Sunday, May 11, 2014

G4. God is present in all places and all times.

OK, I've been trying to figure out where to put omnipresence. I've decided that I should have put it much closer to the beginning.  So let's stick it back in the bullet points.
God is present in all places and times.

It makes perfect sense that if God made the world out of nothing, then he could easily fill it entirely with his presence. The psalmist puts it this way,

Where can I go from your Spirit?
     Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
     if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
     if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
     your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
     and the light become night around me,
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
     the night will shine like the day,
     for darkness is as light to you. (Ps. 139:7-12, NIV).

Although we have to remember that this is a poem and that the psalmist pictured the world much differently than we do, Christians throughout the centuries have taken this psalm to indicate that God is present everywhere within the universe. And as science has expanded our sense of the universe's scope and greatness, the Christian sense that God is everywhere present within it has followed suit.

The Bible primarily pictures God's Spirit as the part of him that is present everywhere, although Christian theology also attributes God's omnipresence, his presence everywhere, to the Father and Son as well. Jesus of course took on a localized identity when he was on earth. Not only is there nowhere we can hide from God but there is nowhere that we are out of the reach of his help in a time of need.

God is not only presence in all space but God is also present in all time, his eternity. Although we do not know what it might mean for God to exist before time, we know that God's presence fills all of time. Christians have also believed historically that God has already seen all of history. While we cannot know how God knows all of history, some have suggested that God looks on all time at the same time in a kind of "eternal now."

You might suggest that God as transcendent, as outside the creation, looks on all time in an eternal present. This aspect of God corresponds most to God the Father in Scripture. Meanwhile, God as immanent, as within the creation, goes through time with us, from moment to moment. This aspect of God corresponds most to God the Spirit in Scripture. [1]

However he does it, God is present in all places and times.

Next week: G10. To say that God is holy is to say that God is God.

[1] To speak of the Trinity in this way is a little different from the way Christians of the centuries have, since it has been important to say that all three persons of the Trinity are both transcendent and immanent. I am not meaning to violate that principle, even if my language suggests the focus of trinitarian location might play out more as I am suggesting. I would argue that my language corresponds better to the biblical imagery, especially when played out in relation to a mature understanding of creation out of nothing.

1 comment:

Pastor Bob said...