The Immanent-Transcendent God

My brain is currently mush so here is a thought that occarred to me the other day. I have always thought that it was important to hold the immanence and transcendence of God in balance and tension. God is immanent but he is also transcendent.

So there I was in the bath a couple of days ago and I thought that we need to go a step further than this. We need to appreciate that God is transcendent in his immanence and immanent in his transcendance. In other words, the God who is immanent in creation is the transcendent God. The God who transcends creation is the immanent God.

I have no doubt that this is not an original thought ... but it was new to me and I found it inspiring and rich.

Must fly - brain collapse in progresssssssssss (urgh!)


David Reimer said…
"My brain is currently mush so here is a thought that occarred to me..." Haha! That's sort of brain onomatopœiasis, is it? ;)

Your insight reminds me of Samuel Terrien's The Elusive Presence: Toward a New Biblical Theology (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), which I'm sure you know, who writes of "presence in absence" (does he also speak of absence in presence? probably!). E.g., of Isa 45:15 (and anticipating Psalm 22): "To be aware of divine hiddenness is to remember a presence and to yearn for its return. The presence of an absence denies its negativity."

Is that relevant?
Yahnatan said…
The immanence/transcendence paradox reminds me of some things Pete Rollins wrote in chapter two of his book "How (Not) To Speak of God". Some hallmarks:

"God ought to be understood as radically transcendent, not because God is somehow distant and remote from us, but precisely because God is immanent. In the same way that the sun blinds the one who looks directly at its light, so God's incoming blinds our intellect." (24)

Rollins calls God's immanent/transcendent presence "hyperpresence," and to the overwhelming, saturating nature of God's hyperpresence, he gives the name "hypernymity" (as in the opposite of anonymity).
Robin Parry said…
David - that error was completely unintentional! But it proved a point!

I know of Terrien's book but I have not read it. What he is talking about is certainly in some ways analogous to what I am saying (though not exactly the same thing).

Robin Parry said…

I like that Rollins quote. That is along the same lines as what I was thinking. Thx
David Reimer said…
Robin wrote: "We need to appreciate that God is transcendent in his immanence and immanent in his transcendance."

In the M'Cheyne schedule this morning, we had this:

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
   who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
   and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
   and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

(Isa 55:17)

There's a verse for it! :)
Robin Parry said…

Thanks. And what a wonderful text it is!

You read McCheyne? Cool!

TN said…
Isaiah 57:15, not 55:17!
Dixlesia strikes again!
dave said…
I agree totally (thanks for the opportunity to comment).

As I understand God, God is both immanent and transcendent. As immanent, God is identical with all freedom and liberation, i.e., the evolution of the universe, life, and civilization. But, pantheism is not implied by this immanence. The boundary that separates God form not-God (as Whitehead suggests) is found in what perpetuates "good-healthy- feelings," i.e., the freedom/liberation that perpetuates "good-healthy-feelings" (in this respect, as people suffer so too God, as people fight against unnecessary suffering and injustice, so too God).

God is transcendent because the structure that embeds God's immanence is also the structure that logically affirms (implies) Godhead. This structure, logically speaking, can be described as ~~b (the immanence of God's nothingness), ~bb (life liberated from God's nothingness), and b~b~bb (the physical event of logical implication liberated from the biological existence of God's nothingness). In other words, transcendent God is "implied" from the structure that embeds, separates, and connects everything to everything else via the space of logical implication. I understand God, but living one's life in/through God means "always bringing oneself back to God, back from living outside the boundaries of God--and that is also another definition for struggle!
Mike W said…
Coming extremely late to the party, I think Colin Gunton said something similar in Theology through the theologians, on the need to see the Holy Spirit as God's transcendant presence

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