A simple quick reference for Trinitarian words:
ousia (essence/being/substance): Formalized by the council of Nicea (325), it declared the Son to be of the same essence (homoousious) or co-essential with God the Father.
hypostasis (entity, “substance”, or person): Although typically used as a synonym for ousia (the word literally means “to stand under” i.e. “sub-stance”. Theologians will speak of there being one ousia (essence) and three hypostases (entities or “persons”). Why the two terms? Because it was deemed contradictory to say God is one essence and three essences or one substance with three substances. So one synonym was made to serve the other.
prosopon (person, “mask/face”): Literally meaning “face” and implies the persona or image we present to others (commonly used in acting). Although the term is virtually synonymous with hypostasis it did not convey as strong a sense as hypostasis of an actually existing entity/person, as we use the term today and was feared to be a foothold for Modalism. Today speaking of the three “persons” of the Trinity is more accepted and common.
- The classic Trinity formulation of doctrine is that: God is one essence (ousia), existing as three persons (hypostases or prosopon): Father, Son and Spirit.
physis (nature): In reference to the Trinity it is sometimes a synonym for ousia, but in Christology it is a way of speaking of the humanity and divinity of Christ.
hypostatic union: A term used to describe the relationship of the divine and human natures in Christ. In the unity of Christ’s substance/person there is no mixing, confusion or hybrid of the divine and human natures.
- The classic Christology formulation of doctrine is that: Christ is one person (hypostasis or prosopon), who possesses two natures (physes): divine and human.
communicatio idiomatum (the communication or exchange of properties): A Christological precept that, because of Christ’s unity of person, allows for the attributes of the divine and human natures to be described as belonging to the other. We speak of God’s blood or God being born of Mary, dying on the cross….
In the adult sunday school class at church we are working through the book of 1 Samuel. As we got into chapter 15 there was discussion of two statements that God regretted having made Saul king (15:11, 35), but also a statement in verse 29 that God is not a man that he should have regrets. This post is some of my thoughts on reconciling the two points.
For me the key is to differentiate emotional terms as applied to a holy God, as opposed to how fallen humanity uses the term. I hold God’s regrets to be as like feelings, not that a poor choice was made but that the choice was necessary, yet grievous to watch play out (Luke 22:41-44). God’s providence is not detached from his character. He may have created the wicked for judgement (Prov. 16:4), and yet he can say this is not pleasing to his character (Ezekiel. 18:23). Although providential, He is not enjoying the judgement of Saul, in the same way Jesus/God can ordain Lazarus’ death, and fully know His intent to raise him from the dead, but be greatly grieved in seeing the death come to pass (John 11:5-42).
In the case of Saul, the people demanded a king, so God gives them one knowing what the out come will be. Yet the giving of Saul and now his removal is not pleasing to Him. He must teach his people a lesson, yet it is still grievous to have to do so and watch it unfold. Scripture is full of the Roman 1:26 judgements of God giving people what they want, in opposition to wanting him. God installed Saul, to teach a point that hurt Saul, the people, and God himself (taking our iniquities on Himself). He does not sit back, like us, waiting for the “ah-ha” moment so He can yell, “I told you so”! Instead He is a God that knows perfectly what is necessary and can sympathize with us, not withholding from us, or Himself, any pain that must come to pass as part of His design.
I think this teaches us to withhold judgment as long as possible, praying for the best in others, and not their swift destruction. Also we should be warned that what we demand of God, He may possibly give us in judgement. God is surely the great potter, making some vessels for honor and some for dishonor, but I believe the vessels of dishonor are wept over in their destruction.
One anticipated question is that, couldn’t God have made the people wait for David, or appointed someone else, instead of suffering through all this and making David’s rise to power so hard? The simple answer is, No. As this is what happened, it must have happened as God’s perfect unfolding of His plan. Just the same we could ask if God could have destroyed the classes of Scribes and Pharisees prior to Jesus, so to make His days less confrontational. But He didn’t, and it served its grievous and glorious purpose.
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you;be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you,I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (ESV)
I always smile when I think of how mighty and incredible God is, and that He states in so many places that He is with me. Simple little me has GOD, near, strengthening me and going through life with me. Revelation 19:16 speaks of the final battle, and where men would have their weapon strapped, God instead bears his own name. Now that’s power.
I think of it like a doorway. On one side of the door is the sin, pain and suffering of this life on the other side is the bliss and perfection of heaven. We stand in the doorway, seeing and feeling the warmth of heaven, and yet still acknowledge and suffer as part of this realm. This already / not yet dilemma is something we struggle to balance, yet in just putting in the effort we are that window to others of Christ and what the potential of the other side offers. But not alone as individuals but more so as when we function, live, work, cry and laugh together as a community. We are incredibly, divinely and perfectly positioned between two worlds, where nothing less than God Himself stands with us ensuring we will get through the door in His timing. With such an image of such a powerful and mighty God, how can anything really shake or dismay us?
I tried to diagram this out as best and as humbly as I could.
Hope these help.