God's Internal Life
Oct 14, 2002
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Examines God's Internal Life
An Introduction to Ecclesiology : Ecumenical, Historical and Global Perspectives by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (2002, Paperback)
Often times when we think of something as being internal, we also assume that the thing that is internal is also insular, or blocked off from us to see. However, Gods internal life is something that we as Christians are allowed to look into and to participate in daily.
Gods internal life can be boiled down to one statement from which all other thoughts on the topic stem. God is one divine nature comprised of three divine persons. The three divine persons who make up Gods internal life are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three parts of Gods internal life act in a logical and cohesive way, and this action is called circumcession. Each person reacts in a different way to the other person so some further examination is necessary.
It is important to recognize the theological theory of the relations of opposition. The relations of opposition make it possible for all three parts of Gods internal life to be different. This is an important fact to consider. Even though Gods internal life is one divine being, it is still composed of three separate persons. The Father is a separate being from the Son, the Son from the Father, and the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. If this was not the case, then the one divine being would be made up of three of the same divine persons and the essence of what Gods internal life is would be completely altered. It is necessary for the relations of opposition to be in place to ensure that indeed the three divine persons remain separate persons to complete Gods internal life.
The Father shows love to the Son and the Son reciprocates that love back to the Father. The Fathers love to the Son is called paternity and the Sons love to the Father is called filiation. The love between the Father and the Son is made possible through the intercession of the Holy Spirit.
What is important to note here is that the action of love being shown to the Father is not an act solely responsible or acted upon by the Son. When we pray, we participate in the Sons filiation to the Father. Because we become part of the Son when we are brought into Gods internal life, when we pray we are actually praying as part of the Son, and thereby taking part in the filiation towards the Father. In essence, we are all sons of the Father, therefore it is essential that we participate in the act of filiation so that the Father will show paternity to us in return.
Gods internal life is not something that only the three divine persons that compose the one divine being can understand. Rather we, as Christians, are also drawn into Gods internal life. It would not be possible for us to show filiation to the Father had we not have been part of Gods internal life. When God sanctifies us, he draws us into Gods internal life. Therefore, it is not by an act of chance that we are brought into Gods internal life, but rather, it is because God wills us through his sanctifying grace that we enter the internal life of God.
It is not only God that wills us to enter Gods internal life, though. The Holy Spirit also has a hand in drawing us into Gods internal life, which makes sense because it is the Holy Spirit that makes possible the love between the Father and the Son, and because we are part of the son, it only is prudent to state that the Holy Spirit draws us to this act of filiation and participation in Gods internal life.
It is also important to note here another fundamental belief of the Catholic Church. Saint Paul teaches us that because the Holy Spirit draws us into Gods internal life, no longer is it that I live, but rather, it is Christ that lives within me. When we can fully comprehend that Christ lives within us, than we can more completely recognize that because Christ is within us that it is imperative that we show filiation to the father. This is just another example of how through the act of filiation we are drawn into Gods internal life. The crux of Saint Pauls argument here is that when the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the faith, we become Christ. And because we become Christ, the greater implication is that we become part of Gods internal life.
Through trinification, the Holy Spirit draws us into Gods internal life. It is because of the fact that we are baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit that we are allowed to enter into Gods internal life. When we are a part of the Body of Christ, we realize that we are a disciple of Christ, and it is within that understanding that we realize that we are drawn into Gods internal life. To be part of the Body of Christ is to be linked to the outward expression of the trinity.
Jesus suffering and death also needs to be examined when considering how we as Christians are part of Gods internal life. Through Jesus suffering and death, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus saved us from separation from God. Because Jesus was willing to sacrifice his life for us, he also gave us as Christians the ability to remain part of Gods internal life. The Christian view of suffering as a way to love, reminds us that the son loved us so much he gave his own life so that we might be able to share in and enjoy the internal life of God.
As can be seen, Gods internal life is not something that is kept secret from us, nor is it something that we cannot participate in every day. Each of the three divine persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each wills in their own way that we take part in the internal life of God. And because each one of the divine beings wills us to take part in Gods internal life, we are allowed through that willing to have a closer relationship and a deeper appreciation for the divine being.