Friday, 9 November 2007

Creeping perichoresis

When I hear the word “trinitarian” being used as a cheap slogan, I wince. But when I hear the word “perichoresis,” I reach for my revolver.

Indeed, some theologians have found their vocation in perichoreting everything that moves! In the quote below, however, Bruce McCormack sums up some of the problems that arise from the ubiquitous application of this term:

“Perichoresis … is rightly employed in trinitarian discourse for describing that which is dissimilar in the analogy between intra-trinitarian relations … on the one hand and human-to-human relations on the other. Nowadays, we are suffering from ‘creeping perichoresis,’ that is, the overly expansive use of terms – which have their home in purely spiritual relations – to describe relations between human beings who do not participate in a common ‘substance’ and who, therefore, remain distinct individuals even in the most intimate of their relations.”

—Bruce L. McCormack, “What’s at Stake in Current Debates over Justification? The Crisis of Protestantism in the West,” in Justification: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates, ed. Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier (Downers Grove: IVP, 2004), p. 111.

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