Monday, September 10, 2012

Transcendence and Immanence: Salvation

First, in this post, there is small piece showing how God's omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience follow from what has been said before. The rest, i.e., most, of this post is working from the transcendence/immanence differentiation that I spoke of before, and suggesting a view of God that is (I hope) in some ways consistent with both Calvinist and Arminian language.
In previous posts I have suggested that God is beyond time and that he created all that exists. I have also suggested that causing a thing to begin to be and causing a thing to continue to be are identical from a perspective outside of time. The other thing I have suggested, that will come up in this post, is that God is both inside of and outside of time, similar to air being both inside of and outside of a room.


From his creating all that is, it follows that he has the power to do whatever he wants to do with all things, for it would be as simple as removing a thing and placing in its stead another thing identical in all respects but that which he chooses to change. It also follows that there is at least a sense in which he is everywhere, since he must act on all things in order to keep them existent. He must also know all things, for he made all that is. All things were made from the outflow of his attributes, thus all truth is in his being. Thus, he has the attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.



Now, as God is outside of time, when he creates, what he creates is not created at a specific point in time, but rather, it spans a duration, all of which is created equally and simultaneously, as it were, by God. Each event, each decision, each change in position of each atom, everything is created as it is at each point in time by God. His causation of the world, both in its beginning and in each moment afterwards, are, in a sense, one and the same act of creation. Our prayers and our good works and even our sins only exist by his creative power. (I will deal with morality in the next post so as to show how God may yet be not the author of sin, and therefore still holy)

Yet God is within time. Time cannot keep God out of the world, indeed, if it did then all within it would cease to be, for without God's sustaining power all things cease to exist. Thus God, being in time, reacts to and is affected by his creation. Creation must therefore be orderly, and God must not be impassive to what occurs in creation, but react according to what occurs.

When God, outside of time, creates the world in all its moments, he therefore also creates it with his reactions to our movements. Those movements were created by God, however, and therefore he is not affected except in such ways as are according to his will. As he is in time, though, he reacts to our movements, yet his nature is not altered by our actions, but what he does because of his nature is different because the circumstances are.

Calvinism and Arminianism

Thus, as God is outside of time, he has predestined some to salvation, and some to damnation. God as in time, however, must be seen as reacting to our decisions, i.e., those who accept him are saved, and those who do not are damned. Yet God has, in his being outside of time, chosen some to be saved, some to be damned. At the same time, so to speak, he has opened salvation to any who would receive it, for in time there is a sense in which the salvation and damnation of those who will be saved and damned has not yet happened, and so the offer is given to all without bias and all are able, in a sense, to respond to the call, for in the sense that God is in time he is not causing the future to be as it will be, though as he is outside of time, he is causing it to be as it will be, or is, tense-less verbs would be nice for this.

It must not be said that these are different parts or aspects of God. I suggested thinking of it earlier as akin to Christ's nature as wholly man and wholly God, but I am second guessing that suggestion now. It may be better to say that it is a matter of perspective. God is eternal. Yet God is also responsive. It is not that these are separate, but actually that they both are and do not hinder each other. From God's point of view it may well be that understanding his transcendence is all that there is to understand, and that it contains his immanence, or that the distinction is false from his perspective. From a human point of view, however, it is a useful way of holding these two attributes of God together. As we live, God will almost always appear to be primarily immanent, and inside time,largely because we are inside time. God being outside of time is not contradictory with the appearance of God as inside of time, and understanding that God is outside of time is a comfort for many, and provides courage because we know that the victory is won. At the same time, this conception allows for an emphasis on the responsibility of humans, yet without that responsibility in any way entailing any sort of lack of sovereignty in God.

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