Saturday, June 15, 2013

The "Remote" vs. "Close" Theological Fallacy

Someone has gone again and propounded a misunderstanding about God. Like many theological misunderstandings, its basis is the reduction of God to human terms.

Catherine Pepinster says that there has been a tension
between those who want to describe God as a remote, awesome being and others who want to encourage a more intimate, personal connection
I would argue instead that the tension is between those who believe that God is so awesome, good, and desirable that we want Him to be our intimate Lord, and those who would rather do liturgy and life on their own human terms without much input from God at all, thank you very much. The first desire sings with St. Thomas Aquinas, "Dare to praise as much as you can, for He is greater than all praise, and no praise will ever be enough."

His greatness, His ineluctable distinction from our way of being, is our happiness and good, because through this distinction He can be close to us. He has power to take to Himself our nature, elevating it immeasurably by the Incarnation. He has power to live in us and change us from the inside, because He is so different from us that He cannot be subsumed by us. Through the life of the sacraments, both the "sendings" of the awesome God, the missions of the Son and Holy Spirit, become real for each of us personally.

God lives in us because He is different from us.The life of intimacy with God depends upon the distinction of the orders of being.

We see this closeness in the prayers according to the new translation time and time again. Instead of asking for a vague kind of help from beyond the beyond so that we can help the world, we ask for moment-to-moment grace so that we may be faithful. Instead of sending a memo to a truly remote deity, we are whispering earnestly to the One who is close: "Lord, who have helped us in the past [You whom we know and trust], help us in our present need of salvation."