures, just words. Art can convey ideas of truth but I don’t think that art can convey truth. Truth is objective. Falsehood as its opposite is abstract in that it has no actual existence. Fundamentally, a lie is an idea or thought that doesn’t exist. Truth is objective and exists concretely.
Therefore it is my belief that when the text says “God walked with Adam” (Gen. 3:8) God actually walked with Adam. This text unequivocally shows God’s purpose of making Adam in that it was not to have something under his control or to do his will. He made him for companionship. Companionship is a term that identifies two people who are on the same level relationally. It is not a hierarchical relationship. At the same time it does not contradict submission and leadership which any healthy companionship requires. “Can two walk together unless they agree?” (Amos 3:3) Yet both cannot lead, only one can and the other must submit, or they go nowhere. This companionship between God and Adam was passed on to Adam and his wife Eve. “She is the companion of your youth.” (Mal. 2:14)
This companionship was broken and as a result most of Adam’s descendants turned into servile creatures of higher powers and hierarchical rulers of neighbors and women.