In the comments section of the Versus Populum posting about Rowan Williams's view of God, I ran across the following sentence:
The living God as the divine perichoresis of the Trinity already contains and 'knows' what it means to be human in the unity of the fully divine/human person of Jesus Christ.I admit that, after reading that, I had to look up the word perichoresis. It turns out there is a Wikipedia article on it, for anyone who is interested. It is a part of Trinitarian theology, as it turns out; but then, I am not a Trinitarian. In any case, what I found interesting was the suggestion that somehow the Incarnation was necessary in order for God to know what it means to be human.
I've run across this argument before. And I have to say that it makes no sense to me. Are we to believe that God didn't know what it was like to be human before Jesus was born? Are we to suppose that there are actually limits to God's knowledge and understanding?
I would suggest that God already knew and already knows what it is like to be human, that there is no limit to God's knowledge and understanding, and that furthermore this means that God knows what it is like to be me and you and the fish in the sea and the birds in the air and the bacteria in your lower intestine.
To say that God knows all of this in the fullest way possible means that God knows our experiences not just objectively as an outsider, but God actually knows what we are experiencing internally as well. God's empathy is perfect, in other words, in ways that our own capacity for empathy is not. God understands our own subjective experiences. This dovetails with the notion of panentheism--because if God shares in all of our subjective experiences, then God understands us not just as an external observer, but also from the inside; and this implies that God is within us and we are within God.
To suggest otherwise is to place limits on God's omniscience. I cited in an earlier posting a quote from Uta Ranke-Heinemann that stated that "A powerful God finds more supporters than a compassionate God." Perhaps we can add to this a corollary: a powerful God finds more supporters than an omniscient God as well. By that I mean that God's alleged omnipotence--which supposedly allowed him/her to act as a kind of divine sperm donor to a young woman 2000 years ago and thus create a miraculous birth so that God could incarnate himself on earth--is said have been a means of overcoming a certain limit to God's omniscience.
In my view, describing God as omniscient and omnibenevolent makes for a richer and more meaningful theology than what can be accomplished by describing him/her as omnipotent.