Tuesday, September 3, 2013

God's transcendence and immanence as seen in the burning bush

As I have mentioned before, Scott Oliphint writing on certain things is extremely helpful. For instance, on the topic of God's condescension I have not come across anyone's writing or teaching which is more enriching or engaging; it might be out there, I just haven't come across it. Part of his discussions and writings on condescension pertain to God's aseity or transcendence. If God is a God who condescends, or stoops to our level, then he must be above, beyond, and other than us. I really appreciate Oliphint's approach on this aspect of God's character.

He touches upon this in his most recent offering, Covenantal Apologetics. Speaking of the difference between us and God he writes, "Every experience that we [humans] have in all of creation is an experience of utter dependence. But the Lord is not one who depends on anything; he, and he alone, is who he is" (60).

Oliphint sees this attribute of God in many places and in many ways in the Scriptures. But one of the examples that is a memorable one for me deals with Moses and the burning bush. Oliphint writes,
The revelation that Moses has of what is really the unburning bush is, in part, designed to reveal to Moses both of these truths [God is transcendent and immanent]. The fire, which represents the Lord himself, is in no way dependent on the bush in order to burn. The fire is, in that sense, a se [other, transcendent, independent]. It does not need the bush for fuel; it is able to burn in and of itself. But it is also with the bush. It could easily appear on its own, because it is in need of nothing to burn. Or it could appear beside the bush. Instead, it is linked inextricably with the bush, even as the Lord himself-who is who he is-has bound himself inextricably to his people. (60)
This is a beautiful picture of both God's transcendent otherness and his condescending, immanent covenanting with us.

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