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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Glory of God II: The grammar of glorifying

An idea arose, in thinking about the Spirit in relation to glory. It is tempting to isolate the Holy Spirit in the process of glorifying God, but the classical Christian tradition of theology holds that the actions of God ad extra (e.g. God's actions in the world) are indivisible: so the work of God to redeem humanity is the act of the Trinity, not, say, the Son. So it seems that it might be unwise to relate the Spirit solely with glory/glorifying.

(While God's actions ad extra are properly the action of God, nevertheless, within the Trinity the Persons act in certain characteristic ways. These ways might be appropriated in human language to God's action in the world, so that we might talk about, say, the Spirit as acting in a certain characteristic way, even though, properly speaking, the work is not the work of the Spirit in isolation from Father and Son, but rather the actions of the entire Trinity.)

So maybe instead of appropriating glory and glorifying to the Spirit alone, what is needed is an economy of glory within the Godhead, such that each of the Persons has a distinctive role, which might then be appropriated to certain acts of God ad extra. So the question then is, what are the distinctive roles/ characteristic actions of each of the Persons?

I wonder if these roles/actions might be characterised by (say) grammatical cases, or at least with distinctive prepositions: TO God the Father, THROUGH God the Son, IN God the Spirit, as a sense of what the human task of glorifying does. (Analysis of, say, doxological statements in Scripture and prayers might support, qualify or expand this.) Perhaps the Father is in the accusative, the Son in the dative (means), and the Spirit in the genitive -- which is entirely an act of humiliation (in a good, loving, kenotic sense) on God's part, for it allows us to assume the role of the nominative: I praise God the Father through God the Son in God the Holy Spirit. The question then stands, if this is the human process of glorifying God, what is the complementary economy of glory in God? (That is, how might we characterise that total and encompassing glory which is proper to God, and to which human glorification responds, magnifies, and publishes abroad?) The two must be related, at least in part, because God's stooping to us to redeem and restore us, and allowing us to participate in the economy of glorifying God is itself a large part of the shape of God's glory.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Gaunilo said...

Fascinating thought. I think the question of a 'grammar of glorifying' if an excellent means to address the question (not to mention an interesting way to deal with the question of 'method' we've been talking about).

Hopefully I'll have a chance to comment further a little later (I'm packing for a conference), but one quick comment: what is the work of glorification were part of the mission of the Spirit proper? Although all the works of the Godhead are ad extra, with regard to the missions of the Son and Spirit we speak of their work in a special manner - beyond simply the category of appropriation.

I'm pondering the implications of the last paragraph - the humiliation of God in accepting our glorification. Now that's interesting...

Friday, March 31, 2006 1:19:00 AM  

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