Attributes of God, Homework Paper #1
Warning: this is going to be kind of lengthy, but I had a desire to put the papers I had written for my first class on the internet. This is the first one I wrote, and it is called “The Transcendence of God”
THE TRANSCENDENCE OF GOD
God is transcendent. In the book of Revelation, God declares of Himself four times that He is the “Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 1:8, 1:11, 21:6, 22:13). By making this declaration, God is declaring that He is beyond anything within our human scope. There is nothing before Him and there is nothing after Him, ever. The reason for this is because He is bigger than anything… including a timeline. Genesis 1 begins the Bible with a statement of the transcendence of God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He is there in the beginning, indicating He was there before the beginning.
There is no other concept so simple, or maddeningly complex as God. Psalms 119:96 declares “I have seen the consummation of all perfection, and your law is exceedingly broad.” Even God’s law is difficult to understand due to its perfection and complexity. This fact of God’s complex simplicity is the essence of His transcendence. In His infinitude, even the extremes are not far apart enough for only one to describe God. God is fully just, and yet is still completely merciful. God’s transcendence is what unites the seeming paradoxes of His character. Because He is beyond our understanding, if we find something in Him that we can reconcile, it is our understanding of Him that is skewed… every time.
1st Kings 18:27, Psalm 11:4, Isaiah 66:1, and Acts 7:49 tells us that God is transcendent of space, time, and heaven. However, because of Jesus being the Second person of the Trinity, we know that God experiences all three. Not only does God experience all three, but He experiences all three from a perspective similar to our own… what with Jesus being fully man as well as fully God.
God’s transcendence is best evidenced by the coming of His Son. Jesus contains a nature that is fully human and fully divine. This alone places Him outside the reach of human comprehension. To quote a famous Christian, “It’s beyond my reach, but it’s within my grasp.” We can relate to Jesus because He is fully human, and we are without ability to relate to Him because He is God. The writer of Hebrews knew what He was talking about when he referred to Jesus as “the express image of His person…” (Heb 1:3). Jesus contains within His human frame all the transcendence of the Trinity.
The more I look at the transcendence of God, the more I see a lack of the understanding of it in my own heart and the church at large. Arguments arise over whether or not God heals, judges sin, or even acts on behalf of prayer, because we don’t understand who He really is. Because we do not have a grid for understanding that He is transcendent, we begin to doctrinally strip away everything that transcends our understanding. At the end of it all we are left with a God that is made to our mind’s liking, ignoring what the Bible actually says about Him. Admittedly, the God of our mind isn’t as powerful, just, or interesting as the One who actually rules the world. However, the God we form is tame, understandable, and if our understanding changes, our “God” can change right with it. Since Christ does not change (Hebrews 13:8), and Christ is the express image of the Father (Hebrews 1:3), God does not change from one Testament to the other. The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God in the New Testament. If the God of the Old Testament was beyond understanding (as Job 26:14, Job 42:3, and Psalm 119 all declare), then the God of the New Testament must necessarily be as well. May God grant wisdom and revelation concerning His transcendence to the Church.