The Life of God

Ever since at least the Axial Age religious and philosophical systems have postulated the immanence of the ultimate in this reality. In the East, some philosophical systems claimed that Brahman had various incarnations and in the West there were incarnations both in Greek mythology and Christianity. The common thread is that whatever ultimate reality is in itself, it is also present in this reality.

The question to ask about these emanations is how are they characterized? Are they special cases for certain individuals and/or are there limitations of the presence of the divine? In the Divine Life Communion they are neither special cases or limited. In an aspect monism everything is an aspect of the divine in this life, whether it be a human, animal, insect, plant, rock or elementary particle. This is because there is only one living reality and that is the divine life. There is no divide between the divine and this life. In other words, God has a Life.

So, is that all there is to God, a Life? In pantheism that might be the case. In other theological systems it is said that God, as ultimate reality is also in some sense “beyond” this reality. This is called the aseity or abysmal character of God that is deeper than this reality. The creator is “more” than the created. Thusly, God’s Life does not constitute the entirety of God but is rather a living part. What we experience in our lives is at least one of God’s lives. Who knows if there are others.

Paul Tillich wrote a book called “The Courage to Be”. He talks about the courage to face the existential issues of life. Now, he frames this within the essentialist/existentialist ontology but instead of that ontology I think it can also apply to an aspect monism. For some reason God chose to live, to avail a part of God to the constraints and vicissitudes of living. One might call this a courageous act of God because God sheds God’s ultimate control over to the contingencies of living. In Christian theology the term used for this is the Greek term kenosis (self emptying).

What this means is that in a living aspect God has limited knowledge, suffers, does both good and evil, experiences joy and love, has anxiety, doubt, and eventually dies. God experiences in a living aspect all that life offers both the wonders and the horrors. It also means that since God lives in the living aspects of the divine life, those aspects also have a connection to the depth of God. There is a communion of the living part of God to the abysmal part of God. There is a participation in the fullness of God in its depth. There is no great divide to be transverse between God and the individual. It is a matter of being sensitive to and probing the depth of the divine presence in all things. We see this attempt in forms of prayer, meditation and thought. But it need not be seen as some special, unusual attempt to embrace that depth, it can be as the apostle Paul understood as a type of “praying without ceasing”.

The fact that God lives has enormous consequences. First of all, it means that life is so important and worthwhile. That God chose to live means that there is something about facing all the limitations both with its positive and negative aspects is worth doing. It requires courage and determination to face all that life has to offer. It means that “perfection” is stagnant and lifeless. Instead the mere fact of being constrained and limited is much more valuable and meaningful than being without all the challenges of life.

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