First Theology

 
I recently promised on Facebook that I would write about what I call “First Theology.”  For some this may be a very disappointing post, as I am not going to discuss what I think to be the proper starting place of all systematic theologies.  For while some would put first the One God, and others would put the Incarnation, and still others the Creation, Revelation, or the Trinity, I am not going to say which of these venerable starting places is my own preferred way of entering into the mysteries of God.  Instead, I will focus on the First Theology that lives in the context of all of these realities, and while most identified with the Incarnation in our minds, has just as much right to be associated with each of these other areas as well.

For if Theology is the study of God, or the science of God, or the reason pertaining to God, then there is only one reality which can claim to be the First Theology:  The Divine Logos.  For it is from all eternity that the Logos is the full and perfect revelation of the Father.  In fact, from all eternity, the Father’s greatest act is the begetting of the full and perfect image of Himself.  In other words, the Son is a self study of the Father, a contemplation of the divine self in the form of a person who is just as much God as the Father is.  The First Theology is done by the Father in the person of the Son.  Perhaps “in” here is a poor word, but if I had used “as” there could be some confusion as if I were saying the Father acts “as” the Son.  Instead, what is meant is that the perfect imaging of, perfect study of, or perfect contemplation of the Father is not merely an attribute of the Son, but is, without limit or reservation, the person or being of the Son.

All that is made comes from the Son, as we are told in the prolog to St. John’s Gospel.  All that exists that is not God is put forward into being by the Son.  When God says “Let there be Light” in Genesis, it would be wrong to think that his was somehow done primarily by the Father.  Instead, the Son creates.  This is why it is improper to replace “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” with “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.”  In fact, all three of these names belong to the Son.  The role of the Spirit, which we will not go into here, is also in fact to sanctify, but that does not exclude the Son’s primary role of sanctification by the incarnation.

Lest I fall into the trap of tri-theism, it is important to point out the reality of perichoresis.  For wherever the Son is, so also are the Father and Spirit.  Whatever the Son does, so the Father and Spirit are acting.  However, it is the Son who makes all things.  This point is important, for it explains how and why we are made in the image of God.  For the Son’s act of creation is the act of the First Theology.  The Divine Logos creates to image the Father in things other than Himself.  It might be asked why the Son chose to image through creation, instead of further begetting.  Theories exist for why there are not more Sons, or more persons in the Godhead.  However, all I think we can say for sure is that it was better to create than to simply go one begetting or proceeding.

All that was made was made to reflect the glory of the Father; some things more than others.  The Son sets up creation to be a study of the Father, and makes conscious beings as its crown, made in the image and likeness of the Father.  He, like the Father He is the perfect image of, creates persons to image the Father[1].

It is this setting up of a study of the Father by means of creation, especially the creation of sentient procreative beings, that is fully consistent with the Son as the First Theology.  For this act images the Father in creation in such a way that we continue the imaging in all we do.  From joy to peace to the giving of life in our own images, we continue to be a study of the unending and inexhaustible life of the Father sent out into created being by the Son.

It is therefore this great imaging which is shattered by the introduction of sin into the world.  The imaging of the Father is broken, and the images and likenesses have been marred.  Now, what was at first set up to be a great joyful contemplation of the Father, has turned against the whole Trinity of God.  It is for this reason that the Son, the perfect Image of the Father, comes among us to repair the image and set it right again.  He enters into the brokenness and reverses it by perfect obedience, suffering, death, and ultimately resurrection.

Thus the First Theology, the first Theou Logos, is the very Logos Himself, and the whole history of Humanity and salvation is the history of the First Theology.  And all that human beings do, and all that we are, is rooted in this great theology.  It must give us pause, those of us who do theology, to consider what we dare to do.  For we suppose to do the work of the Son in the world, revealing the Father in Truth.  And thus, if we dare to do this work, we must pattern ourselves wholly on the Son whose whole life and being is a living image of the living and invisible Father portrayed for us in all that is made.

 


[1] Now some might object here that we are made specifically in the image and likeness of the Trinity, or that by “in the image” what is really meant is that we are “in Christ.”  I object to neither of these interpretations.  Instead, I argue that imaging the Trinity is in fact imaging the Father, for the trinity is the divine imaging of the Father.  As well, by being made “in Christ” who is the first and true and whole image of the Father, we are made in the living image of God, which is to be ultimately like God.  Thus the distinctions fail to be exclusionary.

 

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