Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Veiled God

   The Naked and Veiled God are "the characteristic and decisive element(s) in the Christian Idea of God. Thus, in this paradoxical dualism of Holiness and Love, God reveals His name to us; it is thus that He wills to be known and worshipped [sic]. It is thus that He reveals Himself simply and solely, in the Bible, in Jesus Christ."(pg. 183) God is not knowable as God as the Deus Nudus, the Naked God. In order to be approached, God must approach us first. He does this by a Divine Kenosis, a self-emptying that takes place in the Person of Jesus Christ, according to Brunner.

  If, what we established in the previous post is correct, God is too Majestic to be entered into relationship with unless He veils Himself. He veils Himself as "the incarnation of the Word in Jesus Christ...whose whole revelation is one sole movement of gracious condescension to man, an act of saving Mercy." (pg. 184) It is not until God reveals Himself by veiling Himself that we can be approached by Him or can approach Him. This veiling is done at various points during the Old Testament, but the full self-emptying and condescension is not accomplished until the Incarnation. If God had not veiled Himself, we could not cry "Abba, Father". We could only cry the cry of Isaiah, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." (Isaiah 6:5)

   It is only after we have been cleansed that we can even bear the voice of the Deus Nudus. Yet, when God becomes the Deus Velatus, we can emulate the Deus Incarnatus and cry "Abba, Father!" (Mark 14:36) It is only then can we "express the most daring statement that has ever been made in human language: God is Love." (pg. 184-185) What makes this the most daring statement is that it is new in the world. "It is proper to say that man can, and indeed must God, yet it is equally clear that to introduce the statement "God is Love" in their systems of thought (Platonism, Aristotelianism, or Neo-Platonism) would be completely nonsensical." (pg. 183) In the history of thought, only Christianity can get away with saying that God is love. For these philosophical systems can only think in terms of Eros or Erotic love and not Agape, Self-giving Love.

  "The Love of God, the Agape of the New Testament, is quite different" (pg. 186) from Eros. "Eros is the desire for value, and the will appropriate such value" (pg. 186) while Agape "does not seek value, but it creates value or gives value; it does not desire to get but to give; it is not 'attracted' by some lovable quality, but it is poured out on those who are worthless and degraded." (pg. 186) Erotic love is trying to be valued, while Agape creates it. This is a striking difference.

  Now, if God remained the Deus Nudus, all we could do is desire for Him to value us, to call us worthy. The only Persons worthy to enter relationship with the Deus Nudus is the Trinity. Quoting Luther, Brunner states that "there is at all times enmity between man and God, and they cannot be friends and agree with one another' and where the two persons come into conflict with each another, there must man be broken to pieces, for he cannot stand against God." (pg. 170) Thus, man is excluded from relationship with the Deus Nudus.

  However, the Deus Nudus only exercises the "left hand of God", the non-will of God. The Left Hand is the Hand of Holiness that must be set against humanity. It is not part of God's nature to be wrathful, but because he "takes Himself, His Love, infinitely seriously, and in so doing also takes man infinitely seriously, He cannot do otherwise than be angry, although 'really' He is only Love." (pg. 170)

  The "right hand of God", the will of God is His Love. In His Love, He veils Himself, covers Himself in Love. Yet, "This concealing is...not a real hiding of God's Face, but it is indeed the real unveiling."(pg. 172) This covering in Love is not "to impart...'something', but his very Self, for this Love is self-surrender, self-giving to the other, to whom love is directed." (pg. 186-187) 

 The left and right hand of God is the paradox we spoke of at the beginning. For "there is a sharp and essential contrast; for Holiness creates distance, but love creates communion. Holiness erects barriers, love breaks through them."(pg. 188) Thus, we must ask, how can we hold to both the complete Holiness of God and the Love of God?

  We need to understand and recognize that without God being Holy, God could not love. "Only the God who in Himself possesses all Perfection, who is perfectly self-sufficient and needs no other, thus only the God who is absolute Lord, sovereign personality, can love in freedom, can love unfathomably. One who needs another loves the other with Eros, not with Agape." (pg. 189) If God was not Holy, His love would be seeking validation, instead of being able to validate.

   Secondly, "God's Holy will is fulfilled in the creature as perfect communion with Him, the Holy One, and this is His Love." (pg. 190) Only when His Holy Will is completed and all resistance is broken down can His love stream back to Him from the hearts of the saints. If we are not wholly united with this Holy Will and if we are not a mirror of His Holiness, God would not have any glory.

  Thus, God's Glory does not stem from His non-will, His Wrath, but from His will, His Love. "love completes Holiness and is only fully Love in the fulfillment of Holiness." (pg. 190) Without Holiness, there would not be Love. Conversely, if there was not Love, there would not be Holiness. They are inseparable. In the veiling of God, both Love and Holiness are one; "complete communion and salvation." (pg. 190)

  Faith is not merely crying out, begging for Mercy, but is "simply being grasped and held by the love of God in Jesus Christ.' (pg. 198-199) God is not Wrath, but is Love. When we repent, the left-hand can come together and merge with the right-hand and cradle us. "The fact that God is love" is not just a statement meant to reassure and comfort us, "but is the quintessence, the central word of the whole bible. The God of revelation is the God of Love." (pg. 199)

  I feel that it is appropriate to end with the words of Rich Mullins: "You were then my King of Glory, won't you be my Prince of Peace."

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