God Is a Person, We Are Persons

Posted: November 7, 2011 by Amy Hall in God is Real

In this week’s featured article, I respond to the objection that just as ants (or turtles, or horses, or any other lower creature) will never be able to understand anything about us, so we should realize that we’ll never be able to understand anything about God:

In a Q&A newsletter from John Shelby Spong (an Episcopal Bishop who rejects most doctrines of Christianity), Spong voiced an objection to our ability to know God—an objection I have heard many times before:

I am not sure that the problem is that people throw around words [about God] so carelessly, but that the only words we humans have to use are human words, bound by time, space and human experience. Whatever God is, God is surely beyond the boundaries of human life. So the more specific we are about God, the less accurate we probably are. Let me repeat my favorite analogy. Horses cannot escape the boundaries of what it means to be a horse, nor can a horse view life from any other lens or perspective save that of a horse. Therefore a horse could never describe what it means to be human. In a similar manner, a human being cannot escape the boundaries or perspective of what it means to be human and therefore can never define or describe what it means to be God.

Is it really correct to say that just as a horse cannot describe us, so we cannot describe God? Are the two situations analogous? Francis Schaeffer has a great insight in The God Who Is There that helps to answer this question.

Read “God Is a Person, We Are Persons” at STR Place to find out Schaeffer’s insight. And while you’re there take a look around!

  1. Mark Russell says:

    That idea leaves out one crucial factor… if a human was able to, and chose to, reveal themself to the horse, then the horse could know something about being a human.
    God, by definition is almighty (otherwise He wouldn’t be God), and so is able to reveal Himself to a human, and more than that, has chosen to do so, through His creation, His word and supremely through His Son, in the form of a human being. What better way to reveal Himself than in our human form, a form we can fully identify with.
    The horse analogy fails because it’s finite, whereas God is in-finite.

    • Amy Hall says:

      I don’t know that the horse could understand, because the horse isn’t like us–it’s not a rational creature who can process information about justice, goodness, etc. It can’t understand justice because it’s not the kind of creature that can understand justice, not merely because we don’t have a way to communicate justice to it. If I became a horse, I still would not be able to explain justice to a horse.

      That’s why this overall objection doesn’t work. It makes the mistake of thinking that horses are to us as we are to God, when in reality, our rational, moral nature is able to comprehend God’s rational, moral nature, whereas the horse does not share this kind of nature.

  2. Albert says:

    Even if a horse could describe what it means to be human, how would we know? We don’t speak horse. :O)