Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Transcendence and Immanence

The more one understands about the order of the universe, the inter-relationship of all its parts, the harder it becomes to believe that it could be the result of mindless chance. It is the same when one gets just a layman’s grasp of the minute detail of living things, the intricacy of DNA and the complex functions of microscopic organisms. If we acknowledge that blind chance could not have produced any of this, we are left to contemplate the possibility of a Creator whose intelligence is vastly superior to ours.

The Creator must transcend that which He has created; that is, He must be outside of, and greater than anything else that exists. The Bible describes just such a God: “O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this” Psalm 92:5-6. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” ! Kings 8:27.  ” For all those things hath mine hand made” Isaiah 66:2.

Nevertheless, a great and almighty God would not inspire trust in mankind if He was far away, unknowable, uncaring and unreachable. That is not the God described in the Bible. God is Immanent – present everywhere in His creation. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee” Psalm 139:9-12.

The immanence of God is more alarming than His transcendence. He knows everything about me, my present, past and future. He know what I am going to say before I say it. But the wonder of His immanence is that He wants to use it to help us: ” This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” Psalm 34:6-8. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” Isaiah 41:10

It can be a fearful thing to contemplate the transcendence and the immanence of God. In fact, there are many who are running away from God, trying desperately to convince themselves that it cannot be true. But to those who understand that to run away from God is to flee the source of genuine peace and happiness, it is confidence building.

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