Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mysterium Majestatis et Caritatas

   The heart of the Bible lies in the "mysterium majestatis et caritatas" (pg. 226), that is the mystery of majesty and love. The idea that God is both majestic and loving is one of the most perplexing statements found in Scripture. As shown in the previous posts, God is Holy and Majestic while being Loving and Gracious. These are in tension with each other. One demands Wrath while the other demands Love. Brunner says it this way: "The Biblical message contains in itself the dialectical tension between Wrath and Mercy, between the Holiness which is identical with Love, and the Holiness which, as the wrath of God, in opposition to it." (pg. 234)
 The last two posts have been trying to unpack this idea: God is Love and God is Wrath. It would be much easier if we could say that the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ removed this paradox, that God has given up His Wrath and now is only Love. In the last post, we tried to show that God's wrath is His Love, yet this seems unsatisfactory. It is unsatisfactory because it is not in the Biblical text. "Human always trying to evade this dialectic. It desires and demands an obvious unity." (pg. 234) 

  Before starting to think about this dialectic, we are warned by the Reformer Melanchtohon, "Mysteria divinitas rectius adoraverimus quam vestigaverimus. " (pg. 205) This means that the Mystery of The Nature of God is found through worship than through investigation. Thus, let us continue on not in attitude of intellectual curiosity, but as worshipers of God.

   "God, as the Lord, wills to rule over us. Therefore He wills to put an end to our rebellion, to sin" (pg. 
218) This is the Holiness of God. Yet, this ending of our rebellion is not accomplished by The Law of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant, by revealing a Holy God,  "simply brings sin to a head, without...overcoming it." (pg. 218) If God only was Holy, He would leaves us here. For "through sin we are in isolation, due to the fact that we are separated from God by His wrath." (pg. 219)  If God was only Holy, we would not be able to approach Him, and would be left to our self-deception and blindness to Truth. We are in a condition of loss and accursedness. We are left in a state of meaninglessness, where "the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth" (Ecclesiastes 7:1, NASB)

  "God, who is Love, wills to give Himself to us - that is, He wills to give us this love, which is Himself." (pg. 218) The Holy God, stoops-down, and becomes Immanuel, God-with -us. It is only by revealing and veiling Himself as Jesus Christ that the gulf between sinners and the Holy God can be bridged. Only when God kills God on a cross can God's Holiness and God's Love exist in unity. The Holy God gave Himself to us, not just be with us, but to fulfill both the Love and Wrath of God. This is the Divine Mystery, we will never understand it. There is no room in the Church for a "mysterium logicum" but only room for the "mysterium majestatis et caritatis".

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