While we were yet sinners

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I’d like to offer an open view take on two passages never considered by any open theist writer I know of. All the familiar passages used in defense of open theism are pretty familiar, but these two passages aren’t among them. I’ve read these for years as at least implying a partly open future.

Romans 5.8 — “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It’s obvious enough from 5.8 that God’s love for us is demonstrated in the Cross. You can’t get a more radical demonstration of such love. But then Paul adds a curious qualification we’re invited to ponder, and that qualifying phrase is “while we were yet sinners.” How does this phrase function with respect to the demonstration of God’s love in the Cross? It’s not just that Christ’s death for us demonstrates God’s love. The complete thought is that his death for us “while we were yet sinners” demonstrates his love. How so?

This is particularly difficult to appreciate on either of the traditional views of foreknowledge (determinism or traditional simple-foreknowledge). If, following theological determinism, God has always chosen precisely who is to respond and who is not to respond, and if the atoning efficacy of Christ’s death is virtuous only for the elect, then there remains no sense in which his having died for us “while we were sinners” uniquely qualifies his death is a demonstration of love. If God predetermines who comes to faith and Christ only dies for those elect who are foreknown, then therein is the love of God revealed, not in the fact that he died for us “while we were yet sinners.” What we are “when” he dies makes no difference if God knows when he dies precisely who he has elected and what the outcomes are. But if God dies for sinners without guarantee or foreknowledge of any change in the status of particular individuals, then the fact that he died “while we were sinners” is indeed a demonstration of love.

Similarly on the traditional Orthodox and Arminian understandings of foreknowledge, God always knows precisely who chooses and who doesn’t, who responds to God’s love and who doesn’t. On this understanding of foreknowledge God embraces the Cross with this knoweledge in mind. That entirely relativizes the fact that people are sinners “when Christ died.” Foreknowledge precedes and informs the Cross. So there would be no perceivable sense in which his dying for us “while we were sinners” would qualify or enhance or clarify the manner in which Christ’s death demonstrates God’s love. How is that love demonstrated in dying for us “while we are sinners” if it’s the case that God knows precisely who remains sinners and who comes to faith? The fact that “we are sinners” when Christ dies would matter little to a God who suffers knowing the outcome of faith for all persons.

Note, I’m not saying that dying for those you know are positively affected by your sacrifice is no love at all. I’m just saying that in such cases it would add or prove nothing to argue the especially loving nature of the sacrifice from the fact that it was made “while those for whom it was made were estranged from love.”

imagesCA7DF51ERomans 9.10-13 — “Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” The same logic applies to Paul’s reasoning regarding the unconditional nature of God’s choice of Jacob over Esau. How does Paul establish his claim that God’s choice of Jacob over Esau was not conditional upon the actions of either child? Easy. He simply shows that God made the choice while they were still in Rachel’s womb before they had done anything good or bad. The timing of God’s choice, Paul reasons, proves that the choice was not based on the actions of either. But this logic falls apart once we admit the traditional view of foreknowledge, for such a view holds that while the twins were in their mother’s womb God was cognizant of all their future actions. True, this doesn’t prove that God did base his choice on foreknowledge of their actions. It might be that God was truly indifferent to his knowledge of their future choices in choosing Jacob freely. But the logic of Paul’s argument would still fail, for it is Paul’s conviction that the unconditional nature of God’s choice is proven by the timing of the choice. But the timing of the choice doesn’t prove anything regarding the unconditional nature of the choice if it’s also the case that at the time of the choice God knows all the choices in question. A God who knows the future choices of the twins wouldn’t need to wait until after those choices had been made if he wanted to make his preference for Jacob over Esau dependent upon those choices. He has those choices in mind when they’re in the womb. That’s the problem. However, if those choices aren’t fixed in God’s mind when the twins are in the womb, if their futures are “open” and God knows this, then Paul’s logic follows—choosing one over the other while they’re in the womb does indeed prove the unconditional nature of the choice.

(Pictures here and here.)

On Infants’ Early Deaths

baby_ambroWe thought we’d share some interesting comments by Gregory of Nyssa regarding divine foreknowledge. The Tradition affirms that God, to use Gregory’s expression, “knows all things before they be” (from Gregory’s On the Making of Man). That seems pretty straightforward. And there are many such examples from the Fathers that repeat the same thought.

More interesting, however, are Gregory’s thoughts on the providential use of such foreknowledge which he expounds at some length in his On Infants’ Early Deaths, explaining that God uses his foreknowledge of evils as the basis upon which to bring their life to an end before they commit those evils. But it is not possible that what is in fact foreknown can be the basis upon which God acts either to bring about or prevent what is foreknown. What is foreknown (on the traditional view) is by definition already the result of whatever was done to bring it about attempting to prevent it. Gregory’s logic here is impossible. Here are a few his comments from On Infants’ Early Deaths:

“It is a sign of the perfection of God’s providence, that he not only heals maladies that have come into existence, but also provides that some should be never mixed up at all in the things which he has forbidden; it is reasonable to expect that he who knows the future equally with the past should check the advance of an infant to complete maturity, in order that the evil may not be developed which his foreknowledge has detected in his future life, and in order that a lifetime granted to one whose evil dispositions will be lifelong may not become the actual material for his vice.”

“Therefore, to prevent one who has indulged in the carousals to an improper extent from lingering over so profusely furnished a table, he is early taken from the number of the banqueters, and thereby secures an escape out of those evils which unmeasured indulgence procures for gluttons. This is that achievement of a perfect Providence which I spoke of; namely, not only to heal evils that have been committed, but also to forestall them [foreknown evils] before they have been committed; and this, we suspect, is the cause of the deaths of new-born infants.”

“But seeing that our reason in this matter has to grope in the dark, clearly no one can complain if its conjecturing leads our mind to a variety of conclusions. Well, then, not only one might pronounce that God, in kindness to the founders of some family, withdraws a member of it who is going to live a bad life from that bad life, but, even if there is no antecedent such as this in the case of some early deaths, it is not unreasonable to conjecture that they would have plunged into a vicious life with a more desperate vehemence than any of those who have actually become notorious for their wickedness. That nothing happens without God we know from many sources; and, reversely, that God’s dispensations have no element of chance and confusion in them every one will allow, who realizes that God is reason, and wisdom, and perfect goodness, and truth, and could not admit of that which is not good and not consistent with his truth. Whether, then, the early deaths of infants are to be attributed to the aforesaid causes, or whether there is some further cause of them beyond these, it befits us to acknowledge that these things happen for the best.”

“The premature deaths of infants have nothing in them to suggest the thought that one who so terminates his life is subject to some grievous misfortune, any more than they are to be put on a level with the deaths of those who have purified themselves in this life by every kind of virtue; the more far-seeing providence of God curtails the immensity of sins in the case of those whose lives are going to be so evil. That some of the wicked have lived on does not upset this reason which we have rendered; for the evil was in their case hindered in kindness to their parents; whereas, in the case of those whose parents have never imparted to them any power of calling upon God, such a form of the Divine kindness, which accompanies such a power, is not transmitted to their own children; otherwise the infant now prevented by death from growing up wicked would have exhibited a far more desperate wickedness than the most notorious sinners, seeing that it would have been unhindered.”

“Take courage good mother, your son would have been worse than the worst human being who ever lived, so in his kindness God has prevented your child’s foreknown sins from being committed” hardly provides a basis for comfort. But the logic doesn’t work either. What is foreknowledge if foreknown sins can be prevented? They were foreknown. Is Gregory (inconsistently) assuming a category of possibilities knowable ‘as possibilities’ but not knowable (as is traditionally held) as the the world’s actual history?

(Picture from here.)

Whatcha reading? 2

DarknessofGodThis is a good place to make a quick plug for a second book. I’m presently in the middle of Denys Turner’s The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism (Cambridge, 1998). Turner describes his book as “an essay in the philosophical history of some theological metaphors.” Those key metaphors include “interiority,” “ascent,” “light and darkness” and “oneness” among others. He reviews the origin and development of these metaphors as expressions of human transformation and relationship to God, beginning with Pseudo-Denys, then Augustine, Bonaventure, Eckhart, the author of the Cloud of Unknowing, Denys the Carthusian, and finally John of the Cross. And you get a decent survey of other significant persons along the way. Thus far it’s been a great tour of the cataphatic-apophatic approach to theology and the difference between what has come to be known today as “mysticism” (on the one hand) and “mystical theology” (on the other hand) as it was pursued and expressed before the modern era. I was surprised. Turner writes:

imagesCA1QI2QF“I began to see that not only would it be dangerous to assume that the similarities of language entailed a similarity of purpose, but that it would be actually wrong to suppose this. For the purposes being served by this cluster of metaphors in the mediaeval traditions began to seem very different from those it is serving today and, in one important respect, it looked as if it is serving the opposed purpose.”

Part of the book’s purpose is to expose this difference between what is typically called “mysticism” today and what is properly called “mystical theology” and then to recover the latter. Again:

“Put very bluntly, the difference seemed to be this: that whereas our employment of the metaphors of ‘inwardness’ and ‘ascent’ appears to be tied in with the achievement and the cultivation of a certain kind of experience—such as those recommended within the practice of what is called, nowadays, ‘centering’ or ‘contemplative’ prayer—the mediaeval employment of them was tied in with a ‘critique’ of such religious experiences and practices.”

“I have drawn the conclusion from my study that in so far as the word ‘mysticism’ has a contemporary meaning; and that in so far as that contemporary meaning links ‘mysticism’ to the cultivation of certain kinds of experience—of ‘inwardness’, ‘ascent’, and ‘union’—then the mediaeval ‘mystic’ offers an anit-mysticism. For though the mediaeval Christian neoplatonist used that same language of ‘interiority’, ‘ascent’ and ‘oneness’, he or she did so precisely in order to deny that there were terms descriptive of ‘experiences’…. what is decisive about the employment of these metaphors within the mediaeval traditions of ‘mystical theology’ is the Neoplatonic dialectical epistemology—its apophaticism—within which those metaphors are set and by which their employment is governed. What differentiates the mediaeval employment of those metaphors from ours is the fact that we have retained the mataphors, evacuated them of their dialectics and refilled them with the stuff of experience.”

“At its boldest, my hypothesis is that modern interpretation has invented ‘mysticism’ and that we persist in reading back the terms of that conception upon a stock of mediaeval authorities who knew no such thing—or, when they knew of it, decisively rejected it.”

Spoiler alert. Turner hopes to apply this retrieval of a cataphatic-apophatic theology to contemporary (Western?) ‘experientialism’:

“‘Experientialism’ in its most extreme forms is the displacement of a sense of the negativity of all religious experience….It abhors the experiential vacuum of the apophatic, rushing to fill it with the plenum of the psychologisitic. It resists the deconstructions of the negative. It is happy with commendations of the ‘interior’ so long as it can cash them out in the currency of experienced inwardness and of the practices of prayer which will achieve it.”

I’m not finished the book yet, but I’m anxious to know whether Denys sees Christian faith as an experience at all. I’m sure he does. And while I’m all for checking an unrestrained experientialism that reduces God and the truth about God to one’s experience, we don’t want to lock ourselves existentially out of our own faith either. In the end (as Orthodoxy itself says), theology IS the experience of God (albeit not the shallow experientialist fix that pays the bills for so many churches). So I’m curious to know in what senses Turner will AFFIRM the existential after chastising experientialism.

True to our feelings

9780195368536I’ve just finished a 12 week spring session (in our Recovery meetings) entitled “Feelings and Faith: Exploring our Emotions.” I found a lot of inspirational support in Robert Solomon’s True to Our Feelings: What Our Emotions Are Really Telling Us (Oxford, 2007). I like a lot about Solomon’s take on emotions. He writes against reductionist theories that view emotions as mere chemical reactions which occur in the brain, as based in physiological disturbances (William James), or which displace responsibility for emotions by transferring determination of them away from ourselves and in external influences (whether in terms of Skinner’s ‘Behaviorism’ or some other mechanism). He views emotions as “evaluative judgments” which are purposive strategies the self adopts for living in the world. Emotions are neither irrational nor do they happen to us. They are ultimately strategies adopted by the self for the maximization and management of the self’s well-being.

This worked really well with my main point in the series (in pursuit of exploring how apatheia is realized in our own experience and faith) which was that since emotions are some ‘self’ interpreting the events of life in terms of that self’s perceived well-being (either as an expression of well-being or an attempt to secure it), the ‘self’ is at the heart of our emotional health. That is, “who” we believe we most fundamentally are is what shapes and directs the emotional life, not the other way around. This is a fundamental Stoic insight (as well as that of Eastern philosophical/religious traditions) and we think it reflects biblical truth (as we shared previously).

If one’s ‘self’ is defined most truly in terms of relationship to/in the risen Christ, then one is as transcendent of the world as is Christ, meaning nothing in or of this world can define who we are and what we most fundamentally mean. No worldly event (neither height nor depth, life nor death, sword nor sickness, etc.) can threaten the Christ-centered self. And you can’t fear or be angry at or anxious about or depressed over what cannot possibly harm or diminish you. In Romans 8:15 Paul tells us that we are not given a spirit which makes us again slaves to fear but are instead given the Spirit of Sonship “by whom we cry ‘Abba’, Father.” There it is. God’s own self-talk. The Son’s own sense of self. It is ours. We are given it to step into. And so it is that “not I but Christ” or who I am is on the inside of who Christ is (the “new self, created to be like God….” (Eph. 4) As Paul asks, “If God be for us, who and what can be against us?” Who or what indeed! What would happen to our emotional and psychological turmoil if we chose never to view ourselves or step outside the truth of this relation?

Brilliant Darkness

Light Uncreated

Over
Falling Plunging Careening
Headlong into what
appears to be my demise
In a strange way, it is
All that I believed composed me
becomes as ephemeral, wispy
as I’d always feared
Darkness everywhere
Unyielding
Yawning
Abysmal
Yet
There
in the void
of no-thingness
I have been revealed to be
absent of turbulent thought and passion
a Presence looms, within and without
Slowly, silent song breaks forth
And Illumination too bright
too brilliant to be created
more than speech can say
shines darkly everywhere
and yet no-where
into the Light
I dive
Ever
and
on

Dwayne

(Picture here)

A cell made of diamonds?

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“We were with Christ; we didn’t know that we were in prison.” Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001), was a Romanian Pastor tortured for Christ in prison for years. Check out a bit of his testimony here. Listen to what he says from 2:08 to 3:17. That is apatheia, far from the debilitating doctrine that some conclude it is.

(Picture here.)

Ineffable, all-surpassing, incomparable, unimaginable and incomprehensible

325We’d like to mention five New Testament passages in which a vision of and appreciation for divine transcendence is explicitly at work.

EXULTING IN A JOY THAT’S INEFFABLE. “Ineffable” just means “indescribable” or “unspeakable.” Some object to the idea of God’s being ineffable. But it does not mean nothing can be said truthfully about God. It means no speech about God can exhaust him. God can’t be “contained” or “reduced without remainder” to what we can say. And it’s a biblical idea. In addition, we are able to experience this ineffability for ourselves in some small measure. In 1Peter 1, Peter describes the suffering believer as “rejoicing with a joy unspeakable.” Now just look at that. We “rejoice” (or “exult”) with/in a joy which is “unspeakable” (or “ineffable”) while others persecute or harm or do us violence. Here we have an experience of transcendent joy in suffering.

KNOWING LOVE THAT SURPRASSES KNOWING. In Ephesians 3 Paul prays that we “know that love which surpasses/transcends knowing.” Surely we can appreciate the transcendent at work in Paul’s thinking here. Do we “know” God’s love intimately? Experience it genuinely? Of course, yes. Paul says as much: “…that ye know God’s love….” Nobody suggests an understanding of transcendence that denies this.

But this love also “transcends” (“surpasses” or “exceeds”) our very real knowledge and experience of it. That’s Paul as well. Here we must at least recognize that God exceeds our experience of God, not just in the sense that God is “more of the same” (like a bowl of a single flavor of ice-cream so large we’ll never eat our way through it; not just immeasurably more of what is known), but he is something unimaginably more — more diverse, more surprising, more astounding, more satisfying, more novel, more unimaginable, more ineffable, more than our present experience contains without denying it — always exceeding our experience and knowledge without falsifying them.

DESTINED FOR A GLORY THAT IS INCOMPARABLE. In Romans 8.18 Paul writes that “no present sufferings are worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” the glory that will thoroughly define us when our embodied selves are properly glorified by the beatific vision, the vision of God’s glory. What surprises are in this passage. How is it that our experience of God’s glory will render all conceivable suffering incomparably beside the point, not even worthy of being compared to the experience of God? Is God really that beautiful? Is the beatific vision really that defining?

If no present suffering can possibly compare to the joy that shall be ours by virtue of this vision, what does this say about the God who always perceives his own beauty, about the very joy and delight God presently gets from seeing himself? And if the glory which God now is shall transcend all our sufferings when we participate in it, what must be the case about God’s present transcendence of all suffering in light of the fact that he eternally is this glory? Augustine describes God as perfectissima pulchritudo et beatissima delectation, “the most perfect beauty and the most blessed delight.” And that’s exactly how Greg Boyd envisions God’s essential necessary experience in Trinity and Process. God doesn’t have to wait (as we do) for the eschaton to bring his experience of glory to fulfillment. He is that glory now.

joy1CONCEIVING A FUTURE THAT IS UNIMAGINABLE. In 1Corinthians 2 Paul discusses the wisdom of God’s plans which went unperceived by the world but which we believers presently enjoy. In vv. 9-10 we get this same transcendent embrace. Our experience of God in the eschaton is something which “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for us…” similar to Romans 8. God exceeds our wildest imagination. And yet he says these things have been revealed to us by the Spirit who searches our hearts. So we have unimaginable things in store for us which are also revealed to us. Does the sense in which they are revealed to us (v. 10) falsify the sense in which they remain unimaginable? As always, describing the experience of God’s transcendent presence, we’d have to say, “Yes and no.”

GUARDED BY A PEACE THAT’S INCOMPREHENSIBLE In Philippians 4.7 Paul promises that the “peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” We open theists stress the importance of divine ‘vulnerability’ (and that has its place). However, here is a passage that describes that about God which because it is not vulnerable is able guard our hearts and minds, and that something is “God’s peace.” This regards transcendence specifically. God has a peace (or rather is a peace) which surpasses comprehension/understanding, and this peace can guard one’s mental and emotional life. And though we have passages that describe our future enjoyment of this in its fullness, here we are told that this peace which defines God can come to define us in our present experience, and the transcendent enjoyment of it is beyond comprehension.

It is the experience of God in the above terms (as ineffable joy, as all-surpassing love, as incomparable glory, as unimaginable hope and as incomprehensible peace) which the term “transcendent” seeks to capture in describing God and our experience of God. While God is truly experienced, and truly God is experienced, God nevertheless always exceeds our wildest imaginations and purest propositions — not simply in the quantitative sense as being “immeasurably more of the same” as if we repeat what we comprehend of him eternally, but in the transcendent sense of always carrying us beyond our own categories. God will forever be the categorically new, and in this sense he is always categorically other.

(Pictures here and Scot Saw’s Transcendence here.)

A unified field theology?

categories-wordpress-organizingAristotle was the great ‘organizer’, ‘categorizer’. He categorized everything in nature by showing how all things can be classified under various categories and subcategories by virtue of their shared being. My dog Daisy is a living creature, more specifically an animal, more specifically a vertebrate, more specifically a mammal, more specifically a dog, more specifically a Dachshund, more specifically a female Dachshund, most specifically ‘this’ particular female Dachshund. Look around the observable world and pick anything. Whatever you pick up belongs to a higher category. Consider the game “What am I?” or “21 Questions” where people have to figure out what you are by asking 21 questions. Is it concrete? (Yes). Is it living? (Yes). Is it mammal? (No) and on and on until you get down to the specific thing you’re looking for. One writer said that if Aristotle invented “21 Questions,” we should credit Plato with having invented “Hide and Seek.”

What about God? Should we categorize him? Can God be categorized by us? If yes, how do we categorize him? If no, how do we talk about God? One option is that taken by the early Church. Their answer was to say God isn’t a “thing” or a “being” in the sense that he can be subsumed under some overarching category; he’s not one thing among all the things on the inventory of things that exist, not an “instance” (even the greatest conceivable) of the being which other beings are lesser instances of. A second option is well-expressed in Whitehead’s claim that God is the chief exemplification of all metaphysical principles and not their exception. This is the opposite alternative. In the first option God transcends our categories (i.e., is not just an instantiation of them) and in the second option God doesn’t just not stand outside the categories, God is the categories.

We previously shared a passage from Pseudo-Dionysius (PD) that explains how the Orthodox approached the problem of understanding how our language related to God, that is, the problem of attribution. PD says:

“What has actually to be said about the cause of everything is this; since it is the cause of beings, we should posit and ascribe to it all the affirmations we make in regard to beings…”

This sure looks like Whitehead’s axiom that God is the chief exemplification of all metaphysical principles. Looks pretty straightforward and univocal. But PD immediately follows with:

“…and that we should negate all these affirmations since [God] surpasses all being.”

Now that looks ridiculous, no? We should say (God is X) and then we should say ~(God is X)? We should contradict every positive statement we make about God? No, that’s not it. PD continues:

“Now we should not conclude that the negations are simply the opposites [i.e., the “contradictions”] of the affirmations, but rather that the cause of all [God] is considerably prior to this….”

So the negative (or ‘apophatic’) way isn’t simply taking back or contradicting every positive thing we say about God. It’s how we are reminded that however true our statements about God might be, God is never reducible to them in any straight-forward, univocal, way.

PD counsels two things about this failure of language to ultimately render God at our disposal. First, he says that though it is a limit upon our rational capacity (to imagine, conceive, deconstruct, explain, account for, etc.), it is no hindrance to our experience of God (to worship, to love, to continually expand into God our own capacity for loving and joyful existence). Second, it is how we’re able to conceive of and express God’s self-sufficient existence without the world. It tells us that God is logically and ontologically prior to our categories and experiences. I think PD would entirely agree that transcendence means that although God is always more than he reveals himself to be he is never less than he reveals himself to be. Perhaps that’s a safe place to start.

image077For us the question is how to understand the sense in which our categories (derived from our experience) speak truthfully about God. (Dwayne and I are posting our explorations at this point, not announcing firm conclusions.) But perhaps an analogy might help. Think about what our best science is able to say about the origin of the material universe. The ‘language’ in this case is the language of mathematics. It can take us back virtually to the initial state, but it cannot deliver the initial state itself, that is it cannot describe the initial state in terms of existing laws and languages. It takes us back only so far, then at a certain point in the earliest history of our universe our mathematics fail. They simply don’t apply, though we have to admit that some reality must precede them as their ground. Nobody thinks there’s nothing on the other side of this categorical failure of our laws and languages. But none of our present laws apply and none of our languages (mathematics) can take us there.

There is no theological equivalent to what scientists call a unified field theory, a kind of unified field theology. But this admission of transcendence doesn’t lead us to epistemological despair any more than does the failure of our existing physical laws and languages to explicate their own origins lead us to such despair about living sucesssfully in the world. Though the universe of our experience is governed by the laws and language that cannot explicate its own origins and ground, that universe remains describable in terms of those laws. It’s just not reducible without remainder to those laws. They, like us, derive from a transcendent source — something categorically other than us but inseparably immanent to and within us. In terms of physics and mathematics, we have even within our own universe the categorical failure of laws and language. Likewise, whatever theological truths we may be able to apprehend, God’s transcendence of them doesn’t mean we may disregard them without consequence to our spiritual health or that our relationship to God is not describable in terms of those truths.

One may say the created order is in some real sense self-transcendent and that we experience this in the categorical failure of every attempt to extend our physical laws, language (mathematics) and categories too far back into the earliest history of the cosmos. This makes perfect sense to theistic believers who believe the transcendent God is immanent within creation. Our point here, however, is just to offer an analogy of the categorical failure of language with respect to God.

(Pictures here and here).

Upholding all things by his powerful word

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Hebrews 1.3
Just consider the passage—

WHO
BEING (present participle)
the brightness of his glory
and the express image of his substance/essence
and
CARRYING/UPHOLDING (present participle) all things by the word of his power
SAT DOWN (aorist indicative) on the right hand of the majesty on high
HAVING MADE (aorist participle) cleansing of our sins
HAVING BECOME (aorist participle) so much better than angels…

The present participles (“being” and “upholding”) describe conditions in which the redemptive work of Christ was completed. Specifically, both conditions, viz., the Son’s “being” the brightness of God’s glory and the image of his substance as well as his “upholding” the universe (cf. Col 1), obtain with respect to the Son while he went about his incarnate work of redemption culminating in his “sitting down.”

(Picture from here.)