Thursday, 1 May 2008

Cautions Regarding Transcendence and Incarnation

The transcendence of God (and God understood as non-competitive) enables us to understand traditional Christology. Because God is truly transcendent, the fullness of God is not inversely related to our being and presence. God and creation can be proportionally related, that is, God can be fully present to us without in any way compromising our own integrity.(Indeed, just the opposite is the case; personal integrity is enhanced in relationship with God.) There is not a competition between us for 'space' (if we and God were related competitively it would be an either/or between us and God.) This is to say, proximity to God does not diminish us, neither does it obliterate and replace. Proximity to God brings our fulfillment. Thus Jesus, as the incarnation of God, is not an incoherence, but the fullest epiphany of this general Christian theological insight into the God-world relationship. Humanity and divinity are united in Jesus without diminishment of either. (Two natures, one person)

A few cautions pulled from K. Tanner, Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity. A brief Systematic Theology, pp. 6-7.
  • Incarnation can't be deduced from the general principle of transcendence understood in terms of a non-competitive God. it is only in the light of the revelation of Christ that the general has become visible.

  • The doctrine of the Incarnation is not merely an extrapolation of the general principle of transcendence.

  • Christology is not about the general principle of transcendence. Christology is about Jesus and salvation through him.


... the case of Christ has its own irreducible distinctiveness. It is not an instance of a general relationship found everywhere; it is not the highest point on a continuous grade of relationships between God and the world. While what happens in Christ may be the center of a theological account of the universe from its beginning to its end, it is not such by being simply repeated elsewhere. (Tanner, Jesus, p. 7.)

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