On the circumcision of Abraham
WE READ IN MANY PASSAGES of the divine Scripture that God speaks to men. For this reason the Jews indeed, but also some of our people, supposed that God should be understood as a man, that is, adorned with human members and human appearance. But the philosophers despise these stories as fabulous and formed in the likeness of poetic fictions. Because of this it seems to me that I must first discuss these few matters and then come to those words which have been read.
First, therefore, let my word be to those outside the Church who arrogantly clamor around us, saying that it is not appropriate for that most exalted and invisible and incorporeal God to experience human affections. For if, they say, you give him the experience of speaking, you will, doubtless, give him also a mouth and a tongue and the other members with which the function of speaking is performed. But if this be so, one has departed from the invisible and incorporeal God. And they harass our people, joining many similar arguments to these. Therefore, if we may have the support of your prayers, we shall briefly reply to these arguments as the Lord may grant.
(2) As we profess that God is incorporeal and omnipotent and invisible, so we confess with a sure and immovable doctrine that he cares about mortal affairs and that nothing happens in heaven or earth apart from his providence. Note that we said nothing happens without his providence; not, without his will. For many things happen without his will; nothing without his providence. For providence is that by which he attends to and manages and makes provision for the things which happen. But his will is that by which he wishes something or does not wish it. But enough of these matters for