Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Trinity, Part II - The Eternity of Christ

So much of yesterday's reading dealt with the benefits of certain words not found in Scripture which help relate Biblical concepts about God.  The opening section today deals with the limitations of those terms.  Calvin wishes that we could get by without these words which have stirred some controversy.  In fact, he even states that we should not take to task "those who do not wish to swear by the words conceived by us, provided they are not doing it out of either arrogance or frowardness or malicious craft."

Calvin discussed further the terms "Persons," "essence," and "substance" among others.  His big point in this section is that "the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all one God, yet the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but they are differentiated by a peculiar quality."  He mentions Tertullian's writings concerning the economy in the Trinity.  This refers to the differing roles within the Godhead, although each Person in the Godhead is active in the acts carried out by the other members of the Godhead.  For instance, we know that God the Father created the world.  But, we also know that Christ was an active participant in the creation of the world and so was the Spirit.  Yes, Christ is the Redeemer, but the Father and the Spirit also take part in redemption.

Calvin moves onto a large section within this chapter concerning the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Today's reading only covered the beginning of the deity of Christ.  Christ has been around since before the beginning of time.  John states that so beautifully and familiarly in the beginning of his gospel.  The writer of Hebrews also makes mention that the Son was a participant in the creation of the world (Heb 1:2).  Peter also mentions that the Spirit of Christ was active in the prophecies of the ancient prophets (I Peter 1:10-11). Christ is eternal with the Father, not just eternity to come but also eternity past.  Calvin writes about John chapter 1, "Therefore we again state that the Word, conceived beyond the beginning of time by God, has perpetually resided with him.  By this, his eternity, his true essence, and his divinity are proved."

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