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A contradiction in terms?

"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." Psalm 139.6

Sometimes trying to conceive of God is like looking into the sky and imagining where it ends. Yet, if we are to relate to him and in the awareness that Jesus came to make him known, do we not have to get our heads around the idea?

It doesn't help to start with God's absolute properties like eternal, unchanging, all-knowing &c because there is a logical absurdity in developing a relationship with a being who cannot change. Love requires endless adjustments in response to the object of that love. But wait a minute... doesn't the Bible proclaim" God is love"? Of course it does, at 1 John 4.8. That makes it hard to reconcile the God who is love with God who is perfect because "perfection" is a finished state beyond which there can be nothing except that which diminishes perfection.

American philosopher Charles Hartshorne offers us a way out of the dilemma with his concept of "di-polarism". Di-polarism involves holding in tension certain paradoxical qualities of God, such as his being the embodiment of love while also being perfect or that he intervenes in history despite being eternal and therefore existing outside of time. Think of how a magnet possesses opposing north and south poles! It's a useful approach but one has to be careful not to overextend the analogy. For example it would be unhelpful to claim that God is both the embodiment of good and evil or of benevolence and cruelty.

No easy answers then, but what does one expect when the stakes are so high?



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