Hypostatic Logic from the Capps, Cyril & Maximus to Bonaventure & Scotus – or why a Franciscan, Neo-chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism


We best distinguish the postmodern heuristic as – not a system, but – a critique. Any system that adopts a thoroughgoing anti-metaphysical ignosticism will self-subvert. It otherwise suffices that we distinguish our theories of truth & knowledge to recognize that, while we’re fallible in our metaphysics, they indubitably converge on some Absolute.

The Absolute could lie, nondeterminately, beyond all possibilities, including intelligibility and being, itself, while self-determining as an infinite whole of being & intelligibility, which presupposes, in principle as a corollary, many finite manifestations:

a) manifold determined participations in being [1ns*],

b) coinherences of relatively self-determined actors [2ns*] &

c) synergies of jointly-determined, hence relatively in|determined, operations (e g. via pneumatological ex|in|halations) [3ns*].

*Peircean categories


a) primary nature: indicative apokatastenai or universal restoration of natural beautitude per determined aesthetic intensity

b) everlasting perichoretic epektasis;

c) secondary (theotic) nature: subjunctive apokatastasis per self-determined aesthetic scope.

RETREBLEMENT: watch for the irreducible triadicity

Below is a follow to this thread, which I do not want to otherwise derail: https://twitter.com/CorbyAmos/status/1347730739819917312?s=09… 1/

When I first read Jordan Daniel Wood’s thesis, especially together w/his retrieval of Bonaventure, I saw some of the same themes in play w/my own (mis?)appropriation of Zizioulas. 2/

How Scotus Might Gift Zizioulas Coherence

What I observed was that there’s a certain idiomatic felicity in tracing Christology from the Capps & Cyril to Maximus with Scotus. One can get to a Neochalcedonian Christology w/Aquinas, but they need JDW’s thesis & Bonaventure paper. 3/

If hypostases refer to persons who ground, existentially, as irreducibly brute thatnesses & who distinguish (or differentiate or individualize) themselves by properties that refer to “how” they “act” … 4/

(i.e. not “what” they “are,” even indifferent to whatness, essence or nature, although inseparable therefrom) … and

If perichoresis refers to hypostases & “how” they relate, while participation refers to natures & “what” hypostases share per variously non/in/determined modes 5/

Then, we can properly “Behold the paradox to contemplate a composed hypostasis without thereby predicating a composed nature of that hypostasis, as if of a species.” ~Maximus

For Scotus, divine hypostases are – not primary substances, but – exemplifications. 6/

re exemplification

Again, note the semiotic language, consonant w/Eriugena’s theophanic stance, w/Bonaventure, even Bulgakov via manifestation, signification & revelation. Because we speak of hypostases using semantic references, not ontological descriptions, 7/

Scotus thus proposes a Univocity of Predication “In Quale” & Analogy of Predication “In Quid.

Basically, we’re just trying to avoid category errors between propria, idiomata & energeia, natures, hypostases & opera, etc 8/

David Bentley Hart & Duns Scotus Walk Into a Bar, See Radical Orthodoxy & Ask: Why the Long Face?

At any rate, when I first introduced my meta-heuristic of panSEMIOentheism in a paper (2010) w/Amos Yong, I did not realize that my approach was consonant w/or even implicated a Maximian Neochalcedonism, but the OFMs work well w/ Byzantine Neoplatonism. 9/


re Aquinas & Bonaventure

The comments on this post at Faber’s “The Smithy” are interesting: http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2007/12/ss-thomas-and-bonaventure-compared.html?m=1… 10/

Part of my interest in having a consistent grammar of hypostases (and ousia) of both divine & creaturely (non/determinate, self-determinate & in/determinate) realities is to go beyond analogy & apophasis of ousia to better refine our references to participation & perichoresis.

IOW, what do we mean by humanization & divinization, Logos-logoi, creatio ex Deo, synergetic acts in terms of divine-creaturely agential interaction?

I’m pressing toward a mereological panentheism of – not beings & whats, but – doings & hows of actors (nonrepeatable, nonformal).

re how I feel about some antinomies.

We re-cognize them b/c we are “embodied antinomies” (intentional-absential) that exist for eternal I-Thou epektasis. Identity & difference are unitive & harmonious – not violent.

Because creaturely identities are primordially grounded in differences between relative & divine perfections, the natures of all creaturely autonomies are essentially & ineluctably harmonious with & participate in the Logos and so manifest various degrees of freedom as proportional to each tropos. Any metaphysic (or ecology or politics) that otherwise grounds those identities nihilistically, i.e. in differences between nonbeing & being,will conceive all creaturely autonomies as unavoidably competitive due to natures that are essentially & inescapably violent, b/c they view evil’s existence as substantial, when it is rather a parasitic subcontrary. In no measure, then, is evil necessary to the eternal act of creation or for eternal acts of incarnation (One Pure Act, really). This discussion pertains also to differences like those of epistemic distance.

God Ordains Epistemic Distancing toward the end of Our Co-creative Self-determination but that…sylvestjohn.org

Whither divine vestige, image, likeness & identity?

Persons reduce the

1) essential potencies of their primary nature via participatory existential acts by being images of God (divine esse naturale);

2) im/material potencies of their hypostatic nature by perichoretic efficient acts by doing, thereby reducing any inherent material potencies, cosmically, as vestiges of God, & immaterial potencies, theandrically, as identities of the will of God (divine esse intentionale);

3) final potencies of their secondary nature by participatory formal acts by becoming likenesses of God (divine energeia). consistent w/Cosmotheandrism & Neo-Chalcedonism.

Eschatologically, primary & secondary natures participate, respectively, in apokatastenai (essential beatitude) & apokatastasis (theotic beatitude); hypostatic “natures” in a perichoretic & inexhaustible deeping of intimacy expand their aesthetic scope of beatitude in epektasis.

Note: I like Gelpi’s Lonerganian-Peircean conception of grace as “transmuted experience,” which, using my wording, is gifted us gratuitously, both by creation & special revelation. I’m especially consoled in knowing it comes via – not only assent, but – absence of refusal! PTL!

A Pansemiotic Hypostatic Logic? – panSEMIOentheism

How is each divine person constituted? distinct from the others?

What principle individuates, differentiates or particularizes persons?

What theory of idiomata applies?

And what theory of universals?

Is there a logic that might apply to both the ad intra trinitarian taxis and the hypostatic union?

If so, then, why wouldn’t it extend to anthropology?

And, if that is so, how could it not extend to cosmology?

That is to ask, wouldn’t this logic apply to – not just personal, but – all hypostatic realities?

To which realities must we refer with proper nouns and which with common? And which are particular and which generic?

How might we best refer to that infinite reality than which no greater can be conceived? How might we best refer even to the Monarchy of the Father in terms regarding both His person & his nature?

What insights to these questions might we glean from Peirce’s “secondness” or Scotus’ “haecceity” or Maximus’ “λόγος“?

Why is Peirce’s modal ontology and semiotic pragmatism irreducibly triadic? Whether regarding ontic possibilities, actualities & probabilities – necessities or epistemic icons, indices & symbols? Each category with its unique application of the principles of noncontradiction & excluded middle?

The underlying dynamics of both my appropriation of Peirce’s semiotic as well as of the Neo-Chalcedonian hypostatic logic is foundationally one of emergence without supervenience, the emergence of novel entities in terms of thatness, thisness & howness but with neither epistemic nor ontic reducibility from whatness.

To be clear, my Peircean semiotic approach only provides a metaheuristic that bookmarks reality’s ontological aporia and asserts epistemic irreducibility.  Any stances regarding ontological irreducibility, themselves, go further, inviting an exploratory direction without aspiring to a complete metaphysical explanation. They involve, then, a leap of faith, albeit in no way an unreasonable one, rather the product of a practical reasoning under uncertainty regarding ultimate concerns that are (per James) forced, vital & live, hence, eminently actionable, existentially, & defensible, evidentially & rationally.

Might it be because, primordially & emergently, an ineffably nondetermined person beyond being self-determinedly, eternally & kenotically donates all being, self-emptying by communicating all possibilities & actualities – not arbitrarily, but – with mediating nomicities?

Divine perichoresis is “exemplified” by the dance between that which is nondetermined in & self-determined by divine persons. All creation “signifies” divine perichoresis in the dance between that which, in each person, remains divinely determined & that which, in each person, is self-determined.

Creation’s overdetermined possibilities are not arbitrarily reduced by hypostatic self-determinations without mediation by an underdetermined range of probabilities, a range (scope) which has been necessarily & wholly determined.

The divine fontal plenitude, the abyss of anarchical nondetermination,  self-determinedly manifests as an eternally, freely willing loving person, Who communicates His being (nongeneric “whatness”) as revealed by each divine person.

Each person freely & willingly loves, both self & each other, in a way that’s different from “how” each other person manifests love per each’s own  ineffable, irreducible & brute “thisness.” A person’s identity is that existential thatness presenting with “this” unique “howness” that’s otherwise indifferent to & irreducible to any given whatness.

So, while a participatory metaphysic of being still obtains, it seems that freely, willing, loving divine persons
are individuated – not by matter or accidents, i.e. “what,” but – per a perichoretic metaphysic of goodness, which provides an account of “how” each loves. The anthropological implications are that all human persons freely & willingly love – not only via natural participation in Being, but – via hypostatic coinherence with divine operations.

The perichoretic concept used in late Patristic Trinitology  conveyed mutual interpenetration or permeation without merging or mixing. But, the concept was first employed in early Patristic Christology by the Cappadocians.

So, while the Trinitarian perichoresis refers to homogenous, consubstantial realities, the Christological refers heterogenously & heterosubstantially, thus, again, indifferent to & irreducible from any nature, ousia or essence.

The practical upshot?

There’s no reason it can’t refer cosmotheandrically!

Beyond Christological perichoresis, the Logos-logoi identity of Maximus further emphasizes how we as creatures perichoretically coinhere relationally (albeit participatorily proportional to our being) – not only creature to creature, but – with divinity, for the very same logoi that humanize the divine also divinize the human.

Christ, for Bonaventure, is the centre of the entire created order. This echoes Origen of Alexandria, the Cappadocians, Maximus the Confessor,
Gregory Palamas, and would be deepened and enriched by Duns Scotus and his doctrine of the Primacy of Christ. ~ Mulholland

Perhaps relational accounts of MOF can be characterized as ‘only personal’ (weaker) or ‘also emanational’ (stronger)?

While it’s in Christology (via its epistemic primacy) that the meanings of various types of coincidence of mutually affirming complementary
opposites are revealed, it’s in Paterology that we locate their intrinsic structural foundation per hypostatic logic in terms of innascibility & fecundity. That
Bonaventurian architectonic busts several moves:

Cappadocian emphasis
on persons (more so than substance);

Nazianzen & Damascene mutual coinherence;

Dionysian self-diffusive goodness;

Victorine highest good as
love; hence, a

Neoplatonic ’emanation, exemplarity & consummation’
perichoretic metaphysic of goodness (more than just a participatory metaphysic of being).

for Aquinas persons are both constituted & distinguished per relations

for Nyssen persons are distinguished causally but he’s silent re constitution

for Scotus, personal relational properties constitute the persons but aren’t their only unique properties;

we might add Bonaventure’s emanational relations or something analogous to Scotus’ haecceities

They’ll all assert the indivisibilty of the essence & incommunicability of
hypostatic properties to avoid, respectively, tritheism & modalism, using analogies to different substance – universal accounts or idioms to show via
similarities what divine essences & hypostases are like, but as soon as those analogies lead to unhappy inferences, they’ll assert dissimilarities, then get confronted with the combined challenges of loss of intelligibility & charges of mysterian adhockery, which can be defended in various ways to various degrees.

identificatory vs constitutive?

Three possess the one indivisible divine essence, and are constituted as distinct persons by certain incommunicable properties, not common in one with the other two.

Personal relational properties constitute the persons but aren’t their only unique
properties (those properties aren’t communicable).

Bonaventure’s Christ illuminates the hypostatic & essential logics that inhere in paterological uniqueness (MOF), essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic union, hypostatic unity & sophiological union, as well as trinitological, Christological, cosmological (vestiges),
anthropological (images) & theotic (likenesses) perichoreses.

“Samenesses & differences in relation” reduce to Sophianic I-Thou-nesses

The Onenesses of emanational & personal relations variously present as different types of embodied antinomies (semiotic ententional – absential relations) via the

paterological uniqueness or monarchy,

essential unicity or simplicity,

unitary energeia or trinitologically,

hypostatic union or christologically &

sophianic unity or cosmotheandrically,

all constituted by “samenesses & differences in relation” that reduce to I-Thou-nesses.

Beyond the analogy of being, essentially, & energeia, relationally, the Logos-logoi identity constitutes a mereology of hypostases, personally – not of static substances, ontologically, but of dynamical actors acting, synergetically. eg lords a leaping, pipers piping, lovers loving.

It’s like the 12 Days of Christmas, only substitute the beatitudes in this hypostatic mereology of participators participating.

Greater than the sum of its parts (every creature!), the bidirectional synergy of this Whole is asymmetric, e.g. Jesus ascended, Mary was assumed.

God IS with us, Emmanuel!

And that, Alfie, is what it’s all about!

Merry Christmas!

Notes on synergies as analogical perichoretic coinherences

vertical (or essential causal series) paterological monarchical emanational relational-synergy, ur-kenotic

horizontal trinitological tri-hypostatic-synergy; or personal relational-synergy

vertical (self-determinate) christological hypostatic-synergy – a descent; kenotic

horizontal cosmotheandric pluri-hypostatic-synergy- a diffusion

In Universalism’s Renaissance, Charges of Rationalism Stick Less Often than Many Imagine

In Universalism’s Renaissance, Charges of Rationalism Stick Less Often than Many Imagine

Per Lonergan’s functional specialties, we proceed from foundations (exegetical, liturgical & historical) & doctrines (creedal) through
systematics (theopoetic & metaphysical idioms) in the service of communications (pastoral, homiletics & missiology).

That’s to recognize that, theologically, we proceed from the normative & evaluative through the interpretive to the descriptive.

So, any charge of rationalism is basically suggesting that one has made one’s metaphysic the normative foundation of one’s theological conclusions, when it otherwise should merely be providing an interpretation of revelatory foundations & doctrines, mostly for translation purposes, communicatively.

This is to agree, then, that one’s universalism must derive, for example – not from Neo-platonic metaphysics, but – from Scripture, Eucharistic prayers, Patristics and the Creeds to yield, for example, a Christianized Neoplatonism. Otherwise, what one might embrace could be a Neo-platonized Christianity.

Now, charges of rationalism, caricaturizing both East & West, are nothing new, e.g. Orthodox mysticism vs Latin rationalism. What might be novel, though, would be any tu quoque-like reverse application of the so-called de Regnon paradigm (sounds like a Championship Wrestling maneuver off the old theo- turnbuckle?). For example, one might suggest that it’s some rationalism that must be grounding another’s universalism, a priori rejecting the possibility that there might otherwise be a competing, defensible interpretation of revelation at its heart.

It does seem to me that the universalism of the East is precisely derived from Scripture & Tradition as rooted in & expressed by its Biblical exegesis, prayers of the Church & teachings of the Fathers. There are even those, both East & West, who hold that such an indicative universalist posture should be recognized as a valid opinion & acceptable minority position, even if not dogmatized.

And many of them suggest that the West has over-dogmatized much of its eschatology (e.g. purgatory & hell), in general, and post-mortem anthropology, in particular. As a matter of fact, regarding the latter, too much of it represents the dogmatization of elements of a highly speculative angelology (e.g. irreversible choices). It would be tempting to call that a rationalism, i.e. proceeding from a metaphysic, but the alternate interpretation – that it’s an over-dogmatization – is both more charitable & likely more correct? In other words, it otherwise entails a more or less defensible interpretation of revelation that’s being explained metaphysically rather than a metaphysical stance that’s being turned into an anthropological conclusion, theologically.

One practical takeaway might be that we best resist facile caricatures of competing theological stances, as they are often tantamount to arrogantly insisting that another’s theologoumenon clearly must represent a rationalistic philosophical grounding because, after all, it couldn’t possibly have Scripture & Tradition at its heart, at least, not given my infallibilist interpretation!

Universalism – a qualified defense of both indicative & subjunctive apokatastasis

Regarding universalism, I’ve long held a view that’s situated somewhat between that of DBH & Paul Griffith’s.

With DBH & others, I reject how facilely notions like compatibilist & libertarian are so often used. But, I resonate w/Scotus & Maximus & (mis?)appropriate them as moderately libertarian.

I recognize “who we are” existentially & essentially per our primary nature as wholly determined by God, ie as imagoes Dei. With Maritain, I reject ECT because I believe in an indicatively universal apokatastenai, which restores our primary nature, necessarily, such that we’ll no longer be choosing “between” higher & lesser goods, post-mortem.

That’s distinct, then, from “who we can become” formally & finally per our secondary natures as self-determined by us, ie as similitudinae Dei. I thus believe a subjunctively universal apokatastasis is defensible as a theologoumenon and that it involves the theotic realization of our secondary natures, probabilistically, as we choose “among” eternal goods, post-mortem.

So, what’s at stake, self-determinately, can never entail “being who we are” as imagoes Dei, as if we could ever self-annihilate that which remains everlastingly & intrinsically good, but is rather “becoming who we could” as likenesses of God.

What’s at stake, then, are degrees of intimacy & objective beatitude.

I depart from that defensible theological opinion (subjunctive universal apokatastasis), though, because it seems that the same mercy & graces that Maritain invoked to defend an indicative universal apokatastenai, in my view, would also implicate an indicative universal apokatastasis, wherein we will forever self-determinately choose “among” eternal goods, passing from glory to glory, just not “between” higher & lesser goods.

At bottom, we are – not absolutely, but – only ever relatively free. As finite creatures, we can’t justly be dealt infinite punishments, whether ECT or annihilation. As a person in solidarity with humankind, but, especially as a parent, I can’t countenance either as they’re both, to me, aesthetically repugnant, relationally abhorrent & morally unintelligible. They don’t comport with the nature of God revealed in the Incarnation.

As for my model, I don’t know how theosis would work post-mortem without the epistemic & axiological distancing that’s integral to our experience of freedom, temporally. Perhaps we’ll only be choosing among eternal goods & not between being & well being. It may be that our temporal sojourns self-determine our degrees of subjective beatitude (aesthetic intensity), even as our eternal self-determinations realize various degrees of objective beatitude (aesthetic scope).


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

Types of Causal & Explanatory Eliminativisms per Aristotelian Causes & Lonerganian Imperatives

Types of Causal & Explanatory Eliminativisms per Aristotelian Causes & Lonerganian Imperatives

Eliminative Nihilism is ignostic regarding existential causes & any explanatory that. It violates the imperative to be & denies transcendent being. Lord, give me only your love

Eliminative Nominalism is ignostic regarding essential causes & any explanatory what vis a vis attending, descriptively. It violates the imperative to be attentive & denies transcendent truth. Lord, give me your grace

Eliminative Voluntarism is ignostic regarding efficient causes & any explanatory who vis a vis intelligence, self-transcendently. It violates the imperative to be intelligent & denies transcendent freedom. Take, Lord, receive my entire will

Eliminative Relativism is ignostic regarding material causes & any constraints on (explanatory *) when or where vis a vis responsibility, normatively. It violates the imperative to be responsible & denies transcendent goodness (in terms of ordinacy, ie lesser & greater). Take, Lord, receive all my liberty

Eliminative Materialism is ignostic regarding formal causes & any explanatory how vis a vis reasonableness, evaluatively. It violates the imperative to be reasonable & denies transcendent beauty. Take, Lord, receive my memory

Eliminative Pragmatism is ignostic regarding final causes & any explanatory why vis a vis relationships, interpretively. It violates the imperative to be in love & denies transcendent unity. Take, Lord, receive my understanding

  • One can substitute “constraints on” for explanatory.
  • the material is that which takes up space-time

Final Word

The above is intended as an informal heuristic to foster reflection and unavoidably includes some rather facile, although not wholly indefensible, conceptual mappings.

The major practical upshot, consistent with all of my musings, is that metaphysical ignosticisms enjoy no epistemic warrant. One adopts any of these eliminativisms at the peril of self-subverting their own stance via parody.

One problem faced by every type of eliminativism – nihilism, nominalism, voluntarism, relativism, eliminative materialism or vulgar pragmatism – is that, taken as a system, it will self-subvert through parody.

Contra Wittgenstein – He should’ve said: It’s not “only” how things are but that & Who things are, which is the mystical.

For reality’s enchantments pertain to the reduction of – not only essences by existential acts, but – final & material potencies by formal & efficient acts.

This is to say that, among other epistemic [methodological] limitations & ontic [putative in-principle] occultations, that reality’s shot through with Godel-like constraints & infinite semiosis vis a vis all axiomatizing aspirations & [inescapably informal] interpretations.

This applies to explanations of – not just putative primal realities that lend themselves, undecidably so, to competing alternative axiomatic accounts of initial, boundary & limit conditions, but – EVERY instance & set of samenesses & differences that participate in relationship.

By “undecidable” we refer to a strictly logical undecidability vis a vis competing accounts, which otherwise get adjudicated pragmatically in terms of existential actionability & relationship enhancement, ie via an equiplausibility principle & not per some vulgar pragmatism.

Modally, the essential samenesses are rooted as possibilities from the past (primary natures), the materially individuated (& or haecceity-like) differences as present actualities (hypostatic natures), which formally participate, relationally, toward a future finality (secondary natures).

The creatio ex nihilo & analogy of being remain necessary but insufficient without creatio ex Deo & hypostatic identities

The paterological uniqueness (protological) of the monarchy culminates in the sophianic union (eschatological)

not only per our co-creative formal acts, which participate imitatively in the creative (ex nihilo) essential unicity, but –

per our co-creative existential & efficient acts, which participate substratively in the emanational (ex Deo) hypostatic unity,

all manifested by the unitary energeia.

My principle of retreblement triadically integrates: entities, relations & essences; existential, efficient & formal acts, etc.

Per Olivier-Maurice Clément‘s trinitarian anthropol­ogy

man [born in the divinity as God is born in the humanity] is called, to use the expressions of Soloviev, to extend the God-man in a creative way into the ‘God-manhood’, the ‘God-universe’.

Classical theism, approached in terms of an analogy of being, then supplemented by 

pan-entheistic accounts of analogous mutual indwellings, per creatio ex nihilo,

solves two of the classical “problems of beginning” – infinite regression & circular referentiality.

To address the problem of causal disjunction, it must be further supplemented by a mereological panen-theistic account of hypostatic identities per creatio ex Deo.

While this unavoidably leaves residual problems of beginning, like those of question begging & tautology, the account, nevertheless, thereby enjoys an epistemic parity with all competing stances (including nihilisms).

Faced with the choice between inconsistency & incompleteness, the good money has always bet on being consistent (per Stephen Hawking).


I will share an excerpt from Dong-Sik Park’s 2012 dissertation, “The God-World Relationship Between Joseph Bracken, Philip Clayton, and the Open Theism,” and offer some comments, after.

With regard to freedom, Schelling explains it in the relation between individual and whole, saying that although an individual part is only possible within the whole of an organism, it has its own life or freedom for itself. In the relation between God and the world, the procession [Folge] of things from God is God’s self-revelation and God can only reveal himself to himself in free beings acting on their own, because there is no
ground other than God. That is, whereas only what is free is in God because it is free,
what is not free is necessarily outside of God because it is not free. In the sense, Schelling asserts that “The beginning and ending of this philosophy is freedom.” The freedom of the creatures is not dependent on divine choice, since the divine life essentially transacts with free creatures. As Berdyaev argues, freedom as such is not created, but rather is “a primordial principle of reality inherent in deity as such and in all concrete actualities. Thus the freedom of the creatures is against a false conception of divine omnipotence which suppresses or manipulates the freedom. Every kind of life is “a succession and concatenation of states,” since each previous state is the ground which bears potency of the succeeding state. This movement is even in the divine life.

My comments:

We must go beyond the creatio ex nihilo elements that implicate, for example, both an analogy of being, essentially, & synergy of energeia, relationally, to better account for the participatory dynamics of divine-creaturely agential interactivity.

The Logos-logoi identity introduces the creatio ex Deo elements that necessarily implicate, in my view, a mereology of hypostases.

This is not to introduce a robustly metaphysical root metaphor (e.g. an Aurobindian mereological panen-theism), but only a vague, perichoretic-like, meta-heuristic, (e.g. Bracken’s Divine Matrix), which respects the apophatic theo-anthropological contours that are required to properly honor the radically mysterious depths of every person, whose individuation derives from an irreducibly unique haecceity-like idioma.

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?


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.

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.