DEITY’S DETERMINED DIFFERENTIATION
BY: JONATHAN MITCHELL and JOHN R. GAVAZZONI
John: It has become a somewhat habitual practice for me in times of meditation, to look to the Spirit of Truth for insight as to what condition, what dynamic, there is WITHIN God to which the subject of the meditation is traceable. That is, in pondering a proposition concerning God, I must ask myself if what I’m reflecting on is real. By that I mean, could it, does it, exist within God, who IS Reality? Is it at all conceivable that what is forming in my mind is integral to what God is, and what’s going on within Him? We have—ALL of us—at times entertained things utterly alien to Deity’s Being and inner workings. The mind easily goes off on flights of fancy, imagining things untraceable to the essence of the Source of all Reality. There’s a lot of goings on there at the center of all things, A lot is going on that is both simple and profound. The living God is very lively, I’ll have you know. To look into the inner complex of what makes God, God, one would become utterly enraptured in worshipful awe at the unity and diversity of God’s own unfolding. Beginning to have just a little glimpse of this, I ask myself continually, “is the conclusion to which my meditation is leading consistent with what God is and does within Himself?
Adam, created according to the likeness of God, was differentiated within himself. His (Adam’s) singular being became differentiated as two persons, Adam became a male and a female, and from the union of that first couple has sprung the whole of one humanity – composed of billions of differentiated people in wonderfully unique two-gender individuality, yet all remaining as one humanity. We could paraphrase God as saying, “Let’s make Adam just like We are: Differentiated Being.” Traceable to the nature of God, human being becomes differentiated into personhood. I suggest that this might be the most understandable way of understanding what we mean by “person.” A person is one individual differentiation of the being we all have within the Being of God. The doctrine of God as Trinity attempts to explain how the singular Being of God includes differentiated Personhood. But it is a theological model that begs to be revisited, refreshed, and adjusted so that we might, by probing its implications, be enriched in our understanding of the complexity within God’s Oneness. The obvious truth of unity in diversity traces to the very structure of Deity.
What are those implications? The first is beyond obvious: There is a relationship WITHIN Deity, a relationship intrinsic to God’s nature, the relationship of Father to Son. Get this: It is a Family relationship. All that proceeds out from God is characterized by this Family relationship. It is the dynamic of the economy, administration, dispensation of God. God is ABOUT Family, FOR Family, and IS Family. The love that God IS—according to John in his first epistle— is a family-generating, family-occupied, family-caring, family-focused, family-relishing Love. If we are to attribute Personhood to the Holy Spirit, we must do so within the context of The Divine Family. Note that The Father and The Son are related as Family.
How then does the Holy Spirit fit into that structure, since the description, “Holy Spirit,” is not a family-constituted description? The distinct and distinguishing Personhood of the Holy Spirit is the mutual sharing of Each with One Another. So deep and profound is that sharing that Each comes out of Himself into the Other—the Father to, and into the Son, and the Son to, and into the Father. It is the very Person of Each that comes out of Each to meet in perfect unity, union and oneness. We see this principle in the sending of the Holy Spirit by and from The Father and The Son. If we read especially chapters 14 and 16 of John’s gospel, we find Jesus, while on one hand sending the Holy Spirit to the waiting disciples, yet on the other hand, it is Himself, as Another of Himself Who has come to them. The Holy Spirit is the Anotherness of both The Father and The Son. They come out of Themselves, to be Themselves in all that They are to, in, and for us.
Jonathan: Following this logic I would conclude that we should completely discard the trinity paradigm and replace it with “Family.” Your treatment of the Holy Spirit was well done. I’m wondering if “Personness” of the Holy Spirit would be a better word than “Personhood.” I cannot see the Holy Spirit as a “Differentiated Person,” but rather as an Expression or Action and the Essence of the Person of God.
When you and I interact and connect in our spirits, it is you and I interacting and connecting — not some separate entity. When male and female interact sexually it is a new family member (person) that is created. God IS Spirit — and He IS Holy. He/She from conjugal union and Love gave birth to us. We are His offspring, through the “sperm and egg” of His/Her Spirit substance.
John: After considering it, I can see the logic of “Personness,” rather than “Personhood,” in respect to the Holy Spirit. Yet, I want to maintain the truth that we do encounter the very Persons of the Father and the Son, in, by/as the Holy Spirit, e.g., “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you…” said Jesus of Him send sending forth the Holy Spirit.
John: The Son’s Personness, and the Father’s Personness coming to us in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I like that.
Jonathan: I would go even farther, here: the Person of the Father and the Person of the Son (divergent, yet One) coming to us in the “coming of the Holy Spirit (Which/Who is God).” When the Breath-effect comes to us God Himself comes to us: Family (Father, Mother, Offspring) comes to us and dwells IN us as the Set-apart Result of His Breath. On our receiving end of things, it is as Paul put it in Eph. 4:
3. repeatedly hurrying to make every effort to constantly keep (watch over to guard and protect) the Spirit’s oneness (or: the unity of the Breath-effect and spirit; = agreement of [your] attitude) within the bond (the link, tie and connection that joins two things; the binding conjunction which results in union) of the peace (the harmony and tranquility; the state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being; [= the shalom]),
4. [being] one body and one spirit (attitude and effect of the Breath), according as you folks were (or: are) also called within the midst of one expectation (or: in union with one expectant hope) of your calling (or: invitation),
5. [with] one Lord (or: Owner), one faith (or: loyalty, confidence, assurance, and trust; or: one belief – Bultmann), one submersion and envelopment which brings absorption and permeation to the point of saturation,
6. one God and Father of all humans – the One upon all people and moving through all people, and within the midst of all humanity and in union with all people and all things.
Now I don’t think that Paul was speaking ontologically here, but all of which He speaks of IS ontologically God. All these are effects of His Spirit, His Essence, His “Being” (I put “being” in quotes in deference to our dear brother Tillich).
John: But I’d be inclined to take care to not separate God’s action/expression from Himself—do you get what I mean?
Jonathan: Once again, Absolutely! These are expressions of Him that existentially ARE Him. When we make love to our wives, there is action and expression, but it is very much US doing the action and expressing the love. From out of the midst of us comes the new creation: the son/daughter of our love. The new being (referencing Tillich, again).
John: Thinking of your translation option of “Breath-Effect,” is not the Breath-Effect (effectively) God sending forth/sharing/extending His very Self to us?
John: In other articles, I have dealt with the clear implication that the Fatherhood potential within God could never have fulfilled Itself, without a matching, complementary Motherhood potential. It was by the conjugal union of that differentiation of Being as Father and Mother that produced in eternity the “Son of His Love.” And understand, with God, there can be no “His,” without a “Her’s.” In the eternal begetting of the Son of God, Deity became Parental, Filial and Familial. Ponder this: That when we affirm that we were chosen in Him (Christ, the Son) before the foundation of the world, it was within Him, within the Family which God IS. Ponder with wonder, that we are called the Family of God.
Jonathan: I concur here, John. This is the reality to which God has restored us. We came out of the midst of Him, and in our God-ordained alienation we have passed through the midst of Him, and through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have now been seated together with Him – in restored relationship with Him – back into the midst of Him (Rom. 11:36). With our Lord and Savior, Jesus, we are now a great family of sons (Rom. 8:29).
DEITY’S DETERMINED DIFFERENTIATION, A Dialogue [J. Mitchell and J. Gavazzoni] 1