Monday, August 8, 2016

Delight – The Dance of the Trinity


"In that Trinity is the highest origin of all things, and the most perfect beauty, and the most blessed delight." – Augustine of Hippo, On the Trinity, 6.10.12

Some of what follows is a bit heady. But, I suspect that emphasizing delight might sound sentimental and perhaps frivolous. It is neither. It is the Christian conviction that God is an eternal friendship dance of delight. Thus, delight is about as weighty a theological concept as any.

Related to delight are concepts and experiences like: Love (which like Grace includes Mercy), Beauty, Joy, Ecstasy, Rapture, Desire, Happiness, Cherish, Splendor, Glory, etc. Each of these is characteristic of divinity. Humans – and all creation – were created to partake in and reflect each of them as well.

The Beauty of the Infinite by Orthodox theologian, David Bentley Hart, is considered one of the most significant theological works so far this century. It is a serious exploration of God as beauty and delight. Below are some quotes from that book.

The Christian understanding of beauty emerges not only naturally, but necessarily from the Christian understanding of god as a perichoresis of love, a dynamic coinherence of the three divine persons, whose life is eternally one of shared regard, delight, fellowship, feasting and joy. (p. 155)

The most elementary statement of theological aesthetics is that God id beautiful: and not only that God id beauty or the essence and archetype of beauty, nor even only that God is the highest beauty, but that, as Gregory the Theologian says, God is beauty and also beautiful, whose radiance shines upon and is reflected in his creatures (Oration 28.30-31). As Dionysius insists, we should not distinguish between God as beauty and as infinitely beautiful, the splendor that gathers all things toward and into itself (De divinis nominibus 4.7). (p. 177)

True beauty is not the idea of the beautiful, a astatic archetype in the “mind” of God, but is an infinite “music,” drama, art, completed in – but never “bounded” by – the termless dynamism of the Trinity’s life; God is boundless, and so is never a boundary; his music possesses the richness of every transition, interval, measure, variation – all dancing and delight. And because he is beautiful, being abounds with difference: shape, variety, manifold relation,. Beauty is the distinction of the different, the otherness of the other, the true form of distance. And the Holy Spirit who perfects the divine love, so that it is not only reflective, but also evocative – calling out to yet another as pure delight, outgoing, both uncompelled and unlimited – also makes the divine joy open to the otherness of what is not divine, of creation, without estranging it from it divine “logic”; and the Spirit communicates difference as primordially the gift of beauty, because his difference within the Trinity is the happiness that perfects desire, the fulfillment of love; the Spirit comes to rest in the Son, there finding all the joy he seeks, reinflecting all the distance between the Father and Son not as bare cognizance, but as delight, the whole rapture of the divine essence. Jonathan Edwards calls the Spirit the beautifier, the one in whom the happiness of God overflows and is perfected precisely as overflowing, and o the one who bestows radiance, shape, clarity, and enticing splendor upon what God creates and embraces in the superabundance of his love. (p. 179-180)

Becoming a People of God's Mercy and Delight, Part 1

Becoming a People of God's Mercy and Delight, Part 2

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