Does God Have a Body?

on Divine Embodiment in Christ & Creation

Does God have a body? The very idea may seem preposterous: God is not an animal, whether rational or irrational. The higher up we move on the chain of being, the more ethereal its occupants. Even if, as some maintain, angels, too, have bodies, it would still seem axiomatic to say that God does not. He is spiritual, infinite, and invisible—perfections that appear at odds with an embodied God. The problematic implications of divine embodiment seem obvious: it either makes God human (anthropomorphism), or it confuses him with the cosmos (pantheism).

When St. Augustine asks whether we can see God with bodily eyes, he is at pains to reject the error of the anthropomorphites: “There are some who presume that God is nothing but a body, supposing that whatever is not a body is not a substance at all. I think that we must oppose them in every way” (Ep. 147). Ascribing embodiment to God would seem to drag him down to the human level. Or, at best, it would place him alongside the Greco-Roman gods: Zeus had a body, but his sexual escapades make clear that it was the source of endless trouble. We may well end up anthropomorphizing and mythologizing the Christian faith by ascribing a body to God.


Hans Boersma is the Saint Benedict Servants of Christ Professor in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

more on Theology from the online archives

31.6—November/December 2018

Tragedy & Transcendence

on Futility & the Open Door to Deliverance by Patrick Henry Reardon

31.4—July/August 2018

Right Before Our Eyes

Life & Love Are Real Despite Theatrical Illusions by Anthony Esolen

33.2—March/April 2020

Glory to Be Revealed

on How Bodily Resurrection Informs Social Justice by W. Ross Blackburn

more from the online archives

33.4—July/August 2020

No Option

Clear Out the Rubble & Rebuild! by Anthony Esolen

20.6—July/August 2007

The Anglo-Saxon Evangel

The Beowulf Poet Was a Shrewd Christian Apologist by Douglas Wilson

18.8—October 2005

Vanishing Sea of Faith

European Islam & the Doubtful Future of Christian Europe by William Murchison

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone