Oklahoma Baptist University

Mullen Says Proper Worship Depends on Divine Transcendence

Dr. John Mullen, an assistant professor of philosophy at Oklahoma Baptist University, spoke to OBU students during a spring chapel service about God's "Divine Transcendence." Mullen told students that proper worship depends on an understanding of the topic.

"It's a term that one uses with some regularity, though it seems that not very many people know what is meant by it," Mullen said. "Believe it or not, if you don't know what ‘transcendence' is, you can't worship properly."

Referring to Ephesians 4:6, which says, "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all," Mullen contended that, though humans tend to think of God as simply "outside the space of time," God is, in fact, "distinct from, superior to, and Creator of everything."

Mullen claimed that, as humans, people need to direct worship toward something greater than self. Therefore, if people do not understand God's transcendence, they cannot effectively worship because of a desire for something more. God is more, Mullen said: God is superior to all things He has created. He is not constrained by time or space boundaries. If someone has a notion of transcendence that something contradicts the imminence of God, that notion should be discarded, he said.

Mullen encouraged students to act similar to Isaiah or Peter, who the Bible reports were completely in fear and awe at even the thought of God's transcendence.

"We remain fascinated because we are drawn to worship that which is greater than all of us," Mullen said. "So we become mystified both by the fascination and the fearfulness of the divine transcendence."

Mullen concluded his message with the statement: "Everything else in our ordinary experience depends on something else, but not the transcendent. He just is."

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