Tag Archives: transcendence

transcendence in open view perspective

“So the open view of God draws some important parallels between the divine and human experience, but it does not by any means equate the two. God is like us in being sensitive to the experiences of others, but radically different from us in the profound depth of his feelings. Like traditional theism, the open view of God affirms divine transcendence, the radical difference between God and all things human, But whereas traditional theism seeks to safeguard God’s transcendence by denying divine sensitivity, the open view of God does so by maintaining that his sensitivity and love are infinitely greater than our own.”- Richard Rice in The Openness Of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God, pages 42-43.

The Open Theism movement as Greg Boyd has argued, is not about the nature of God, but about the nature of time as God has freely chosen to create and interact with it. I think this is a very important distinction. There are excellent conversations going on about Open Theism online now, like with my friend Jacob over at Open Theists.com. My friends Tom and Dwayne have been fairly active this month at An Open Orthodoxy, and I have engaged them a few times here and on Facebook, and plan to do so in the near future. One part of the discussion they having is on Vulnerability and God’s Glory, an intriguing argument, but I want to direct you to a comment left by Jeff in the comment section, relevant to our discussion on divine transcendence and the Open View:

“I don’t have a problem with the notion, per se, of disinterestedness. It’s just that we have no analogy of a free action resulting from zero motivation. But motivation is the opposite of disinterestedness. So the philosophical problem seems to be this: No interest, no libertarian choice. No libertarian choice, no validity of induction even. In short, no interest, no way to account for warranted belief of the kind there is a consensus for amongst people who believe in a rational moral order.

So given that scripture never talks that way in the first place (indeed, it talks just the opposite), I’m not seeing the reason to embrace a huge philosophical problem while additionally rendering scripture of no value in terms of authorial-intent hermeneutics. Without authorial-intent hermeneutics, we don’t even have historical evidence for the best (only?) otherwise explanation of the rapid rise of Christianity in a resistant Roman empire. History is a science that uses warranted belief when it says anything pertinent at all.

At the other extreme of “motivation,” you don’t want a motivation that requires us to believe that God is continuously creating from a non-regulated motivation to expand His bliss creation-ward. Because then you basically have a necessary God-world relationship which is necessary BECAUSE of His seemingly necessary motivation. How, IOW, do you explain a contingent ORIGIN of such a motivation such that we can still conceive of a pre-first-creation God? For without that, the Christian godhead isn’t/aren’t the only necessary being(s).

Divine risk of sympathetic suffering with created, sentient beings is what coheres with authorial-intent-exegeted scripture as well as renders creation analogically-explicable as a free act (which renders explanation of our experience finite/final and therefore consistent with the existence of bona-fide distinguishable warranted beliefs about explanations qua explanations).”

Jeff, in the comment section on Tom & Dwayne’s post “Vulnerability: The Capacity of Finitude to bear God’s Glory.”

Part of God being radically different from human beings is God’s freedom to be God, to freely choose to love humanity and creation, and to free others to love God. Just as the truth of the Holy Trinity points to the fact that God is intrinsically covenantal, so to are the divine attributes, including divine alterity.

The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable of the Shining Pearl (Matthew 13:46-47)

MERCHANDIZING THE GREAT PRICE OF CHRIST’S TWO NATURES

It’s been well over four years since we have continued our Parable-Driven Life series, but like all good things, I want to bring this series back from time to time. I have been inspired by reading excerpts of Clement’s take on the parables. I say in some cases they are brief glimpses, because we don’t have some of the full texts. They are citations from lost works. Unlike many commentaries today, Clement of Alexandria postulated allegorical interpretations of Gospel texts that were Christ-centered. I will quote what we have of his comments on The Parable of the Pearl [of Great Price] found in Matthew 13: 46-47, and then add some commentary on my own.

From Niceta’s Catena on Matthew:

“A pearl, and that pellucid and of purest ray, is Jesus, whom of the lightning flash of Divinity the Virgin bore. For as the pearl, produced in the flesh and the oyster-shell and moisture, appears to be a body moist and transparent, full of light and spirit; so also God the Word, incarnate, is intellectual light, sending his rays, through a body luminous and moist.”

For Clement, Jesus the Messiah is the Picture Perfect Image of YHWH. In The Educator (Pedagogue, Book II, Chapter XIII), Clement spends an excessive amount of time discussing beauty, fashion and the like, but here again he repeats his rendering of The Parable Of The Pearl Of Great Price:

“And the wretched creatures are not ashamed at having bestowed the greatest pains about this little oyster, when they might adorn themselves with the sacred jewel, the Word of God, whom the Scriptures has somewhere called a pearl, the pure and pellucid Jesus, the eye that watches in the flesh,–the transparent Word, by whom the flesh, regenerated by water, becomes precious. For that oyster that is in the water covers the flesh all around, and out of it is produced the pearl.

Now, if I may move on to further excursis, if Christ is the Reign of God, (the pearl), then the merchant who is searching for him must be the Elect, the chosen body of Christ that continues to live lives of repentance, seeking out to involves itself in the life of the Triune God. The illuminous Revelation that is Christ reveals God’s true nature perfectly in the person of Divine Wisdom Enfleshed. The Elect are those persons who are baptized first by water, as a sign of repentance and their accountability to the Body. The merchant is the community of believers who know and realize the Cost of Discipleship [Matthew  13:47 & 19:21 on the Jesus and the Rich Young Man].

What may be a little more interesting is that Clement’s interpretation of this Parable read a lot like early Church Baptismal formulas, and the Nicene Creed (in bold)

A pearl, and that pellucid and of purest ray, is Jesus  |

 JesusChrist, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light,

AND

whom of the lightning flash of Divinity the Virgin bore. For as the pearl, produced in the flesh and the oyster-shell and moisture, appears to be a body moist and transparent, full of light and spirit; so also God the Word, incarnate, is intellectual light, sending his rays, through a body luminous and moist. |

 

he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human. 

And

the transparent Word, by whom the flesh, regenerated by water, becomes precious. For that oyster that is in the water covers the flesh all around, and out of it is produced the pearl. |

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The theology of the Church, then, can never really be separated from its worship praxis.  The neat wall separation that we have created between orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxis  (right practice) should come tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

By Rod:

The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-28)

The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable(s) the Fig Tree(s) (Judges 9:10-11 and Luke 13:1-9)

 By Chad:

The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-18) 

The Parable-Driven-Life: Lazarus and The wealthy C.E.O. (Luke 16:19-31)

Quip of the Day: Slajov Zizek

After reading two books and many articles by Zizek, one book about his theology (Adam Kotsko’s Zizek & Theology, as well as various articles about his work, I have something to say.  Zizek says that with that the Incarnation, God’s being transcendent ceases.

After mulling over this claim a few months ago, I came to this conclusion, as an edict straight from Contrarianopolis!

“The Incarnation of Christ does not mean the end of God’s transcendence; on the contrary, it is the VERY BEGINNING.”

After my readings of feminist theology so far for the month of Lent, I can say that this is consistent with what they argue, that God’s majesty isn’t some pie -in-the-sky concept, but rather an imminent mysterious presence in the here & now. It’s no wonder that Zizek has a distaste for gender-inclusive language, given his understanding of a doctrine of transcendence traditionally lifted up by males, even though he does reject it.

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