Received and Inherent

Received and Inherent April 14, 2014

Jesus has “life in Myself” (John 5:26). That appears to be an inherent quality. But Jesus doesn’t set inherent and received in opposition: The life that He has in Himself is a gift from His Father. His quality of having-life-in-Himself is given to Him from Another.

And when He gives Himself, He gives this same quality: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves” (John 6:53). 

We might gloss this, “He was speaking of the Spirit” (cf. John 7:38-39). Jesus is given life-in-Himself when the Father bestows the Spirit on Him, and when Jesus give His flesh and blood to His people, He is giving the Spirit, so that we might have life in ourselves, so that rivers of living water might well up in us.

If the Son of God, or the incarnate Son of God, possesses things “in himself” that he has received, how much more creatures. Creatures have no “inherent” qualities, if that means “underived, unreceived”; we have nothing that we have not received, but those received qualities are no less “ours,” and no less “in ourselves” for having been received. 

Thus the Christian affirmation of creation disrupts any ontology that relies on “inherent” qualities, or underlying, implicitly autonomous “substance.” It exposes all efforts to build an ontology or anthropology from “inherent but not received” qualities as the idolatry that it is – an effort to be as God. 

It in fact exposes such efforts as efforts to make creatures more autonomous than God is – since even the Son received the life that He has in Himself. Ontologies that assume there are underived, ungiven qualities in creatures first remake God in the image of human fantasy (isolated, unrelated, un-derived and unbegotten from top to bottom) and then try to remake humans into the image of their fantasy.


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