Must theists believe in a personal God?

Think 8 (23):77-86 (2009)
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The claim that God is a person or personal is, perhaps, one of the most fundamental claims which religious believers make about God. In Hinduism, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are represented in person-like form. In the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament God walks in the Garden of Eden , experiences emotions , and converses with human beings . In the New Testament, God communicates with his people, usually by means of angels or visions , and retains the ability to speak audibly, as he does to Paul on the Damascus road . And, in the Qur'an, Allah is said to have a face and two hands , to see, and to sit on a throne . Many believers today would still claim that, among other things which God can do, he loves those who believe in him and responds to their prayers. In this article, I consider several ways in which God has been understood to be a person or personal and argue that, if God’s person-like characteristics must be understood in a metaphorical sense, we cannot draw a clear line between a personal God and an impersonal Absolute.



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Elizabeth Denise Burns
University of London

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Conceptions of Supreme Deity.Graham Oppy - forthcoming - Sophia:1-11.

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