Theological Implications of the Humility of God

I have spent the last month discussing the topic of God’s humility. I have argued that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are equally and magnificently humble. Through viewing a variety of texts, exploring trinitarian doctrine, and drawing from a number of resources I have worked to show that humility is intrinsic to the Father as well as Son and Spirit.

In this post I want to spend a few moments teasing out the implications of a God who is humble. What does it matter that God is humble? How does it change how we think, live, and operate?

  • Humility is a Trinitarian attribute and dynamic. This means that humility occurs in community as it is fundamentally about engaging others. Humility does not occur in a vacuum, it is birthed in interaction with other individuals.
  • Humility as a Trinitarian reality implies that this attribute can be explored from two angles. First, we can look at the oneness of God and search out divine humility. Second, we can look at the diversity in God as we think about humility. Each of the Triune persons is characterized by humility and riches await us if we would search this out.
  • If God is humble then it follows that all he does will be informed by and marked with his humility. In other words, we will be able to discern humility in creation, revelation, historical engagement with Israel and the nations, the incarnation, cross, ascension, sending of the Spirit, birthing of the church, second coming, and establishment of the new earth. We will hear humility in his words where we have not heard it before. We will see it in his activity where we have not recognized it before.
  • The coming rule and reign of God will be a humble theocracy. Kings are not often characterized by lowliness and passion for service to others. The Triune God is quite the opposite. Yahweh is a humble sovereign, a sacrificing deity, an outward looking God. What a refreshing reality awaits those who will live under his kingship. Greg Haslam is right, “At the root of all present-day oppressive dictatorships, divided or monochrome societies, devaluation of certain individuals and the inability to cultivate loving community, is a denial of the Trinity.”
  • Visions of a humble God invoke repentance and worship. Beholding a God who gets on his knees to wash his creature’s feet must move us. Sacrifice and service from the Creator has a way of shattering hardness in our hearts and stirring us to song. The more we view God’s humility the more we will be moved.
  • Human beings are made in the image of a humble God. It follows that humility is a mark of genuine humanity. We are called to humility because we are called to reflect God. The saving humility of God manifest in Christ and the Spirit is the means to making this a reality.
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3 comments

  1. I really enjoy your thoughtful, and thought provoking, posts. It’s been good for me to think about the humility of God the Father. But I still think your case was made most clearly from the unity argument – the 3 are 1. I still don’t see it as strongly from the diversity side. Maybe I’m missing something. I know one thing this has taught me is to include both sides in my understanding of God. It’s a difficult mystery to think of God in terms of the paradox of the trinity. I typically think about Him as 3 separate persons, and their individual roles. In doing so, I usually pray to the Father (as the ‘boss’), appeal to Jesus (as my savior/friend) and occasionally ask the Holy Spirit for encouragement or to enlighten me about scripture. I don’t guess that’s wrong. But at the same time, I don’t think about the unity relationship as well.

    1. Rob, I appreciate the encouragement and as always, the dialogue. I doubt I would have pursued this topic as deeply without your prodding and questions, thanks! I agree the trinity is a tremendous mystery. There is definitely something to be said about moving between the unity and diversity of the Triune God as we think about theological issues. In my opinion thinking about things through God’s oneness sheds different light on things and provides a certain theological perspective. Thinking on things through the plurality of persons in the Trinity has the same dynamic. I think some of the more difficult objections about the nature and activity of God are also addressed when this Trinitarian tension is explored in light of the difficulty.

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