The comedy of divine redemption holds that the game of life has been forever fixed in favor of reconciliation and rejoicing, against anger and alienation. The glad Gospel proclaims the news that God has determined not to let humanity dwell in the closed shell of its own sadness. Though still caught in the sinful oscillation and tragic ambivalence of life, we have also been transported beyond condemnation and bitterness into the joy of life eternal.
[For the early Christians] the Trinity was not a divine game of peek-a-boo in which a playful deity peeps out at them from behind different masks (now the ancient fellow with the beard, now the infant, now the bird, and so on) until God tires of the whole charade. No, when these Christians met God they were swept up into God’s own inner life of mutual relationship. The Word who becomes incarnate and the Spirit who moves over the chaos of human hearts are not *temporary* patch-up efforts on the part of a bumbling deity who had not quite counted on human recalcitrance. Instead, the Word and Spirit are *eternally* enacting the communion who is God, and into this communion Christians are drawn. For the Father is never just Father, but eternally delights to pour himself out, give himself away in the ‘othering,’ the speaking, of the Word. The delight that draws the Father beyond simple oneness toward Another is the same love, the same Spirit, who likewise draws forth from the Word an eternal response of loving self-surrender to the Father.
Human beings may separate things into as many piles as we wish - separating spirit from flesh, sacred from secular, church from world. But we should not be surprised when God does not recognize the distinctions we make between the two. Earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars.
The point [of Job] is that the man who accepts our ordinary standard of good and by it hotly criticizes divine justice receives the divine approval: the orthodox, pious people who palter with that standard in the attempt to justify God are condemned. Apparently the way to advance from our imperfect apprehension of justice to the absolute justice is not to throw our imperfect apprehensions aside but boldly to go on applying them.
Since Moses was alone, by having been stripped as it were of the people’s fear, he boldly approached the very darkness itself and entered the invisible things where he was no longer seen by those watching. After he entered the inner sanctuary of the divine mystical doctrine, there, while not being seen, he was in company with the Invisible. He teaches, I think, by the things he did that the one who is going to associate intimately with God must go beyond all that is visible and—lifting up his own mind, as to a mountaintop, to the invisible and incomprehensible—believe that the divine is there where the understanding does not reach.
Christians see that with Jesus human and divine nature began to be woven together, so that by fellowship with divinity human nature might become divine, not only in Jesus, but also in all those who believe and go on to undertake the life which Jesus taught, the life which leads everyone who lives according Jesus’ commandments to friendship with God and fellowship with Jesus.
That is why “It is finished” is such good news. For Irenaeus, Jesus is the one who recapitulates all that God has done on our behalf until the final consummation. But this means that in Christ that recapitulation continues in the world. We, the body of Christ, through the Spirit, turn out to be “the finished.” This, I believe, is what Athanasius meant by his dictum that God became human so that humans might become divine. Which means, as Richard Neuhaus puts it in his reflections on the seven words in his Death on a Friday Afternoon, “It is finished. But it is not over.” God remains at work making us, his creatures, divine.