GOOD AND EVIL AND GOD
BY: JOHN R. GAVAZZONI
NOVEMBER 17, 2005
Theological conclusions reached hastily and too easily ought to be suspect to the true truth-seeker. For instance, to conclude from a biblical passage informing us – the possibility of translation error set aside for the moment – that to God, light and darkness are exactly the same, and thus God does not distinguish in any way between those opposites, is theologically crude, though such a conclusion tends to be very attractive to the ego imagining itself about to be initiated into the inner sanctum of uncovered mystery.
Assuming that scripture intends for us to understand good to be associated with light, and evil, darkness, I invite the Spirit-driven inquiring mind to join me in considering in what sense good and evil, light and darkness, exist within God. Now, I realize that I may have caused, by that last phrase, such a shocked reaction on the part of some readers, so as to lose you at this very early stage of our truth-quest.
I fully understand if you feel you might be in danger of being sucked into a demonic whirlpool of blasphemous heresy by even giving a fraction of a second’s consideration to the possibility of such contradistinctive spiritual substances existing within the containment field of God, Himself. Reactions might range from, “This dude is dangerous; I’m outa’ here,” to, “I’m gonna’ read what this sucker has to say, just so I can nail his hide to the wall.” Been in this scene before, dear ones, so do what you think you must.
Taking seriously Paul’s fundamental premise: “For out from Him, and through Him, and into Him are all things,” and feeling no need to chip away at his statement in order to make it fit the pathetically inadequate framework of conventional, contemporary evangelical thought form; for those who are still with me, let’s proceed: All things; everything exists within God. His Being, His omnipresence, encompasses, encases, and contains all existence. There is no frontier beyond which God is not. “Though I make my bed in Sheol, Thou art there.”
Though I make no apologies for proclaiming this truth boldly, I assure the reader that I tread this doctrinal territory with the intention of taking great care to maintain an awareness that there must be a sense in which such an assertion can, and should be presented so as not to ascribe to Divine Majesty, to Perfect Love, to Immaculate Purity, to Incorruptible Essence, to Unblemished Holiness, to Mercy, Grace and Beauty transcendently sublime, that which might remotely encourage inferences to be drawn other than which Peerless Worth is deserving.
Treading softly, let us seek a point of insight-entrance into the mystery of godliness and the mystery of iniquity. The self-emptying of Christ calls to us as such a point of entrance. This writer acknowledges exasperation at some of the irreverent explanations found in the footnotes of many Bibles and sermon allusions to the “kenosis.” I find most explanations to be lacking in the awe that such a consideration deserves. My approach maintains that every characteristic of the Son of God in His earthly/aionian life and ministry, draws from the eternal Divine Nature.
If it is true that He “emptied Himself” in the process of His incarnation, living, humiliation, suffering, and death, then that propensity must have existed, and does exist within the eternal Divine Nature. We are presented with a paradox of supreme tension, i.e., that God’s fullness is not static, but dynamic, involving a self-filling out from well of God’s innermost being, and that this self-filling to fullness involves a self-emptying.
When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman of that well of water which springs up unto aionion life, we must understand that such an experience is a participation in God’s life and God’s filling and fullness. This experience in/of God, in the eternal dimension never leaves God, for an instant, less than full, but His own filling is eternally and concurrently instantaneous with His self-emptying. The water He gives; the Water He is, is truly “living water.” No stagnation, always fresh, always flowing.
This eternal dynamic which occurs in the eternal Now, came into the space-time dimension in the person of our Lord, becoming aionian life, and gave itself over to time-line/aionian experience, yet never losing its eternal nature. This is of the essence of the classical theological affirmation of God’s transcendence and immanence, in respect to which many, who fancy themselves teachers extrodinaire today, lack grounding.
Paul, having had revealed to him, the deeper implications of Christ’s death, such as our identity with Him in that death, also came to understand another dimension of the passion of Christ, staggering our minds by declaring that “He BECAME SIN for us…” and that He was “MADE A CURSE for us.”
It seems clear to me that the relationship of the truths of divine self-emptying, and of God becoming what He is not – sin and a curse – certainly overlap, or might be said to be one in the same truth. When God becomes what He is not, He does not cease to be what He is, but suffers that divine tearing in order to become more richly what He is by calling upon Himself to draw forth, out of Himself, that which would resolve such contrariness.
As an aside, let me address the dilemma that exegetes feel they are faced with in Paul’s statement that Christ became sin for us. So perplexing is that to even those of keen exegetical gifting, that most relieve the – for them – intolerable tension by insisting that Paul should be translated as saying that Christ became a sin-offering for us. This does not solve the problem, for the Greek does not offer the same kind of translation option pertaining to Him becoming a curse for us.
We must allow the full force of God’s audacity to confront us until it brings us into depths of awe and wonder that the natural mind resists stubbornly until the Spirit of Truth overcomes OUR audacity of trying to protect the reputation of God in matters beyond the scope of our revelation-deprived ideas of divine propriety.
Much and great theological tom-foolery is traceable to our presumption that God fits nicely into our knowledge-of-good-and-evil theological box. Our brother Peter fell prey to this by his impulsive “Not so, Lord,” when faced with Jesus’ announcement of His coming suffering and death. His was not yet the mentality of Christ. His was still that uniquely Jewish mentality of insistence that to even suggest that the mission of Messiah could involve death, much less death on a Roman cross was tantamount to slandering God. To the Greeks with their narcissistic tendency for philosophical superiority, the same was rank foolishness. But for us, reclaimed by the blood of Christ, it is the wisdom of God.
Somehow, God can and does deprive Himself of His own glory so that His glory might become more radiant, more glorious, more effulgent and brings us into participation with that ultimate divine adventure. Certainly God can only add to His glory out from the well of His glory, but that resulting greater glory would have remained hidden in Majesty’s depths without God challenging Himself as we have seen.
All, at present, in-part attempts to peek into and describe this inferno of divine love leaves us humiliatingly exposed in our inadequacy at trying to even distantly approach the Logos by our words. But, in prophetic vision, I have seen what I can only describe as God’s creation of vacuum within Himself, vacuum that the surrounding true Being and Personhood of God molds into the lie-persona that challenges our true identity within the true identity of God. The vacuum shall be swallowed up in victory and filled. The in-rushing of God’s life into God’s own self-created deprivation, has been, is, and shall be of the essence of God, who though He has always been, from eternity, All, shall become all in all.
This brings us to the difference between mere religion and the nature of God’s revelation to man in Christ. Religions compete to offer the best understanding of God. God’s revelation of Himself is the Logos enduring shame, humilation, suffering and death, to come forth as One New Man in whom Life, tested in death, shines even brighter in resurrection.
GOOD AND EVIL AND GOD [John Gavazzoni] 11-17-05 1