Monday, September 8, 2008

Transcendence, Immanence and Theism

Transcendence and Immanence - These are two characteristics of the God of the Bible. Transcendence refers to God as being prior to and existing outside the created world. To describe God as transcendent means God’s existence, his person and his nature, are not connected to the created world. God exists unchanged before, during and after the universe, or any created thing, existed. Immanence refers to God’s ability, desire and practice of being involved in the universe. This includes his general indwelling of every part of creation. God is everywhere simultaneously and is present at every point in space (but, this does not mean he exists as every point in space.) As transcendent, God is beyond time and space and is not affected by creation. As immanent, God is aware, present and involved in the created world. The Biblical God is both transcendent and immanent. He exists outside the universe but is active in the universe.

There are seven major world views of concerning God:

1. Atheism – believes there is no God
2. Polytheism – believes there are many gods
3. Panentheism – believes God is finite. He learns and changes as the free universe makes decisions.
4. Finite godism – believes God is finite but lives beyond the universe yet still has limited action in the universe
5. Pantheism – believes God is infinite but lives or exists with the creation
6. Deism – God is infinite, does not live in or effect the world; he is totally outside creation (transcendent).
7. Theism – God is infinite and beyond creation but he does act within creation; he is personal and knowable

Theism is an ancient philosophical concept that needed to be identified when the philosophy of deism began to be embraced in the 1600’s. Deism simply believes that God created the universe like a clockmaker. God wound it up and is letting it run. In deism God is entirely transcendent or outside the created world. Deism describes God as the first cause who created the world and established immutable, universal laws that can not be altered even by divine intervention. Theism on the other hand is the belief in the existence of one God who is transcendent and yet immanent. Theism embraces an infinite God who has personhood and interacts with people.

Galyn Wiemers

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