An extra from Book by Book's "Job" studies.
Here Paul Blackham interviews me about 321 - a gospel outline. We discuss the necessity of Trinity (THREE), Adam and Christ (TWO) and Union with Christ (ONE) for our evangelism and why the local church is crucial for our mission to the world.
From 00:00 - 21:29 we talk about THREE
From 21:30 - 37:54 we talk about TWO
From 37:55 - 1:01:00 we talk about ONE and our evangelistic methods
And here's a bit of fun from the "Job" studies:
7 thoughts on “In Conversation with Paul Blackham about 321”
In the definition of "3 persons united in love", how are you defining 'person'? How would you articulate against a complaint/question: "so you worship 3 gods?" I'm wondering if there's a way to talk about persons to describe the biblical witness. Or would you go to the language of three persons/one being?
Despite the bad analogies, I've found some helpful; such as the sun (disk,beam,heat) and mind (will, intellect, memory)
Certainly when we speak of THREE-ness we must be talking about something different to what we're talking about with God's ONE-ness. One God, Three Persons. The one-ness of the Three is an eternal, unbreakable and mutually-defining unity of being - but not a mathematical one-ness or else the gospel makes no sense. If someone asks if I worship 3 gods I say "No, because none of the Three can be considered by themselves like that. The Father simply cannot be without His Son or He ceases to be who He is (and vice versa). The Three do not have three lives, but one life - an indissoluble life of mutual inter-penetration."
Defining "Person" in the West since Augustine has seemed to me to be about saying: "Whatever describes God's Three-ness - that is what we mean by Person" (I remember Calvin saying something very similar to that). The Cappodocians seemed to be more comfortable defining Person as something like 'centre of personal consciousness'. I think I'm comfortable with that fuller definition, in addition to the western one (which doesn't end up being much of a definition).
The Cappadocian definition still defines 'person' with 'personal'(!) and doesn't shed anymore light.
Person and being are interlinked terms with equall murky understanding. Is someone a person by self-reference? But a person is also in relation to others, whether other persons or non-persons (which also majorly assists in referencing). And then what of temporality in our persons, and development/evolution/growth/unveiing? Is it a static category, or is its 'staticity' in its flux? Isn't that Heidegger in his talk of being in becoming? Thus, person in personalism? Maybe it doesn't link up.
Anyway, what if God's persons are other referencing in His totalizing self-reference. Since He is eternal, the Holy Other, the temporality of change and outside that defines us creaturely persons has no reference. The depth of His person is only 'I AM', which was, is, and will be in Father, Son, Spirit, which our words and realities are copies of the eternal one.
Maybe Augustine had the right idea. When one looks inward to 'see' one's person, it's a black-hole. Letting a little mystery stand might be all we can do.
My 2 pence,
I'm not wondering this out of arm-chaired, speculative philosophy. When/if I encounter questions of persons in talking about God as Trinity, I want to be able to have a conversation. Maybe the best we can do, as Augustine might, is turn the question on itself:
"Are you a person? Yes? What does that mean? If you can't define it for yourself, a creature, how could you expect anything close to a definition for the Creator?"
I think if I was teaching people from scratch I might start somewhere like John 10:30 & 17:22 (a particularly eastern move I suppose). Whatever the one-ness of God is - it's the unity of being between the Son and the Father in the Spirit. What does that look like? Well a poor approximation (certainly in practice), but still a true approximation, is brothers and sisters united in love by the Spirit. One church, multiple persons.
Of course the analogy breaks down because we (think we) can exist by ourselves apart from church. Our personal identity is not completely caught up in our interdependence - but the Father, Son and Spirit have no existence apart from mutual in-dwelling. That life of indivisible, mutually-constituting in-dwelling is the single life of God. But it's a life of three interdependent personalities.
So a definition of a person... an other-centred "I" who finds their identity in losing it to/in another.
A definition of God's one "being" might be.... God's indivisible life of mutual self-giving.
Both definitions put love at the heart.
My two pence :)
I have no pence to offer ;) but really enjoyed watching this today. Thank you!
Thanks Susie, glad you enjoyed it. We enjoyed making it :)