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The second person of the Trinity: the Son

By Peter Sellick - posted Wednesday, 11 October 2017


One difficulty that we have with the incarnation is that we work with Greek understandings of divinity. That God became man gets mixed up with Greek mythology in which the gods come to earth often to mate with human females. We automatically reject such a notion as ancient superstition.

Another difficulty, that is common to all theological understanding, is that we begin with only that which we know. We begin with a blank slate and a cynical attitude. However, the first step in understanding anything is to believe that it could be understood. This is the missing metaphysic of natural science. To proceed with science, we must have faith that the world is comprehensible. Theology is faith seeking understanding. We must chance our arm in believing, or even opening our rationality a chink, in order to even begin. Only then will we be able to understand what the Church means when it talks about things that seem to us impossible: that, for example, Christ was pre-existent, that God could become man.

Of the persons of the Trinity we must say that to see the Son is to see the Father and to experience the Spirit is to experience the Father. Thus, when we see the man Jesus destitute on the cross crying out in absolute dereliction, we see the Father. This means that all of our projections about God are forfeit in such a way that Paul may tell us that: "For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles," (1Cor. 22,23) If Paul were a modern he could have included "modernity demands evidence".

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The cross is foolishness to all our philosophical systems. Whilst the world can only see the destitute man, the Spirit reveals the image of God and the depth of truth about humanity.

As with the Spirit, there exists the danger of isolating the Son from the other two persons of the Trinity. Jesus becomes our own creature, our friend, confident and moral example and ceases to be the sign both of our judgment and our redemption. When any of the persons are separated from the other two, when Tritheism becomes a possibility, we know we are under the thrall of idolatry. We have seen the idolatry of the Spirit in enthusiast sects and we have seen the idolatry of the Son in the Jesus movement and in popular fundamentalism.

Any healing of the Church, which is now in disarray on all counts, must begin with a return to the conceptions of God produced by the early Church. Crucially, this involves the reintegration of the doctrine of the Trinity and the dispersal of the idolatry that has made the Church a laughing-stock. This alone is the answer to both the theism and the atheism that is, at present, destroying us.

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About the Author

Peter Sellick an Anglican deacon working in Perth with a background in the biological sciences. He has a website called Coondle Art Presentations.

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