The world is full of many man-devised idols of bizarre appearance. But only one God IS God!
The world abounds with homespun ideas of God. Men prostrate themselves before carved stones, wood or even photographs. But in fact, most of that to which mankind has affixed the label "God" has fallen far short of the God of the Bible! Man has indeed created many gods, and lords, but none of them is the True God. Read here about that One True God!
MOSES was up on Sinai, receiving instruction from God. The children of Israel demanded of Aaron: "Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not (don't know) what is become of him" (Ex. 32:1). They made a molten calf beautifully fashioned. Everyone was prepared for a feast, with dancing, singing and drinking. Pagan? Yes. But did they call it pagan? Did they name IT WHAT IT WAS? No! It was CALLED a feast to GOD — to YHVH! "And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast TO THE LORD (YHVH)"! (Verse 5.) But of course this golden calf WASN'T the real God! The real God condemned this, saying, "Thus they changed MY GLORY (original reading) into the similitude of an ox that eats grass" (Ps. 106:20). The real God, great and glorious was upon the mountain called Sinai with Moses! That historical occasion was prophetic of what mankind has done ever since. Modern man is no different from the ancient Israelites. He has built his own gods, and called them "God." And for almost 2000 of those years, he has often made his own saviours and called them "Jesus Christ." None of these man-made gods could begin to live up to the magnificence of the true God — or the true Jesus! God says Israel of the Bible created her own gods. "But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, WHICH YE MADE TO YOURSELVES" (Amos 5:26). God calls them names like Moloch and Chiun. But that doesn't mean the PEOPLE called them "Moloch" and "Chiun." Many times, the PEOPLE called these gods "God." And modern man nearly always calls his gods "God" as the golden calf was labeled "God."
Consider what we mean. Ask yourself this question: "Is the name I call an object, the object itself?" An apple for example. The word "apple" is not the apple itself. If by consensus, people take off the label "apple" and attach another name to it, it is still the same piece of fruit! By the same token, what about God? If people worshipped Baal, he would still be Baal, whether he were called "Baal" or "God." If people worshipped Mithras, he would still be Mithras, whether he were called "Mithras" or "Jesus Christ." Israel called the golden calf "God" — but it was still a golden calf! Tragically, some people have called their god "God" — and he is not God at all! The Bible shows that it is not enough to worship "God." You must look behind the label "God" to see if you have the true God. Notice Moses' example. "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, WHAT IS HIS NAME? WHAT SHALL I SAY UNTO THEM?" (Ex. 3:13.) Moses knew it wasn't sufficient just to say, "'God is His name." "God" had to be defined. The children of Israel were in Egypt where Ra was called "God"; Osiris was called "God"; Isis was called "God." There were many wrong ideas. God later specified himself as "... the LORD thy God, WHICH HAVE BROUGHT THEE OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT ..." (Ex. 20:2). So it is today. Every individual is beset with a bewildering array of ideas called "God." Each religious denomination has called its object of devotion "God." Yet each defines a different "God." You need to be sure you have the right God — your Creator!
The Bible describes the process of man creating his own gods. "To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship" (Isa. 46:5-6). Does that sound like ANCIENT image worshippers, thousands of years ago? It shouldn't. Today, a man might shell out a few bucks to an artist. The artist paints a picture of flowing hair and soft features. Then the man takes it home, hangs it up on the living room wall over the couch, and declares, "That's my Saviour!" But the process of creating your own god goes much deeper than any physical creation. Where did you get your ideas that you associate with the term "God"? Didn't they form from childhood Bible stories, from what your parents and friends said, from what you read, and from what you wanted God to be? If so, this is what God means when He says "your god, which ye made to yourselves." Religious ideas are not inborn. A child absorbs his ideas of God from his environment. He sees religious observances at home. He hears statements about God, the Bible, morality. He detects the attitudes which people around him have toward religion. He forms an idea of "God" by the things he is told are "good" and those that are "bad" — by the answers he gets to his questions. Children are naive — as equally ready to believe in Santa Claus as in God, eager to adopt mythology of any sort. Impressions are made indiscriminately. A child's first clear conception of God grows directly out of the feelings and thoughts toward his father and mother. There are three major factors at work: 1) The direct influence of the actions of older persons; 2) direct teachings about God; and 3) the natural development of the child's mind. A child may be taught that certain doctrines or beliefs are "ideas of the devil." Religious prejudices and loyalties grow up. The definitions of sin, heaven, hell, the devil, and God Himself are taught according to what other people in their minds have come to believe, which in turn are reinterpreted in the mind of the child. Religion is also identified with social customs and taboos, so what is religion to one is nonsense to another. Yet these different beliefs are all described as "the will of God." Later in life, a person will carry with him these same or similar ideas. Or he may experience a total revulsion which leads him to adopt a different set of convictions. Such changes are often based principally on the emotional knowledge that they contrast to his former ideas! These religious values and ideas about God will change with time just as the religious ideas of society periodically undergo popularization and abandonment. So man's "God" changes. But the real God says, "I change not" (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). Few people, when they are baptized, or when they adopt some church as their own, feel it necessary to get rid of their own preconceived religious opinions. Few approach Scripture with the attitude of "correct my misconceptions." Rather, like ancient Israel, they simply "chose new gods" (Judges 5:8).
Anthropomorphism — What's That?
Look at history. Long centuries of man's conflicting ideas of "God" have demonstrated that each nation gives its god its peculiar characteristics, and every individual gives his god his personal peculiarities. One observer noted: "Each nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Every god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own ...." Think! How can different people possibly avoid having totally different ideas of God — unless they use a common source? How can OUR ideas of God be anything but OUR personal human ideas — unless we all know where to go to find the real answer?
The Greek philosopher Xenophanes (540 B.C.) observed that men of different races picture their gods like themselves. The Thracians picture them as fair and red-haired. And the Ethiopians, he said, see their gods as black. Consider — why is it that many modern critics and free thinkers have stated that God is merely an illusory projection of human self? Why did, for example, Ludwig Feuerbach state that man creates God in man's own image? BECAUSE MAN HAS DONE JUST THAT! These men looked at a long history of gods who were revengeful, savage, lustful, and ignorant — who were partial to the people who created them, and who showed that partiality by assisting those people to rob and destroy others. They therefore concluded that there is no God. That was an error of reasoning on their part. What they should have done was to look past these false gods that man created. They should have turned to their merciful, living Creator! Instead, they were so totally "turned off" by man's gods that they rejected the real God altogether. Scholars have coined a word that they apply to any religious statement that depicts God in the bodily form of a man, or that shows God as having qualities of thought, will, or feeling like those experienced by man. That word is "anthropomorphism." Anthropomorphism is technically defined as the attribution of a human body or human qualities to God. Philosophers and theologians coined the word because they believe man has a natural tendency — or necessity — to conceive of God by analogy with man himself.
Is God Like Man?
Let's understand how God is, and is not, like man. IT'S THE CRUCIAL KEY FOR DETERMINING IF YOU HAVE CREATED YOUR "GOD" — TO SHOW IF INDEED YOUR "GOD" IS GOD! The Bible makes many statements about God's personal characteristics. God WALKED in the garden (Gen. 3:8). He ATE with Abraham (Gen. 18:8). He wrote with His own HAND upon the tables of stone (Ex. 31:18). God has EARS (Isa. 59:1). He has a MOUTH (Isa. 58:14). The Scriptures abound with similar references. Man is created in the shape and form of the real, living Creator God. Notice it in Genesis 1:26-27: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness .... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." This was for a great purpose. Because man's destiny is to be born as God — to "be like him" (I John 3:2; Ps. 17:15). God from eternity has possessed hands, ears, eyes, arms — and feelings, emotions (?), reason, will. Therefore God, when He began His plan of reproducing Himself, created Adam and Eve with HIS body shape, and with a mind capable of creative thought like God's! Of course, man is now physical while God is Spirit. And man's mind, unlike God's, is limited in power. However, man is wrong in ascribing his wrong motivations to God! "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. FOR AS THE HEAVENS ARE HIGHER THAN THE EARTH, SO ARE MY WAYS HIGHER THAN YOUR WAYS, AND MY THOUGHTS THAN YOUR THOUGHTS" (Isa. 55:8-9). God has feelings and emotions — man has feelings and emotions. But the characteristics of God's mind are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22, 23). But the characteristics of a natural human mind — the works of the flesh — are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and similar things (Gal. 5:19-21). In the Dark Ages, man's gods which he called "God" — were the impetus for covering the earth with blood. Instruments of torture were invented for service to this "God." This "God" had great churches built for Himself and dungeons for men. He had the clouds peopled with angels and the earth with slaves. The Bible shows that this "God" was purely a creation of the evil mind of man! No wonder many people have been taken aback, appalled by the image of "God" as an infinite fiend! These gods were not God at all, but were purely man's creations. God is a God of love. People used to believe the world was flat. This was declared to be true by the authority of "God." Many similar wrong and false ideas have been propagated IN THE NAME of God. Why? Simply because MEN created such gods (they called each one "God"), and put into the mouths of their gods all THEIR mistakes in astronomy, in geography, in philosophy, in morality. The god was never wiser or better than his creators. If they believed in slavery, so did he. If they believed in a cruel hell fire or eternal torment, so did he. If they wanted to go to war, so did he.
Religious zeal for such gods was usually utterly incompatible with peace. Those who loved the gods most were apt to love man the least. By contrast, the true God had always said, "Love your neighbor" (Lev. 19:18) and "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (I John 4:20.)
The True Christian Approach
Man's approach has always been either to impute his evil nature to God, or to interpret God in terms of himself. But the teaching of the Bible is that a man must seek to acquire God's nature — and give up his own nature. That is man's purpose in living! The Apostle Peter states that we are to be "partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4). The Apostle Paul said, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). God's mind comes by the gift of God's Holy Spirit! God's Spirit comes through repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). Because human ideas are not the same as God's ideas — because man's thoughts — are not God's thoughts then our ideas of what God loves or hates, what God will do or won't do, are utterly invalid unless backed by God's Word, the Bible! Otherwise, we are as guilty of creating God in our image as any pagan idol maker. The Bible shows that Christ was the stamped, impressed character image of God, with the mind of God (II Cor. 4:4; Phil. 2:5-7; Heb. 1:3). He is our example (I Pet. 2:21). Any opinion of the nature or character of God that conflicts with this example is of our own creation! Some people have made their god responsible for human affairs now which makes their god the god of pollution, war, crime, disease, famine. But the True God says He is not the god of this world — rather Satan is (II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; Rev. 12:9). The real God teaches concern for the environment, tells men to live at peace and to love their neighbor. He says He will heal our diseases and give us prosperity if we obey Him. Some have created a "Christ" who is weak and sanctimonious. Others have created a "Christ" who was a notorious leader of an underground liberation movement. Both have created these "Christ's" out of their own imaginations. You create God in your own image when YOU SAY something is "God's will," and the BIBLE DOESN'T say it is God's will. If the Bible doesn't support it, then it is YOUR will. People do this when they group together God, the Bible, and the goals of a certain political party or when they declare a certain war is "God's will." People create God in their own image when they say God has given exclusive privileges to their class, their race, their color, their ethnic group. Paul said, "For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (I Cor. 8:5, 6). Remember that ancient Israel decided that God, which brought them out of Egypt, looked like a golden calf. They sadly settled for a concept of God resembling a dumb ox. They failed to perceive the glory of the true God, "The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Ex. 34:6). They settled for an inferior product. What about your "God"? Is he the true God? Search the scriptures and see.