The Life of God

Ever since at least the Axial Age (circa 5th to the 3rd century BCE), religious and philosophical systems have postulated the immanence of the ultimate in this reality. In the East, some philosophical systems claimed that Brahman had various incarnations (avatars) and in the West, there were incarnations in both Greek mythology and Christianity. The common thread is that whatever ultimate reality is, in itself, it is also present in this reality.

The question to ask about these imminences is how to characterize them? Are they special cases for certain individuals and limited in their presence? In the Divine Life Communion, they are neither special cases or limited. In an aspect monism, everything is an aspect of the divine in this life, whether it be a human, animal, insect, plant, weather, or elementary particle. This is because there is only one living reality and that is the Divine Life. There is no divide between the divine and this life. In other words, God has a Life.

So, is that all there is to God — a Life? In pantheism that might be the case. In other theological systems (panentheism for one), it is said that God, as ultimate reality is also in some sense “beyond” this reality. There is an aseity or abysmal character of God that is deeper than this reality. The creator is “more” than the created. Thusly, God’s Life does not constitute the entirety of God but is rather a living part. What we experience in our lives is at least one of God’s lives. Who knows if there are others.

The great theological, Paul Tillich wrote a book called “The Courage to Be”. He talks about the courage to face the existential issues of life. Now, he frames this within the essentialist/existentialist ontology but instead of that ontology, I think it can also apply to an aspect monism. For some reason (possible this), God chose to live, to avail a part of God to the constraints and vicissitudes of living. One might call this a courageous act of God because God sheds God’s ultimate control and embraces the contingencies of living. In Christian and Greek thought, the term for this is “kenosis” (self-emptying).

What this means is that in a living aspect, God has limited knowledge, suffers, does both good and evil, experiences joy and love, has anxiety, doubt, and eventually dies. God experiences in a living aspect all that life offers, both the wonders and the horrors. It also means that since God lives in the living aspects of the divine life, those aspects also have a connection to God in their depth. There is a communion between God-as-living and God-as-transcendent. There is no great divide to be transverse between God and the individual. Instead, it is a matter of being sensitive to and probing the depth of the divine presence in all things.  But this need not be seen as some special, unusual attempt to embrace that depth. It can be as the apostle Paul understood a type of “praying without ceasing”.

The life of God also means relatedness. There is a communion of all things where each life shares life with others and effects each other life.  There is a grand narrative that God creates and lives. As God has taken on living with courage and resolve, so we as living parts of the Divine Life can embrace all that life offers with courage and resolve as well.

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