A Trinitarian anthropology

Trinitarian, incarnational theology addresses both the nature of God (theology) and the nature of humanity created in the image of God (anthropology). In Karl Barth's Theology of Relations (Trinitarian, Christological and Human: Towards an Ethic of the Family) Gary Deddo explores a Trinitarian anthropology, showing that human being is "being-in-relationship" -- both with God and for God.

Humanity with God

Our being is with God. We exist from God and do not exist without God, yet we are not to be confused with God. We are united with Jesus but not identical with him. We are differentiated from, yet in communion with God. Our participation, through the incarnation, in the trinitarian communion is the essence of human being, which is being-in-relationship. 
This being-in-relationship is the ordered correspondence of humanity with God and so we are an image of and witness to God. Jesus corresponds in his being to God in that he is God’s presence and thus relationship with humanity. Human being is acting in a way that corresponds to who we are graciously made to be—the daughters and sons of the Father of Jesus. 

Humanity for God

Our being-in-relationship with God is covenantal—it is being for God. The life of Jesus is a life of thanksgiving, obedience, invocation and freedom for God. The life of Jesus is true human personhood, and revelatory—unveiling for us that God is personal, and that humankind is established in Jesus and corresponds to Jesus who is the true and full imago Dei (image of God). 
Our being in relationship to God is dynamic—becoming in relation to God.  We are becoming what humanity is graciously determined to be—for God. Humanity’s covenantal relationship with God is not intrinsic to human personhood, but is the gift of divine grace enfleshed in Jesus, in whom humanity comes to existence and now exists in relation to God with a future in relation to God. 
Our being in relationship for God is that of perpetual giving. Jesus—the Man for God—is God’s own self-giving and outgoing to humankind that humankind might be included in, and mirror, the inner Triune relations. The relations of God and humanity as revealed in Jesus are not external but internal relationships in which each participates in the life of the other. God’s action in Christ takes place so that humankind might participate in the Triune life, which is life itself. Humanity is not alien to God’s being, but of its essence.”
These insights have important application in Christian counseling where the counselor, through the Holy Spirit, actively participates with Jesus as he, out of his glorified humanity united with his divinity and in union with us, ministers to people as they actually are in their fallen humanity. As is true for all humans (sinners all), those we counsel suffer to one degree or another from human dysfunction, which often is the result of sin (their sin or the sin of others—often the sin of both).

Because, as Gary notes, humans are beings-in-relationship, human dysfunction is fundamentally relational. Therefore in counseling, we must understand relational dynamics so that we may share well in what Jesus is doing in the lives of hurting people.

In The Cost of Discipleship and Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer refers to this relational ministry of Jesus as his “place-sharing.” In his union with all humanity, Jesus continuously shares the “place” (life) of all people. Our calling as Christian counselors (and as Christian ministers of all sorts), is to join with Jesus, the Savior and Wonderful Counselor, as he, through the Spirit, conducts his life-giving, healing, place-sharing ministry.

For a related earlier posts on this blog, click here and here.

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