Friday, 17 October 2014

Time-locked language (Part 2)








b. From doctrinal to Scriptural usage: a leap of faith

The Holy Scriptures agree about the time-rootedness of these words. Even in the closest we get to anything like a present tense, which I think might be Psalm 7:2 and its quotation (and validation?!) in Hebrews 1:5, we are still utterly time-bound. Today, yes, but: "I have begotten you". If that information is to be comprehended by a language-speaking educated human, then they are no longer at a conception stage or age, they are at an adoptive age. I am not saying that Jesus was adopted as Son of God here, in either a human way or even an ungraspable divine way, although some think this was one of the earliest christologies that may have existed (and by no means a bad thing either, check out Ehrman on the superiority in the Roman mind at least, of being adopted over a natural child). Whatever our later doctrinal take or attempt at expanding the past-tense of begotten - I just love the KJV's begat, I don't know why! - Scripturally we find ourselves more at home temporally and conceptually.

But if I am to nurture the concept of a big God, I need to get more comfortable with his surpassing my human limitations, right? Much is said and now written about "mystery" arguments of doctrine. What I retain is that to believe something you have to understand it and find it reasonable at least to some degree in order to believe in its truthfulness. Of course some of these "mysteries" are directly in the authoritative texts themselves (I am sure not all of those would seem mysterious to the original beneficiaries of the writings). But the greatest mysteries are not located there, they are unashamedly standing at the heart of the Nicean 4th Century Trinitarian declarations (i.e. not Tertullian, or other Logos theologians), the 5th Century's hypostatic union of Christ and perhaps finally in the two-willed Christ dyothelite (culminating as Holmes wholeheartedly reaffirms, in agreement of it not being the son of God praying in Gethsemane, for there is but one divine will).

So why does the doctrinal language attempt this language-leap? Why not just come up with their own jargon?
Well they do come up with a lot of jargon actually, as some of the previous paragraph should show. But not all. The leap in tense of beget, which is a scriptural word, is to do with this development of son of god to God the Son, son of God the Father (Nicea), while hanging on to the authority of scripture's key idea of begetting - although I might one day have more experience to debate the successfulness of that "hanging on" (not yet). Begetting usually means causing, and is at least close in meaning. But it is very difficult to hold out that both Jesus is eternal and that in the past at some point he was caused, was begotten, etc., even if that is what the Bible says (another less-known one, although this is more anecdotal really, is that Jesus is always said to have loved us, i.e. love through action at the cross). The way around this of course is to choose a "more suitable" tense that connects us better - although in good and right recognition of God's ineffability, not perfectly - to the deeper connections within the "Godhead" that unlock us slightly from time. Assumption: the Scriptures are perfect, holy, infallible but a bit too time-locked.

A trinitarian conclusion: perhaps we can humanly make progress to comprehending a triune God's timeless begetting, being begotten, sending and proceeding, when we think in terms of non-specific effect. So in this line of thinking, we might just possibly be able to conceive of the effect of fathership and sonship... (and spiritship!) to be mutually, permanently and effectively caused. "Sustained" still seems closer to me, though.

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