"Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world." - Todd Littleton
"I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see." - Anon
"Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all." - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
"Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be." - Kurt Vonnegut
"Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals." - Jim Forest
"People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone." - Anon
"... Certainly God's love has made fools out of us all." - R.E. Slater
"An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst." - R.E. Slater
"Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics." - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
"Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated." - Emil Brunner
"Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh" means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Mutable Immutable God of Creation

The God who Moves and Responds and Acts 

by J.R.D. Kirk
May 4, 2012

One of the most significant ramifications of working out one’s theology from the starting point of Jesus Christ is that the actual involvement of God in the world curtails pious-sounding abstractions that, if true, would make God so distant and other as to be of no earthly good.

Because, let’s face it friends, on the day that we learn of the death of the great MCA of the Beastie Boys, we need to know that our God is not a pious abstraction, but a God who can and will and does act. (Can I get an amen?)

Barth's God Immutably Loves Mozart

God’s constancy is not a constancy of one who is unmoved or unmoving. God’s life is “difference, movement, will, decision, action, degeneration, and rejuvenation” (Barth, Church Dogmatics §31.2).

With this litany of divine attributes, signaling what, exactly, God’s constancy looks like, Barth launches into one of the best discussions of divine identity and attributes I’ve ever read.

In the [popular/modernistic] world of theological abstraction, God’s “immutability” becomes “immobility.” But in the [biblical] theology developed from the self-revelation of God in Christ, “immutability” becomes, instead, God’s constancy of action, as God chooses to act, in accordance with God’s desire to be in relationship with the world God created.

God is life.
"We have also to understand it as a proof and a manifestation of God’s constant vitality that God has a real history in and with the world created by Him. This is the history of the reconciliation and revelation accomplished by Him, by which He leads the world to a future redemption."
God has tied himself to a history, bound himself to a story.

We know all this because as Christians we don’t start with abstractions about the identity of God and attempt to figure out how such abstractions make sense within our story. We begin with God’s actual revelation in Jesus and Christ and learn from there who this God is who is at work.

Two highlights from later in the chapter include small print sections on prayer and on the Philippians Christ-hymn.

An immutable God might lead one to believe that prayer can have no effect on the divine. “It’s all about changing us, not getting God to act.”

Wrong.
…the prayers of those who can and will believe are heard; …God is and wills to be known as the One who will and does listen to the prayers of faith… So real is the communication that where it occurs God positively wills that man should call upon Him in this way, in order that He may be his God and Helper.

The living and genuinely immutable God is not an irresistible fate/force before which man can only keep silence, passively awaiting and accepting the benefits or blows which it ordains. There is no such thing as a Christian resignation in which we either have to submit to a fate of this kind or to come to terms with it.
God acts. God acts in love. This is what we learn of the immutability of God as God is revealed in Jesus Christ. The God of love acts on behalf of God’s people. More specifically:
It is because God was in this way one with the creature in Jesus Christ, that there was and is fellowship between God and the creature.
No, the God of all did not need to bind Himself to humanity. But he did. In God’s freedom, God has bound himself to all humanity in Jesus Christ.

So when God is immutable and constant, that changelessness will be for us as our salvation, for the maintenance of the relationship God has created anew. [And when God is mutable and changeable it is for us the result of our relationship with a living God in relation with us. - res]

The surprise in this is that it is in self-giving, self-humbling love that “Christ is Christ and God is God.”

The upshot for us, of course, is that only in such self-giving, self-humbling love and “In it alone can Christians be Christians” (p. 518).



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