God Ordains Epistemic Distancing toward the end of Our Co-creative Self-determination but that doesn’t make sin necessary

God fittingly determines that the essential nature of human persons necessarily includes that measure of epistemic distancing sufficient to allow for our choosing among rationally desired eternal goods.

God thereby permits each of us to co-creatively self-determine our unique charismatic character, spiritually.

One thing such an epistemic distancing necessarily entails is the axiological ordering of higher & lesser goods, for it’s in our very deliberations between them that we will learn which of God’s gifts we most deeply desire to both receive & give back, thereby developing our unique spirituality.

For if loving is the answer, then who’s the giving for? ~ Noel Paul Stookey

Now, it is necessarily the case that, because of such an epistemic distancing, at times, out of ignorance, we will unavoidably choose lesser goods. But, it is also the case that, eventually & inevitably, we can overcome such ignorance, precisely through this process of choosing.

What has never been the case, however, is that an ignorant choice of a lesser good is either necessarily culpable or ever irremediable, for to err, in & of itself, is not to sin and every mistake or sin lies within the scope of God’s mercy (cf. Romans 8).

Our human finitude, however radical, does not by design make sin necessary, although it does make its possibility unavoidable.

In pursuing our rational desires, even when we err, we can thereby erase a modicum of ignorance, or, in other words, close a measure of epistemic distance. It is only when one, with both sufficient knowledge & freedom, chooses a lesser good that one sins.

So, that very same epistemic distancing, which allows for our choosing among rationally desired eternal goods, thereby becoming who we co-creatively & self-determinedly choose to be, charismatically or spiritually, is also necessary for the growth of our freedom in choosing higher over lesser goods, virtuously or morally.

When we choose lesser goods, we sin in a measure commensurate to our current epistemic distance, ie some sufficient degree of freedom & knowledge.

So, the essential nature of human persons includes that epistemic distancing necessary for becoming free when deliberatively choosing both between lesser & higher goods as well as among eternal goods.

Beyond the co-creative self-determination of our unique charismatic character, spiritually, epistemic distancing allows us to grow a wholly virtuous character, morally.

A finally free person will only ever deliberate among rationally desired eternal goods, choosing in a way that fits one’s spiritual character.

How did Jesus experience His finitude or axiological-epistemic distancing?

Spiritually, He fully & perfectly expressed every charism. Humanly, He deliberated – not only among eternal goods, but – between lesser & higher goods and learned from His mistaken choices, progressively closing His kenotic epistemic distancing. He thereby even grew His human freedom, even as His need to deliberate between lesser & higher goods diminished with every epistemic closure.

Never did Jesus choose a lesser over a higher good with degrees of human knowledge & freedom sufficient to constitute a sinful refusal, a self-denial of Goodness, Himself.

Afterthoughts or Prologue or Whatever

Generally, I purposefully remain radically agnostic re probabilistic & evidential approaches to the problem of evil, but I’ll share my provisional “feelings.”

I would say that we’re sufficiently distanced, epistemically, to realize, operatively if not gnoseologically, Who & What we are as imagoes Dei sans mortality.

I could, however, imagine nonphysical, eg relational, forms of death being pedagogically indispensable to our fully realizing, both operatively & gnoseologically, who we most truly are, ie participants in a concrete, social Absolute.

BUT – would we be sufficiently distanced to realize, operatively if not gnoseologically, Who & What we can become theotically as similitudines Dei sans mortality?

YES!!!

Further reflections

I reckon Hick & Wykstra borrowed the term epistemic distance (dang, can’t use “ED” as it’s already taken) from applied linguistics (e.g. pedagogy) & probabilistic epistemology, where the concept of epistemic distancing refers to a linguistic modality re semantic meaning, pragmatic interpretation & cognitive learning.

Personally, I receive Augustinian & Irenaean approaches, including evil as privation, soul-making & free will defenses, as establishing a mere logical compatibility between classical theism & evil.

HOWEVER, I reject all evidential theodicies in their attempts to further develop such defenses probabilistically b/c they tend to trivialize the immensity of human pain & enormity of human suffering.

YET – I do provisionally accept Stephen Wykstra’s systematic, skeptical theistic reply to evidential arguments, precisely b/c he grounds it in the epistemic distance between us & God, for it at least succeeds in showing that our failure to explain evil doesn’t confirm atheism.

A choice is forced upon us: imagining either it’s the existence of evil or God’s character that must remain unintelligible.

BECAUSE OF – DBH’s game theoretic disposal of the antecedent-consequent decree distinction is decisive over against any eternal residue of evil’s parasitic existence … and because of

God’s character revealed in Jesus & discerned by the Fathers, who embraced apocatastasis …

God’s sufficiently intelligible … and

THAT gives me all the hope I need.

Still, what place might death & other horrendous evils have in our lives?

I can only say that – from the Logos, Who’s been eternally spoken – the only logoi going forth remain those of being, well being & eternal being.

Ergo, God’s got no-thing to do with & no place for death apart from its eternal vanquishment.

THAT, not how, all this may be true, I insist!

Finally, what gets God out of the dock needn’t be based in case theory (logical defenses, evil as privation, free will) & shouldn’t be circumstantial evidence (theodicies). Juries are instructed that they can rely on character witnesses, alone, for not guilty verdicts.

Thus surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, a holy host of others standing ’round

Who do YOU say …?

panSEMIOentheism as an ontological pan-entheism of creatio ex nihilo & a mereological panen-theism of creatio ex deo

Of the three Abelardian divine modes of identity, it is the formal mode from which an Aristotelian syllogistic can be derived to thus define the identities of creatures formally (and not inconsistent with the irreducibly triadic modal ontology of Peirce’s methodological & semantic pragmatisms).

In neither divine nor creaturely formal modes of identity would a person ever be considered constituted as an hypostasis bereft of an essential nature, as if the essential whatness of persons did not necessarily inhere along with the hownesses of each whoness.

Neither would a secondary personal nature ever not necessarily inhere along with both the whoness, hence peculiar howness, of a person’s hypostatic nature and the whatness of their essential nature.

Natures, both as hypostatic whonesses & hownesses as well as both essential & secondary whatnesses, are only ever, i.e. eternally, enhypostasized. The concept of an anhypostatic nature does not successfully refer.

Not only should we neither reify (anhypostasize) the essence nor hypostasize the energeia, but – we shouldn’t reduce the persons to mere idiomata.

To that extent, then, any temporal distribution of logoi will necessarily be – not only an emanation of formal whatnesses, but – a procession of hypostatic hownesses.

Creation, then, processively enhypostasizes the created natures – hypostatic, essential & secondary – through, with & in the Logos as eternally incarnated (enhypostasized or assumed) by Him.

This would be consistent with my panSEMIOentheism which affirms both an ontological pan-entheism of a creatio ex nihilo & a mereological panen-theism of a creatio ex deo, wherein the hypostatic & essential natures of every freely willing creature have been eternally determined, called forth ex nihilo, and invited to co-creatively self-determine their secondary natures, beckoned forth ex Deo.

Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum.

Divine Communications, Communicators & Communions – differentiating incarnation, embodiments & presences

the concrete analogia entis is the old green deal, the whole green deal, the proto-eschato-logical green deal

The person of Christ eternally & incarnationally contains (already) – not only the thatnesses, whatnesses & hownesses, but – even the very thisnesses that each & every particular creature becomes (not yet) through its synergistic co-operation with divine energeia.

Do the many presences of the embodiment-realizing Logos differ only in degree, per univocal conceptions of presence, or modally, evoking metaphorical conceptions?

Appropriated within a semiotic heuristic, we can certainly distinguish divine communications per iconic, indexical & symbolic modes, which, ordinarily, could be thought to differ in communicative power (eg icons, mantras, rituals, sacraments, etc).

However, there’s FAR more going on in divine-creaturely agential interaction than ordinary semantic communications.

Beyond the modal semantic differences of diverse embodiments,  communicatively, Incarnation also has performative significance, a pragmatic dimension, effecting divine-creaturely communion.

The eternally, incarnate Word, Who self-reveals – not only iconically, indexically & symbolically, but – personally, invites robustly performative engagements, which, pragmatically, will not return empty, for the Word utters no ordinary communications, but always offers Her very self.

While divine-creaturely communications (as embodiments) proceed semantically, it is in the pragmatic dimension that divine-creaturely communicators, i.e. hypostatic processions (of embodiers), realize communion, ie Real Presence, every creature becoming identical to its logos as eternally contained by the Word.

So, while there are diverse divine embodiments, semantically, there’s but one multiply-realized Incarnation, pragmatically, ie the eternal Word, Who contains every logoi, hypostatically, while otherwise eternally transcending creatures both naturally (per idiomata & propria) and energetically (per energeia).

Meta-heuristic Implications

There’s a semantical univocity & ontological analogy of the ur-kenotic acts (revealed per propria, appropriations, energeia, etc) of divine & human persons.

There’s a semantical & ontological univocity of the kenotic acts of divine & human persons.

Divine & human persons both have primary & secondary essential natures, as well as irreducibly unique hypostatic natures.

The human (indeed, all creaturely) primary & secondary essential natures are identical to the divine secondary essential nature.

Christ’s divine personhood includes an irreducibly unique hypostatic nature (haecceitas-like, idiomata, etc) in addition to a nondeterminate primary essential nature & self-determinate secondary (assumed) essential nature.

Human personhoods include irreducibly unique hypostatic natures (haecceities) in addition to divinely determined primary essential natures plus, potentially & self-determinedly, can become  (acquire) secondary essential natures, both such essential natures (primary & secondary), again, identical to the divine secondary essential nature.

Divine & human personhoods are thus semantically univocal & ontologically analogous – not only because they’re infinite vs finite, but also – because, while each is, in part, self-determined vis a vis their secondary essential natures (variously by assuming or becoming), they’re otherwise alternately nondetermined vs determined vis a vis their primary essential natures.

The Maximian Logos-logoi Identity can still be enriched by Sophiological Heuristics

As Royce’s concrete Absolute modified Peirce’s semeiotic; Aurobindo’s integral Absolute modified Advaita; so Maximus’ Logos-logoi identity modified Neoplatonism. In each case, the concept of the Absolute became both concrete & social?

If one wants to approach questions re Maximus’ multiple incarnations thru semiotic lenses (Peirce, Royce, Scotus, Bonaventure, etc), of special interest would be Eriugena’s take on Christological participation, for, like CSP, he framed creation in terms of theophany.

re: creation as incarnation, exchanges between Blowers & Wood

Neither a vertical hypostatic descent nor a horizontal hypostatic multiplication present theological problems in my view.

Taken together, as the same economic mission, ISTM, the horizontal procession aspect ontologically foregrounds composite hypostases, haecceities, actualities, concrete particulars as dynamical, autopoietic entities.

These entities “are” acts that are, at once, existential, efficient & formal, thereby reducing potencies, respectively, per various essential, material & final limitations.

Locating the Logos-logoi identity hypostatically properly avoids both reifications of essences (natures don’t process as ‘that’s or ‘who’s) & hypostatizations of energies (which are not ‘that’s but ‘how’s).

If there’s a scandal, it’s not theological but metaphysical, for this emergentist perspective offers no robustly ontological account of such brute actualities or naked haecceities, such as we encounter in this multiplication of composite hypostases. Still, other emergentist accounts only pretend, for supervenience  explains no-thing.

There are still Neoplatonic-like semiotic dynamics like exemplification, manifestation & signification, but, as with any semiotic realism, the symbolic implicates the pragmatic, so interpretation implicates participatory acts (existential, efficient & formal). The logoi do act formally, but that follows from the hypostatic grounding of identity in difference, existentially & relationally (the mutuality of I-ness & Thou-ness).

Need we distinguish ad intra & extra processions in terms of esse naturale & intentionale, necessity & freedom, ur-kenosis & kenosis?

Well, the Incarnation so well ‘fits’ the God, Who’s been revealed, that it’s inevitability, hypostatically, doesn’t in any sense entail that, essentially, it’s ‘naturally necessary.’

At least, this creation as incarnation approach seems not inconsistent with my own affirmation (pan-SEMIO-entheism) of both

a pan-entheistic vertical distinction, where, via creatio ex nihilo, God donates & communicates creatively as we participate & are liberated imitatively, as well as

a panen-theistic horizontal distinction, where God, via creatio ex Deo, donates & communicates diffusively as we participate & are liberated substratively.

The practical upshot of an in/finite hypostatic participative distinction –

As composite hypostases, substratively, potentially, we can act the very same way Christ does when He’s acting kenotically, while imitatively, we can act like Christ does when He’s acting ur-kenotically.

Law of Retreblement (irreducible triadicity) of participation (hypostatic synergy)

1) energetikon of similitude = operativities or essential natures or participabilities

2) energon of otherness = operators or hypostases or participants

3) energia of dynamic manifestations = operating or participating

Any generation of novel opposites will be necessarily triadic, hence, will include – not only formal emanations & dynamic manifestations, but – hypostatic processions. Thus are energema created & incarnated.

4) energema = opera or new creative & co-creative participants participating in participabilities

So, hypostatic actors (generated opposites) via synergic acts participate in energeia.

And, different types of hypostatic-synergic coinherences involve vectors of both similitude (horizontal) & otherness (vertical).

These include:

horizontal trinitological tri-hypostatic-synergy; perichoresis of the trinity per monarchy of the father

vertical christological hypostatic-synergy, a kenotic descent of energema;  hypostatic union per perichoresis of the One

horizontal cosmotheandric pluri-hypostatic-synergy, a creative diffusion of energema; perichoresis of the Many

Importantly, we best consider perichoresis and/or coinherence in terms of apophatic metaphors that convey both “no confusion& “no commingling.”

Furthermore, we must realize that the above trihypostatic, hypostatic & pluri-hypostatic perichoreses are analogical. Therefore, less than positive metaphysical explanations, they set meta-heuristic contours regarding what is manifestly not going on, whether trinitologically, Christologically or cosmotheandrically.

While hypostases & natures are formally distinct (irreducible to each other), both are really distinct from energeia. We even distinguish hypostases or signify persons with negative metaheuristic contours of incommunicability, which, itself, entails two negative conditions – being not repeatable & not a form. This would apply constitutively, then, to both the mutual relations of divine persons and haecceities of created hypostases.

Whatever theory one holds regarding how idiomata individuate numerically distinct hypostases, for example, imagining that they refer to

a) properties that are simple, non-shareable & non-coinstantiable, or, perhaps,

b) shareable in-principle but as a uniquely combined bundle of properties, or even

c) some  combination of non-shareable & uniquely (or not) bundled shareable properties

the haecceity-like bruteness of each hypostasis sets limits, both logically & constitutively, on how we conceive the Maximian Logos-logoi identity.

Not only do human & divine essential natures relate analogically, so, too, do divine & human hypostatic idiomata (One to the many). Not only that, both all human persons per their haecceities, as well as all other pluri-hypostatic creaturely entities, relate analogically, not just per essential but also per hypostatic natures (many to many).

We best locate, then, the Logos-logoi identity in terms of whatness of an energetikon & howness of energia, as each & every hypostasis, thisness or whoness, remains – not only not a form, but – not repeatable.

The ontological & teleological takeaways of the immanent Logos-logoi identity remain utterly provocative in that what each becomes & how each participates incarnationally entails a divinization of each creature per the identical logoi involved in the incarnational humanization of the Logos.

The essence & energies of creatures, as instantiated by persons & the cosmos, are relationally constituted per the logoi, which are the very same created immanent universal that’s assumed by the Logos, all via enhypostasization of an eternal essence, which was never anhypostatic.

This panentheistic account has some mereological-like features, perhaps something like a set theory for hypostatic idiomata. It can still be enriched by Sophiological conceptions, including distinctions between uncreated & created Sophia.

See:
Sophia, Energies & Logoi in a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

Some implications of the Law of Retreblement in my panSEMIOentheism are participatory.

We participate in the Logos via acts that are – not just existential (reducing primary natural potencies) & formal (reducing secondary natural potencies), but – efficient (reducing hypostatic natural potencies, which are neither formal nor repeatable).

Hypostatic natures, here, are conceived per a bundle theory of idiomata, some, in-principle, shareable & others not (haecceitas-like). A set theory-like approach to uniquely bundled idiomata parses out acts (as variously identical or unique), not predicable forms.

The Eschatological Presuppositions of Balthasar & Maritain Unavoidably Entail Universalism

The eschatological presuppositions of both HuvB & Maritain lead implicitly & inevitably to apokatastasis. Neither of their (pious but ad hoc) attempts to variously stop short of same, in my view, can successfully escape their own logic.

The presuppositions of Balthasar’s universalist hope lead to an indicative – not subjunctive – universalism, for his critique of the antecedent & consequent wills distinction leads inevitably to the former, as he’s thereby inchoately anticipated & adopted DBH‘s game theory analysis.

The presuppositions of Maritain’s eschatology lead to – not only apokatastenai, but – apokatastasis, for his admission of miraculous interventions in the ordinary rules of being, also, leads inevitably to the reversibility of rejections of grace.

Is there no basis in tradition for Maritain’s theory, which Balthasar himself propounded?

Maximus the Confessor interprets Gregory of Nyssa in Questiones et dubia 13, PG 90, 796AC cited in Balthasar, Dare We Hope 245-46 n. 21 [G 93 n. 36]

The above represent – not Brotherton’s conclusions, but – my thoughts after reflecting on Joshua R. Brotherton’s article in Theological Studies, vol. 76, 4: pp. 718-741.  November 30, 2015.

Afterward:

As Royce’s concrete Absolute modified Peirce’s semeiotic; Aurobindo’s integral Absolute modified Advaita; so Maximus’ Logos-logoi identity modified Neoplatonism. In each case, the concept of the Absolute became both concrete & social?

Speculative Angelology – some caveats

As theological realists, we can establish semantical, ontological & epistemological contours for our meta-heuristics.

Employing the hypostatic union as our cosmological cipher, we then recognize those contours via a

semantical univocity of persons,

ontological analogy of natures &

meta-heuristical univocity of logoi.

As metaphysical realists, we can prescind from any given metaphysical root metaphor (substance, relational, process, experience, field, etc) to a phenomenological meta-heuristic.

Even while thus remaining metaphysically agnostic regarding the givens of determinate being, i.e. its primitives, forces & axioms, we can hermeneutically cycle through Lonergan’s functional specialties, following his transcendental imperatives.

And we can thereby harvest the value-realizations of our philosophical, historical & exegetical foundations and of our creedal doctrines, when we live as we pray & grow in authenticity.

We recognize, however, that these universal foundations & doctrines must be pastorally & sacramentally communicated to all in ways that are otherwise particular to each cultural milieu.

Our receptions of these creedal doctrines & celebrations of these liturgical gifts will have necessarily been preceded by systematic interpretations & idiomatic translations, which will have fostered the manifold & multiform Gospel inculturations & moral enculturations we encounter in our world today.

Christianity thus certainly implicates realist meta-heuristics, both phenomenological & theological, grounded in both general & special revelation.

Systematically, though, it remains in search of a metaphysic, whether such “explanations” reflect the deliverances of time-honored, commonsensical folk-psychologies or modern philosophies of mind.

Highly speculative medieval angelologies well framed many of the ongoing anthropological “explorations” in the modern philosophies of mind. We should all eschew the hubristic “consciousness explained” shtick of today’s eliminative materialists, even as we vigorously & laudably explore our angelologies.

We should recognize, too, when engaging in these angelologicalexplorations,” that our “explanatory” conclusions will often flow from – neither the consistency of our logic nor rigor of our premises, but – their tautological embeddedness in our very terms, i.e. chosen root metaphors.

The truths of our faith do not require the refutation of metaphysical ignosticisms, as those self-subvert. Neither do they hinge on whether or not consciousness is a primitive, along side space-time & matter-energy, or emergent therefrom per a nonreductive physicalism.

While I neither reject nor hold any given philosophy of mind, angelology or cosmology, I do applaud & encourage others’ explorations, only ever insisting that they not be confused with explanations and not be overinvested in terms of normative impetus. In other words, their deontological implications should be held, at least, as modestly as their ontological conclusions are tentative, which is very.