Friendly Transcendence


Christian churches seem naturally to gravitate in their Worship services toward one of two poles: transcendence or immanence. Churches that emphasize transcendence in Worship promote a sense of the divine, “other-worldliness,” majesty, awe, holiness (in its meaning of being distinct, set apart for God), et cetera. God is exalted as being quite different from anything or anyone in this world. Churches that emphasize immanence in Worship promote a sense of warmth, acceptance, intimacy, familiarity, and the like. God is known as a close friend. It’s easy to take either of these emphases to improper extremes.

In and of themselves, however, transcendence and immanence are both good. God is high and lifted up, and there is none like him. And God has come in the flesh to be a friend of sinners. We need to hold both of these together in worship. We need to be in awe (transcendence) of God’s presence (immanence). We need to be drawn into communion (immanence) with the divine (transcendence). We need a sense of “friendly transcendence” in Worship. We need love.

God is love, Three-in-One, One-in-Three, Being-in-Communion. So, love is divine. Love is holy. This love is unlike anything in this world. What/Who else is love? Love is transcendent.

God is love, three persons living perfectly for Other, always moving toward, always meeting. So love is warm. Love is intimate. This love invades the world. Love makes itself known. Love is immanent.

God is transcendent because he is Triune. God is immanent because he is Triune. In Christ, the perfect revelation of God, we have friendly transcendence. We need Christ, and we have him.

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