Monday, May 7, 2007

In Awe

God is incomprehensible.

I don't mean that in the sense that we cannot come to know Him, nor in the sense that He is too foreign for our minds to comprehend - quite the contrary, He is more familiar than anyone or anything else is or could be; and He created us for the purpose of knowing Him deeply and intimately. I mean it in the sense that, for all our efforts, we simply cannot comprehend Him - not His magnitude, nor His eternality, nor His transcendence, nor His role as ultimate cause, with no causality behind Him. We cannot grasp those notions; we cannot wrap our minds around them.

And frankly, that's a good thing, because - as I told a friend recently - He would not really be God if we, in our finite state, in our ultimate confinement to the bounds of immanence, could grasp Him, could focus our minds sufficiently as to come to a true knowledge of Him. Divinity, at some level, cannot be disentangled from transcendence. Anselm's proof, however debated, rings true in our hearts at some level. If a notion greater than God could be imagined, that would be god, not the God we serve. If, however, He is truly the greatest thing the mind could imagine, then is He even God then - if capable of being imagined? No, He must, in order to be God, be greater than any imagining or attempt at understanding, be forever out of reach, forever eluding for our finite minds' grasp.

Pause for a moment and try to think through the Trinity - three persons, united in a single essence, perfectly distinct from each other and yet without even the slightest hint of division between them, a singular and unitary God who is simultaneously Himself as Three Persons in perfect relationship with Himself. Try, now, to understand what happened when, in anguish on the cross, Jesus Christ called out, "My God, my God, why what you forsaken me?" Try to understand the notion of the Trinity - broken, separated from itself. Then try to grasp the fact that this was for you and for me. That we caused it, we necessitated it - that without your sin and my sin, the Trinity would never have suffered that terrible moment. And understand (or rather, do not, though you may strive eternity to do so): God was not broken in that moment. He remained Himself, wholly and completely.

Consider: the uncaused cause. Try, for as long as you are able, to come to grips with the notion of a causal chain that ends. Of a being that never started; that has always been - who is completely outside of time and space, for whom time is an interesting creation, not a condition. Wrestle, if you will, with the idea, fantastic in its simplicity yet incredibly difficult to grasp, that this being has never not been, that He has always been just exactly as he is - that eternity is the habitat of this divinity. Asking "Who else could God have been? Why is God the one that He is instead of some other?" is asking a wrong question: it is a question that by definition is not even sensible, is not logical, is not coherent. God could not have been other, He is. He always is, and always has been and always will be... and not for any reason. He is. That question is meaningless; and it is incomparable. No other question like it can be asked, and there is truth in its lack of meaning. Had it meaning, God would not be God. If a cause for God - a reason for His being who He is - could be understood, God would not be God: that cause would be God.

This is transcendence. This is divinity. If He could be understood, He would not be God. If it did not cause mental pain - a searing anguish of the understanding - to try to grasp these truths, then we would indeed have reason to doubt His existence. Yet no notion so profound, so noble, so meaningful, so utterly incomprehensible in its sheer immensity, could be the product of human reason or imagination. Mankind conjures of the gods of Rome and Greece, so finite, so human. Never has the human imagination leapt to the notion of a God so unlike us, so beyond our ability to comprehend.

How then, did we come to hold this notion?

Because Almighty God, in His infinite greatness, revealed Himself to us.

We are so limited in our understanding of that action and its significance; we are so lacking in our understanding of God -

If we were not, we would be always in awe. Instead, we live our lives as if there is no transcendence, as if there is no purpose, as if every day was not imbued withe a underlying coloring of the incredible. If we understood, even just a hint...

We would worship.

- Chris


  1. :)

    I love that about God ... that He IS ... He is God ... and nothing we can do can begin to comprehend Him in His fullness ... we cannot even look upon Him and live, He is so holy. I love it :)

  2. God is so inviting yet mysterious. This is deep.


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