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November 26, 2012

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God is Person-And. Or, not "just" Person. His Image has much to dive into, and in that species called Angel and in that species called Man there is both sharp overlap and sharp distinction where the Image of God is concerned. Person is an area of overlap, not in every aspect of Personhood, but in several. Beyond Personhood there are other distinctions where the two begin to part ways. Personhood does not entail necessary sameness. We "see" and "know". Angels too. Though, they long to look into those things which we see, know, and are to become, while, we envy what they now see and know, etc. Even in Personhood itself it seems there are differences within the "sort" of Person one is. Clearly, Agency and Person are there though, but, God's Image entails Person-And, and so, it seems Man is, or will be, closer to that Image than Angel is now. It would take pages to do justice to Lucifer and Adam and Christ and Love's Triune and the Man-In-God / God-In-Man Amalgamation which Man is to undergo as Word becomes Flesh. I'm not sure Angels are becoming Word.

Why Angel and Man are different in Image, yet each is Person:


II Peter:

“God did not spare angels that sinned…..”
“…..angels, though superior in might and power, do not bring a defaming charge against them…”

I Peter:


“It is these very things which have now already been made known plainly to you by those who preached the good news (the Gospel) to you by the same Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Into these things the very angels long to look!”

“If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.” C.S. Lewis

“The final phrase of our text tells us that angels long to look into the things relating to our salvation. There are two different Greek words here. One means to stand on tiptoe, as if you are at the back of a crowd trying to watch a parade. The other means to stoop down. It’s the same word used for Peter and John stooping to look inside the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning. The angels are so eager to understand God’s grace that they stand on tiptoe and bend down from the battlements of heaven to marvel at the unfolding plan of salvation. This is exactly the reverse of the way we think of it. If I told you that I had a special door that let me look into the realm of the angels, all of you would crowd around to get a glimpse of “the other side.” But the Bible never encourages us to peek into the angelic realm. Here we are told the angels long to look at and understand our salvation. During the Renaissance a painter named Tintoretto created a beautiful version of the Last Supper. Though Da Vinci’s version is far more popular, Tintoretto’s comes closer to capturing what really happened. He painted the scene from an elevated angle so we see Jesus and his disciples gathered around the table. It appears that Jesus has just said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.” There is a sense of drama and tension in the painting as the disciples struggle to understand. Above the table, an oil lamp gives off clouds of smoke. Tintoretto painted angels in the smoke, watching from above, their faces strangely curious, as they too marvel at what God the Son is about to do. That’s exactly the idea Peter is driving at. Why would the angels marvel at our salvation? The answer is clear. There are no “saved” angels because salvation is not for them, but for us. Jesus died to redeem fallen men and women, not the angels. There are elect and non-elect angels; there are good angels and bad angels; there are obedient and disobedient angels, but there are no “saved” angels. Only humans can be saved. Only humans can be redeemed. We alone of all the creatures in the universe can experience the wonders of God’s saving grace. This fascinates the angels, and causes them to study and ponder the mysteries of a salvation they do not share. Here is Peter’s message made plain: God loves you so much, the angels are amazed. They know nothing about grace and mercy and forgiveness. They’ve never experienced new life, the new birth, regeneration, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or the wonder of deliverance from sin. That which we have experienced in Jesus Christ, the angels never knew and will never know. We are far more privileged than they.” (http://www.keepbelieving.com)

And where “Image” seems to part ways with Man and Angels may be motioned towards with these next two:


“God is Trinity. He is fundamentally a relationship: a lover, a beloved and the love between them. In other words, God is a complete openness and receptivity to the other. He is love. Now, we believe we are made in the image of God. Thus, we become fully alive to the degree that we imitate God.” (wordonfire.org)

“And that, by the way, is perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: that in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance. The union between the Father and the Son is such a live concrete thing that this union itself is also a Person.” (C.S. Lewis)

And here we come to that odd thing that seems to join Man to God’s Image in a sense I am not sure we see in Angels. It has to do with this Triune Image. There is in Him the I, and there is the You, the One Who loves and the Beloved, and that vise versa, and, in that Union, in that Embrace, there is the fully Distinct and Singular-We, which is not the I, nor the You, but is “Us” or We and is itself Singular. This is Love’s Triune.


Now, when it comes to Man we find just this pattern repeating. Word is made Flesh. And what that hints at is something like this: God-In-Man, Man-In-God. I. You. And, in “that” I-You (the one where it is God-Man) we are told of a Final Amalgamation which is to occur wherein Man is “in” God, and, also, God is “in” Man. And here we find that Singular We not only in Man’s Amalgamation, but also in Man among Man. In John 17 Jesus prays for Man to become One “also” with other men, many yet one, one yet many, and, then, He also prays for that same Pattern to be repeated with God-In-Man, Man-In-God. From the lowest to the highest and from the top down it is all this same Pattern in repetition from the inside out, from the outside in.


Image:


Can an Angel say, “If you have seen Me, you have seen Him”?


The Last Adam can say those words:

I think this Triune “State” or Triune “Status” or Triune “Condition” is Love’s Condition, and, in Love we find Grace and Mercy and Justice, whereas in Angels we find Power and Might, and Agency, and in that Agency, Sin, and in that Sin, Justice. And perhaps it seems to stop there with Angels. I am not sure where Love falls into place on the Angelic side of the equation. That God Loves them I have no doubt, but that they are to Be-Love I am not sure.


But what does “that” mean? To “be love”? Well, what is Love but that Eternally Sacrificed Self which pours itself out, into, unto, the Beloved, and, then, in like manner, the Beloved, having thus received that Sacrificial offering of its Lover, then in like manner returns the very same gesture, in full, and also in loving return pours itself out, into, unto, that Initiator of the embrace. And One dives into the Other, and the Other then dives into the One, and back and forth, and so forever, and the We proceeds. And with Man and God we find exactly that “dance” or “pattern” between the I and the You, in which one is God, the other Man, and, therein, just as with Father/Son where C.S. Lewis reminds us, “The union between the Father and the Son is such a live concrete thing that this union itself is also a Person” so to the Man-In-God, God-In-Man will be Love’s Final Amalgamation wherein, not Man, but Man in Christ, may one day say those shocking words uttered by the Last Adam, “If you see Me, you see God.”

I do not think an Angel will ever utter those words, for, I do not think Angels are becoming Word.


God is love.


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