"The idea of man as a being created in the likeness of God, the idea of creation, of divine knowledge, the election of Israel, the problem of evil, messianism, the belief in the resurrection or faith in revelation become caricatures when transposed into categories of pedestrian thinking." —Abraham Heschel, The Philosophy of Judaism, p. 65
American Christendom has not recovered from the so-called "Jesus Movement," a tragic misnomer of the 1960's, that provided hackneyed answers, sophomoric solutions, and a presentation of God that made the High and Holy One a single-attribute Deity, a love God. This miniaturization made God's love for the individual the beginning and end of the eternal nature of God. The cheerleaders for Jesus, masquerading as pastors, considered theology as an infectious disease afflicting the "cold conservatives" who were on the road to apostasy. Having never known, heard, or read the writings of any theologian, the study of God's nature meant nothing to them, for it was valued as impractical for their ever-growing congregations. The pragmatic hunger for a message on marital restoration, child development, financial success, power-gifts, and self-esteem was readily met by the religious pragmatists who dispensed their saccharin-verbiage in grandiose style. After forty years of this unrepudiated spiritual narcissism, any hunger and thirst for God is as rare in America as a theologian in the pulpit. We are suffering a weakness of faith, naiveté of mind, and instability of commitment as a direct result of the legacy of the novice leading the novice. The professors of any community college garner more intellectual respect than the demographic-minded pastor who stands weekly, or should I say weakly, before a congregation and communicates a monodic view of God. The science of theology is never heard from the average pulpit. "The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his father." "There is something exceedingly proving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity." "He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe…the most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Diety." (Charles Spurgeon, from sermon delivered on Jan. 7, 1855 at the New Park Street Chapel in Southwark, England).
The Church has become a "Jesus Club" for crossover members who want to add Christ to an otherwise wholesome sufficient life. Suspended within this narcissistic mindset, Jesus is portrayed as having meaning only as He relates to the individual: "My Savior, Healer, Baptizer, Deliverer, and Provider." Perpetually mired within a religious narcissism, the quantum step is never made that would free the mind and heart from this egotism. The foundational question of theology that would change the orientation of one's life is never asked or provoked, "Who is God without me, or for that matter, without all creation?" Captured by the answer of who God eternally is would conjoin us to His heart of inseparable love. "Thus says the Lord, 'Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,' declares the Lord." (Jer. 9:23-24).
Outside the duration of time and the ever-passing sequence of development and decay, antecedent to the recurring cycles of beginning and end, previous to all was God. Before the created fiat (Ps. 33:6, 9, 148:5-6), God existed in the solitary completeness of His eternal essence. "In the beginning, God. There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to sing His praises. There was no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that not for a day, a year, or an age, but 'from everlasting.' During a past eternity God was alone-self-contained, self-sufficient, in need of nothing. Had a universe, or angels, or humans been necessary to Him in any way, they also would have been called into existence from all eternity. Creating them when He did added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (Mal. 3:6), therefore His essential glory can be neither augmented nor diminished." (A. W. Pink, Gleanings in the Godhead, pg. 11) God's existence depends upon His own essence, not upon another cause. Being uncreated, underived, non-dependent, He is thus independent of all His created works. He is the self-sufficient, self-fulfilled, self-dependent, self-sustained, the Eternal God of aseity, i.e., the state or condition of having an independent existence. "That which is independent, unconditioned, and uncaused in its existence has its existence in, through, and from itself. If we summarize what has just been said by use of the Latin phrase 'a se' we can employ the infrequently used word 'aseity' to signify the note that we have added to our description of God as an object of thought. In contrast, the things of this world, the existence of which is contingent, dependent, conditioned, and caused, do not have their existence in, through, and from themselves. They do not have aseity." "Hence to say that God has aseity is not only to say that God is immutable, but also to say that God is in no way affected or altered by the existence or non-existence of the cosmos as a whole, totally outside of which God has independent existence." (Mortimer J. Adler, How to Think About God, pg. 89, 90). God exists outside of our categories of thought. Our cognitive processes look for facile cause and effect sequences that arrive at resolutions we can neatly grasp. But "before the before" "previous to the previous," is a self-existent Self. God is!
"Everything decays but thou doest not decay."—Lev. R. 19.2
God is the fullness of ingenerate life, the power of Being itself. He was, is, and will ever be the One who is the quintessence of life. "The human mind being created, has an understandable uneasiness about the Uncreated. We do not find it comfortable to allow for the presence of One who is wholly outside of the circle of our familiar knowledge. We tend to be disquieted by the One who does not account to us for His being, who is responsible to no one, who is self-existent, self-dependent, and self-sufficient." (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 33). Jesus said of the Father, "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself." (John 5:26). God is the essence of life, as pure Being. As distinct from all things, he has the source of life within Himself. His life never lacks of anything, it cannot be complimented nor diminished. Nothing can ever augment or subtract from the life of God. The concept of need is anathema to God, "For who is there of all flesh, who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have and lived?" (Deut. 5:26). "But the Lord is the True God; he is the living God and the everlasting King…" (Jer. 10:10). "…For He is the Living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever." (Dan. 6:26). "…and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them." (Acts 14:15). "Unfathomable sea: all life is out of thee, and Thy life is Thy blissful Unity." (Frederick W. Faber, 1841-1863, English Hymnist). Being underived in all respects, as life unto Himself, need-dependent relationships are foreign to God. The One who declares "I Am the Existing Being Who is the Existing Being," (Ex. 3:14) has an eternal selfhood that eradicates any concept of need. Any idea of need-dependency is as anathema to God as life is to death. "And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." (John 17:5). "The God of the Bible eternally has life in Himself. As theologians have sometimes put it, He has aseity, or life from and by Himself in independent freedom. His essential life does not correspond merely to His personal relations to the cosmos and to human beings." "He neither became the living God by His creation of the universe, nor did He become the living God at some point in eternity past; He is the one living God, and is so eternally. He lives in eternal self-affirmation. His life is all that He thinks, decides, and wills in creative freedom. God perpetually wills and purposes His own being; this being depends upon nothing external to Himself yet is not internally necessitated as if He exists forever whether He wills to do so or not. He wills eternally to be Himself in the fullness of His independent vitality and never ceases to be Himself. God exists in absolute plentitude and power." (Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, Vol. 5, p. 69)
As innately need-oriented, man cannot breathe, think, eat, sleep, function in the most rudimentary manner without deriving life from outside sources; food, water, oxygen and sunlight. We are completely need-dependent in our physical, social, relational and spiritual unions, and we transfer this contingency of being into our perception of God. We imagine that there must be necessity residing in the being of God, that requires a universe, angels and mankind to fulfill Him. But God is! And the "is-ness" of God is fullness of life. God is unconditioned by nothing and obsequious to none. God alone has the power of Being, power in all its creative, preserving and redemptive aspects-it belongs exclusively to God. "Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God." (Ps. 62:11). "…He who is the Blessed and only Sovereign (Gk. Mono dynastes, "only one who has intrinsic power"), the King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim. 6:15). "And as power is essentially in God, so it is not distinct from His essence. It belongs to God in regard of the inconceivable excellency and activity of His essence." "This power being the same with His essence, is as durable as His essence, and resides forever in His nature." "His power that whereby He remains forever fixed in His own everlasting being." (Steven Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol. 2, p. 17, 26, 27).
"He existed before the world was created, and He will continue in being when the world comes to a final end."—Ex. R. 5.14
As the pre-creational nihilation did not diminish or restrain God, so the created universe and human history does not add to nor enhance the Being of the Almighty. Creation is not borne out of necessity, a need in God, but solely originates from the matrix of His personal will. In the words of Irenaeus, "...it is not proper to say that the Supreme Deity is the slave of necessity, seeing that He is free and independent..." (Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, 130 to 202 C.E., The Treatise of Irenaeus Against the Heresies, II.5.3) A God of aseity, i.e., non-dependent, does not require a created universe or any relationship to that creation. The human need for relational fulfillment, that is endemic to man, is antithetical to the eternal, self-sufficient nature of God. Divine necessity, in relation to God's creation, is an oxymoron, for God is independent of all the works of His hands, "Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God." (Ps. 90:2). "Even from eternity I am He; ..." (Isa. 43:13). God does not live from, or by- "He is!" "But Thou art the same (Heb. "Thou art He"), and Thy years will not come to an end." (Ps. 102:27) In such conciseness, God emphatically declares His eternal, unalterable, and unchanging Selfhood. "He is all-sufficient in Himself and to Himself. As the First of beings, He could receive nothing from another, nor be limited by the power of another. Being infinite, He is possessed of all possible perfection. When the Triune God existed all alone, He was all to Himself. His understanding, His love, His energies, found an adequate object in Himself. Had He stood in need of anything external, He had not been independent and therefore would not have been God." (A. W. Pink, Gleanings in the Godhead, p. 83).
"Thou was the same before the world was created, Thou hast been the same since the world was created."—Jewish Authorized Prayer Book, p. 8
God is repeatedly called in Scripture the "Blessed" (I Chron. 16:36, 29:10, Ps. 72:18-19, 106:48), "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen." (Ps. 41:13). "Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and amen." (Ps. 89:52). "…who is blessed forever (lit. "into the ages"). Amen." (Rom. 1:26) "…and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever (lit. "into the ages"). Amen." (Rom. 9:6) "…according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted." (I Tim. 1:11). "…He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords;" (I Tim. 6:15). See also Mark 14:61, Rom. 9:5, II Cor. 1:3, 11:31.) One of the most frequently designated names of God in rabbinical literature is "the Holy One Blessed be He." God is blessed not because man individually or corporately gives to God worship, praise, devotion, money, time-what we think brings God pleasure. His blessedness is independent of man or the created universe. God is blessed within his eternal nature. The inherent perfection, the Holy integer of His nature, the fulfillment within his being, and the indescribable joy of self-knowledge in the eternal state of communal bliss. "Yet, had God so pleased, He might have continued alone for all eternity, without making known His glory unto creatures. Whether He should do so or not He determined solely by His own will. He was perfectly blessed in Himself before the first creature was called into being." (A. W. Pink, Gleanings in the Godhead, p. 12). He alone is the non-dependent, eternally self-fulfilled One in the universe. "On the other hand, if all other beings did not exist, He would remain; for His existence does not depend on theirs. He would not cease if they ceased—blessed be He! He is not dependent upon one of them. So the reality of His being is not comparable to the reality of any other existing thing." (Moses Maimonides, The Book of Knowledge, from the Mishnah Torah, p. 1)
"The Master, brethren, hath need of nothing at all. He desireth not anything of any man, save to confess unto Him."—The Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 52
God gains nothing from man's time, worship, obedience and devotion. If all the world were to praise in unison the worthiness of God's glory, God would not be greater nor enhanced. In contradistinction, if all the world were to rebel against His sovereign rule it would not in the least diminish from God's nature. "Were all human beings suddenly to become blind, still the sun would shine by day and the stars by night, for these owe nothing to the millions who benefit from their light. So, were every man on earth to become atheists it could not affect God in any way. He is what He is in Himself without regard to any other. To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away." (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 40). God's eternal perfection eradicates the necessity for anything. Not one atom of creation is required to the being of God. Nothing that I can give Him renders God more than He is eternally. He is not less if I withhold my love or devotion from Him. God gains nothing from man. He is the eternally Blessed God that we need desperately. "He does not become more perfect if all His creatures serve Him and comprehend Him as far as possible: nor would he lose anything if nothing existed beside Him." (Moses Maimonides, The Guide to the Perplexed, p. 274).
"Blessed be He, beyond all blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that may be uttered in this world, and say Amen."—The Traditional Jewish Prayer Book, p. 6
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