"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Trinitarian Revelation?

Ok, I'll admit I've gone a little Trinity crazy lately. Yet, everything in theology seems to point back to Theology Proper (the doctrine of God). I recently had an assignment where I was told to "define God." I went back and forth on how to begin my definition. The Anglican 39 Articles starts with God as Trinity. Reformed Confessions tend to start with revelation in Scripture, then base a confession of God on special revelation in Scripture. Finally, I decided I must preface the definition with how I know God. But, instead of using the special revelation and general revelation divide, I decided to set forth my preface of revelation in Trinitarian Formula, as follows:

God reveals Himself to us by means of the Father's purposed works in creation,[i] His incarnate Son[ii] (Who is God,[iii] and human,[iv]) and His Scriptures,[v] written by men and the Holy Spirit.[vi] (Who is God.[vii]) God is our greatest good[viii] and highest pleasure,[ix] and does all things for His own Glory.[x]

Does this work? A general revelation in nature by the Father, a special revelation in flesh by the Son, and another special revelation by the Spirit in the Scriptures. Feedback welcome.

[i] Rom 1:20 – also called general revelation
[ii] Heb 1:2, 2 Cor 4:4. [Or the Word – John 1:1]
[iii] John 1:1-14, John 20:28.
[iv] John 1:14
[v] 2 Tim 3:16, [also called the word of God, the Son being the Word of God made flesh, and Scripture being the word of God written]
[vi] Heb 1:1
[vii] Acts 5:3-4, 2 Cor 3:17-18, Eph 1:3-14
[viii] or “exceedingly great reward” Gen 15:1 KJV
[ix] Ps 16:11
[x] Ps 79:9, Ps 106:6-8, Isa 43:7, Ezk 20:5-9, 13-14, 21-22.


Matthew Bradley said...

Does this in any way diminish or fail to adequately recognize the joint work of each person in each area? Are the Son and Spirit not also participating in the "purposed work in creation", even apart from the incarnation and revelation; the Son participating in creation, for example? In other words, does it TOO neatly divide?

Not to nitpick...I thought it was a lovely definition. The approach is refreshingly creative (I mean that as a compliment!)

Jared Nelson said...

Hmmm. Point taken and I think you are right. If I was writing a fuller treatment of my position I should expand on that aspect. However, a short definition is a hard forum for nuance of that nature. All points of my three-fold scheme for revelation would have Trinitarian involvement, true. Yet, for each of the three means of revelation, couldn't we say that one Person would be primary?

1) Creation - 1 Cor 8:6 includes both the Father and the Son in Creation, but Creation is "from" the Father and "through" the Son - Concuring with the nicene Creed that lays primary identification of the work of Creation with the Father (though the Son and Spirit participated).

2) Inspiration - Scripture contains the Will of the Father and testifies to the Son (John 5:39) and in an earlier post I have quoted Pelikan who said in the Early Church, "when 'the gospel' or 'Scripture' was equated with the 'word of God,' the presence of Christ in this means of grace was seen as in some way analogous to his presence in the flesh." Yet, the Holy Spirit is said to have spoken through the prophets in Scripture and the nicene creed - So He would be primary in Inspiration.

3) Incarnation - It is said Incarnation occured "by the power of the Holy Spirit." Incarnation was the plan of the Father. Yet, Christ is primary as He is the Person who was incarnate.

Thus, every form of revelation is Trinitarian, yet one Person is primary in each distinct form (Father-Creation, Son-Incarnation, Spirit-Inspiration). But that would be too much nuance for a one-page definition.

[I also wonder, since I encountered the doctrine of perichoresis for the first time in the past month, how this works in different actions of the Persons.]

Aaron said...

Here is my deep take... ah hemm....

I like it!

I too dislike neglecting the trinity and each person's unique role in it. So cool.