Father, Son, & Spirit are the almighty God, having the identical divine power & authority over creation. If you take a formal relational structure of power & authority & import it into the life of God, using it to distinguish between Father & Son, you are going to have problems.
The error is especially tempting if you start w/a theology of what sonship is in general in the Bible, and then claim it must apply to the unique Son. Sons are younger than dad, have moms, start out smol, obey, etc. None of these characterize the unique Son.
What does characterize that Son, showing him to be eternal Son of eternal Father, is his generation or begottenness from the Father. He is coequal, coeternal, & coessential, but he is Son: of, from, in a relation of eternal origin. That's the key point of the revelation of "Son."
It's important to come to see this for yourself in Scripture. Until you do, you'll keep foraging for another way to tell Father & Son apart. You'll forage in the great events of salvation history, but you'll fail, & risk making God's being & identity depend on these actions.
The gospels are gloriously vivid in describing the Father-Son relation. They should be read as the payoff of the story that starts w/Genesis (one creator) & Exodus (I am that I am). Father, Son, & Spirit aren't a group of divine people, 1 of whom commands & 2 of whom obey.
What we see in the incarnation is the coeternal/ coequal/ coessential 2nd person of the Trinity, in the form of a servant. He eternally stands w/the Father on God's side of all authority, & w/us on the creaturely side.
To take the obedience on the creaturely side & claim that it characterizes the 2nd person as such (either giving his sonship its meaningful form, or, worse, constituting the sonship distinction altogether) is to get hold of revelation from the wrong end, & read it confusingly.
You can slot all of this (3 people of the Trinity, 1 of whom eternally commands & 2 of whom are by nature obedient to that other one's will) into a traditional structure of trinitarian theology, borrowed from the creeds, & stay on team Trinity. But it's a peculiar interpretation.
It meshes poorly w/biblical monotheism, & poses a complication in understanding the Bible's main character. The question inevitably arises: why is it like this? The answer is, so we can imitate it. But that reverses the polarity that started with importing obedience into God.
Obvs much more could be tweeted about any of this, & my suggestions for further reading would be "almost anything old." I just wanted to make the brief case in public for folks again. Not trying to re-litigate 2016. Trying to re-litigate the whole Bible & Christian tradition.
[ah, in this one I should have distinguished more clearly between the Son's eternal authority w/the Father and the temporal obedience which he then assumes w/the human nature.]

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More from @FredFredSanders

12 Nov
Question for Reformation scholars. Calvin has a celebrated passage about union with Christ in which (without saying so) he anatomizes the Apostles' Creed and explains how each thing it says of Christ is a source of saving power to us. Here's the 1559 version (II:16.19):
Well, Bullinger makes the same exact move in Decades I:8, a sermon on the creed. He ends that sermon by gathering up and focusing on salvation in Christ, taking up each phrase (Jesus, Christ, Lord, born, etc.) It tracks very close to Calvin & the creed.
My question is, who got it from whom? Here's the hard part (I think): Calvin doesn't yet do it in the 1536 Institutes. He's already got he hook where it should go, but doesn't hang the creedal sequence on it. So it may be a question of versions & revisions.
Read 5 tweets
27 Oct
This is a fantastic Douglass speech, reported from Scotland, 1846. Facing the argument that American slaves "were favoured with religious instruction," Douglass performed "a sketch of a sermon which he had often heard preached." (Bottom half of page) glc.yale.edu/free-church-sc…
His strategy is to take apart the pro-slaver's appeal to Scripture via "mimic solemnity." It's a risky strategy (reverse minstrelsy + tropes useful to infidels), but he has to force a wedge between the Bible & its mis-use. The stenographer records [laughter] over a dozen times.
I would love to have a recording of FD's delivery of lines like "Think of the feelings of that pious master. Oh! it was a trying situation for a servant of the Lord to be placed in." The whole Sam story is a roller coaster ride dependent on lively audience response.
Read 5 tweets
27 Oct
My teaching rotation has me spending the next 2 days in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (by Himself!) w/our juniors. (If I'm on Twitter at all during this heavy teaching phase of the week, tweets'll skew in that direction. A rich text!)
My notes tell me the the first session I taught on this book in @TorreyHonors was in Feb 2000. Those students are now in their 40s.
Our program has very gradually built on that Douglass reading, and we now cover four texts from the African American tradition. I describe briefly how the 4 texts fit with each other & with our broader project here: scriptoriumdaily.com/four-great-afr…
Read 5 tweets
26 Oct
Athanasius Contra Gentes 46: Christ is not Wisdom & Word by participating in those things (as creatures do); rather, "he is the very Wisdom, very Word, and very own Power of the Father, very Light, very Truth, very Righteousness, very Virtue," etc.
All these "very" constructions are a string of auto-compounds in Greek: autosophia, autologos, autodunamis [idia tou Patros estin], autophos, autoaletheia, autodikaiosune, autoarete. It's like
Latin 'ipse,' and you could translate it "itself." Coolness rating: 100.
Origen did something very similar, even calling Christ the very kingdom, autobasileia (see his comm. on Matt 18). It's a way of talking that likely derives from neoplatonism (Plotinus wrote about autohenosis), but the string of auto-compounds is fully at home in christology.
Read 5 tweets
8 Oct
Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae mindmap as tree. From Rijksmuseum, 16th c print Image
It's a very ambitious print, y'all! Here's a look at the bottom left: Image
More detail: Image
Read 5 tweets
29 Sep
I recently gave some brief answers to a few questions from a seminary student who was assigned to teach on the Trinity based on the essay printed as chapter 2 in Fountain of Salvation. Here's a threadthreadthread .com of some of the answers. eerdmans.com/Products/7810/…
The doctrine of the Trinity is a vast & comprehensive doctrine, so it makes sense to place it very early in any course of Christian instruction. Things like Christology & pneumatology can then drop into their proper places. In education jargon, Trinity is an advance organizer.
Teaching on the Trinity should begin with the two visible missions of the Son & the Holy Spirit, which are historical events to which the Old Testament looks forward prophetically, and to which the New Testament looks back interpretively. Start w/this clarity & move outward.
Read 16 tweets

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