Monday, September 18, 2006

embracing grace 3: the story of the Eikon

Scot McKnight now helps us see the importance of looking at God to understand who we, as human beings, are. We are not Eikons of creation, but Eikons of God himself.

Before getting there, it should be noted that humans have a sense that something is amiss, something is terribly wrong. In that is a realism of life, but with it a sense of something far better. Leo Tolstoy was a clear example of this. What the issue is here is our eikonic status. What does it mean to be Eikons of God?

Who is God? What is at the heart of who he really is? Jonathan Edwards, considered America's greatest theologian, saw God in terms of intratrinitarian love. And a love that desired to share itself and pulsate throughout all God's creation.

In the thought of earlier theology, from Gregory of Nyssa based on the gospel of John, God is all about perichoresis. This is the teaching of Jesus, that he is in the Father, and the Father is in him. Speaking of the Trinity, it is about the interpenetrative movement and relationship of mutually indwelling love- of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And God created humans as his eikons, to share in this communion, through union with him.

This leads Scot to make a modification to his earlier definition of the gospel:
the gospel is the work of the triune, interpersonal God to restore Eikons to God and others into that divine communion, and to unleash it into the rest of the world.
What do we see in our world that reminds us of this perichoresis? What is at the heart of our existence and purpose? What is the antithesis of this, experienced by humankind at the Fall (Genesis 3)? What does God's restoration of us look like now? And what will it look like when God is "all in all" (1 Corinthians 15; also Revelation 21, 22; note Scot's reference to Dante's Divine Comedy)? Heavy theological questions. We do need to boil these down to where we live, as well as where all of us eikons live, throughout the earth.


Allan R. Bevere said...


I was having a conversation with a fellow pastor a couple of years ago. The discussion for some reason turned to the Trinity. He said that he never understood how such an abstract doctrine could make sense in the life of the church; that he was baffled by all the talk of the inner-life of the Trinity being a model for the inner-life of the church.

When more pastors understand the significance of the Trinity for our ecclesiology, more of our parishioners will too.

Thanks for the post.

Ted Gossard said...

You are so right. Pastors and teachers need to get hold of this. And I have to say, I'm working on it.

Bob Robinson said...

Allan and Ted,

Wow, have you got that right!

I plan on reading Stan Grenz's The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei in order to grasp this even better.

When the Jehovah's Witnesses come to my door, it is this doctrine of Trinity and perichoresis that breaks my heart for them the most. They have cut themselves off from the very essence and beauty of the gospel!

Ted Gossard said...


Yes. I so much enjoy it when they come. I let them talk. Then they have to let me talk. But I so much want to better communicate to them the beauty of the gospel, as you speak of here. And that book looks great. I certainly would benefit from reading it. Thanks.

(This reminds me, too, funny enough, of Brother Lawrence. He could surely not only articulate something of the beauty of this gospel, but was moving to its tune and rhythm in what alone, would be the mundane. I at least catch something of the sound of it, though I need better hearing- ha.)

Desert Pilgrim said...

I love this post. Relfects some of my own ponderings. I really believe being a reflection of the Trinity, and being brought into the communion that is within the Trinity is a vital key in the spiritual life. I think the Lord saying He now calls us friends relates to this in a very deep way too, being brought into the Divine Friendship.
Desert Pilgrim.

Ted Gossard said...

Desert Pilgrim,

Thanks so much for your thoughts here. This has depths, like the ocean, that are much rewarding, yet little known or appreciated. I'm working at it myself.