We ended the previous post with something about a proposal to examine the foundations of our cosmic house, in order to better understand why the superstructure of Western Civilization is sliding off of it. What's going on? Is the problem termites? Mold? Bad plumbing? Holes in the roof?
Did we build on sand, in which case the best foundation in the world won't help?
And who is qualified to conduct the inspection? To do a proper job of it, one will first have to do a geological survey, venture down into the basement, climb up into the attic, etc., when most inspectors take only a superficial glance at the house itself, and assume their metaphysical assumptions are true enough to hold it up.
They say our house is built on an alloy of Greek, Jewish, and Christian materials, which is true as far as it goes. But prior to this it's made of human nature, aspects of which are constrained by DNA (genetics being a necessary but not sufficient condition of humanness).
Along these lines, I recently read a book by the theologian Larry Chapp called The God of Covenant and Creation: Scientific Naturalism and its Challenge to the Christian Faith. The first half is a little dry, but it picks up the pace in the second half, as indicated by the many times I have written YES in the margins.
Let's review these enthusiastic YESes and try to make out the contours of the hyperdimensional object which evoked them.
A number of my YESes pertain to the so-called immutability of God. Now, this immutability has an undeniable appeal if we're going to build a civilization on top of it. Put conversely, how can one build on a process, a wave, a cloud of energy, a changeable opinion, man?
However, as we know, anything we say about God -- or can say about God -- is strictly analogical. Thus, for example, we can say God is "good," when in actuality he is the ground of goodness itself; in other words, it's not a "trait," but rather, the substance.
But Chapp (via Balthasar) makes the subtle point -- and how stupid of me to not have thought of it! -- that we must also consider God's immutability in the same analogical way:
Why is it, asks Balthasar, that we rarely see warnings about the analogical nature of all language about God when we speak of God's immutability or self-possession as an Absolute Subject?
In short, God is "immutable," so long as this is understood analogically. Pushed too far and taken too literally, God becomes as intelligent, living, and relatable as a rock.
It is at this point that the YESes begin flying. For example, Chapp quotes one of our favorite celestial inspectors, Norris Clarke, who writes that
Given an infinitely good and loving personal being, it seems to me one can say it is inevitable that it will pour over in some way to share its goodness outside itself, though one cannot predict just how.
This inevitability, or necessity if you will, is not an external compulsion or blind metaphysical force, but the very logic, the special logic of a loving nature, that will spontaneously pour over to share its goodness in some way... uncompelled by anything but love, yet inevitable, out of character for it not to happen.
Yes. That's exactly what I see. In the ultimate ground of being, "freedom and necessity come together in a transcendent synthesis, proper only to the nature of love" (ibid.).
Except to say it can't literally be a synthesis, because this implies two separate strands that are united a posteriori, when they are really complementary aspects of their anterior unity, like justice/mercy, time/eternity, Father/Son, etc.
Much more to say, but we promised shorter posts and we're sticking to it.