Monday 10 February 2014

The Christian God is similar-to and different-from Man - both! But must be similar enough to accommodate Love


Christianity must encompass - on the one hand - Gods' similarity to us (due to us being His children, made in His image; and to make understandable the centrality of Love - that is, a relationship - to Christianity)...

And - on the other hand - Christianity must also encompass God being the One God, Creator, and of qualitatively greater knowledge and power, and perfect Goodness. And as such different from Man.

In other words God is very similar to, and very different from, Man.



Among mainstream, intellectual, philosophical, theological thinking there is (I believe) a persistent and stubborn tendency to over-emphasise the differences between God and Man.

Many Christian writers and leaders speak as if there were no dangers from over-emphasizing this side, as if it were impossible to over-exaggerate the utter gulf between God and Man.

They talk as if God and Man were incomparable in nature and kind, and inhabited incommensurably-different worlds..


But, from a Christian perspective,  this is an error and not a small one, and an error in the worse direction.

If God is regarded as primarily different-from Man, then this frames God as an entity primarily remote. It easily collapses-into something essentially identical-with the God of Christianity's most formidable rival - that is, an incomprehensible God of total power and knowledge to whom, therefore, the proper response is absolute submission.

(But who is not the kind-of-thing that can be loved, is not the kind-of-thing that loves - is impassive and unchanging  - neither needs love nor can really give love except in some abstract and distant sense of being benign.)


This is, it seems, a worse error than the error towards the other side (i.e. the error  of 'anthropomorphically' over-emphasizing God's human qualities, and thereby underestimating or understating God's power, knowledge, glory, goodness &c) - because we know for sure that Love is central to Christianity.


Therefore, it seems to me; it is non-optional for Christians to have an understanding of God that sees Him as primarily sufficiently-'similar-to-Man' as to make the centrality of Love between us and Him into something comprehensible, natural and necessary.


1 comment:

Adam G. said...

Very good.

As in everything else, its the incarnation--God become a mortal--that is the central Christian message, and anything that detracts from that must be rejected. If God is utterly Other, than He was not born in Bethlehem. If God is too mortal, though, his birth in Bethlehem has no special significance.

The early Christians didn't hit on some satisfactory precise philosophical resolution of the incarnation, but that's because their faith was not built on a satisfactory philosophy. It was built on Jesus.

We should do likewise.