In my earlier post, I outlined my plans for a sabbatical next month. Part of the plan is for study. I said I'd explain what I plan to study.
In brief, I want to study two things, and they interrelate.
How many wills?
First, in the first centuries of the Christian church, there were discussions about how many "wills" there are in the Trinity, and how many "wills" the incarnate Jesus had. That's to say: Do God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit each have a will, or is there one divine will? Did Jesus have a single will, or two because he had two natures? To put the question another way: Is "will" located in person or nature?
The orthodox conclusion was that will is located in nature, so the incarnate Jesus has two wills, and the Triune God has one.
But it's an area of patristic thought on which I'm not as informed as I'd like to be. I'm not clear who the main parties were back when this was first debated, what the historical and political issues were, and therefore why the conclusion was reached or how it was formulated.
Second, in 2016, Liam Goligher posted a couple of blog posts. Part 1. Part 2. He asked whether we are right to derive ordered relationships within the family and the church from the way the Father and the Son relate in eternity. All agree that Jesus, Son of God incarnate, submitted his will to God-the-Father-in-heaven. The question is whether we can map that back into eternity, before God the Son was incarnate.
This sparked a flurry of posts and counter-posts, with people taking both sides of the debate. Some of this merely proved that blog posting and social media are not the way to have serious theological debate, and that frequently you get more heat than light. But lots of useful thought came out as well.
At the time, and since, I've been too busy to engage with it all properly, and I'd like to.
What fascinates me is that this is a debate within the reformed community. Those who take different sides of the debate would agree with one another on almost everything else, and have a commitment to articulating their theological positions with great precision by distinguishing precisely what is and is not meant. In particular, they all remain complementarian; that's to say, they all believe that male-female relationships have a God-given order to them in the family and in the church. Yet they disagree on this precise point.
Not my will, but yours
These two topics become confluent in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prayed: "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)
What exactly is the contrast between "my will" and "your will" in this prayer?
I shall look forward to getting my teeth into all this.