Monday, May 02, 2011

Perichoretic salvation

In my previous post I quoted Fred Sanders who asked:

  • Did Good Friday and Easter happen so that Pentecost could benefit us, or
  • did Pentecost happen so that Good Friday and Easter could benefit us?

Another way of asking the question is:

  • Do we receive the Spirit in us because we are in Christ, or
  • are we in Christ because the Spirit is in us?

Yet another way of asking the question would be:

  • Is salvation the Trinitarian life of God in the soul of man (ala Scougal), or
  • is salvation the soul of man in the Trinitarian life of God?

If we believe that perichoresis (mutual indwelling) of the three persons of the Trinity is not a static state of being, but is a dynamic and continuous activity, then it is never 'or' it is always 'both' - distinct but one.

PS did you like my pompous title?!


  1. I would say we receive the Spirit in us because we are in Christ. As Ephesians 1 says, we have every spiritual blessing in Christ. Our justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification all stem from our union with Christ. Of course, there's the tension- how can God at the same time see us as in His Son from all eternity past (we were chosen in Christ) and at the same time see us as under His wrath and once "in Adam" and then at one point in time now "in Christ"?

    It's a mystery, a glorious mystery! There are truly only two men you need to know- Adam and Christ!

  2. Hi Marie, welcome to my blog. I like the name of your blog BTW.

    Out of interest how did you find yourself in this corner of the blogosphere?

    That is certainly the way it is usually formed. But we are in Christ by faith, and that faith is something produced in us by the Spirit. Maybe the language isn't quite right, but there it does seem it can go either way.

    With you all the way on Adam and Christ. It is definitely a mystery and a glorious one!

  3. Dave, I actually forget exactly how I found your blog! I've been reading it for several months- it may have been through Michael Bird's blog.

    I should get back to blogging! For the most part, I'm posting things on Facebook now. Had some problems with spam comments in the past, but perhaps that's over with and I can safely go back...

    You said, "But we are in Christ by faith, and that faith is something produced in us by the Spirit."

    I was actually thinking about the same thing! Scripture uses different images to talk about conversion- Christ coming and preaching peace, the Gospel coming in the demonstration of the Spirit and in power, being drawn by the Father. An ordo salutis can only take us so far, I think.

    Enjoying your blog! Thanks for the thought provoking posts!

  4. Hi Dave,

    I joined the blog late, but I like your topic!

    We are in Christ first. We are not in Christ by faith. We are AWARE of being in Christ by faith (and therefore it is real to us), which is the work of the Spirit. Christ is formed in our hearts by faith.

    I did my dissertation arguing that the union of Christ and the believer is a third type of perichoresis (in addition to the trinitarian and christological varieties). It consists of being "in Christ" and "Christ in us." We are in Christ because God became human. Christ is in us because the Spirit has been given to us and we have responded in faith.

    Perichoresis has both an active and static component, as it was translated into two separate Latin words showing each (active and static) quality. I define perichoresis, then, as a relationship with a static component (mutual indwelling - Christ in us and we in Christ) and an active component (mutual active participation in the other). Both are necessary for real perichoresis to take place.

    I hope to have the book form published by W&S soon. It's in the editorial phase now.

    Jim G.

  5. Love your comment Jim. Wonderful news.

    Thanks for dropping by.