December 27, 2006

Trinity, Covenant, and Sacrifice

Category: Theology - Trinity :: Permalink

I can’t recall who first started me thinking about the covenantal relationship between the Father, Son, and Spirit.  It may have been James Jordan or Jeff Meyers, but it was probably Ralph Smith‘s essay on “Trinity and Covenant” in Christendom Essays that helped most.  But if I’d been reading the right stuff, it could have been C. S. Lewis.

I read a lot of Lewis when I was younger, but for some reason I didn’t read The Problem of Pain until recently.  And this is what I found:

Being Christians, we learn from the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity that something analagous to “society” exists within the Divine being from all eternity — that God is Love, not merely in the sense of being the Platonic form of love, but because, within Him, the concrete reciprocities of love exist before all worlds and are thence derived to the creatures (p. 17).

And then, later on, when Lewis talks about how “union exists only between distincts,” he says this:

Even within the Holy One Himself, it is not sufficient that the Word should be God, it must also be with God.  The Father eternally begets the Son and the Holy Ghost proceeds: deity introduces distinction within itself so that the union of reciprocal loves may transcend mere arithmetical unity or self identity (p. 139).

That isn’t exactly how I’d put things.  The language of God “introducing” distinctions doesn’t sound right to me, since it seems to imply that an undistinguished deity existed first before the Trinity.  But I do like the last line: “the union of reciprocal loves may transcend mere arithmetical unity or self identity.”

And though it was from Jeff Meyers (I think) that I first learned that there is mutual sacrifice even among the members of the Trinity and that what Jesus did in giving Himself for us here on earth reflects what He has always done in giving Himself to and for the Father and the Spirit, I could have learned that from Lewis, too:

We need not suppose that the necessity for something analogous to self-conquest will ever be ended, or that eternal life will not also be eternal dying.  It is in this sense that, as there may be pleasures in hell (God shield us from them), there may be something not all unlike pains in heaven (God grant us soon to taste them).

For in self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm not only of all creation but of all being.  For the Eternal Word also gives Himself in sacrifice; and that not only on Calvary.  For when He was crucified He “did that in the wild weather of His outlying provinces which He had done at home in glory and in gladness.”  From before the foundation of the world He surrenders begotten Deity back to begetting Deity in obedience.  And as the Son glorifies the Father, so also the Father glorifies the Son (p. 140).

Beautiful stuff, and especially that quotation in the midst of it, which, by the way, was from George MacDonald.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:25 pm | Discuss (0)

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