Posted by: Kenn Hermann | March 9, 2006

James Orr on the Trinity, Christ, and the Redemption of All Creation

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In an earlier post I noted how significant I believed that James Orr’s doctrine of the Incarnation was for developing a well-grounded Christian world view. I have quoted a key section below in which Orr sums up the doctrine of the Trinity and its role in a establishing a Christian view of Christ’s profound relation to all creation. Reformational readers will note the remarkable similarity between Orr’s stress on Christ as the middle term between the Father and creation and Gordon Spykman’s efforts in Reformational Theology to construct a three-factor world view in which Christ is the Word of God that mediates between God and the creation. I believe Orr enriches and greatly deepens the significance and importance of Spykman’s efforts. Does anyone know whether Gordon was familiar with Orr’s work in this regard?

Finally, this doctrine of the Trinity has a profound bearing on the relation of God to the world. Not without reason does Scripture connect the Son with the creation, and give His person and His work a cosmical significance. We may conceive of God in two relations to the world — either in His absolute transcendence over it, which is the deistic conception, or as immanently identified with it, which is the pantheistic conception. Or we may conceive of Him as at the same time exalted above the world — transcending it, and yet present in it as its immanent sustaining ground, which is the Christian conception. It was to maintain this double relation to the world that, as we have seen, Philo conceived of the Logos as a middle term between God and the creation, and the Neo-Platonists distinguished between God, the nous, and the soul of the world. When a middle term is wanting, we have either, as in the later Judaism and Mohammedanism, an abstract and immobile Monotheism; or, in recoil from this, a losing of God in the world of Pantheism. In the Christian doctrine of the triune God we have the necessary safeguards against both of these errors, and at the same time the link between God and the world supplied which speculation vainly strove to find. The Christian view is, therefore, the true protection of a living Theism, which otherwise oscillates uncertainly between these two extremes of Deism and Pantheism, either of which is fatal to it.

It is a special service of the doctrine of the Trinity, from the point of view we have now reached, that it brings creation and Redemption into line, teaching us to look on creation and Redemption as parts of one grand whole, and on Christ, now exalted to supreme dominion in the universe, as at once the first-born of creation and the first-born from the dead. This thought of the Son as the link between God and creation — which is so prominent a thought in the New Testament — forms the transition to the other subject on which I propose to speak in this Lecture — the relation of the Incarnation to the plan of the world. The Revelation of the Trinity is given in the work of Redemption, but once given we can see that it has its bearing also on the work of creation.

James Orr, The Christian View of God and the World, 275-276.

Do yourself a favor and read on in Orr’s discussion of the crucial role that Christ’s Incarnation has for the redemption of all creation. It will send shivers up and down your spine.



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