The Wonder of Immanence: Merleau-Ponty and the Problem of Creation



This article discusses two related concerns at the heart of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's philosophical project, namely the belongingness of human beings within the world and their creative participation in the unfolding of meaning. Merleau-Ponty's original development of these themes is proposed as a key resource for a theology desiring to affirm the wonder and value of immanence. It is then shown, however, that because Merleau-Ponty understands theology to operate with a contrastive understanding of the relation between God and the world, he is led consistently to reject divine transcendence. In contrast, this article argues that the doctrine of creation ex nihilo does not in fact allow for a contrastive relation between divine transcendence and the immanence of the world, but rather ushers in an entirely different and unique distinction between them. Thus, rather than denying the wonder of immanence, as understood by Merleau-Ponty, the doctrine of creation is seen to underwrite it.