Monday, May 16, 2011

Transcendence, Immanence, and Culture part one

Everyone in the realm of biblical thinking affirms both the transcendence and immanence of God. Both are true. The latter, however, is dependent on the former. For one, God does not condescend without being both separate and distinct from His creation. The place from which He descends is higher and outside the realm of His creation or else He wouldn't be condescending, a place that is different than the world that He created and that hasn't been ruined by sin. His separateness is the hope of man's salvation. He offers man rescue from his place of wickedness and discord to God's of righteousness and order. There is no immanence without transcendence.

God created man. Everything started with and will end with God. God is the source of all meaning because everything begins and finishes with God. We derive our definitions from Him. We may believe a meaning that differs from God, but that doesn't conclude that meaning as correct. For instance, we may believe that God is a jar of peanut butter, but that doesn't make it so. Truth and meaning are objective because God is unaffected by His creation. He is the "I am." He is not becoming anything. Nothing occurs to or changes Him. He isn't adjusting His character to outside forces to Himself. This is a truth of His Word in James 1:17, that is, with Him "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Meaning relates to God, not God to meaning. God is not subject to either the limitations or the distortions of life.

Our understanding of God's immanence comes from His transcendence. We see because God revealed. Light came from Him. Man didn't come to understand. He was enabled by God's grace, which comes from other than where he is. God was there before the foundations of the world and the world came into existence only by and through Him. Transcendent thought considers everything in relations to God.

Perfection lies outside of man. For man to be perfect, perfection must come from the realm of God. God sent the perfect God man. That perfection must needs come from outside of man for man to be perfect.

For immanence to be protected, transcendence must be prioritized. God must be God. God existed before and continues apart from His creation. The One who comes must be the One. And we cannot go to Him without His coming to us. He must come from there to come to here. And there is one and only One that is there. Only a God powerful enough to create this world could save it from itself.

God is different than this world. Keeping Him apart in thought is the only sure defense against false experience and the allure of culture. Immanence must remain tethered to transcendence or corrupt the right conception of God. A correct understanding of what God created comes from a true understanding of Who God is. God must remain separate in thought from what He created for His character and will to define the substance of every day life. Without God continuing apart from what He created, there is no place to appeal as authority. The meaning of life is diminished to opinion and societal norm. Order disintegrates to lawlessness and finally totalitarian power.

Of course, when transcendence does not reign in thought, all is relative. Man only discovers and meaning is at best shallow and in reality futile---no revelation, no true or false, and, therefore, no right or wrong. Without a God that is there, separate from us, we are cut off from anything greater than what psychology or philosophy has to offer. We are never lifted above ourselves. No thing is superior to another. Bach is no better than Bon Jovi, lawn gnomes no less significant than Michelangelo, and Milton or Wordsworth of no greater value than Eminem or LL Cool J.


d4v34x said...

Great start. I'll be watching this on with deep interest. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Whoa there, Pastor Bloggenburg, them sounds like smart people words.