Sonship

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

child of God Encyclopedia of the Science of Law (2002), 179: “whole-hearted service of God in the Christian freedom of being a child of god, which has initially been given to us by means of Christ’s work of redemption”
Fatherhood of God II, 495
Sonship NC I, 61
NC III, 303

Dooyeweerd makes parallels between our work and that of Christ. He speaks of our Sonship, related to Christ’s redirection of creation:

The first is the dynamis of the Holy Ghost, which by the moving power of God’s Word, incarnated in Jesus Christ, re-directs to its Creator the creation that had apostatized in the fall from its true Origin. This dynamis brings man into the relationship of sonship to the Divine Father. (NC I, 61)

Dooyeweerd does not give details about Sonship. Generally he refers to our being created in the image of God. As image of God, we are the expression of God. The ideas of Sonship and image as expression of God are related. This is shown by the following quotation from Kuyper:

Moreover, you must understand that all this rests upon sober reality. It is not semblance, but actual fact, because God created you after His Image, so that with all the wide difference between God and man, divine reality is expressed in human form. And that, when the Word became Flesh, this Incarnation of the Son of God was immediately connected with your creation after God’s Image (To be Near unto God).

Kuyper connects Christ’s incarnation with our creation as God’s Image, the expression of divine reality in human form.

Gijsbert van den Brink says that for Kuyper, all people have an awareness of dependence upon God, based on their innate sensus divinitatis. But for Kuyper, “What is affected, indeed removed by sin is our awareness of being God’s child, not our awareness of dependence upon God.” (Kuyper Reconsidered, 164).

For Dooyeweerd, the family is a temporal expression of our Sonship:

Even in the purity of its structure according to the divine will, the family is only a temporal expression of the religious meaningfulness of human communion in Christ, in His relation to the Divine Father as the Son. (NC III, 303).

On the same page he says that the family relationship cannot be independent of the religious root of temporal reality. It is

…the individual structural expression in time of the religious fulness of meaning of the communion of men in Christ, including the relationship between man and God as that of a child to the Heavenly Father.

The Idea of Sonship has not been commented on by other Dooyeweerd scholars. I believe that it is related to orthodox ideas of theosis, fulfillment and epektasis. Some Reformed thinkers refuse to engage in any such discussion on the grounds that this will affect what they see as an absolute distinction between Creator and creature. But what ontological views are implied by such an “absolute distinction?” I agree that there is a distinction between God and creature, but when it is said to be “absolute,” is that not a dualism? How can we then take seriously the incarnation, and God’s immanence in the world? And what does our being created in the image of God then mean?

Baader, who praises orthodox theology, also emphasizes Sonship. He says that our mission is to participate in the glory of God. Humans have the potential to be Son of God [Sohnschaft Gottes]. We are not created children of God, but may become so by the power given to us since the Fall by the Saviour (Philosophische Schriften, 542). In the resurrection we recover our breath and finally become raised to a child of God (1 Cor. 15:45) (Zeit 41). Baader tried to make an etymological link between the words for salvation (‘Versöhnung’) and Son (‘Sohn’). He also says

Man kann sich nicht in die Mehrheit der Personen und die Identität des Wesens in Gott finden, und verlangt doch in der Liebe dieselbe Wesenseinheit mit Mehrheit der Personen. “Dass sie Eins seien, sagt Christus, wie Ich und Du (Vater) Eins sind.” (Philosophische Schriften II, 80).

[Man cannot find himself in the diversity of persons and the identity of God, and longs in love for the same essential unity in diversity of persons. “That they may be One,” says Christ,”as I and Thou (Father) are One.”]

Baader says that our goal is to be a Son with Jesus Christ; not part of his nature, but participating in his nature (Fermenta VI 8). Dooyeweerd also emphasizes the importance of participation in Christ, the New Root.

Abhishiktananda also acknowledges the importance of orthodox theology. For him, Christ’s recognition of His Sonship was the “Abba, Father!” experience, which we, too can have, and which is an experience of nonduality.

Raimon Panikkar comments on the saying of Jesus, “I and my Father are one.” Panikkar refers to it as a mahavakya [great saying] of Jesus. He comments:

“Jesus does not dilute the issue. On the contrary, he does not minimize the answer, he maximizes it by daring a ‘blasphemous’ exegesis of a Hebrew psalm (LXXXII, 6): “You are Gods.” (“The Mysticism of Jesus the Christ”, Mysticism in Shaivism and Christianity, ed. Bettina Bäumer (Delhi: Abhishiktananda Society, 1997), p. 148.

Panikkar says there are three mahavakyani of Jesus: (1) “Abba, Father!” (2) “I and the Father are One” and (3) “I should go” [in order to give the Spirit].

Notes revised Oct 1/07

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