The Word of God, Jesus Christ, is the vantage point from which the Church views itself, the world, and God. Christ is the revelation of God that is transparent to the truth of God’s being in eternity and to the truth of human beings in history (John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20). If we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father (Jn. 14:9), and if we have believe that the Son is indeed God’s Son, then we are “given the right to be called children of God” (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18; Heb. 1:6; 2:11). Thus, the Gospel claims that human beings participate in the divine life in Christ. This becomes transparent to us only by means of the Holy Spirit, who makes divine perception a human possibility, for he is the divine Subject, the Spirit of Truth, who reveals Christ interior to human subjects (1 Cor. 2:6-16). It was indeed better for us that Jesus should go and send the Helper (Jn. 16:7), for creation is not in its essential form apart from our sharing, however limited, in the intersubjective life of God: “…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (Jn. 14:15-6).
Thus, the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is “I AM who I AM” from all eternity (Exod. 3:14), stands at the center of every “I think, therefore I am” in history as the “Word made flesh” (Jn. 1:14). Indeed, I AM, therefore I think is the more appropriate formula for Christian thought and speech. Absolute Being relativizes all contingent beings, and to the degree we can speak of the revealed form of Being as such, which is precisely what Christian proclamation presupposes, we must speak of Jesus Christ as the particular historical truth who is the absolute and eternal truth for humankind.
Christ is the Light that is come to me without ceasing to remain above, the union of the eternal Subject and created subjects without either losing their proper names; he is God’s gift to me and my gift to God (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 8:1-4). Christ is in us, but Christ is not us; we are in Christ, but we are not Christ. Human life in Christ by the Spirit is nothing less than the subjective participation in the divine life as coheirs of salvation with Christ, the firstborn of creation (Col. 1:15) and thus the firstborn of the dead (Col. 1:18). And thus from a well that is deeper to us than we are to ourselves and extending up into infinite heights, “We cry Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15). And he hears us—his children.
The Church thus abides in history according to its message heralded as the “eternal Gospel” (Rev. 14:6): (a) from the vantage point the divine Subject: “the mystery of [God’s] will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:9-10); (b) from the vantage point of the human subject: to “make known among the nations…the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the holy of glory” (Col. 1:27); (c) and thus the principle relation that can be described as the actuality of human participation in the divine life: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation of our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn. 4:7-12). The Gospel thus opens us up both to receive God’s life of love and to extend our lives in love. This is indeed the Alpha- and Omega point of creation, of salvation, of new creation–and thus necessarily too of our proclamation.
Give them Christ!
- In Christ we participate in the divine life through his “interior” (immanent) relations within the Godhead and his “exterior” (economic) relations within creation (cf. Jn. 17). And this is so precisely because the immanent Trinity is the economic Trinity and vise versa (Rahner, The Trinity, 22), which means we do not participate in a degraded form of his life, altered as it had to be in order to save us. Rather, since the essential life of God is love, the economic Trinity revealed in salvation history is simply divine love toward his creation–even when it had to sink its way down into death and back to effect love for us. [See my article on the Incarnation and the Trinity on Asbury’s Seedbed here.]