You may know that I (sporadically but vigourously!) bang the drum for Christ the eternal Mediator being the deliberately revealed, consciously known object of faith in the Old Testament. Here are some posts on the issue.
By way of some kind of response, here are ten propositions that circle around some of the issues. (Fabricius eat your heart out).
For those yawning right now, hold on for some grand hilarity next week – I’m on holidays and will post only frivolity. For those fixing to flex their theological muscles, remember to play nice.
1. Revelation in Christ is revelation in the distinct Person of the Divine Mediator
I once attended a funeral taken by an Anglo-Catholic who I was shadowing for the week. She preached that since God is love and love is God then the deceased (who’d never had any interest in Jesus) was certainly now in the embrace of God because he had been a person of love. I questioned her about this and drew her attention to the words of the funeral service that included John 14:6: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except by me.’
I asked her how she understood this statement. She smiled and said ‘Ah yes, but who is saying these words.’ I said ‘Jesus.’ ‘Yes, but who is He really?’ ‘The Christ the Son of God?’ I proffered. ‘He’s Love Incarnate’ she said, ‘So really He’s saying love is the way to the Father.’
Did Jesus really mean to say ‘Love is the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except through love’? No. The concrete Person of Jesus – God’s eternal Priest, His Son and King – He is the One in Whom the Father is known. The Way to the Father is not a concept or an attribute or a moral quality. The Way to the Father is a Person – the concrete Person of Christ, the Son of God. There is no way to the Father apart from Him.
The particular person-hood of the Mediator is not a dispensible aspect of mediation. Nowhere is mediation taught as an anonymous dynamic in Scripture. If there is any ‘unknown’ factor in mediation it is surely the One who is mediated. The unseen Father is the unknown – not His Son. His Son is the known intermediary… who then introduces us to the unknown Father.
This is what John has taught us
“No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” (John 1:18)
This statement explicitly holds for all ages. And in all ages it is the unseen God – the Father, as the verse stipulates – who is unknown. And yet any Jew reading this will protest that God has been seen many times in Scripture. The verse explains – the One at the Father’s side has made Him known. From the beginning Christ has been the image of the invisible God.
The Only Begotten God has always revealed the unseen Father. Anyone who has claimed to see God in the OT must have actually seen the Only Begotten God – Christ, who makes the Father known. And this is the consistent teaching of the Gospel. Moses spoke of Christ (John 5:39ff). Abraham met Christ (8:56-58). Isaiah saw Christ (12:40-41). It has always been the concrete Person of the Son who has encountered believers and mediated all business with the Father.
It is simply not true that “God is personal and he can manifest himself however he likes.” He is only manifest in Christ – no-one comes to the Father any other way.
At this point Pete would like to make a distinction:
The Father is never known outside of the Son, as the Son is subjectively known by the Spirit. So in the Old Testament believers know the Father, because the Son is making him known, and this can only be believed by faith as the Spirit works in the hearts of Old Testament saints. Let’s call this (A).
However – I simply do not think that that economy of God is clearly revealed in the Old Testament. It is partially revealed in types and shadows, but more fully and perfectly revealed in the New Testament. Let’s call this (B).
Later on he says something similar. Here he quotes a sentence of mine and then comments on it:
“But if you grant that revelation is in Christ, then for that statement to have any meaning Christ has to be a distinct Person in the Godhead”. I don’t think an Old Testament believer needs to understand that. Of course it’s ontologically true though. That’s the difference between us in many ways, I think… I’m trying to affirm some of the same ontological truths that you are, but acknowledge that I don’t fully understand the ontological until the NT.
Now I assume that Pete would not want to assert that, post-incarnation, revelation happens outside a distinct knowledge of the Son. Why then, when verses like John 1:18 explicitly refer to christo-centric revelation in the OT does he assume that actual knowledge of Christ is dispensible. It is essentially the ‘anonymous Christian’ position applied to the OT. (God must be known in Christ but people don’t need to know they know God in Christ).
This is simply not the way that christocentric mediation is taught anywhere in the bible. It’s not the way that any mediation is described. It makes the actual knowledge of the Mediator superfluous when the whole point of mediation is that He is essential. And not just essential from God’s perspective. The problem is not that God has trouble getting His point across and requires an intermediary from His view of things. The problem is that we are ignorant, God-hating rebels. We need the Mediator, just as much epistemologically as salvifically. We need an actual intermediary to lay hold of who will bring us to God. Our subjective need for grasping this economy is as vital pre-incarnation as it is post.