Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God is....

You might have asked these two similar questions "Who is God?" or "What is God?" before.

You might had been asked by others recently these two questions.

Do you still ask these questions? Did you asked them this morning?

This morning, I tried asking them. And guess what, I heard none other than Karl Barth's echo, "God is God".

On one level, these two questions are not questions that humans able to ask by ourselves. The very fact that humans asking is already the gift of God for us to ask. Our curiosity is not the reason why we ask these questions. Instead it is God who are the reason why we ask. We ask because God enable us to ask. This is his grace.

On another level, to say that "God is God" is saying "mystery is mystery". God revealed himself through Christ, yet that does not make God less mysterious. Christ showed us God, yet the very life of Christ made God profoundly unfathomable. Hence to say "God is (something)" is no less a human attempt to create an idol for ourselves.

We might think that if we confront Christ,

we will learn more about God and love him more;

but the nearer we get to him,

the more we realize that it is God who is the one confronting us through Christ,

learning us, loving us.

God is God.

So, what happened this morning is that I received a gift.


davinci said...

Barth says,

God is above, man is below; let God be God, let man be man!

but Tilich responds,

then so what? since God is so distant to us, nothing concern us..haha!

Tillich always try to correlate man - God.

I think Reformed akin to Barth; but Charismatics akin to Tillich; I mean in general.

Because charismatics have tradition of invoking spiritual resources to serve human material and psychological needs.

Joseph Prince, always wants to pull God down from heaven, into man's realm, to the extent, his will become God's will...

Sze Zeng said...

Hi davinci,

I'm not familiar with Tillich's theology to comment.

From the little that i know, he enjoys keeping a close relationship between theology and philosophy; the gospel and culture. Perhaps that's why you said he correlates God and man.

While for Barth, he aspires not only to separate theology and philosophy; the gospel contra culture, but to place the God over everything else. Perhaps that's why you said to Barth, God is above and man below.

I think both gave good points that we can adopt.

The gospel and the culture cannot be separated differently nor correlated similarly.

God is in the world, hence in the culture, yet not identifiably with the culture. Take Christ for eg. He is born into a culture yet he does not identify himself along that culture. He confronts, critique, and ultimately redeem his culture. Christology is the way I prefer to look at the relation between theology and philosophy.

I think JP does not reflects either Tillich or Barth.

Thank you for sharing :)

Steven Sim said...

Barth is moving from a very reformed view...in a way, you hear Van Til in "god is god", that god is not only different in ontological degree a wholly other category from all existence.

Hmmm...difficult to strike a middle point between an awe inspiring god up there and a loving tender god who deals with us as a Father.

"god is god" should be balanced up by Barth's Logos theology, IMHO.

Steven Sim

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Steven,

From the little that I know of both great thinkers, yes I do see similarity between Barth and Van Til.

To Van Til, he thinks that God is wholly other category yet still in the 'rational' category. Van Til bound God to be 'rational', even if the divine rational appears to be incomprehensible to humans. Yet humans' rationality conforms to this divine rational.

To Barth, he thinks that the divine being is ultimately a mystery. The more humans' rationality conform to this mystery, the more mysterious it becomes.

Hence there is a dialectical tension in Barth's theology which Van Til do not share.

Regarding your opinion: "god is god" should be balanced up by Barth's Logos theology.

Yes and no. Yes, because Barth takes Christ as the revelation of God. No, because this revelation remains a 'revelation' not a 'state of revealed'.

In Barth's Epistle to the Romans, he states this paradox, "The revelation of Jesus Christ is at the same time the greatest conceivable veiling of God."

Eberhard Busch (recognize as the authority on Barth) comments on Barth's point, "God cannot be grasped by humanity, especially in his revelation."

Not sure if I clarify anything...

Steven Sim said...

After all, Barth's is also, rightly or wrongly, called a dialetical theology for all the theological paradox he expounded...

you have the advantage of Barth's Romans! I regret not buying it at Borders...hahaha..but too many books for me, I don't have much time for them. Again, from your explaination, the dialectics is rather obvious, revelation and yet mystery.

Busch (related to GW Bush kah?)'s quote you gave somehow is close to my thought about the gospel's portrayal of Jesus. The fact that we see a human Jesus than the god Jesus is telling that we were never asked to be "godlike" when we become christlike, rather, we become more human, the genuine humanity.

It's a pity Christians today may not like the dense philosophical treatise of old theologians like Barth. Much less the church doctors of course. :D

Steven Sim

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Steve,

I dont have Barth's Romans!!! How I wish I have!! All I have are quotes from here and there!!!


er... i don think busch is related to bush.

This Sunday I will be attending a 'presbyterian' church in Singapore that does not belong to the presbyterian synod. When I asked one of its member about it, he told me that they follow Karl Barth. That alone gives me enough reason to visit!

Steven Sim said...

wow...bring me there lah when i in Sg, if have chance...

Tay said...

Hi Steven,

I don't agree with your statement that "The fact that we see a human Jesus than the god Jesus is telling that we were never asked to be "godlike" when we become christlike, rather, we become more human, the genuine humanity."

The person of Jesus is both truly God and truly man. Thus there is also a sense that we are called to be like God, to participate in the divine nature, to be sanctified, to be holy, to be godly.