God made man in His image (Genesis 1:26,27; 9:6; James 3:9). However, it seems that ever since he was created in God’s image, man has been trying to remake God in his image (Romans 1:23). It’s understandable why man would want to do this; God does not conform to his desires, so he just makes a new god who does conform. It’s understandable – but wrong!
This, undoubtedly, was one of the major appeals of idolatry. Idolatry allowed men literally to decide what they wanted their gods to look and be like, and so they shaped their idols and their associated theology accordingly. If they did not like one set of gods, they could switch to another (cf. 2 Chronicles 28:22,23). Likewise, people today who are not satisfied with the way God is presented in one religion feel free to look for another until they find one that conforms to their desires.
However, the objective of one who becomes a Christian is to be conformed to the image of God (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 5:1; Colossians 3:9,10). Man has distorted the image of God through sin, and upon obedience to the gospel he works to refit himself to God’s image (1 Peter 1:14-16). It is not man’s prerogative to change God to fit his desires but rather his obligation to change himself to bring himself into conformity with God’s desires.
Why Do People Feel Free to Mold God in Their Image?
The primary reason some people feel free to mold God in their image is because they think God is like they are. Therefore, they think they can determine what God would do by determining what they would like to do. This false and invalid approach to determining God’s will is behind a great deal that is false in the religious world.
The fact of the matter is that God is not a man, and people need to appreciate the implications of this. Because God is not a man He cannot be expected to behave like men (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29) nor think like men (1 Samuel 16:7; Isaiah 55:8,9; Psalms 50:21). We cannot determine what God would do by what men would do. Men have sometimes had difficulty understanding why God commanded what He commanded (e.g. Joshua 6; 2 Kings 5; 1 Peter 1:10-12). Sometimes this led men to disobey God, as the Jews did in rejecting Jesus because He did not fit their preconceived notions (cf. Matthew 16:21-23; esp. Matthew 22:23-33; John 2:22; 16:12; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31). Men of faith, on the other hand, accepted what God said even though it may not have seemed rational from a human standpoint (cf. Hebrews 11:3,4,7,8,11,17-19).
Rationalism or Revelation?
God’s mind cannot be understood or fathomed except to the extent that He has revealed Himself (Psalms 145:3; Isaiah 40:28; esp. Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 2:11). The only way to be certain as to what God would do is to read it in His word (1 Corinthians 2:10-13).
The process of subjecting God and His word to the critical review of human reasoning, or shaping one’s views of the Scriptures or right and wrong to insure their conformity with human reasoning has been referred to as “rationalism.” In other words, rationalists arrive at their notion of truth through a process of rational analysis; human rationality, rather than Scripture, is recognized as the final arbiter of truth.
The danger of rationalism ought to be clear: it leads to a rejection of God’s word because God’s word does not always conform to human rationality. Though not all who use the rationalistic approach have gone as far as atheism, rationalism has indeed spawned or supported many false religious doctrines and practices. When men begin their analysis of any subject with a rationalistic approach, they have gotten off to a bad start. Such an approach prepares a seedbed for false doctrine.
The Christian must determine truth by what the Bible says (cf. Romans 4:3; Galatians 4:30). It is the very essence of humility, faith, and obedience to submit to God’s word even though it is not compatible with human understanding (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).