Our spatial reality and God

HTS Theological Studies 77 (3) (2021)
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Abstract

Modern scientific models of cosmological space and the theological concept of God’s immensity seem to exclude the possibility that God himself is personally present with us humans at particular places in space. Are God and our spatial reality incompatible? Or, is it possible to conceive the connection between God and space as ‘positive’, that is, in such a way that God himself can be fully and personally present with us at particular places in space? This essay explores how this question may be addressed in a theology which accepts the results of the natural sciences and acknowledges that God is the free creator of physical space. It describes how space can be conceptualised, and presents an overview of five different views on a positive relation between God and space in recent protestant theology. It concludes by some considerations on the question whether a positive relation between God and space requires that God himself is spatial.Contribution: This article contributes to the conversation between natural science and theology by making three points. The scientific understanding of cosmological space and the biblical witness of God’s personal and local presence with humans require an alternative for the traditional theological view on God and space in terms of God’s immensity and omnipresence. It is argued that new theological models for the interrelation between God and space have serious weaknesses. A ‘positive’ relation between God and space may be articulated in terms of the correspondence among God’s uncreated movement, multiplicity and relationality, and the movement, multiplicity and relationality in the physical space of creation.

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