(Following a line of thought thrown up by the discussion on providence.)
Don Carson says:
“God is transcendent, sovereign, and personal.
By transcendent I mean that God exists apart from the creation that he made, and thus above space and time. Thus he is not in any way dependent upon his creation; he is self-existing – that is, he draws his own existence only from himself. He is absolute.
By sovereign, I mean that his power and rule are so extensive that, whatever the difficulties bound up with notions like ‘secondary causality,’ there is nothing whatsoever that takes place apart from his providential reign.
By personal, I mean that God is not an impersonal force or power, but a being who interacts with other persons (whom he has made) as a person – with interchange, speech, ‘personality’.
That theologians and philosophers have difficulty drawing precise boundaries and definitions for some of these words (eg, transcendence, person), and that God cannot be a person in exactly the same way that human beings are persons (since our personhood is inextricably linked to our finitude) does not diminish the biblical evidence that points in these directions.
The transcendent and the personal are separated in most of the world’s religions. In animism and polytheism, there are many personal spirits or gods, but none is absolute. … Pantheistic religions adopt an absolute, but it is not personal. … Contemporary science, with a frequent bias towards philosophical materialism, constantly tilts toward the impersonal absolute. … The result [of much contemporary religious thought] is a God not clearly personal, and, if absolute, sufficiently remote to be of little threat and of little use. Another strand in contemporary thought, however, wants to emphasise God’s personhood while dismissing his absoluteness. … [Yet there is] biblical evidence that supports the traditional Christian insistence that God is both transcendent and personal.”
DA Carson (1996), The Gagging of God. (Quote from p223)