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Jesus, Divine Discourse, and Trinitarian Personhood: Some Jottings

1. All theological statements about God’s Trinitarian being must be ruled (regula) by the very particular history of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised parousia.

2.Thus, the historical realities of Jesus’s particular existence are, without remainder or qualification, definitive of the nature of God’s own eternal way of being God.

3. The historical relationship between Jesus and the one he called “Father” in and through the power and presence he called “Spirit” as recorded in the Gospels is definitive for all statements we make regarding relations between the identities of the Trinity.

4. Jesus exists in history as an individuated human person. As such his individuated personhood belongs to and characterizes the eternal reality of the Trinitarian God.

5. The relationship between Jesus and the Father in the Gospels is eminently one of prayer, of discourse and address. As such mutual address, discourse, conversation belong to the eternal reality of the Trinity.

5. Thus, if Jesus’s singular relationship to the Father in the Spirit, as revealed in history and attested in Scripture, is definitive of our doctrine of the Trinity, it is incumbent upon us to describe the reality of God’s being as a communal event of inter-personal communion.

6. This need not commit us to the theological and political implications often drawn by social Trinitarians about the Triune relations being models for human social interaction and political organization.

7. However, if we take the historical relationship of Jesus to the Father seriously as the rule of our Trinitiarian speech, we must not shy away from describing the Trinity in terms of mutuality, address, response, affection, consciousness, and personhood. To fail to do so relativizes the primacy of Jesus’s own historicity in favor of another source of knowledge about God’s eternal being.

31 Comments

  1. Matt Shafer wrote:

    That’s brilliant. I love the idea of viewing the Trinity through the facts and theology of the Incarnation.

    Question, then: what can the the separate and unique qualities of the individual person of Jesus tell us about the separate and unique qualities of the other persons of the Trinity? I.E., obviously the Incarnation can tell us about the things the three persons have in common, and the ways they interact, etc. But can it tell us anything about how they are different?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  2. Chris Green wrote:

    Halden,

    Tell me what’s at stake in your opinion if we exchange Jenson’s insistence that Jesus’ history defines God’s existence in Trinity for D. B. Hart’s contention that Jesus’ history reveals God as Trinity. Jenson says without the Resurrection, this God simply is not. Hart would say, I believe, that without this God, the Resurrection – and so the victory of God over death for creation – is not possible. If I’m reading you rightly, you side with Jenson; I think I do, too. However, I’m ready Hart’s Beauty of the Infinite and I’m trying to think the implications of this difference. I’d appreciate your help.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink
  3. Hill wrote:

    This reeks of Christomonism.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink
  4. Matt Shafer wrote:

    Christomonism? How so? Please elaborate.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
  5. Halden wrote:

    Chris, I don’t think my position is a simple as preferring Jenson to Hart, though perhaps I do on some level. I do think that without the resurrection there is no God, so as far as that goes I’m with Jenson. I do think that the problem with Hart’s view is that it ultimately posits Christ’s history as some sort of reiteration of a prior divine actuality, rather than the reality of God as such (Hill is convulsing on the floor as I say this.) But I think there are other aspects of Jenson’s views in relation to the whole issue of time/eternity/God/Jesus that are open to question as well, though I’m not sure I’m confident about that enough yet to say much more on the topic.

    Hill, I assume you may be joking in light of recent conversations on other posts, but if not I would point out that the only thing that would make your comment the least bit plausible would be if I said that Jesus is exhaustive of God’s reality. However that is exactly what I did not say.

    Matt, I think your question is a good one, indeed so good that I’m not sure I have an answer to it! I’ll let you know if I have any other thoughts on that score.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  6. Hill wrote:

    You read my mind, even the part about the word exhaustive! That’s why I elected to go for the sarcastic one-liner, instead. I had already extended hermeneutical charity to you on that point.

    It is still somewhat unclear to me what definitive means, since it doesn’t mean exhaustive, but I think it’s important in working out what you are saying. Since it was revealed in Christ that he was with the Father in the beginning and made all things that were made, I think that affirming the particular, historical person Jesus Christ as our only source of the knowledge of God already kind of explodes what we might mean by saying that about any other particular, historical person. He may have been a particular, individuated human being, but he was also God, in a way that no other particular, individuated human being is.

    So I’m really not sure what it means to say that the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth is “definitive” of the way God is God, eternally. I just have a hard time understanding how something could be definitive, but not exhaustive. Certainly there are aspects of the Trinity not yet revealed to us.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  7. Halden wrote:

    Well, I am never one to disparage a sarcastic one-liner, given my own propensity! And I think that distinction is important and real, but I’ll have to think more about what it means to flesh that out. How do we articulate the “more” of God in a way that doesn’t posit a disparity in God between what is revealed in Christ and who God simply is.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
  8. In an effort to anticipate any other inane ramblings, I’ll just get the words out in the air: Modalist! Ultramontanist! Fundamentalist! Gnostic! Donatist! A liberal hack job! An anti-modernist modernist with caeseropapist leanings! More conservative than Machen on his death bed! Gallican! An anabaptist with sacramental leanings, and with aspirations to be a demiurge!

    Sorry, I couldn’t let Hill have all the fun.

    I do have one reservation, whats up with number six? I think the economy of love will do us some good. I’ve been meaning to ask you to clarify this (seemingly) recent turn, or did I just miss a post sometime back?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink
  9. Chris Green wrote:

    Matt,

    Here’s an attempt at an answer to your question, though you didn’t exactly put it to me. :-)

    Following Rahner, et. al., I hold that God’s “public life” (the so-called economic Trinity) is of a piece with God’s “private life” (the so-called immanent Trinity). Throughout Jesus’ career we see he remains utterly, kenotically dependent on the Father in the power of the Spirit. This must be true of the Son’s eternal life as well. Eternally, the Son depends entirely upon the Father in the Spirit. If that is true, then the Father must be the mon-arch who eternally begets the Son in and by the Spirit. The Spirit, in turn, must be the one who makes possible the Father’s begetting the Son and the Son’s faithful dependence upon the Father.

    Their differences make all the difference, so to speak! For only in their differences, their otherness, is their relationship possible.

    Halden,

    I didn’t mean to reduce everything to Jenson v. Hart. Except that on this point they do seem irreconcilably at odds. There must be some third way?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:01 pm | Permalink
  10. benny wrote:

    I do think you are probably susceptible to the Christomonism charge. It may be a small subtlety but here we have a lengthy post on Christ’s life and relationship with the Trinity and not one use of the word Son, immediately jumping from Jesus to God-talk(as in #2 ‘without qualification or remainder’). You do admit he calls God ‘Father’ but don’t you see any significance in the designation ‘Son of God’ for Jesus? Wouldn’t this unpack some of the differences between Jesus’ historical life and that of his Father. Jesus’ identity might be definitive of the Son of God(as Paul construes it) but perhaps not entirely of the Father.

    For instance in #5, you equate prayer with interpersonal communication and also don’t list worship. Jesus didn’t just speak to God in the same way they might always have from eternity. As a creature he worshiped the Father, and the Father didn’t worship back. Isn’t that also definitive for Trinitarian relations? In other words not so much “mutuality” or at least not mutuality “without remainder”.

    And what’s with the seven references to ‘history’, you a fundamentalist or something? How about ‘story’ or ‘narrative’? The resurrection and ascension as historical?

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Permalink
  11. Halden wrote:

    Dave, I really only put number 6 in because there are so many people who cut bait and run at the slightest whiff of social trinitarianism. My point here isn’t that Volf, Moltmann, et al are wrong, only that a theology of the Trinity that takes Jesus’s history as the preeminent source of our knowledge of God must, of necessity speak of the Trinity in communal, relational, personal terms. These terms are of course embraced by social trinitarians, but formally it is a separate question.

    In other words someone could affirm everything I say here without taking the social trinitarian step of arguing that therefore God’s trinitarian relationships are a model that we should copy in relating to one another. But I don’t think social trinitarians should have any problem with what I say either. Mostly I just wanted to help some people avoid a stumbling block that I take to be unnecessary (whether or not we must be social trintitarians) in pressing the point that Jesus’s own life must determine our thinking about what it means to say that God is three-personed.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
  12. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    I have never really understood the fear of so-called “social trinitarianism.” Sure, there are some rather crude ways of applying the Trinity to “social life”–to make it “practical”–or whatever. But, I really don’t see a way out of a sort of “social trinitarianism,” if we want to maintain that the church in some sense participates in the life of triune God and the triune God in the life of the church. If the church witnesses to the love of God, for instance, the concrete practice of this “love” cannot be separated from the very particular way of mutual love between the Father, Son, and Spirit.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  13. kim fabricius wrote:

    I am not at all put off by, indeed I embrace Halden’s emphasis on incorporating the singular history of Jesus of Nazareth into the doctrine of the Trinity, notwithstanding the Hegel-hecklers. What concerns me is the Kantian subtext of the social trinitarians’ deployment of personhood in terms of autonomy, agency, and consciousness, which for all its good intentions, ecclesially and politically, understandably and even rightly draws the charge of tritheism. Amidst the radical surgery that, with Halden, I think needs to be undertaken with traditional understandings of God’s impassibility and the logos asarkos, I am not persuaded that, in the search for models, we should cut out the pro-Nicene tenet that the divine personae act not (with the social trinitarians) cooperatvely, as a community, but rather inseparably, as a communio.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Permalink
  14. Halden wrote:

    Kim, I agree with you about the distinction between cooperation/community and inserparbility/communio, but I think we need to flesh out more of what that distinction means, materially.

    Also, while I share the critique of Kantian notions of personhood that creep into certain “trinitarian” accounts of personhood, I don’t think that we can avoid ascribing things like “consciousness” and “agency” to the Trinitarian persons if we take the human career of Jesus seriously (certainly not autonomy, though!). The idea that we should define personhood on the basis of being a center of consciousness and agency is the problem in my view, not the fact that persons are conscious agents.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  15. Nate Kerr wrote:

    Insofar as I am one of those persons who needs help in having the “stumbling blocks” removed when people start talking “social trinitarianism” (i.e., I really appreciate #6), I am grateful for this post and want to and no doubt will engage this comment thread on the questions of the trinitarian “communion” as it progresses.

    Right now, I’m headed off to class but did want to say one thing in regards to Hill’s question about the sense in which Jesus is “definitive” (but not exhaustive) of the way God is God. I think we might get some traction here if we think “definitive” literally in terms of something like the de-finitive, the de-finis of God. We might even use the word “de-limit.” That is to say, this singular history is de-finitive in the way God works insofar as it is the contingent, “limited” historicity is the “ground” of God’s eternity. So, definitive is not “exhaustive” precisely because as de-finitive this singular historicity is the ground of God’s eternity only as it is non-identically repeated — repeated differently, and as generative of otherness. A singular historicity by defnition can only be definitive of God’s eternal life insofar as it requires the excess that is repetition (the giving of the Spirit), as also the understanding of the historicity of this one as eternally and mysteriously “open” in its definitiveness (Jesus as the Son in relation to the Father).

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  16. Hill wrote:

    I am sympathetic to Nate’s analysis. My general fear with what people call “the primacy of the singular historicity of Jesus” is that what is actually taking place is a movement from our experience of historicity, generally construed, to Christ as some sort of ideal or special version of this historicity. This typically functions to exclude certain kinds of “knowledge” about God as illicit, as they are not grounded in this “historicity.” This is the same sort of thing one might say about attributing opinions to Napoleon that are not grounded in our knowledge of his singular historicity. I obviously don’t find this compelling.

    I don’t think this is what Nate is up to (although I still haven’t fully grasped what he’s doing). I think I moved closer to expressing how I feel about this when I said that what is revealed to us in the singular, historicity of Jesus of Nazareth explodes any conclusions we might draw about what constitutes knowledge that originates from that locus and knowledge that does not. I fear that this becomes a kind of intellectually dressed-up textualism (and I know Nate has addressed this before, and I’m not accusing him of it). I just think that the whole “this so-called knowledge of God does not originate in the singular historicity of Christ, and is therefore illicit” line of argument to be a complete red-herring. On what terms would we arbitrate that sort of judgment? I think it presupposes a “command” over Christ’s historicity that we can’t possibly possess, or at least reduces it to a particular instance of the concept of historicity generally.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  17. Nate Kerr wrote:

    Hill:

    Your points are well taken. Let me just be clear that I personally don’t think it is at all helpful to think of Jesus’ historicity in terms of some kind of point of “origination,” nor do I think it helpful to make of Jesus some kind of epistemological foundation or foil. When you say, for example, “that what is revealed to us in the singular, historicity of Jesus of Nazareth explodes any conclusions we might draw about what constitutes knowledge that originates from that locus and knowledge that does not,” I would say that this is precisely in line with what I mean by my own articulation of Jesus’ singular historicity as a uniquely apocalyptic historicity. The logic of Jesus singularity is precisely the explosion and dissolution of the universality-particularity antinomy that drives modern accounts of knowledge. Jesus’ apocalyptic historicity is a singular event that constitutes a life and a way of being beyond such antinomies, if you will. Our relation to the singular historicity of Jesus is not so much a relation of “knowledge,” then, as it is a matter of our active participation in God’s life by which God is apprehended. Such apprehension, moreover, is not a conceptually mediated “knowledge” (a ratio), but rather is the apprehension of wisdom (sapientia), which occurs as the Spirit makes Christ present to us in witnessing to our spirit that we have become adopted sons and daugters of God. And this in part is what I think Halden is getting at when he understands Jesus’ historicity as constitutive of God’s eternal triunity. In Jesus, we do not now “know” God as from without (via a kind of epistemological ratio), but rather we are caught up into the movement of God’s eternal life as by way of a communal event.

    Now, how we understand that communal event is critical, and I will need to say some things on that point if I have time. But I think it will suffice here to say that I think it is best think of God’s trinitarian life as the ongoing event of a single communal act, and not merely as an archetypal event of community.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:22 am | Permalink
  18. Hill wrote:

    Thanks for that clarification. I think my concern here, as I mentioned before, is with a staking out of licit and illicit theologies or kinds of knowledge about God. As far as I can tell, all theology is conceptually mediated knowledge of God, (including the paragraphs you’ve just written as well as Halden’s post). It may also prove to be a Spirit imbued vehicle for the apprehension of wisdom, but it remains conceptually mediated knowledge nonetheless. Not that this means we are left utterly adrift when it comes to arbitrating between good theology and bad. I just don’t think that these sorts of considerations cut as deeply those advancing the Hellenization declension narrative and other scorched earth theological policies would like them to. That is not to say they are not profound, but they ultimately do not provide a facile security against the witness of the theological tradition nor do they provide any insulation of “theology” from “philosophy.”

    Thanks again for your helpful and generous commentary.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink
  19. Halden wrote:

    Does my internet deceive me or are you blogging now, Hill? Does this mean that I now have the opportunity to be the stickler commenter always pressing for details, nuances, and accuracy?

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  20. Hill wrote:

    I’ve been made! My blog work is intentionally shoddy and should hardly be called a blog. It does, however, contain various links and snippets I find interesting. My memory is getting progressively worse, so more than anything it serves as a repository for the leads I would like to track down but from which I am inevitably distracted. I’m more or less incapable of writing anything constructive (which is why blog comments suit me so well) so I’d be happy to have you comment on anything that interests you. I’ll erase all of my angry tirades directed at you. (Just kidding those are all scrawled in crayon in a notebook locked in my desk). In all seriousness, if by some fluke something makes its way there that is comment worthy, I’d love to have a conversation. It’s not visible to search engines, so it can only be found by those who spend some time looking for it. It contains roughly the content of your “Blogs I’m reading” sidebar.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Permalink
  21. Hill wrote:

    oh wow… turns out that’s actually a blog from like 4 years ago… even better. Yeah you might not even want to read that. My current blog is the wordpress version.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  22. Hill wrote:

    The old one contains some extensive contributions by my partners Dag and Brett, both of whom are far more gifted than myself.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  23. Halden wrote:

    I’ve now blogrolled you. Sucka!

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
  24. Nate Kerr wrote:

    Hill:

    As to the point of the conceptual mediation of knowledge, and in particular with regards to the question of Jesus Christ, my friend Josh Davis has just written an essay on the analogia entis that addresses this question head-on. His critique of the dialectic of identity and difference within which such conceptual mediation remains trapped is of particular force. He may be willing to say some things about that here, as he has in other venues already. For me the point boils down to the simple fact that Jesus is precisely not an object of knowledge inasmuch as he is the knowledge, or way of knowingscientia (which way of knowing is, incidentally for Augustine, a mode of action) — in and through whom, by the Spirit, we make our way into the wisdom of God. And indeed, in articulating this position, I am more or less riffing on Augustine’s account of faith seeking understanding and of wisdom and knowledge in Books VII and following of De Trinitate. It is the idealist notion that knowledge of God in Christ is to be conceptually mediated as such, it seems to me, that is actually a distortion of the best witnesses of the theological tradition here. Another Vanderbilt student, Travis Ables, is currently writing a dissertation that explores and uncovers this distortion in contemporary trinitarian thought, in relation to this material in Augustine in particular. He has already begun making the argument against so-called “social trinitarianism” in this regard.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  25. Hill wrote:

    I’d love to read this essay. Is it available online?

    I tend to generally agree with you, Nate, insofar as I grasp what you are saying. It is the things you don’t say with which I don’t agree, if that makes sense. What I mean by that is that there are rhetorical positions that share some of the same contours (even though they are likely quite different, ultimately) in which phrases like “conceptually mediated knowledge” are used as four letter words and in which entire epochs of theological history (and indeed the vast majority of Eastern theology) are pejoratively dismissed as “philosophy” and not “theology.” One thinks of Luther’s description of Pseudo-Dionysius here (plus platonizans quam christianizans). I find these to be utterly disingenuous, and in most cases, simply ignorant. As I’ve intimated above, dismissing certain theology as being conceptually mediated cuts far more deeply than any theologian would be willing to cut. Of course, I see you advocating something more nuanced in saying that knowledge “of God in Christ” is not to be conceptually mediated as such. My question, if you are still in the mood to respond at some point, is what account we can give of conceptually mediated knowledge. Surely it isn’t a neutral matter, but at the same time, if it is to be denigrated in some sense, we’ve all likely been wasting our time in every word every written, especially those about theology. I would describe De Trinitate as an attempt at conveying conceptually mediated knowledge about (maybe not of) God, just as I would describe your position (that knowledge of God is not conceptually mediated) as itself conceptually mediated knowledge.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink
  26. Nate Kerr wrote:

    Hill:

    The essay I referred to is currently under review for publication. I don’t know if Josh would be willing to share the essay at this point, but I can put you into contact with him if you’d like (just email me at nathan.r.kerr@gmail.com)

    I’ll respond briefly now, and then if it’d be helpful for me to say more, just let me know. This really is one of these discussions that I am afraid exceeds the bounds of comment boxes, because of its nuances and the particular ways in which phrases are being used. So let me say this: I am not denying that we do not or cannot deploy “concepts.” As you have pointed out, some mode of “conceptual” discourse is unavoidable in all theology, by definition. The question is not whether or not certain modes of conceptuality are involved in our speaking and thinking, but rather how we deploy those concepts. If by “conceptual mediation” we mean a mode of knowledge by which we comprehend the universal truth of some thing through the logical transcription of some some particular representation onto consciousness (either in the phenomenological mode of “description” or the more analytic mode of “explanation”), then I think this is highly problematic. That is the strictly idealist mode of “conceptual mediation” that I am rejecting, and it is what is more or less meant, I think, by the notion of “conceptual mediation” itself in contemporary post-Hegelian philosophy. Now, I want to suggest that theology deploys concepts for the sake of thinking doxologically — theology is always done in the paradoxical mode of being given to think that which cannot be thought. And so our concepts are in the mode of doxologically being handed over to, or literally “thrown alongside of” (in the literal sense of para-doxa) the glory of God. As our response (ana-logia) to the Word of God, our concepts are the handing over of our feeble human thoughts and words to their transformation in Christ, which transformation is not itself a transcription of “knowledge” onto our consciousness per se, so much as it is a binding of us in our words and thoughts to the singularly free act of love that is God’s being. And this, as I have described elsewhere, is the passage of philosophy into theology as the passage from “description to doxology.”

    I’ll leave it there for now. I’m sure this raises more questions than it answers. But I don’t think this commits me to dismissing any thinker’s theology per se. It does mean I will be critical of elements in Augustine, or more likely, Pseudo-Dionysius, that I take to be proto-idealist in ways that prescind from doxology in the manner that I am defining it. But what I find precisely to be so helpful in Augustine’s De Trinitate is its deployment of “concepts” in the mode of prayer — the mode of speaking and of deploying concepts that is the mode of faith seeking understanding that passes into love (as in the prayer that ends Book XV). And for what it is worth, I would tend closer to considering “the vast majority of Eastern theology” as rooted in this doxological mode of theological speech and conceptual deployment.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink
  27. Hill wrote:

    That’s very helpful. The technical issues at work here are still something I’m working through, but you’ve clarified a lot of things.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Permalink
  28. ken oakes wrote:

    This conversation has been very enlightening, so thanks to both Hill and Nate for continuing with it for the benefit of all.

    All that I can belatedly add is that I think that Hill’s concern about dividing licit and illicit still stands (although I would not frame my concerns in exactly the same way). But I think that the irony here is that theologies heavily invested in sweeping away speculation, natural theology, etc, tend to be just as speculative, if not more, than the theology being interrogated and that the favor of scouring a theology for natural theology is oftentimes returned, usually leading to an unfruitful back and forth over what constitutes natural theology. All of this to say, that perhaps accusations of speculation, natural theology, idealism, etc, can serve a limited, ad hoc purpose, they simply won’t carry a theology very far on their own.

    Also, when Nate beautifully stated that “As our response (ana-logia) to the Word of God, our concepts are the handing over of our feeble human thoughts and words to their transformation in Christ, which transformation is not itself a transcription of “knowledge” onto our consciousness per se, so much as it is a binding of us in our words and thoughts to the singularly free act of love that is God’s being. And this, as I have described elsewhere, is the passage of philosophy into theology as the passage from “description to doxology.” This statement is as wonderful a deployment of the analogia entis as I have read), although I’m sure Nate wouldn’t call it that.

    Thanks again for an exciting discussion.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 4:54 am | Permalink
  29. Hill wrote:

    All I can say is that I hope Nate and Ken are both hard at work publishing more exciting things to read, and of course, I know Halden is hard at work providing the sort of content that so often serves as the jumping off point for these helpful discussions (with plenty of insight itself). It’s been a blessing to be able to engage with all of you.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 9:05 am | Permalink
  30. Nate Kerr wrote:

    Hill:

    I can honestly say that this has been one of the most constructive blog conversations I have had in some time. I am grateful for the conversation and what I have learned from it. Thank you.

    Ken:

    Re.: the analogia entis — you never know, I may surprise you. I do think that what I have articulated is closer to Barth’s analogia fidei, which of course as he notes in The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life has at its heart a certain analogia entis. I will at least say this, cryptically: I do think that what happens in that “handing over” has indeed to do with our “being.”

    Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink
  31. Phil Sumpter wrote:

    I unfortunately haven’t the time to read the comments in this thread, despite its illustrious participants :(.

    I’ll just say that I don’t think I agree with the post. In the creed, the Father precedes the Son, in the Bible the Old Testament precedes the New. The movement in your post is always from the Son to the Father, but not vice versa. The father also defines the Son. James Barr put this well (and Chris Seitz has argued for it repeatedly, in debate with F. Watson [in SJT], see his article in Nicene Christianity.):

    “All Christian use of the Old Testament seems to depend on the belief that the One God who is the God of Israel is also the God and Father of Jesus Christ.”

    “All our use of the Old Testament goes back to this belief. What is said there that relates to “God” relates to our God. Consequently, that which can be known of our God is known only when we consider the Old Testament as a place in which he is known.”

    “It is an illusory position to think of ourselves as in a position where the New Testament is clear, is known, and is accepted, and where therefore from this secure position we start out to explore the much more doubtful and dangerous territory of the Old Testament … [This] is not possible, for quite theological reasons. … Insofar as a position is Christian, it is related to the Old Testament from the beginning.”

    “In this sense, if one wishes to express the argument in terms of classic theology, our approach to the Old Testament is Trinitarian rather than Christological. The direction of thought is from God to Christ, from Father to Son, and not from Christ to God.”

    “It should also be noted that, where we have a Trinitarian structure, we can proceed to a Christological one”.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

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