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

International Money Interest

Reagan had his Qadaffi
Bush I his Noriega
Clinton had the Balkans
Where he was the Alpha and Omega

We are the United States
Home of the Bankster Mob
Do as we say
Or its Missiles we will lob

“W” took out Saddam
Obama snuffed Osama
Trump wants Assad
Americans love the drama

We are the United States
Home of the Bankster Mob
Do as we say
Or its Missiles we will lob

Join our International Bankers
We’ll make an offer you can’t refuse
Join us or we’ll kill you
What could you possibly lose?

Challenging Thabiti Anyabwile’s Marxist Narrative

 

“What we’re getting here is a “both sides” view of history that suggests all parties are equally guilty of racism. Now, I agree that something like racism, ethnic bigotry, and other species of alienation and animus and idolatry of self exists among all people. But I was talking about 1950-’60s America. I was making a comment about a particular setting in which it cannot be said that both sides were equally guilty in the animus. African Americans have never carried out lynchings. African Americans have never passed “Jim Brown laws” to retaliate for Jim Crow laws. We have never systematically ostracized and oppressed white people as a group. The sin of the period was unilaterally and systematically directed from whites toward blacks.

One of the amazing things about African Americans is that we have survived for so long without giving fully into the racial animosity that could exist given how we’ve been treated. It’s a wonderful providence and humanly speaking we have millions of mothers and fathers and the likes of the Dr. Kings of the world to thank for teaching us not to give in to hate.

Until we get these basic points of history correct we’re not having the same conversation. And when we appear to equivocate about where the guilt and responsibility actually lie, we make it far too easy for strains of that former behavior, attitude, and complicity to continue unchecked.”

 Thabiti Anyabwile

We are dealing with a different fact set in this discussion and so the good Rev. is quite correct about not having the same conversation. The good Rev. is embracing a particular Marxist history because of the influence of Marxism on his worldview. In Marxist history, the leverage point is the conflict between in groups and out groups. In classical Marxists history, the bourgeoisie is oppressing the proletariat. In classical Marxist feminist history, males are oppressing females. In recent Marxist history of gender, heteronormativity oppresses LGBTQ normativity. In classical Marxist racial history, whites are oppressing minorities. Elsewhere Rev. TA has said,

“For a long time, I’ve just let the phrase (Marxist) and its variants go. But it seems like it’s not dying, and no one seems to be producing any actual writing or research to substantiate the term. “

However, the term is substantiated if only by the history that TA is appealing to. The Worldview that is pushing TA’s history is Marxism. Secondly, observations that TA is practicing a kind of Marxism narrative is seen in his recent support for the candidate Bernie Sanders who is an avowed Socialist (Marxist).  Third, that TA is pushing a racial Marxist narrative is seen in the fact that his facts are disputed. Consider the following,

Myth #1 –African Americans never carried out any lynchings

In this link below, there are all kinds of examples of African-Americans carrying out lynching along with photos. Most of the information below is cut and pasted from this link.

https://theinjusticefile.blogspot.com/2012/01/blacks-who-lynched-blacks-truth-behind.html

There was without question a determined effort in the South among White people to have the Black race live separately. However, there was, prior to 1964, nothing illegal or even immoral in this desire. Nor was it an act of racism. One distinct people living separate from another distinct people was not just the norm in American history (up until 1964) but human history as well. Regarding lynching… When a White person was attacked (rape or murder) and the perpetrator was Black, this was seen as an attack on “the group” and White people responded more often than not with uncharacteristic ferocity. Blacks were rarely ever assaulted (rape or murder) by a White person in the South. 99.9% of the cases I have found where violence crossed racial lines, it was Black- on-White … and the result was a raging and maddened mob out for revenge. These were the times in which they lived. The vast number of attacks by Blacks on innocent southern White people, including rape, in this type of atmosphere, boggles my mind.

Myth #2 — Blacks didn’t give into hate in a systemic fashion

Again, this is just not true as seen in just the Whitman’s sampler below. See link provided above for active links.

. Atlanta, GA. – 1900: Black male bully sat on a white male’s lap while riding a on street car, deliberately trying to humiliate and antagonize him. A fight ensued and the black male pulled a concealed gun and gunned down the young white male. Oh, and in the state of Georgia in 1900, the color-line mandate was not being enforced, so blacks could sit where they pleased.

2.Shreveport, La. – 1901: Black Supremacist organization advocated violence against white people. One white male was murdered. Link

3. Columbus, Ga. – 1900: Negro crawled into the bedroom of young white girl thru an open window and attempted to rape her. Link

4. Columbus, Mo. 1901 – Negro raped his employer’s wife…then shot her in the head
Brother-in-law of murder victim:  “I want to speak to him, how many times we cared for him and how kind Mary was to him, and ask him why he killed her. Then, when he has answered that, I want to see him burned.”  Link

5. Tuscumbia, Ala. – 1901:  It’s a MASSACRE – Negro petty criminal ambushed sheriff and deputy and murdered both – he then gunned down seven more white males – four dead.  Link (note: the death count was later revised)

6. Dublin, Ga. -1908: Two Negro employees invaded the home of their [white] employer, beat him senseless with an ax, gang raped his wife … then slashed her to pieces demanding to know the whereabouts of household money  Link

7. Satton, W.Va. – 1908: Home Invasion By Negroes – White male homeowner was tied to a tree then whipped — negroes then gang raped his wife (no, I’m not kidding) Link

8. Hot Springs Ark. – 1908: Negro cook decides he gonna have a little fun with hungry young white male – taunts him with food offer – makes him work in the blazing heat until he can’t work any longer… Negro then guns him down. Link 

9.Eufala, Ala. 1911: Prominent American woman was stalked by a negro sexual predator as she walked from a neighbor’s home to her home. The negro finally grabbed her and wrestled her to the ground. As the negro started to tear her clothes off … to rape her… her desperate screams for help saved her.  White males quickly came to her rescue. Link

10. Stephensport, Ky. – 1904: Negroes “Lynch” Young White Male – If Emmit Till murder was a “lynching” than this one should also be judged a lynching as well. Two negro brothers went after a young white male who , their sister claimed, “insulted her”. When they found the young white male … they slit his throat from ear to ear. source  

Let us consider the 86 years of American segregation (1882 – 1968). During that time period, there were 4,743 lynchings in America according to the black founded and run Tuskegee Institute. Of those, 1,297 (27%) lynchings were of white people. Why was this? Contra Hollywood and modern history textbooks, the purpose of lynchings was not “racism”, but the public and guaranteed punishment of crime. That is why 695 (14%) of lynchings took place in one of the 33 non-segregated states. Lynching was a method of criminal justice when a particularly grievous crime had been committed and/or the citizens were unsure if they would get justice through the courts.

We are not speaking about if we *agree* with the practice, we are speaking about the historical realities of it. Lynching was about punishing criminals, not “uppity blacks who were getting out of hand” as [ as many put it]. This is seen in the reasons the Tuskegee Institute lists for the lynchings: homicide 41%, felony assault 4%, rape 19%, attempted rape 6%, robbery/theft 5%. Only 85 lynchings (less than 2% of total) over the entire course of those 86 years in the entire country are listed as “insult to white person” as the reason.

The average law-abiding Southern black had nothing to worry about, the noose was for rapists and murderers. The fact that only 3,446 blacks were lynched out of the millions of blacks living in the South during that time period puts to rest the stereotype of a noose on every tree. To put this in perspective, there are currently 7,000 blacks murdered by other blacks every year in America. So every year blacks kill twice as many blacks as were lynched in total over a 86 year time period.

Rev. Anyabwile is correct when he says that “until we get these basic points of history correct we’re not having the same conversation.” If the facts were what TA says they were then, of course, his point would stand but those “facts” that he is citing are disputable and the worldview he is using as his interpretation of facts is likewise more than disputable.  TA is playing an old and dangerous game right now and the success of his endeavors is likely to continue since most of the people he is speaking to, ignorant of other historical narratives, just accept his version and worldview of the facts.

Let it be clearly noted that I’m not denying that there were white people who did shameful things to black people. However, I am denying that it was uniformly happening in the way TA places it in his Marxist narrative.

That blacks were not the innocents that TA suggests is dismissed by any reading of the Reconstruction period from 1865-1877, as well as by considering what was provided above.

 

Wherein Classical Marxism and 21st Century Christianity Become Indistinguishable

1.) “Princes and nations will disappear without violence from the earth, the human race will become one family and the world the abode of reasonable men.”

-Adam Weishaupt, quoted in Paul Johnson, Intellectuals (London: Orion Books Limited, 1993), p. 32.

2.) Capitalism developed the ever more inhuman polarization of the sexes. The cult of making distinctions, which serves only for oppression, is now being swept away by awareness of resemblance and identity.

M. Walser
Uber die neusten Stimmungen im Westen
In: Kursbuch, Bd. 20, 1970, S. 19-41.

3.) ”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

4.) “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:

5.) “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

6.) “… 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

7.) “Hess had taught Marx that socialism was inseparable from internationalism. Marx writes in his Communist Manifesto that the proletariat has no fatherland. In his Red Catechism, Hess mocks the fatherland notion of the Germans, and he would have done the same with the fatherland notion of any other European nation. Hess criticized the Erfurt program of the German Social-Democrat Party for its unconditional recognition of the national principle. But Hess is an internationalist with a difference: Jewish patriotism must remain. He writes,

‘Whoever denies Jewish nationalism is not only an apostate, a renegade in the religious sense but a traitor to his people and to his family. Should it prove true that the emancipation of the Jews is incompatible with Jewish nationalism, then the Jew must sacrifice emancipation… The Jew must be, above all, a Jewish patriot.’

I agree with Hess’ patriotic ideas to the extent that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. I am for every kind of patriotism – that of the Jews, the Arabs, the Germans, the Russians, the Americans. Patriotism is a virtue if it means the endeavor to promote economically, politically, spiritually, and religiously the welfare of one’s own nation, provided that it is done in friendship and cooperation with other nations.”

~Richard Wurmbrand, Marx & Satan, pp.54-55

8.) This from Igor Shafareivich’s “Socialist Phenomenon,” Shafareivich is commenting on that which is characteristic of all International Socialist expressions, 

a.) The national question: ‘National differences and antagonistic interests among various peoples are already vanishing more and more and more thanks to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uniformity in the mode of production and in the corresponding conditions of life. The supremacy of the proletariat will accelerate the disappearances of differences.’

9.) “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:

10.) Nikita Krushchev

“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.”

11.) “The more Christianity spreads, the more these racial, ethnic, and national distinctions will be erased because no culture will be left untouched by the Gospel. When all (cultures) are affected, they will be one culture — Christendom.”

21st Century  “Christian Reconstructionist Theologian”

12.)  “We hear much about “identity politics” today. Christianity beat the movement to that concept by many centuries. Our identity is not ours to choose, however. Our identity is not determined by our genetics or our economic status. No, the Christian message about identity is an easy one: Christ is all and in all. He is our identity. His sacrifice redeems us, His intercession assures us, and as we live in recognition of His centrality in all things, the human-derived divisions that plague all of mankind are put aside. We come to one table, as one people, and the only lens we need for that is the one that shows us the Lord of glory, Jesus.”

21st Century Baptist High Profile “Apologist”