Toward A Biblical Theology Of The Heart Of God -- By: Michael J. Anthony

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 176:701 (Jan 2019)
Article: Toward A Biblical Theology Of The Heart Of God
Author: Michael J. Anthony

Toward A Biblical Theology Of The Heart Of God*

Michael J. Anthony

* This is the first article in the four-part series “The Heart of God,” delivered as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, February 6–9, 2018.

Michael J. Anthony is research professor of Christian education at Talbot School Theology, La Mirada, California.

I begin this analysis with a healthy dose of personal skepticism and reality. Think about what I am attempting to do— expound in just four articles an understanding of the heart of God. How presumptuous! As if a finite human being could know such a thing. That God, the creator of the expanse of the universe— he who formed the stars, planets, and solar systems—could be known and understood at that level of engagement. How preposterous!

Yet if it is true that God—the very one who formed the details of our world—could go on to create mankind and invite them into a relationship with him by walking with them in a garden, then it stands to reason that he wants to be known, at least at some level.

Throughout human history, God has spoken to man, involved himself in their governmental structures, intervened in their plans, and he is ultimately in control of their final events on this earth. He provides us with a written record that documents his interactions with us. This book also guides our relationship with him and our involvement with those around us as well. Yes, God desires for us to know him, and through this exchange we glimpse his motives, his values and desires, and ultimately his heart.

The study of anthropomorphism examines the assignment of human attributes to nonhuman entities. “The use of human terminology to talk about God is necessary when we, in our limitations, wish to express truths about the Deity who by his very nature cannot be described or known.”1 For example, Genesis 3:8 says that

Adam and Eve recognized the sound of God walking in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 8:21 speaks of God smelling the aroma of sacrifices made after the Flood. Genesis 16:12–14 declares that God sees his people. John 9:31 tells us that God hears the prayers of the sinner. There are 122 references in Scripture to God’s hand. So it is in this frame of reference that we speak of God having a heart. The question we examine is, What do passage...

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