Becoming

Perhaps only a philosopher would muse over becoming as a noun. Everyone uses it as a verb: I am becoming old. I am becoming angry. I am becoming a philosopher. Yes, but what is becoming itself?

Becoming is contrasted with and conjoined to being (see earlier entry). If some being, say a cup, is unstained at time A and stained at time B, then it has become something different. Change happens to objects and events. The concept of becoming requires time, since time is the medium for change. If time were frozen, then nothing could be anything different than what it was (given the law of identity: A=A). Therefore, becoming requires both being and time.

Heraclitus and Alfred North Whitehead (taking his lead from Hegel) argued that becoming or process is ontologically deeper than being. All is Flux, cried Heraclitus. Becoming defines most everything, cried Whitehead. But there is no becoming without beings which are changed. For example, I remain a stable identity even as my qualities change: I gain weight, lose hair, and cut my fingernails. Heraclitus hinted at something beyond change, which he called The Logos. While Whitehead believed that God changes as he evolves with the cosmos, his primordial nature did not change.

As a Christian, I am justified through the finished work of Christ. That status before God will not become anything else. Sanctification, on the other hand is a process of becoming in which I become more like Jesus Christ by knowing and believing the Bible, by partaking of the institutions of the church, and by being filled the Holy Spirit.

God does not and cannot change in his essential being.

I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed (Malachi 3:6).

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
   They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
    and they will be discarded.
   But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end (Psalm 102:25-27).

Since God is self-existent, nothing can threaten his ontological integrity and fullness (Acts 17:15). God’s character remained the same through a process, however. In the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Trinity took on a human nature. Before this, God, the Son, had not done so. Thus, God became the God-man. This was no mixing of deity and humanity, but a union of the two. Christ is one person with two natures: divine and human (John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:6-11). Further, Christ did not shed his humanity after his ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9). What he became—the God-man—so will he ever be. Because of who Christ was, is, and ever will be (Hebrews 13:8), we may become something far greater than we now are.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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