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).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery"

"O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were being cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen" (1976 Book of common prayer, pp. 280 (Good Friday), 291 (Easter Vigil), 515 (Ordination of a Bishop), 528 (Ordination of a Priest), 540 (Ordination of a Deacon)).

     This, according to Hatchett (Commentary on the American prayer book (The Seabury Press, 1980), p. 248), is no. 432 in the 8th-century Gelasian sacramentary.  Cf. p. 82 in the 1894 Clarendon Press edition of that by H. A. Wilson.  In the current Roman missal, it occurs after the seventh reading in the Easter Vigil at least:

"O God of unchanging power and eternal light, look with favour on the wondrous mystery of the whole Church and serenely accomplish the work of human salvation, which you planned from all eternity; may the whole world know and see that what was cast down is raised up, what had become old is made new, and all things are restored to integrity through Christ, just as by him they came into being. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen."