Does God Have a Physical Body?

Comments from Shane Vander Hart’s site – concerning God and how he looks:

“God is also not bound to a particular space.  He is omnipresent.  If God were in a limited physical body like what is suggested by the LDS church then he could not be omnipresent” (Shane)

“My point is simply that neither “God is the spirit” nor “God is spirit” is representative of the original Greek. Both are equally inaccurate. Although handy, you simply cannot make the leap you have done.” (YHC)

“God has a spirit, yes, just like all the rest of us. But that does not preclude Him from having a physical body.” (Bryce)

“I cannot believe that God is anything but a physical, exalted and perfected person, for to do otherwise would create a God who is impersonal, unknowable, invisible, and intangible, and therefore incompatible with all of revealed holy writ, and one that cannot exist in the physical universe as we know it.” (Bryce)

“The Jews believed God was a man…The LDS, along with the ancient Jews and Hebrews, choose to interpret them literally as descriptions of the literal nature of God.” (Bryce)

“but if I do say this then I have to admit God is limited – that is the obvious part of the debate. God would no longer be omni-present for one thing – so He is not everywhere at the least” (SVS)

“Clearly Christ, with a physical body, has characteristics of omniscience and omnipresence that we do not fully understand with our finite minds” (Bryce)

“Logic will not serve us in defining God. I prefer to let Him remain a mystery.” (YHC)

“True – but then doesn’t giving God a body make Him definable to us on some level? We can brush logic aside if we want (I choose not to) – but if someone tells me that God has a body – well I can relate on some level (so do I). So we enter a dialogue in which mystery is not so mysterious anymore” (SVS)

“The bigger question would be – are we creating God in our image and not the other way around? If you ask me – humans have been doing this since the earliest writings on religion – making God look like us somehow. It’s odd but the very 1st commandment to Moses is ‘have no graven image’ – which raises a question – does God even have an image we can look at?” (SVS)

“But if God appears as all He truly is – I think no human would both know and recognize God – nor would they know how to relate to God (since God is not a human being – I think we are all clear on that idea)…and was Moses and the writers only writing the best way they can to explain this image and idea of God? I mean – they were human themself and needed to write to make sure the people who read might ‘get it’.” (SVS)

What do you think – does God have a physical body?

16 thoughts on “Does God Have a Physical Body?

  1. I find it ridiculous to imagine God having a body – like us in some regards I am guessing – and not as ‘spirit entity’ of some sort. Does God play sports and work-out? Does He have to go to the bathroom? I am guessing he has feet – how much walking does he do? Does he have wings also? I mean, there are so mayn questions once you start down that road and no way to be sure of the answer.

    Plus I am not sure it is smart to say God is limitless and then also say ‘God has a physical body’ (a limit) – that is illogical. But that’s where this debate on the subject went and I could not believe it myself – but hey – for some people faith means more than honesty.

  2. Ha! We are bringing the debate over to your blog! LOL! The only time that God has had a body was for theopolies in the OT which many Christian scholars believe were the pre-incarnate Christ (but there are a number of views on that), and that was temporary.

    The only other time is when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14). God the Father sent His Son to take on human form, he “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men,” (Philippians 2:7, ESV). Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man and that was necessary for him to fully atone for our sin.

    Now I wonder if I will get a debate started on your blog about the hyperstatic union of Christ?

    Happy New Year!

  3. Jesus said that God is spirit, yet Genesis indicates that God has an image.

    It’s too big for my brain. I just wanted to stop by and wish my friend a happy new year. Peace, bro.

  4. Good point Pat – I don’t subscribe to the idea God has a body or that it would involve gender of some sort – so your comment does put the question to someone who believes God does have a body.

  5. Good question Dagoods – the whole Jesus thing about being God (I am not sure he was). He did have a body but then again I see him as human and emphasize that aspect of his being (while some go over-board into madness and emphasize the spititual side of this dilemma – I will stick to the obvious conclusion one can make – he was fully human).

    The reason I always take this route is because ‘right or wrong’ on the issue – I prefer to emphasize the living on earth and not in some abstract place outside our realm none of us have ever seen (but I nonethless think exists). I am not sure God cares if I think Jesus is such and such when it comes to the idea of trinity and what not – since the idea is the undertake the teachings of mercy/justice, peace, community, and love. Then again it is the 1st commandment and I if I have to err on this issue – I’d rather say there is one God and Jesus was his representative on earth (I would call him the messiah of God – then again I would have to fully flesh that idea out – of the which I have a long way to go – but he was gievn the ‘Christos” nod in early Christian faith communities).

    Jesus has a body – but as for the eternal God that grants eternity – I am not sure the housing of that Being can be held in a physical form (my opinion).

  6. I think the answer to this question would largely depend on which Biblical author one reads. The early Bible books do give God very human characteristics, as well as the impression that God has a body. The later authors move away from this idea.

    My answer would be no, based on looking at the Bible as a whole. Lines such as Psalms 139 that explain it is impossible to escape from God’s presence, or in Acts with Paul saying that people live and move and have their being in God. Or lines in the NT that say no one has seen God, or that God is a spirit, and the contrast set up between Jesus and Adam and so forth.

    One thing that has always puzzled me, though, is using Jesus as proof that God has a physical body. If the Word was to become flesh and become human, then obviously the Word is going to have a body. I’m a little less clear as to how the jump can be made that God does have a physical body at all points in time — if Jesus were to be human as well, then by necessity, Jesus would require a physical, limited, body. Otherwise, Jesus is not human.

  7. ” I’m a little less clear as to how the jump can be made that God does have a physical body at all points in time — if Jesus were to be human as well, then by necessity, Jesus would require a physical, limited, body” (OSS)

    This goes back to to Dagoods question – then does God have a physical body now since Jesus is considered in the trinity and if God’s essence is to remain intact – he must now be housed in a physical body (with Jesus and the Holy Spirit)? I also do think – you do not hold to the trinity idea?

    Also Yael is studious in Torah and says that main Jewish perspective is that God does not have a physical body – and she used scriptures from Exodus and the Moses event as proof-texts. Whereas the Mormon person also used those texts as proof – yet Yael I think gave me a very convincing arguement based on Moses’ question ‘what is God’s name?’. I think that story truly says it all (see on her blog about this).

    I think it is an interesting debate for one simple reason – it effects all religious groups and their theology (plus I like a good debate on something that matters to me very litte – it’s one of those ‘it is’ or ‘it isn’t’ points).

  8. OK, this got me thinking SocietyVS.

    Does God think? Our understanding of “thinking” is interaction of electrical currents (synapses) within a physical brain. Atoms are modified and exchanged.

    But at the very base level, it is physical atoms being physically modified. Does God have atoms? Is there anything “physical” about him/her at all? If God actually talked in the Tanakh, as far as we understand, this would require a larynx, air, lips, tongue—all physical objects. Or was God’s “talking” an imprint in the human brain? Can something completely non-physical affect something physical?

    Or would you say there is absolutely, positively nothing physical—no atoms, no quantum, no energy, no mass—no nothing when it comes to God?

    (On a slightly humorous note; as I wrote that, I couldn’t help but think, “Hey—that’s what I say!”)

  9. “Does God think?” (Dagoods)

    I think so – or so this seems to be a characteristic of God in the texts (and in religions planet wide to be honest).

    “Or was God’s “talking” an imprint in the human brain? Can something completely non-physical affect something physical” (Dagoods)

    Good question – and a tad too deep for any simple theologian I must say. However, I think (having never seen God) – the talking could be both audible and possibly in-audible (a sensing of something being said).

    “Or would you say there is absolutely, positively nothing physical—no atoms, no quantum, no energy, no mass—no nothing when it comes to God?” (Dagoods)

    This is a good question – and a hard to one to definitively answer (I would think very few if any could actually answer this with any true certainty). However, since I am all about fielding these questions anyways – I tend to believe if God is a Spirit Being then maybe He has the ability to manipulate the very atoms/energy He creates – thus taking any form at any moment. It’s guesswork on my part but the best I can do.

    However, what I think God is – is not merely a physical body (which I think is limiting) – like ours. He may very well be something that holds all the atoms and energy together for all I know and the essence that permeates it all (and is part of it but also greater than it being it’s creator). I really have no clue to be honest – nonetheless – whatever God is – God isn’t some simple bodily form (for some reason that makes no sense to me).

    It’s only the 2nd day of the year and this is likely the deepest question I will hear all year!

  10. Society,

    I don’t hold to the Trinity idea. If we had to classify me, I would be of a Unitarian mindset. Not necessarily a Unitarian Universalist. I don’t believe every single way to God is the right way — rather, there is one way, but many branches leading to that way. One of my difficulties with a Trinitarian concept is that Jesus seems to have almost overshadowed God the Father. In reading many of Paul’s letters, he often thanks God the Father through the Christ, and yet in many sermons I see, Jesus is thanked directly, people are called the child of Jesus, people focus on the Holy Spirit and so forth.

    **then does God have a physical body now since Jesus is considered in the trinity and if God’s essence is to remain intact **

    To me, this would mean that God changes. At one point in time, God did not have a body, and then at another point, God suddenly does have a body.

    I hold a panentheistic view of God — I don’t think there is one place where God is not. God cannot be absent from anywhere. To achieve this, God cannot have a body. Otherwise, there is a place where God cannot exist, because a body means a limit.

    Unless we say that God does have a body, but not as we define body. However, then the very word “body” becomes useless, and dependent on the person it describes, rather than the word “body” itself.

    **Or was God’s “talking” an imprint in the human brain? Can something completely non-physical affect something physical?**

    I think this is a good question as well. When thinking back in the moments where I’ve felt God “speak” to me, there were never words involved. Rather, it was an impression, and I almost supplied the words myself, or knew what the impression was “saying.” It was like the experience went beyond words, and to try and put the experience into words would’ve limited the occurance.

  11. Hi Dagoods
    Our understanding of “thinking” is interaction of electrical currents (synapses) within a physical brain. Atoms are modified and exchanged.

    That is not thinking. That is the detection of thought taking place. You seem to be going off the same cliff as Gilbert Ryle did in the 50s.

    Or would you say there is absolutely, positively nothing physical—no atoms, no quantum, no energy, no mass—no nothing when it comes to God?

    I would say simply that the unseen manifests itself in the seen. I don’t know however if we will be able to one day isolate the thought from the reaction it causes. I think Jesus left that possibility open when he described spirit as being like the wind. Whether he was talking literally [it can be observe don its own] or figuratively [it can be observed by how it affects the visible] is not 100% certain. I favor the latter interpretation.

    OSS
    Your communication with God is similar to what I have experienced. In an earlier comment, you wrote that the earlier books of the Bible give God more human characteristics. I think as we move along chronologically in the Bible the revelation of God becomes clearer. As a Christian I think of Jesus as the ultimate revelation.

  12. YES, ABSOLUTELY GOD HAS A PHYSICAL BODY. ANYONE WHO SAYS DIFFERANT HAS NOT READ THE BIBLE. GEN 3:8 “AND THEY HEARD THE VOICE OF LORD GOD WALKING IN THE GARDEN” YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BODY TO BE WALKING. EXODUS 33:20 “THOU CANST NOT SEE MY FACE” EXODUS 33:22 “AND WILL COVER THEE WITH MY HAND WHILE I PASS BY” EXODUS 33:23 ” AND I WILL TAKE AWAY MY HAND AND THOU SHALT SEE MY BACK PARTS: BUT MY FACE SHALL NOT BE SEEN.” GODS BODY IS NOT LIKE OURS IM SURE. BUT HE DOES HAVE A BODY. THIS IS WHY HE USES THE HOLY SPIRIT TO DO HIS WORK. GOD HAS A SUPERNATURAL BODY THAT IS BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS BROTHERS & SISTERS.

  13. Okay, but you are using Tanakh scriptures – from the Jewish faith – and they tned to think otherwise on this issue (that God does not have a body). And they read these same scriptures and think this is not so…I think they are right on the issue personally.

    If God has a body, He is limited by that body. I tend to also think – scriptures like you mention – are explanations by the writers to explain God in our human terms – fact is – no one has seen God.

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