Anthropopathism Vs. Anthropopathism

National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology

Anthropopathism and anthropomorphism are two related but distinct concepts in Christian theology, especially when interpreting the attributes of God.

Anthropopathism: This concept is similar but focuses specifically on ascribing human emotions or feelings to God. It involves describing God as having emotions such as love, anger, or sorrow. Anthropopathism serves a similar purpose to anthropomorphism, making God’s actions and reactions more comprehensible to human beings. However, it raises theological questions about whether God truly experiences human-like emotions or whether these descriptions are metaphorical.

–> Anthropomorphism: This is the attribution of human characteristics or forms to non-human entities, often used when describing God in human-like terms. For example, in the Bible, passages might speak of God’s “right hand” or “eyes,” which are anthropomorphic descriptions to help humans relate to and understand aspects of God. It’s a way of making God’s nature more relatable to humans, even though these descriptions are not meant to be taken literally.

In summary, anthropomorphism deals with attributing human characteristics to God, including physical traits, while anthropopathism deals with ascribing human emotions and feelings to God. Both are literary and theological devices used to aid human understanding of the divine, but they don’t necessarily imply that God literally possesses these human traits or emotions.