Thursday, 8 September 2011

True Equality Without Fudging DIfferences?

If you're like me, then you will say a hearty "Ay-men!" to the belief that the true God is a loving community of three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You'll also "big it up bruv" (I've been working with adolescent boys for too long!!) when you hear someone say that within that divine community there is equality of personhood, but distinction and subordination of roles. The WILL of the Father is worked out through the OBEDIENCE of the Son in the POWER of the Spirit.

But here's a question. How do you maintain that distinction and subordination without somehow losing the equality? The reason I say that is because in this shadow world where we now live - temporarily, we talk a good game about the equality of humanity but in truth, we don't really believe it. We value some people more highly than others, we just do. The President of the United States is more important than an anonymous nobody fleeing the famine stricken plains of East Africa.

How do you avoid mapping that fallen assumption onto your view of God?
How do you avoid falling into thinking that because the Father calls all the shots, he is more important than the Son and the Spirit? How do you maintain - genuine heartfelt equality for all the Trinity and how does that flow into your everyday relationships with those who are made in the image of the Trinitarian God?

Peter Leithart, citing Brian Trainor, gives a helpful corrective to our thinking. Get ready for some grammatical gymnastics. He says:
What is in the ‘mind’ of the Father is sovereign but what is in the mind of the Father is the Son, the eternally beloved object of his being as Father, in much the same was as a mother ‘is’ . . . the ‘consciousness of her new-born child.’ The Son is the ‘eternal, absolute end’ of his (God’s) being as Father; the Father is the ‘eternal, absolute origin of his (God’s) being as Son, and this sovereignty of each in the ‘divine consciousness / perspective’ (for want of a better term) of the other ‘is’ (or eternally generates) the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is sovereign in the sense that love, or the Spirit of Love, is the supreme, sole and eternal ‘origin and end’ of the life of the Trinity, whereas the Father is sovereign, not so much in authority, as in the sense that he is the ‘author-ial’ source of all that is. . . . The Father is Author; the Son Authors; the Son is the ‘verb’ of the Father’s ‘noun.”
He suggests that “we should think . . . in terms of the Son having all authority and the Father having none. Jesus is not second to the Father in authority, for Jesus is the Word of the Father, is the authority of the Father as original Author, is the One who conveys, ‘authors,’ makes present, bears, crystallises and expresses his Person, the Father as original Author.” My one quibble here is the thought that the Father “has none.” Not so: Because the Son is idios to the Father’s being, the Father “has” the authority/authoring that is the Son just as surely as He has His Fatherhood or anything else for that matter. Other than that, Trainor’s comments seem entirely Athanasian.
In case you didn' know, Athanasius was a goodie in church history.

He finishes with a lovely illustration. Feels like he's on the same page as me - or should I say - I'm on the same page as him?
Practically, this works out in the family as a model of servant headship, service through authority. Trainor summarizes a lovely passage from John Paul II who “unequivocally . . . endorses what Paul teaches in Ephesians 5:22-23 concerning the authority of the father as head of the home, but he (John Paul II) also insists on ‘mutual subjection’ or a kind of ‘triple subjection,’ that is, on the subjection of the wife to the husband as ‘head’ of the house, of the husband to the wife as the ‘heart’ of the home, and of both to Christ as their common Lord and Saviour.”
Full article here

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