In the 39 Articles of the Anglican/Episcopalian church, the first article says:

I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Most Protestant confessiosn seem to say something along this line. (For instance the 2nd Helvetic Confession condemns "Anthropomorphites" in chapter 3.) Of course, I am aware that the justification for this kind of statement is that scripture is "condescending to our weakness" when it attributes things like hands, feet, eyes, ears, sitting, etc. to God. But here's the question: Although one might assert that Scripture would condescend in such a way and use anthropomorphism, how can one assert this of the creeds themselves? For the creeds are metaphysical statements. If not, the Nicene Creed wouldn't have terms like "God of God, Light of Light," and so on which seek to go beyond Scripture and deal with philosophical metaphysics.

So how are these points of the Creeds harmonized with the philosophical rejection of anthropomorphism found in the Protestant confessions of faith?

Point 6 of the so-called Apostles' Creed says:

He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

And in the Nicene Creed (the received form, as edited in the First Council of Constantinople in 381):

and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;

Now the Athanasian Creed is the most metaphysical and philosophical of them all, and yet it also has no problem with anthropomorphism, saying in article 39:

He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;

  • 1
    All of the quotes you present are strictly about Jesus, the second person of the trinity, after the incarnation. Article 1 is talking about pre-incarnation God, or the other two persons of the trinity even now. – curiousdannii Aug 20 '14 at 9:59
  • @curiousdannii: I think you're missing the point. I understand the question to be asking, "How can God (the Father) be "without body, parts", yet also Christ can sit at his "right hand." – Flimzy Aug 20 '14 at 10:59
  • 1
    Just because the creeds are metaphysical statements doesn't mean they can't use metaphor. – Matt Gutting Aug 20 '14 at 11:15
  • @Flimzy oh yeah good point – curiousdannii Aug 20 '14 at 11:31

These concepts are harmonized simply by the acknowledgement that they are, as you said, anthropomorphisms. What's left to harmonize?

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.