3:11–12; Isa. God’s immanence and transcendence relate to His relationship with the created world. We should especially avoid two errors in this connection. 11:33–36). His authority may be understood as his control over the moral sphere, but it would also be possible to understand God’s control as his authority over everything that happens. 21:7). Some ancient and modern writers, however, have taken God’s transcendence to mean something else: God is so far above us, so very different from anything on earth, that we can say nothing, at least nothing positive, about him. The chief promise of the covenant is the Lord’s word, “I will be with you” (Gen. 21:22; 26:28; 28:15; 28:20; 31:3, 5; 39:3–4; Exod. Divine transcendence does not mean that he is so far from and other than his creation that we are not able to understand his self-revelation in the Scripture or relate to him in any way. (Rom 1:18–22). How can these two qualities exist simultaneously? This verse really summarizes what theologically is often called God’s transcendence and eminence. the Trinity in Barth and Lossky. Through the Leviticus text, the refrain “I am the LORD your God” is repeated fifteen times to reinforce the truth that Israel’s law is based on the authority of Gold’s lordship over them. Of course, God transcends space as he transcends time. God stands above and beyond the fallen created order as one who is perfectly holy. He does not literally dwell on a material throne, as Solomon observes at the consecration of the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kgs. God manifests himself in history and in the lives of people in both mundane and dramatic ways. Amen. Indeed, there is a sense in which the creation itself will be redeemed through Christ: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. First, we cannot fall into mysticism or pantheism, the notion that this immanence eliminates the distinction between creator and creature so that we become God, or that he becomes indistinguishable from us. We cannot fully understand the mystery of a three-persons-in-one-God, who creates humans (male and female) in his own image and then becomes a man, taking on human flesh. Derek: I decided to be a priest when I was eight years old, so I was soaking up theology from a very early age—and I remember the simplest thing from when I was about ten years old: my priest drew a small circle on the blackboard. 16 thoughts on “ The Presence of God: Immanence and Transcendence ” John-Julian, OJN August 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm. It means that God is above, other than, and distinct from all he has made - he transcends it all. That is, he has full control over the world he has made. (Rom. To be sure, there are passages in Scripture that emphasize God’s incomprehensibility, his mystery, such as Romans 11:33–36: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 4:7, 20; 7:6; 14:7; 26:18; 2 Sam. 1:23). Immanence is closely related to God's omnipresence, in that God is always present within the universe, though distinct from it. While affirming God’s transcendence, Scripture speaks in clear and certain language about his nature and actions. 66:1). Because both of these qualities follow readily from other qualities, it would be difficult to abandon either without also needing to abandon or at least seriously modify many other common attributes of God. His eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.” (Psalm 11:4) What a picture. TRANSCENDENCE AND IMMANENCE. He is “enthroned on high” (Ps. They are his thrones, and he sits on them because he is the king. 113:5); indeed, he is himself the “most high” (Ps. God has been personally active in the world since its creation and yet He is also set apart from it, superior in nature. (Col. 1:15–20). For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Indeed, since his transcendence governs all the events of creation and his authority governs all his creatures, he is certainly the most visible being in the universe. Between Immanence and Transcendence Parashat BeShallach. Science, Religion & Culture Pro … — and, hence, very much a part of our existence. That is God’s transcendence. god's immanence and transcendence Posted on August 10, 2020 by He actually became what we are so that we might become like he is, as Athanasius put it.And his work on the cross, along with his resurrection, shows how God took great efforts to restore our relationship to himself, to allow us to again enjoy his immanence. Secondly, deism, or the notion that since God is transcendent his nearness to us is only a figure of speech, an “anthropomorphism.” No! On the other hand, if God is absolutely perfect beyond all experience and understanding, then God must also be transcendent. But to say that God is “high” is not primarily to speak of his presence in any of those places. “You shall have no other gods before me. This chapter distinguishes three modes of immanence and transcendence with reference to God: cosmological, epistemic, and ethical. Eccl. All views expressed in this essay are those of the author. Copyright © 2020 The Gospel Coalition, INC. All Rights Reserved. It is not just a relationship of control and authority, but also of presence with his covenant partners. First, his control: Because he is lord, he is omnipotent; he has the power to do anything. He transcends our language, so anything we say about him is utterly inadequate. Clearly, then, it is wrong to think of God’s transcendence as a kind of cloud hiding God from the human mind. How, then, should we define God’s transcendence, if it is not a barrier to our knowledge of God and our clear speaking about him? A transcendent God must turn His face away, for He is forced by His very righteousness and holiness to keep Himself separate from anything or anyone sinful, impure, unclean or less than perfect. God’s Immanence and Transcendence. God is “omnipresent,” present everywhere (Ps. As Paul says, his revelation is clear (Rom. 8:27). (Rom. Origins of Transcendence and Immanence The idea of a transcendent God has roots both in Judaism and in Neoplatonic philosophy . But there are certain places in the creation where God has ordained that we will sense his presence with particular intensity, like the burning bush in Exodus 3, the inner court of the Temple, and indeed the person of Jesus Christ, God’s temple incarnate (Matt. The transcendence of God is reinforced in passages that envision God as dwelling above us in the heavens. Many stories in the Old Testament depict a God who is very active in human affairs and the working of the universe. Gods' Contradictory Characteristics: Making God Impossible to Exist, The Relationship Between Technology and Religion. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. The terms transcendence and immanence are not found in most versions of the Bible, but they are common in the theological literature to designate two kinds of relationships between God and human beings. He tells the Roman church what it is that they do not know, and why they do not know it. 1:11) but because the created world serves his redemptive covenant purposes. The Gospel Coalition supports the church by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, it often refers to the way he rules the world of our history and experience. In Byzantine Rite theology the immanence of God is expressed as the hypostases or energies of God, who in his essence is incomprehensible and transcendent. The Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence of God, Creative Commons License with Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA 3.0 US). Biblical or divine immanence means that He moves to, through, and in; abides and lives, exists within, all who believe in Him. Moreover, if God is infinite, then God must exist everywhere — including within us and within the universe. As God’s control, so his authority is an implication of his lordship: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Kierkegaard, for example, focused primarily upon God’s transcendence and rejected God’s immanence, This has been a common position for many modern theologians. The heart of the covenant is a relationship of intimacy. Scripture often speaks of God as “exalted” (Ps. If God is timeless (outside of time and space) and unchangeable, then God cannot also be immanent within us, beings who are within time. 5:2), even “above the heavens” (Ps. On the face of it, the characteristics of transcendence and immanence appear to be in conflict. To him be glory forever. The unknowns are “known unknowns.” And the mystery is always a mystery about a God who otherwise is “clearly” known. The transcendence of God is closely related to his sovereignty. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. The word immanent comes from a Latin word meaning “indwelling”. Our relation to God is always personal—a relation between the divine person and ourselves as human persons. The idea of an immanent God can also be traced to both Judaism and other Greek philosophers. 57:5; 97:9). We know already that God’s immanence is not some kind of opposite to God’s transcendence, some paradoxical negation of transcendence. Rather than describing God in an impersonal way, the doctrines of transcendence and immanence describe the royal dignity and presence of the God who came to be among his people in Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us. So understood, God’s transcendence does not imply that he is hidden from people; quite the contrary. But in a broader sense it is with his whole creation, for the whole creation is part of the program of redemption: For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Theologically, it refers to God’s existence within the universe. 1:23). And he expresses his authority by proclaiming to us his commands. 6:18; Rev. In primitive terms, immanence means His closeness to us, and transcendence His distance from us. Christians, especially mystics, have often described a God who works within them and whose presence they can perceive immediately and personally. It is to speak of why he has the right to dwell in such places. Scripture does not require us to use the terms transcendent and immanent, and some misuses of these terms have brought theological confusion. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on Amazon.com. Clearly, there is some conflict between these two characteristics. In modern theology, this concept leads to a skepticism about the adequacy of Scripture itself as a revelation of God and about the ability of human beings to say anything about God with real assurance (John Frame, The Doctrine of God, 110). (Lev. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God. For though the term transcendent is not itself biblical, it is a convenient way of grouping together certain biblical ideas. It’s His Immanence. Transcendence is a see also of immanence. Such a God must be wholly “other,” transcendent to everything we know. God’s transcendence is a way of referring to his lordship over the world, but lordship does not confine God to a sphere beyond our knowledge. How thankful I am, not only to see. This time, I will be sharing about this extraordinary attribute of God that appears to contradict the truth about His transcendence; but no, it does not. This essay is part of the Concise Theology series. 20:1–3), And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. These lordship rights and powers are his control and his authority (see John Frame, The Doctrine of God). The problem of conte xt. 8:1; 57:5). 8:18–22). There are all sorts of commonalities and points of comparison. But if we define these concepts to express God’s lordship, his covenant relations to his world and to his people, they can be used to express wonderful truths of God’s word: the riches of Christ, the depth of our relationship to God. approaching the question of transcendence as something which can only be answered through an appraisal of immanence. The idea of God being transcendent is very common when it comes to the mystical traditions of various religions. What is mysterious in this passage is his “immanence,” not his “transcendence.” As we saw earlier, Paul has spoken in Romans about the clarity of God’s revelation from “heaven” (1:18–21). Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. Immanence is the balancing concept to God's transcendence, which describes God as being of a completely different kind or substance from and completely independent of the universe He created. He dwells “in heaven above” (Deut. transcendence and immanence of God in the traditional African worldview. 7:14; 8:8; Matt. To Barth, God’s transcendence implies that he cannot be clearly revealed to men, clearly represented by human words and concepts. This does not imply Immanence and Transcendence by Jack Kettler “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4) In this study, we will look at the biblical teaching regarding Immanence and Transcendence. There is no biblical term that captures all of what theologians want to say about God’s transcendence, but the idea of immanence is helpfully summarized in the term Immanuel, God with us (Isa. He is both “nearby” and “far away,” according to Jeremiah 23:23. Paul says that there is "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6). Is Atheism Incompatible With Free Will and Moral Choice? Divine transcendence and immanence are the related Christian doctrines that while God is exalted in his royal dignity and exercises both control and authority in his creation (transcendence), he is, by virtue of this control and authority, very present to his creation, especially his people, in a personal and intimate way (immanence). Now let’s contrast that to the ‘immanence’ of God. Mystics who seek a union or at least contact with God are seeking a transcendent God — a God so totally “other” and so totally different from what we normally experience that a special mode of experience and perception is required. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; Isaiah 40:22. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. An Atheist's View of the Christian Right's Agenda and Beliefs, History of American Religion:1600 to 2017, One or Many Gods: The Varieties of Theism, Philosophic Humanism: Modern Humanist Philosophy and Religion, Many Religions, One God? For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. If we focus on His immanence and ignore His transcendence, we can become overly subjective about God, always looking for an immediate feeling, and limiting our perspective of God by what we have personally experienced of Him. God’s control and authority are such that he is present, immanent in all of his creation. There is no point of comparison, no points of commonality. Rather it is a necessary implication of his transcendence. Immanence, in philosophy and theology, a term applied, in contradistinction to “transcendence,” to the fact or condition of being entirely within something (from Latin immanere, “to dwell in, remain”). (Exod. The Lord’s throne is in heaven. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have forever been in a relationship of pure, intense, joyous love. The literal meaning of the immanence of God is "to be within" or "near" in relation to God's creation. Such a God is not immanent in our normal lives, otherwise, mystical training and mystical experiences would not be necessary to learn about God. The biblical language of God “on high” or “in Heaven” refers uniformly to God’s royal dignity. It is the heart of our relationship to God in Christ. 19:1–4). The God who is exalted high and far above the created universe is the same God who is always present and active in it. Immanence. Immanence God is everywhere present. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. “Heaven” is a way to refer to God’s throne (Isa. In responding to this view of God’s transcendence and immanence, we discuss the amplified transcendence and immanence of “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? So transcendence is a convenient term to summarize these ways in which God is “above us.”. Austin Cline, a former regional director for the Council for Secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism. A transcendent is one who is beyond perception, independent of the universe, and wholly “other” when compared to us. The more God’s transcendence is emphasized, the less God’s immanence can be understood and vice-versa. 97:9). Neoplatonic philosophy, in a similar manner, emphasized the idea that God is so pure and perfect that it completely transcended all of our categories, ideas, and concepts. God loves before he creates theworld or any humans. Many of the Psalms, for example, celebrate his kingship by praising the strength by which he controls his domain (Ps. The need for both qualities can be seen in the other characteristics normally attributed to God. So we should understand God’s immanence, the covenant presence of his lordship, to be everywhere in the universe, as well as being especially intense in particular locations. Transcendence, belief that God' or other divine forces control our world, and Immanence, belief in looking within; both have been represented by certain sections and people of our society. So if we choose to use the term transcendence to refer to God, we should use it to refer to his lordship, to his powers and rights as the king of everything he has made. Arvin M. Gouw, P hD. Divine transcendence and immanence are the related Christian doctrines that speak of God’s authority and control over his creation and people as king. Let us look first at the ways in which God is transcendent. However, besides being transcendent, God also possesses immanence (nearness), and it is in His immanence that God chooses to draw near to His creation. God is 'within' the universe in that God is its sustaining cause. TRANSCENDENCE AND IMMANENCE CHIN-TAI KIM I Judaeo-Christian theology represents God as transcendent while Spinoza's metaphysics by contrast represents God as immanent. Divine transcendence and immanence are the related Christian doctrines that while God is exalted in his royal dignity and exercises both control and authority in his creation (transcendence), he is, by virtue of this control and authority, very present to his creation, especially his people, in a personal and intimate way (immanence). If you are interested in translating our content or are interested in joining our community of translators, please reach out to us. Some theologians and philosophers have been willing to make such a move, but most have not — and the result is a continuation of both of these attributes, constantly in tension. In primitive terms, immanence means His closeness to us, and transcendence His distance from us. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. Over the last few decades, Klaus Nürnberger’s contribution to Christian theological discourse . For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And he is the head of the body, the church. But transcendentist theology does not altogether abandon the idea of divine immanence, just as immanentist metaphysics does not com-pletely exclude that of divine transcendence. God’s Immanence vs. Transcendence. Barth’s argument essentially reverses this picture (derived from Scripture) of God’s transcendence and immanence. For this reason, many philosophers have tried to downplay or even deny one attribute or the other. Various Greek philosophers have also discussed the idea of a God who is somehow united with our souls, such that this union can be understood and perceived by those who study and learn enough. Indeed, God’s lordship is his covenant relation to the world he has made, particularly to the persons in it. When applied to God it means that God dwells within the creation, permeating and saturating all things. Transcendence God is wholly other in the sense that he is unlike his creation. casting immanence as a characteristic of a transcendent god (common in Abrahamic religions), subsuming immanent personal gods in a greater transcendent being (such as with Brahman in Hinduism), or. The Old Testament, for example, records a prohibition against idols, and this can be interpreted as an attempt to emphasize the wholly “otherness” of God which cannot be represented physically. Indeed, when God reveals himself “from heaven,” he reveals himself clearly, so that those who reject him have only themselves to blame. This view of God’s transcendence contradicts the view of God’s immanence which we presented. God’s promise to Israel prior to the Exodus was, I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. He is “high” in the sense that the king’s throne is high above his subjects. Still, in our usual philosophical discourse, we generally see control in terms of physical causation and authority as an imposition of moral obligation; control represents might and authority represents right. Parashat BeShallah brings us to the dramatic climax of the Exodus, the splitting of the Reed Sea. 6:7). To say that God is immanent is to say that he is present in time and space, that he is near us. Please make sure all fields are filled out. Heaven is one of those places, a literal dwelling place of God far up in the sky, to which Jesus ascended when his earthly work was done (Acts 1:11). If we focus on His transcendence without a sense of His immanence, we can perceive God as being aloof and distant. The idea of a transcendent God has roots both in Judaism and in Neoplatonic philosophy. These two concepts are able to coexist by differentiating between transcendence as an attribute of God – something that He inherently exists as – and immanence as a situation in which He has chosen to … 7:14; Matt. Religion (1985) 15, 373-385 THE PARADOX OF TRANSCENDENCE AND IMMANENCE OF GOD IN AFRICAN RELIGIONS A SOCIO-HISTORICAL EXPLANATION Emefie Ikenga-Metuh The paradox of the transcendence and immanence of God is not peculiar to African religions . When discussing divine immanence Scripture uses metaphors of nearness or closeness, and speaks about him as bridegroom, father, shepherd, husband, lover, etc. Immanence is defined as something that exists within something. Jews, Christians, and Muslims. God is really and truly near to us, difficult as that may be for us to conceive. God’s immanence is naturally contrasted with the idea of God’s transcendence, which describes God as existing completely outside the universe. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). In this context, God is so utterly alien that it's wrong to attempt to portray it any sort of concrete fashion. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Dena Weiss. In Catholic theology, Christ and the Holy Spirit immanently reveal themselves; God the Father only reveals himself immanently vicariously through the Son and Spirit, and the divine nature, the Godhead is wholly transcendent and unable to be … God’s transcendence and immanence. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things were created through him and for him. 139:7–12), not only because he made everything and governs everything by his plan (Eph. How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! In sum, we can say that when it comes to God’s transcendence, Scripture uses metaphors of farness or distance, and speaks about him as creator, king, judge, warrior, master, etc. Immanence is an antonym of transcendence. Because he is our God and we are his people, he will be “with us” for all eternity: Immanuel! Divine immanence is the description of his kingly control and authority; because he rules over creation, he is present throughout the whole creation, especially to his people, in a personal and covenantal way. The Old Testament, for example, records a prohibition against idols, and this can be interpreted as an attempt to emphasize the wholly “otherness” of God which cannot be represented physically. (Exod. But Scripture itself never connects God’s transcendence with human uncertainty about God, let alone skepticism. This was not only one of the most dramatic and necessary miracles of the Torah, it is also one of its greatest moments of Divine revelation. 1:20). In general, to say that God is transcendent is to say that he is exalted, above, beyond us. So God is transcendent in the sense that he is separate from his creation, … Continued Therefore, we can define transcendence as God’s lordship over his world with particular reference to his royal prerogatives of control and authority. So they are without excuse. This essay is freely available under Creative Commons License with Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA 3.0 US), allowing users to share it in other mediums/formats and adapt/translate the content as long as an attribution link, indication of changes, and the same Creative Commons License applies to that material. God’s transcendence is seen in that he is exalted in his royal dignity and exercises both control and authority in his creation. The African traditional worldview in many respects believes the transcendent God whose immanence is mediated by lesser spiritual intermediary powers. Moving in the other direction, we find Protestant theologian Paul Tillich and those who have followed his example in describing God as our “ultimate concern,” such that we could not “know” God without “participating in” God. In fact, the mystical experiences are themselves generally described as “transcendent” and not amenable to the normal categories of thought and language which would allow those experiences to be communicated to others. However, this passage does not speak of God’s transcendent existence “on high,” but about God’s “ways” in history as described in Romans 1:1-11:32. Experiential realism is all that we have, the basis on which our knowledge of this world, and of God, is deduced. This intimate relationship, the heart of the covenant, resounds through Scripture (see Deut. As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, commentary evidence, dictionary entries and portions of essays for the purpose to glorify… How thankful I am, not only to see these features revealed in Scripture … Theologians talk about the immanence and transcendence of God. Thus, we have the mystery of God’s immanence and transcendence. God’s covenant presence is primarily with his redeemed people. In contrast, an immanent God is one which exists within — within us, within the universe, etc. 12:6; John 2:19–22). The importance of this divine-human intimacy cannot be stressed enough. 4:39; cf. Transcendence and Immanence of. If God is a person and works within human history, then it would make little sense for us not to be able to perceive and communicate with God. Such a God must be immanent. BY CLIFFORD GOLDSTEIN T heologians talk about the immanence and transcendence of God. “The Lord is in his holy temple. Granting the mysteriousness of God’s actions in history, Paul is still able to speak of the mystery in clear human language. Earth Man, Insignificance Of Earth, Description Of Grasshoppers God Being Outside Of Creation God, Sovereignty Of Circles. He controls the events of nature and history, including the course of our salvation from sin. 7:24; 2 Cor. God’s transcendence and immanence. immanence and transcendence makes it impossible to speak credibly about God or to adhere to scientifically acceptable faith claims in the context of experiential realism. Immanence affirms, while transcendence denies that God is contained within the world, and thus within the limits of human reason, or within the norms and resources of human society and culture. Transcendence (God exists outside of space and time) and immanence (God is present within space and time) are both attributes of God.