Homoousion

We believe in God who reveals Himself in Jesus Christ. We understand that the objective reality that was revealed in space and time in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is the Father’s only Son. In the person and life of Jesus we are given the privilege of seeing that before the beginning of time the Father loved the Son and the Son loved the Father. Here is the mystery behind the universe the dynamic life and love of God.

Perichoresis describes the nature of the relationship of the Father, Son and Spirit in a way that is dynamic which is sometimes hard for any human mind to conceive. That is, unless God reveals Himself, their perichoresis of their relationship would otherwise never be known. It would never be known the one mia ousia (one being) and the treis hypostasias ( three Persons) would make up the One God. It took the event of the Incarnation to bring to light a whole new way of thinking which required us to shift our own ideas aside and adopt what confronts us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. The Incarnation is the only time in history where God had made an explicit and intimate contact with humanity. He embraces our humanity into Himself becoming one of us, fully human in every way. In Him we have the intersection between humanity and divinity coming to us in the One Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ reveals Himself to us as the One Person who is of the same being with God.

This is vitally important so as to maintain an objective understanding of who God is. If we do not have a strong objective point through which we understand who God is and what He has done, then serious anthropological misunderstandings can undermine and dismantle the gospel to the degree that what we have left is human constructed mythology rather than God-breathed theology. What we say about God in Trinitarian teaching is what God informs us by the Spirit, in the Son from the Father. If God informs us about Himself, then it is God who teaches what He knows of Himself. If it is not God who teaches then there is no way that God can truly be known. When we read the gospel accounts, the intention is we stand where the apostles stood, see what they saw and hear what they heard so we trust their testimony of the testimony of God Himself presented in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

What we find consistent through the gospels and the epistles is the world has no idea of the ways of God (or the ways of the Spirit). We are instructed to ignore what the world says about God. Any definitions which endeavour to describe what he can and cannot do and what he must or must not be are way short of who God really is. There is no other human being other than Jesus Christ who can define God. God defines Himself in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. What makes the Christian faith Christian is the fact of who we declare Jesus Christ to be. Who we declare Him to be is not new but ancient. We point to the Patristic era leading up to the Council of Nicaea of 325AD, expanded at the Council of Chalcedon in 381AD through to the council of Constantinople in 451AD and beyond. It was during this period where the question of who we say Jesus Christ is, was ratified and confirmed. It is from this period in history that Perichorsis Australia draws our understanding of who Jesus Christ is, what He has done and what He continues to do in His Person and work. The Nicene/ Contantinopolitan Creed is our confession. From this Creed and what the ancient Patristics had said surrounding this Creed is the foundation and the core of everything we believe regarding the Christain Faith. It is this tradition which we believe helps us to interpret Scripture in the right context.

There is one clause in the Niceno-Constantinoplitan Creed upon which the church maintains vital importance in how we interpret everything we know about God: homoousion to Patri (ὁμοούσιον τῷ πατρί). Previous to this phrase, we have Light from Light, true God from true God, followed by the phrase, of the same being with the Father. To clarify this point, what we believe this clause is trying to say is Jesus is the Uncreated as the Father is the Uncreated who share the same being. The Uncreated Son who is of the same being with the Uncreated Father became a human being, that is, the Uncreated came to us ‘as man.’ This term, though like perichoresis, is a non-biblical term, yet it provided the church with a definition that was able to firmly hold together all they believed regarding the divinity of the Son as well as His relationship to the Father. It maintained Jesus Christ in His distinction as a Person as well as His union in being with the Father who is distinct in His Person.

Now to be clear about this, we need to unpack what the significance of the homoousian means for what we believe Jesus Christ to be. Not only do we have a union in being with the Father where the two are one, we also have a union in being with our being. That is, Jesus Christ is of the same being with our humanity. There is distinction between the humanity of Jesus Christ and His divinity but there is union between the very being of God in Jesus Christ and the being of our humanity which He assumed in the Incarnation. Everything we understand about what it is to be human which is contained in the body, soul, mind and spirit is the very same that Jesus Christ assumed to become one with Himself. The union between God and humanity in Jesus Christ brings the dark, depraved and sick humanity into the very being of God in Him where the two are now eternally one. The significance of this means the Act of Jesus is inherent in His Being and the Being of Jesus is inherent in His act. What Jesus does is what God does and what God does is displayed in what Jesus does. The two are inseparable. Furthermore, what Jesus says is God speaking in Person. Everything God wanted to say and do for humanity is fully displayed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

The reality of Jesus Christ as of the same divine-ness and being as the Father is of the utmost importance if we are to provide a strong knowing and knowledge of God.

Matthew 11:27 (NASB)

“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

What this passage is literally saying is the knowing and knowledge seated in the Father’s being is something that is soley privy to the Son. In addition, the knowing and knowledge of the Son is something that is solely privy to the Father. Here we have the homoousion and perichoresis in its full expression. There is union of being and interpenetration. The role of the Son as was predetermined by both the Father and the Son was to reveal, in the Son, their knowledge to the world.

In another text in Matthew 17:5 which is set in the Transfiguration, the Father gives His affirmation of the Son with a command.

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

The Father endorses His Son with His affirmation followed by the command, “Listen to Him!” It is interesting to note that right throughout Scripture we have no dialogue between the Father and humanity. The Father has given all that He is to the Son and trusts the Son to carry out all that He desires towards humanity. Therefore, all knowledge of the Father resides within the very being of Jesus Christ. We believe it is our humble duty to go to the Son and learn from Him all the ways and works of God.

We have the Spirit sent to us in the name of Jesus Christ who is sent as our Comforter and Teacher. As I have said above, it takes God to know God and unless it is God who teaches, then God cannot be known. In the Creed it says the following:

“And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son, together is worshipped and glorified . . ”

The word ‘glory’ says something about the very being and essence of that which glorifies. When the Spirit is defined as a Person who together is, worshipped and glorified, means that we see the being in the same way way see the being of the Father and the Son. However, it is the Son who reveals the very being of the Father and the Spirit, mia ousia. Even though we do not visibly see the Father or the Spirit, Scripture instructs us to look to the Son for the knowledge and knowing of all three Person of the Godhead. The Father instructs us to listen to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ instructs us to come to Him. But what of the Spirit?

John 17:12-15

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

There is far more going on in the Greek than what the mainstream renderings have disclosed. The role of the Spirit who is of the same being with the Father and the Son is to take all that the Father has given for us to know, which has been given entirely to the Son, which the Spirit takes out from within the Son and reports it to us. Therefore, the role of the Spirit is to show us who the Father really is by means of the Son Himself. The Spirit does not speak on His own, just like the Son did not speak on His own, However to know the Spirit is to have our knowing of Him conformed to what God discloses of Himself in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

This places us in a very unique position. Far from making us exlusive in what we try to articulate concerning the gospel, rather, it means we are accountable for everything we dare to claim about the gospel. For the gospel we declare must line up with all that is disclosed in Jesus Christ. The gospel must include everything we believe Jesus Christ to be as “Light from Light, God from true God, begotten not made, of the same being with the Father . .” If whatever we say cannot line up with this only place and the only time in human history that God has showed Himself, interacted and communicated Himself to us, then whatever we have said must be disregarded as not theology or not what God says about Himself. As T F Torrance would say, Jesus is the Arche (Source) of all the ways and works of God.

Athanasius described the Council of Nicaea as the Great Synod were they of Nicaea . . . where they breathed the spirit of Scripture (Torrance: Trinitarian Faith p. 126). Furthermore he also said of this council:

“At Nicaea, that the fathers wrote not what seemed good to them but what the Catholic Church believed. Hence they confessed how they had come to believe in order to show that their opinions were not novel but apostolical, and what they had wrote down was no invention of their own, but was the same as was taught by the apostles.” (Athanasius, De syn., 5; see de decree., Ad Ser., 1.28; Ad Afr., 1; Fest Ep., 2 4, etc-7).

We wholeheartedly agree with the above statement. This is what we believe.