Creation as intra-trinitarian gift

the_baptism_of_the_christ_21Dwayne found this note of mine from a few years ago, tucked away hidden somewhere. It represents where he and I have been on this road together, and God knows I wouldn’t be here thinking these thoughts or living this life had God not brought our journeys together.


Let’s conceive of creation as an intra-trinitarian gift. Take the rationale for incarnation out of the sphere of human salvation. Instead of finding a place for the incarnation within the larger act of creation, let’s turn it around and locate the rationale for creation within incarnation. In other words, creation occurs to make incarnation possible. Creation really is about God celebrating Godself. Creation is God’s gift to Godself. The cosmos is just the means by which God creatively expresses himself to himself for his own enjoyment. One might conclude that we humans are an afterthought, and in a qualified sense, yes, that’s exactly right.

This views the incarnation not as a necessary means to a prior and independent project of human fulfillment. That would make incarnation subservient to humanity and elevate humanity unduly. What if we turn this all on its head and say God creates first to incarnate for Godself (viz., to express God to himself in a new and contingent way) and then to pursue relations with us as a consequence? We exist for him. Novel thought.

This would remove any need to understand the incarnation as intended for or in the service of human perfection in the sense traditionally believed. It means human perfection becomes necessary to God’s larger intentions for incarnation, not vice versa. To inset it just for the sake of emphasis:

Human perfection and glorification become implicated in incarnation in precisely the opposite direction we usually think. So human perfection doesn’t require the incarnation as much as the incarnation entails the perfecting of creation.

What I’m suggesting is that the reason for the incarnation be sought within the trinitarian relations (i.e., God re-expresses himself to himself via creation) and not within human perfection per se. Why should the Son desire to incarnate within the constraints of finitude as an end in itself? Perhaps because it is in the nature of God to personalize gift-giving. One puts one’s self into a gift, one becomes the gift. Thus the finite cosmos becomes intra-trinitarian gift as it is personalized by being united personally to the Son incarnationally. Creation is just the stage upon which the divine persons personalize their love as creative expression.

I think it was Bulgakov who said that a precondition for the incarnation is a certain identity between the divine “I” of the Logos and the human “I.” If creation is the place/means by which God re-expresses Godself ad extra and personally, there must be within creation some created sphere of personal capacities sufficiently adequate for personal existence. The Son isn’t personally incarnate as a rock or a tree, and the point is not finitude per se either. Some created entity must sufficiently bear the image of the Logos and thus be that created arrangement whereby the fully personal existence of the Logos can be manifest in created finitude. Humanity is that space. We are God’s gift to himself.

(Picture from here.)

5 comments on “Creation as intra-trinitarian gift

  1. Tom says:

    Reblogged this on An Open Orthodoxy and commented:

    I keep coming back to this. I”m learning to see the world this way. It makes a huge difference.


  2. Creation as intra-trinitarian gift is a most-interesting concept! 🙂 (I guess it remains speculation…)


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s