I have become inspired once again to talk about my God. And so I am going to start an ongoing series of posts under the generic title, Who Is the Christian God? I intend on blog inking multiple posts, on an ongoing basis on getting at this question through a variety of modes; either through patristic theology, reformation theology, biblical theology, systematic theology, Christian dogmatic theology, and devotional/reflective theology. I am concerned that there are many Christians who claim to be trinitarians, but then who do not know what this really means. Or, many Christians follow a certain articulation of what it means to be a trinitarian Christian, but then don’t have the critical resource to appeal to, to check whether or not what they hold to be historic trinitarian theology actually is that. Obviously I will be writing from my own slant of what it means to be a Christian trinitarian thinker, and in the process of this ongoing (never ending) series of posts I will also be learning ever deeper what it means to truly follow a God who is three in one and one in three.
Like I noted in the opening of this post, I am concerned that there is much confusion amongst Christians about what it is that they mean when they say that they affirm the Trinitarian faith of Christianity. So my intended audience through these reflections will not primarily be the specialist, but instead it will be the motivated Christian who would be a so called non-specialist (primarily). This is not to say that what I will be presenting won’t be deep, somewhat technical (at points), and varied. It does mean though that even when some of the material ends up being technical, I will attempt to explain it in a way that is accessible and clear for the “untrained” Christian. I want this series of posts to invoke what any good theology out to; that is, I want this discussion to foster doxology and worship of our true and living God who is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Indeed, this is really what is motivating me to spend time in this area; I feel most passionate about a doctrine of God, about Christology, and then soteriology. I love to think about the depths of my God, and I want to promote this kind of passion for the body of Christ through offering these reflections.
I am just starting a newer book (released in 2011) by Greek Orthodox theologian, Khaled Anatolios, who is Professor of Theology at Boston College. So plan on hearing from him in the days to come. Let me offer a nice quote towards answering the question of this series of posts—Who Is the Christian God?—by Brian Daley (Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame); this quote about God from him comes from his forward to Anatolios book:
[T]he events of Easter and Pentecost … are for New Testament Christianity the beginning of a new depth of human awareness of God’s transcendent, ineffable reality and nearness, working in history to save us from self-destruction. More important, this astonishing revelation is the reason Christians affirm that these three distinct ways our forebears have had of conceiving God’s working are—taken together—a revelation of what God is. God is the invisible presence in the burning bush and on the top of Sinai, the one who guided Israel throughout its history, whom Jesus spoke to as his Father; God is the rabbi from Nazareth who proclaimed the kingdom, who was crucified and then raised from the dead, whom the disciples recognized as “Lord”; God is the sudden, irresistibly, powerful Holy Spirit of Pentecost and of the continuing life of the church, the interior “advocate” sent by Jesus from the Father (John 15:26) to bear witness to him and to guide his followers “into all truth” (John 16:13). For Christians, all three of these figures and voices in the history of revelation remain distinct—related intimately to one another, working along with one another, but not simply the same as one another—yet all, taken together, are what Christians mean by “God.” And salvation for the Christian is nothing less than to be caught up into this manifold divine mystery, this unified yet textured and endlessly reciprocal life of God. It is to be moved by the Spirit to call Jesus “Lord,” to be Jesus’s disciple, to be made part of Jesus’s ecclesial body, and so to walk with him on his way to the Father in obedience and in hope. It is to be identified by the Spirit, through trinitarian baptism, with Jesus Christ; to become “sons and daughters in the Son,” children of the Father with Jesus; and so to be embraced within the life of God. [Brian E. Daley in, Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine, Khaled Anatolios, xi]
I find Daley’s reflection provides a wonderful description of what it is that we are after as trinitarian Christians; and I mean when we attempt to think about the God whose life we have been ingrafted into in and through the humanity of Christ for us. We participate in this life of God by the free of adoption of grace bestowed upon us by the love of God in Christ by the recreative/’resurrective’ power of the Holy Spirit. It is this kind of life of love that I want my brothers and sisters to appreciate. I can’t think of a better thing to contemplate than God. As Daley summarizes Anatolios book, “… The subject, after all, as Gregory of Nazianzus reminds us, is nothing less than God.” (p. xiv)
My hope is that this topic of consideration will provide a deeper appreciation and understanding towards answering the foreboding question of ‘Who is the Christian God?’