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10 thoughts on “Happy Friday

  1. Chimaobi - a cushite for Christ

    Hi Glen,
    As you walk through those gold-coated streets, pausing beside the Tree of life and admiring the sparkling living water flowing from the Throne of the lamb, watch out – a bronze-colored saint in shining white apparel will come swooping in for a BIG hug. A big thank you hug is the least I owe you for reinforcing my conviction that ‘obsession’ with the LORD Jesus Christ is the goal and harvest of the Christian life.
    I stumbled on your site sometime last year while doing some study. And the series ‘Christ in the OT’ did something to me that only a Christ-lover will begin to appreciate and remains an all-time classic that I have shared with family and friends.
    Your Trinitarian instincts and clarity are only matched by the late R.B Thieme and my pastor here in Lagos Nigeria. But I have noticed something I wish to sound you of on. And that is the reluctance of Trinitarians in using the tripartite nature of man as an analogy for the trinity – Body, Soul and Spirit.
    You have developed the theme of marriage as a very useful analogy for the oneness of God but I wonder if the bible stresses that analogy more for the oneness of Christ and His Church than any other doctrinal category.
    It is often said that man is a spirit with a soul and lives in a body. This suggests that the spirit is the real man while the other parts are mostly vehicles through which he interacts with the physical world. But the bible states – ‘for DUST you are’, ‘or that he also is flesh’, ‘that soul shall be cut off from his people’ ‘and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.’ ‘the God of the spirits of all flesh’. These verses and much more reveal that these ‘parts’ of man (or persons in man) can be spoken of in the first person, second person and third person – as the real man and also a possession of the man. The man is flesh that has a spirit, he is a spirit residing in a body, he is soul with a body and can be severed from the spirit by the double-edged word of God etc.
    Therefore, I can say that Man is Spirit, He is Soul and He is Body. He is body with a soul and spirit. He is soul with a body and spirit. He is spirit with a soul and body. The spirit being the life/power-source, the soul as decision-maker and the body as exclusive and visible interface with the rest of ‘creation’.
    Does this not ring a bell? If man is made in the image and likeness of God, that means he, as an individual, is a ‘limited edition’, microcosmic version of God. The Father as the Soul of God, the Spirit as the Spirit of God and Christ as the Body of God. And while the Persons in God are Self-conscious beings in and of themselves, man’s persons are not often clearly distinct to him (at least in his fallen state) except in extreme cases like near-death experiences, occult practices etc.
    Is that why Adam is first created in the image, while the woman comes later to emphasize his role as the prototype of the Son with His bride? Could it be that community harmony is an extension of personal harmony between spirit, soul and body? Is Christ pulling the Church into a oneness with Him that is similar but yet very distinct from what He shares with the Father and Spirit? Just like Adam must have extended his inner conversations to his new bride, affirming that he was alone but not lonely?

    I believe that sin severed the internal harmony of spirit, soul and body. A harmony that Christ restores by the regeneration of the spirit of man, transformation of his soul and the resurrection of his body consummating salvation.
    What thinkest thou, my brother?

  2. Glen

    Hello Chimaobi, great to meet you. Thanks for such a deep question, let me give a quick sketch of my thoughts in response.

    I don't think marriage is the primary or best analogy for the trinity - it's just that "one flesh" is a good instance of the kind of *compound* oneness which the bible means when it says "one."

    Certainly in 1 Corinthians 2, Paul speaks of the Spirit of God as like the spirit within a man (who knows his thoughts for him). There is therefore definitely warrant for an analogy with our tripartite personality. I also am persuaded of the tripartite (rather than bipartite) account of our personhood... But I tend to think of our tripartite personhood as a reflection of our triune Creator rather than an analogy of the trinity. This is for the simple reason that if I press the analogy to any great extent I end up with one Person only. But the gospel depends on Christ - body, soul and spirit - offered up to the Father in our place. The one Person of Christ - with *His* will - submits to another Person of the Father - with *His* will - Matthew 26:39. There are distinct centres of personal consciousness in the trinity and we need to hold onto that.

    For that reason I affirm our tripartite nature, I affirm that this is one more aspect of our creation that reflects our triune Creator but I don't press it as an analogy.

    Hope that makes some sense. Once again, glad to meet you Chimaobi and hope we can interact some more.

    God bless,

    Glen

  3. Chimaobi - a cushite for Christ

    Hello Glen,
    I took some time to read through your thoughts on this over the weekend and decided to highlight the following points. I believe that creation is fundamentally a narrative God tells about Himself. He created beings, apart from the Trinity, so as to share His Joy or Happiness. But we cannot share His joy if we do not share His nature and we cannot partake of His nature if we do not know Him. Therefore, He encodes His story in creation, redemption and history so that as we decode and see Him, we become like Him and share His joy, which is the apogee of our fellowship with Him.
    Using this model, we can see the creation of man as a story of the Trinity in ’their’ ROLES. The Spirit of God as the Repository of information and power (knowledge is power???). Little wonder, the seven-fold description of the Spirit in Isaiah 11 mostly refers to wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel and might. When Jesus speaks of the Spirit, He refers to Him as a Teacher and Enduing Power. Paul says He searches things out, knows the things of God and raised Jesus from the dead. Correspondingly, man’s spirit is said to be a candle of the LORD, searching his inward parts. The spirit is said to search and know the things of the man, inspires him, gives him understanding and energizes him.
    The Father, on the other hand, seems most associated with the ‘emotions’ and ‘conscience’ of the Godhead. He is often pictured as detached due to sin, angry at the sons of men when they conspire against Him and His anointed King, in need of propitiation (which necessitated the cross) and lover of the Son and of men, for which He sent His only Son to make men sons. He also tends to be portrayed as the decision-making reference point for the Son and Spirit. Likewise, the soul of man is the seat of his passions and decision-making. Love, anger, peace and satisfaction all are experienced in the soul of man.
    Finally, the Son. He is the Executer, the Doer, the Maker, the Messenger, the Deliverer – He gets things done. When the Father wills something and the Spirit supplies counsel and might, the Son executes perfectly. So perfectly, the Father is super-pleased with Him. The Son also is the only contact point the Father and Spirit have with creation and vice versa. This is why God is unknowable apart from the Son. He is the EMBODIMENT of the Godhead even before His Incarnation.
    The body of man is the doer of the desires of the soul and spirit and is also the only interface the soul and spirit have with the rest of creation.
    With this view of our creation as God’s narrative of Himself, I do believe that when stretched as an analogy of the Trinity, we arrive not at ONE PERSON, but 3 PERSONS, 3 ROLES BUT ONE GOD.
    I’d love your thoughts on this.

  4. Glen

    Hi Chimaobi, those are rich reflections on the trinitarian character of all existence. I'd still just maintain that *Persons* are, irreducibly, centres of personal consciousness. Therefore the threeness of God is not just in their 3 roles but in three distinct minds/wills. So, as long as you're willing to maintain threeness at that level I have no great objection to your observations. But again, I wouldn't choose to use it as one of the primary analogies of the trinity just because, to the uninitiated, it looks like one Person with only one mind/will.

    Blessings in Jesus

  5. Chimaobi - a Cushite for Christ

    Hello Glen,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Just to be sure – the threeness of God - Father, Son and Spirit – as distinct centres of personal consciousness with individual wills/minds is an ABSOLUTE truth I hold very dearly. The ‘role’ narrative is basically a teaching aid I have used for a while now and it has worked fine so far. I serve Jesus in business, as an analyst in the telecoms sector, and analogies like the Board of Directors with the Chairman, Chief Executive and CFO/CIO have also served as useful teaching aids for God.

    The role approach did it for me when it enabled me deal with the unusually repetitive use of the noun ‘God’ in Genesis 1 (KJV), even when the pronoun would have sufficed e.g.  Gen 1:4 and 1:6 -7 etc. It now seems to me that while one Person expresses a desired outcome e.g. ‘Let there be’, another Person executes e.g. ‘and God made/divided/created’ - making creation the product of a ‘Committee’ working perfectly together – ‘Let Us make man’.

    As a KJV lover, please look closely into Gen 1 through this prism and let me know your thoughts.

    Glen, have you noticed the KJV records Steven’s account in the book of Acts as if he was somewhat ignorant of the identity of the ‘Angel’ in the OT? For example, Acts 7:30. Worried me a bit. What do you think?

  6. Glen

    Hi Chimaobi, thanks for clarification on God's threeness. Good!

    As for Acts 7, I think Stephen is just following the development that we see in Exodus 3. In Exodus 3 it's a strange sight, a non-burning bush, it's the Angel (who Moses hasn't met before), who, once He speaks is identified as LORD and God of Abraham, and eventually named as "I AM". Quite often you get that intensification of the identification of the Angel (see Genesis 16 or Zechariah 2). I just think Stephen is following that convention (and trying not to get stoned too early!)

  7. Chimaobi - a Cushite for Christ

    Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.

    Do you think the Holy Spirit featured as ‘The Angel’, at any time in the OT? The statement in Exodus 23:20 – 23 tends to align with Jesus’ description of the Spirit in Mark 3:28 – 29. Also considering that the redemption processes in both the NT and OT seem similar. That is, the LORD hears the cry of His people and sends the Sent-LORD i.e. ‘the Angel of the LORD’, who executes deliverance for the people and brings them to the Sender-LORD. The Sender-LORD then sends (another???) Sent-LORD to lead the people to the Promised Land. This (other???) Sent-LORD is said not to forgive transgressions especially when it is such that distorts, through unbelief, His testimony of the Risen Christ (Numbers 20:7 – 13).

    e.t.c.

    I’ll really appreciate your thoughts on this.

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