Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Transcendent Meets the Immanent

A thoughtful consideration of every potential introduction to this new project—including a very basic overview of just what this weblog is attempting to be—seemed ill-conceived the more I reflected on its foundation. I've never been a fan of mission statements or written guidelines. I would prefer things to take a more organic approach. I see abundant, rigid structure as all a part of our human tendency to obey rules rather than to do what's best; we tend to follow the letter rather than the spirit of the law. In fact, if I had to choose a single recurring behavior in other men which has plagued me from the pacifier and I fear shall unto the grave, it would be the remarkably oafish practice of following regulations to irrational precision. That trait is the source of multiple facebook statuses reading, "Take that, Res Life!" Having a rule against guns on an airplane makes sense because bullets flying in an enclosed space is a recipe for ricochets, blood, death, and that black powder smell all over your Armani business suit. Having a rule against toasters in a dorm room is stupid because no one can remember the last time fifty frat guys died in a fiery explosion of sheet rock and Pop Tarts. Some RAs understood it, but to many it seemed I was pulling my finger from the dyke of orderly society.

But I digress. Organic approach, remember?

Yet before I delve too far into the bottomless well of inspiration, I need to reiterate a point I preached from the pulpit not long ago—all men somehow know that they need Truth. The depressing thing is that most people reach some little truth and decide that they must have found the "big 'T' Truth". They go into all kinds of little truths and make them their banner. Activism is a good example. Folks go six-ways-to-Sunday out of their minds for some particular cause or injustice to fight. But when a truth becomes their Truth, it consumes them. Others figure out that they are consumed by their little truth, but they don't continue to seek after Truth. Instead, they conclude that there is no Truth. In a funny and ironic sort of way, the truth that there is no Truth becomes their identity. In the end, all of us find truth rather than Truth. We are dead in our transgressions, Scripture tells us in Ephesians 2. Elsewhere we are told, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:2-3 ESV).

So what most academic disciplines, worldly-wise sayings, politicians, philosophical or theological systems, and idiots opining on a soap boxes fail to recognize is that their every effort to attain unto Truth shall inevitably fail because human reason and human experience are limited in their ability to perceive. We tend not to think so; we tend to think that through just the right combination of education and willpower we can make ourselves into something better. The sad reality is that we can't. Man wishes to define and redefine himself, for that is true power. His desire is deluded though, because Truth cannot be reshaped. Rather, Truth shapes all things.

Behold our desperate state; we cannot attain unto Truth by ourselves, only little-"T" truths. And we cannot deny Truth or bend it to ourselves because we are slaves to our own nature—the truth of who we are. In order for us to really know Truth—the infinite, the transcendent, the abstract, the eternal—Truth must come for us.

John's gospel tells us in chapter 1 that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Elsewhere, in chapter 8, Jesus tells the Jews that before Abraham was, "I AM". He here claims to be the eternal and unchanging YHWH; this was not lost in His audience because they immediately pick up rocks to stone him.

Saying you were going to "get stoned" was not as popular then as it is today.

The papa bear of all these Truth verses is John 14:6 where Jesus declares that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. With that simple statement, Greek philosophy and Hebrew Old Testament estrangement from Truth is torn down. We realize what no philosopher, scientist, priest, king, or blogger could ever have conceived on his own. Truth is personal. The transcendent became immanent, limited, finite, and tangible. "Incarnation" comes from the Latin meaning "in meat"; Jesus incarnating means He is "Truth in flesh".

Don't you see? Truth is not an it; Truth is a He.

He is the center of all our efforts to attain unto God. The scandal is that God came to us. God found us; we never found God. All our anxiety about finding out what is true came crashing down. "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery" (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV). We realize then that all things which are true are only true because they resemble Jesus. Jesus declares, "I am." That "which is" is the truth because it looks like and reminds us of Jesus Who is.

What does all that have to do with Artery Bloggage? Well, the reason that Truth being personal is so important is because the dichotomy between the Head and the Heart must be discarded as false. We tend to relegate truth and rationality to the Head while leaving love and emotion unto the Heart. What a goofy thing to do if we conclude that Truth is Jesus. Truth isn't something that coldly deals with facts, statistics, and logic; Truth loves you. This doesn't mean that Truth isn't sometimes hard to understand or difficult to stomach or even dense and mentally frustrating. It does mean that there's a Person with real human feelings, sentiments, emotions, and desires at the center of it. Plato and Aristotle never mention that Beauty or Justice must love us; at best they say that we must love these impersonal Forms existing in the metaphysical and live our lives pursuing them. But try gazing out on the sunrise and thinking that perhaps a great cosmic painter painted it for you. Consider the great victory of Justice when a rapist must face his victim in the shame of broad daylight or when the cruel slaver is punished and his slaves liberated; think of these things not as some moral code being satisfied but of the righteous wrath of a loving God Who shall not tolerate sin against His image-bearers. Suddenly the thought that we are disjointed beings with Heads of rational facts and Hearts of gushing-but-directionless zeal dissipates.

That is what I want Artery Bloggage to be. I want to show how the heady and academic stuff is important to our everyday lives. I want to show how the abstract and cerebral stuff is really some of the most immanent and relevant. I want to show that higher learning isn't just for college-folk; it's hugely significant for everyone! Most of all, I want it to be something that ultimately glorifies and exalts Jesus. I don't mean to sound preachy, but He changed my heart and I want to make a big deal of that.

Along the way, expect plenty of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor. That's who I am. I want it to be equal parts accessible/funny and smart/serious, but that's a best-case scenario and given who's writing this thing, it will probably end up being equal parts lame/unfunny and stupid/self-important. Like a gay marriage between Carlos Mencia and Sean Penn.

One more thing: unlike many blogs which are essentially online diaries (nothing wrong with that), Artery Bloggage is for the readers! That means that I want feedback. I want suggestions for topics. I want to know what jokes worked and which didn't. I want to know what you think about my writing. I want to know if the Holy Spirit used it to provoke thought, convict of sin, or just plain encourage you. I don't want to get into stupid internet bickering over things that don't matter, but I don't mind civil discourse. The readers will help this to succeed or fail, whatever it ends up being.


  1. So, I was going to comment on this when you sent it to me, but alas, I was at Passion and then DC. Great post though. Don't know if you've read it or not, but I'm going through Tozer's "Pursuit of God" and he as a great chapter on Divine Immanence (The Universal Presence).

  2. I have never read any Tozer. I hear beastly things though.