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Perichoresis

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Perichoresis has been used historically to describe God's relationship to the world, as a way of expressing the immanence and transcendence of God. It is true, on the one hand, that God is contained by nothing, and is instead the One in whom we live and move and have our being — i.e., everything is contained by Him. Yet at the same time God is within all things, "omnipresent." As Hilary of Poitiers put it, God is both "without" and "within" all things.

This mutual indwelling and containment is a created extension of the mutual indwelling and containment of the Triune Persons. The Father is in the Son, and in the Son are "precontained" all created things (so Cusa, and many others, including Bavinck); so, the Father is "in" all things. Likewise the Son, as the One in whom are all things, is in the Father, so that all things are in the Father. And all things are within and without the Father and the Son because the Father and Son indwell one another by the Spirit.

This raises the question of whether a unitarian God can be omnipresent, without becoming a pantheistic deity. If there is no uncreated "space" for the unitarian god to indwell, then he begins to indwell, realizes his potential for indwelling, when he makes a world (but can a unitarian god create? I think not, but that'll be a point for another post). Each person of the Triune God, however, has always forever indwelled "alien" "space," the alien space of the other persons. Each person has a home outside Himself, and God as the One God has a home within Himself, and there is nothing essentially new when He begins to indwell a created world.

posted by Peter J. Leithart on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 at 01:27 PM

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