Might we semiotically appropriate Cyril, Maximus & Bulgakov per a heuristic of cosmotheandric eternal divine self-revelation, manifestation, exemplification & signification – to interpret the eternal ad intra in processio per the Monarchy of the Father & the personal taxis and the eternal ad extra in missio per the Incarnation & Creation?
The divine will has satiated each human person’s intellect & will with His primal Truth & Goodness, as He constitutes each of us, originally, as everlastingly abiding images of God.
We thus come into the world already drinking from our saucers of God-possession because our cups of subjective beatitude have overflowed from the very beginning for each of us.
As such, our primary nature is gifted with an intrinsically absolute lovability that can neither be enhanced nor diminished. We thus mirror the immutable intrinsic perfection & aesthetic intensity of the divine esse naturale.
Whatever else may be going on, self-constitutively, as we co-creatively cooperate in growing our secondary natures per degrees of virtuosity from image to likeness, there’s a revelatory dynamic, whereby we manifest Christ ever more clearly, signify Christ ever more consistently, glorify Christ ever more brilliantly, thereby participating ever more illuminatively in objective beatitude.
We thereby reflect the mutable self-revelatory exemplifications & aesthetic scope of the divine esse intentionale’s incarnational manifestations of – not only
the Christo-Pneumatological particular presences mediated by special revelations via the missions of the Logos, which assumes creation’s forms that it might exemplify divinity through enhypostatic embodiment, icons, names & symbols in the divine gratuity of grace, but –
the Pneumato-Christological universal presence mediated by general revelations via the logoic processions, which in-form creatures that they might signify divinity through their shadows, vestiges & images of & likenesses to Him in the divine gratuity of creation.
In a sense, I actually adopt a neo-Báñezian stance re the primary nature of human persons as imagoes Dei, on whom Providence acts – not only formally & existentially, but – in an efficiently causal way that radically determines, i.e. predestines, us for everlasting life, eschatologically. There would be no hint of eternal conscious torment, as my move entails the same logic as Oliver Crisp’s Reformed universalism (cf Deviant Calvinism).
It’s otherwise in regard to our theotic trajectories where divine kenotic condescension prescinds from acting via efficient causes on our wills as each personal act either grows our secondary virtuous natures & is eternalized via synergy w/Energeia/logoi or is otherwise destined to lapse into a self-annihilating nothingness, when evil’s parasitic existence loses its hosts, leaving no eternal residue.
What’s at stake in these relatively free choices (acts limited by potencies; Scotistic & Maximian libertarian conception) are the degrees of virtue eternalized in our secondary nature, the aesthetic scope of our own objective beatitude, where we’ve grown in likeness to God. Whether that scope can grow post-mortem or not, I have no a priori reason to suggest why not. Nor any reason to insist it must (due to libertarian personal freedom). It may be, under any scenario, that we’ll begin our eternal sojourn, in terms of glory, by variously populating the firmament as tiny votive candles or blazing helioss and every degree of objective beatitude in between.
The Incarnation, then, however soteriologically efficacious it remains, was in the cosmotheandric cards from the get-go & not occasioned by some “felix” culpa. What’s at stake is the divine will’s freely loving expansion of aesthetic scope (not intrinsic perfection) by our free creaturely participation with energeia & logoi, correlatively growing our objective beatitude. The eschatological synergistic marriage of that divine aesthetic scope (Sophia) & creaturely objective beatitude (sophia) constitutes the Wedding of the Lamb.
There was no divine dice roll or counterfactual discursive analysis by the divine intentionale discerning a best possible world, a clear category error, as any divine mutable acts & passible relations only ever determine alternative outcomes from among an infinite array of aesthetically equipoised optimalities.
Go ahead, ask, and you shall receive – blessings in a manner greater than which can not be conceived without sacrificing or exhausting the integrity & coherence of the character of our infinitely merciful God as revealed, even now, by Mary’s boy, Jesus.
natures aren’t self-subsistent
infinite divine & finite human natures are ontologically analogous
divine & human persons are semantically univocal
persons are integrated, singular wholes, whose natures don’t compete
participable logoi of humanization & deification are metaphysically identical
Christ assumes, what we become, in the fullest expression of human nature
Christ exemplifies, but we signify, divine nature
Who and what was Mary?
If Origen, Athanasius, CappBros, GNaz, Cyril, Cyrillian Chalcedonians including the Neo-Chalcedonians, Leontius of Jerusalem (enhypostaton, communicatio idiomatum, double birth, theopaschism) & Justinian (Logos) & Maximus (Life of the Virgin) were correct, then, of course,
Mary was the Mother of God.
Feast days and elaborate prayers to Mary abounded in Constantinople, after she was declared God-Bearer in 431, and veneration of the Theotokos was at its peak in the reign of Justinian, builder of the great Hagia Sofia, not long before Maximus was born.
Amoris Laetitia has built a bridge between our conceptions of ecclesial communities and conjugal unions, showing us how they can all variously realize positive goods and approximate the ideals of ecclesial & conjugal relationships. James Martin has shown us how to walk across it. Continuing our explorations regarding the positive elements in all lifelong covenant […]
Nearly a half-century ago, I spent my undergraduate & graduate years immersed in radically reductive neuroscientific pursuits. I pursued the physiological & biochemical precursors of behaviors – from flatworms to rodents.
Eventually, I narrowly focused on avian neuroendocrinology. For example, we knew what to inject when to make birds fly north or south.
Any philosophical interpretations of such empirical findings have only ever been a lifelong avocational pursuit, which has included philosophies of mind.
Investigations into philosophical, anthropological & systematic theologies came much later, after I retired from banking.
Those led me to Peirce, Maritain & Lonergan, thanks to a couple of friends who, like me, were Catholic Charismatics, one of whom introduced me to a similarly minded Pentecostal friend & collaborator.
Isn’t life strange?
Otherwise, I mostly explored ALL of these interests w/friends, who self-described as religious naturalists (non-militantly agnostic, nontheist & atheist), contributors to journals like Zygon.
It was those friends who reinforced my Peircean-bent & shared my emergentist stance. What differentiated our stances was that my reading of the book of nature was temperamentally Franciscan.
B/c of Bonaventure & Scotus, mine was a radically emanationist emergentism, somewhat innoculated from facile analogies & spurious reductionisms by Dionysius, Eriugena, Abelard, the Victorines, Franciscans & Cusanus.
So, I’m suspicious of distinctions like weak vs strong emergence & supervenience.
All the way up & down the great chain of being we encounter aporetic layers of trans-semiotic realities, including such horizons as quantum, cosmic, life, sentience & language origins.
To navigate these horizons, our semantic references, ineluctably, must variously include terms that are analogical, univocal, apophatic, indefinite, vague & mediating, to frame heuristics for such as probabilistic causalities, statistical regularities & dis/continuities. If this is true proximately & temporally, then, trust me, it’ll be true in spades for ultimate & eternal realities.
Our phenomenological meta-heuristics, ergo, best ontologically bracket reality’s manifold & multiform aporia & eschew rushes to metaphysical closure.
I emphasized “mediating” not only as a nod to Peirce, Cusanus, Dionysius & the early Neoplatonists, philosophically, but as an embrace of the Christology of Cyril & Maximus. These folks gifted me my Cosmotheandric PanSEMIOentheism.
Now, don’t get me wrong or take umbrage as I insist that our sylly syllogisms often prove too much, say more than we can possibly know & tell untellable stories. This is not to say that every analytic pursuit’s an epistemic pretense. We only engage analytic conceits if we imagine that such formal deliverances gift us indubitable conclusions, when, instead, they suggest a pragmatic reasonableness.
And, while I still happily enjoy the fruit of Trinitological excursions, contemplating the emanating One, & so thoroughly enjoyed my early reductionist pursuits of the Many, I’ve now returned, philosophically & theologically, to that Mediator, Whom I encountered in my First Holy Communion, where I realized in my little heart & will, what I would only later better apprehend in my head & intellect: the hypostatic union, coincidentia oppositorum & communicatio idiomatum of our Eternally Creating Triune Creator.
Innascibility doesn’t constitute the Father for Bonaventure. It’s the logically unavoidable positive implication of same, the reality of The Sourcer, which does.
And that neither excludes nor presupposes an idioma like paternity.
The F’s primal act of sourcing would be logically but not temporally prior to the essence.
The Sourcer does refer as a logically prior agential verbal nominalization of that hypostasis, naming Who. But vis a vis the essence, innascibility or Unsourced refers, instead, as a logically prior verbal participle, an adjective qualifying Who in terms of how.
That’s to say that it provides semantic meaning logically (not temporally) prior to the ousia and apart from the semantic job it indeed does, further in our logical (not temporal) sequence, as a differentiating hypostatic idioma.
For Trinitarian logic, it helps me to think more consistently if I restrict my thoughts to verbals, since we’re referring to a noncomposite Actus Purus.
Also, I default to the more active & present forms, like gerunds, infinitives & nominalizations for the “whats” of hypostases & adjectival participles for the “hows” of hypostases, i.e. idiomata, & “hows” of ousia, ie propria.
All predications of hypostases in quid (what) must be analogical; in quale (how) – semantically univocal & infinite.
It helps, too, to ditch all verbals derived from “is,” including the infinitive “to be” and “being,” ie employ E-Prime. Or, when too dang hard, at least, to qualify such predications with Dionysian distinctions.
To say that hypostases = ousia, then, is like saying that “they are how they do.” Not bad. That qualifies a noun with an adjective, where the = represents some form of is or to be. However, ineluctably implicit in such grammatical constructions, there is a conception of potency reducing to act (as if it could be or have been otherwise). That implication’s not just imprecise but contradictory. Typically, while idiomata have been said to be “carried by” and propria “added to” hypostases, that erroneously implicates idiomata as entities and propria as potencies.
So, we best resort to E-Prime and also refer to the F considering the innascible or unsourced using
a) gerunds or nominalizations as agential, proper nouns w/definite articles for subjects – individual hypostases; e.g. hypostatically, The Sourcer;
b) participles as adjectives for essential propria & hypostatic idiomata; e.g. idiomatically, Unsourced;
c) direct objects for relations, including to Oneself, as action recipients; e.g. relationally, The Sourcer (self) or the sourced (others); and
d) the underlying action verb of those gerunds & participles; e.g. actively, Sources.
Thus, coherently, with no reference to paternity, “the Unsourced Sourcer sources the sourced” (but Unsourced needn’t exclude Self-Sourcing).
Using a quasi-Dionysian formulation, where:
God is | not x | is true apophatically & literally;
God is | x | is true kataphatically & trans-analogically; and
God is neither | x | nor | not x | is true relationally & really.
The F is | not sourced | is true apophatically & literally, as an idioma, adjectivally.
The F is | The Unsourced Sourcer | is true kataphatically & trans-analogically, as an hypostasis or agential nominalization.
The F is neither | The Unsourced Sourcer | nor | not sourced | is true, for we can also refer to the F as The Self-Sourcing Sourcer, both in self-relation to The Sourcer and in relation to all sourced realities, both divine (non-determinate & self-determinate) and determinate.
Might innascibility have positive implications beyond pure negation?
Some constitutive relation(s) must be added to our grammar of hypostases & idioma, otherwise we’ll unavoidably implicate the reduction of some potency to act.
Any articulation of a beginning can’t avoid begging questions due to either a circular reference, causal disjunction or infinite regression. Our unavoidably triadic account relies on the validity of self-reference. For we’re otherwise precisely about the business of avoiding causal disjunctions and halting infinite regressions. And, just because we’ve constructed a tautology doesn’t mean it’s not true. It only means we’ve added no new information to our system. So, our Trinitological heuristics remain semi-formal, suggesting that our God-conceptions are not unreasonable, not demonstrating proofs.
One reason I struggle with translation of others’ Trinity talk is that I don’t interpret it from the same angle, because, out of habit, I’m unreflectively translating it on the fly.
For starters, my default bias is to presuppose that the Capps, Cyril, Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus, Eriugena, Scotus, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Palamas & Bulgakov (w/fewer tweaks than many imagine) can be reconciled – not just creedally, but – in their speculative systematic opinions, though not ruling out exceptions.
Note on properly conceiving the Monarchy of the Father
Gregory of Nyssa: If you transfer to the divine dogmas the principle of differentiation, which you recognize in human affairs, between ousia and hypostasis, you will not go astray. (EpPet. 3)
Well, we’ll get the general idea, anyway. But if we don’t recognize the infinite analogical interval between nondeterminate & determinate being, we’ll push the analogy too far.
I previously brought up the Scotistic idiom of ousia as primary substance, saying it was more felicitous in that it foregrounded how the ousia was “like” and “unlike” both primary & secondary substances.
While all agree natures subsist in hypostases (aren’t floating around as abstractions or entities), there’s a difference between the immanent universals exemplified by divine being & those instantiated in determinate being, reduced from potencies to acts, formally.
Grammatically, we typically refer to such reductions in terms of indefinite common nouns being delimited by definite proper nouns. Hence, our conversations: Is God like a substance sortal or just an attribute among attributes when predicating divine hypostases? As a proper name, can God denominate only the F or each person?
What might change, however, when there are no reductions from potency to act, eternally so? Our analogy between divine & human persons must recognize a difference between irreducibly immanent & reducibly instantiated universals. There’s no indefinite potency becoming definite, whether essential propria (attributes) or hypostatic idiomata (e.g. relation, haecceity, emanation, + ?).
If one wants to apply an analogue of common (god) & proper nouns (The God), that’s intuitive, maybe preferable in some contexts. But, since via eternally pure acts, the divine persons exemplify an immanently universal essence, also analogously, as a primary-like substance, the ousia’s like a subject in that sense, justifying a proper signification, God.
Creedal Trinitology is not:
a) tritheistic, b/c, when it comes to how & what the persons do, those aspects constitute intrinsic perfections that are identical in each & every Person, both ontologically & axiologically; hence, the One God-ness of the Divine Nature;
b) modalist b/c, when it comes to Who does those intrinsically perfect things, there are three persons doing them Who are really different in ways (aetiologically & economically) that don’t otherwise constitute perfections of God-ness; e.g. the relational aspects of the emanational Divine Singularity & personal MOF and incarnational aspects of the S & HS;
c) subordinationist, b/c, creedally, the persons are absolutely identical, ontologically & axiologically, and their only real differences are aetiological & economic, which don’t involve intrinsic perfections.
A Divine Singularity Ontologically Prior to even the MOF, logically not temporally … perhaps consistent w/our Bonaventuran stance
I can conceive The Father as The Self-Sourcing Sourcer, relationally constituted emanationally, which would be logically prior to personal relationality (opposing relations) and as analogous to that essentially ordered causal series we invoke vis a vis creation. I say analogous to distinguish between those intratrinitarian, aetiological ur-kenotic acts of the divine esse naturale and those of the economic kenotic acts divine esse intentionale.
That primal emanational relation could be a self-relationality, which wouldn’t be a pious ad hoc exception, b/c Trinitarian personal relational conceptions necessarily include the persons sharing their love for the essence as an object of their love fully in each Subject, hence, in the other Subjects as well as in Oneself.
For the Father, as Primal Font, emanationally, His logically prior constitutive relation would include His love for the essence in Himself.
This would be more of a Divine Singularity than the MOF, which is intrinsically other-relational, although still a logical not temporal ontological distinction. And it would still not be a great-making shared property of the Divine Nature, only an aeitiological superordination. It would be accounted as an idioma marking a real distinction from other divine persons even as the F, eternally, remains identical to the other persons, essentially, in shared nature.
This divine singularity, like the MOF, would be an unshared idioma, in principle, so like a really distinct Subject, Who’s not otherwise Subjectively distinct re any substantial (natural or essential) intrinsic perfections shared, in principle, as divine propria.
Consistent with the view that the One God of MOF & Divine Nature entails equivocations of Oneness and not of the term, God, which admits of virtual not real distinctions between the Trinity & the Divine Nature:
Blocking inferences to subordinationism suggests the persons are identical in great-making properties or intrinsic perfections.
Idiomata, unshareable in principle, would not be great-making.
Simplicity would refer to pure acts of intrinsic perfection, i.e. involving no reductions to potency of the divine esse naturale & no change in the divine aesthetic intensity.
DDS need not refer to the divine esse intentionale, which would determine changes only in the divine aesthetic scope.
This would allow for a (thin) divine passibility, i.e. divine responses, for example, to creaturely supplications, as chosen from ‘among’ an array perfectly good equipoised optimalities (ergo, no all or nothing “best possible world” reality choosing in an either-or manner ‘between’ higher & lesser goods) via divine energeia (formally distinct from essence).
What would further differentiate the nature and propria from the persons and idiomata, then, is not any HOW that marks intrinsic perfections, aesthetic intensities or great making properties, but only aetiological ontological distinctions like emanational & personal relations, which refer to the persons logically not temporally and implicate no differentials in dignity. The persons are thus constituted relationally, identified by a relative indentity, making them really different, hypostatically. These refer to aetiological distinctions.
But, as far as intrinsic perfections go, HOW they act is in an absolutely identical way. This refers to an ontological distinction.
So, the One God of the MOF might best be thought of in terms of relative identity, both emanational & personal, moreso per an ordinal logical (but not temporal) reference, iow, aetiologically.
While the One God of the DN might best be thought of in terms of absolute identity between the Trinity & DN, moreso per a cardinal scale referring to their shared greatness of perfection, iow, ontologically.
When the S assumes human nature, that refers economically. Terms of rank or status refer axiologically.
So, re subordinationism, the creed eschews any ontological & axiological subordination, while aetiological & economic don’t present dogmatic problems.