Posted under The Rectory Bulletin
you thought that I was one like yourself. (Psalm 50:21)
My childhood was full of talking animals. From the stories of Tom and Jerry, Winnie the Pooh and the Jungle Book bears, cats and piglets sprang to life and gave me their opinions. And it is not only animals: in the Lord of the Rings the trees speak; and I seem to remember a talking candlestick in some Disney film or other.
There is a common desire in us to project human characteristics onto animals and other objects. It’s one way in which we understand the world - we put ourselves into their shoes. It’s why we drop food from the table to a dog with large, watery eyes. It’s anthropomorphism.
It’s also very dangerous when it comes to God.
One of the harder things to grasp about God is his utter otherness. He is not a large human, or simply a collection of the best bits of the human race. He does not change with the shifting patterns of thought which flow through the universities. He is not trapped in human systems of what seems right and fair at any given moment (which are only then reversed in the following generation). “You thought that I was one like yourself” (Psalm 50:21). What a mistake!
There is a core Christian understanding that for us to understand anything of God, he must reveal himself to us. This is why we have a Bible - it contains that revelation. That is also why we must also be wary in our speculating about God, since we inevitably end up making God in our image.