One of the many benefits I have had from blogging here is coming across some of the bloggers recommended by our hostess. I find much to commend and learn much from the blog of Fr Aidan Kimmel, not least his recent comments on the Christian conception of God. I especially liked his comments:
Christianity received the unique Jewish understanding of divinity and radicalized it through theological, spiritual, and philosophical reflection. We see this expressed in two patristic assertions: (a) God made the world, not from pre-existent matter, but from nothing (creatio ex nihilo); and (b) the divine ousia is incomprehensible. These two assertions are inextricably woven together. In the words of St Gregory the Theologian: “No one has yet discovered or ever shall discover what God is in his nature and essence” (Or. 28.17).
This brings to mind Struans’ thoughts in one of his posts about theology, where he writes:
any answer[to the question of who is God?] only goes so far, language is limited and so fails to express the true meaning of God. (God=Transcendent, Humanity=Finite). Perhaps instead we need to try to experience God in prayer and show the meaning of God in our actions.
God is the creator, we may see Him in relation to this world and to us, but that is to see a small, if important (to us) part of Him. He stands above, beyond and outside time, even if, in the Incarnation He intervenes in it. He is omniscient, and in that word is the limitation of our understanding with our minds; we are not and cannot imagine what it means really, except as another way of saying we hold God in awe.
That is why we need Jesus. Jesus, Lord Immanuel – God with us – reveal to us what we need to know about God. The Jews missed Him, for the most part, because He did not fulfil their view of what God was, and that is why we should beware of accepting the old Jewish view; it did not reveal to them the true Messiah when He came.
The Jews looked for one who would smite their enemies, release Israel from her chains and restore her, a God who would scatter all his enemies and exalt his people. Yet, when He came into this world of sin, He did so as a baby, the child of a young virgin; He came with no trumpeting of palaces and power, no pomp or circumstance, but upon a midnight clear in a manger. Neither did He grow into one who gathered around Him an army which aided by the angelic hosts would liberate captive Israel and restore it. He was a wandering preacher of a type common at that time and in that region, and His mission ended in abject failure, the most abject that could be imagined, death, and death upon the Cross.
This was not where the Jews of old had looked for their Messiah. Neither did many believe those who had followed Him and said He had risen again. They were looking for that God they had in their heads and in the Scriptures as they read them. But He was not to be found in glory and majesty as the Jews understood these things. He was to be found in love, in service, in humility and in obedience to the will of the Father. That will was not that angelic hosts should come to prove to sinful man that he must change his ways, nor that by His Divine Fiat, God would wipe away our sins. No, that will was that God Himself would be incarnate, take upon Himself our humanity and suffer to redeem our loss. It is no wonder so many find belief difficult. What God is this? It is the God who is love.