Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Beyonder (as explained by an orthodox rebel)

"To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto Him? [...] 'To whom then will ye liken Me, or [to whom] shall I be equal?' saith the Holy One." Is. 40:18, 25

One of the main themes of Isaiah is God's war on hubris. A necessary correlation from that is the absolute incomparableness of God. Try as we might, and much to our chagrin, God is fundamentally (on principle) and essentially (in His being) beyond our categories. I say "beyond" rather than "outside" because the categories that we do have (as gathered by reason and received by revelation) can create an approximation to God, so that He is knowable to us. It is, however, only an approximation, and our knowledge, as always, is incomplete (I Cor. 13:8-9). True, yet incomplete. We will never get to the bottom of God, and all of our endless metaphors will never exhaust Him, never completely capture the fullness of His being. Thus, He is the "Holy One," i.e., the separate one who is absolutely, categorically different from us.

There is no worse hubris then that which assumes it has God figured out. Whether it is the atheist who figures out that God has no existence, or the believer who figures out that God has endorsed their personal preferences, the foundation is the same: God has become reducible to our finite categorizes. As I've said elsewhere, one of God's favorite pastimes is smashing all confident and comfortable assumptions about Him that did not come from Him. But there is another principle that we must realize here, and that is this: hubris is the dead thing, while humility is the living thing.

Hubris stagnates and rots because it has grown too big (or rather, its universe has grown too small) and it has nowhere left to go. Humility, however, recognizes and accepts its smallness, and thus it has nothing but room to grow; not itself, but its universe, and that is the key. It is not at all about us becoming bigger, but about God becoming bigger than our wildest dreams. God is not a philosophy that we figure out eventually; rather, He is the wild yet good adventure (a "comedy," as we used to call it) that we explore and enjoy forever. But hubris cannot enjoy and explore forever. It has nothing left to explore, and thus nothing left to enjoy. It has discovered all variants, understood and classified all unknowables, and dispelled all mysteries and surprises. It has nothing left but its own overbloated self in its own overbloated world, nothing more than a bubble waiting to be popped.

Rest assured, God will pop them all. He will implode all galaxies and shatter all vanities that have made no room for Him, piercing them through with shafts of Light and Truth. His Truth, the Truth about Himself, Truth unfathomable and uncontainable and inescapable. We may balk at this if we wish, but I far better fate (and life) awaits those who find good courage and take strong rest in the reality that God is greater, more loving, and more good than they could ever conceive.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

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