In the previous post I spoke about the humility of the Trinity, the incarnation, and the cross. A good question arose from that post regarding God the Father. Where do we see humility in the Father’s engagement with the Son and Spirit? The humility of the 2nd and 3rd person of the Trinity is self-evident, but is it that clear with the Father? I thought this was a great question worthy of a few posts. So over the next week or two we will discuss the biblical and theological basis for the humility of God the Father.
A Theological Starting Point: The Athanasian Creed
When talking about an attribute inherent in God, in this case humility, it is important to be explicit that we are speaking of an attribute true of all three persons of the Trinity. The Athanasian Creed captures this dynamic. I have selected portions of the creed as a starting point for our discussion.
“But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Spirit uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible….So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God….And in this Trinity none is afore, nor after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three persons are co-eternal, and co-equal.”
The creed articulates the biblical principal of perfect equality among the three persons. Eternality, incomprehensibility, and glory are equally shared by Father, Son, and Spirit. The deep equality among the Trinitarian community means that “none is afore, nor after another.” It removes the possibility of one person being “greater” or “less than” another. This principal of equality extends into every discussion of the attributes of God.
In this discussion, it means humility is a quality equally possessed by Father, Son, and Spirit. It is impossible to speak about a humble Son and Spirit without speaking of a humble Father. It is also erroneous to view one member of the Trinity as more or less humble than another. If God is humble then Father, Son, and Spirit are humble. If the Son and the Spirit are humble then it follows that the Father is humble.