Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Creativity and Activity

In one of my previous posts, "Activity redux," I made this statement:

Moreover, God made human beings and all creation not because it was an elective pursuit which brings pleasure (hedonistic or otherwise)--God makes because that is God's nature to do so. God so overflows with love, care, and creativity that it would be a travesty NOT to create. Out of the rich abundance of the inner divine life (the community of the Trinity, if you will), space is made by the omnipotent, omnipresent God for something uniquely Other to take shape.
As I have been reading through Miroslav Volf's new book, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, I found that he had addressed the very subject I was concerned about in a much more attentive and sophisticated way. Apparently my contention that it is embedded in God's nature to create, was argued by neo-Platonist philosopher Plotinus. Volf contends that Plotinus treats God as an "it" not as an "I," and that Christians presume God to be a subject, rather than an object, and therefore self-determined.

Volf continues:

Being self-determined cannot be the whole story of divine freedom, however. For then God's freedom would be arbitrary. God would decide this rather than that for no other reason than the inscrutability of divine will. If God were free to create in this way, creation would be as arbitrary as if God flipped a coin to decide whether to create or not.... God's giving is not a whim, however. God gives as creator when the plentitude of divine love turns away from itself toward the nothingness of non-being.... To be moved by oneself in love is to be divinely free. Moved by oneself, one is not compelled; directed by love, one is not whimsical. (p 64)

This is where I think Rick Warren misses the point. Rather than "made for God's pleasure," we are "made from God's love." God's love is what moves (if not compels) God to be in relationship with something that is distinctly Other than the divine self, the Trinity. So though I perhaps was a bit too neo-Platonist for my comfort (or Volf's), I don't think I was entirely incorrect.

The difference is between the gentle persuasion of a lover and the compulsion of a tyrant. "Moved by oneself, one is not compelled; directed by love, one is not whimsical." Thank God we share a life with One who is neither compulsory nor whimsical, but love.

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