Report on the talk given by Rev. Michaël Merle “The Revelation of the Father in the Son” on 8th March
by John-Peter Gernaat
This talk speaks to one of the cornerstones of Christianity: that of the Oneness revealed in the Trinity – that the Creator is a Father and has a Son.
It is of note that when we turn to the Gospels the Son is spoken of before there is mention of the Father. Mark is the oldest Gospel (and some consider that he and the other synoptic Gospel writers may have used a single older source). Mark’s Gospel begins with the Baptism. This provides clear insight into the importance this event held for early Christians. The Baptism marked the beginning of the Christian story. [It is important to note that the eucharistic meal, which is the evolution of the Passover meal with the Mystery of Resurrection, forms the heart of Christianity.] It was important that the event of the Baptism was witnessed. It was John the Baptist who perceived the opening of the heavens and the Spirit descending like a dove. He heard the words: “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am revealed”. The Son is spoken of before we hear any reference to the Father.
The Act of Consecration of Man, other than the blessing, begins by speaking of the Divine in terms that do not specifically imply a Father - Son relationship: “Divine Ground of the world…”; “to you, O Ground of the World…”. There is no splitting of the Trinity, rather speaking to the oneness of the Godhead only.
Later we hear: “O Father God…”
It is only the New Testament that provides insight into the Trinity and we arrive at the heart of the Trinity in the Baptism event. The synoptic Gospels describe the Baptism while John’s Gospel does not, it describes the consequences of the Baptism. The synoptic Gospels all use the same word and one of the synoptic Gospels uses the same word when describing the Transfiguration. This word is Eu-do-keo (transliterally). In describing the Transfiguration Luke uses the words eklegomai. Jon Madsen, in his translation of Emil Bock’s translation, renders this word as ‘Chosen One’. Both these words are an expression of the same reality.
Eklegomai literally means “in whom I conclude out of myself” where the words ‘out of’ are key. Alternatively: “out of myself this is what I have concluded”. This tells us that the Son is not chosen from among the Father’s creation or creatures, but out of himself. The Christ principle comes out of the Father.
The word Eu-do-keo is often simplified to “in whom I am revealed”. Within this word is the word for ‘well’ (as in ‘fare thee well’) or ‘wellness’ which also carries the intention to experience these richly or fully. One alternative rendition which could assist our deeper understanding would be “in the full or rich wellness of the Father the Son is revealed”. But there is also the intention in the word that this has to do with our thinking ability to discern. Therefore, this word also has the intention to say: “in whom my discernment will prosper” or “in whom my personal judgement will fare well”.
From all of this we know that at the heart there is a relation of Father to Son.
Humanity had the privilege of getting to know the Son, and through His words and actions the Divine is revealed. We can come to know the Father more fully than we could before Christ was incarnated.
In the relationship of the Father to the Son the Spirit comes into being. The Spirit exists between the Father and Son. (Reingard often says that in the spiritual world 1 + 1 = 3; a third principle always comes into existence in the relationship between two spiritual beings.) Through coming to understand the Son, we can come to more fully understand the Father and only then can we come to understand or experience the Spirit. In the Gospel of John we can learn more about the relationship of the Son to the Father in all that is said at the Last Supper. It adds to the understanding we can arrive at through the Old Testament.
To repeat the relationship: “in whom I am fully expressed”, “in whom I am well revealed”, “in whom my discernment will prosper”.
The epistle that is read in the Act of Consecration of Man during Trinity also aids our understanding of the fullness of God.
The Creed of The Christian Community also guides us to an understanding of the Trinity.
The first statement is not necessarily Christian, it describes only the Father as an almighty Divine Being. However, the description of this Being as being spiritual physical is a very new idea. That He is the ground of existence is common to all religions. That He goes before his creatures like a Father is a potent image of how a father leads a child before the child follows its own path through life. It is a different image to the way a mother leads. The image is therefore not intended to give a gender to the Father but rather to describe the relationship of the Father to his created creatures. We follow the Father to become whom we are intended to be.
The second statement describes the Son as being “born in eternity” to this Divine Being – the Father. A picture is given in Kabbalistic teaching of God withdrawing into Himself in order that creation could come into being. In the act of creating the Son principle comes into cognition.
We know that we are made in the image of the Divine. We also know that we are in process. It therefore is clear that the Divine is also in process. Also, we understand relationships because the Divine is in relationship.
In the Creed the first seven statements are from the past. Statement eight begins: “Since that time…”. There is a change in direction to the present and the future. Since the Resurrection, the Son fulfils the work of the Father. The Son is fully revealing the Father, where fully also means richly fulfilled.
In the Transfiguration we come to a new understanding of the Godhead and that we can have a relationship to the Father. “Christ comes out of me and in the Son I am fully understood / revealed / discerned.” “I am Father. I have created and this brought Son into Being and between us is a relationship which can be experienced as Spirit.”
In Greek the word Doxa is used to capture the essence of a Hebrew concept of the ‘fulness of revelation’ that is translated as ‘glory’. This is the heart of the statement we hear in the Act of Consecration: “what You have received from the Father and made whole through the Spirit in all cycles of time”. This speaks to a relationship and to the understanding that since the Resurrection the Son reveals the fullness of the Father.
The way of grasping the concept of Father is through a relationship to the Son and then we can understand the Spirit. Then we find ourselves in the relationship between Father and Son.
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