Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Life of the World

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (Jn 5:26).

“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me” (6:57).

Jn 5:26 is a favorite prooftext of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But they quote it out of context.

In context, this is not describing the identity of the Son qua Son. Rather, this is describing the identity of the Son qua Incarnate. The speaker isn’t the Son qua Son, but the Son Incarnate. The speaker is Christ. The “Word made flesh.” So the Son Incarnate gives life to the world.

Christ is able give life to the world because the Father has literally embodied his own creative life in the person of the Son. Life is through the Son, for life is in the Son. When the Son becomes flesh, he not only incarnates himself, but he incarnates the creative life of the Father. For the Incarnation is, itself, a means by which the Father renews the dead through the mediation of the Son.

The “living Father” is a synonym for his Creatorship. That’s the sense in which he himself has life. As our Creator. Not his own life, but his power to make life and renew life. That’s what makes the life in question a transmissible property–unlike the intransmissible mode of God’s unique subsistence.

The life he gives to the Son is not a quality of life apart from the Incarnation, but the Incarnation itself as a life-giving event–to those whom the Father has given the Son (Jn 17).

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