Transcendence and immanence

The incommunicable attributes of God stress his transcendence and the communicable attributes stress his immanence. The two imply one another. A Christian notion of transcendence and a Christian notion of immanence go together.

It is not a sufficient description of Christian theism when we say that as Christians we believe in both the transcendence and the immanence of God while pantheistic systems believe only in the immanence of God and deistic systems believe only in the transcendence of God. The transcendence we believe in is not the transcendence of deism and the immanence we believe in is not the immanence of pantheism. In the case of deism transcendence virtually means separation while in the case of pantheism immanence virtually means identification. And if we add separation to identification we do not have theism as a result. As we mean a certain kind of God when as theists we speak of God, so also we mean a certain kind of transcendence and a certain kind of immanence when we use these terms. The Christian doctrine of God implies a definite conception of the relation of God to the created universe. So also the Christian doctrine of God implies a definite conception of everything in the created universe.

– Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith p.32

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[John Frame’s ‘Rectangle of Opposition’ is a device used throughout his writings to show the antithesis between the biblical view of transcendence and immanence on the left side and the non-biblical view on the right. The diagonal lines represent direct contradictions, while the horizontal lines represent the similarity of language used in the two positions. The vertical line on the left represents the consistency of the biblical view whereas the vertical line on the left represents the tension within the non-biblical view.]

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