Wednesday, January 5, 2011

God is Love: God As Both Person and "Process"

God is love; and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him." (1 John 4:16). In the last half century, one of the more compelling and thought provoking metaphors to describe God that has come out of theology is the notion that God is "Holy Mystery." We often refer to God as a "person" or as a "communion of persons" and leave it at that. However, "person" is used in reference to God or the Trinity in an analogous sense - meaning, there is always more that can be said about God than can be exhausted by the concept of person. The notion of God as "love" or God as "Holy Mystery" speaks to the "more" that can be said of God.

The "more" that can be said of God also has to do with the fact that God is "pure Spirit" or, in the words of Thomas Aquinas, "Pure Act" or "Pure Being". What this implies is that God is "supra-personal" or "ultra-personal" and, is, in a manner of speaking, a "process" or "a Force to be reckoned with." This makes it possible, in the words from the first letter of John mentioned above, to "remain in God" and for God to "remain in us." It's difficult to imagine how God as a mere, "sovereign" person, could permit us to remain in him and he in us. God must be something more, therefore, than a person in an absolute sense.

The importance of allowing our imaginations to be broadened by the notion of God as Love, Holy Mystery, Process, or Pure Spirit/Pure Act/Pure Being, is that it opens us to begin experiencing God at greater depth in the day to day events of our lives and also to experiencing God present in the heart of the world, in the heart of the human person, and in the heart of authentic human relationship. By definition, God as Love, Holy Mystery, and Pure Spirit/Pure Act/Pure Being, while present, does not intrude or impose his presence. To detect God's humble and unassuming presence, and to invite fuller presence, means "attuning" or "retuning" our understanding of God in such a way as to allow God to flood our lives as an empowering "process" and "force" that desires what is best for us and who will lead us, our world, and our relationships to fullness of light, life, and love. Pat, TOR