How can we talk about God? Seriously, the vastness and immensity and infinity of God beggar description and tax human language to the limit, so taxing in fact that we must admit the limitations of all God-talk. This is the topic taken up by Ron Highfield in chp 5 of his excellent book, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God.
Great is the Lord 7
May 25, 2010 @ 0:03 by 7 Comments
I confess that the limitations of human language in talking about God is important to me, and so Highfield’s chp resonates deeply with me.
“God is too transcendent for words but too important for silence. Let
out our speech, then, consist of confession and praise and our silence of penance and adoration” (141).
Which leads him to the question “What is God?” and to this point: “God is God, apart from other things. Therefore, God cannot be defined.” And he continues: “The ability to define something is practically synonymous with the power to comprehend it” (143). That we cannot do: we cannot comprehend God. We can know God but we cannot comprehend the One Who is Infinite. The finite cannot grasp the Infinite; language can only take us so far. What’s left is the gaze.
But all this highlights something fundamental: God must reveal himself for us to know God. God reveals himself in Christ and in the Word, and these guide our comprehension of nature and our reason.
Highfield has an extensive discussion of the “attributes” of God, pondering the distinction between essence and existence as well as the distinction between substance and accident. He adapts the categories of Barth: divine freedom and divine love.
Then a brief on the names of God, the “God is…” statements, statements about God’s actions (God created), and the narratives of God’s actions. Next chp: Love Transcendent.