Reinventing God

The internal life of the Trinity is neither egalitarian nor hierarchical because of the very nature of God as God.

Only in His voluntary state as a servant do we read that ‘the head of Christ is God’ (1Cor.11:3). Only in the economy of redemption, in His state of humiliation, is this true. As the second and last Adam, acting for and in place of His people, He is placed in a covenant of works relationship with the Father, charged to obey where we disobeyed and to ‘fulfill all righteousness’ on our behalf so that His righteousness might be ‘accounted’ to us (Isa.53; Romans 4). As such, His ‘food’ is to do the will of Him who sent Him and to ‘finish’ His work. His obedience was entirely congruous with His having taken our creatureliness into Himself.

While we were sleeping, feeling secure that they were not tampering with the glory of the gospel, they were in fact tampering with the glory of the eternal Son of God!

My last article ended assuring that God as He is in himself requires our faith and adoration, not our speculation. We can however be sure that His eternal being is faithfully expressed in how God deals with the world. It is at this point we move to what we know of God in Christ. The NT tells us that He is the Son of the Father; this describes His filial and eternal relationship with the Father; as the Divine Son He shares the nature of His Father. He existed ‘with God in the beginning’ and He ‘was God’ (Jn.1:1-3). This tells us that He shared eternity and equality with the Father. There are not degrees of Godness; one is either God or one is not. Paul later tells us that the Son is ‘by very nature God’ and ‘equal’ with God. Since God is God, He cannot be God by nature without being God in all His thinking, willing and acting.

Indeed, that is where the early Christians located Jesus, within the identity of the God of Israel. And they went further; by using a person-centered reading of the OT, they found embedded in the texts accounts of conversations between divine persons that gave them clues as to how to speak of God as Trinity. Our Lord located Himself there when He used the emphatic “I, I am;” when He claimed power and authority normally attached to God Himself (e.g. to have “life in Himself;” to “forgive sin;” to be the locus and focus of worship (Jn. 4); to speak as God to Israel (Matt.5-7); to be ‘one’ with the Father); and when He spoke of the “glory” He shared with God the Father before all worlds began (Jn.17). He was the one who spoke to Moses at the burning bush; and who appeared to Isaiah (when the prophet had a vision of the heavenly temple, the council chamber of God). To hear Him is to hear the Father; to know Him is to know the Father. From all eternity, He was ‘face to face’ with God; His sonship is utterly unique.

Primacy of the Father?

The church long ago rejected any form of primacy of the Father within the eternal Trinity, though there were some among the fathers who wanted to assert primacy to justify bishops in the church, just as there are some among evangelicals who want to assert primacy to justify patriarchy in the home and beyond. And the church long ago rejected any form of eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. The language of Psalm 110 makes it quite clear that when the Son speaks to the Father, He speaks as God to God, as Lord to Lord. Jesus quotes that psalm in Mark 12 where He claims to be Lord, and is completely understood by the rabbis as claiming to be the ‘Son of the Most High’ that leads to their charge of blasphemy. In other words, the Pharisees understood Jesus’ claim to be Son as an ontological claim.

It was this Son who humbled Himself (notice the voluntary nature of the movement in Phil.2) by taking “the form of a servant” by being found ‘in fashion as a man.’

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