Skip to main content

Wednesday Words: Perichoresis

I'm busy with quite a bit of academic work today, and it all hinges on perichoresis. So, rather than leave you Wednesday word-less, I thought I'd give you perichoresis as well (extracted from the middle of a rather long post from last year about another subject entirely).

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are perfectly united in purpose and action. They're not three gods, each independently getting on with they're own agendas. No; Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God with One plan, unitedly acting together in love.

Theologians have come up with the word perichoresis (or coinherence, as theologians are good at coming up with big words, but not always good at agreeing which big word to use for the same thing) to explain how this can be, that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all fully involved in one another's works.

Perichoresis means that there is a mutual indwelling of the Persons of the Godhead. Jesus speaks of this in John's gospel:
Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.(John 5:19
He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. (John 14:9-11
the Father is in Me, and I in Him. (John 10:38)

The Son is in the Father and does whatever the Father does. And the Father is in the Son.

The ancient theologian John of Damascus explained perichoresis by writing that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
dwell and are established firmly in one another. For they are inseparable and cannot part from one another, but keep to their separate courses within one another, without coalescing or mingling, but cleaving to each other. For the Son is in the Father and the Spirit: and the Spirit in the Father and the Son: and the Father in the Son and the Spirit, but there is no coalescence or commingling or confusion. (De Fide Orthodoxa, I.14).
Because of this mutual indwelling, what one Person of the Godhead is involved in doing, the others are involved in doing too. That's perichoresis, the mutual indwelling of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(Next week's Wednesday word will be somewhat more familiar (and pronounceable!) - it'll be grace.)

Popular posts from this blog

These are the Bones of Elisha (Declaring the Word of the Lord)

One of the most curious events in all of Scripture is found in a single verse in 2 Kings 13. That chapter records the death of the prophet Elisha, and yet, there’s still one more story of Elisha here some time after his death. 2 Kings 13:21 tells us:
So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. Elisha was dead. And yet when a corpse was thrown into his tomb hastily in an attempt to hide from marauding bands of Moabites, the man came back to life simply by his corpse touching Elisha’s bones. Even as miracles go, that one’s quite impressive.

On the Church and On Sin: With a (former) Tory MP and a Catholic Priest

What with the Extraordinary Synod going on in Rome this week, the Roman Catholic Church has been in the news a bit of late. And as a result of all this pre-synod hype in the media, two Roman Catholics wrote two of the best articles I read last week. One was an article in the Catholic Herald by a priest. The other was an article in the Spectator by a former MP. You should read both of them. (But if you're not going to read both, then please at least read the second one!)

Now, maybe that seems a bit odd. I am, after all, both a Pentecostal pastor and an Ulster Protestant. And as such, I'm convinced that very significant aspects of Roman Catholic theology are seriously wrong. I still believe that justification by faith alone is the article on which the church stands or falls. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't read, and even learn from, Roman Catholics. Although we are justified by faith alone, it is by faith in Christ alone, not faith in the right formulation of the doc…

Money, Money, Money (Must Be Funny, in a Rich Man’s World!)

‘Not the Pentecostals! Watch out – they’ll be trying to get all your money.’
     – The reaction when a new Christian told her Muslim uncle that she’d got saved and           started attending a Pentecostal church. ‘Hello, I’m calling from [“Christian” TV channel]. We have some great deals on advertising during our broadcasts and wondered if the church would be interested.’
     – A phone call yesterday. ‘$11,150’
     – the amount one American church is appealing to raise to produce a worship album $750 plus expenses
     – an American amount recommended as a gift for visiting preachers ‘US pastors paid up to $300,000 - are Church of England vicars getting a raw deal?’
     – recent Headline in Christian Today

£5.75 million
     – the amount of money an evangelical church down south is trying to raise for               building improvements.$25,000
     – the amount two American pastors are raising to produce a six minute teaching video Money has been on my mind a bit of late. Not my …