Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Christian Doctrine of God, 1 Being 3 Persons, Torrance #2

(Note: It is Monday in California and we are waiting for phone calls from doctors. This time it is to hear test results. I am a little nervous as we wait to hear the extent of the lymphoma. Probably tomorrow. Thank you for praying with us and for all the birthday wishes. We appreciate it.)

TorranceThis month I continue reading through the very insightful and almost devotional, theology, The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons, by Thomas F. Torrance. This book is a meditation on the great truth and mystery that God is a Trinity. I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

Jesus Christ stands revealed by the resurrection as the manifestation of the Triune God in the flesh—Jesus is Lord.

This stress on the Deity of Jesus Christ places in the very centre of God’s self-revelation, and therefore of the framework of the New Testament message, the unbroken relation in being and act between the Son and the Father. And this in turn carries with it the relation of Christ to the Holy Spirit as well, as the Spirit of the Father and of the Son sent from the Father through the Son to lead those who believe in Christ into all truth and to grant them through himself participation in the Communion of the Holy Trinity. Thus the central focus of the Gospel upon the Deity of Christ is the door that opens the way to the understanding of God’s triune self-revelation as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 49

The scriptures reveal God as One in Being, but three in mission and personality. The love of the Father is made available through the revelation of Son, which is applied through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Each of the three persons can minister all of the Being of God because they "inexist" (67) each other. The New Testament portrays all three persons in perfect cooperation in all the activities of the One God.

We rely upon the whole coherent evangelical structure of historical divine revelation given in the New Testament Scriptures. It is when we indwell it, meditate upon it, tune into it, penetrate inside it and absorb it in our ourselves, and find the very foundations of our life and thought changing under the creative and saving impact of Christ, and are saved by Christ and personally reconciled to God in Christ, that we believe in him as Lord and God. 53

Knowledge of the Son and knowledge of the Father are locked into each other, so that it is in and through the unique Sonship of Christ that the Fatherhood of God is made known as the ultimate Nature and Being of God, and is thus given supreme prominence, even in relation to himself, in all that Jesus proclaimed and taught about God as the one Lord of heaven and earth whom we are bound to love unreservedly with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. 56

While the Spirit is personally other than Christ, he nevertheless shares with him divine Lordship and is inseparably related to him in his incarnate mission from the Father. Thus it is by the crucified, risen and ascended Lord that his presence and power are bestowed. 61

Our words, theology, about God always fall short of the reality of our inscrutable God. This does not mean they are false when they are based on God's self-revelation but they can always be expanded and refined as our growth within the body of Christ and knowledge of the scriptures grow. This is true of the church as a whole as well and how the creeds developed. Their development was not just an intellectual exercise but flowed out of the church's experience of Christ, through the Spirit, within the body. Thus, doctrine is bounded by the revelation of Christ in the NT, but does not circumscribe our personal inarticulate experience of the Trinity.

In the mystery of God’s self-revealing there is an inarticulate as well as an articulate ingredient, an unspecifiable as well as a specifiable factor, such that in our knowing God in his self-revelation it is the inarticulate or unspecifiable element that governs what is articulated and specified in the incarnation of his Son in Jesus Christ: we know of him more than we can ever tell. 81

God interacts personally and intelligibly with us and communicates himself to us in such a personalising way or person-constituting way that he establishes relations of intimate reciprocity between us and himself, within which our knowing of God becomes interlocked with God’s knowing of himself. 88

It is as we tune in to God’s eternal purpose of love and grace embodied in the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ that under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit we are given the anticipatory insights or basic clues we need in developing formal cognition of that divine order, and so apprehend something of the trinitarian structure of God’s self-revelation and self-communication to mankind. 90

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