Jonathan Edwards Week – God is a Communicative Being

One of the fundamental axioms of Jonathan Edwards’ theology is that God is a communicative being. Edwards says that “It is God’s essence to incline to communicate himself.” (Misc. 107) He also says that

“This disposition to communicate himself is what we must conceive of as being originally in God as a perfection of his nature. “(End in Creation, 207)

 So what exactly is God communicating? We might say that in communicating himself God is communicating his own glory. Edwards’ miscellanies shed light on this concept. In miscellanies 247 Edwards says that “His own glory was the ultimate, Himself was His end – that is, Himself communicated.” This divine self-communication (or self-glorification) occurs in two different ways, it occurs ad intra and ad extra – that is within the inner workings of the Trinity and the external workings of the Trinity. Regarding the first Edwards says:

God is glorified within himself in two ways: 1. By appearing or being manifest to Himself in his own perfect idea; or in his Son who is the brightness of his glory. 2. By enjoying and delighting in himself by flowing forth in infinite Love and delight towards Himself or in his Holy Spirit. (Misc 448)

Because God is a communicative being, God tends toward further communication of himself. Thus God is inclined to enlarge, increase, and multiply his own self through a multiplication of beautiful relations. God does this, through the communication of his self-knowledge and self-love, which occurs through Christ and the Holy Spirit respectively. However we are still talking about intra-Trinitarian communication, and we know that God’s disposition to self-communicate can come to completion ad intra. However God’s glory is an infinitely self-enlarging glory so God makes it so that this same self-communication ad intra also occurs ad extra. This partly occurs in God’s creation of the world which is an exercise of of the divine disposition towards self-communication.

Regarding this self-communication ad extra Edwards writes:

It is a regard to himself that disposes him to diffuse and communicate himself. It is such a delight in his own internal fullness and glory that disposes him to abundant effusion and emanation of that glory. The same disposition, that inclines him to delight in his glory, causes him to delight in the exhibitions, expressions, and communications of it. (End in Creation 215)

But all this is about God’s self-communication and self-glorification which all flows out from the Trinitarian life of God. How do sentient beings, participate in the glorification of God? What is these beings role (whether humans or angels) in glorifying God? To answer these questions we need to look at two other axiom’s Edwards’ Trinitarian theology… but we’ll save that for later.

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