Transcendence and Immanence


Two big words I encountered in my philosophy studies are transcendence and immanence. Transcendence refers to God as being the totally other: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” Immanence is the divine manifested in or encompassing the material world: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Aware of God’s transcendence, I stand in awe and will love Him with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my strength. This is life’s vertical axis. Aware of God’s immanence, I will love others and all of creation because of God’s presence in them as He is present in me. This is life’s horizontal axis. Together – love of God and love of neighbors – are two axes that form the cross – the crosses of our lives but also the cross of our salvation.

Why is it that evil people seem to prosper and good men suffer? Is it because being good is often thought to be the same as being weak or naive? Of having a Lose-Win mentality? Being good is not easy. It needs Win-Win thinking. And that requires courage and integrity. Life’s horizontal axis constantly reminds us of an Omnipotent God who is both Good and Just so we must be good for goodness’ sake. Life’s horizontal axis calls us of our neighbors and the rest of creation as also repositories of God’s goodness and justice.

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