Monday, August 10, 2009

Revelation and the Trinity

In Jesus Christ, we see God revealed. That is the presupposition, or rather the foundational occurrence, of all true theology. But this raises two further questions:

1. Who or what is it that Christ reveals? To say 'God' in the abstract is highly problematic. If Christ reveals 'God' in the abstract, can we still make room for an assertion of the deity of Christ? That is to say, can Christ reveal 'God' and be 'God'? The concept of Christ as "God revealed" pushes us to a definite, and not abstract, notion of God standing behind Christ. In the gospel accounts, and most especially in John, Jesus expresses this in terms of his relationship with the Father - the two are one; anyone who has seen Christ has seen the Father. Jesus the Son reveals the Father.

2. How is it that I see God revealed in Christ? This question is raised most acutely when we consider that there are many others who have access to the same information and have the same, or even superior, faculties who do not see this. From the point of view of faith in Christ, with the shadow-revelation of depravity that comes with that, we have to see the only the divine could have overcome our blindness. Again, John's gospel is very helpful in setting out the relationship of Christ to the Spirit, whom he sends to lead his disciples into truth. Jesus the Son is revealed by the Spirit.

The answers to these two questions lead to a further affirmation: these three - the Father, Son and Spirit - are really and truly One. If the Son truly reveals the Father to the extent that anyone who sees him sees also the Father, then Father and Son are One; and what is more, they are One God - how could the saying be true otherwise? And if the Spirit truly makes the Son known to us as God - if he truly takes from what is Christ's and gives it to us, and if Father and Son truly come to dwell in us through his indwelling - then the Spirit, too, is One God with the Father and the Son.

The doctrine of the Trinity can be extrapolated from the presupposition that Jesus Christ reveals God; the assertion that Jesus Christ reveals God can only be true in the context of that doctrine.

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