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Phil - Yes, I did read the material on the site you linked. It was well written, but reiterated the majority of what I have previously studied and read concerning this teaching. I am not very familiar with the Catholic Church’s doctrines from a personal experience, however through my protestant/christian education, Big Grin I am very familiar with the doctrines on a theoretical/philosophical basis.

The reason that I mentioned the human comparison (trichotomy) with the trinity – is in refutation of the typical proof passage of Genesis (let us make man in our image), which you appropriately answered a priori.

I really appreciate the professionalism of the site and your well-thought responses. It is hard to find a place where differences of thought can be honestly and maturely discussed without emotional and childish responses.

I would counter that Christ and Paul both spoke of the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, of which I do not see either making a distinction from God Himself. I have not found a single passage (and maybe you can point me to one) that distinguishes the person of the spirit of God (God the Holy Spirit) from the person of God who is a spirit (God the Father). Nor do I find any doctrinal difficulty in such a dichotomy view of God (spiritual existence and physical revelation). The Bible clearly teaches the Father/Son personages, and clearly distinguishes their roles and existences. I suppose a coherent explanation of what scripture plainly teaches (IMHO) is that the Father/Son roles of God have relevance only in that relational context with both personages being in essence God (who is a spirit). Christ did not say that He, the Spirit and the Father are one (overt proof). He did say that He (son – man/God) and the Father (God) are one.

Again, let me say that I do not hold anyone in a negative light or have a lower opinion of anyone who believes in the Trinity, nor am I trying t be argumentative. I am only wishes to come to an understanding of what you believe and to insure that I have not erred in my Christian beliefs or practices. I find it commendable for you and of no difficulty of faith to believe in the Trinity. From what I have seen of the church, the most of those individuals who do not hold to the Trinitarian doctrine, also have many doctrinal discrepancies with some leading to error and false doctrine. I wish to safeguard from such an end and that is the purpose for my questions and comments.

As for the Christian University – no it was a typo – I am not the best typist. It actually is a very conservative, traditional Baptist university.

Wanda – no problem at all – I would be honored to have you as a friend. Thank you for the sweet response.

Let me conclude this post by saying that I truly do love you all and am grateful for the site and the opportunity to chat with you. It is wonderful to come to a place on the web where it is evident that God is loved and lifted up!
 
Posts: 30 | Location: Ringgold, GA | Registered: 20 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am not very familiar with the Catholic Church's doctrines from a personal experience, however through my protestant/christian education, Big Grin I am very familiar with the doctrines on a theoretical/philosophical basis.

The doctrine of the Trinity is one which Catholic and Protestant Christians hold in common. In fact, it is one of the definitive beliefs of the Christian religion. On this and several other key doctrines, Catholics and Protestants are in agreement.

I really appreciate the professionalism of the site and your well-thought responses. It is hard to find a place where differences of thought can be honestly and maturely discussed without emotional and childish responses.


Thanks for the affirmation. Much appreciated! There are some world class contributors to this forum, that's for sure. Smiler

I would counter that Christ and Paul both spoke of the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, of which I do not see either making a distinction from God Himself.

No, that would be unusual, for the Holy Spirit is considered to be God just as surely as the Father and the Son.

I have not found a single passage (and maybe you can point me to one) that distinguishes the person of the spirit of God (God the Holy Spirit) from the person of God who is a spirit (God the Father).

Try these:

"I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever, that Spirit of Truth. . . but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you." (Jn. 14, 16-17)
- Note, the Spirit is referred to as "he" and is One the Father will send. He is "another" Advocate, not merely a different manifestation of Father and Son.

There are others I could point to, but you asked for one and there it is. I don't see any confusion among the authors of Scripture concerning a discintion between the Holy Spirit as another Person of the Trinity, and God-as-Spirit.
Nor do I find any doctrinal difficulty in such a dichotomy view of God (spiritual existence and physical revelation).

Except for the tiny little detail of it being unorthodox. Wink

Christ did not say that He, the Spirit and the Father are one (overt proof). He did say that He (son – man/God) and the Father (God) are one.

Overt proof: "He (the Spirit) will glorify me, since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine. Everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said: All he tells you will be taken from what is mine." (Jn. 16, 15)
- Note the reference to the Spirit as personal, and the Spirit's sharing in the divine nature.

Again, let me say that I do not hold anyone in a negative light or have a lower opinion of anyone who believes in the Trinity, nor am I trying t be argumentative. I am only wishes to come to an understanding of what you believe and to insure that I have not erred in my Christian beliefs or practices.

So far so good, pessimist! Smiler

It's obvious that the Holy Spirit is a most mysterious aspect of revelation, and more difficult to identify as a Person of the Godhead than the Father and the Son. But the belief of the early Church expressed in Scripture leaves little doubt in this matter, as far as I can tell, and the ongoing reflection of the Church on this revelation brought the doctrine into clearer light, as evidenced by the quotes from Ignatius of Antioch and others (1st C.) earlier in this thread.

Shalom. Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I read this and thought it might be of interest to those pursuing this topic.

Reconsidering Christian Heresies Summer Sermon Series: Welcoming Home the Lost Sheep

Arianism

http://www.apocryphile.net/homily/sermons/heresy7.pdf

Preached at Grace North Church October 10, 1998
by Rev. Dr. John R. Mabry. (Recent addition to Shalom Place's list of Spiritual Directors http://shalomplace.com/directi...rs.html#John%20Mabry )

I particularly liked his ending prayer:

Jesus, begotten of God, and deliverer of our souls, forgive us, for in our efforts to understand the mystery that is you we have often worked violence upon our brothers and sisters. Help us to be still before this mystery, to refrain from judging lest we ourselves know the pain of judgement and give us grace to extend to those whose understanding is different from our own. For you are God for us, and you are the human one, and in this paradox we seek to rest eternally. Amen.
 
Posts: 38 | Location: Deerfield, IL | Registered: 07 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for the reference, Terri. I read John's sermon, and while I think he makes some good points, I don't think showing sympathy for Arianism is the best way to affirm the humanity of Christ. For what Arianism affirms, basically, is that there was no more divine nature present in Christ than in each of us--that Jesus developed/realized it, and therein lies his genius. This is a far cry from the prologue to John's Gospel, wherein we read that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . and the Word became flesh." That all predates the Arian controversy by several centuries and expresses a deep intuition into the nature of Christ held by the early Church. We note, too, how many times Luke and Paul call Jesus the Lord, a term reserved for God alone.

There is a neo-Arianism which holds that Jesus, while possessing only a human soul, became divine through the leavening grace of the Holy Spirit in the same manner that we are called to be divinized on the spiritual journey. In this view, the human Jesus eventually grows into divinity, is the first born of the new creation, sits at the right hand of the Father, intercedes for the race, etc. He is truly "a man like us in all things but sin," as the letter to the Hebrews notes. But we are still a long ways from being faithful to the theological affirmations in John's Gospel, and the theology of atonement isn't much helped by this position.

There is another, more orthodox position, however, which maintains that Jesus, while being the incarnate Word/Son of the Father, possessed a human soul which was completely integrated with his divine nature. In this view, the human Jesus developed as all humans do, and in such a way that his divinity never eclipsed his humanity. He had to learn and grow and even develop a human identity just as we do, but he did so in the fullest possible union with the divine. Thus he shows us at every stage of development what it is like to be fully human in the best sense of the phrase. He is no less human because he possesses divinity as part of his being, but is, rather, a new human being, a new Adam. It seems that Paul, especially, was attuned to this "low Christology," as it is sometimes called. Through his death, resurrection, ascension, Jesus is exalted as the first-born of a new creation of human beings, as the old is considered dead to sin and an evolutionary dead-end. It is this new humanity in Christ which Jesus makes available to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit that we might become as he is and live as he lives. As you can see, this is a little different from Arianism and even neo-Arianism in that Jesus is a new human being because he possesses divinity as part of his nature, and not because of grace.

As in so many of these kinds of discussions, there are half-truths and distortions to be dealt with. E.g., if Christ was the "first born," then the Son could not be God, as the Son had a beginning. The Catholic Church is quite clear on this one--that the divine Logos/Word/2nd person of the Trinity is eternal, but that the human soul of Jesus was created and had a beginning.

Then there's George Burns' Hollywood-ified PC theology, wherein "Jesus is my son, Buddha was my son, you are all my children," etc. Never mind that Buddha never said any such thing, nor that Christian theology makes a distinction between creatures being words of the Word and Jesus being the Incarnate Word. Note how the unique claims by Christ are swept out the door in Burns' PC-pleasing phrase, and how, in his movies, the spiritual life reduced to a few moral platitudes requiring no faith commitments, no organized religion, and no membership in a community.

Hollywood! Roll Eyes

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I really do appreciate the care you have taken in responding to my queries.

If I may counter your arguably vague verse (proof text) with a few that run contrary to that idea.

To begin with, to constiute a trinity implies equality of essence among its members. However, Christ alluded to an inferiority of himself when compared to the father. For instance, "For God is one; and one is mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus." -- 1 Timothy 2:5. Christ is clearly identified as being separate from God; and what about this verse, "No one has seen God at any time." -- John 1:18 , and again ". . . the Father is greater than I." -- John 14:28. Even Christ seemed to separate himself in accordance with "There is no God but one." -- I Corinthians 8:4, by stating this, "Yeshua(Jesus) said to him, 'Why are you calling me good? No one is good except God!" -- Mark 10:18. Christ even acknowledged God as being greater than he. ". . . let your will be done, not mine." -- Luke 22:42,43, and identified himself with man rather than identifying himself with God, "I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." -- John 20:17. John and Peter both allude that God was separate in essence from Christ by stating; "And this is the eternal life, that they know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom thou didst send." -- John 17:3, and "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." -- 1 Peter 1:3.

But let’s get back on track with the concept itself. "The word Trinity is not found in the Bible . . . It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century." -- The Illustrated Bible Dictionary

"The N[ew] T[estament] does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity." -- Rotherham - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology:

The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: "The formulation 'one God in three Persons' was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective." - (1967), Vol. XIV, p. 299.

The Encyclopedia Americana: "Christianity derived from Judaism and Judaism was strictly Unitarian [believing that God is one person]. The road which led from Jerusalem to Nicea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching." -- (1956), Vol. XXVII, p. 294L.

"The belief as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief. The trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of "person" and "nature: which are Gk philosophical terms; actually the terms do not appear in the Bible. The trinitarian definitions arose as the result of long controversies in which these terms and others such as "essense" and "substance" were erroneously applied to God by some theologians." Dictionary of the Bible by John L. McKenzie, S.J. p. 899

I am running short on time, but I will add some comments regarding the spirit of God and the verses you quoted soon. Again a sincere thank you for the discussion.
 
Posts: 30 | Location: Ringgold, GA | Registered: 20 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Pessimist, I've already acknowledged that a fine-tuned, philosophically-honed doctrine of the Trinity as we have today is not found in the New Testament. I've also pointed out the early beginnings of the development of the doctrine in the NT in references to the Persons of the Trinity that are found there. If Jesus doesn't identify himself as equal with the Father in some quotes, that shouldn't be surprising in that the human Jesus related to the Father as we do, even as, at times, he'll say, referring to his divine nature, "the Father and I are one," or "he who sees me, sees the Father."

What we would say in Catholicism is that the doctrine of the Trinity belongs to Sacred Tradition, and so is considered truth about God on the same level as Scripture. You look to Scripture alone for "proofs" and examples, which is why you cannot bring yourself to affirm the more developed doctrine found in Sacred Tradition. For Catholics, Sacred Tradition is not something unrelated to Scripture, but represents the Church's discerned reflections on the meaning of Scripture. As such, Scripture and Tradition go together. If you go with Scripture alone, you'll never see what is perceived when Scripture and Tradition are considered together. This is how Catholics, Episcopalians, and a few other Christian groups come to understanding of revealed truth, and it differs from the approach taken by other groups which look to Scripture alone and mistakenly view Tradition as "man's word" or something like that.

Click here for a discussion of what Catholics believe about Tradition, and how this is different from what many Protestants believe. The 2nd pgh. in particular is relevant to this discussion.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Psssssst Phil...that was jwb who posted the sermons not me..lol Wink Just thought I'd clear that up. Big Grin
 
Posts: 609 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 27 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ahh, sorry, Terri. You alpha-numeric types all look alike. Wink

BTW, I don't want to give the impression from my post above that the doctrine of the Trinity is only affirmed by Christian denominations which recognize Sacred Tradition. There are countless Bible-only Christian denominations which affirm the Trinity based on what's presented in the Bible. There's no doubt that they borrow somewhat from Tradition in expressing their convictions, but they don't depend on it.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil, you are doing an excellent job of responding to my questions and you have brought another one to mind. The passage you quoted as offering proof that the divine nature of Christ ((he'll say, referring to his divine nature, "the Father and I are one.")) also includes his prayer that we (humanity) will be one with the father even as they (father and son) are one. If that passage speaks of his divinity then are we to conclude (as would be rational) that we become divine upon salvation as well? Or does this passage rather speak of unity of spirit/will between the believer and God and not of equality of status/divinty?
 
Posts: 30 | Location: Ringgold, GA | Registered: 20 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Pessimist, the prayers of Christ in Jn. 17 express his hope and intention: namely, that we will be with Him where he is, to share fully in what is his with the Father in the Spirit. This is the fruit of the spiritual journey, and a consequence of the transformative process effected by grace that we call divinization.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I would suggest that, in dealing with the Trinity, one has a careful look at the Orthodox tradition. The "filioque" clause is more than an academic distinction. I believe it has had an effect on Western practice through the centuries and is at the heart of the psychological orientation of Western Christian spirituality which I have mentioned in another post. As it is held in the West, there are serious ontological reasons for questioning it. It implies that reality is "mediated" in some way, and we know this is not true. Rather than conceiving of the Trinity in a manner consistent with traditional views which were based on concepts concerning the nature of reality which have been negated by modern science, it may be more productive to see it from a less anthropomorphic and more ontological perspective. This change does not deny the Trinity, but does view it in a manner more consistent with Orthodox theology as well as certain Eastern points-of-view. The change also alters practice in a significant manner and leads to approaches more in accord with what Arraj suggests in his book, God, Zen, and the Intuition of Being.
 
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rhoft, I'm sure you're getting at something profoundly important, as the filoque clause has certainly differentiated Eastern and Roman Christian theology, and therefore practice. I'm not sure how this connects with Arraj's book on Zen, however. Would you please elaborate?

Thanks! Smiler
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have enjoyed reading all the posts on this topic of the trinity. Smiler

Phil,
I really appreciate your knowledge and understanding of the bible. Continue to use the gifts that the Lord has given you and share your wisdom with us. Smiler

I see that Steve has been banned from here. Cool
I have been trying to explain the trinity to him as well on another discussion board. If you like, you can go there. It's at heartlight.org Once there go to community then heart to heart message board then discussions and debates then the topic Who is God? or Trinity-Biblical proof.
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Maryland | Registered: 30 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Pessimist, you've discovered one of the greatest truths of Christianity--some would say the greatest truth, the meaning of life itself! The ultimate goal of our spiritual lives is theosis or divinization or deification--"becoming God." Sadly, most Western denominations have forgotten it and deny it, we Catholics uphold it, but seldom teach it directly. The Orthodox, however do teach it as the central doctrine of the Christian faith.

HOLD ON TO THIS! Embrace it with everything you have. Don't let it go as "another interesting thought." Explore it, learn it, be touched by it--it WILL change your life, it is the very meaning of life! I have a page on theosis at www.frimmin.com/faith/theosis.html

Rhoft, I think you're right on the problems with conventional Trinitarian understanding, particularly the Western form, filioque. The main problem, I think, is that God is beyond concepts, beyond names, beyond being grasped intellectually, but an unmystical assertion of a Trinitarian formula--God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 3 Persons in one God--essentially tries to do what cannot be done, summarize Ultimate Reality into a formula, erecting an intellectual cage for God, keeping the ONE safely separate from ourselves. Treating Trinity as a fact to be believed, rather than an understanding to be encountered. It baffles and perplexes millions of Christians, causes millions to be labeled heretics, and offends tens of millions from even becoming Christian. It overemphasizes the divinity of Jesus to the extent that many Christians cannot grok his humanity. Kenosis is proclaimed but theosis is ignored. And sadly, the children in the pews and even the adults often get from it a "Jim Crow" God, three Persons "separate, but equal" but one, somehow.

From my readings in Church history, NONE OF THIS was ever the intention, (except for labeling heretics!) The Cappadocian Church Fathers who did the most work on formulating Trinitarian thought were concerned with preserving the divinity of Christ, so that the whole Church would know that Jesus was truly human, truly suffered, and truly God, not an intermediate being between God and man. The purpose of Trinity was not to summarize God, "God IS Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," but to say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all One God, leaving it open-ended whatever else God might be.

The Greek Fathers had a sense of the "energies of God" (energeia--ie. Father, Son, and Spirit) which relate to the Man and the Universe, flowing out from the unknowable,unmoveable "essence of God" (ousia), with ove into the Universe. From the Ousia, the "Godhead", the Father creates, the Son redeems, the Spirit indwells. They used the word "Hypostases" (Expressions) to describe Father, Son, and Holy Spirit's relationship to the unspeakable essence of God. The Latin bishops translated "hypostases" as "Personae" which referred to the expressive masks actors wore in the theater.

Unfortunately, Personae gets mangled as "Persons" rather than translated as Expressions, causing an impression of separateness which was NEVER INTENDED. Think of how Trinity might impress you if you had heard it as "three Expressions of one God-essence." Very different, huh?

But mystics early on found even this quite inadequate to describe God. St.Patrick's "Lorica" first invokes the Trinity and proceeds to panENtheistically (not pantheistically) to invoke all the elements of Creation, Sun, Moon, Fire, Lightning, Water, Earth; he then embraces the Son as the Cosmic Christ, permeating everything: Christ above me, Christ below me...Christ in the eye of everyone who sees me, Christ in the ear of everyone who hears me..."

100 years later, Pseudo-Dionysius (St. Denys)wrote "The Divine Names" in which he reworked the Trinity along the Expressions idea as Being-Wisdom-Life and Power-Wisdom-Peace. For 200 years, this book and his other masterpiece, "Mystical Theology" were considered second only to the Bible itself.

Karen Armstrong writes in "A History of God," that the West was never really comfortable with the Trinity, considering more a puzzle to be solved rather than a mystery we live in. Posts in the thread would seem to bear her out.

However, in the 14th century a Rhineland Dominican priest, Meister Eckhart, developed what I consider the most sublime and true vision of Trinity, fully faithful to the Bible's vision of God's panentheistic immanence in, and transcendence of, Creation.

Eckhart saw that the Father is the Father of ALL speaking the Word that creates All, so the only-begotten Son, that which he Fathers, and the Word which he speaks, must be--ALL! There is only one Son begotten by the Father, one Word spoken, and that is the Universe itself! But the Only-Begotten is eternally begotten, so we are being birthed as ourselves by God, being divinized by God, and like Mary, birthing God in our hearts as Love, which is the Spirit flowing between the Father and the Son.

Of course, I've got a web page on this too (plug, plug) at www.frimmin.com/faith/godinall.html .I find that as I go on the journey, that only mystical Trinitarian thought speaks to me. The rest seems like dust, if not poison to my Spirit. In contemplation and other moves of God, it is possible to sense the ineffable ONE behind, within, through all things; a Trinity which cannot embrace that will not do.

Look to the Fire in your heart.
 
Posts: 32 | Registered: 31 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Jon, thanks for a wonderful post, especially for the reference to theosis, which I've also heard called divinization. I have great respect for Orthodox Christian theology and the way it so points one toward a mystical spirituality.

In one of my earlier posts on this thread, I called attention to this process as follows: ". . .since Christ, the human race has been brought directly into the life of the Trinity. Through his union with the Word, or Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus, as a member of the human race, made it possible for us to experience the Trinitarian love flow in our souls. His infusion into the Word is what we celebrate today, Ascension Thursday. His outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, which we celebrate in 10 days, was the tangible manifestation of the new and powerful infusion of Trinitarian Life into the human level of existence. What this means is that we can know and love God not only as the creature loves the Creator, but as Christ knows and loves God. In other words, we can know and love God with God's own Knowing and Loving, which is pretty awesome, when you come think about it." That growth in knowing and loving God with God's own knowing and loving is precisely what the spiritual journey is about.

You wrote: Rhoft, I think you're right on the problems with conventional Trinitarian understanding, particularly the Western form, filioque. The main problem, I think, is that God is beyond concepts, beyond names, beyond being grasped intellectually, but an unmystical assertion of a Trinitarian formula--God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 3 Persons in one God--essentially tries to do what cannot be done, summarize Ultimate Reality into a formula, erecting an intellectual cage for God, keeping the ONE safely separate from ourselves. Treating Trinity as a fact to be believed, rather than an understanding to be encountered. It baffles and perplexes millions of Christians, causes millions to be labeled heretics, and offends tens of millions from even becoming Christian. It overemphasizes the divinity of Jesus to the extent that many Christians cannot grok his humanity. Kenosis is proclaimed but theosis is ignored. And sadly, the children in the pews and even the adults often get from it a "Jim Crow" God, three Persons "separate, but equal" but one, somehow.

OK, that danger is there, as the Church herself acknowledges in teachings about the Trinity. The Roman Catholic approach as articulated by Thomas Aquinas is not to cling to concepts as "intellectual cages," but to see through them. In that sense, concepts are part of the formative, sacramental approach of Roman Catholicism, configuring in one a distincitve faith-receptivity that is, of course, similar in so many ways to the Orthodox Tradition.

Jon, given what I've just pointed out, why not consider the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Trinity as something of a koan? It tells us something, but also frustrates the attempt to cage God and points beyond to a mystery that is meant to be experienced?


Karen Armstrong writes in "A History of God," that the West was never really comfortable with the Trinity, considering more a puzzle to be solved rather than a mystery we live in. Posts in the thread would seem to bear her out.


I'm not sure I follow you here. Maybe you could point out the posts you see as puzzle-solving to help me better understand, especially since I have been the one doing most of the "explaining."

Eckhart saw that the Father is the Father of ALL speaking the Word that creates All, so the only-begotten Son, that which he Fathers, and the Word which he speaks, must be--ALL! There is only one Son begotten by the Father, one Word spoken, and that is the Universe itself! But the Only-Begotten is eternally begotten, so we are being birthed as ourselves by God, being divinized by God, and like Mary, birthing God in our hearts as Love, which is the Spirit flowing between the Father and the Son.

Some of these teachings were condemned by the Church, as they don't seem to make distinctions between creation and the Creator--e.g., "one Word spoken, and that is the Universe itself!" But that part is not really essential to what follows about being divinized by God, inasmuch as theologies of adoption and sancitification affirm the same.

I enjoyed visiting your web site again. You've got a lot of great resources there and some fun pages as well.

Phil
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi, Phil,

Regarding Trinity as a puzzle to be solved, I would say Steve's posts represented that stance. Unable to see a solution as it were, he rejected the puzzle. Now what you say about koan is great, Trinity is a mystical concept and must be expressed mystically, if at all. Unfortunately, it seldom is.

Re: Eckhart. He was condemned, to be sure, but Eckhartian scholars universally consider his condemnation false (John XXII was the nice guy who had many of the Fratricelli Fransciscans burned at the stake http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08431a.htm ). The Paulist Press book, "Meister Eckhart," in the Classics of Western Spirituality goes into extensive treatment on the doubtfulness of Eckhart's condemnation. He actually died in good graces with the Church and was condemned surprisingly three years later. Transcripts of the trial have recently been recovered. He was not a pantheist but in his sermons made very clear distinctions between Godhead, God, and creatures as sons of God (and therefore part of the Son) being divinized and birthed by God.

A great theme in his teaching was what is called the "already/not yet" paradox. ("Already" the world is saved and Satan has been defeated, but "not yet" is everyone consciously knowing the Lord). Eckhart would often make very provocative statements from the Already/eternity/God's eye point of view, and then defend it Scripturally at explaining the "not yet" experience that we have and will have until the fulness of our rebirth.

He cut little slack for his hearers; it's apparent to me that he expected everyone he spoke to to be an intellectual on the contemplative path, which was probably not unreasonable, given his main audiences were fellow Scholastics at the Universities of Paris, Schlossberg, and the Beguines. My guess is that enthusiastic persons came away from his homilies inspired and trying to share the wildness of the insights they had been given, and did a bad job of it (as I just did) getting him into trouble. His spirituality is in keeping with St. Paul "the entire creation is groaning in one great act of giving birth for the sons of God to be revealed," and the panentheistic/theotic streams of the Bible, Dionysius, and the Neoplatonic stream of Scholastic thought, very much like Aquinas in most regards, (who, BTW, was also condemned before he became Saint and Doctor of the Church).

I'm still learning about Eckhart, but my gut reaction is that as astronomy acquits Galileo, contemplation acquits Eckhart. Sooner or later, Rome will realize it.

Commenting on him is difficult because he is literally mind-blowing, so I would suggest reading him and forming your own opinions "Passion for Creation" by Matthew Fox has very helpful commentary and fresh translations of 37 of his sermons, arranged in order to present his spirituality (many of his sermons relate directly to the matter of contemplation).

BTW, in case you're wondering, there has never been a condemnation of panentheism. Pantheism has been of course, but panentheism comes directly from contemplating the majesty of God, and the Church has rightly left it alone.
 
Posts: 32 | Registered: 31 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I will quote from my previous ruminations of johnboysian metaphysics and hope that by doing so I can obscure what may aready be clear in this thread Wink

I've never taken this long to join a Shalomplace thread because I hold firm to the notion that S/he who speaks of the Trinity lies! [sorta kidding] Let's add 2 more winks Wink Wink

Let me first say that I like panentheism.

Let me also suggest that the reason Eckhart survived the Inquisition and burning at the stake may be because he made heavily nuanced distinctions between things that were said metaphorically versus anagogically versus unitively versus apophatically versus kataphatically using conjunctive versus disjunctive awareness, etc ad infinitum. One could only accuse him of quietism if one wrenched what he said out of context and allowed it to swell to madness in such isolation, ignoring the differences in speech and logic I set forth above.

We must not lose sight of the fact [dogma, rather, if one wants to be orthodox, which I appreciate is not everyone's concern) that our imago Dei is ontologically distinct fom God in His Transcendence and that an analogy means there are far more differences than similarities between subjects at hand. Neither do we lose sight of the fact that we are never truly separated from God in His Immanance, even in mortal sin, as John of the Cross would say - because our being is gifted us in every moment. The Trinity remains immersed in mystery, one we can penetrate to be sure with Grace, but one which we'll not comprehend in space-time.

I'll end with this but leave my supporting footnote (I wear BIG shoes) below, if you want to trudge through to see what I was stating above.

pax,
jss

ps Jon, I enjoyed tooling around at your website, too! Great posts. Glad you are here.

footnote Big Grin

It is important for both science and theology to recognize that when we say:
1) proposition |X is true|, metaphorically and kataphatically; and that
2) proposition |X is not true|, anagogically and apophatically;
that, unitively, at least sometimes, we might also should say that neither |X is true| nor |X is not true| is true literally.
Caveat: This is not the same as a Kantian relativism or a distinction between noumenal and dinge an sich reality. Rather, it is just a convenient tool to arrive at certain insights that are hidden from us until we collapse conventional conjunctive-disjunctive dualism.

Conjunctive awareness is largely unconscious and involuntary (as used by Samuel Brainard) and involves logical causation. Note, here, that it would be associated with God, for example. I think, too, of D'Aquili's holistic operators, which, according to Newberg, most likely rise from the activity of the parietal area in the brain's right hemisphere and which, as a mental function, allows us to look at an assemblage of component parts and comprehend the whole. Also, of the abstractive operator. This may not be an appropriate stretch; I don't know.

Disjunctive awareness is largely conscious and voluntary and involves efficient causation. I think, now, of D'Aquili's other operators: reductionist, binary, quantitative, etc

Collapsing this conjunctive-disjunctive awareness dualism is no mystical feat. [see note below] It is neither uniquely scientific nor theological. It's just part of the scientific-theological methodology that I think we all need to be more aware of. Another part is what Mortimer Adler calls the fallacy of reductionism, and he is speaking, here, at the level of particle physics. He resolves an otherwise insoluble problem dealing with the appearance and reality of an ordinary chair (a problem posed by Arthur Eddington). In his solution, he uses Heisenbergian terms of potentia (that which exists only virtually) and of actual reality, distinguishing between modes of existence in degrees, clarifying why we do not experience the chair as mostly empty space (the reality of elementary particles). I highly commend Adler's __Ten Philosophical Mistakes__ and mourn his passing a few months ago.

The best example of the need to distinguish between the metaphorical and anagogical, the kataphatic and apophatic, efficient and logical causes, is what is known in Aristotlean terms as the "sorite" or heap paradox. I will render Brainard's version (the paradox can be found in most introductory texts for classical philosophy):
"A single grain of sand does not make a heap. Adding another grain of sand still does not make a heap. Indeed, at no point does adding another grain of sand make enough of a difference in the pile to make it, for us, a heap. But this seems to imply that no amount of sand is enough to make a heap. The paradox does not arise if logical and efficient causes are distinguished. On one hand, there is the heap, maintained by logical cause. The object of awareness is a heap to the degree it instantiates the characteristics of a heap; it is not a heap on the basis of adding sand. The domain of an individual event entails efficient, not logical, cause. An action begun and ended in the moment has no logical meaning apart from other moments like it and unlike it."
Sorite (heap) paradoxes - F. Samuel Brainard, __Reality and Mystical Experience__, Pennsylvania State University Press (2000)

It is Brainard who set forth the triad for what metaphorically - is true (kataphasis);
anagogically - is not true (apophasis); and neither the metaphorical nor anagogical is true
(unitive). Here, I will introduce what Brainard points out as neoplatonic language (in an effort to keep the pre-modern ever before us, interwoven in our web of methodology).

He points out that Dionysian mysticism uses Proclus' triad of mone (remaining/rest, which I like to call the *liminal*); of proodos (proceeding/emanation, which I like to call kataphasis); and of epistrophe (reverting/return, which I like to call apophasis). He explains further:
"The triad is like a fractal in that each element of the triad, no matter what it is, seems to be itself a triad. It is specifically through the medium of this recursive triadic structure that Dionysius preserves everywhere the disjunctive-conjunctive distinction with the addition of a mediating principle."
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Jon and JB, good exchanges.

Jon, I've read several works on Eckhart, including a collection of his sermons. I'm aware, too, of the efforts to clear his name, and hope it succeeds, for what seems apparent, in some cases, is that his translators and secretaries didn't always properly represent his ideas. And there is the usual problem of trying to put apophatic experience into language. Eeker

When one uses a phrase like "one Word spoken, and that is the Universe itself!," it's that capital W on Word that makes all the difference. Perhaps this is the sort of thing that Eckhart is innocent of, as he might have intended to say something like "the universe is the expression of the Word," or "the word of the Word." Anyway, yes, I agree that panentheism is a theologically accpetable way to understand how God and creation co-exist: God is in creation and creation is in God. Which seems to be what Paul was saying with, "In Him we live and move and have our being."
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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QuiEst,

I can't understand a word you wrote. Frowner But I believe that you, word of God, are part of the great Word spoken by God. Hallelujah! Big Grin

jon
 
Posts: 32 | Registered: 31 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Actually, Jon, you already understand it, just not yet Wink

Actually, I wasn't very sure my response was going to be useful when I posted it as it was an out of context excerpt from some pretty esoteric stuff. Sorry about that. I'm not very audience-sensitive.

My short answer regarding Eckhart is that he is not likely heretical and that a few of the problems that arise are truly semantical because much of his vocabulary consisted of words that had either novel or dual or even multiple meanings. This is typical of the schools you cited as Neo-Platonic and Dionysian.

But much of it goes deeper than pure semantics. For example:
1) The Summa Theologica of Aquinas IS so much straw!
2) The Summa Theologica of Aquinas is NOT so much straw!

Both of these statements are true but not because the words used have multiple or novel meanings. Rather, they are coming from two entirely different perspectives, even spoken by the same person.

Also, some confusion arises when we are speaking of formal and final and logical causes versus efficient causes. Read the Heap Paradox on the internet and how others explain it. It's fun.

There are many other ways for confusion to arise and folks like me and Eckhart manage to get entangled in more of those ways than the average bayou mystic.

cordially,
noveau dionysius
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Trinitarian Muse for the Day

quote:
"God is much too complex not to struggle with. Part of our humanness lies in wanting to reduce God down to concepts, ideas, and experiences that we can handle. That's somewhat like trying to squeeze a champion sumo wrestler into a pair of size-small, control-top pantyhose."
Schaef, Anne Wilson. _Meditations for Living in Balance._ HarperSanFrancisco. 2000

pax tibi,
jb
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Whew, I'm worn out, anyone else? Wink
 
Posts: 30 | Location: Ringgold, GA | Registered: 20 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The only things worse than trying to say something about God is saying nothing about God, or saying the wrong things!

That's the dilema, isn't it? Wink
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Oh, there are many varieties of dilemmas, I'd suppose. For instance, if your foundational premise is sola scriptura, ergo quod non est biblicum, non est theologicum , and mine is not, then we can spend a whole lot of time and energy talking right past each other. One can argue conclusions drawn from different premises, of course, just not logically. Still the question remains, quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?***
Wink
pax tibi,
jb

***How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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LOL! Big Grin

Thanks for the levity, jb!
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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