"No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Luke 10:22)
"It would be more godly and true to signify God from the Son and call him Father, than to name God from his works alone and call him unoriginate." (St Athanasius, Con. Ar., 1:34)
For Vladika Lazar PuhaloFor showing me Christ,'the good and merciful and man-befriending God'
What is God like? Toxic images abound: God the punishing judge, the deadbeat dad, the genie in a bottle--false gods that need to be challenged. But what if, instead, God is completely Christlike? What if His love is more generous, his Cross more powerful, and his gospel more beautiful than we've dared to imagine? What if our clearest image of God is the self-giving, radically forgiving, co-suffering Love revealed on the Cross? What if we had A More Christlike God?
During my time in Nottingham, I had regular consultations with Dr. Mary Cunningham, an Eastern Orthodox scholar who taught church history/theology there for over 30 years. Here was her endorsement:
In kenosis, the Word was not deprived of anything. Christ remains in union with the Father. They are not separated, but takes on humanity in addition. Therefore, the most we can ascribe to kenosis is a voluntary self-limitation. For example, he accepts human limitations such as weariness and pain, even ignorance, for Christ said, 'As to when the end of the ages will come, no one knows the day or the hour, not even the Son of man. Only the Father knows.'
Perhaps rather than 'emptied himself,' it would be better to say that he poured himself out in love, and that love is his nature. And in this way, kenosis is plerosis. The supreme manifestation of this love, this glory, is the Cross. 'God is never so powerful as when he is most weak.'
As Christ said to Paul, "My strength is made perfect in weakness," and this applies to kenosis. We could say this at the very least: that kenosis reflects something of the eternal Being of God as self-giving love.
Fr. Andrew Louth: In the Trinity, there is a kind of kenosis in the sense of them making way for one another and, therefore, when Christ empties himself, he actually shows what it is to be God. Kenosis in the modern sense of the Lutheran kenoticists since the 18th century are concerned with what is being taken away, what it is for Christ to be human, with showing why God isn't there. Whereas I think in the fathers, kenosis means God coming down alongside us, his 'condescension' to live among us. For the Cappadocians and Maximus, kenosis is God's self-emptying love. Sometimes you get the impression of self-emptying so as to make it possible for us to see him, rather than God disguising himself. And sometimes kenosis is bound up with the nature of divine being, that love is not concerned with power or force, but love is essentially letting others be and become what they're created to be. And in that sense, kenosis is bound with the nature of love.
In Maximus' treatise on the Lord's Prayer, we empty ourselves in response to God's kenosis. We empty ourselves of the passions in order to receive him. In his treatise on the Lord's Prayer, he sees the kenosis of God as something inspired by love and the response is love.
As the Son involved his self-emptying (kenosis), so our deification involves our kenosis, the self-emptying of the passions. The way up is the way down: the kenosis of the Son demands the kenosis of the adopted sons; the manifestation of the One 'more beautiful than the sons of men' calls for the 'cultivation of the beauty given to them by grace.
Fr. John Behr: It is a mistake to think of kenosis as laying aside divine attributes. It is much better to think in terms of humility, self-effacing, self-sacrifical love, so that it is indeed in weakness that the power of God is made manifest, opening up a path for us also to enter into divine life. If Christ had put aside divine attributes to become human, we would not be able to share in his divinity; he would not be a mediator. etc.
In some ways, thinking along such lines results from starting off from an already conceived humanity and divinity - as other than each other. Surely, rather, the fundamental truth of Christianity is that the two are shown together, in and through each other; conceptually distinct (God creates, we are created etc), but only ever seen in one prosopon, one hypostasis.The difficulty of holding this together results in the many divergences over the centuries, but the creeds always bring us back to this fundamental point of the Gospel.