The doctrine of the Trinity reminds us that though the capacity to love may not be [fully realisable] in human nature as we have it, it is the essence of God's nature. What is Christianity, if it is not the message that God has entered into the history of the world for the purpose of restoring the image, of re-making our human nature after the pattern of the divine, of changing us beyond our capacity to change ourselves?
Leonard Hodgson, The Doctrine of the Trinity, (London: Nisbet, 1943), pp. 186-7.
I have taken the considerable liberty of qualifying Hodgson's original text as indicated in square brackets. For myself I have no doubt whatsoever that the capacity to love exists, albeit imperfectly, incompletely and, in important areas, frustrated and unfulfilled. But love we do, and love we give and receive, and the love of one human person for another, and for the humanity of others in its various expressions of community, is a rather definitive quality in those who are imago dei, and God is love.
The restoring of the image is of a spoilt masterpiece not a blank or erased canvas. Athanasius knew that. But changing us beyond our capacity to change ourselves? Oh yes, that's what we mean by grace that redeems, transforms, transfigures, renews and restores. In that sense we are damaged masterpieces, being conformed to the image of Christ in his humanity, and being transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we discern the m ind of Christ.
One more poignant thought - my copy of Hodgson used to belong to Dr David Wright, lately of New College Edinburgh, and one of Scotland's galaxy of scholars during the second half of the 20th Century. Hodgson is a forgotten theologian - but interestingly this morning, reading a book on Christendom by Aidan Nicholls I came across his name, quoted with approval and as a substantial voice in the debate about how the essence of the Christian Gospel is articulated in both poetry and philosophy.