God's history (Was God the interactor)

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Sat Sep 03 2005 - 20:12:35 EDT

Dave -

I apologize for my mis-statement: I recognize that you hold the traditional Christian belief in the Incarnation. The problem from my standpoint is not that you dodge the question about the Incarnation itself but that you don't seem to want to take the Incarnation and its implications into account when speaking more generally about whether or not God can be involved with the world's temporality.

I'll repeat the point I've made previously several times: If the 2d Person of the Trinity became a participant in our universe of space and time then God has been involved in our time. The Incarnation is not an "external work of the Trinity" but something that takes place within our history. Since the history of Jesus of Nazareth is part of the inner life of God, God has a history.

I realize that there is a very long history (!) of Christian theologians and philosophers who try to figure out ways to affirm the Incarnation while at the same time saying that it really didn't affect God in God's own being but that represents an unfortunate surrender (albeit an unconscious one) to Greek philosophy with its notion of the priority of being over becoming. The central Christian claims of the Incarnation and Trinity and their implications, which are supposed to be the answers to fundamental human questions, then become problems which have to be solved in terms of an alien metaphysic.

Instead we should start with the Incarnation, which shows that God is not to be understood as an unchanging "substance" or "nature." Being is not superior to becoming. Juengel expressed it very well in the title of his book on the Trinity, Gottes Sein ist im Werden - "God's Being is in Becoming." (Unfortunately the English translation was given the banal title Karl Barth's Doctrine of the Trinity!) Indeed, how could we speak of God as "the living God" if God were unchanging?

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
  To: gmurphy@raex.com
  Cc: williamehamiltonjr@yahoo.com ; asa@lists.calvin.edu ; dfwinterstein@msn.com
  Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 11:58 PM
  Subject: Re: God the interactor (was God the tinkerer)

  I'm trying to figure what I have dodged. In previous messages I have included:
  30 Aug.
   It is obvious that the Redeemer entered time, becoming human.

  25 Aug.
   I've encountered philosophers who argued that Christianity is nonsensical because it is impossible for the eternal to join the temporal. They are right if the union is simple, but scripture declares that the eternal Son emptied himself to take on the form of a servant. I cannot imagine a mechanism whereby divine and human spirit become one, but there is abundant evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was uniquely special while on earth.

  23 Aug.
  I have not been shown that a strict orthodox theology is inconsistent. I contend that there are usually subtle inconsistencies in positions that vary from orthodoxy.

  Further, as a member of ASA for well over 40 years, I have subscribed to the statement of faith as it was and as it is. I affirm the ecumenical creeds and the Apostles' Creed. Yes, the Word became flesh. Jesus of Nazareth is the incarnate God.

  Is this now enough?

  On Fri, 2 Sep 2005 15:21:47 -0400 "George Murphy" <gmurphy@raex.com> writes:
    Dave -

    You continue to dodge the crucial question: Did one of the persons of the Trinity, who shares the divine nature, actually become a participant in our space-time universe in the Incarnation? If your answer is "Yes" then we can go on to deal with the questions you pose and at some point may have to throw up our hands and say "I don't know." If your answer is "No" then I think we have a serious theological disagreement.

Received on Sat Sep 3 20:18:02 2005

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