Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Crucifixion Post Addendum

Just a few short notes:

On the previous post, I shared some comments I'd made in reply to an unbeliever expressing the characteristic failure to understand how come a "temporary" suffering could be a sufficient sacrifice to pay for a multitude infinite penalties for sin.

I believe most of the thought experiment is useful, and helpful, and -- most importantly -- I hadn't said anything that I later matured to recognize as accidentally heretical, so I chose to post it without editing it. This is not like how I once conceived of the Trinity, either before or at the beginning of coming to faith, when I inadvertently reinvented modalism (I dare say it's the more intuitive way for a human to rationalize how three can be one, and that's one major reason for the necessity of divine revelation. Christianity simply isn't a religion that any mere man would dream up, because we cannot reach the conclusions we learn from Scripture, independent of Scripture).

Having recently read through the chapters in Grudem's Systematic Theology about the essential attributes of God, I can discern with better clarity whether or not something ought to, or could be, said about God in an attempt to explain 'how He works.' With respect to 'kenosis,' we can't say that Jesus gave up any attributes of Godhood. Because God's attributes are descriptions of what it is to be God, to make God no longer omniscient would be to make Him no longer God. So in this case, we would say that Jesus did not give up His attributes on earth, but you could say that He gave up the unlimited use of them. I learned, more helpfully, that you could say different things of Christ's two natures (human and divine) that are therefore true of the Person of Christ, without being communicated to the other nature. Thus, His knowledge was limited, in His human nature, while His divine nature was omniscient, and this omniscience was not communicated to His human nature -- so that at different times Jesus demonstrates knowledge of Nathanael's location, the Samaritan woman's past, Judas' betrayal, etc, but also can claim to not know the date of His return, and demonstrated the ability in His youth to grow and learn.

Applying this to the previous article, I would probably avoid using (or re-posting in the future) this particular line,
"whilst the Spirit bridged the two and kept the Trinity intact as a cohesive single being (This in essence placed a division within God Himself -- more elaboration on that below)."
because of the possibility for misunderstanding. I kept it in because the context it lies in makes it clear that I'm not trying to start a new religion or build a doctrine out of these words. What this can NOT be accepted as saying is that Jesus is dependent on one of the other Persons of the Trinity for His deity. That would deny what John 1:4 says, that He possessed life "in Himself" -- teaching His self-existence and thus His inherent Godhood, not derived from some other source. If Jesus' deity "came from" somewhere else, then He would not have always "had it" from eternity past and His co-eternal nature with the other two Persons of the Godhead would be undermined.

Nor can the 'division' be meant that God's being was separated somehow so that there was no longer unity of essence.

What I believe most theologians will say is that -- as I rightly put it in the original article -- Jesus' sacrifice was not to lose any attribute of deity, but He did suffer in His relationship with the Father, taking our estrangement, if you will, in our place, so that we could be reconciled to Him. Of course, this is not saying that God's relational nature is not an essential attribute (I think it is, in that love is relational, and love is certainly part of God's nature). But just as Christ possessed omniscience and did not communicate it to His human nature, I imagine one may be able to say that the Trinity possessed love but at the point of the Cross, the Father and Son did not share (the exercise of) this essential attribute (which they both continued to possess) between each other while God's wrath was being poured out on sin.

I am sure I will continue to learn even more how to speak carefully and precisely about the Trinity as I continue to mature. It's my hope that this little discourse is helpful, and that I have avoided causing needless confusion to the reader.

-W

No comments:

Post a Comment