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January 24, 2010

A second type of criticism of the image of God as sovereign ruler over his creation is that it represents God as distant from the world, rather than involved in and with his creation.  This criticism is misconceived when it is made against transcendence as such.  Transcendence requires the absolute distinction between God and finite creatures, but not at all his distance from them.  The transcendent God, precisely because he is not one finite being among others, is able to be incomparably present to all, closer to them than they are to themselves.  This point is relevant to Revelation, because it explains how the God whose transcendence is so emphasized can in the new creation make his home with human beings (21:3).  His nearness to his creation in the language of 21:3-4 is as striking as his transcendence in the vision of chapter 4.  Moreover, even the image of the throne becomes, in the New Jerusalem, an expression of God’s closeness to his people (22:3-4; and cf. already 7:15-17).

— Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation,p. 46

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Greg permalink
    January 24, 2010 9:37 pm

    Hutch, thanks for sharing. That was solid. I really appreciate that explanation. I’ve had students asking a lot of questions about the character/nature of God lately and I think this is going to be a good reference.

    • January 24, 2010 10:45 pm

      Greg, I’m very glad to hear it’s helpful. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I’m only 40+ pages in and it is striking. Pulling simple themes from the whole book of Revelation and seeing how they weave in and out.

      This quote especially hit me because of the concept of transcendence not being about distance, but difference in kind/type. Which, as Bauckham notes, is all the more amazing when you consider the intimacy of the end of Revelation.

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