Wednesday, May 11, 2005

What God Sacrificed and I Gained Series: Triune Suffering

“Q. 9. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by their personal properties.”
- Westminster Larger Catechism

The doctrine of the Trinity teaches us about the ontology and economy of God, his nature of being and how members of the Godhead play roles in the salvation of mankind. There is no jealousy or division in the Godhead. There is unity in purpose. There is fellowship one with another. This sharing of one another is sometimes called perichorea. The word is derived from the prefix peri meaning around and the stem of chorea meaning dance, thus to “dance together”. (It would not be “dance around”, which is often a metaphorical way of saying avoid a sensitive issue.) The term perichorea is used by John of Damascus to speak of the mutual interanimation and divine reciprocity of each person in the Trinity.1 By nature, God is eternally in community. He is one but from eternity past, God the Father has been in fellowship with God the Son who was eternally begotten of the Father and also in fellowship with the Holy Spirit who eternally proceeded from the Father and the Son. I have heard it said occasionally that God was lonely so he created man. In reality, God is complete without us, the three, united members of the Godhead have been in eternal community. When Christ experienced the incarnation and the crucifixion, the members of the Godhead experienced it as community. In our human experience some of our greatest losses are often the death of loved ones. A family member or a friend dies and causes us great emotional pain. But often when someone is dying, one of their great concerns is how much their suffering is affecting their family. Dying parents hold on to life simply because they don't want their children to experience the pain of loosing a parent. Likewise, the Trinity experienced great pain at the death of Christ when the Son was isolated by the sin of the world from the Father. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46b (ESV) Though it was in different roles and in different ways, the other members of the Godhead participated in the sufferings of Christ.
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