The Immanence of the Transcendent God

Happy third week of Advent! This morning’s Moltmann Monday quote comes from Sun of Righteousness, Arise!. This is a great book for people new to Moltmann, and it’s written in a more conversational style than some of his other more theological works. The quote below comes at the beginning of a section on the Shekinah of God, which is one of Moltmann’s favorite concepts:

I should like to talk about both these things: about the Merciful One who shares our suffering, and about the Holy One who goes ahead of us and leads us to the eternal home of identity. But the presupposition for both these experiences of God is the descent and self-lowering of the Eternal One into our earthly and transitory world–the immanence of the transcendent God. Or in the words of the prophet Isaiah (57:15): ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a humble and contrite spirit.’ It is not just for us that it is important to experience the nearness of God in what happens to us. It is important for God, too, for God wants to live among us and on this earth for ever and ever.”


Here’s something I love about Professor Moltmann- he doesn’t forget about God. That may sound strange to say, but I get the sense that many theologians get to talking so much about God-the-concept or God-the-idea or, heaven forbid, me-the-smart-theologian-talking-about-the-complexity-of-God-the-idea, that GOD actually gets lost in the shuffle. Moltmann has made great contributions to theology because he doesn’t forget to ask the question, “What does this mean for GOD?”

In Advent, we spend most of our time talking about what it means for us that God became human and lived among us. And that is right and good, because it is mind-boggling and beautiful and the biggest and strangest gift we could imagine. As we enter these last two weeks of Advent, I wonder if we could also remember to consider what this means for God. I like to think that God becoming immanent even in God’s transcendence is something God has anticipated eagerly because it brings to fruition something intrinsic about who God IS. And at Christmas, this immanence of God becomes known to us in a way that it wasn’t before. That’s good news for us–but let’s not forget it’s good news for God, too.

1 Comment

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