The Father’s Humility in Creation

In the last post we discussed the humility of God the Father before creation. Today we turn to his humility in the act of creation.

The Father’s Humility in Creation

We have established the perfect equality of the three persons. It is also important to touch on distinction within the Trinity, historically called taxis. Bruce Ware gives us some helpful categories for understanding distinctions in the Godhead.

“For Trinitarian doctrine, distinction of personhood is as necessary to maintain as unity or equality of essence is also to maintain….It is clear that two categories seem to encompass the heart of their distinctiveness: relationship and role. Each is distinct in relationship within the Godhead such that each is who he is in part defined by the distinctive relationship each has with the others. The very identity of the first person of the Trinity is seen in and through his relationship as the Father of the Son. Likewise the very identity of the second person of the Trinity is seen precisely through and not apart from his being the Son of the Father. That the Spirit is subject to both Father and Son seems, then, to make it clear that his relationship is as one under the authority of the Father and the Son. Relationship, then, is a central category for understanding what distinguishes the three persons from each other.”

Colin Gunton further discusses the Father’s relational authority over the Son and Spirit.

“The priority of the Father is not ontological but economic. Such talk of the divine economy has indeed implications for what we may say about the being of God eternally, and would seem to suggest a subordination of taxis—of ordering within the divine life—but not one of deity or regard. It is as truly divine to be the obedient self-giving Son as it is to be the Father who sends and the Spirit who renews and perfects. Only by virtue of the particularity and relatedness of all three is God God.”

We are now positioned to discuss God’s humility toward the Son and Spirit in creation. Scripture designates the Father as the one holding supreme authority. He is identified as the architect of creation. Yet, it is precisely in creation where we glimpse this King’s humility.

He empowers the Son to speak the divine fiat that brings all things into existence (Jn 1:3). He tasks the Spirit with the honor of enlivening creation through the spoken word of the Son (Gen 1:2, Ps 33:6). The Father shared the glory of bringing all things into existence. He did not keep this to himself. In the New Testament the Father gladly takes the back seat along with the Spirit as they spotlight the Son as the Creator (Jn 1:3, 1 Cor 8:6, Col 1:16-17, Heb 1:2).

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2 comments

  1. I’m beginning to wonder if ‘perfect equality of essence’ in conjunction with ‘distinction of personhood’ is a paradox that isn’t explainable. Is this akin to a man being body, soul (mind, will and emotions), and spirit? Another paradox this draws me toward is the ‘fully human, fully divine’ one of the person of Jesus. How can that ever be humanly reconciled? Anyway, I’ll just say this about this post: you’ve brought out the word, if not the concept, that I’ve been questioning over the last 2 posts – role. The quote from Ware is primarily speaking about relationship though. And in it, he says the Spirit is subject to both the Father and the Son. Therefore, the Spirit submits to them. Is that humility? This gets back to the question brought out earlier: humility vs. submission. Is there a difference? What is it? What exactly does humility mean?

  2. Yeah I agree that there is significant mystery in all this. We are grasping for language to describe what is true of one God in three persons. The Trinity is definitely right up there with the incarnation in difficulty of understanding.

    On the Spirit, yes I would say that his submission is marked by humility. But I would also say that the Father’s sending is marked by humility. Again, any sending of God by God is a giving of himself.

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