In Defense Of Nationalism … In Defense of Basic Christianity

“When evangelicals embrace an America-first nationalism, the gospel is co-opted and betrayed.”

“… Nationalism gives pride of place to ourselves, to regional or national assertions of primacy and the quest for power and success, control and dominance, legitimizing violence and pressing for victory.  Nationalism reveals that we have mis-ordered worship. Religiously motivated nationalism simply turns God into our “godling,” a deity subject to our bidding.”

Mark Labberton
President of Fuller Seminary

Naturally enough, there can be no “Nationalism” without the idea of “Nation.” So, just to make sure we are all working with the same definitions I offer some textbook definitions of “Nation” to begin.

Strong’s Concordance
ethnos: a race, a nation, pl. the nations (as distinct from Isr.)

Original Word: ἔθνος, ους, τό
Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
Transliteration: ethnos
Phonetic Spelling: (eth’-nos)
Short Definition: a race, people, the Gentiles
Definition: a race, people, nation; the nations, heathen world, Gentiles.

KJV Dictionary Definition: nation 

NATION, n. to be born

1. A body of people inhabiting the same country, or united under the same sovereign or government; as the English nation; the French nation. It often happens that many nations are subject to one government; in which case, the word nation usually denotes a body of people speaking the same language or a body that has formerly been under a distinct government but has been conquered, or incorporated with a larger nation. Thus the empire of Russia comprehends many nations, as did formerly the Roman and Persian empires. Nation, as its etymology imports, originally denoted a family or race of men descended from a common progenitor, like tribe…

Having established what “nation” means, I offer here a definition of “Nationalism.” Nationalism is a proper love for one’s own people and for one’s own place.

 In this article, I intend to take issue with President Labberton’s conclusions regarding Nationalism. I am convinced this needs to be done so because the love of people and place (i.e. — Nationalism) has taken it on the chin lately as seen in the recent MLK-50 conference as well as sermons and postings by various putative leading light evangelicals.  “Nationalism,” like “racism” is become a pejorative to sling at people in order to shame them, fill them with guilt, and ultimately shut them up.

To my knowledge, no Evangelical has ever used the word “Nationalism” to describe their beliefs as President Labbereton has used the word “Nationalism” here to describe the beliefs of Evangelicals who self-identify as “Nationalists,” and who thus embrace “Nationalism.” As such, Labberton’s description above of “Nationalism” to define Evangelical Nationalists has no objective meaning apart from its intended work as a polemical sobriquet. If no Evangelical Nationalists embraces for himself the definition of Nationalism given by President Labberton and if further President Labberton’s definition is only attached to a construct (Nationalism) that is inherently wicked per Labberton, then the word and definition is only intended to be a kind of verbal biological weapon that is intended to poison the well before a conversation on Nationalism can begin.

Having noted the above it can be conceded that there have been many rancid and un-Christian examples of Nationalism, particularly in the 20th century. One only needs to consider the Nationalisms which combined with Marxist social theory to give us Mussolini’s Italy,  Hitler’s Germany, and Allende’s Chile. However, all, because Nationalism has been abused in practice, doesn’t mean that a proper Nationalism is inherently wicked everywhere and at all times. There are numerous examples of bad marriages but that does not prove that we need to denounce marriage as an institution. Similarly, all because Nationalism has been perverted that doesn’t mean we need to rid ourselves of a proper Nationalism where there is a proper love of our people and a love of our place.

 

Vis-a-vis President Labberton and his assault on Nationalism we agree with an older Christianity as expressed by Rev. Hugh M’Neile, in his 1839 sermon “Nationalism in Religion,’

“We cannot agree in that cosmopolitan view of Christianity which undermines the particularities of our National Establishment, any more than we could agree in such a cosmopolitan view of philanthropy as would extinguish domestic affections, in all their vivid and constraining peculiarity of influence.”

Christianity without Nationalism cannot be Christianity if only because the only other option left is Christianity as Internationalism or Cosmopolitanism. Such a creature is nowhere envisioned in the Scriptures, though to listen to many prominent clerical voices of “Christian” modernity the only option possible for Christianity in terms of social ordering is an Internationalism that finds all nations, and all colors, in the words of that famous theologian, Bono, “bleeding into one.”

Christian Nationalism is everywhere seen in the NT. Indeed, there is no evidence anywhere of any such thing as Christian Cosmopolitanism or Christian Internationalism. Christ teaches Nationalism when He teaches, “other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring.” Christ teaches Nationalism when He said that he originally was going only to the lost tribes of Israel. Christ teaches Nationalism when He calls a foreigner a “dog” and says that “it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” Jesus teaches Nationalism when He says “before Him shall be gathered all nations.” In a less than flattering fashion, the New Testament teaches Nationalism when the inspired Apostle says, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons,” and then more positively when he laments, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” Paul supports Nationalism in the Galatians controversy when he resists Peter’s Christian Internationalism which required the Gentiles to become cultural Jews before they could be considered Christian. Nationalism is given Christ’s imprimatur when, in the great commission, He commands His men to go forth and disciple the nations. And the success of that work of the Church is testified to in the book of Revelation when we read that the nations in the new Jerusalem will walk by the light of the glory of God and when John the Revelator writes, “and the leaves of the trees will be for the healing of the nations.” So central are Nations to the Biblical mindset that the inspired St. Paul could write, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth.” The importance of Nationalism is testified to by the genealogical lines in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. Jesus had to be a blood son of David from the tribe of Judah.

At Pentecost, those who were in Jerusalem heard the Apostles speaking in their own National tongue, not in a Gnostic Esperanto. The Church always took shape in particular cities (Colosse, Ephesus, Phillip) particular nations and among particular peoples. So nation minded is the New Testament that Paul in Acts 16 receives a call not from an Internationalist man but from a Macedonian man. From this plea of the Macedonian man, the most momentous event in the history of the nations of Europe and the West came to pass, to wit, the coming of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the sons of Japheth and the eventual creation of Christendom. Nationalism is God’s gift to mankind and apart from a Biblical Nationalism, there can be no Christianity.

Indeed, historically, the enemies of Christ have understood this very point even if modern putative Evangelicals do not. The enemies of Christ have written that their intent is to destroy the whole concept of nations. I offer just a few, mindful that the careless attacks by President Labberton and many other putative Evangelicals are really doing the devil’s work,

1.) ”What will be the attitude of communism to existing nationalities?

The nationalities of the peoples associating themselves in accordance with the principle of community will be compelled to mingle with each other as a result of this association and hereby to dissolve themselves, just as the various estate and class distinctions must disappear through the abolition of their basis, private property.”

~ Frederick Engels in “The Principles of Communism”, 1847

2.) “The equality of races and nations is one of the most important elements of the moral strength and might of the Soviet state. Soviet anthropology develops the one correct concept, that all the races of mankind are biologically equal. The genuinely materialist conception of the origin of man and of races serves the struggle against racism, against all idealist, mystic conceptions of man, his past, present and future.”

—Mikhail Nesturkh, Soviet anthropologist, 1959
“The Origin of Man” (Moscow)Mikhail Nesturkh, Soviet anthropologist, 1959:

3.) “The aim of socialism is not only to abolish the present division of mankind into small states and end all national isolation; not only to bring the nations closer together but to merge them….”

Vladimir Lenin
The Rights of Nations to Self Determination — pg. 76

4.) “… Just as mankind can achieve the abolition of classes only by passing through the dictatorship of the proletariat, so mankind can achieve the inevitable merging of nations only by passing through the transition period of complete liberation of all oppressed nations, i.e., their right to secede. “

Vladimir Lenin 
The Rights of Nations to Self Determination 

5.) “Even the natural differences within species, like racial differences…, can and must be done away with historically.” 

K. Marx’s Collected Works V:103,
As cited in S.F. Bloom’s The World of Nations: A
Study of the National Implications in the Work of Karl Marx, Columbia University Press, New York, 1941, pp. 11 & 15-19:

6.) “Full-scale Communist construction constitutes a new stage in the development of national relations in the U.S.S.R., in which the nations will draw still closer together until complete unity is achieved…. However, the obliteration of national distinctions and especially of language distinctions is a considerably longer process than the obliteration of class distinctions.”

Nikita Khrushchev

It has gotten to the point in the Evangelical and Reformed world that when one listens to lectures and sermons on social ordering one finds themselves wondering if they are listening to the mouthpieces of God or the mouthpieces of Gramsci.

Usually, at this point, the great Galatians 3:26 objection arises in order to authoritatively end any talk of the glories of a Christ-centered Nationalism,

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Briefly, let it be said that there is no fluid nationality suggested in this text any more than there is fluid gender; no more is a trans-nationality or uni-nationality implied by “neither Jew nor Greek” than feminism or sodomy, or transgenderism is implied by “neither male nor female”, nor is a universal declaration of human rights implied by “neither slave nor free.”

Nationalism is the biblical a-priori — the great presupposition of all the New Testament. This is so true that any and every attack on Christian Nationalism is an attack on the very foundations of Biblical Christianity. On this point, we agree with the 2oth century Reformed Christian Theologian, Dr. Francis Nigel Lee,

“One of the very reasons that Paul desired that the Gentiles become Christians was not only so that the Gentiles themselves may be blessed but also so that the Gentiles, then as Christians, may proceed to provoke his own Israelitic nation to jealousy and thereafter to faith in Christ. Accordingly, I think we must judge that every Christian who does not love his own nation is either an ungrateful cosmopolitan rascal and a rebuilder of the tower of Babel or otherwise is woefully ignorant of Scripture. And, I am sorry to say that the world is full of these kinds of people today.”

Eliminate the nations and you will eliminate Christianity because

1.) Nationalism is but the next concentric circle of familialism. One can not destroy nations without also destroying the family. Does anyone really want to argue that God intends families to integrate into oblivion?

2.) Christianity cannot take root in a petri-dish of Internationalism and Cosmopolitanism due to its covenantal nature. Even the promise of the Gospel is predicated upon nationalism as Peter says on the Day of Pentecost, “The promise is for you and for your children, and for as many who are afar off as the Lord our God may call.” But even those afar off who were called were called in their families as seen by the household Baptisms.

3.) You make void one of the earliest Gospel promises,

Genesis 22:18 “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed My voice.”

How can it be the case that all the nations of the earth will be blessed if one insists that we “imagine there are no countries?”

All of this is why Dr. Pierre Courthial can say in his book, “A New Day of Small Beginnings,”

“In giving the Church a mission to the nations, Jesus does not diminish the importance of the individual… At stake is the salvation, well-being, and peace of the nations, that is, societies as God would have them. The Son of God must ‘rule all nations’ (Rev. 12:5). The nations must bow down before the Lord and come to walk in His light (Rev. 15:4; 21:24). These nations, with their cultures, traditions, and religions turned away from the God of Holy Scripture, are called to be converted to a sure salvation. This conversion of a nation does not happen apart from the individual lives of faithful Christians, but precisely through the influence of such lives. Moreover, each nation’s conversion is to reflect the uniqueness of that nation.”

Nations, and by extension, Nationalisms are foundational to Christianity. God’s well-known intent to save the whole cosmos (world) happens via the saving of the Nations, which per Courthial, are converted consistent with their uniqueness as nations.

This warfare against nationalism in favor of cosmopolitanism/ Internationalism that we are currently living as witnesses through, such as is being waged by those bearing the ironic names of “The Gospel Coalition” and “American Vision” is giving us nothing but pure Cultural Marxist paganism claptrap wrapped up in Jesus talk. All of it goes quite against what the Dutch-American Reformed Theologian Dr. Geerhardus Vos wrote,

“Nationalism, within proper limits, has the divine sanction; an imperialism that would, in the interest of one people, obliterate all lines of distinction is everywhere condemned as contrary to the divine will. Later prophecy raises its voice against the attempt at world-power, and that not only, as is sometimes assumed, because it threatens Israel, but for the far more principal reason, that the whole idea is pagan and immoral.

Now it is through maintaining the national diversities, as these express themselves in the difference of language, and are in turn upheld by this difference, that God prevents realization of the attempted scheme… [In this] was a positive intent that concerned the natural life of humanity. Under the providence of God, each race or nation has a positive purpose to serve, fulfillment of which depends on relative seclusion from others.”

God still deals with people as being members of nations, peoples, and races. This is a very unsavory truth for the modern Evangelical with their love affair for the erasure of all the creation distinctions God created us with. God has not given up on Nations anymore than He has given up on Families from where nations arise. When St. Paul wrote, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” the Spirit of the living God was teaching Nationalism. When Jesus, from the Cross, cared for His own Mother entrusting her to His kinsmen, John, Christ was teaching Nationalism. In Romans 9 where we hear St. Paul weep over his special love for his kinsmen the Holy Spirit is teaching Nationalism.

Nationalism is really a very simple idea. We have been redeemed by Christ with the intent that we should take on the image of Christ just as Adam was made in the image and likeness of God. And, like Adam in the garden, we are now restored to being Priests, and as Adam was a Priest of God tasked with the responsibility to guard and cultivate his family and land, so we now, as restored Priests under sovereign God take up the task of guarding and cultivating our God-given people and our God-given land. This is Nationalism.

If we will not have Nationalism, neither will we have Christianity.

Macron’s Allegiance to the New World Order

“It is together that we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world. It is together that we will build a new, strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds.”

Emmanuel Macron 
French President 
Comments on Arrival to Trump White House

1.) Macron a question. In your Globalist elitist worldview is there any nationalism that isn’t an “aggressive nationalism?”

2.) When you say “deny our history” vis-a-vis “nationalism that will divide the world” who is the “our” in that sentence?

3.) Macron, we’re not stupid. We understand that your, “Strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy” equals, “New World Order.”

4.) How can nationalism be a counter-point to pluralism when the only way to get to genuine pluralism is by distinct nationalisms?

5.) “Divide the World.” The only other option to dividing the world that Macron so fears is to unite the World into a uniform politico-social-economic miasma.

With Apologies To John Bunyan

Upon finally fleeing Vanity Fair Hopeful and Christian continued on the way to the Celestial city but when they stopped at a well for a drink they encountered two fair maidens named Egalitarianism and SJWism. The maidens did ply them with kindly words and sweet morsels intended to delay them from returning to the road that wended its way to the Celestial City. Dusk came upon them and suddenly Evangelist appeared to chastise Christian and Hopeful for their tardiness. At the sight of Evangelist SJWism and Egalitarianism did hiss and froth. They clutched and pulled at Christian and Hopeful’s clothing seeking to pull them to their Father, Frankfurt’s house.

SJWism said to Hopeful, “Will you not come hither with me to my Father’s house. There you might meet my valiant brothers ‘King Gramsci,’ ‘King Marcuse,’ and ‘King Burnes’ who could teach you the ways of my land.” Hopeful looked longingly at SJWism and then back at Evangelist and finally said, “Fair maiden, I am sorely tempted to learn those arts but Evangelist has reminded me that our Master has said ‘the poor we have with us always.’ “Besides, envy is one of the seven deadly sins and it is reported far and wide that your King Brothers Gramsci, Marcuse, and Burnes, excel at teaching the art of envy. Release me, I must not turn aside from the road to the Celestial city. At these words, SJWism viciously gouged Hopeful with her sharpened nails and drew copious blood. Evangelist applied a tourniquet to the wound and informed Hopeful that this wound would doubtless weep for some time and leave a scar but, “it is a slight thing compared to what would have been the death of your soul had you gone to the Frankfurt home. Every time you look at the scar you will remember the grace of the Master of the Celestial City to have delivered you from this Jezebel tryst.”

All the while Christian and the coquettish maiden Egalitarian had set to whispering and more. Christian was slowly being infected with the serpentine words of mistress Egalitarian. Suddenly Evangelist wounded Christian with a thrust of the sword of the Word causing both Christian and Egalitarian to shriek. Egalitarian shrilly said to Christian, “Why do you tarry with this madman when you could lay with me in my Father’s home.” Christian, in turn, was shocked and asked Evangelist how he could wound him so. Evangelist simply said to Christian, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Evangelist continued, “If I left you to the banalities of this woman without injuring you, you would have forever been lost to the Celestial City. As it is now I now have your attention. Listen to me Christian, this woman will reduce you so as to be the same as all those who dwell in her Father Frankfurt’s house. Eventually, she and her Father will convince you that who you are as a son of Adam is no different than who she is as a daughter of Eve. She will eventually convince you that there is no difference between residing in the Celestial City or residing in the Sulfur City. She and her Father, Frankfurt, will disinherit your family and make your children’s hearts hardened towards your Christian land bequeathed to them by the Master of the Celestial city, even to the point of erasing all borders between Christendom and Sulfurdom.  She will convince you that nations are evil and mythical and will have your children invite in those who hate the Master of that Celestial city where you are now headed on pilgrimage.” As the words swept over Christian suddenly the enchantment of Egalitarian began to wear off and being ashamed he now saw her as a fanged and disfigured hideous beast who was both all things living and no thing living. She was at the same time male and female, at the same time Shemite, Japethite, and Hamite, at the same time young and old, at the same time human and animal and goddess, at the same time Christian and Mephistopheles.  Christian cried out loud in sweaty horror, “For a reason, you were named Egalitarian.” Then like SJWism, with Hopeful, Egalitarian lunged at Christian and did catch him with her fangs and left two gaping holes in Christian’s heel. Evangelist tended to the wound reminding Christian of how the serpent always struck at the heel of the seed of the woman.

Then Christian and Hopeful, both wounded, returned to their path to the Celestial City. It was true they bore the deep wounds of the daughters of Frankfurt but it was also true that they were now all the wiser. Evangelist did accompany them continuing to apply the balm of the Word to their weeping wounds. After several days, Hopeful and Christian parted with Evangelist petitioning him to return to their children and grandchildren and warn them against the house of Frankfurt. Evangelist promised to return and speak the Word to the heirs of Christian and Hopeful but added these words, “The house of Frankfurt has coiled itself tightly upon the place and time you once called home before you went on pilgrimage to the Celestial City. The House of Frankfurt has even seized deed to the Palace Qahal resident of the Master of the Celestial City in that place and time. However, take great courage. The Master of the Celestial City will soon visit His Palace and few rebels will be left after His visit. At that time the house of Frankfurt will be removed and your heirs will be rescued. The Master of the Celestial City is faithful and He will do it.”

And comforted with such words of promise Christian and Hopeful set their faces towards the Celestial City and continued on their pilgrimage.

Transcendence

We return this morning to the issue of God’s attributes and we ask ourselves why would we take time to consider the attributes of God. Why take one Sunday a month to consider God’s character?

There are several ways we could answer that.

First, we would answer that the cure for what ails the Church in the West today is to adjust how we think about God. Shallow and unworthy thoughts regarding the character of God will result in our own shallow and unworthy character.

Many are those who have rightfully complained about the lack of character or substance of modern men of the West.

C. S. Lewis wrote,

‘We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.’

T. S. Eliot similarly could say,

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

The character of modern Western man generally speaking suffers and is in rapid decline. I submit to you this morning there is only one way that can be altered. It won’t be altered by political legislation. It won’t be altered by an educational program. It won’t be altered by some kind of revolutionary call to arms. What is wrong with the character of the modern Western man will only be cured by his returning to God and so thinking right thoughts about God once again. The cure to men without chests, and to men who are hollow is to return to God.

“It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.”

A. W. Tozer
The Knowledge of the Holy — pg. 7

So, when we speak of the Character and attributes of God we are seeking to throw a life preserver to ourselves and our generation. We are seeking to rescue the perishing and to care for the dying. We are praying that the consequence will once again be that the men of the West will see God high and lifted up and in the seeing of that they themselves having been brought low in repentance will themselves be lifted up.

What we are doing then by looking at the Character of God is not some academic exercise about God as if we were putting Him under a microscope in order to dissect him as if we were the controllers of the experiment. Indeed it is we who end up under the microscope when we begin to see the character of God.

The greatest sin that man can engage in is to think wrongly about God.  This was the complaint of God as registered in Psalm 50,

“Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself.”

Similarly, God brings a charge against His people in Isaiah for the same

(You) did not remember Me Nor give Me a thought?

As we come to this matter then of the Attributes of God we are seeking to remember God and give Him a thought.

This morning we take up the Attribute of God’s Transcendence. By doing so we are continuing to consider God’s Uncommunicable Attributes. That is, we are considering those attributes of God which God has as being and distinct and unique from us.  This stands in contrast to God’s communicable attributes which are those attributes that we might share with God.

When we consider God’s Transcendence we are considering God’s otherness.  God’s Transcendence refers God’s quality of being that supersedes any attempt on our part to define and describe. It is why God speaks of Himself in Isaiah as,

“Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity.” (57:15)

 For you, LORD, are high above all the earth: you are exalted far above all gods. (Psalm 97:9)

God sits upon the rim of the earth. Its inhabitants are but grasshoppers.

God’s otherness does not allow us to think of the grandness of God in terms of comparative statements. God’s Transcendence is not a matter of God being the being who is the highest in ascending order as if there might be some other beings who are closer to God in otherness or loftiness than other beings. We are not merely speaking of God being the being who has the most eminence and so is preeminent. We are talking about God as a being who is in the category of Transcendent. Because of God’s Transcendence, God is as Other over an Archangel as He is over a worm. The worm and the archangel have much more in common with each other, being created beings, than either of them have in common with God since God is uncreated and dwells in unapproachable light.

The hymn writes Isaac Watts tried to capture some of this when he inked,

How shall polluted mortals dare
to sing Thy glory or Thy grace?
Beneath Thy feet we lie afar,
And see but shadows of thy face

Transcendence then refers to the reality of God’s nature and power which is wholly other and so independent of the Creation He created.

It is easy to see then that when we begin to talk about God’s Transcendence we stumble into the reality of His Majesty… His splendor … His Supremacy and Sovereignty. It is what Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6 when He cried out,

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

The fact that we are no longer conversant with the idea of God’s Transcendence is proven by our casual dismissal and disregard for God’s Law which is tightly bound to His character. The fact that we are no longer conversant with the idea of God’s Transcendence is proven by our lack of awe in our worship … by our profaning and desacralizing the very life and bodies that God has given us. The fact that we are no longer conversant with the idea of God’s Transcendence is seen that we no longer walk with the fear of the Lord before our eyes. There is no sense of awe…. no sense of respect … no sense of being humbled before God.

And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah
What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?

Just tryin’ to make his way home
Like back up to heaven all alone
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

The irreverence of modern man is shocking. The lack of any sense of God’s Transcendence colors nearly everything the modern Chruch does.

God’s Transcendence means that we can’t guess at God. Man cannot, by his philosophical musings or his artistic intuition arrive at God. Instead this Transcendent God must make Himself known before we can have any beginning idea of who He is. God, because Transcendent is inscrutable… His ways past tracing out if we were left to ourselves to try and trace out His Transcendent ways. It is why first, Isaiah, and then Paul could write,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” for “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:8-9). 

 “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How
unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who
has known the mind of the Lord?” (Rom 11:33-34).

Job discovered God’s Transcendence when God interviewed Job from the whirlwind.

J. I. Packer speaking of God’s Transcendence could write,

God is not the sort of person that we are; his wisdom, his aims, his scale of values, his mode of procedure differ so vastly from our own that we cannot possibly guess our way to them by intuition or infer them by analogy from our notion of ideal manhood. We cannot know him unless he speaks and tells us about himself.

God’s Transcendence here is the idea that God exists both above and independently from all creation.

This idea of God Transcendent weaves its way through all the Scripture from Genesis 1:1 where we find the Transcendent God creating ex-nihilo to the book of Revelation where there is no need of the sun because the presence of the Transcendent God provides light for His community. Because the Transcendence of God permeating the Scriptures the people of God were permeating with the truth of God’s transcendence. This truth gave the people of God gravitas, weightiness, character in the old sense of the word. They had walked with God and had been in the presence of His otherness, His bigness, His Majesty and the result is that it sprinkled itself upon them and they began to reflect His majesty.

How do I know that the Church has lost the Transcendence of God? How do I know that we have little understanding of God’s Holy Otherness?

We sing nursery rhymes about God or even worse we seek to place His character in anti-music and then perform it in Church. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

We come to meet with God looking like we are going to the beach or worse like we are going to the quarry to hew rock and stone. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

We put forward men for the ministry who have no awe of God before their eyes as seen in their casual approach in the pulpit as in seen in their glorying in their scarrified bodies. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

We no longer instruct our children in the Catechism choosing instead to entrust them to pagans who have no fear of God before their eyes. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

We divorce God from His work of creation talking about exploding eggs of possibility bringing all creation forth. We suggest that God’s Word might have mistakes so that we have to adjudicate whether the Word of God is taken as spoken by God or as spoken as myth or spiritual history. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

Concretely considered here are some examples of God’s Transcendence

First, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).  Only a God who is Other than His creation … who is Transcendent over His creation could be the creator.

Secondly, we would note that God’s Transcendence is of such a nature that all of His other attributes are riven with that Transcendence. For example, God’s Holiness…

Exodus 33:20 the Lord told Moses, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” His holiness was so Transcendent that no human could withstand it.

Another example is God’s Transcendence in His Love

 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Fourth, God is transcendent in the sense that He is eternal. No other person or thing includes this property or attribute of eternality; only God. His eternal nature is higher than all others.

Fifth, God is transcendent in His power. He not only created all things, He is more powerful than any other thing. Job noted many of the ways God is more powerful than creation, asking, “But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14).

Sixth, the transcendence of God is closely related to his sovereignty. It means that God is above, other than, and distinct from all he has made – he transcends it all.

Paul says that there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6). Scripture says elsewhere, “For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods (Psalms 97:9; cf. 108:5).

Dangers of an unbiblical Transcendence,

1.) Too much Transcendence without the corresponding truth of God’s Immanence gives us the God of Deism.

When the reality of God’s Transcendence is surrendered a created immanent replaces the creator Transcendent.

The created subjective is idolatrously objectivized so that a subjective objective is embraced as an objective objective and thus becomes God walking on the earth.

Thus demonstrating that God and Transcendence are inescapable concepts.

To much Immanence without the corresponding Transcendence of God gives us Pantheism.

2.) A wrong-headed view of God’s Transcendence has been the bane of neo-orthodox Christianity.  Their unbiblical view of transcendence, one that teaches that God is so “wholly other” and it is impossible for His creation to communicate with Him at all leaves us in the place where once again man becomes God. If God is this kind of Transcendent so that it is impossible to apprehend Him then we are left to mystical encounters and artificial Jesus-talk.

Where no transcendental meaning exists (and the only truly transcendental meaning comes from the sovereign and triune God and the fact that He is maker of heaven and earth), man’s recourse then is to create a private meaning and read it onto and into the world and events. This is simply superstition, which is an irrational feeling or belief which is projected on to reality. Superstition becomes the recourse of men who reject the ontological trinity, and the more pronounced their rejection, the more pronounced their superstition.

RJR 
Systematic Theology pg. 1084

 

God in the Hands of Man

They talk to us of an immanent God
As if man were the true Transcendent;
As if man were judge of all the earth,
And God the poor defendant.
As if God were arraigned with a very black case,
On the skill of His lawyer dependent,
And “I wouldn’t like to be God,” says one,
“For His record is not resplendent.”

 

They talk to us of a pleading God
As if man were the true inspector
As if man were casting the tiebreaking vote
To determine if God would be victor
As if God is submitting His career resume
For the position of ‘Lord Protector’
And they wonder if God can secure the job
From those who are the electors

They talk to us of a relevant God
As if man held the true plumb line
As if man were now fashion consultants
To determine what’s elegantly divine
As if God needs a cosmetic makeover
Before in His house, we’ll recline
It’s amazing what can be done with a God
In order to keep him up with the times