Where you discover the surprising reason for America’s dramatic dive into immorality.
Let me ask you a question: How do you explain America’s spectacular moral slide?
I mean, we’re just over 200 years old and it seems like the boat capsized.
Is there anything else like it in history? Possibly.
But in such a short time? And how do we explain this dramatic dive into immorality?
I think I might have the answer. Let me explain.
When men encounter God, the result is always the same: an abrupt and acute kowtow. There is no second guessing:
Isaiah dreaded the confrontation with God: “Woe is me, for I am ruined!”
Saul, struck blind, begged: “Who are you, Lord?”
Daniel slumped: “Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.”
What caused these reactions? God’s transcendence.
What Does Transcendence Mean?
When we say that God is transcendent, we are saying that God is exalted far above the created universe. So far above that human thought can’t touch it.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9
We’re not concerned with location. Nor altitude. We’re concerned with life. A person. A being who’s essence is existence.
Using an Imagined Monster to Explain Existence
There is something about objects of worship–whether man, self or sun–that we miss: something had to create the objects.
Nothing can not create something. So, the universe as we know it can’t be eternal. It needs a cause.
But that which caused it has to be something entirely different from that which was created. This is where Thomas Aquinas was headed in “On Being and Essence.”
From our existence we can know something about God, namely, that he exists. He has to, otherwise where did humans, the earth or the universe start? We’ll think like a theist when we say, if God created us, then his essence must be something entirely different from us.
How is it different? In people, essence and existence are two different things.
What do I mean by that? Just because a child can imagine a fierce, thick-boned, child-hating monster doesn’t mean that the monster is real. It’s existence is separate from what it is–its essence.
God’s essence, on the other hand, is existence. In other words, he is self-existent.
And God can’t create himself, because that implies that nothing [which is the state of God before he created himself if he once never existed] can create God.
Because of this distinction, God is utterly different than you or I. We are different–our existence and essence is separate. Why? We can die. God can not. In other words, God is transcendent. He is the Other.
But he’s involved in this universe. He sustains it. The ultimate culmination of God’s presence in this universe is Christ. Christ provides the bridge between God and man. Between the limitless and the limited.
The Controversy Over the Mind
Naturally, not all people agree God exists–let alone transcendent. And some materialists will object to the idea that a mind could exist separate from the body.
I disagree. Here are four proofs that the mind does exist apart from the body:
- No real proof that my mind is a function of my brain.
- Just because my mind and brain work together doesn’t mean they’re identical.
- We commit the reductionist fallacy when we reduce my mind to my brain.
- How could I know I was more than my brain unless I was more than it?
Imagine if your child got lost in a crowded mall. I bet you would abandon every single shopping bag to find that child.
The bags full of stuff can’t love or laugh or speak or pray. It is the child’s quality of being that gives it worth. It is soul that gives significance to matter.
Which brings me to my original question: how do we explain America’s moral slide. The answer is easy. We’ve lost the fear of God.
What the Strangeness of God Can Do for Us
Contemporary men have found that in order to indulge themselves in their vices, they need to do away with God. Moreover, the history of evangelism has made that shift easy.
In the early 20th Century the Gospel of the Cross was abandoned for the Gospel of Life Enhancement: Jesus will make your life easier. Lost in translation is God’s transcendence–his strangeness to us.
That strangeness comes to us as a healthy respect of our Creator, a healthy worship for our redeemer and a healthy fear of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. We’ve lost the value of God’s eternal wrath. We acknowledge his kindness but dismiss his severity. This makes it easier for us to dismiss God.
Finding Comfort in God’s Transcendence
Charles Hodge once said, “The infinitude of God, so far as space is concerned, includes his immensity and his omnipresence…He is equally present with all his creatures, at all times, and in all places. He is not far from any one of us.”
God’s transcendent holiness is biblically balanced with the teaching of his immanence. This means God is wholly present in his being and power in every part and moment of the created universe.
This is seen especially in relation to humans. The Holy One who lives in a high and holy place also dwells with the “contrite and lowly in spirit.” And this is seen in the very physical visit to his creation in the person of Jesus Christ.
**Part of The Nature of God series.**