Regarding “He emptied himself”

by Andrea Elizabeth

from Inhabiting the Cruciform God by Michael Gorman, ch 1

What Crossan and Reed call “the normalcy of imperial divinity” forms the basic assumption lying behind the concessive use of the participle in 2:6. Nevertheless, two fundamentally different senses about what is being conceded are possible. One implies that Christ’s condescension was a contravention of his true identity, while the other impies that it was the embodiment of his true identity. Option one would be something like this

Although Messiah Jesus was in the form of God, a status that means the exercise of power, he acted out of character – in a shockingly ungodlike manner, contrary in fact to true (imperial) divinity – when he emptied and humbled himself.

In this reading, Christ, in effect, reounced his deity, or at least some aspect of it. He acted abnormally for one possessing equality with God. That is, the for of God that Christ had (and thus also essential divinity) is in fact one that would never condescend to the humiliation of incarnation and crucifixion. To do so would in fact be ungodlike.

Option two would be something like the following:

Although Messiah Jesus was in the form of God, a status people assume means the exercise of power, he acted in character – in a shockingly ungodlike manner according to normal but misguided human perceptions of divinity, contrary to what we would expect but, in fact, in accord with true divinity – when he emptied and humbled himself.

In this reading, Christ exercised his deity. What is out of character for normal divinity in our misguided perception of the reality of the form of God is actually in character for this form of God…

In other words, such a form of God (and thus also essential divinity) is in normal human perception one that would never condescend to incarnation and crucifixion. Normal human perception of deity is such that the story of Christ is counterintuitive, abnormal, and absurd as a story of God.

In the next few pages he talks about how the second option is better, and that God doesn’t “throw his weight around”.

I think I’m seeing how he’s setting up the “nonviolent” conclusion of the book.

How about it’s both!? Humility and power are two energies that God can use. Maybe he’s arguing from Absolute Divine Simplicity, if it means what I think it means, which is God has to act one way (See the Energetic Procession blog). Some like to hang on God is love for this, but love is a more complicated attribute. Anyway, I think ADS also means the western ordo theologaea of Attribute then Activity then Person. The Eastern OT is Person then Activity then Attribute. This allows the person to act freely, and the full range of possibilities define what a Person is. You know, feminists could use the eastern OT.

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