Image is Everything: Chapter 18, Shocked by the Bible

Wow! Joe Kovacs makes some pretty hefty claims in this chapter of his book. He presents the notion that God “looks like us” and that God has body features that “happen to look like the parts of the human body.” So does the Bible make it clear that we look like God and that God looks like us? Does the Bible really describe God’s body parts that look like our human body parts?

To answer the first question, Kovacs uses Genesis 1:26 as his foundation. He wrote on page 145, “Additionally, the phrase ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’ makes it clear that human beings actually look like God, and God look like us.” This is not as cut and dry as Kovacs would like for this to appear. The Bible does not make it absolutely 100% clear that humans look like God and vise-versa. There has been a question about the meaning of the words “image” and “likeness” for thousands of years.

It would appear that the context of Genesis 1:26 suggests that the meaning was to “let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” This statement comes from God himself in the same thought as “let us create man in our own image and likeness.” There is nothing in the surrounding context of creation that suggests that man was created to “look” like God. Along those same lines, many biblical scholars believe that being created in the image of God follows along the same lines as having dominion over creation, for example—God loves, so we too can love; God administers justice, so we too can administer justice; God experiences emotions, so we too experience emotions; etc.

Kovacs also suggested that God had body parts that just “happened” to look like human body parts. The problem with this suggestion is that Kovacs is reading passages describing God with the same words that are the names of different human body parts. In other words, there is never a description of what God looks like that then equates that to human body parts; it simply uses the same terminology. For example, the “hand of the Lord.” There is never a description of God’s appearance that says, “God used some part of his body to inflict wrath that looks like the hands of a human.” It simply states something like falling into the “hands of the Lord and he inflicted his wrath upon them.”

Another problem with the passages Kovacs cited is that they are speaking figuratively in terms of the human body. Like the modern day saying, “He’s my right hand man.” One passage Kovacs cited was Psalm 60:7—Ephraim also is the strength of mine head. One of the tribes of Israel was not literally the head of God; it was a figure of speech. Likewise, Kovacs cited Ezekiel 1:26-28 as proof that God looks like a human being. The biggest problem with this is that Ezekiel made it clear exactly what he saw, and Kovacs cites it in his reference. This is what Ezekiel 1:26-28 says, “Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Emphasis added). Ezekiel made it clear that he did not see God exactly as he normally appears, but that he only saw an “appearance of the likeness” of God. This means Ezekiel did not actually see God in his true form and he wanted to make that clear. Furthermore, the description of the events and what the “voice” says is much like John’s description of Jesus Christ in Revelation.

I really don’t want to sound too harsh at this point, but Kovacs seems only interested in pushing his idea that God looks like a human and not considering the context of any passage of Scripture that he cites in this chapter. Kovacs quotes Acts 17:28 to support his point that we are “literally God’s children.” The problem is that this verse is not teaching what Kovacs is claiming, but Paul was quoting poets of his time period to further the point he was proposing at the Areopagus. In fact, Paul was chastising them for worshiping idols (many of which looked like humans). The problem I have is not that he is proposing that we are children of God, because those who have accepted Jesus Christ are in fact children of God. However, Kovacs makes the assumption that we are children of God because we “look” like him and he looks like us.

The last big claim the he made in this chapter is that we will receive a “spirit body” when we die. He seems to imply that we cannot enter into heaven with a body of flesh and blood because they are mortal bodies, but he proposes that the spiritual bodies we will receive will then allow us to “be on the same immortal plane” as God (Pg. 151). Besides the Scriptures which he quotes out of context (such as John 3:5-6), I have a few problems with this position. I also feel it necessary to say that I am not completely opposed to the notion that we will receive spiritual bodies, but I don’t think the Bible teaches that in the sense of excluding physical flesh and blood bodies.

Why do I say that? For starters, following his resurrection, Jesus was not in a “spiritual” body in the sense that Kovacs suggests. Jesus had a real physical flesh and blood body. Jesus told Thomas to put his finger in the holes in his hands and in his side (John 20:24-31). Jesus also ate after his resurrection (John 21:12-15). There is every indication that Jesus had a physical flesh and blood body following his resurrection. Now, it obviously was a glorified body as Kovacs addressed.

The major text Kovacs relies upon to form his position about this was from 1 Corinthians 15:40-53. Here Paul addresses what happens to our bodies when we die. He explains that we will be transformed and leave behind the perishable and be clothed with the imperishable. Paul’s whole point leading up to this passage is that Christians are to be different. We “change” when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we no longer live in sin, we live in righteousness. He is presenting this dichotomy of sin and righteousness. There is flesh/sinfulness and spiritual/righteousness, but there cannot be both in the life of a Christian. So he builds this point and explains how it applies to different area of life, even death. This is why he says in verse 50, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” He was making it clear that those who live in sin cannot enter heaven, only those who live in righteousness, and the only people who can live in righteousness are those who are saved by Jesus Christ (vv. 57-58).

Joe Kovacs just didn’t seem to be interested in finding out exactly what the Bible had to say about being made in the image of God, being a member of the family of God, and what kind of body we will have after the final judgment. He quoted a lot of Scriptures out of context in this chapter, to a degree he has not in any other place in his book at his point. We will receive physical bodies one day that will not be perishable, corrupted, or the like. What is more important is whether or not you will spend eternity in that body in hell or in heaven.
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