Thursday, November 29, 2012

God is not a "communion" of persons, but "one"

"As with all human language applied to God, the use of the term communion [(κοινονία)] theologically has carried with it the dangers of shaping our conceptions of God in a way that comes to mirror our social assumptions and hopes:  God ends up looking like a multiethnic society, a congress, a church council, a congregation, and on and on.  What we require for our understanding of 'communion,' which is a human and social construct, is that its meaning be informed by God's reality, not the other way around.  If God is never called a 'communion' in Scripture, God is clearly called 'one.'  And hence, God's 'oneness' is what needs to inform the Church's 'communion':  'that they may be one even as we are one' (John 17:22 RSV; cf. vv. 21, 13).  The 'oneness' that is God's, however, is, in this prayer, identified as something peculiar:  'as we are one,' in Jesus' words.  How is God one?  Do we know what this means?  Here some eristological nuance will be helpful. . . ."

     Ephraim Radner, A brutal unity:  the spiritual politics of the Christian church (Waco, TX:  Baylor University Press, 2012), 8.  "Eristology . . . is the study of hostility in its disordering forms and forces" (4-5).  This critique of social trinitarianism begins on p. 7, with an appreciative reference to Paul Fletcher, Disciplining the divine:  toward an (im)political theology (Farnham, UK:  Ashgate, 2009).

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