Men and God–One Species

Paul tells us in Acts 17:22-29 basic nature of God and our relationship to him. Please read carefully.

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

Now, may I ask, Paul, why shouldn’t we think of God as gold, silver, or stone, etc? What is the logic in your statement?

I think Paul would say “We are God’s offspring. We are, therefore, what he is. He is what we are. Therefore, we shouldn’t think of him as anything else like gold, silver, or something created by man.” That’s what this scripture seems to say to me in very plain terms.

Now, if we’re the offspring of God, he cannot be anything but what we are! His logic is as clear as can be. To interpret any other way is to destroy the meaning of his logic.

Further, God is not “unknown” or unknowable like the Athens thought. Many today also teach that he is unknowable, or inconceivable by nature. Does this imply that the mainstream Christian idea of God as being inconceivable or unknowable is derived from the Greek world of thought?

Lastly, Paul argues that we are God’s offspring (Greek: genos!) and therefore we ought not think he is like silver, or gold. What should we think of him as then? The implication is perfectly clear. If we are his genos (Latin genus, English, “species”) then we ought to think that he is basically like us in his nature. We are of the same species.

The Geneva Bible translates it “generation.” Generation is a word derived from “genus.” Genus has to do with origin usually in the sense of a child has his origin in his parent.

For fun, here are some other languages:

genus ergo cum simus Dei non debemus aestimare auro aut argento aut lapidi sculpturae artis et cogitationis hominis divinum esse simile (Latin)

Siendo pues linaje de Dios, no hemos de estimar la Divinidad ser semejante a oro, o a plata, o a piedra, escultura de artificio o de imaginación de hombres. (Reina Valera, Spanish)

Sendo nós, pois, geração de Deus, não devemos pensar que a divindade seja semelhante ao ouro, ou à prata, ou à pedra esculpida pela arte e imaginação do homem. (PJFA)

Essendo dunque progenie di Dio, non dobbiam credere che la Divinità sia simile ad oro, ad argento, o a pietra scolpiti dall’arte e dall’immaginazione umana. (Italian, IRL)

γενος ουν υπαρχοντες του θεου ουκ οφειλομεν νομιζειν χρυσω η αργυρω η λιθω χαραγματι τεχνης και ενθυμησεως ανθρωπου το θειον ειναι ομοιον (Greek)

Since this appears to be the plain and obvious meaning of the verse, could we say that Paul believed that men are gods by nature? Do you accept Paul’s teaching, or do you prefer the Greek understanding of God as being “unknown” and totally other?

I’ve always been impressed by this scripture and see it as one of the greatest Biblical evidences for the basic tenet of Mormonism, namely the nature of God and man.

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4 thoughts on “Men and God–One Species

  1. I’ve always wondered how mainstream Christianity gets away with their “unknowable” interpretation. It’s very plain to me from the original text that Paul said what he meant and meant what he said.

  2. The philosophies of men mingled with scripture would go a long way to understand where that idea came from.

  3. I manage to find a way to work 1 John 3:2 into almost anything I discuss. I find that verse applicable here:

    NOW are we the sons of God,
    BUT it does not yet appear what we shall be,
    When he appears we shall be LIKE Him.

    About as plain as the nose on my face

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