Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trinitarian Taxis and the Threefold Office of Christ.

From the book.  This is in a chapter introducing the work of Christ.  I describe how the threefold office is rooted in the taxis or order of the immanent Trinity.  Enjoy.

Operating from the perspective of taxis, we begin first with the Father (the fount of divinity) and the manifestation of this role in the office of king.  As the Son of the Father, the Logos inherits all that is the Father's in an eternal event of generation.  Christ's human nature asanhypostasis is incorporated into that eternal event of reception of the fullness of divine glory by the Logos.  The communication in time of the fullness of divine glory to the human nature (genus majestaticum) therefore must be properly understood as the humanity's participation in the eternal event of the Logos' reception of himself in the act of begetting.  As a result, the humanity of Jesus not only receives the fullness of divine glory, but the fullness of divine sovereignty in creation: "The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession" (Ps 2:7-8).[1] 

Just as the Father is the fount of divinity and all divine sovereignty, the kingly office is the fount of the priestly and prophetic.  Being free lord of all, the Son is thereby eternally capable of returning himself fully to the Father in the eternal procession of the Spirit.  Thiscorresponds to Christ's priestly office, wherein the man Jesus participates in the eternal act of procession by offering up his life, that is his "life breathe" (the biblical description of life given and received, see Gen 2:7) to the Father.  Luke describes Jesus’ priestly act on the cross in this manner: "Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last" (Lk 23:47, emphasis added).  Jesus is capable of returning all to the Father because he possesses all.  The giving up of Jesus' human spirit in the exercise of the priestly office cannot be separated from the eternal return of the Son's Spirit to the Father, because of the communication of actions within the hypostatic union (genus apotelesmaticum).  For this reason, his humanity’s return of its spirit to the Father is united to the Son’s eternal return of himself to the Father in the procession of the Holy Spirit. 

As we have seen, the Son's reception of all from the Father from eternity (kingly office) results in his freedom to return all to the Father (priestly office) through procession of the Spirit through the Son (ex Patre per Filium procedit).  In an identical fashion, as the eternal object of the Father's self-donation and love, the Son also received the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father from eternity.  In time, the expression of this is dual procession (filioque) is not only enacted in the Son's offering himself up the Father by way of his active and passive obedience through his assumed humanity, but also in the Father giving the Son the Spirit "without measure"(Jn 3:34).  In the Gospel histories, the visible manifestation of this occurs in his conception, his baptism, his revivification and his resurrection.  The Spirit is given by the Father to the Son because he is "well pleased" (Mk 1:11) first with the Son's active obedience, and later his passive obedience.  The fulfillment of this positive response to this self-offering of the Son in the form of the twofold obedience is his revivification and resurrection in the power of the Spirit (Rom 8:11, 1 Pt 3:18).  From this we can observe that the dual anointing of the Son's humanity with the "oil of gladness" (Psalm 45:7, i.e. the glory of the Son and the Spirit) is in fact a participation of the human nature in the eternal event of begetting and procession within the life of the Trinity. 

Hence, the content of the Spirit's reality is the mutual love and self-offering of the Father and the Son.  In time, this mutual love and self-offering, operates through the dynamic unfolding of the Son's active and passive righteousness.  Therefore, just as the taxis of the Spirit is the result of love of the Father and the Son in eternity, the prophetic office of Christ is the result of the Son's offering of himself to the Father through the human nature and the Father’s affirmation of it.  The content of Christ's prophetic ministry is dependent on his having won forgiveness through his priestly office, since his message is one of forgiveness and universal jubilee.  The Father approves of this proclamation, and therefore anoints and raises the Son, thereby validating his message.  By offering himself up, the Son receives the inheritance of the eternal testament which he shares with us through the ministry of the gospel made effect by the agency of the Spirit (Isa 61:1-3, Mt. 11:28, Rom 8:17, Rev. 5:1-10).[2]  In the narratives of the Gospels, it should be noted that the offering up of Christ’s life-breath to the Father (Lk 23:47) results in his “breathing” the promise of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit onto his disciples: “he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (Jn 20:22-3).

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