God’s got nothing to do with death or gratuitous evil

As always, there are some depthful conversations going on here: https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2021/01/20/if-god-is-going-to-deify-everyone-anyway-why-not-deify-everyone-immediately/

While no systematic theology can avoid all mysterian appeals or some degree of skeptical theism, those strategies should be reserved for matters involving divine modal identities & ontologies (that, what, this, where & when), as Christianity remains in search of a metaphysic.

We should not engage them in our existentialist & personalist understandings of God (how = Who) or of His operations (why), as gifted by revelation.

So, I thus hold fast to the belief that the divine nature remains sufficiently intelligible in terms of humanity’s shared aesthetic sensibilities & moral intuitions. To remain existentially satisfying for & rhetorically persuasive to me, no theological anthropology should sacrifice such intelligibility.

Pastor Tom Belt has well explicated what he calls DBH’s moral argument or what I refer to as his game theoretic analysis, which is an element integral to DBH’s multi-pronged defense of universalism. It demonstrates why the infernalists cannot coherently invoke the antecedent – consequent divine will distinction without sacrificing God’s moral & aesthetic intelligibility, eschatologically.

Faced with a choice between consistency & completeness, our accounts must remain consistent with revelation (e.g. per exegetical & patristic sources) vis a vis God’s moral & aesthetic intelligibility. We must otherwise accept the incompleteness of our metaphysical explanations.

To otherwise pretend that we have consistent metaphysical accounts, e.g. henologically & ontologically re the trinity, creation & incarnation, but an inadequate account of God’s moral character, seems bassackward to me.

Now, some seem to be arguing that what’s good for the game theoretic eschatological goose seems to be good for the morally inculpatory temporal gander.

Admittedly, on its face, that argument would appear to ignore the difference between an infinite & eternal quasi-Manichean parasitic evil and a finite & temporal one. But, even once stipulating to that quantitative & qualitative difference, the more salient takeaway that’s being urged is that the antecedent – consequent will distinction can’t salvage God’s moral intelligibility vis a vis finite, temporal parasitic evils, either. And I’m wholly sympathetic to that stance: God’s got nothing to do with death or gratuitous suffering. FULL STOP.

What we do not adequately grasp is not God’s moral & aesthetic intelligibilty. Rather, we lack formal definitions for the other Anselmian divine attributes, all in terms of “that which is greater than which cannot otherwise be conceived without falling into theological contradiction, anthropological absurdity & metaphysical incoherence.”

Our creedal contours define apophatic constraints on the God-references of our exploratory meta-heuristics. They don’t pretend to provide formal God-definitions in terms of explanatory metaphysics. That’s a feature – not a bug – of any coherent systematic theology.

Guess what. A materialist monist nihilism is also a mere exploratory meta-heuristic & not a robustly explanatory metaphysic. It, too, must avoid mereological contradiction & metaphysical incoherence, even as it asserts anthropological absurdity.

There are Gödel-like constraints on ALL theories of everything. Given the ineluctable equiplausibility of many competing worldviews, it’s eminently reasonable to choose among them based on their varying degrees of existential actionability.

God is love – yesterday, today & forever. He has nothing to do with death or gratuitous evil, eschatologically or temporally, instrumentally or permissively, antecedently or consequently. Death & evil did not ensue in the wake of some ontological rupture located in the past, even though they indisputably interfere with our teleological strivings oriented to the future.

We do profess an adequate understanding of divine omnibenevolence & omnipathy, theologically, even as our grasps of divine omnipotence, omniscience & omnipresence remain rather inchoate, metaphysically. Such a theoretic metaphysical incompleteness is no more fatal to classical theism than it is to a nihilistic materialist monism (which apparently prefers to grapple with gratuitous beauty).

I wrote the following (link below) musing before encountering DBH’s game theoretic analysis in TASBS. While the arguments in TASBS aren’t advancing a theodicy, I appropriate them as an indispensable prerequisite to any coherent logical defense or evidential theodicy, as well as for any exegetical & patristic inventory of the divine character (the latter sufficing for me).

https://sylvestjohn.org/2019/09/27/marrying-the-theological-anthropology-of-david-bentley-hart-to-a-more-compelling-systematic-theology/

Addendum – my contribution to a related thread at EO

I am deeply sympathetic with the earnest affective dispositions toward and grateful for your thoughtful probity of the problem of evil by various contributors at EO. That said, I do most strongly resonate with the stances shared by Robert, DBH & Jordan DW.

What eventually got God out of the dock for me, to use a criminal law metaphor, wasn’t mostly based in case theory (logical defenses, soul-making, evil as privation, free will) or circumstantial evidence (theodicies). Juries are instructed that they can rely on character witnesses, alone, for not guilty verdicts. Ergo, revelation satisfied me, existentially, i.e. Jesus revealing God as Daddy, Romans 8, etc

I can’t explain why God’s not guilty given the circumstantial evidence but do tenaciously hold THAT He simply can’t be morally culpable.

I still vacillate regarding – not only whether evidential theodicies could succeed, but – whether they’re even morally defensible, as they can risk trivializing the enormity of human suffering & immensity of human pain. So, I mostly take refuge in a skeptical theism.

BUT – I have speculated, nonetheless, looking for something – not just sufficiently compelling for me, but – more widely compelling to other earnest seekers.

This is not a suitable forum to go into the details but, generally, I adhere to versions of divine simplicity, although weakened, & impassibility, except with a thin passibility.

If creation is Incarnation, then, per an eternal simultaneity, God will have self-determinedly & kenotically opened Himself to a divine omnipathy. God will have known, then, how every creature will have felt, retro|pro-spectively vis a vis Romans 8, i.e. eternally aware that every scintilla of any Karamazovian nyets will have been replaced by Marian fiats, once affectively energized by the realities of universal restoration. God thus knows, eternally, via divine omnopathy, that no tickets will have been returned by Ivan, by any lion or lamb, by any quake or quark.

Beyond that, I have speculated, re creatio ex nihilo & ex Deo, that they needn’t necessarily be conceived as incompatible with a co-eternal prevenient  chaos or tehomic  profundis. Why must a co-eternal void (or abyss or  tohu va bohu or chaos or  tehom), whatever else its ineluctable logic might necessarily entail, be conceived in absolutely dualistic terms, i.e. as if any quasi-Manichean residue would have to remain eschatologically?

The exnihilating dynamics of creatio ex nihilo & Deo may also be operating ex chaos & profundis across a multiversal plenitude of incipiently telic realities?

It seems coherent to me to conceive of a dualistic, even pluralistic reality, without conceiving it in robustly Manichean terms. The bigger caveat would be the need to avoid a wimpy, nominalistic process God. I believe that folks like Joe Bracken & Norris Clarke navigate such conceptual shoals. And they can precisely accommodate the brilliance of those who anticipated them, e.g. especially Maximus, Bulgakov, Bonaventure, Eriugena, etc

I more exhaustively address such matters in my notes:

https://www.academia.edu/43938792/PanSEMIOentheism_A_Neo_Chalcedonian_Franciscan_Cosmotheandric_Universalism

To be clear, I rely on neither my putative accounts of divine omnipathy (which doesn’t impair intrinsic perfections) nor of creatio ex chaos (non-Manichean dualism) to resolve the problem of evil, nor on logical defenses or evidential theodicies.

But I’m not wholly dismissive of such attempts & haven’t desisted from same, myself. Rather, I essentially take refuge in revelation and a nuanced mysterianism.

It is my fervent prayer that all may attain the consolations I have come to enjoy and avoid the desolations that can afflict us all, when beset by doubt, deep suffering or the existential angst that can set many on such a theodical quest.

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

PRECIS

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

Eschatologically

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/

https://academia.edu/43938792/PanSEMIOentheism_A_Neo_Chalcedonian_Franciscan_Cosmotheandric_Universalism…

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.

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).

Note:

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.

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.

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.

Semiotic Appropriation of Cyril, Maximus & Bulgakov in terms of cosmotheandric self-revelation

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.

That’s the Precis for my

PanSEMIOentheism –
A Neo-Chalcedonian, Franciscan, Cosmotheandric Universalism

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.

IF

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

THEN

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.

Maximus’s Mary, A Minister, Not Just an Icon, by the late Sally Cunneen

A Sweet Theological Autobiography

This is my theo-story. This is my song.

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.

A Metaphysical “univocity of reality” in a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism – a Peircean Precis

Thinking in terms of Peirce’s

Being > Reality > Existence

Considering a Neo-Chalcedonian Christology

While we still refer to divine & determinate hypostases via semantic univocity & ontological analogy …

Can we say that the Logos-logoi identity that humanizes divine persons & deifies human persons

invokes a metaphysical “univocity of reality per a Peircean Thirdness of generals, including created logoi, teloi, nomicities, etc,

all “participating” in a creatio ex deo, the essentially divine person self-determinately so, the essentially human person determinately …

such determinate effects variously exemplifying or signifying their Cause per their unique tropoi …

 

human persons as vestigia, imagoes & similitudines Dei …

the divine person as Logos in hypostatic union?

This would distinguish Maximus, on his own terms, from Balthasar’s Maximus, who overapplied the analogia?

Analogia of an Aesthetic Teleology

1) analogy of aesthetic intensityfixed

a) God: intrinsic perfection

b) human: subjective beatitude, bliss of beatific vision

2) analogy of aesthetic scope – variable in terms of manifestation

a) creator, God: scope of manifestations increased thru ad extra “exemplifications” of Logos & Glory, i.e. of divine esse intentionale, more than mere Cambridge properties, thin passibility

b) co-creator, human: scope of manifestations increased thru “significations” of Logos & Glory, objective beatitude, AMDG

Analogia of Divine & Human Tropoi

1) tropos of divine person

   a) essential nature exemplifies Logos

   b) secondary nature, exemplifies humanity

2) tropos human person

   a) essential nature as vestigial & imaginal Dei signifies Logos, exemplifies evolving humanity

   b) secondary nature as similitudino Dei signifies Logos, exemplifies deified humanity

Universalist Implications

 

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

The Neo-Chalcedonian, Cosmotheandric Turn

The hypostatic union of Px = an eternal protological, incarnatonal reality = an eschatological blueprint
re how uncreated & created hypostases proportonally participate, each per their particular ranges of tropoi, in the very same uncreated logoi (incl all creaturely teloi).

My late friend Jim Arraj a Maritain scholar in conversatons w/Norris Clarke deciphered the Thomist conception of forms (as distinct from Aristotles’s) in terms of a participation in limitation motif tracing it in part to Plotinus & neo-Platonic sources.

A formal cause exists in a much more dynamic way in St. Thomas than it could in Aristotle. Arraj would go on to reconceive same in terms of deep & dynamic formal fields (like Joseph Bracken’s neo-
Whiteheadian use of field as a root metaphor).

Bracken’s field conception of the Divine Matrix b/c of its affinity to Classical Theism & Trinitarian doctrine seems a fruitful way to imagine how Maximian logoi interplay among uncreated & created hypostatic tropoi as interpenetrating fields humanize &/or divinize them.

A mutual interpenetration of deep & dynamic formal fields an account for an exnihilating dynamic that creates novel creaturely teloi.

Such a creatio ex amore ex nihilo would be consistent even w/any incipiently telic fields of eternal prevenient chaos (Griffin) or of a tehomic profundis (Keller).

As divine hypostatic realities, the logoi of all finite, determinate creaturely becoming proceed from the infinite, nondeterminate Logos-Spirit hypostases-exemplifications,

pneumato-christologically in the gratuity of creation,
christo-pneumatologically in the gratuity of grace,
incarnationally in both, per the divine esse naturale.

The logoi (hows) carry the divine esse intentionale (will & intentions), both freely affecting creatures & freely affected (per energeia) by the aesthetic scope of all telic creaturely becoming, although divine realities are never affected in aesthetic intensity.

The divine esse naturale-intentionale is thus affected by more than mere Cambridge properties, but without any change in intrinsic perfection. Does this weaken DDS? Yes. Trivially, so.

As it is, since we neither reify the essence (natures aren’t “existing things,” whether divine or created) nor hypostasize energeia, why ontologize the intentionale, inquiring about its mode of being, determinatively –what, rather than of identity, denominatively –how?

Finite creatures proportionally participate (through a univocity of loving determinate effects or synergy) in the Logos-logoi identity, which, itself, grounds the differences of in/finite natures (through an analogia entis).

This in/finite disjunction doesn’t quantitatively differentiate Being & beings through a multiplication of quiddities (determinative nouns, genera, species, i.e. whats) by infinity. Instead, it multiplies qualia (denominative modifiers & participles, hows, etc.) by infinity, recognizing the qualitative differentiation of divine & determinate hypostases, i.e. via propria-idiomata-relata vs essentially-existentially-relationally.

Such a differentiation, then, entails no alienation from some Wholly Other, but, instead, fosters otherness & intimacy,
participation via donativity-receptivity, & immanence in transcendence, all theotically.

Cosmotheandric participation entails more than the mere growth in resemblances of vestigia & imagoes Dei into similitudines Dei, from image to likeness.

Generally, participation further requires a participant to freely choose to (in various ways to various extents) “take possession” of WHAT the participated, as a whole, “IS.”

Specifically, regarding God as Actus Purus, as participants, we, the Many, must freely choose, therefore, to “take possession” of HOW the Participated One, as the Whole, “DOES.”

If we don’t go beyond an analogy of being, ontologically & determinatively, to a univocity of doing, semantically & denominatively, we can’t bust the Maximian move, theologically or anthropologically or cosmogonically, in an authentically Neo-Chalcedonian fashion.

Cosmotheandric participation entails more than the mere growth in resemblances of vestigia & imagoes Dei into similitudines Dei, from image to likeness. It entails each participant’s progressive realization of facility in freely choosing to kenotically participate … in how the ur-kenotic Participated One Acts, which is, naturally, Purely Loving.

There can be no Shakespearean soliloquy: “To Be or Not to Be,” for that remains decidedly decided for every intrinsically valuable imago Dei, ensuing from its essential nature. Rather, the transcendental imperatives in-form-ing our existential orientations include both “To Be Like God or not?” and “To Do How God Does or Not?”.

All of this is articulated in Lonergan’s imperatives, the Degrees of Humility of Ignatius, & Therese’s Little Way.

A proper interpretation of the Capps Bros, Cyril, Maximus & Severus, et al, helped along by idioms like those of Scotus, Palamas & Peirce, et al, might say it the best?

So, finally, re the Logos-logoi identity, while it’s “just” a semantic predication, the reference remains eminently realist. Still, in the same way we eschew any overapplications of an analogia entis, we’d desist, here, from any over-specifications of peircean generals, whether created or uncreated, nomicities or probabilities, etc b/c, for DBHartians, if there’s anything more frightening than an unwitting infernalism, that would be – not a spinozan modal collapse, but – an accidental baroque thomism via a báñezian praemotiophysica! (just kidding)

This universalist vision is systematically argued in the monograph below:

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

A note regarding Personalism:

The personalist approach with which I most resonate can be found in what’s been called cosmotheandrism.

While I find the “cosmo-theo” part of Raimon Panikkar’s cosmotheandrism very
inspirational, for the “theandric” part, there’s a very old Eastern Orthodox account that, in my view, can hardly be improved upon, i.e. Maximian Logos &
logoi.

These would both seem consistent with DBH’s intuitions as were articulated during his back & forth with Ed Feser re animals in heaven.


On page 172 of An Emerging Cosmotheandric Religion?: Raimon Panikkar’s Pluralistic Theology Of Religions, Brill, 2005, Jyri Komulainene discusses the “personalism” in Panikkar’s “ecosophy.”

I’ll paraphrase & summarize the highlights here.

Per Komulainene, while Panikkar’s personalist idiom does convey his intent to avoid a “sheer monism,” he also approaches all of being in terms of communicatio, communio & communality.

The Divine donates via “pure communication.”

All creatures thus engage dialogically. While, per Panikkar, human persons do communicate per a particular interiority & consciousness, we best dialogue (dia-logos, thru the logos) with all of reality without losing sight of its “thou
dimension” or else we’ll “excommunicate” ourselves from nature, God & each other, i.e. cosmotheandrically.

The old EO approach with which I most resonate is Dionysius’ account of “theandric activity” as spoken of by Severus and as interpreted by Maximus
per a Cyrillian Christology.

At the link below, Rebekah Earnshaw summarizes a theology seminar presentation by Dr Brandon Gallaher entitled “The Word, the Words and the
Trinity: A Preliminary Exploration of the Relationship of Eastern Orthodoxy to
World Religions.” It touches on both Panikkar & Maximus.

The Word, the Words and the Trinity

A Note on Terminology

Understanding the historical account & development of the terminology employed in Trinitology & Christology remains crucial for tge proper interpretation of Severus.

I find the concept of the immanent universal [IU] to be very interesting, e.g. C. Kappes has a take re IU of Damacene & Nazianzen; Zachhuber & Cross differ on IU of Nyssan; IU of Scotus.

We might ask why that distinction between the divine IU, as a primary substance, & the universals of determinate beings, as secondary substances, did not leave questions begging for many re, e.g. how “consubstantial” must refer differently in the hypostatic union to the divine vs human natures?

If one allows Severus to define his own terms & properly reads him as a thoroughgoing Cyrillian, then he goes beyond not w/o Chalcedon. Christ remains consubstantial, divinely & humanly, respectively, via immanent & shared universals.

Cyril, ergo Severus, applied the Cappadocian trintological distinction, ousia vs hypostasis, to Christology.

Christ’s divine ousia = immanent universal (an extreme realism) & created ousia = shared universal (a moderate realism). For Cyril & Severus, one nature referred to – not ousia, but – hypostasis.

A Note on my reconceptions of Logoi, Tropoi & Teloi

Operating inseparably but distinctly

uncreated logoi: what, essential nature, act of existence, imago Dei, wholly determinate

un/created tropoi: how, actual secondary nature, virtues & vices, freedom/liberty, habits halfway between act & potency, variously in/determinate & self-determinate

created teloi: why, potential secondary nature, formal act & final potencies, intimacization, authenticity, variously in/determinate & self-determinate

A Note on Grace as Transmuted Experience in my Retreblement

“God not only gives things their form, but He also preserves them in existence, and applies them to act, and is moreover the end of every action.” (ST 1.105.5 ad 3)

Does determinism follow from immediate causality, whether divine or created?

Below is my paraphrased summary of William A. Frank’s “Duns Scotus on Autonomous Freedom & Divine Co-Causality,” Medieval Philosophy & Theology, Volume 2, 1992, Pages 142-164

Determinism doesn’t follow from immediate causality, whether divine or created.

Concurrent co-causes are necessary but not sufficient to bring about a given effect.

Concurrent co-causes can be
a) accidentally ordered, as in the case of needing two mules to pull a wagon, or
b) essentially ordered, as in needing a male & female to produce offspring.

When essentially ordered, even if one co-cause gives more toward an effect than another, the lesser cause can still be the total immediate cause of an effect, e.g. creatio continua vs creaturely volitional acts.

Scotus further distinguishes essentially ordered partial co-causes as

1) participative, requiring a sharing of power, &

2) autonomous, requiring inter-dependent cooperation thru coordinated, complementary lines of efficient causality e.g. how the will & intellect co-cause volition, how divine & created wills co-cause created volitions.

God’s immediate, efficient causality (uncreated) suffices for God’s knowledge in an extensional sense, as knowledge of His own act suffices for knowledge of the effect.

Here, one might remain content to establish the fact of God’s role as a partial co-cause without delving into the mysteries of God’s inner life.

Others aspire to travel further, explanatorily, with Suarez & Molina (middle knowledge), Baήez (premotion) or Scotus (attendant decision).

My thoughts:

The account above squares with how an Aristotelian God creates, conserves & knows.

Beyond that, though, what manner of divine “dialogue” (dia-logos) with the world would implicate a more providential relation between God & creatures, beyond a divine general or universal concurrence,

1) accounting for more of a theandric, even cosmotheandric, intimacy? via
2) a more personalist conception of divine & creaturely inter-relationality? or
3) a more robust account of participation in uncreated divine energeia, logoi & tropoi by creaturely teloi?

See:

https://www.academia.edu/42998704/The_Personalism_in_my_Retreblement

Speculating further, the accounts of Thomistic physical premotion, Jesuit middle knowledge & Scotistic attendant decision aspire to explain more than just how it is that God creates, conserves & knows, as they even explore beyond how it is the divine influences creatures via uncreated logoi & tropoi & created teloi. That’s to say they go beyond the divine-created concurrent, co-causal account, as elaborated above, to propose yet other distinct aspects of divine immediate causation.

For example, divine premotion would act “within” secondary causes, reducing material potencies to efficient acts, elevating instrumental causes to produce agapic (self-transcendent, loving, theotic, etc) effects proper to no known causes, so due to actual grace. God would thus act, however, without violating an agent’s causal integrity, still allowing those operations to be contingent & free, for God created not only necessary but contingent realities, including personal freedom. God moves (applies to act) necessary causes to cause necessarily & contingent causes to cause contingently according to their created natures. So, even if every reduction of material potencies to efficient causes should properly be interpreted as divinely caused & determined, that wouldn’t entail divine necessitation, except in the case of miracles.

Still, must a divine reduction of material potencies to efficient causes necessarily be interpreted as a bridging of physical causes & effects such that, if God wasn’t as such always determining, He’d otherwise have to be considered always determined?

I don’t see why that must necessarily be so. There’s nothing, in principle, to suggest that, to whatever extent that God might ever be variously determined by creatures, His intrinsic perfection would necessarily thereby be diminished (due to some divine impoverishment). Rather, such a divine affectivity might simply reflect a divine condescension (via a weakened DDS) that reflects divine changes in – neither aesthetic intensity nor intrinsic perfection, but – only aesthetic scope & kenotic relationality.

Furthermore, the will, itself, should be located, at least in part, in efficient causation. Scotus would have us recognize a form of volition that determines whether one exercises one’s will (or refrains therefrom). It’s the volitional question that asks why the will wills at all, because it does remain free not to act, notwithstanding all logoi, tropoi & physical premotions.

Proposed solution:
If we relocate grace to an uncreated formal cause (like E. Stump), it could still be effected through the uncreated physical premotion of efficient causes that will have brought about circumstances that, after creaturely semiotic interpretation, will necessitate certain dispositions of a given person’s will, inviting (even urging but not compelling) it to participate in a divine effecting of various agapic & theotic realizations .

I develop my semiotic approach to grace as transmuted experience, inspired by (but not developed from) James Dominic Rooney’s Stumping Freedom: Divine Causality and the Will, New Blackfriars (Volume 96, Issue 1066, November 2015, Pages 711–722)

See also:
http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/freedom and God.pdf

Note: Situating Zizioulas Systematically in Tillich per My Retreblement

I don’t interpret Zizioulas’ existentialist & personalist approaches as developed out of classical existentialisms & personalisms, which are individualistic philosophies, b/c Z’s personalist conception is intrinsically relational, as difference in communion.

We’d need to distinguish aspects of Z’s philosophical anthropology, which might be implicit & inchoate, from those of his theological anthropology.

ISTM doubtful that the former could do anything other than to establish the reality of a person, that the “meaning” of a person must be imported from one’s worldview. There’s no doubt where Z’s concept of person gets its meaning & that freedom in the context of communion necessarily plays a constitutive role in person for him (think MOF).

One might also appropriate everything that’s useful in Tillich (e.g. Biblical personalism, pneumatology par excellence, ground of being), while correcting his insufficiencies (e.g. Christology) in order to bolster Z’s personalist hermeneutic. While Z pursued a similar project to Tillich, substituting neo-Patristic for Biblical sources, his patristic interpretations have been harshly criticized.

I don’t interpret Z’s thrust as anti-essential but as non-essential, so, retrieving Scotistic substance-talk into his hermeneutic needn’t explode it, but could, instead, better equip it to block unacceptable trinitological inferences. Also, Scotus’ eschewal of secondary substance-talk, trinitologically, would give Z an ontological idiom a tad more compatible with his preferred vocabulary vis a vis ousia, substance, hypostasis, person, etc

So, to best advance a systematic project sympathetic to Zizioulas’ concerns, I’d retrieve Tillich’s Christian existentialism & Biblical personalism, with the added bonus being that their dialectical character is very reminiscent of Panikkar’s cosmo-the-andrism. And I’d retrieve a Scotistic ontology (at least to articulate trinitological grammatical contours).

Finally, consistent with my triadic, axiological epistemology, as developed from Neville’s Peircean systematics, I’d turn to Peirce, Neville & Tillich for their conceptions regarding impersonal accounts of the Ground of Being to systematically situate Zizioulas’ causal-relational personalist interpretation of MOF.

Because Z asserts that the personal existence of the Father constitutes his own existence, the F thus causes not only the Trinitarian unity but the divine ousia, so, not only imparts His being but causes it, characteristics like divinity derived from, because identical to, His personhood.

In my own approach, I have not adopted but have adapted conceptions of the One & the many from Peirce, Tillich & Neville, often referred to with impersonal terms like Ens Necessarium and Ground of Being.

I employ distinct categories like nondeterminate emptiness (analogous to ground of Tillich & Neville, Ens Necessarium of Peirce), nondeterminate nothingness (real but not existing) and indeterminate being (existing).

There’s a certain paradoxical feel to juxtaposing Zizioulas’ MOF personalist approach with such impersonalist conceptions as Tillich’s Ground of Being, Infinite Abyss & Being-Itself?

But, following the Tillichian dialectical methodology, orienting our existential orientations to ultimate concerns, coloring our anthropology theologically, we can theologically gift meaning to what are otherwise bare philosophical conceptions. For me, & why not for Zizioulas, why couldn’t “freely relating” constitute the Ground of Being, Who is the Freely Willing Loving One God, the Father?

Note on Situating Zizioulas Systematically in Bracken in my Retreblement

Pannenberg moved away from just a “relations of origin” MOF interpretation to include a “diversity of relations” dimension, e.g. handing over of Lordship. Even then, some conception of the Father as “unoriginate originator” remains intact, istm.

B/c there’s so much affinity between Pannenberg’s & Joseph Bracken’s metaphysical approaches, appropriating such a modified MOF element in a Bracken-like approach seems a fruitful path forward.

The reason I adapted rather than adopted the Ground of Being conceptions of Tillich & Neville is that it’s important for my systematic consistency to remain faithful to Peirce, e.g. Ens Necessarium abduction.

Toward that end, the last element in my situating of Zizioulas, systematically, involves going beyond, but not without, Scotus, in a more robustly Peircean direction that’s also explicitly Trinitarian.

That is why I turn to the metaphysic of Joseph Bracken, a Peirce scholar and neo-Whiteheadian. What makes Bracken further amenable to this project is his faithful retrieval of Classical Theism and his conscious Peircean avoidance of nominalistic tendencies, such as in Whitehead’s process approach, or, to some extent, adumbrations in Hartshorne’s neo-Classical theism.

My favorite Bracken book remains God: Three Who Are One, 2008, Liturgical Press.

I also commend 1) The Divine Matrix: Creativity as Link between East and West, 1995, Orbis Books; 2) The One in the Many: A Contemporary Reconstruction of the God-World Relationship, 2001, Eerdmans; and 3) Does God Roll Dice? Divine Providence for a World in the Making, 2012, Liturgical Press.

For a great overview that shows how these approaches can fruitfully be placed in dialogue, see the dissertation of Dong-Sik Park: The God-World Relationship Between Joseph Bracken, Philip Clayton, & Open Theism.

The above thread contextualizes how I situate Scotus, Peirce & Bracken with a sympathetic eye toward Zizioulas in my own Pan-SEMIO-entheism.

Notes re Predications of Ousia, Hypostatic Idiomata & Energeia in my Retreblement

There are different theories of idiomata. And different idioms for substance talk. As long as one is consistent, such different types of God-talk needn’t separate us.

Do they merely secure the reference of proper names?

Do they just identify things, epistemologically, or describe their properties, constitutively, defining them essentially? or both?

When idiomata individuate numerically distinct hypostases, do they refer to properties that are:
1) simple, non-shareable & non-coinstantiable; or
2) shareable in-principle but a uniquely combined bundle of idiomata?

How might we distinguish between metaphysically individuating idiomata & epistemic gnorismata, which epistemolsecure references through names?

How might we best distinguish between the semantic “signification” of the common nouns & natures of the ousia & semantic “indications” of the proper nouns & peculiar qualities of hypostases?

Does “God” predicate any subject which shares divine nature?

Does “God” signify the divine ousia in particular, as a kind or nature?

Does “God” signify certain types of energeia or activities?

Is the word “God” a substance-sortal at all, a special predicate expressing the divine nature itself? Is the word “God” just another predicate among predicates, attribute among attributes?
Are natures or ousiai otherwise individuated by energeiai?

Whether the word “God” signifies the divine nature or not (per Cross, yes; per Branson, no),

if one employs an idiom wherein the ousia’s a secondary substance, the word “God” most certainly can be predicated of all the hypostases; and

if one eschews substance-talk & denominatively (connotatively) names the Father, “the One God” – not just as an epistemic gnorismata securing one’s reference via signification, but determinatively (denotatively) – as a metaphysically individuating idioma that differentiates the Father via some robustly personalistic, causal-relational indication, still, “the One God” as arche & aitia, would ontologically subordinate neither God the Son nor God the Holy Spirit.

This is precisely because, even if the sole arche & aitia entails some type of analogous aseity, whether via such a God-conception as would be signified either thru
1) predication & instantiation; or
2) attribution & exemplification; or
3) a supremely personal causal-relational activity —

such an imparting of divine nature is shared as “God from God” and ergo must be clearly & emphatically distinguished from creation’s reception of “finite determinate being from God,” Who is Being Beyond being.

Historically speaking, I take no position re how the Nyssan best be interpreted re God signifying the ousia (Cross) or not (Branson) and, similarly, no position re the basis of divine unity per the Nazianzen, the ousia (Cross) or the MOF (Beeley).

Normatively, my own approach coheres with the views that “God” does not signify ousia & the MOF does secure divine unity.

So, if Branson & Beeley are correct in their respective interpretations of the Nyssan & Nazianzen, then my position thus coheres with the Capps.

Accordingly, “is God”
predicates – not the divine nature (ousia), but – engagements in a certain type of activity (energeia), not in terms of quiddity or “what,” but in terms of doing or “how.”

Hence “God” refers as is defined not in terms
of the divine nature, but as a doer of a certain kind of energeia. In other words, “God” refers as an agent noun (like butcher or baker or candlestick maker).

Although some approaches are nominalist re both ousia & idiomata, my own is realist re both idiomata & ousia.

Re: how idiomata individuate numerically distinct hypostases, in my approach, they refer to properties that are shareable in-principle but in a uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

If one’s idiom refers to ousia as a secondary substance, God can thus be predicated of each divine hypostasis, as a property that’s shareable in-principle but within an otherwise uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

If one’s idiom refers to ousia as a primary substance, i.e. an indivisible immanent universal, the attribute, God, can thus be exemplified by each divine hypostasis, as a property that’s shareable in-principle but within an otherwise uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

In my approach, wherein ousia’s a primary substance & hypostases are exemplifications, I distinguish between semantic “significations” of the common nouns & natures of the ousia & the semantic “indications” of the proper nouns & peculiar qualities of hypostases. And “God” can signify certain types of energeia or activities. So, the word “God” is not a substance-sortal at all, i.e. not a special predicate expressing the divine nature, itself, but is just another predicate among predicates, attribute among attributes.

Because natures, or ousiai, are individuated by energeiai as shared by all the hypostases, we can infer that they all share the same nature & that “God” can be predicated of each hypostasis even as “God” doesn’t otherwise signify the divine nature per se.

The stances articulated above represent phraseology & paraphrases from Beau Branson’s LPT.