Does God Have A Body?

Hello everyone and welcome to Deeper Waters where we are diving into
the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our study of
the doctrine of God with the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas as our
guide. All wanting to read it can read it online at I
also wish to thank Glenn and Joel for their comments and for reading.
Before getting to tonight’s topic, I wish to present my prayer
requests. First off, I ask that you pray for my continued
Christlikeness as there are areas in my life that I am struggling
with. Second, pray for my financial situation. Third, I ask for
prayers in a related area of my life.

We’re going to be looking at the doctrine of God’s simplicity tonight.
This will take time but let me state at the start before confusion
begins by saying what simplicity is not. Simplicity is not saying that
God is an easy topic to understand. No one is saying that God is
simple to our understanding. When we are saying God is simple, we are
stating something about his nature and not about how he is in relation
to us. He would be simple if nothing else existed.

Does God have a body? This is the position that the Mormon church
takes. This is also, sadly, a position many Christians take. After
all, we find numerous references in Scripture to the body of God.
Jacob wrestles with God and God shows his back to Moses and we hear
about the eyes, arms, and hand of the Lord. Isn’t it reasonable to
conclude that God has a body?

Of course, a rejoinder to this can often be that there are Scriptures
that say that God is a rock and that he is a strong tower, but we
don’t take those literally. There are also most notably the texts that
say that God gathers us under his wings. There is a hint of amusement
in thinking that God could be a giant chicken.

Is there any basis for taking these ideas as metaphorical?

Thomas gives three. First off, he states that all bodies are moved by
virtue of being bodies. However, God is the first mover as was shown
from the first way and because of this he is the unmoved mover. Since
this is the case, then he cannot be a body for he cannot be both moved
and the unmoved mover.

The second argument is that God is a being that is pure actuality.
Bodies, however, are beings that have potential. Since a potential is
a potential to change and God cannot have the potential to change,
then it would follow that he does not have a body. All bodies have
mixes of actuality and potentiality.

Finally, he says that based on the fourth way, God is the most noble
of all beings and while the body is noble, it is not noble by virtue
of being a body. This is because an animate body is more noble than an
inanimate one, but the body is not animate by virtue of being a body,
or else all bodies would be animate. Since the body is animated by
that which is greater than itself. Thus, God cannot have something to
him that is dependent on something greater than he is.

What has this to do with simplicity? We shall continue looking at that tomorrow.


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