Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Christian Doctrine of God, 1 Being 3 Persons, Torrance #4

TorranceI am continuing to think through the very insightful and almost devotional, theology, The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons, by Thomas F. Torrance. The truth that, because of what Jesus has done, the Holy Spirit brings me into the very fellowship that has been within the Trinity for all eternity is a very powerful, holy and encouraging concept and has been the main source of the peace I feel as we go through our cancer ordeal. I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

The chapter Trinity and Unity and Unity in Trinity focuses on the implications of term perichoresis for our understanding of the Trinity (again with the emphasis that human words are inadequate to fully understand these implications. It is the idea that the three members of the Trinity mutually indwell each other and mutually act/move together. Thus, God can only be known to us as a Trinity. One cannot think of Deity first resting in the Father, rather than the entire Godhead, and there can be no subordination of any of the persons. One cannot "go back behind the Trinity" to find the original Deity. All three persons are fully God, yet distinct, and are active in all the acts of God. If Jesus or the Holy Spirit is not fully God we do not have salvation.

Since God is Spirit and God is Love, we must understand the perichoresis in a wholly spiritual and intensely personal way as the eternal movement of Love or the Communion of Love which the Holy Trinity ever is within himself, and in his active relations toward us through the Holy Spirit from within his homoousial relations with the Father and the Son. 171

The subjection of Christ to the Father in his incarnate economy as the suffering and obedient Servant cannot be read back into the eternal hypostatic relations and distinctions subsisting in the Holy Trinity. The mediatorial office of Christ, as Calvin once expressed it, does not detract from his divine Majesty. 180

There are no degrees of Deity in the Holy Trinity, as is implied in a distinction between the underived Deity of the Father and the derived Deity of the Son and the Spirit. Any notion of subordination is completely ruled out. The perfect simplicity and indivisibility of God in his Triune Being mean that the Arche or Monarchia cannot be limited to one Person. 185

The chapter finishes with a discussion of how perichoresis informs the doctrines of the "procession of the Holy Spirit" "from the Father" and "through the Son" and the coactivity of the Holy Trinity. Torrance insists that the "procession" of the Spirit must come from the Homousion or the Unified Being of the Trinity shared by each Person and not just from the Father. He then points to the Gospel record of the actions of God and sees the acts of God being "in the Trinity, from the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. That is, because the Persons of the Trinity interpenetrate, all the Trinity participate in all the acts of God.

Athanasius’ application of the homoousion to the Holy Spirit had the effect, not only of asserting that the Spirit is also of one Being with the Father, but of implying that the procession of the Spirit is from the Being of the Father, and not from the Person of the Father, in distinction from his Being. 188

The Holy Spirit belongs to the inner Being of the one God, and to the constitutive internal relations of the Godhead as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is central to the Triunity of God, for God the Father is not the Father nor God the Son the Son, without God the Holy Spirit. 189

The fullness of God dwells in each Person, and the fullness of each Person dwells in God, such that the one God is intrinsically hypostatic and completely personal, the eternal I am who I am, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. To say that God is personal is not to say that he is a Person (i.e. una persona) in the relational sense of the three divine Persons, who are Persons ad alios, but that, far from being impersonal, he is a Communion of personal Being within himself, for the whole God dwells in each Person, and each Person is the whole God. Thus we may rightly think in solidum of the Triune God as intrinsically, perfectly and sublimely Personal.  202

In the chapter entitled "The Sovereign Creator" Torrance focuses on the interaction of the whole Trinity in the creation and upholding of the entire created universe. The Father, who was the Father before He becomes Creator, brought His fatherly love into the whole plan, which was revealed in the nature of the Son in His incarnation and applied through the life-giving power of the Spirit. Creation was an overflow of the love within the Trinity as God created creatures he could indwell and draw into the fellowship that exists within the Trinity itself.

In Jesus Christ the Lord God has himself become man, and the Creator of all things has himself become a creature, without of course ceasing to be God the Creator, and therefore interacts creatively with the world not just from without but from within. 204

God is always Father, but he is not always Creator, for in his creative activity God has to do with what is ‘external’ to his Being, freely giving existence to what did not exist before, and sustaining it by his will and grace in a creaturely coexistence with himself. 208

There is no reason why the creation came to be, why there is something and not nothing, apart from the eternal movement of Love in the inner Life of God, which in love freely overflows from God who does not will to exist for himself alone but for others also. 212

The supreme end for which God has designed his creation and which he activates and rules throughout all his relations with it is the purpose of his Holy Love not to live for himself alone but to bring into being a creaturely realm of heaven and earth which will reflect his glory and within which he may share with others the Communion of Love which constitutes his inner Life as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 218

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