2. Pre-eminence And Negation

When the verb ‘says’ is used of Jehovah, nothing else is meant than ‘is so’ or ‘is not so’, or ‘happens’ or ‘does not happen’; for no other verb can be used of Jehovah than Is. The things which are said of Jehovah throughout the Word are there for the benefit of people who cannot grasp anything apart from that which comes within man’s actual experience. That is why the sense of the letter takes the form it does. The simple in heart are able to be taught from appearances as they belong to man’s actual experience, for their knowledge of things goes scarcely any further than that based on sensory experience; therefore it is their mental grasp of things that determines the way anything is said in the Word. (Arcana Coelestia 926)

All thoughts which man has are confined within natural things experienced by his senses, and anything that is said which does not draw on and does not fit in with those natural things is not comprehended but perishes, like sight gazing into some ocean or universe without any object there on which it may focus. Consequently if matters of doctrine were presented to man in any other manner, they would not be received at all, and so he would have no respect for them. This may become quite clear from each detail in the Word. There purely Divine things are for the same reason presented as natural, indeed sensory ones, such as that Jehovah has ears, eyes, and a face, has affections as man does, anger, and many more things. (Arcana Coelestia 2553)

It is well known that Jehovah does not have ears or eyes as man does but that some attribute which may be ascribed to the Divine is meant by the ear and the eye, namely infinite will and infinite understanding. Infinite will is providence, and infinite understanding foresight; and it is these that are meant in the highest sense by ear and eye when these are attributed to Jehovah. (Arcana Coelestia 3869{14})

The Lord, who is the God of the universe, is uncreate and infinite, whereas man and angel are created and finite. And because the Lord is uncreate and infinite, He is Being [Esse] itself, which is called “Jehovah,” and Life itself, or Life in itself. From the uncreate, the infinite, Being itself and Life itself, no one can be created immediately, because the Divine is one and indivisible; but their creation must be out of things created and finited, and so formed that the Divine can be in them. Because men and angels are such, they are recipients of life. Consequently, if any man suffers himself to be so far misled as to think that he is not a recipient of life but is Life, he cannot be withheld from the thought that he is God. ​(Divine Love and Wisdom 4​)

Human Limitation in Knowing Jehovah: The teaching for Spiritual Christianity emphasises that due to the inherent limitations of human cognition, we cannot fully grasp what Jehovah is in Himself. Our understanding is restricted to knowing what Jehovah is not, which serves to exclude finite and imperfect attributes from the Divine nature.

Instruction through Pre-eminence and Negation: Spiritual Christianity articulates the nature of Jehovah by highlighting His pre-eminence and by negating finite properties. Jehovah is described as uncreated, underived, immutable, and improgressive, indicating the absence of characteristics common to imperfect, finite beings.

Safeguarding the Concept of Jehovah: The use of negation is essential to prevent misattributing finite and temporal attributes to Jehovah. This method ensures that our conception of Jehovah avoids finite analogies, preserving the infinite and eternal nature of the Divine Esse.

Immutability and Improgression of Jehovah: Jehovah is depicted as immutable and improgressive, meaning He does not undergo change or progression. This highlights that Jehovah’s nature is perfect and unchanging, reinforcing His status as the fullness of perfection.

Divine Transcendence and Perfection: Spiritual Christianity maintains that Jehovah transcends human comprehension, embodying ultimate perfection that is free from the limitations and imperfections of finite existence.

1. Why does Spiritual Christianity emphasise negation in describing Jehovah?
a) To align Jehovah with finite characteristics.
b) To emphasise what Jehovah is not and prevent misconceptions.
c) To illustrate the Divine as similar to human understanding.
d) To suggest that Jehovah possesses all finite attributes.
Answer: b)

2. What does Spiritual Christianity mean by describing Jehovah as immutable and improgressive?
a) Jehovah’s nature undergoes constant change.
b) Jehovah evolves and progresses with time.
c) Jehovah’s nature is unchanging and does not undergo progression.
d) Jehovah is dependent on finite properties for His essence.
Answer: c)

3. How does Spiritual Christianity’s use of pre-eminence and negation safeguard the concept of Jehovah?
a) By ensuring Jehovah is understood as a finite being.
b) By highlighting that Jehovah possesses finite and imperfect traits.
c) By comparing Jehovah directly to human nature.
d) By excluding finite and temporal attributes from the Divine.
Answer: d)

4. According to Spiritual Christianity, what aspect of Jehovah is beyond human comprehension?
a) His limited influence on creation.
b) His progressive nature.
c) His essence and infinite perfection.
d) His resemblance to finite beings.
Answer: c)

5. What does Spiritual Christianity suggest is the only way to approach understanding Jehovah?
a) By recognising what He is not, through negation.
b) By affirming finite properties within His nature.
c) By assuming He has finite characteristics.
d) By comparing Him directly to human faculties.
Answer: a)

1. How does Spiritual Christianity’s approach of negation shape your understanding of the Divine, and in what ways does it challenge your preconceived notions about God?
• Reflect on how focusing on what Jehovah is not can impact your spiritual perspective and understanding of Divine nature.

2. In what ways does the concept of Jehovah’s immutability and improgression affect your view of Divine perfection and the nature of change?
• Consider how the idea of an unchanging and non-progressive Divine essence contrasts with the dynamic nature of the finite world.

3. How can recognising the limitations of human cognition in understanding Jehovah influence your spiritual practices and relationship with the Divine?
• Think about how acknowledging the incomprehensibility of Jehovah might inform your worship, prayer, and overall spiritual approach.

Spend 5-10 minutes each day contemplating the concept of Jehovah through the lens of negation. Reflect on the attributes that are commonly associated with finitude and imperfection and how Jehovah transcends these qualities.

Steps:

  1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  2. Sit comfortably and close your eyes, taking a few deep breaths.
  3. Consider one attribute of finitude (e.g., change, limitation, dependency) and reflect on how Jehovah, as the Divine Esse, is beyond this attribute.
  4. Think about how this negation preserves the infinite and perfect nature of Jehovah.
  5. Conclude with a moment of gratitude for the Divine perfection and record any insights in a journal.

Choose one of the key points from the video and try to express and integrate it creatively through your senses. Pick a modality to do this through, perhaps a different one from what you chose for the previous module. Consider drawing or painting, making or listening to music, poetry, exercise, gardening, cooking, or even just watching the colourful or dramatic impressions of the natural world. There are so many ways you can engage with it. Record your insights from this exercise and also document any differences in what is awakened in you with this new modality.

You will have your own personal preferences, but here are two pieces of music and art that you might like to use for inspiration to get you started…

Music

“Lux Aeterna” by Morten Lauridsen

This ethereal choral work captures a sense of Divine transcendence and the eternal light, resonating with the themes of Divine perfection beyond human comprehension.

Visual Art

“Suprematist Composition” by Kazimir Malevich

Malevich’s abstract art, with its focus on basic geometric shapes and absence of representational forms, invites contemplation on the abstract and transcendent nature of Jehovah.

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