this will be our expansion on the underlying assumption of the homily Sunday and the basis of our class discussion
1 Kings 8:27 "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you much less this house that I have built!"
Herein lies the problem of the "great divide" between God and His creation .
God is infinite..... creation is finite
God is perfect.... creation is limited and ultimately imperfect
God is always... creation is here and now, there and then
God is actual... creation is mix of actual and potential (so it changes)
God is and has to be... creation is contingent (so it could not be or could be different)
God is beautiful... creation is beauty mixed with ugliness
God is complete… creation is incomplete (and waits for ‘salvation’)
God transcends creation because God is God......No “thing” is God, nothing else is like God
SO how does pure and holy and perfect and eternal and etc. Spirit encounter the world of creation?
Approaches to God include
1. Atheism: “no” “god”
2. Pantheism: “all” “god” everything is god, which is very mystical and affirms the sacredness of the world, but it is a non-personal god (unbiblical)
3. Sacramentalism; (Hebrew influenced, “human is an animated body,” divine emanations (word, glory, spirit) and mediators (angels, fire, word, etc.) God is ‘incarnational.’ (Philippians: kenosis= God must be graspable by humans in their particularity and limitations. SO God "takes" on particularity and limitations). His presence is mediated in and through something created. We do not encounter the fullness of God because we cannot encounter the fullness of God. He is “veiled” from our sight and must “reveal” (apocalypse or revelation literally means unveiling’) There is a need for discernment and faith to see God.
4. Gnosticism: (Greek dualism influenced “body is prison of soul”) salvation through enlightenment //knowledge. Body and spirit are unbridgeable. Two approaches: a-moral (feed hungers because the body does not matter, only soul) and ascetical (beat body down because it is the problem)
5. Non-creedal (heretics) Jesus is not truly human, He is fully divine. He has all God’s attributes (like perfection) with no limitations. Jesus is God plain and simple [practical denial of the Gospel portrait and incarnation]Why does it matter?
1. One assumption is created reality shares in God’s nature. However, to share in is not to encompass completely. This view (which denies observable reality) is expressed in the claim since God is perfect and unlimited this means (by logical deduction) that God communicates this perfection to… The most likely candidates for this perfection are church (Body of Christ, Communion of Saints, filled and lead by Holy Spirit, ministers are ambassador of Christ), the sacraments (rituals which regenerate us, forgive us, heal us, make us one with Jesus, fill us with the Holy Spirit, make us holy ministers and make us one flesh) or the bible (written book shares Gods nature and is inerrant, perfect and divine)
2. The life of faith then becomes less about a trusting relationship with God and obedient response to His call then it is a lifelong battle to defend one’s belief against those who do not adhere to it. Lots of energy is spent trying to explain the contradictions away. We do not think deeply about what our beliefs entail (the “if this…then that” of belief). We end up living in denial trying to not let the logical consequences of our beliefs interfere with the daily living. And in the modern age (and post-modern age) the false teaching has no appeal. People reject it and so think they must reject Jesus and Christianity.
3. The false belief is about power. It protects us from the uncertainties of life and the struggle of faith. If I have the church, or the Bible, or the sacraments (the visible and controllable)---well I do not need God (the invisible and free). I can interpret and therefore I can decide what things mean. I am Lord (Adam) and I am in charge.What is the alternative?
1. If the world cannot contain God then I can embrace a sacramental worldview and live with the bipolarity of life. I can face reality and understand that “already, but not yet” means healing and sickness, exorcism and demonic, life and death, enlightenment and confusion, light and dark, peace and agitation, etc. etc. co-exist side by side.
2. God is here among us Silent, yet speaking. The presence and work of God is partial and mediated. The goodness of God flows through the mixed goodness and evil/badness of things, people, and words. If Holy Communion does not produce mystical union, so what, it is still Jesus! If the Bible is not an errorless science or history book, so what, it is still God’s word speaking to church universal and particular human that He loves us and is faithful. If churchmen are still sinners, so what, there is still the preaching of the word and the saving works of the kingdom being done.
3. More importantly, the world opens up as a sacrament. Church is an intensification of God saving us in any human community. Sacraments are an intensification of any thing or event which convey God providential and saving love. The Bible is an intensification of any inspired word, written or spoken, which conveys a communication from God. When we deify something and strip it of its humanity it ceases to be part of this world. It is different in “kind”, something “not of this world.” But if these things are still of this world, then there is a difference in degree, not kind. They are more sacred than others, but they are still like the others. And sometimes God can and will use the others to achieve His ends. So we can live our lives looking for God everywhere, because we have encountered Him somewhere!