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Tuesday
Feb072012

Theological Term of the Week

transcendence
The term used to describe God’s independence and distinction from creation, and his control over it.

  • From scripture: 

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

    For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

  • From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem:

    The teaching of Scripture about the relationship between God and creation is unique among the religions of the world. The Bible teaches that God is distinct from his creation. He is not part of it, for he has made it and rules over it. The term often used to say that God is much greater than creation is the word transcendent. Very simply,  this means that God is far “above” the creation in the sense that he is greater than the creation and he is independent of it.

  • From Salvation Belongs to the Lord by John Frame:
  • When Scripture uses the “up there” language, theologians call it transcendence….

    …[S]ome theologians have misunderstood God’s transcendence. They think it means that God is so far away from us that we cannot really know him, so far that human language can’t describe him accurately, so far that to us he’s just a great heavenly blur without any definite characteristics. This concept of transcendence is unbiblical. If God is transcendent in that way, how can he also be near to us/ Furthermore, according to the Bible we can know definite things about God. Despite the limitations of human language, God is able to use human language to tell us clearly and accurately who he is and what he has done.

Learn more:

  1. Theopedia: Transcendence of God
  2. Gotquestions.org: What does it mean that God is transcendent?
  3. J. Hampton Keathley, III: What God Is Like
  4. Bruce Ware: Beholding the God of Merciful Holiness: Transcendence, Immanence, and Ministry (mp3)
Related terms:

Filed under God’s Nature and His Work.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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