In Biblical theology, the doctrine of accommodation refers to the idea that God, when revealing divine truths to humanity, adapts or accommodates the message in a way that is understandable and relatable to human beings. When we look at the reception of any revelation from God, we understand that God reveals, preserves, and relates it as He wills. We clearly recognize the inherent limitations of human comprehension and reception of God’s revelation, but we always seek to bridge the gap between the infinite and the finite by looking at the foundational truth revealed in the Biblical text.
According to the doctrine of accommodation or condescension, God, being transcendent and beyond human understanding, voluntarily adjusts the mode of divine communication to suit the cognitive capacities, cultural context, and historical circumstances of human recipients. That being said, God always communicates exactly the purpose and means by which we can adequately describe what He communicates about Himself. God can speak through secondary means like the prophetic, words of wisdom, and through normal conversation making His message accessible and meaningful to human beings, who have finite minds and limited understanding. Needless to say, the doctrine of accommodation recognizes that human language and concepts are imperfect tools for capturing the fullness of divine truth. Kenton Sparks remind us;
“Accommodation is God’s adoption in inscripturation of the human audience’s finite and fallen perspective. Its underlying conceptual assumption is that in many cases, God does not correct our mistaken human viewpoints but merely assumes them in order to communicate with us.”
Therefore, God employs human language, metaphor, analogy, and other forms of communication that are familiar and comprehensible to humans. This enables individuals to grasp certain aspects of the divine revelation within the confines of their cognitive abilities.
An example of the doctrine of accommodation can be found in the use of anthropomorphic language in the Old Testament. The scriptures often depict God using human-like attributes or engaging in human-like actions, even though theologians understand that God is beyond human form or limitations. This anthropomorphic language is a way to convey divine attributes or actions in terms that humans can relate to and understand, even though they do not fully capture the essence of God. Man also seems to speak about God in the Scriptures in human terms, and we identify concepts attributed to God that we will call anthropopathism’s.
The doctrine of accommodation is particularly significant in the interpretation of sacred texts and theological discourse. It helps theologians and believers recognize that divine revelation is mediated through human language and cultural contexts, requiring interpretation and contextual understanding. This understanding allows for a more nuanced and contextual reading of religious texts, acknowledging the cultural and historical situatedness of divine communication while seeking to discern the eternal truths conveyed within them. That being said, God does not change what He decrees, and neither is there a change in His character. God speaks clearly and authoritatively.
What is important to note in the doctrine of accommodation in theology is that the God of the Biblical Scriptures seems absolutely willing to meet humanity where it is, adapting divine revelation to human limitations and enabling individuals to approach and understand the divine within their capacity. The Incarnation is God’s ultimate end in revealing His self-amongst us. This is the unique promise of the Biblical Scriptures; “He becomes what we are, so we can become what He is…”
In the Biblical Scriptures, we are invited into a Divine Dance…
Take up and read…
Seek, and He will find you…
 God’s Word in Human Words, Pg.230–231.