Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Hegel: a trinitarian theology of the cross

This extended quote is admittedly rather dense – but it’s a profound passage which, I think, describes one of the deepest fundamental structures of Christian belief: namely, that the death of Jesus is an event in God, and that this event can be understood only if God is the triune God. Here’s the quote:

“The history of the resurrection and ascension of Christ to the right hand of God begins at the point where this history [of Jesus’ death] receives a spiritual interpretation. That is when it came about that the little community achieved the certainty that God has appeared as a human being.

“But this humanity in God ... is natural death. ‘God himself is dead,’ it says in a Lutheran hymn, expressing an awareness that the human, the finite, the fragile, the weak, the negative are themselves ... within God himself, that finitude, negativity, otherness are not outside of God and do not ... hinder unity with God.... [D]eath itself is this negative, the furthest extreme to which humanity as natural existence is exposed; God himself is involved in this.

“... For the community, this is the history of the appearance of God. This history is a divine history, whereby the community has come to the certainty of truth. From it develops the consciousness ... that God is triune. The reconciliation in Christ ... makes no sense if God is not known as the triune God, if it is not recognized that God is, but also is as the other, as self-distinguishing, so that this other is God himself..., and that the sublation of this difference, this otherness, and the return of love, are the Spirit.”

—G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion: The Lectures of 1827, ed. Peter C. Hodgson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), pp. 468-69.

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