“In”-God and “Un”-God is my expression for the transcendence of God, the God who is so unlike the absorption of so many with an “immanent” God-who-is-alot-like-us- but just-a-little-bit-more-than-us but before whom very few sense awe. To help us forward with our thoughts, I’ll be looking at F. LeRon Shults, Reforming the Doctrine of God.
We use “in” and “un” because they often kick start a word, words like infinite and unfathomable, inexpressible and unapproachable. In-God and Un-God is pointing, in other words, at God’s utter holiness.
The central concerns in Shults will be infinity, person, causality, futurity — each of which is found in Trinity, in the God whose infinity is intensive and more than mathematical more-ness, whose personhood is more than a human personhood, and whose causality and futurity can’t be grasped by finite minds in simple explanations.
Shults charts the history of how “infinity” has been understood — with a special emphasis on how God’s infinity is understood as “immaterial substance” in late modern thinking. He thinks the late modern thinking of God’s infinity as immaterial substance obscured elements of the biblical witness. He argues that the biblical witness is about an incomparably intensive presence that transforms life. He constantly draws us into the idea that God is uncontainable and inexpressible — that language never gets the job done completely even though we can speak of God truthfully. We are always left breathless before the infinitude of God.
A major issue here is that many see “infinity” mathematically: God is more and more of what we see in this world. God’s omniscience is our knowledge to the nth degree. Or, others suggest infinity is about being everywhere (immensity) or forever in time (eternity). Instead, Shults argues — and take this in slowly — God’s infinity is also — even more — about God’s intensive essence and presence. Even “finitude” is part of God’s “infinitude.” God’s infinity is more than mathematical; it is metaphysical.
Shults often speaks of God’s “incomparability”: All the nations are as nothing (Isa 40:17-18), sufferings can’t be compared to glories that will come (Rom 8:18), and the “weight of glory beyond all measure” (2 Cor 4:17). God’s incomparable presence both contains and fills all things at once. Say, Eph 4:6: “above all and through all and in all.” Now that’s a line that can evoke awe and wonder and worship.