March is Trinity month! So I thought for Thawed-out Thursday I’d link to some older Trinity posts…
The Father is perfectly revealed, not by His Twin, not by a Clone, but by Someone who is His Complement. The Father is revealed in His Son, the Firstborn, His Image, His right-hand Man-Priest. Self-differentiation is at the heart of God’s revelation. Jesus is not the same as His Father and yet fully reveals Him. More than this – this difference is of the essence of the divine self-disclosure. Self-differentiation in communion is the being of God – all of this is perfectly revealed in, by and through Jesus of Nazareth….
The Creed has no interest in defining an ousia (being) of God first and then assigning this essence to each of the Persons. The Creed does not have a lengthy prologue before discussing the Father, Son and Spirit. It simply unfolds the being of God as the interplay of these Persons in their roles and relations…
The vital phrase which calls Jesus “of one being with the Father” does not follow a prior discussion of “the being of God.” Nicea does not first consider a general essence of deity and then apply it to Jesus. No the very first mention of “being” is in the relationship of Father and Son.
As TF Torrance says in Trinitarian Faith, “The Father/Son relationship falls within the one being of God.” This oneness upholds the distinction (as well as unity) of Father and Son…
There are genuine differences in Persons that in no way compromise their equality of divinity. There is never a time when the Son is not “one being” with the Father nor is there a time when the Son is not begotten of His Father. Therefore there is not a being of the Father that could ever be separately conceived and then assigned in equal measure to Father, Son and Spirit. Instead the being of God is a mutually constituting communion in which Father, Son and Spirit share. The being of the Trinity consists in three Persons who are one with each other. While Nicea does not say explicitly that the being is the communion of Persons, it points decidedly in this direction…
The divine nature is constituted by difference, distinction, mutuality, reciprocity – it is a divine life (a dance even!) not a divine stuff.
…Starkly put, who cares if the eternal Son is God if we can’t say the same of Jesus of Nazareth! It’s Jesus of Nazareth who says ‘If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.’ (John 14:9) It’s Jesus of Nazareth who says ‘Son your sins are forgiven.’ (Mark 2:5) It’s the Man Jesus who lives our life and dies our death. If salvation is truly from the LORD then it has to be Jesus ‘born of the virgin Mary and suffered under Pontius Pilate’ who is declared fully God. Nicea necessarily and clearly does this.
And what does this mean? It means that before we’ve even gotten to Chalcedon we’ve affirmed that the Person of Jesus who is fully man and fully God exists entirely within the circle of divine fellowship which constitutes the being of God. Jesus the Man is of one being with the Father. If we could not affirm this then the revelation of Jesus would not be the revelation of God (contra John 14). If we could not affirm this then the salvation of Jesus would not be the salvation of God (contra Mark 2). But no, Jesus and the Father are one – not simply ‘the Son’ and the Father…
…Thus His full humanity in no way contradicts His full deity. The Man Jesus exists fully and without remainder within the circle of divine life. Chalcedon upholds the full integrity of Christ’s humanity, the complete perfection of His divinity, the absolute unity of His Person. What Chalcedon does not say, and what it must never be made to say, is that there is a humanity to Jesus that is beyond or outside the divine homoousios. Nicea has for all time assured us that the Man Jesus fully participates in the circle of triune fellowship which is the divine nature.
…With Arianism and Modalism, Jesus gets either squashed down or squished in. When the “One God” is defined without Jesus, He will always lose out. Arius will allow Him to be Jesus and not God, Sabellius will allow Him to be God and not Jesus. But fundamentally these errors are not so different because they both assume a pre-conceived ‘One God’ before they think of Christ.
This leaves us no option but to begin with a doctrine of God that expressly includes the mutual relations of Father and Son. The “One God” must accommodate relationship from the outset. Nothing else will allow Jesus to be Jesus and God.
When we unfold the trinitarian life of God in His gospel work, we’re not simply adding a level of detail to functionally unitarian ‘God’-speak. Trinity is not just a nuancing of more basic truths. To speak of trinity is to uncover a logic which alters the way we conceive of everything, from the ground up.
Have you ever heard someone say:
“Ah yes you’re emphasising the trinity. That’s well and good. But let’s not forget the unity of God.”
And I say…. huh!?
The trinity is the unity of God!! Trinity means tri-unity. In that one word (that one doctrine) we have both the oneness and the threeness of God. God is three Persons united. That’s what trinity means. Trinity gives us everything we need to articulate the One and the Three…
Here are 24 OT Scriptures that must be understood multi-Personally or they are misunderstood…
My point is not that the OT betrays hints, shapes and shadows of triune structure,
My point is not that NT eyes can see trinitarian themes in the OT,
My point is not that we go back as Christians and now retrospectively read the trinity into the OT,
My point is not that the OT gives us partial suggestions of trinitarian life that are then developed by NT fulfillment,
My point is that these texts read on their own terms and in their own context (as the Jewish, Hebrew Scriptures that they are) demand to be understood as the revelation of a multi-Personal God. The only proper way to understand these texts is as trinitarian revelation. These texts are either to be understood triunely or they are mis-understood – on their own terms or any others…
Click the Trinity tag for over a hundred other posts.
And keep reading Dan’s survey of Trinitarian theology in the 20th century.