Anything that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” C.S. Lewis
Everything in this world is perishing and will expire quickly, so therefore our hope, trust and focus must be in the eternal, transcendent God of all creation. One of the many attributes of God is his “transcendence.” Transcendence – means to go beyond or above the range of normal experience or (from Latin) of climbing or going beyond.
|Synonyms are incomparable, matchless, peerless, unrivaled, beyond compare/comparison, unparalleled, unequaled, without equal, second to none, unsurpassed, unsurpassable and so on…you all get the point.|
Philosophers and other thinkers in the modern world have attempted to change “transcendence” or merely water it down. Their definitions typically involve the ability with our own minds to “transcend” or go beyond. This places the term back into the physical, which is perishing and does not benefit the eternally significant things that we as Christians should be concerned with. Our goal is to reclaim this Godly attribute for his glory.
Some of you may know of an athlete that has transcended the record book or gone above and beyond in his or her sport. Michael Jordan would literally jump from beyond the free-throw line and slam dunk the basketball, for example! This was absolutely unheard of in the early 90’s. Or you may often speak of a particular moment in your life that stands out far above all others.
How does this term transcendent apply to God, however? In the Godly sense, transcendence is the idea that God is both above and independent from his creation. There is no other created thing that matches his power. Think about it, if God created everything then how would anything he created be equal to him and his power. It can’t! Also, nothing else can interfere with his power. He created all things including space, time, energy, and matter. Therefore, he is able to control whatever he pleases.
We are all searching for knowledge and have a desire for it, however our limited minds are unable to grasp the eternal things that really matter outside of a living, breathing relationship with Jesus Christ who is God. A theologian named A.W. Tozer calls this “The Knowledge of the Holy,” which to him was attained by a better understanding of the attributes of God (immutability, immanence, omnipresence, transcendence, and so on) which lead us to a better understanding of God and who he is.
We can focus on things that are transcendent, both beyond and not limited by space and time, namely the attributes of God including his “being above” the things of this world or his transcendence. Catechisms, Scripture memorization, and so on focus on things that which are eternal thus keeping us from being distracted by the temporal (social media, video games, etc.) which do not have value of eternal significance and actually detract from our relationship with God. Having an eternal perspective is a real challenge, however. It takes discipline and mental focus to channel your efforts on the transcendent things, such as gaining knowledge of God by reading the Bible, reciting catechisms, and redeeming the truth out of a world that is counter-cultural, but once you do it you will be more hungry for it and develop healthy routines of studying God’s word and devoting time each and everyday to better understanding him and who he is.
God is transcendent but he is also immanent in that he is above the physical world and everything in it and he is with us, in us, through us with the power of His Holy Spirit.
. . . one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:6
Let’s now discuss briefly some thoughts on how we want to help you all “go beyond” and “rise above” the basic functions of life. Classical Christian education has most recently been called “Ancient Future Education” by Davies Owens at the Ambrose School and in his Basecamp series (basecamplive.com). Ancient and Future really don’t go together and are contrasting terms similarly to “transcendent” and “immanent”, however we often use this description due to the fact that we are using ancient, time-tested methods, such as catechisms, in order to inculcate every aspect of your lives which will prepare you for an uncertain future. We don’t want you all being Christians in the morning and someone else in the evening. James calls this “double mindedness.” The solution to this double mindedness, which James warns us about is a term called Paidia that Paul speaks of in (Ephesians 6:4). This is what Paul is referring to and what he means by paidia when he says to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Additionally, ancient future education is focused on “going beyond” the normal limitations of life with a focus on Godly attributes. In our world that God created, just because it’s old doesn’t mean is bad and just because it’s new doesn’t necessarily mean its good. Our goal is to reclaim or take back those ancient ways that were good in order to help us evaluate those things that are new in order to use them for the kingdom of God. The fact that those who believe in their hearts that Jesus Christ is the son of God and have confessed with their mouths that he is Lord should have a focus on things of eternal significance.
Future education is the educational aspect designed to prepare you for your future or things that are to come. You students are equipped with the “Tools of Learning” so that you can focus your efforts on evaluating and pulling out the useful aspects of truth in all things present and to come and reclaim them for the glory of God. We all must evaluate everything on the basis of it’s truth, goodness, and beauty. This will help us make informed decisions that will allow you to lead the way toward a fruitful life of leadership and truly grow the kingdom of God.
With our focus on “going beyond” we see the need to not settle for the ways of the world, but rather to transcend them or reclaim them for the glory of God in order to advance his kingdom. We must look at what we do and decide on what the particular thing makes possible and what it makes impossible. This tool can be used for the past, present, and in the future. Evaluating the things you do and whether or not they make things possible or impossible helps you to determine which items help us “go beyond” things that are short-lived and won’t last forever. Let’s use the example of family meal time. Latest research shows that lives are saved at the kitchen table. No I don’t mean that for family meal time you go to war and seek victory although some of your family gatherings may seem this way. Families are able to stay connected, discuss and win spiritual victories, and conquer ideas of the flesh all while sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner together. We see that families that invest in meal time focus more on the eternal, transcendent things in life which produce young people who are more prone to success, so sitting down together at dinner time provides a perfect opportunity for this to happen. Fast food, therefore, can make this impossible thus not providing this valuable time as a family to learn and grow in Christ-likeness. Now I’m the first to jump all over an opportunity to eat Chick-fil-a and honestly when I have some Chick-fil-a I don’t plan on talking to anyone and anyone that tries to talk to me will experience my ability to selectively ignore the entire conversation. But even Chick-fil-a can be had around a dinner table with a discussion on the issues of life and how to transcend them by becoming more like Christ by focusing on the attributes of God.
We must evaluate our current practices based on what we want the end result to be. Do we want to develop traits that transcend this earthly existence and grow us closer and more like our heavenly father or more like the world that is perishing? Also, how will these practices or won’t they change the world for the better? Will they leave a legacy for future generations? Perhaps harmony is the issue and we have our priorities misordered, but regardless of the reason we must all, as Christians, have a desire to be more like Christ.
There are many other opportunities for us to transcend our current culture and even to focus on the attributes of God including His transcendence, but we must redeem or reclaim the time in our lives in order to make this possible. Ask yourselves these questions in order to do this: How much time do I spend playing video games vs. having conversation with my parents? How much time to I spend doing things that only benefit me in the present and won’t help me or others in the future?
So, students remember that this education you are receiving is not just for life but for all eternity so take full advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow because as you do you are becoming more like Christ. Parents know that this education your children are receiving is so much more than subjects, it’s preparation for all eternity by training your children in the transcendent value of Godliness.
Remember that God is transcendent, that is, he is far above and independent of His creation but He is also immanent — very much involved in that creation. He is over all, through all and in all. What a mighty God we serve and what a blessed opportunity that we have as committed members of Annapolis Christian Academy and the local church community to being brought up in the paideia of God with a focus on things that are transcendent and eternal as opposed to short lived and temporal.
Andy Crouch (2010). “Culture Making”, IVP Books
A.W. Tozer (1978). “Knowledge of the Holy”, HarperOne Publishing
C. S. Lewis (2014). “God in the Dock”, p.12, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing