Perichoresis 17.2

Perichoresis 17.2 (2019)

A Theology of Seeing, Experiencing, and Vision. An Editorial Introduction

Ryan A. Brandt and Joshua R. Farris


What may seem astonishing is the near dismissal of the beatific vision doctrine in the last 50+ years of biblical and theological scholarship in contrast to the emphasis given to it throughout church history. The state of theological scholarship is changing. In what follows, we set forth a short survey of a theology of the beatific vision, while also introducing the rest of the volume on the beatific vision and theosis, of which we take to have an intimate and overlapping relationship. The editorial article has four parts: it begins by (1) introducing some of the relevant biblical material on the vision, proceeding to (2) develop a theological interpretation of those passages, and then (3) offer a short historical survey of the doctrine, focusing on the relevant medieval and Reformed developments. It finally (4) introduces the articles of the issue. PDF

The Vision of God: St. Thomas Aquinas on the Beatific Vision and Resurrected Bodies

Robert Llizo


The beatific vision is central to St. Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of the soul’s enlightenment. In its vision of the essence of God, the soul/intellect achieves its telos, its highest goal. But the resurrection of the body is a central dogma of the Christian faith, so the main question of this essay concerns the manner in which the resurrected body of the blessed benefits from the soul’s apprehension of the beatific vision. For St. Thomas, the physical eyes do not see the beatific vision, since they can only see magnitude and proportion, and God is beyond both. The soul is the body’s substantial form, and a person is not fully a person without the union of soul and body. As the body’s substantial form, the soul/intellect has the beatific vision as its substantial form. The result of the enlightened intellect with the resurrected body will be that the physical eyes will be able to see more readily the glory of God in creation and in redeemed humanity, and more supremely in the incarnate Christ himself. PDF

’To Behold its Own Delight’: The Beatific Vision in Irenaeus of Lyons

Brian J. Arnold


The aim of this essay is to give a high-level overview of Irenaeus’s beatific vision, and to suggest that for him, the beatific vision has a temporal dimension (now and future) and a dimension of degree (lesser now, greater in the future). His beatific vision is witnessed as it intersects with at least four main ideas in his writing—the Trinity, anthropology, resurrection, and his eschatology. Irenaeus famously held that ‘the glory of God is living man, and the life of man is the vision of God’ (AH 4.20.7), which speaks to the reality of seeing God in the present, but he could also look forward in anticipation to beholding the face of God in the resurrected body in the new creation. What made the latter possible is the gradual beholding of God in the present that makes one prepared to see God’s glory in the future. Additionally, the visio Dei is Trinitarian. We behold God in Christ, since God the Father is invisible, and it is the Holy Spirit who prepares us incrementally to see God.  PDF

’Blessed are the Dead Which Die in the Lord’: Andrew Fuller on the Beatific Vision

Michael A. G. Haykin and E. D. Burns


This essay examines the funeral sermon given by the Baptist theologian Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) for his friend and deacon Beeby Wallis in 1792 as a vantage-point from which to pursue reflection on Fuller’s concept of heaven and the beatific vision. The sermon has two main themes: the rest and rewards of those who die in Christ. The essay examines how Fuller interprets both of these phrases and then, looking at the rest of Fuller’s corpus, notes that ultimately God himself is the believer’s reward.  PDF

Deification in the Baptist Tradition: Christification of the Human Nature Through Adopted and Participatory Sonship Without Becoming Another Christ

Dongsun Cho


Some contemporary Baptists (Medley and Kharlamov) argue that the conservative Baptists in North America need to incorporate the concept of deification into their traditional soteriology because they failed to present the continual and transforming nature of salvation. However, many leading conservative Baptist systematicians (Garrett, Erickson, Demarest, and Keathley) demonstrate their concern about a possible pantheistic connotation of the doctrine of deification. Unlike the conservative Baptists, I argue for the necessity of working with the concept of deification in the traditional Baptist soteriology. The concept of deification is not something foreign to the Baptist tradition because Keach, Gill, Spurgeon, and Maclaren already demonstrated the patristic exchange formula ‘God became man so that man may become like God’. They considered the hypostatic union of two natures in Christ as the source and model of becoming like God or Christ, the true Image of God. Christians are called to be united with the glorified humanity of Christ by their adopted sonship and participation in the divine nature. Christification speaks of the real transformation of Christians in terms of a change in the mode of existence, not in nature. The four Baptists taught that Christian could participate in the communicable attributes of God, but not in the essence or incommunicable attributes of God. Therefore, Christification never produces another God-Man. Conservative Baptists do not have to compromise their traditional commitment to sola scriptura and the forensic nature of justification in their employment of the theme of deification. This paper concludes with four suggestions for contemporary Baptist discussions on deification. PDF

Radical, Baptist Eschatology: The Eschatological Vision of Vavasor Powell, Hanserd Knollys, and Benjamin Keach

Jonathan Arnold


Amidst the politically-charged climate of seventeenth-century England, a small, but influential makeshift group of Baptist divines developed an eschatological system that both encouraged their congregations to greater holiness and threatened the very existence of the proto-denomination. Even as most of the nascent group of dissenting congregations known as Baptists sought acceptance by the more mainstream dissent, those divines who accepted this particular form of millenarianism garnered unwanted attention from the authorities as they pressed remarkably close to the line of radical dissidence. Three of those Baptist divines—Vavasor Powell, Hanserd Knollys, and Benjamin Keach—provide helpful insights both into the range of millenarianism adopted by this group of Baptists and into the legitimacy of the charges of radicalism. This article examines the published works of these three ministers, comparing their visions for the eschatological future and analyzing the charges of radicalism placed against them by their contemporaries. PDF