I Was Asked

May 23, 2008

I was asked by someone recently…

What, exactly, does such a Christian relationship entail, and how is it unique to Christianity?

I took some time to formulate a response in advance of a verbal reply.

I am not certain that the relationship concept is entirely unique to Christianity – I have not studied all religions and definitely none to the extent I have my own faith.

Still most systems see God as either fully transcendent or fully immanent.

Transcendent thought means that God (if there) is completely unknowable. No matter what, we cannot know anything about God. In the extreme form, this cannot hold water. Mainly because the proponent claims to know something about God (that he is unknowable) which results in a logical inconsistency.

Immanent thought in its extreme requires that everything is God. God is everywhere and everywhere is God. Again, this breaks down in its most extreme form, because we must deal with good and evil at some point. That requires that we either limit God or redefine evil in ways that are inconsistent.

Therefore, if God exists, he must take into account a balanced view of both transcendence and immanence. The Christian view of God does address this need. The Christian concept of God is that He created everything from nothing (he is the uncaused cause necessary to avoid an infinite regress of cause and effect in the universe. This is hard to detail here, but philosophers throughout the ages have agreed that some uncaused cause exist that set everything else in motion – so the Christian God takes this into account as well.)

As the Creator, he is separate from his creation and therefore transcendent (also holiness is an aspect of transcendence.) But he made it which details immanence as well as his continued interaction.

Both his holiness and immanence figure into the relationship view. His holiness requires that all who approach him be free from unholiness (sin, depravity – essentially anything contrary to himself). But he is present and active and interacts with the world around us. He provides and cares for his creation which is immanence and stimulates the need for the created to relate to the Creator.

Hence the problem. Man needs a solution to allow him to relate to a holy God that cannot be approached in a state of unholiness. Christianity also addresses this need in the paradigm. God provided a Savior to bridge the gap between man and himself, so that man is able to relate to him.

disclaimer…

This is a complex body of philosophy and theology (the two are NOT exclusive but complementary) and many people spend years studying it, so please forgive my feeble attempt to address this in such a short space.

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