Saturday, 23 September 2017

God is The Person

Sometimes the truth can hit you with the force of a sledgehammer. Something you thought you understood can become much clearer and seem obvious.

On various occasions I have discussed how the One, the impersonal Godhead beloved of the philosophers, is not the highest reality but an aspect of the personal God who is the real source of all. That is still my belief but something happened the other morning as I was walking along the road that made me appreciate it in a better way.

It was banal really but it triggered something in my mind, opened a door you could say.

It was a grey, cloudy morning when I left home but quite quickly the clouds began to roll away and then the sun came out in a vivid blue sky. That's all, a common occurrence but something was suddenly revealed to me which I had thought of before but not appreciated in a way that made everything seem so clear. This was not like having an idea but seeing a truth, plain as day.

Anyway this is what it was.

God is personal. Of course he is, the personal is more than the impersonal which is a subtraction from reality not a base of it. But he is personal in a different way to us. He is still the supreme 'I', the archetype and template for all lesser 'I's but he is this in a very different way to us. He is 'I' plus (impersonal is 'I' minus), and if our 'I' is a line then his is a cube but not a three dimensional cube but what a cube would be when extended multi-dimensionally.

That's it, I'm afraid. I said it was banal! It had probably already occurred to you. I'm surely not claiming it as a breakthrough in our understanding of what God is, and actually I'm not even saying it is literally true, but as a metaphor it clarified something for me that I have known intuitively but struggled to conceptualise. It made an idea more solid, an abstraction more concrete. Obviously God is not less than us (impersonal). Equally obviously he is far, far more than us. Yes, we are created in his image but we cannot contain all that he is. We do have the potential to become more and more godlike but that is from a relatively low level. We can never reach him because he is always growing too, not in his absolute being but in what he becomes.

The Greater includes the lesser. It builds on the lesser . God is personal not impersonal but his person is something far beyond ours though ours has a relation to it in a similar way that a point has a relation to a globe.

This is what supra-personal means and why it is right to think of God as personal which is not a step down from the highest truth but a revelation of it. Our 'I' is the same as his 'I' as a locus of self-consciousness but what that consciousness of self entails is radically different. Nevertheless ours is still a seed that can grow into something like its progenitor's.

There are those who reject self-consciousness and individual identity, thinking of them as barriers to true awareness. I would agree that there is a state of pure being and that the human soul can empty itself into this if that's what it wants to do. But it is not the fullness of what God is. That is contained in his 'I'.


ted said...

This post was very succinct and beautiful. I agree with your notion of a personal God more so now after taking to the eastern wisdom traditions that rely more on the impersonal aspects. And I agree the notion has significance all the way down. If we are relating to an impersonal God, it is easier for us to make up our own ideas as how to live. With a personal God, there is a natural law that begins to take root and influence our orientation towards life.

William Wildblood said...

'With a personal God, there is a natural law that begins to take root and influence our orientation towards life.' That's very well put, ted, and I couldn't agree more.