Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Immanence of God

Immanence is juxtaposed with transcendence, both traits ascribed to God, especially in the Christian sense.  The Immanence of God refers to God's presence in nature.  God has been described as the ground of creation and the essential being within all existence.  The creator is in this sense creation.  Put simply, in the beginning there was God and God created the heavens and the earth and all that was and would be.  This doesn't say that there was God and building blocks but that the very fabric of all is God.
When the Bible says we are created in the 'image' of God, this has been defined as the 'imagination' of God. God is the dreamer, we are the dream, is another way of putting this.
Liberal Christianity has little difficulty then with Darwin or any other 'scientific' explanation of the 'process' of God in creation.  However when pseudoscientists idolatrize Darwin's 'hypothesis' scientists prefer religion to that sort of silliness. Celtic Christianity following on the navigational lore of this sea going people considering the laws of nature as part of the trilogy of finding truth. The other two stars in this pre gps constelation were tradition and scripture.  Too often trinitarian Christianity is lessened by reductionism
The immanence of God is in essence what pantheism is. However in pantheism God without nature does not exist whereas in Christianity God can and does exist independent of creation but creation can not and does not exist independent of the Creator.  An interesting 20th century Christian movement was called the 'death of God'. These folk believed that God had been separate and created all but became part of Creation with the birth of Jesus and now all creation was suffused with God again perhaps seeking the original diviinity. God the creator died with God's birth in creation. The transcendent became immanent.
The distinction between conservative or neo-orthodoxy was that Jesus was considered distinctly different and unique from all other humans in that he was truly God and human.  He was thus considered different in kind whereas in liberal Christianity he is considered different in 'degree'.  In this sense he is the first born of God but all of us are 'God's children' and becoming more 'kin' or like Jesus and God.  In contrast the neo orthodox would say we will always be at best 'adopted' children.  Interestingly 'adoption' is never mentioned in scripture but this is the metaphorical language of the conservative.
Paul Tillich attempting to find a middle ground called God the 'being' of existence and said he did not 'exist' per se as he was that and more.  However with liberal Christianity where everything is sacred and all is God there is a loss to some extent of the 'personal' relationship and the distinctly 'miraculous' which beyond 'synchronicity' is unexplainable by present or even perhaps human future science but rather is a direct action of supreme being in the affairs of creatures.  As a friend says, if God is small enough to know, he's not big enough to do the job.  Hence in liberal Christianity there is creeping humanism which reduces god to 'tool' of man and changes the relationship from sacred to secular, God being man's thought with all the arrogance involved as opposed to Man being God's thought.
(Feminism has been essentially aetheism, with the secularization of the political correctness that places woman above God and man as unnecessary. The radical feminist, like all social communists, considered Christianity as man made and hence wrong and irrelevant.  Alternatively to hear some feminists Jesus was a woman and she died on the cross yet somehow there's a smorgasbord of metaphors with the looseness and inclusiveness of ideology common in the consensus politics which eschew closed ballot voting and avoided the details where the devil is said to linger even if this devil is decidedly female.  That said, I rarely have a clue about this fuzzy wuzziness that makes no sense except we should all share a group hug and sing kumbayah.  At this point Wicca, Feminist Christianity, Oprah and pablum gets all messed together in the Depends outcome so no one can really criticize the goo but instead stand about and grok it.
In contrast ecumenicalism seeks to know what's shared and what's  best in all religions and all creeds of Christianity because it's thought that the essence can be distilled from this form of analysis where we, men and women of all races,  seek to focus on our similiarities rather than our differences.  Women theologians have in contrast to the radical feminists contributed greatly to this process. However, as I reflect today, I don't know a single female theologian who has made the impact that Karl Barth or Thomas Aquinas or Kierkegaard have to our understanding of God immanent or transcendent. In contrast I've been greatly influenced personally by the religious examples of my mother and aunt and moved by the likes of St. Theresa. Clearly Mary, Mother of God,  central in Catholicism has again become prominent in protestantism especially in the creation movement of the priests of Latin America.  Mathew Fox's writings speak to the influence of Mary on modern protestant theology.  The Shack brings us a black female god and challenges the transcendent bearded white guy who apparently particularly liked punishing Jews because he 'chose them' for their predisposition to 'guilt'. C.S. Lewis had a Jewish wife.
I have taken this side step here because the nature of the mother is to feel essentially akin to her children and mother god's relationship to Jesus would in this 'immanent' sense be different than that of 'father' God, given the predispotion of man to alienation.  Even Freud acknowledged the distinction between men and women in regards to the 'oedipal complex' as opposed to the 'electra' complex which never particularly caught on, Freud being limitted in his understanding of women according even leading female followers of his like Karen Horney." Women who have had children often find their 'sisters' who have not, talking more like boys and girls than like women. Fathers have said the same about men who are single and childless.  Birth in this sense connects individuals with creation as God was connected apparently through Jesus with men and women.
The whole question of the 'immanence' of God is central to understanding the nature of religion and the relationship of individuals in prayer and meditation.  Prayer is talking to God whereas meditation is listening to God.  Tillich was said to pray little at the end and meditate more.  The eastern religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism,  have  emphasized meditation whereas Christianity and Moslem religions put much more emphasis on 'prayer'.  Greek orthodox Catholics allow mosaic representation because they think the Roman Catholic representation with realistic statues is akin to idolatry whereas the Roman Catholics defend their representation as not an end but rather the beginning from which a disciple starts their meditation. At the same time the protestants disliking the Greek Orthodox and Catholics for their lack of simplicity and 'Papist" complexity collectively think of Jesus as a bearded young man when historically the first 'representation' of Jesus was unbearded, the scriptures giving no idea whatsoever of his 'appearance'.
At this moment I believe that God is all.  I am nothing without God who is something, nothing and more or less.  Like the Cistine Chapel painting of Micheangelo of God and Adam, the 'life' in me is God.  The science joke goes that men and women become so advanced in the future that they can do everything that God can and create beings themselves and finally confront God saying they are God's equal. God says create a human then. The future scientists begin to take dirt to blow life into in it when God says, "use your own dirt!"
Jesus was God immanent and I have a personal relationship with Jesus who is today immanent and transcendent.  I pray to Jesus.  I pray to God. I meditate on Jesus and God.  I sometimes pray to Mary too. Often I think of my mother, father, grandfather, grandmother and those about me. I don't pray to them though.  I further admit to talking to my dog and cat.  They don't listen to me that well.
I am suspicious of anyone who speaks with "absolute authority."  Further I think people who 'tell me' what to believe don't themselves know.  I don't think religion is something 'taught' like 'tying shoe laces' but rather 'discovered' , 'discussed' , and 'shown' by life examples.  I take 'leaps of faith' and 'believe' what my fellow shares simply because I want what he has and know that learning is acquiring the new by letting go of the old.  However, as a scientist,   I know that yesterday I boiled water in a particular way. Today I believe that if I do what I did yesterday the water will boil too.  But I know that I can't know for sure because every moment to me is 'new' and so many 'laws' and 'truths' of history and herstory have been proved 'hypothesis' and as my understanding of God and Jesus is growing so has the understanding of God and Jesus in the world has been changing along with the behaviour of men and women. . Change is the ground of existence, not 'been' but" being: and as such I'm a human being whereas God alone is.   I'm like the child running full speed ahead, stumbling, and windmilling to keep up.

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