Friday, December 10, 2010

Ask RC: Does God Exist?

No. Really and sincerely. God does not exist. I am not saying that I doubt His existence. I’m quite confident that He does not exist. This does not mean, however, that there is no God. God is, and He does not exist. There is a profound difference from being and existing. We exist. God is. Indeed we exist because God is.

Existence, in terms of its root meaning does not mean to be. Rather it means “to stand out of” from the roots existere. What however, does those things that exist stand out of? Being. To understand this we need a little refresher on Greek philosophy. Two of the pre-socratic titans argued this way: Parmenides suggested that whatever is, is. He took the view that change is an illusion. His nemesis, Heraclitus, argued that whatever is is changing.

The truth of the matter, however, is that we, indeed all the created order are both. We are, and we are changing. I used to have a nice thick head of hair. But not anymore. But the thick-haired me and the bald me are the same me. I did not slowly disappear from my bathroom mirror as my hair slowly succumbed to gravity. The computer on which I type was not always what it is today. Once it had no “Ask RC” pieces stored on it. Now it does. But the older computer didn’t disappear and the new one appear. There is change, and there is continuity. We stand with one foot in being (that part of us that stays with us through all the changes) and one foot in becoming (those parts of us that come and go, that are defined by change.)

God, on the other hand, does not change. He is immutable, unchanging. He is all being, and no becoming. If hair or no hair, married or single, tall or short are sundry attributes that at one time or another described me, one could see these as assorted pearls on a string. We change out the pearls as we change, but the “we” part that stays with us, that’s the string. God is all string.

This answer is given, however, not to play philosophical parlor games. It is instead to consider the transcendent glory of God. We rightly affirm, precisely because He is string, that to talk about His “attributes” is a dangerous convenience. God, as the Westminster Confession part, has no parts. He is not like the old song Dry Bones, with the omniscience bone connected to the omnipotence bone connected to the omnipresence bone. He is, O Israel, one. That He is, that is His name, His sacred and holy name. It is because He is being that He is everything that He is. Here is beauty, glory sufficient to occupy our minds into eternity. In fact, eternity will be just that.

We will be there, however, not because “I Am” changed us. We will be there because of another of God’s name. He who is I Am is also “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” The transcendent God condescends to covenant with us, and to redeem us. We must never allow the majesty of His transcendence to obscure the grace of His immanence. Neither may we allow the tenderness of His immanence to cloud the glory of His transcendence. Our Father, He is in heaven. And His Son came to us, that we might be brought to Him.

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