The Omnidimension of God

My friend is hammering his way through Luke 7:36-50 attempting to resolve issues of love, repentance, forgiveness, and prevenient and cooperative grace.  He seems to be especially interested in getting us out of the logic of the exchange/debt rut in which things are exchanged between God and humans to even out the score.  Exchange is required in order to settle accounts in our world.  It’s a very powerful force.  Quid pro quo, isn’t that a phrase we all know even if we can’t translate it?  I give you something, you owe me.  I say it’s a gift, but I expect at least some sign of gratitude in exchange.  The best sales persons know how powerful the exchange principle is and use it with skill to deprive us of our cash.  The exchange principle is at the heart of our criminal justice system, and at the heart of all the little “you owe me’s” that we collect and treasure. 

I’m fascinated with his work, which is far beyond my abilities.  But as I’ve been reading each day’s piece I keep coming back to the observation that we humans (or at least this human) have severe limitations to our thinking that is bound to our dimensional world, and especially to the linear nature of time.  I know there are lots of very sophisticated arguments about the non-linear nature of time, but let’s face it; our daily lives are lived out in very linear way with one moment following another like “clock work.”  We are accustomed to a world of cause and effect or event and consequence, and that’s not bad.  It keeps us sane and allows us at least some ability to make moral decisions and plan ahead. 

That means that questions like the following make perfect sense to us.  Does repentance come before forgiveness?  Is repentance a precondition of forgiveness?  Does God’s steadfast and abounding love for us offer forgiveness for things not fully repented, or even known?  Does God require full payment for sins through the death of Jesus before full forgiveness is given?  Is there anything we can give God in recompense for our sins?  Can my free will ever make a holy contribution to my relationship with God?  And so on.

To be sure, Jesus came to live in our world as one of us, and it is through him that we can apprehend, but not comprehend, an accurate but very limited picture of God’s intention, love and grace.  Thanks be to God for that, but what if God exists in another kind of world altogether?  What if God’s environment is omnidimensional with no outer limit?  That would mean that all things could be going on at the same time in any direction and in any relationship.  Theologians have sometimes talked about perichorisis as a way of describing the internal relationship of the Trinity as something of a holy dance – I always seem to picture it as a traditional Jewish wedding dance.  What if this perichorisis is the dance of Grace that God has with all of creation so that there can never be an answer to the proper sequence of things in order for God’s grace to be encountered, received or have effect?

That sort of environment would not make any sense to us.  It would be totally incomprehensible, yet passages in Scripture such as Luke 7:36-50 push us in that direction.  In that case, most of the traditional arguments from Luther, Calvin and most of the rest of us, about what is required for eternal life and what it means to say that Jesus died for our sins are nothing but wild shots in the dark.  The best they can do for us is satisfy our need for God’s actions to make some sense to us as being at least a little bit the way that we ourselves would act if we were truly good, loving and pure in heart.  When someone comes to me asking about how they can be saved, they want an answer that makes sense in human terms, and that is almost always based on the exchange principle somewhere along the line. 

I love this stuff, and I can’t wait to see where my friend comes out on all of it.  But I also think it’s tangential to what it means to be a follower of Christ.  I think the core to what it means to be a Christian has a lot more to do with discipleship.  Anyone want to take a shot at that?

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