other

We might be like God in some ways. After all, God made us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27).

But God is most certainly not like us. God is more than us. He is greater than us. God transcends us.

The meaning of transcendence is that God is not merely a quality of nature or of humanity; he is not simply the highest human being. He is not limited to our ability to understand him. His holiness and goodness go far beyond, infinitely beyond ours, and this is true of his knowledge and power as well.

Millard Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 81.

God is other.

It is the supremacy of God’s otherness, holiness, greatness, glory that should drive us to humility and worship.

God is not the “man upstairs,” or the “eye in the sky.” That God transcends us points to God as Creator, Lord, and Sovereign.

Scripture affirms the idea of transcendence.

God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
    Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Numbers 23:19

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

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:1-5

“As I looked, thrones were placed,
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
    and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
    its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
    and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
    and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
    and the books were opened.

Daniel 7:9-10

These passages are just a sampling of the biblical affirmation of God’s transcendence. God is above and beyond us in every way imaginable.

The fact of God’s transcendence should humble us. If you’ve been reading these word of the week posts for any length of time, you may have noticed a theme. Theology that gives us an accurate picture of God and of ourselves rightly humbles us.

The fact of God’s transcendence should lead us to worship. God is great, other, glorious. The more we recognize and reflect on the transcendent God of the Bible, the more we will sense the need to worship and adore God in our attitudes and actions.

So, pause a moment (or more) and consider the greatness and glory of the transcendent God of the Bible. Join us next week as we reflect on the complimentary theme of God’s immanence.

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash