Transcendence vs. Immanence Transcendence and immanence represent two viewpoints of the relationship people have with God and how they experience him. Transcendence emphasizes the distance between God and humanity. A transcendental point of view sees God as omnipotent, meaning all powerful and distant from man whose responsibility is obedience. Immanence focuses on the union between God and humanity. God is seen as being present in the world, to be experienced in many ways, and humanity’s response is cooperation. Transcendence and Immanence are almost completely opposite each other.
Transcendence describes a God beyond our understanding leaving us to rely on a privileged source to provide us knowledge about him. A transcendent God leaves us to find a privileged source. By making people find a privileged source, people are going to see different sources. For Christianity the bible is seen as a privileged source. Catholics don’t see the bible as literally as other Christian religions. It is hard to find a meaningful role for human life if God is seen as omnipotent. Whereas obedience is emphasized, any responsibility that humans have to change the conditions of the world is diminished.
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If he is seen as all powerful, all knowing, and all loving then he would know everything that happens before it does and because he is all loving, he is the only one who could change the bad conditions in the world. In saying we cannot change anything; we have no point of living, except to obey God. By focusing on an imminent point of view one focuses on the union of God and humanity. An imminent point of view also sees God in everything one experiences. If God is in everything then that means he is in evil things and in good. The bible says that God is evil in no way, shape, or form.
I do not believe that God is evil. Personally encountering a God who permeates our lives in an effort to help us develop as people is an attractive viewpoint but how do we separate God’s will from selfish desire. Immanence presents the problem of what God is and isn’t actually in. Although Immanence proposes that God permeates all aspects of life, are we to trust that all life experiences are valid ways to experience God? Both of these questions re-state the statement of: If God is in everything then he must be in all things evil as well as all things good.
Immanence also points people in the wrong direction by having them worship false things as God. This is called idolatry. Idolatry is strictly against the first commandment. I prefer to think of God as near in accessible to me in many life experiences. I can see God as being all powerful. I can also see that he deserves obedience. At the same time, we rely on him as a partner with whom I can ask for help to have a good life and bring about positive change in my life. I also ask him for help to bring about positive change in my community and the world.
So in a way I see God from both points of view. He is all loving and powerful. At the same time gives us reason to try to better our worldly conditions or to better ourselves. I do not see God in every experience or action that I commit, but I do see how he influences many actions and experiences in my life. My view of God is probably much different from others. I view God in both views instead of seeing him concretely in one sing view. When talking about immanence and Transcendence one has to think literally to find the problems and stances that both sides take.