An Open Invitation to Universalism – no matter how you square divine-human agential interaction

Anyone Could Bust a Universalist Move!

Scholars divide when evaluating individual church fathers & scholastics in terms of their stances toward determinism & freedom, compatibilism & libertarianism, intellectualism & voluntarism, and other such categories as pertain both to philosophical anthropology and to the relationship between divine & human agencies.

Such confusion reigns because they ignore the noncompetitive nature of divine & human agencies, a theandric reality implicit in Chalcedonian Christology, & even more perfectly explicated in Neo-Chalcedonian distinctions.

As a theoretic upshot of this noncompetitive agential account, absolutist readings of classical theologians will amount to facile caricatures. Those can otherwise be avoided by an appropriations theory approach, wherein theologians are better distinguished merely in terms of notable emphases, e.g. soft determinism, weak compatibilism, moderate libertarianism, moderate voluntarism, moderate intellectualism, etc.

In human agency, for example, the intellect’s necessarily operative just not wholly determinative in volition. In divine agency, for example, creation ensues – not from an essential necessity, but – a volitional inevitability of divine hypostases that are – not quidditatively, relations, but – qualitatively, relational.

As a practical upshot, this noncompetitive agential account should suggest (to those acquainted with universalist-infernalist debates) that arguments, among classical theists, for & against apocatastasis, need not turn on premises grounded in alternative accounts of divine-human agential relations.

After all, per some narratives, we might characterize Isaac of Nineveh, Gregory of Nyssa & Aquinas as weak compatabilists, Maximus & Scotus as moderate libertarians.

Furthermore, Augustinian, even Calvinist accounts, which altogether circumvent such agential issues, can be formulated consistent with apocatastasis. Finally, Báñezian accounts are consistent with a hopeful universalism.

How, though, do we negotiate the logics that might implicate an essential vs hopeful (practical) universalism?

One way or the other, whichever stance one takes, even totally for or against, the trick is to make some type of theological assertions, to ground them exegetically & patristically, to articulate them in some metaphysical idiom, & then, finally, to (legitimately) run for the apophatic cover of a positive mysterianism, whenever one’s interlocutors point out the unavoidable antinomial residues.

Our search for our (anti)apocatastatic apologetic, then, not escaping Gödelian constraints, will force a choice between consistency and completeness. As Hawking said, the good money’s always on consistency, i.e. accepting the unavoidable incompleteness. More aptly, as the Nazianzen did, we’re really just looking for the least inadequate way to convey our faith.

In some respects, then, if we’re going to have to embrace an ineluctable agnosticism, we can focus our arguments on exhaustively explaining HOW volition works, putting an end to our curiosity regarding the precise nature of noncompetitive divine-human agential interactions, opting for Augustinian, Thomistic or Scotistic emphases, while leaving an antinomial theological residue regarding WHAT God wills.

Or, we can focus our arguments on exhaustively explaining WHO God is, putting an end to our curiosity regarding the precise nature of WHAT God wills, opting for the universalist “hints” gifted us by Origen, Isaac of Nineveh, Gregory of Nyssa, the Nazianzen, Athanasius, Maximus & others, while leaving an antinomial anthropological residue regarding HOW human volition works. The good money, seems to me, remains with cultivating an abiding aporetic sense regarding the precise nature of noncompetitive divine-human agential interactions. After all – not just theological, but – enduring metaphysical aporia also abound regarding the origins of – not just human language & sapience, but – even animal sentience.

Thanks to Chalcedon, at least, we know via participation what it’s like to imitate the divine & even to grow in likeness to Christ. We remain otherwise stumped regarding “what it’s like to be a bat.”

When it comes to choosing one anthropological tautology over the next vis a vis our noncompetitive divine-human agential interactions, the tie-breaker for otherwise logically consistent accounts, for me, remains anthropological congruity with our time-honored, shared moral & aesthetic sensibilities. Any account, including speculative post-mortem anthropologies, that does violence to our quotidian experiences of human belonging, desiring, behaving, believing & becoming, I reject.

As a theological corollary, since we are imagoes & similitudines Dei, incongruous images of God that do violence to our most deeply felt anthropological sensibilities, intuitions & discursive reasonings, I also reject.

Accordingly, I heartily commend DBH‘s TASBS and offer my own Systematic Apocatastasis:

Marrying the Theological Anthropology of David Bentley Hart to a More Compelling Systematic Theology

Metaphysically, we must resist proving too much. We shouldn’t pretend that we can somehow a priori and rationally unscramble reality’s epistemic-ontic omelet of in/determinacies. This is to recognize that we can’t always specify which of reality’s levels of aboutness and/or layers of aporia represent entities and processes that are variously in/determinable and/or in/determined and to what extent. Neither can we specify which of these are primitive and which emergent, as well as which are atomic and which aggregate.

 

A vague phenomenological survey does reveal different types of aboutness or teloi: teleopotent or veldopoietic, teleomatic or cosmopoietic, teleonomic or biopoietic, teleoqualic or sentiopoietic and teleologic or sapiopoietic.

Theologically, we must resist telling untellable stories, philosophically. We shouldn’t pretend that we can somehow a priori and rationally unscramble reality’s theological-metaphysical casserole of teloi. This is to recognize that we don’t know enough about reality’s initial, boundary and limit conditions to determine which of the prevailing equiplausible accounts is more probable (e.g. mereologically, which explanatory account necessarily commits or avoids a fallacy of composition).

 

From a high theoretical altitude, ignoring the cultivars (or weeds) of metaphysical nuance, those philosophical theological accounts essentially reduce to nihilism, pantheism, deism, panen-theism, pan-entheism and classical theism.

 

A nihilism can derive from either a thoroughgoing determined reality of primitives, forces & laws or a thoroughgoing indetermined reality of dynamical, energetic contingencies or even some blend of such necessity & contingency, pattern & paradox, order & chaos. In any case, such outlooks will unavoidably reduce to epistemic nominalism, evaluative voluntarism, normative relativism, interpretive skepticism and existential nihilism, at least, in terms of eternal & ultimate concerns. (Arguably, temporally & proximately, there most certainly can be evaluative & normative, including moral, realisms, as well as weak, epistemic foundationalisms.) Such outlooks remain inescapably brute vis a vis any PSR (principle of sufficient reason) in that they a priori suggest that reality as a whole might, some day, be sufficiently explained, i.e. by an exhaustive account of its parts, as well as ontologically in/determined.

 

The prevailing theistic accounts approach reality as – not brute, but – the fruit of an eminently personal deity, Who sufficiently explains as well as ontologically causes the whole of determinate reality.

 

Some are motivated to embrace one worldview versus another based on various indispensable methodological presuppositions like, for example, naturalism or a PSR (weak or strong versions). HOWEVER –

 

Just because naturalism is an indispensable methodological presupposition doesn’t mean it necessarily holds, metaphysically, it only means that we will be unfortunate if it does.

 

Just because some (weak) Principle of Sufficient Reason is an indispensable methodological presupposition doesn’t mean it necessarily holds, metaphysically, it only means that we will be unfortunate if it does not.

 

One opts for an ultimate nihilism or naturalism, deism or theism, then, with other than apodictic certainty and on other than a priori rational presuppositions or metaphysical foundations. Does that necessarily implicate an unavoidable fideism? No.

 

All human epistemology boils down, in my view, to a pragmatic, semiotic realism, which is essentially fallibilistic and consistent with a number of reasonable, even though contradictory, metaphysical accounts, including eminently defensible minority positions alongside more common-sensical majority positions and folk psychological approaches.

 

In my view, since a pragmatic semiotic realism accounts for most human value-realizations, no mere fideism need account for one’s leap of faith past an ultimate nihilism. Faced with otherwise equiplausible approaches to reality writ large that are both a/theologically consistent and metaphysically coherent, why not opt, existentially, for that approach to human value-realizations which is, ultimately & eternally, the most meaningful & least absurd, anthropologically?

 

And, especially, why not thus opt if there are reliable, credible, authoritative and trustworthy voices across millennia, who’ve given witness to such approaches, wherein & whereby certain human value-realizations have presented and which, moreover, have appeared to be effects otherwise proper to no known determinate causes? That’s not fideism but fides et ratio par excellence!

 

Anthropologically, then, I commend the stance of David Bentley Hart, which, from one perspective, might be portrayed in terms of a theological suite of apophatic eschewals, which negate

1) instrumental accounts of evil, suffering & pain

2) evidential theodicies

3) libertarianisms

4) compatibilisms

5) intellectualisms

6) voluntarisms

7) consequential (& instrumental) disproportionalities and

8) frozen human potentialities (limited potencies) post-mortem.

 

Systematically, while there are coherent accounts under classical theism, which can be sustained consistent with certain logical defenses regarding the problem of evil, in my view, unless one employs a nuanced incarnational divine omnipathy in that defense (as I’ve elaborated elsewhere), merely relying on such distinctions as divine antecedent & consequent wills and on such as privation theories to account for all evil just doesn’t render accounts that are sufficiently persuasive, rhetorically, or satisfying, existentially, to many minds & hearts because, however consistent they may be logically, they don’t square with our common sense & sensibilities vis a vis our quotidian personal interrelational dynamics. Others have well inventoried such shortcomings.

 

On the whole, though, a suitably nuanced version of a doctrine of divine simplicity will have much to commend it, especially if it properly distinguishes between the divine nature and will, between divine esse naturale and intentionale, allowing for a thin passibility and recognizing a wide Pareto front of equipoised optimalities (rather than any singular best world scenario). For their part, determinate realities would variously reflect vestigia, imagines & similitudines Dei, all with varying degrees of incipient teloi, intentionalities and freedom.

 

There could be a multiversal plurality of different tehomic, formless voids, each a prevenient & uncreated chaos, representing all manner of eternal and/or ephemeral teloi of varying degrees of in/determinedness, constituting structured (some more so & some less so) fields of activity, each inherently (although variously) receptive to all manner of divine invitations (creatio ex profundis) to participate in novel teloi (creatio ex nihilo).

 

 

Each new Imago Dei would be soteriologically eternalized (thus divinely & radically determined) and sophiologically poised for growth in intimacy as a Similitudino Dei (per one’s radically free response in every participatory space opened by divine kenotic indeterminacies).

 

Such an approach would remain phenomenologically vague, hence metaphysically agnostic. One couldn’t specify the precise nature of any tehomic chaos vis a vis, for example, its degrees of incipient telos, intentionality or freedom versus what novelty was introduced by the creative divine esse intentionale, beyond insisting that the latter, in terms of being, only ever introduces what’s ameliorative, therapeutic, invitatory & eternalizing, where truth, beauty, goodness, unity and freedom are concerned, all over against what would otherwise be metaphysically (inherently) unavoidable in the way of tehomic pain, suffering, natural evil and moral evil. The divine will would thereby always reveal that truth, beauty, goodness, unity and freedom greater than which could not otherwise be conceived without introducing metaphysical incoherence, theological contradiction or anthropological absurdity.

 

Such a dynamical, divine matrix (as that of Joe Bracken) in dialogue with classical theism and a personalist Thomism (as that of Norris Clarke) would escape the flirtations with nominalism & determinism that inhere in many process theisms.

 

Because my account remains metaphysically agnostic (e.g. vis a vis a given root metaphor), poised between process & classical approaches but inspired by Peirce’s pragmatic semiotic realism, I call it a Tehomic Pan-semio-entheism: creatio ex nihilo ex profundis.

 

It ambitions no metaphysic and no evidential theodicy, but offers a logical defense to the problems of pain, suffering and natural & moral evils. This would all be consistent with a radically, divinely determined, soteriological apokatastasis, where each Imago Dei enjoys an aesthetic freedom gifted by an emergent abductive inference, anthropologically, as well as with radically indetermined relational & moral freedoms, whereby each Similitudino Dei can grow in divine intimacy, sophiologically.

This is all more fully explicated in Retreblement.

 

There’s Been Recent Seismic Activity in the Vicinities of Athos & Athens – or might that be a DBH Book Release?

Litanies of ad hominems betray the shrill rationalistic tenor
Of the quod erat demonstranda some would serve for theo-dinner
Where rogue Orthodox berate baroque Thomists and the Rad-O’s scold broke Scotists
They’re all a burger short of a happy meal, just take the time to notice
That they’re not strange bedfellows, at all, good ole Scotus and Palamas
So, rather than Feser and Hart, when you put on your pajamas
Take Bonaventure, Balthasar and Bulgakov to bed
To nurture mind and heart and soul, more peaceably, instead!

hart
I offer the above with tongue firmly planted in cheek, for, truth be known, I am deeply sympathetic to that chorus of DBH apologists, who, most every time he gifts us new reflections, commend the tenor of his ruminations, while begging our indulgence of the tone of his fulminations.

 

By temperament, I typically recoil from coercive rhetoric in an initial visceral reaction. But, I’ve slowly learned to be more discerning so as not to mute what may indeed be Spirit-inspired voices of prophetic protest, especially those coming from the ecclesial margins.

After all, I’ve bought-in to a Tradition that inherently nurtures a healthy self-criticality, even if, from a secular perspective, its corrective advances may seem way too glacial. But that’s always reflected a pace that’s more so been governed by an astute pastoral sensitivity, of practice, which remains appropriately attuned to the complex, dynamical & developmental nature of humankind’s manifold and multiform advances. This is to suggest that such a pace has in no way ever reflected a wholesale capitulation, of theory, to history’s otherwise vulgar zeitgeists.

Rather, to those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the seeds of truth, beauty, goodness, unity and freedom have long grown in this Tradition, even if certain shoots and fruits have, at times, sprung more visibly from the roots of our orchard’s margins. So as not to miss such a bountiful harvest, the Tradition has always nurtured a preferential option for the marginalized and has purposefully cultivated minority opinions, for example, whether of Franciscans, Scotists or Palamites, or the words of its Prophets, even those written on subway walls and tenement halls.

While our subsidiarity principles reflect a proper bias for the least coercive influences, they also precisely include any necessary escalations from softer to harder powers, when discerned, communally, with prudential reason. Such escalations can certainly include those of harsh rhetoric, which can take many forms, even if some seem more ostensible, e.g. scathing and/or acerbic criticisms, others more subtle, e.g. clamors for political correctness.

I’ve indulged my own highly coercive, rhetorical strategies over the years, no less impolitic, really, than those that might seem mean-spirited, by habitually resorting to an intemperate volubility, likely all the more off-putting due to my idiosyncratic, impenetrable prose. I don’t bring this up to invoke anyone’s indulgence on the off-chance I’m some prophet. But neither do I bring it up in mere passing, but rather by way of owning my shadow and publically apologizing to any and all ever affected by such an offense of charity. Introspectively, I know this has grown from some neurotic desire to make a difference and neurotic fear that I have not, what Merton described as a crisis of creativity. The other major crisis we all must resolve, per Merton, is that of continuity, i.e. death in all its forms and guises. So, point is, I am sorry and ask for everyone’s forgiveness.

Back to the main focus, so as to avoid any pretentiousness, it’s on entirely different grounds that I commend any indulgence of David Bentley Hart. He may not be perfect, only One Prophet ever was, but I do believe he’s one of the most important prophets of our times. And I encourage all those baptized as priests, prophets and kings, as well as all baptized by desire, to contribute to the conversation, which is about to escalate in the coming weeks. And don’t fail to contribute on any silly pretense that your contribution won’t be perfect, as if it ever could be. The conversation is too important and needs your voice — if not that of your head, then, perhaps even more importantly, that of your heart.

I know that much of the underlying tenor of DBH’s harsh rhetoric seems to betray a type of rationalistic preoccupation, as if one could merely logically and syllogistically get this all correct by merely thinking straight. But that analysis would be way off because, while good thinking remains indispensable per his appeal, he precisely adverts that such remains necessary but insufficient. Much of the tenor of the book, instead, he’s very deliberately aimed at our hearts regarding love and at our souls regarding beauty and at our instincts regarding goodness. Hart, in way better words than I could contrive, acknowledges that, finally, in my words, it will be on the wings of beauty and goodness, lifted by the Spirit’s winds of love, that truth will coming flying in. Those were my words but they came from Merton’s thoughts.

In conclusion, an abbreviated Litany of Humility:

Jesus, from the desire to be esteemed, exalted, consulted or celebrated, deliver me, Lord.

Jesus, from the fear of being ridiculed, insulted, corrected or humiliated, deliver me, Lord.

Jesus, that others may grow holier than me, grant me the grace to desire it, Lord, provided I may grow as holy as I should.

 

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A Roundup of Relevant URLs regarding the upcoming release of That All Shall Be Saved by David Bentley Hart

 

Below, I’ve encountered no novel, serious objections to universal salvation that cannot be overcome or that could, in my view, disestablish it as a valid theological opinion. At the same time, DBH does prove too much in some of his categorical dismissals of other opinions.

 

Below is an unindexed, unannotated compilation of stuff that I think is worth pondering, even thought I don’t agree with it all:

 

https://www.academia.edu/40275764/David_B._Hart_That_All_Shall_Be_Saved_-_what_to_expect

 

David B. Hart and the problem of evil

 

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/10/how-to-go-to-hell_29.html?m=1

 

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/03/no-hell-no-heaven.html?m=1

 

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/u-turns-and-transcendentals/

 

https://davidtinikashvili.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/david-bentley-hart-that-all-shall-be-saved-book/

 

David Bentley Hart and Universalism: This Week

 

https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2019/09/what-ive-been-reading-and-browsing.html

 

All Shall Be Saved


https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-300-24622-3

 

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2019/08/30/that-all-shall-be-saved-an-introductory-review/

 

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2019/8/14/will-everybody-reach-heaven-is-hell-about-to-grab-some-more-headlines

 

https://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2019/09/harts-that-all-will-be-saved-iii.html

 

https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/david-bentley-hart-is-everyone-saved-universalism-and-the-nature-of-persons/3706/3

 

https://inallthings.org/contributor/myles-werntz/

 

Making Nothing of Evil, and Everything of God: A Review of That All Shall Be Saved, Part 1

 

Making Nothing of Evil, and Everything of God: A Review of That All Shall Be Saved, Part 2

 

https://www.academia.edu/40052533/SAVE_NOTHING_A_Review_Essay_of_David_Bentley_Harts_That_All_Shall_Be_Saved

 

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2019/09/08/preparing-to-read-that-all-shall-be-saved/

 

https://anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com/tag/david-bentley-hart/
https://anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/divine-freedom/

 

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/book-review-that-all-shall-be-saved/

 

https://www.academia.edu/40290017/Divine_Communications_-musings_regarding_the_participatable_logoi

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/critical-essay/final-judgment-really-final

 

https://www.postost.net/2019/09/does-god-intend-all-people-be-saved-universalism-david-bentley-hart

 

https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2019/09/30/the-eternal-debate-over-the-nature-of-hell/

 

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/richardmurray/2019/07/four-reasons-the-early-church-did-not-believe-hell-lasts-forever/

 

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/in-the-end-even-when-we-reject-the-good-we-always-do-so-out-of-a-longing-for-the-good/

 

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/but-i-cannot-imagine-how-even-god-could-produce-a-situation-in-which-i-could-say-i-now-see-that-even-belsen-doesnt-really-matter/

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From early reviews and liberal previews of David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved it does not appear that DBH will be offering a sylly syllogism grounded in some neatly interwoven exegetical, philosophical argumentation, which pretends to prove too much. Rather, he will offer an informal, rhetorical appeal to our common sense & sensibilities, grounded in our messy shared experiences, respecting the analogical interval between anthropological & divine realities while paying dutiful heed to certain participatory efficacies. Those would include the joyous, luminous & glorious effects of which are proper to no known determinate causes, as they transcend the mysteries of all suffering & the realities of all sin. Protologically & proleptically those efficacies constitute all manner of incarnational guarantees, seals, earnests, down payments & first fruits. Yes, we realize them now, in part, hence, we confidently believe & mandatorily proclaim their utter fulfillment, eschatologically.

 

Below are interwoven threads of – not formal premises with coerced conclusions, but – shared human experiences and intuitions, which might weave a story, a tellable story, that would best resonate with the Greatest Story Ever Told. Below are my words, my interpretations, of what I imagine DBH to be saying. His rhetoric entices me, more like getting caught in a web of meaning, a tad tangled but happily so, less like getting caught in a trap of logic, where the axioms are supposedly self-evident (although anything but).
• God doesn’t need evil, suffering or pain. While those can be redeemed in His economy, any essential epistemic distancing can otherwise be closed via theosis. Hence we reject morally repugnant evidential theodicies, while satisfied with unavoidably vague logical defenses & sustained by robustly pastoral existential consolations.
• Those theotic processes don’t absolutely determine reality since they require the synergetic cooperation of freely acting human persons. Hence we reject compatibilisms.
• Human acts aren’t absolutely free; however, since all (trans-)formative processes, whether theotic or redemptive, are necessarily ordered toward truth, beauty, goodness & unity, our participations in same will grow that freedom, our practicing of same will grow virtuosity. Hence we reject libertarianisms.
• The will and intellect, respectively, as efficient acts in potency to material causes & formal acts in potency to final causes, are integrally related, in human volition. Hence we reject voluntarisms & intellectualisms.
• Our secondary natures, both virtuous and vicious, are situated between such acts (efficient & formal) and limited potentialities (material & final), reinforcing or impeding their telic realizations but never extinguishing those human potentials. Hence any notion of frozen potentialities, post mortem, is anthropologically incoherent.
• Human persons are often guilty of willful blindness or vincible ignorance. But as finite, fallible persons, we will never attain such an absolute knowledge of either temporal or divine realities, such that we could be absolutely culpable for any, much less all, remnants of our ignorance. Hence even a vincible ignorance could never warrant an absolute punishment, as that would be disproportionate to our inescapably finite offenses.
• It’s inconceivable that, given sufficient time, divine telic processes (theotic and/or redemptive) would not close enough epistemic distancing to situate every last person, beatifically, in proper relationship to God, others, cosmos & self as ordered toward truth, beauty, goodness & unity with an authentic freedom. Hence we can not only hope for but can be confidently assured that all may be saved.

 

If that last point sounds more like a tepid, practical, hopeful universalism, rather than a clarion, theoretic, dogmatic proclamation, I mean it more so as a virtual universalism. 

Over against DBH’s complaint regarding some hopeful universalisms, let me suggest that not all taken to be paradox is necessarily intended to be exploited for its creative tensions. Some paradox we can resolve dialectically. Some eventually dissolves from paradigm shifts. And some paradox we simply evade, for all practical purposes, perhaps due to an intuitive reductio ad absurdum.

Conclusion – I’m drawn to this theological anthropology of DBH. Curiously, while it works well enough in a classical framework, especially when tweaked by a more personalist Thomism (e.g N. Clarke), I can also square it with a process approach (e.g. D. Griffin, Joe Bracken), particularly one that eschews nominalism. Likely this is due to the inherent adaptability of an informal narrative vs a strict argument.
In the final analysis, though, while I consider certain classical and process approaches to be legitimate opinions within the theological contours of the first seven or so ecumenical councils, I find a creatio ex nihilo ex chaos process approach to be more pastorally consoling, existentially satisfying and rhetorically persuasive than even Hart’s classical articulation.

 

Human persons are determined-enough to enjoy value-realizations and free-enough for those to be deeply meaningful.

 

So, to Einstein and the compatibilists, I reply: “Yes, God does play dice.”

 

And to the nihilists and libertarians we retort: “But they’re loaded.” Or, if not, still, at the very least, you must admit, they have only six sides.

 

To all, I’d observe: “One may, quietistically, refrain from playing and remain, essentially, an imago Dei. Or one may continue playing and, continuously crapping out, increasingly become an imago Similitudino.”

all-shall-be-well-crossstitch-completed5500841674616754573.jpeg

Divine Communications – musings regarding the participatable logoi

Note: Below, please do not be put off by my seeming reification of the divine essence. I should have written what’s below more artfully & rigorously, but please charitably interpret it within the context of my entire oeuvre until I take the time to rewrite it (as well as rewrite most everything else I’ve ever written, as this has never been my primary vocation, nor a discerned charism). What I am talking about, below, are personal acts, whether regarding the Monarchy of the Father (ur-kenotic) or the temporal Missions of the Spirit & Son (kenotic), and am observing which divine communications ensue pursuant to the divine nature and/or will.

 

Divine ur-kenosis of divine esse naturale gifts divine persons (nondeterminate being) participation in a mutual reciprocity of triune relationship (essence).

 

Analogously, divine kenosis of divine esse intentionale freely communicates Christ (self-determinate being) via both a theandric humanization and a theandric deification and also gifts determinate being (variously recognizable as vestigia, imagines and/or similitudines Dei) participation in divine realities (energies) via both universal and particular incarnational presences.

 

Some activities of the divine essence have been revealed via general and special revelation. Furthermore, certain divine attributes have even been divinely decreed as participatable (logoi).

 

I distinguish the ur-kenotic generativity from the kenotic creativity as analogous —not only because the former’s ad intra, the latter – ad extra, but — in order to emphasize that, while the logoi or energies are participatable by determinate being, the essence is not.

 

Further, while one might interpret special revelation as proclaiming that acts of divine communication (e.g. expression, disclosure, revelation, kenosis, etc all vaguely understood) are essential to the divine nature, their precise forms are not. That is to suggest that even if there’s no question regarding WHETHER & WHY divine communications are necessary per the divine nature, the to whom, what, where, when and how elements of same are freely determined per the divine will.

 

As divine communications go, then, it’s been revealed that ad intra generative communications are essential, while ad extra creative communications are freely willed.

 

There’s an ontological plurality of ad extra divine creative communications regarding both their precise natures and the various degrees of indeterminacy attendant to those ontological categories (per divine kenotic decrees). This is to recognize, then, that the actualizations or realizations of participatable divine logoi will be fulfilled differently by the vestigia Dei, imagines Dei & similitudines Dei of determinate being and also by the theandric humanization & deification of self-determinate divine being.

 

Is this to suggest that those divine logoi will not only be fulfilled differently but perhaps even to different degrees or extents? Which is also to ask whether they might be variously frustrated, whether temporally and/or eschatologically?

 

In my view, each Imago Dei necessarily realizes (and cannot frustrate) its divine logoi, whether temporally or eschatologically, while the perfect divine will allows each person to actualize whatever degree of Similitudino Dei to which s/he individually aspires, all of this consonant with God’s perfect nature & will and reflective of the perfect efficacies of all ad extra divine communications. In this last case, both the manner and degree of actualization that each Similitudino Dei realizes, beyond constituting a mere Cambridge property of the divine esse intentionale, will affect God’s will via a thin passibility, whereby a divine responsivity freely determines such actualizations & realizations per an infinite Pareto front (novel equipoised optimalities) of communicable Divine Eros, which varies in its aesthetic teleological scope, while remaining otherwise immutable in its eternally perfect aesthetic intensity. Analogous to this divine freedom, we might say that the human person’s essential nature, as an Imago Dei, enjoys a pre-moral erotic aesthetic scope, while any degree of a virtuous secondary nature, as a Similitudino Dei, enjoys an trans-moral agapic aesthetic scope, along with a commensurate degree of beatific aesthetic intensity.

Whether we so happen to magnify the Lord as Mary in our own fiats or otherwise give God AMDG, doesn’t variously affect but only variously reflects His perfect nature. The theandric humanization & deification, of course, fully realized the efficacies of every divine communication & communing.

Closing:

 

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I began my life’s work in philosophical theology herein:

 

https://www.academia.edu/26023098/Reasons_and_Values_of_the_Heart_in_a_Pluralistic_World_Toward_a_Contemplative_Phenomenology_for_Interreligious_Dialogue

 

And have completed (at least, it feels so, for now) that work herein:
https://www.academia.edu/39367925/Retreblement_-_A_Systematic_Apocatastasis_and_Pneumatological_Missiology

 

With some clarifications of my theological anthropology here:

 

https://www.academia.edu/40144605/The_Vestigia_Imagines_and_Similitudines_Dei_per_Universalism_and_Apokatastasis

 

https://www.academia.edu/40009632/More_eschatological_anthropology

 

https://www.academia.edu/39981926/Eschatological_Anthropology_Voluntarism_intellectualism_libertarianism_and_compatibilism_-_Oh_my_

 

https://www.academia.edu/39945745/Apokatastasis_-_an_hypothesis_with_an_intro_to_retreblement

 

David B. Hart: That All Shall Be Saved — What To Expect?

From early reviews and liberal previews of

David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved

it does not appear that DBH will be offering a sylly syllogism grounded in some neatly interwoven exegetical, philosophical argumentation, which pretends to prove too much.

hart

Rather, he will offer an informal, rhetorical appeal to our common sense & sensibilities, grounded in our messy shared experiences, respecting the analogical interval between anthropological & divine realities while paying dutiful heed to certain participatory efficacies. Those would include the joyous, luminous & glorious effects of which are proper to no known determinate causes, as they transcend the mysteries of all suffering & the realities of all sin. Protologically & proleptically those efficacies constitute all manner of incarnational guarantees, seals, earnests, down payments & first fruits. Yes, we realize them now, in part, hence, we confidently believe & mandatorily proclaim their utter fulfillment eschatologically.

Below are interwoven threads of – not formal premises with coerced conclusions, but – shared human experiences and intuitions, which might weave a story, a tellable story, that would best resonate with the Greatest Story Ever Told.

Below are my words, my interpretations, of what I imagine DBH to be saying. His rhetoric entices me, more like getting caught in a web of meaning, a tad tangled but happily so, less like getting caught in a trap of logic, where the axioms are supposedly self-evident, although anything but.

  • God doesn’t need evil, suffering or pain. While those can be redeemed in His economy, any essential epistemic distancing can otherwise be closed via theosis. [Hence we reject morally repugnant evidential theodicies, while satisfied with unavoidably vague logical defenses & sustained by robustly pastoral existential consolations.]
  • Those theotic processes don’t absolutely determine reality since they require the synergetic cooperation of freely acting human persons. [Hence we reject compatibilisms.]
  • Human acts aren’t absolutely free; however, since all (trans-)formative processes, whether theotic or redemptive, are necessarily ordered toward truth, beauty, goodness & unity, our participations in same will grow that freedom, our practicing of same will grow virtuosity. [Hence we reject libertarianisms.]
  • The will and intellect, respectively, as efficient acts in potency to material causes & formal acts in potency to final causes, are integrally related, in human volition. [Hence we reject voluntarisms & intellectualisms.]
  • Our secondary natures, both virtuous and vicious, are situated between such acts (efficient & formal) and limited potentialities (material & final), reinforcing or impeding their telic realizations but never extinguishing those human potentials. [Hence any notion of frozen potentialities, post mortem, is anthropologically incoherent.]
  • Human persons are often guilty of willful blindness or vincible ignorance. But as finite, fallible persons, we will never attain such an absolute knowledge of either temporal or divine realities, such that we could be absolutely culpable for any, much less all, remnants of our ignorance. [Hence even a vincible ignorance could never warrant an absolute punishment, as that would be disproportionate to our inescapably finite offenses.]
  • It’s inconceivable that, given sufficient time, divine telic processes (theotic and/or redemptive) would not close enough epistemic distancing to situate every last person, beatifically, in proper relationship to God, others, cosmos & self as ordered toward truth, beauty, goodness & unity with an authentic freedom. [Hence we can not only hope for but can be confidently assured that all may be saved.]

Conclusion – I’m drawn to this theological anthropology of DBH. Curiously, while it works well enough in a classical framework, especially when tweaked by a more personalist Thomism (e.g N. Clarke), I can also square it with a process approach (e.g. D. Griffin, Joe Bracken), particularly one that eschews nominalism. Likely this is due to the inherent adaptability of an informal narrative vs a strict argument.

In the final analysis, though, while I consider certain classical and process approaches to be legitimate opinions within the theological contours of the first seven or so ecumenical councils, I find a creatio ex nihilo ex chaos process approach to be more pastorally consoling, existentially satisfying and rhetorically persuasive than even Hart’s classical articulation.

Human persons are determined-enough to enjoy value-realizations and free-enough for those to be deeply meaningful.
So, to Einstein and the compatibilists, I reply: “Yes, God does play dice.”

And to the nihilists and libertarians we retort: “But they’re loaded.”

To all, I’d observe: “One may, quietistically, refrain from playing and remain, essentially, an imago Dei. Or one may continue playing and, crapping out, increasingly become an imago Similitudino.”

February 2020

See this Twitter feed for an exhaustive list of reviews:

https://mobile.twitter.com/AEROdynamicCat1

Meanwhile …

David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universalism

Condemned to Salvation: Considering Universalism with David Bentley Hart

https://spectrummagazine.org/arts-essays/2019/book-review-all-shall-be-saved

https://www.wsj.com/articles/that-all-shall-be-saved-review-making-sense-of-perdition-11572561222

https://postbarthian.com/2019/10/17/review-that-all-shall-be-saved-by-david-bentley-hart/

Shall All Be Saved?

Making Nothing of Evil, and Everything of God: A Review of That All Shall Be Saved, Part 1

https://www.christiancentury.org/review/books/david-bentley-hart-s-polemic-against-alleged-doctrine-eternal-hell

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/book-review-that-all-shall-be-saved/

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/13-december/books-arts/book-reviews/that-all-shall-be-saved-heaven-hell-and-universal-salvation-david-bentley-hart

https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2019/09/30/the-eternal-debate-over-the-nature-of-hell/

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-300-24622-3

Against the Bad Place: A Review of David Bentley Hart’s “That All Shall Be Saved”

https://www.firstthings.com/article/2019/10/harrowing-hart-on-hell

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/religious-studies/article/david-bentley-hart-that-all-shall-be-saved-heaven-hell-and-universal-salvation-new-haven-and-london-yale-university-press-2019-pp-232-2000-hbk-isbn-9780300246223/3790550555AC7980351AC45A30720DF9#

David Bentley Hart has Written a Silly Book

https://arcdigital.media/on-the-logical-impossibility-of-hell-972ff95f36d1

https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2019/11/15/two-new-books-salvation-ask-ultimate-question-are-you-saved

Episode 225 : David Bentley Hart – That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell and Universal Salvation

View at Medium.com

https://www.academia.edu/40052533/SALVATION_à_la_HART

https://growrag.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/an-initial-engagemet-with-david-bentley-harts-that-all-shall-be-saved-harts-eastern-facing-living-room/

http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2019/09/that-all-shall-be-saved.html?m=1

Review: That All Shall Be Saved

https://frted.wordpress.com/2019/10/14/that-all-shall-be-saved/

https://www.overdrive.com/media/4872822/that-all-shall-be-saved

https://poddtoppen.se/podcast/1474849938/the-zeitcast-with-jonathan-martin/that-all-shall-be-saved-with-david-bentley-hart

Good God?

https://www.sightmagazine.com.au/reviews/books/13845-books-salvation-for-who-theologian-puts-forward-a-different-view

David Bentley Hart: That All Shall Be Saved

Book review: That All Shall Be Saved by David Bentley Hart

https://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2019/09/harts-that-all-will-be-saved-i.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/orthodoxyindialogue.com/2020/01/25/that-all-shall-be-saved-heaven-hell-and-universal-salvation-reviewed-by-giacomo-sanfilippo/amp/

Book Review: Hart’s “That All Shall Be Saved”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/theological-review-that-all-shall-be-saved-chris-green/id1474849938?i=1000451357433

Will All Be Saved? The Question Which Will Not Go Away

https://newsworthywithnorsworthy.podbean.com/mobile/e/david-bentley-hart-that-all-shall-be-saved/

https://scottandsadie.wordpress.com/2019/11/01/that-all-shall-be-saved-david-bentley-hart-introduction/

That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell and Universal Salvation

A Christian Reviews “That All Shall Be Saved” by David Bentley Hart

https://podtail.com/en/podcast/the-zeitcast-with-jonathan-martin/that-all-shall-be-saved-with-david-bentley-hart/

The Dangerous Hart of Universalism

On Universalism: Is God Defeated If All Are Not Saved?

https://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=800&cur_iss=F

Rob Grayson reviews “That All Shall Be Saved”

David Bentley Hart – That All Shall Be Saved

https://simuljocularetpeccator.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/hidden-in-plain-sight/

https://davidtinikashvili.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/david-bentley-hart-that-all-shall-be-saved-book/

http://podcast.forgingploughshares.org/e/part-2-a-discussion-about-david-bentley-harts-that-all-shall-be-saved/

That All Shall Be Saved: A Review

https://publicorthodoxy.org/tag/david-bentley-hart/

https://forums.shipoffools.com/discussion/1990/that-all-shall-be-saved-by-david-bentley-hart

David Bentley Hart, on Grace Beyond Supply and Demand

http://www.jonathanmartinwords.com/the-zeitcast/2019/9/24/that-all-shall-be-saved-with-david-bentley-hart

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2019/8/14/will-everybody-reach-heaven-is-hell-about-to-grab-some-more-headlines

http://carnageandculture.blogspot.com/2019/09/book-review-that-all-shall-be-saved-by.html?m=1

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=76928.0

http://heavenandearthquestions.blogspot.com/2019/10/david-bentley-hart-is-threatening.html?m=1

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/do-all-people-go-to-heaven

https://www.postost.net/2019/09/does-god-intend-all-people-be-saved-universalism-david-bentley-hart

Christian Humanist Profiles 169: That All Shall Be Saved

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/christs-rabble

https://churchlifejournal.nd.edu/articles/the-severity-of-universal-salvation/

A Summary of “That ALL shall be Saved” by D.B. Hart – Pt. 1

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2020/02/a-pakaluk-of-lies

https://www.firstthings.com/article/2019/12/opiate-of-the-theologians

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2020/02/theological-fraud

David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universalism

https://longroom.com/discussion/1798040/a-pakaluk-of-lies

https://www.wsj.com/articles/that-all-shall-be-saved-review-making-sense-of-perdition-11572561222

What the Hell? That’s What Local Seminaries are Asking

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2019/8/14/will-everybody-reach-heaven-is-hell-about-to-grab-some-more-headlines

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/yes-hell-is-real-and-christians-should-not-take-it-lightly

https://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2019/09/harts-that-all-will-be-saved-i.html

http://tamedcynic.org/christian-century-review-that-all-shall-be-saved-by-david-bentley-hart/

http://tamedcynic.org/all-shall-be-saved/

Misreading David Bentley Hart on Universalism [I]

David Bentley Hart & the Wisdom of Universalism [II]

David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universalism

View at Medium.com

Review of That All Shall Be Saved, by David Bentley Hart

Marcionism, Allegorical Exegesis, and the Question of Universal Salvation

https://conversation.spectrummagazine.org/t/book-review-that-all-shall-be-saved/19132

David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved

Recently read: Hart's 'That All Shall Be Saved'

DAVID BENTLEY HART FINDS A WAY OUT OF HELL

How The Ancients Heard Resurrection: A Reply to David Bentley Hart

Will All Be Saved? David Bentley Hart on Universal Salvation, Reviewed by John Ehrett

http://www.svc.church/blog/2020/01/that-all-shall-be-saved/

To Heck with Hell

Three Responses to David Bentley Hart (and one pseudo-response)

https://tantor.com/that-all-shall-be-saved-david-bentley-hart.html

https://sylvestjohn.org/2019/09/07/david-b-hart-that-all-shall-be-saved-what-to-expect/

Has David Bentley-Hart gone off his rocker?

https://gandalfsbeardblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/thoughts-on-the-universalism-of-david-bentley-hart/

https://natebostian.blogspot.com/2019/12/that-all-shall-be-saved-great-theology.html?m=1

https://scottandsadie.wordpress.com/2019/11/01/that-all-shall-be-saved-david-bentley-hart-introduction/

Book Review: That All Shall Be Saved

God our Savior, Who Desires all People to be Saved

Is A Literal Hell Believable In The 21st Century?

When A Theologian Goes Rogue: David Bentley Hart’s Universalism

https://semitica.wordpress.com/2020/01/20/eternal-punishment-in-the-septuagint-and-new-testament-a-response-to-ilaria-ramelli-and-david-bentley-hart/

Does Hart’s Dogmatic Universalism Miss the Real World Engagement of Christian Hope?

The Gag-Reflex and the Doctrine of Hell

https://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/2019/12/david-bentley-hart-and-marcionism.html?m=1

Hart, Martin, and the Evolution of Hell

https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/david-bentley-hart-is-everyone-saved-universalism-and-the-nature-of-persons/3706

https://forums.anglican.net/threads/david-bentley-hart-on-universal-salvation.3825/

https://labeak4652.wordpress.com/tag/david-bentley-hart/

https://harleyvoogd.com
https://orthochristian.com/126661.html

https://simuljocularetpeccator.wordpress.com

Why Moderates (and Progressives) Should Reject David Bentley Hart’s Universalism

Book Review: Hart’s “That All Shall Be Saved”

THAT ALL SHALL BE SAVED: HEAVEN, HELL, AND UNIVERSAL SALVATION reviewed by Giacomo Sanfilippo

David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament: A Review

Afterward

I began my life’s work in philosophical theology herein:

https://www.academia.edu/26023098/Reasons_and_Values_of_the_Heart_in_a_Pluralistic_World_Toward_a_Contemplative_Phenomenology_for_Interreligious_Dialogue

And have completed (at least, it feels so, for now) that work herein:

https://www.academia.edu/39367925/Retreblement_-_A_Systematic_Apocatastasis_and_Pneumatological_Missiology

With some clarifications of my theological anthropology here:

https://www.academia.edu/40144605/The_Vestigia_Imagines_and_Similitudines_Dei_per_Universalism_and_Apokatastasis

https://www.academia.edu/40009632/More_eschatological_anthropology

https://www.academia.edu/39981926/Eschatological_Anthropology_Voluntarism_intellectualism_libertarianism_and_compatibilism_-_Oh_my_

https://www.academia.edu/39945745/Apokatastasis_-_an_hypothesis_with_an_intro_to_retreblement

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

 

The Vestigia, Imagines & Similitudines Dei per Universalism & Apokatastasis

Human reality fully transcends the teleo-potent, -matic, -nomic, -qualic as teleo-logic

beyond the essential, dynamical human being/becoming (acting per existential, material & final human potencies), as vestigia Dei (autopoietic, but as more determined, less indetermined)

w/a distinctively human abduction as it transcends abductive instinct w/abductive inference, fostering a more versatile, plastic behavioral repertoire, aesthetically, i.e. vis a vis choosing among divine teloi & logoi w/an enlightened self-interest (erotically & proto-ethically), e.g. Bernardian love, Ignatian degrees of humility, Kohlberg’s stages, imperfect contrition, etc, of human persons as imagines Dei … every distinctively personal act constitutes a volitional disposition re both what to freely will (among divine logoi) and whether to (freely) will at all (i.e. choosing not just instinctively but inferentially), so as less determined, more indetermined

next (at age of reason) realizing a more versatile, plastic behavioral repertoire, ethically, i.e. vis a vis choosing among even more divine teloi & logoi by transcending self-interests (agapically & ethically), e.g. Bernardian love, Ignatian degrees of humility, Kohlberg’s stages, perfect contrition, etc, of a person becoming (virtuous and/or vicious 2nd natures), thereby with a more expansive aesthetic scope, too, as similitudines Dei, as much more indetermined

Considerations of human volition, a freely willing human, must avoid absolute notions of in/determinism, for the personal freedom of humans presents only in terms of degrees, whereby we are free-enough to truly enjoy meaningful (good-enough, beautiful-enough, dayenu) value-realizations.

It seems to me that human persons are determined enough so as to be radically unable to thwart the divine logoi ordered toward our personal being (essential nature as imagines Dei) but are indetermined enough so as to be radically able to thwart those divine logoi ordered toward our personal becoming (secondary nature as similitudines Dei).

All other conceptions of human freedom are facile & simplistic, and fall prey to tautological nonsense and analytical paradox, anthropologically, either indeterministically reducing to all sorts of ridiculous voluntarisms & libertarianisms or deterministically yielding silly intellectualisms & compatibilisms.

Neither Thomist nor Scotist nor Molinist theological anthropologies, properly approached, fall prey to such anthropological nonsense, essentially, because their explicit/implicit “theories of everything” embrace a priniciple of “sufficient” reason, which is neither the idealist monist PSR of Spinoza, which reduces to pantheism, nor a materialist monist PSR, which reduces to nihilism. There are various physicalist & naturalist approaches that vary in their interpretations of necessity & in/determinacy, but they go beyond the heuristic of a suitably nuanced Aristotelian hylemorphism to prove too much, in my view.

How one conceives human freedom vis a vis ultimate realities will always boil down to one’s stipulations re mereological (whole-part conception), metaphysical (root metaphor) and teleological (PSR version) primal realities.

Below are some reflections evoked by:

Despairing into Gehenna: Manis, Kierkegaard, and the Choice Model

One upshot of divine simplicity [DDS] and actus purus, when understood in terms of apophatic negation, would be that one way determinate being differs from divine being is that the former can act only in relationship to limited potencies.

The human being, constitutively, enjoys a freedom that phylogenetically (in its evolutionary lineage) presented with the emergence of symbolic language. Prior to the age of reason, where new freedoms (moral & spiritual) will emerge, ontogenetically (in its individual development), a human child already enjoys a freedom of choosing among equally optimal self-interested choices with a behavioral plasticity that differs – not only quantitatively, but – qualitatively from other primates.

Specifically, as a child matures, its (aesthetic) scope of self-interested choices is not limited to mere abductive instincts, which many animals exhibit, but is expanded by abductive inference, an if-then calculus driven by an early imagination that’s growing exponentially. This exponential expansion of behavioral plasticity precisely results from an unmooring of the nonarbitrary range of instinctive responses by the child’s growing repertoire of arbitrary symbol conventions.

I emphasize this constitutive freedom of choosing among equally optimal goods per a young human’s first order desires (what they want) to note its relationship to human eros, what St Bernard distinguished in terms of love of self for sake of self and love of God and/or others for sake of self. From this eros, young (and old) humans experience imperfect contrition, i.e. expressing sorrow due to our just punishment and growing in enlightened self-interest (choosing being over nonbeing). I mention this in the context of reminding all that such an imperfect contrition is all that’s ever been required “to be saved” and to observe that I was taught that it would be heretical to suggest otherwise.

Thus, it seems to me that, soteriologically, human beings are intrinsically constituted by all that’s both necessary and sufficient to be saved?

Furthermore, this elemental human freedom possesses a distinct proto-moral and proto-spiritual character, which means that it can potentially progress beyond its constitutive & soteriological essential nature to realize a more robustly elective & sophiological secondary nature, which might determine – not its eschatological destiny, but – its beatitudinal scope. By that, I mean to suggest that it could progress in Bernardian love, beyond the erotic to the agapic, i.e. love of God & others for their own sake, thus expanding its original frontier of equally optimal choices (what some would call a Pareto front), thus enjoying an expanded aesthetic scope of choosing among even more goods, albeit always acting within limited potencies.

Thus we can parse human freedom, constitutively & electively, soteriologically and sophiologically, erotically & agapically, in terms of aesthetic scope expansion, moral progress & growth in intimacy (theosis).

Thus we can distinguish between 1) willing among equally optimal goods, aesthetically; 2) whether we will or not, morally & spiritually; and 3) what we will. Our “willing among” goods and volitional option “between” willing or not (choosing between being & nonbeing, good & evil) refer to human freedoms. “What we will” has been determined by divine logoi, teloi, intentionale, etc.

Coming full circle to the DDS & Actus Purus, might this portrait of the imago Dei not illuminate our understanding of divine being? If we properly distinguish between the divine nature and will, esse naturale and intentionale, might we not glimpse a thin divine passibility, where the divine will chooses – never between good and evil, being and nonbeing, but – along an eternal Pareto front of equally optimal “best” worlds, no such choices entailing either improvements or impairments of an ever-perfect divine nature’s aesthetic intensity but only “affecting” a divine aesthetic scope? Would this not account, exegetically & Christologically, for the distinction between Jesus’ natural will and the Father’s will as He prayed for the passing of that particular Cup? Would this not account for human second order desires, theotically, for example, such as when we grow with holy indifference in Ignatian degrees of humility, from image to likeness, praying for our transformation even in “what we want to want”? That’s to say – not only regarding second order desires pertaining to our choosing “between” being and nonbeing, but – our longing to please others and God in our choosing “among” equally optimal goods in holy submission to wills not our own?

Of course, we differ from Jesus in that our natural wills have a gnomic character due to our temporal epistemic distancing, which may even perdure in some manner post-mortem for some duration. If my apokatastatic intuitions are correct, our gnomic willing affects and effects – not soteriological realities of our essential natures vis a vis the imago Dei, but – our sophiological trajectories as we grow our secondary natures in intimacy and beatitude.

These implications of my universalism thus turn on this distinction:

A single will to raise up the image, but two to make the image into a likeness. ~ Lossky

This implicates another distinction – that between our essential & secondary natures. Human freedom determines only WHETHER one chooses to will at all & not WHAT one wills (in participating with divine logoi), incrementally forming a virtuous or vicious secondary nature or various degrees of both.

Vicious choices are privative of being, hence eternally self-annihilating as God honors human freedom. This is to suggest that, whatever reality they exhibit temporally, will not perdure eternally (much less be eternalized instantaneously & proleptically like our virtuous acts).

Virtuous natures are eternalized, both proleptically (i.e. harvested, instantaneously, is every trace of human goodness, every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities) & eschatologically, by virtue of necessarily being joined to divine intentionale.

Even if, hypothetically, a given person’s eternal being was, in the end, constituted only by their essential nature as an imago Dei, having developed no virtuous secondary nature whatsoever (even after all epistemic distancing has been closed, whether temporally or even post-mortem), there can be no talk of self-annihilation for an imago Dei’s not self-determined (cf Lossky’s one will). Neither would God’s perfect will annihilate such an imago Dei, for that would amount to a divine self-contradiction.

What’s at stake, then, would be the nature of one’s eternal beatitude, perhaps in terms of aesthetic scope, which would be self-determinedly wider for one who’s developed a virtuous secondary nature.

Dogmatic Presuppositions of my theological anthropology

In a way, the answers — to such questions as

1) “libertarianism or compatibilism?”

2) “intellectualism or voluntarism?” and

3) “will or intellect or character?” — aren’t even wrong (regarding either divine or human natures).

For human persons, this is because there are 3 indispensable acts, limited by potentialities, involved in every human choice. These include

1) existence in potency to being,

2) efficient to material (will) and

3) formal to final (intellect), each necessary, none alone sufficient. Of course, this part wouldn’t apply to Actus Purus.

Character (habitus) stands halfway between those acts and potentialities, like iron forged into

1) leg braces, facilitating and/or

2) a bear trap, crippling the potentialities,

although in the latter case, never able (either temporally or eschatologically) to kill them, as they’re, in principle, inherently realizable (both temporally and eternally).

God does not punish habits, only acts, ergo, God allows misery only as a punishment for acts.

Why Suffering in God’s Presence doesn’t make sense to me

I am grateful for these conversations. They make me scratch my head and help me process my muddled thoughts. If anyone catches my drift, that’s a blessing for me. If anyone challenges me to be more artful in expression, that helps me, too. Most of all, any challenges to the substance of my views has, eventually, brought me closer to the truth and our God. In that spirit, then:

Even once casting aside the classical libertarianism & compatibilism framings as nonsensical category errors (what I mean by saying such “answers aren’t even wrong” but are gibberishtic anthropological caricatures), I have strived, awkwardly, to more intuitively grasp how to avoid the notion that a human person’s eternal destiny isn’t wholly determined.

In other words, while it may be logically valid and internally consistent to argue, analytically, that humans are created as “freely willing the Godly-determined” by using definitions of freedom that, to many, sound paradoxical (but make perfect sense! In terms of virtu-osity!), I still want more than a syllogism.

I want a story in which I can participate, holistically and imaginatively. Good news? From the online lectures (youtube) of DBH, one can tell that he will be gifting nourishment for both head & heart in _That All May Be Saved_.

Still –

If the will is located in efficient causation, free in the sense of WHETHER one chooses to will at all, and also in the sense of choosing AMONG goods, that, in my view, offers an eminently satisfying account of freedom, not just cognitively but emotionally. In these senses, persons are manifestly self-determined, created as freely willing.

There is another sense of freedom, which imagines a person’s capacity to choose WHAT is good, in other words to self-determine and to define and to appropriate being & goodness as they imagine same. In this sense, then, some view freedom in terms of choosing BETWEEN good & evil (apparent good), being & nonbeing (apparent being), virtue & vice. This view falls into incoherence because WHAT is good and constitutes being has indeed already been wholly determined by God and we are not free to determine or define same.

What about the “freedom” to choose otherwise, though, to opt for evil or nonbeing? That’s nonsensical on the grounds that evil or nonbeing, as privation, doesn’t successfully refer, ontologically. That definition of freedom lacks an ontic reference and entails an epistemic error, propositionally.

Nevertheless, dispositionally, our choices can, indeed, be culpable & such habits, clearly, vicious.

Under the true definition of freedom, to refrain from choosing among goods when acting, i.e. giving no “consideration” to what God has determined, is intuitively recognized by most as “inconsiderate” behavior. While such can be just a plain mistake rooted in finitude, it can also be culpable (sinful refusal). Such a willful and culpable blindness, in my view, constitutes a self-determined behavior, “freely” chosen in the “whether & among sense” even though not the “what & between” sense. And it can habitually accrete into a vicious nature. I just believe that God honors such free choices through eternal annihilation, which we can self-determine vis a vis our “second nature” or acquired dispositions.

And I doubt anyone wholly lacks some measure of a virtuous nature, which will indeed be eternalized.

Even a person’s essential imago Dei — if largely bereft of any significant growth (2nd nature) from that particular image to likeness, if primarily wholly determined, if self-determined to the most meager degree conceivable and if not even discernibly responsive to some post-mortem epistemic-closure & beatific illumination — would not experience the Presence in misery, precisely because God has wholly determined otherwise. In God’s governance, punishment ensues only from sin (moral choices).

1) Because our moral nature emerges as a second nature from our essential nature, and
2) because, eschatologically, there are no longer moral acts, and
3) because acts not natures are punished under any circumstances,
no such misery can be experienced.

However one approaches the reality of innocent suffering in a cosmos fallen into dis-order by sin, temporally, such a disorder will, by definition, be eschatologically repaired.

voluntarism, intellectualism, libertarianism & compatibilism – Oh my!

Any proper transcendence of the category errors of voluntarism, intellectualism, libertarianism & compatibilism won’t entail a dissolution of in/determinacies.

What we can will (among) has been determined, while whether we will at all has not, the former as formal acts in limited potency to final causes, the latter as efficient acts in potency to material. Halfway between such acts & potency, habitus presents as virtuous & vicious 2nd natures, able to facilitate or cripple, but never to kill, potentialities.

This is why Thomas Talbott can say: Personally, I seriously doubt that God causally determines every event that occurs, whether it be the change of state of a radium atom, a dog’s leaping this way rather than that while romping in the yard, or the free choice of an independent rational agent.

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/free-will-theodicies-of-hell/

Why should such an irrational choice, even if not causally determined, be any more compatible with genuine moral freedom than a rigorous determinism would be? ~ Talbott

In our temporal affairs, we routinely impute guilt to those deemed willfully blind. In criminal law, we employ such terms as willful neglect, reasonable diligence, reckless indifference, knew or should have known, should reasonably have known, etc In our quotidian affairs we refer to willful blindness or ignorance and self-deception. Moral theologians distinguish in/vincible ignorance and nescience, more crass when deliberate than affected, blameworthy in either case, more gravely wrong for serious matters.

That all such behavior is irrational to various degrees, nevertheless, it retains its inculpating character. That’s why so many irrational choices, even if not causally determined, are universally deemed more compatible with genuine moral freedom than any rigorous determinism.

My rule of thumb in theological anthropology is to preserve, as far as practicable, our common sense & sensibilities, so as not to violate the integrity of the freely willing person. Therefore, tautologically concluding that all irrational behavior is, in principle, exculpating, does not sufficiently square with our ordinary moral intuitions. Our universalist apologetics, then, best appeal to infinite mercy & forgiveness rather than argue for a counterintuitive analytic, syllogistic innocence. Having deftly avoided the shoals of voluntarism, we must similarly steer clear of intellectualistic appeals, which ignore the vicious habitus that can impede the efficient cause of the will in realizing its potentialities.

Whether a vicious nature stands halfway between the acts & potentialities of the will or intellect, still, it can in no way, temporally or eternally, extinguish them, as they remain inherently realizable.

Pastor Tom Belt has persuasively argued a Maximian irrevocability thesis: “Hart’s view is an argument for the impossibility of the will foreclosing upon all possibility of Godward becoming. Such foreclosure would be teleological foreclosure.”

Again, invoking my rule of thumb in theological anthropology – to preserve, as far as practicable, our common sense & sensibilities, so as not to violate the integrity of the freely willing person – Belt’s Maximian irrevocability thesis squares better with our human experience than the overly speculative account of any putative irreversibility theses vis a vis avoiding such conceptual discontinuities between now & the eschaton as would render our anthropology unintelligible.

Now, if I may presume to paraphrase Talbott: Add to Belt’s Maximian irrevocability thesis the condition of minimal rationality and it seems impossible that anyone rational enough to qualify as a free moral agent would freely embrace an objective horror forever.

That’s as close as one can come to splitting the difference between a hopeful, practical universalism & an affirmation of a robustly theoretic universalism.

It seems to me that it’s quite possible a our viscious 2nd natures may not transist into the eschaton, especially if considered as privations of becoming. They may well thus be annihilated as God honors one’s choice for a self-determined non-becoming (refraining from growth in likeness). There can otherwise be no annihilation, in principle, for an imago Dei, as no one can freely self-determine non-being for an intrinsically good & absolutely valuable creation. The imago Dei plus any inklings of our virtuous 2nd natures (no one has none, whatsoever?) are eternalized, as God honors our self-determined choices for becoming (theotic realizations of divine & creaturely wills together).

Notes:

Calvin, Luther, Aquinas & Scotus

The Antecedent and Consequent Will of God: Is This a Valid and Useful Distinction? by Andrew Hussman

Perhaps St. Anselm was on the right track when he classified the scriptural concepts under discussion here not as antecedens et consequens, but as misericordiae et iustitiae. This comes close to another distinction of God’s will, legalis et evangelicus. Law and gospel are found on every page of Scripture.

The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Biblical Interpretation edited by Paul M. Blowers, Peter W Martens

Bonaventure & Scotus on 1 Timothy 2:4

W

Gloria Frost: When the passages in which Aquinas and Scotus explicitly discuss the origin of contingency in creation are read in context with attention to the kind of contingency each is discussing, similarities between their views can be identified and the objections raised against their respective views can be solved.

In sum, for Aquinas the proximate reason for why an effect is contingently caused is the fact that it was produced by a contingently operating secondary cause. The ultimate reason, however, for why the effect was contingently caused is the efficacy of God’s will which willed for the effect to come about through a contingent mode of causation and thus, willed a contingent cause for it. Regarding the contingent mode of existence that belongs to all created effects, Aquinas says that the proximate reason for why every created effect is contingently existing is the fact that God freely causes every created effect.

In sum, when Scotus identified God’s contingent mode of causation as the source of the contingency of creatures, he was referring to the contingent mode of existence that belongs to all creatures. Like Aquinas, he thought that the capacity of the divine will to cause creatures contingently was founded on the fact that the divine will only necessarily wills the divine goodness, which is complete and self-sufficient.

Similarly, Scotus would have agreed with Aquinas’s position that effects are contingently caused by their proximate causes because of the efficacy of the divine will which chooses which kind of causes exist in creation.

Scotus, however, thinks that although the effects produced by God alone and those produced by both God and contingently operating secondary causes both follow from contingently operating proximate causes, they are fundamentally different in their modal features. The former effects have a single potency for non-existence, while the latter have double possibility for nonexistence. Thus, in Scotus’s view contingently operating secondary causes are a necessary condition for God to introduce into creation a secondary contingency, which adds an additional layer of indeterminacy to the contingent mode of existence which all creatures enjoy.

Scotus’s point is that God necessarily wills only those things that are necessary for what God loves in himself (i.e. his goodness). Thus, no creature is willed necessarily, since what is lovable in God does not require any creature for its existence. Like Aquinas, Scotus thought that God’s freedom not to create stemmed from the self-sufficiency and completeness of what is good, and therefore lovable, in God himself. If God’s contingent mode of causation with respect to creatures is traced to the self-sufficiency of the divine goodness, then the contingent mode of existence that belongs to creatures will similarly have this as its ultimate foundation.

Aquinas and Scotus on the Source of Contingency, Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy, 2014 by Gloria Frost

At Academia: Retreblement – A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology

At Scribd: Retreblement – A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology

More Eschatological Anthropology

I resonate with certain central elements of Dr Manis’ approach, e.g. that in *some* sense the divine will can be thwarted, that annihilation is incompatible with divine presence & that creaturely moral freedom’s a logically necessary condition of communion.

I also resonate with Fr Aidan’s recognition that no metaphysical necessity’s imposed on God. It is from both general & special revelations that we have been gifted with some knowledge of the logic that onto-logically inheres and theo-logically coheres in the divine’s relationship with determinate realities. That relationship, of course, has ensued from – not metaphysical necessity, but – a self-determinate, divine kenosis.

Our knowledge of same, at the same time, remains fallible & inchoate. Regarding the problem of evil, for example, I reject (even recoil from) theodicies re the *evidential* problem, instead opting for Job 38 (where were you???!!!), but I do embrace a divine presence solution to the *existential* problem, i.e. (Be not afraid! I AM with you!).

More directly bearing on this discussion, though, I personally experience much consolation from many of the defenses to the *logical* problem of evil, ranging across the theological spectrum (from classical to process approaches).

To be fully coherent, then, it seems we must aspire to pull together a solution that satisfies the problem of evil in a way that’s — not only *logically* consistent (and even the best atheistic philosophers now concede that accomplishment, which is why they focus on *evidential* theodicies), but — *existentially* satisfying.

Such a solution, then, must be neither evidentially pretentious (re: why God allowed this particular evil) nor soteriologically presumptuous (re: why God must do this) in addressing divine reality (e.g. suggesting definite metaphysical and/or moral divine necessities).

Thus it is that the more nuanced universalist stances will, in my view, aspire to reconcile the best classical defenses with the best existential intuitions, the latter grown — not propositionally from logical argumentations, but — dispositionally from theotic participations.

Beyond the arguments of Athens & energies of Athos, those participations will also include such quotidian realities as, for a prime example, the raising of children.

There is, then, in all authentic human loving, a trans-rational apophaticism, which, beyond all proposals of speculative affirmations & negations, disposes one via a movement of the will (e.g. including a will graced with a virtuous habitus)? Such a movement of the will, whether of parental, spousal or other communal loves, pretty much inevitably & in principle, will come up short in what it can articulate via its co-causal movement of the intellect, which falters in its effablings regarding life’s truly ineffable experiences.

It is from my experience as a parent & grandparent, then, coupled with my gratuitously gifted formation & sacramental participation in a healing, reconciling & loving community of faith, that I want to proclaim “THAT all may be saved,” even as I struggle to give a metaphysical or theological account of *why* or *how*.

Yet, I’m here to learn how to better defend that hope, which is indeed within me, that I and others might move more swiftly, with less hindrance & greater consolation on our temporal journeys into eternity.

Another of my feeble efforts to defend my hope follows, but I am more sure regarding why Fr Aidan’s and others’ intuitions truly matter, much less sure that I can convey my own in a sufficiently artful & accessible manner.

I use a lot of question marks, below, not to solicit answers but to indicate my own intellectual tentativeness. My hope is firm but my expression falters.

While I find it problematic to conceive how there could ever be a definitive teleological foreclosure (cf. Pastor Tom Belt), neither would I want to deny the necessity of a creaturely freedom to refrain from willing. Further, properly understood, both the Thomistic and Scotistic anthropologies, in my view, suitably avoid the libertarian, compatibilist, voluntarist & intellectualist incoherencies. Human acts can indeed, at the same time, be irrational & culpable or impassioned & culpable, because the reality of human freedom presents in degrees.

Admittedly, we find it hard to define & difficult to discern exactly how and precisely when such thresholds get crossed in terms of degrees of both affectivity & rationality as they impinge on various degrees of culpability.

Still, if we deny our common sense & sensibilities regarding our experiences of human freedom, whether temporally or eschatologically, we risk abandoning what little intelligibility we enjoy regarding same. We inescapably must rely on that same intelligibility that we must employ in our daily approach to the realities of our dynamical human transformation (including moral conversion, spiritual formation & theosis).

Therefore, what?

While creaturely moral freedom’s a logically necessary condition of communion, what if, like freedom, the reality of communion also presents in degrees?

Is there not a modicum of communion, even in that imago Dei, who’s not crossed the threshold into the human moral life, whether due to age, illnesses or deformative dynamics? Or, who enjoys little in the way of theotic participation in the human spiritual life, i.e. little or no growing in likeness? Or, who’s even culpably developed a vicious second nature, but undeniably remains divinely indwelled and teleologically oriented, eternally & inherently?

What *is* a vicious nature but a habit of refraining from whether one wills to will at all regarding — not *be-ing* per se, but — one’s *be-coming*? To refrain, that is, from whether one wills to will at all regarding — not one’s essential nature or very existence, but — one’s growing from image to likeness?

What if one could only self-determinedly choose — not to be or not to be, but — to become or not become?

What if, in the same way we mustn’t ontologize evil, perhaps, neither should we reify the concept of a vicious nature, which habitually chooses non-becoming?

What if we should otherwise also, in part, conceive of such an imago Dei in terms of what it has freely & definitively determined not to *become*, even though it would & must, nevertheless, thus persist in *being* for all eternity? Even that putatively definitive determination *not to become*, though, should be approaching the threshold of a practical inconceivability, at least for those of us who couple Belt’s irrevocability thesis with Talbott’s virtual impossibility thesis (my description of the latter)?

Even stipulating to such an eschatological anthropology, as would remain an essentially hopeful — not a theoretically necessary — universalism, there remains a question regarding how such an imago Dei, bereft of any robustly moral & spiritual becoming, might subjectively experience the Eschaton.

To what extent might its experience be tortuous, whether formatively, restoratively or retributively?

In my view, once determinate reality has been made whole, cosmically reconciled, in principle, creatures would not be susceptible to existential deprivations or depredations. An imago Dei, not grown into divine likeness beyond its irrevocable, essential nature, might, rather quietistically, enjoy a minimalist reverie of aesthetic scope, while others enjoy, in various degrees, more expansive scopes (as I’ve discussed elsewhere), continuing to exercise their freedom in an eternal fugue of choosing among divine goods.

So, perhaps, authentic freedom entails relational, just not existential, self-determination?
Perhaps one’s self-determined choice to refrain from becoming could, in principle, be exercised irrevocably & eternally, hence never definitively?

Perhaps such a choosing might best be conceived in terms similar to that of a sacred, precious imago Dei, as one who, prior to the age of reason, possesses the same absolute, intrinsic value as that shared by all innocent children?

Perhaps such a self-determined refraining (including post-mortem, even after all epistemic closures), eschatologically, no longer could involve a culpable refraining from the consideration or not of goods in one’s acts, in principle, since any such neediness as would have motivated such acts, temporally, will have been obviated, eschatologically, by the cosmic reconciliation?

In other words, such an eschatological reordering would be metaphysically incompatible with such deprivations & depredations as would’ve formerly been compatible with the old temporal, lapsarian dis-order?

Eschatological freedom would thus entail only whether one wills to will at all, i.e. one’s *choosing* or not (in & of itself) among eternal goods & becomings, as well as any choosing *among* such potentialities (that array of divinely determined goods & becomings)? It could not otherwise involve a choosing *between* divinely determined goods and reified evils (by disordered appetites or inordinate attachments), which would be ontologically nonsensical. Nor could it involve refraining from a choice from/for non/being, which has never been an existential prerogative of the imago Dei over against the divine will, anyway.

Eternal annihilation of any imago Dei remains off the table as conceptually incompatible with its essential nature and theologically incoherent, as it would constitute a reversal of the eternal divine intentionale?

I believe, therefore, that God honors the freedom of human persons by eternalizing all self-determined acts of human becoming (as synergetic divine participations) and by refraining from any eternalizations of our non-participatory acts (such as we refer to in terms of vicious 2nd natures) i.e. our choices “not to become.” As such, our virtuous 2nd natures transition into eternity along with our essential natures, while our vicious 2nd natures will self-determinedly perish (a virtual self-annihilation), which certainly remains, to an extent, and in *some* way, a lamentable thwarting of the divine will. What it would not amount to is an unmitigated loss. Such choices would (self-punitively & consequently) cost one tremendous but nonessential opportunities, but, in the end, no loss of an original & essential goodness. Such choices would amount to a gratuitous superabundance foregone, but with no loss of an abundant life redeemed, that’s to say, reoriented, saved, healed, sanctified & empowered, as a new creation.

Our participatory imaginations gift us, integrally & relationally, unity, beauty, goodness, freedom & truth, forming our dispositions (senses & sensibilities) toward various ways of belonging, desiring, behaving, transcending & believing, as expressed in our attitudes regarding & personal commitments to others, the cosmos, God & even our own selves, as told & retold in our stories.

One, who’s thus properly disposed & committed, can then imaginatively engage others thru inspired storytelling, thereby, in turn, fostering others’ healthy participations, dispositions & commitments.

Such storytelling may, more or less, lend itself to a more rigorous cognitive map-making, foundationally, which is to say, historically, exegetically, scientifically, philosophically & metaphysically. Theologically, such foundations can then systematically underwrite our ecclesiologies, soteriologies, sacramentologies, sophiologies & eschatologies.

There are countless pastors, homilists & spiritual directors from diverse faith traditions, who’ve articulated robustly pneumatological ecclesiologies, radically inclusive soteriologies, profusely incarnational sacramentologies, remarkably polydoxic sophiologies & universally efficacious eschatologies – as awakened & enlivened by human solidarity & compassion & retold in personal stories, thus implicitly grounded in their collective participatory imaginations.

Some are better than others, when it comes to explicitly mapping such dispositions, systematically & foundationally. Make no mistake, though, it can be done, especially, it seems to me, by those who recognize certain resonances between Franciscan, Scotist sensibilities & Eastern Orthodox sophiological approaches.

For example, however harshly one might wish to critique certain of Fr Richard Rohr’s explicit foundational apologetics, far more importantly & deserving of way more emphasis, implicit in the collective oeuvre of his lifetime’s ministry, is precisely such an ecclesiology, soteriology, sacramentology, sophiology & eschatology that I would to defend in my Retreblement: A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology.

This is to suggest that one shouldn’t ever miss the concrete, dispositional, participatory theophanic, theopoetic, theopoietic & theotic forests for the abstract, propositional, cognitive theological, metaphysical trees. As it is, robustly metaphysical descriptions & rigorous theological formulations necessarily elude us, in principle, while vaguely semantical references & broad heuristical contours guide us, in practice.

Following Ignatius, we must charitably presuppose the most orthodox interpretations of our theological interlocutors, not reflexively & habitually construing ambiguities & inadequate or inartful expressions against them.

Integrally, Fr. Rohr’s robustly pneumatological ecclesiology, radically inclusive soteriology, profusely incarnational sacramentology, remarkably polydoxic sophiology & universally efficacious eschatology are grounded in his Franciscan (common) sensibilities, Scotistic meta-heuristic (common) sensicalities & Eastern sympathies, both Orthodoxy’s sophiological tradition as well as the Orient’s nondual traditions. All of these presuppose, then, certain outlooks, theologically (i.e. paterological, Christological, pneumatological & Trinitological approaches) and anthropologically (as, continuous with all vestigia Dei & uniquely as imagines Dei, theotic intimacization invites each person to progress via similitudo Dei).

To wit:

A. implicatory trinitarian theology (of divine esse naturale):

  • 1) interpersonal propria
  • 2) intimate idiomata
  • 3) invitatory (ad intra ur-kenosis) relata

B. intertwined temporal missions of creation, conservation & consummation (mutually entailing acts of ad extra kenosis) via tri-personal presences (multi-form unitive revelations, i.e. mutual intimaci-zations not mani-fold encounters of separate exemplifications), where

C. inseparable “opera ad extra” are tri-personal while also especially revealing of particular exemplifications via their “proper roles” where the

D. immensity of the divine universal presence, which is variously im/mediate, in/visible & intense, the effects of which are tri-personally operative as well as personally appropriated in the theophanic operations of our creaturely “exitus” or production from God in divine creation, i.e. trinitologically & anthropologically … or as an

E. intensity of the particular divine presence via hypostatic extensions, the effects of which are – not only tri-personally operative & personally appropriated, but – personally “proper,” i.e. united to a given divine exemplification, in the theotic missions of our creaturely “reditus” or return to God in divine consummation, i.e. sophiologically & eschatologically … with the

F. immediacy (Emmanuel, God is with us!) of the divine mercy & urgency of its prompt succor, bringing about manifold & multiform proleptic creaturely realizations of the divine telos, as it’s entailed in these theotic missions. Such realizations anticipate & guarantee the divine missions’ universal efficacy, ecclesiologically & sacramentally, thereby effecting – in this eternal now – our creaturely salvation, redemption & reconciliation by God through divine conservation, i.e soteriologically.

G. implicated theological anthropology (of divine esse intentionale):

  • 1) indwelling vestigia
  • 2) imaginal uniqueness (essential nature of imago Dei)
  • 3) intentional & incremental theosis (dynamical & progressive intimaci-zation of secondary nature of kenotic similitudo Dei)

tags: interreligious dialogue, polydoxy, panentheism, pansemioentheism, retreblement, john sobert sylvest, richard rohr, universal christ, pneumatological missiology, apocatastasis, apokatastasis, david bentley hart, russian sophiology, joseph bracken, divine matrix, norris clarke, personalist thomism, charles sanders peirce, donald gelpi s.j., amos yong, palamas, duns scotus, logical problem of the trinity, richard rohr, michael morrell, perichoresis, universalism, universal salvation, free will, libertarian free will, cappadocians

BREAKING: DBH’s Flip-phone Hacked by a Covert Cyber-Catacombic Enclave of Baroque Neo-scholastic Manualists

Curious pop-up advertisements began showing up during my browsing sessions a few days ago, not long after Yale Press announced a Fall 2019 release for DBH’s universalist-themed book:

That All Shall Be Saved

After a cursory cybersleuthing effort, which was collectively conducted by numerous tweeps of mine, who all belong to the same informal Orthodox cyber-underground, we uncovered the source of those ads, a new organization called OrthodoxWikiLeaks.

After contacting its webmaster via a javascript-enabled contact form, several of us received Twitter DMs from an account, incuriously named, ScotusWasADunce.

Apparently, the CatacombicEnclave’s bots will be responding to #trending_topics and will kick-in in response to any level of cyber-chatter regarding DBH’s upcoming book release.

The bots will DM any tweeps, who either speak favorably of universalism, in general, or of That All Shall Be Saved, in particular. They will be rolling out various unedited DBH text messages between now and September in an effort to discredit the author & dampen his book sales. As the release date nears, the text releases, they say, will be progressively voluminous and will escalate in their level of scandalousness.

Both as a teaser and as a manner of authenticating the hacked contents, ScotusWasADunce released bits & pieces of DBH’s flip-phone contact list.

I contacted ScotusWasADunce thru OrthodoxWikiLeaks insisting that I needed better evidential authentication, while conceding the DBH Contact List was certainly experientially congruent with his lexical reality.

ScotusWasADunce responded with this SMS text:

That pretty much clinched it for me.

You can judge this evidence for yourself. Simply RT this BREAKING news and watch the ScotusWasADunce bots and OrthodoxWikiLeaks DBH text drops kick-in!

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

Prologue – Conciliar trinitarian doctrines define the theological contours of worship & theosis, norming our responses to the Trinity, Who participatorily enfolds the essences, substances & relations of determinate being.

Our creeds do not ontologically define the theological concepts of Trinitarian essences (e.g ousia, nature), substances (e.g. hypostases, persons) or relations (e.g. ad intra/extra).

They do meta-ontologically implicate the semantical & metaphysical grounds of the Analogia, trans-essentially, trans-substantially, trans-personally, trans-relationally & trans-causally.

The semantical grounds are merely connotative, such that names, titles, appellations, attributions & propria successfully refer, denominatively as icons, to HOW God acts.

The denotative metaphysical grounds are clearly such that existential, numeric, quantitative & locative determinations successfully refer (with many apophatic predications), respectively as indexes, to THAT God acts, tri-trans-personally, trans-finitely & trans-spatio-temporally.

The connotative-denotative contexts metaphysically ground WHY determinate being, an effect proper to no known causes (there are NO generic determinations of WHAT acts as God), necessarily participates existentially in primal origin or source, materially in primal being, efficiently in primal support, formally in primal order, finally in primal destiny & intentionally in primal ground.

Determinate being’s telic participations respond to divine promptings (often symbolic, semiotic & pragmatic) toward human authenticity (freedom) via ortho-communal, ortho-pathic, ortho-praxic, ortho-doxic & ortho-theotic invitations, which are gifted by divine initiatives (divine energeia) in both the gratuities of creation (divine vestigia) & of grace (divine oikonomia).

Summary –

Trinitarian Analogia are grounded, semantically, by connotations, & metaphysically, by participations, but w/no generic determinations, ontologically, only apophatic references to a wholly transcendent telos.

The MOF has apophatic meta-ontological implications, i.e. NOT made. Per that distinction it avoids ontological subordinationism.

But, again, there’s no ontology implicated – not substantial, not personal, not relational, such as in modes of determinate being. At the same time, Trinitarian Analogia meta-ontologically connote trans-substantial, trans-personal & trans-relational icons, the semantical meaning of which get grounded metaphysically through theotic creaturely participations in the divine telos.

In What Manner & In What Degrees Might DBH’s Theological Vision Resonate with that of Duns Scotus?

DBH takes Deleuze to task more so than Scotus, perhaps:

“While he is aware of and cites with approval the doctrine of univocity usually ascribed (largely inaccurately) to Duns Scotus, it is Spinoza who asserts the most immediate influence over Deleuze’s use of the term.”

I haven’t located precisely where or by whom or how DBH has found the the doctrine of univocity usually ascribed to Duns Scotus to be largely inaccurate. I do know that Hart commends Scotus’ holistic theological anthropology for how Scotus recognizes the integral role desire plays in our holistic human acts of belonging, knowing, norming, willing, doing & becoming, that he affirms Scotus’ view that the Incarnation would’ve happened even without some felix culpa and that DBH critiques the excesses of RO’s Scotus Story.

At some level I suspect that DBH would generally agree with my normative application of Scotist-like nuances, below, even though he and others might find it descriptively suspect, historically & interpretively. That is, I can’t really say that I’m not really proposing what Scotus should have said rather than comfortably reposing in what Scotus actually did say & mean. I can say that I otherwise resonate with so much of DBH’s theological thrust.

DBH points out that Deleuze caricatures the Analogia tradition as an equivocity of being & univocity of attributes. Of course, DBH properly characterizes the Analogia as taking neither being nor attributes as either univocal or equivocal, but, instead, both as analogical.

Per Deleuze, says Hart, the Scotist version of univocity was intended to make intelligible the analogical attribution of like qualities between God and creatures, while the Spinozan version would altogether do away with analogy.

My summation, above, was paraphrased from DBH, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth, pp 61-62.

Implicit in such considerations, at the very least, are general characterizations of stances toward being qua being. To wit, per Lee Faber:

“With the emerge of Ockham, the basic positions of the scholastic discussion are set until the dissolution of scholasaticism itself: equivocity of being, univocity of being with analogy, univocity alone, analogy of being alone.”

Observations:

My account has rejected equivocity alone, univocity alone & analogy alone. Instead, I have articulated a univocity of being with analogy.

Specifically, I accept Deleuze’s characterization of Scotus’ univocity as an attempt to show how the Analogia’s intelligible. I would further parse my account, however, by saying that:

Scotus does not univocally predicate all essences of being between God & creatures, only attributions in quale (as denominative modifiers or participles). Attributions in quid (as determinative nouns, genera & species, quid est?) are predicated analogically.

Realities predicated in quid could include nouns like the truth & the life, or truth, beauty & goodness, or whiteness, whereas, when predicated in quale, could include participles like true, living, beautiful & good or white.

Love, itself, & Being Itself, would be predicated in quid, hence only ever analogically, while loving & being would be predicated in quale, ergo univocally.

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

Because this reduces to a denominative theological nomination, eliminating any determinative philosophical attributions, consistent with what DBH has insisted, I find it semantically & ontologically indistinguishable from Hart’s Analogia account?

I would only further distinguish between the rhetorical, theo-poetic, implicit denominations of our icons, images, diagrams & metaphors, on one hand, and philosophical, theo-logical, explicit denominations of our analogies, on the other. And further observe that, when invoking the in/finite disjunction, we must not multiply quiddities by infinity to arrive at a quantitative differentiation of Being & beings (certain theistic personalisms?). Instead, we multiply qualia by infinity, recognizing the qualitative differentiation of divine & determinate realities, fostering otherness & intimacy, participation & donativity-receptivity, immanence in transcendence rather than alienation from some Wholly Other.

But is univocity of being with analogy to be identified with all “analogy alone” stances?

I think that may be a fair assessment, if, by analogy alone, one refers to ontological descriptions of being as predicated in quid, as being among beings, generically.

Does anyone, however, suggest that, semantically, even regarding predications in quale, those must not be made univocally either, only analogically?

That would seem to risk the fallacy of equivocation and lead one into a radical apophaticism, obviating the empirical grounding of our God-conceptions, denying any intelligibility of the Actus Purus vis a vis our reasoning from determinate effects back to putative divine causes?

Heuristic for Univocal & Analogical God-Talk
I. iconic or qualitatively denominative (differentiae)
A. quale – how
B. qui – who
C. quem – whom
D. vague indeterminacy
1) vague or distinct
E. metaphorical & theo-poetic (e.g. certain implicit similarities of divine idiomata & individual essences)
F. analogical & theo-logical (e.g. certain explicit similarities of divine propria & ousia)
II. indexic & locatively determinative
A. spatio-temporal causes & effects & transcendental effects
1) quando – when
2) ubi – where
3) qua – as
4) unde – whence
5) quo – whither or existing state
B. transcendental causes – putatively & abductively inferred from effects proper to no known spatio-temporal causes
1) quo – whither or existing state
2) no spatio-temporal where or when, atemporality
3) existentially determinativequo — implicit ontological argument (Anselmian presuppositions)
C. indexic & numeric or numerally determinative
1) quot – how many
D. indexic & quantitatively determinative
1) quantum – how much
III. symbolic & generically determinative
1) quid – generic & specific
IV. contextual & pragmatic semiotic
A. telic or quare – why
1) principle of sufficient reason
2) generic in/determinacy (generality – general or specific)

Perhaps we can say that there can be a univocity of predication – not just denominatively (quale, qui & quem) including the iconic metaphors & analogies (whether of our theopoetics and/or theologies, whether of the idiomata and/or propria), but also – determinatively, including the locative (determinate effects of putative transcendental causes or quando, ubi & unde), numeral (three persons or quot), quantitative (in/finite disjunction or quantum) & existential (implicit ontological argument in pure perfections or quo) references to divine realities, while generically determinative descriptions (quid) require analogical predication?

Whether our discourse is denominative or determinative and/or employs a univocity or similarity and/or is explicit and/or implicit and/or refers generically and/or nongenerially and/or transfinitely and/or in/finitely — and so on, can make all the difference?

This grammar would eliminate the paralogisms that result from treating divine modes of identity (the denominative & nongenerically determinative predications of ousia & hypostases, essence & persons, primary substance & exemplifications) as if they were the generically determinative predications of modes of being (preserving, for example, both the consistency & intelligibility of our classic trinitology & creedal dogma). Furthermore, it would preserve important distinctions such as between a nondeterminate esse naturale & self-determinate esse intentionale, between intrinsic aesthetic intensity & extrinsic aesthetic scope of expression, or between an existentially determinative divine simplicity (quo) & qualitatively denominative divine aseity (quale).

This would all be toward the end of more highly nuancing our divine conceptions of immutability & impassibility and of the divinely omnipresent, omnipathic, omnibenevolent, omniscient & omnipotent, which, respectively, invite our participatory belonging, desiring, behaving, believing & becoming, i.e. orthocommunally, orthopathically, orthopraxically, orthodoxically & orthotheotically.

How Scotus’ Univocity of Being Grounds a Metaphysics of Participation

anselmscotusmeme4605273249805958728.jpg

Scotus’ univocity somewhat entails Anselm’s ontological proof, where “pure perfections,” which are predicable of God alone, refer to being none greater than which can be conceived. Thus, from aspects of determinate being, which self-evidently make creatures better, we can devise composite concepts that apply only to God. Such aspects are transcendentals, because they are coextensive with being, transcending this finite and infinite division of being.

Scotus’ proper attributes (one, good & true) are also transcendentals. The supercategory of disjunctive transcendentals, like finite & infinite and contingent & necessary, for Scotus, prove God’s existence.

The less perfect member of each disjunction are possibilities that may or may not be actualized, creation being contingent and dependent on the divine will and not a necessary & inevitable emanation. The pure perfections, which don’t presuppose some limitation, are transcendentals but, of course, not coextensive.

The above conceptions of being, for Scotus, are predicable in quale and not in quid, hence are predicable denominatively (essential difference or nonessential property) not determinatively (what is it? genus? species?).

In Peircean terms, qualia correspond to possibilities (firstness or 1ns) and not genera-lities (thirdness or 3ns) and can refer to properties (qualia not quiddities) we may conceptually abstract from actualities (secondness or 2ns). This distinction is crucial, for it distinguishes between a semantical univocity, which follows a grammar of naming, and what would otherwise be an ontological univocity, which follows a grammar of categories of existence, i.e. regarding features or properties possessed as formal acts in potency to a final telos. While every quiddity is an essence, not every essence is a quiddity. Scotus’ univocity refers to qualia not quiddities.

Scotus’ univocity still supports a distinction, however, between theo-poetic nomination & theo-logical attribution, but not the vicious form of attribution DBH laments in a univocal ontology. The distinction lies, instead, in that between icons, images, diagrams & metaphors, on one hand, and similes & analogies, on the other, the latter as explicit & literal, the former as implicit, all as possibilities, not generalities.

The reason these subtle distinctions of the Subtle Doctor are crucial, in my view, is that they set forth how both theo-poetic nomination (e.g. of certain idiomata) & theo-logical attribution (e.g. of certain propria), more modestly conceived, are consonant with our metaphysics of participation.

Indeed, triadically and semiotically, participatively, we are drawn beyond our iconic (peircean 1ns) & indexical (2ns) SIGN-ifications of divine names & locations, and thereby led to our robustly relational symbolic (3ns) engagements, spanning the infinite interval – not just theopoetically & theologically, but -doxologically & theotically!

No, the Divine Economy is Not Trickle Down! — The Flipping of the Divine Donative Script

What’s the nature of our participation in the divine oikonomia?

The trinitarian paterological ur-kenosis, via the divine nature, opens up the eternal distance (economically & intimately) that the Son & Spirit may truly be. (Bathasarian)

The pneumatological kenosis, via the divine will, opens up the infinite analogical interval between God and the gratuity of creation that determinate creatures could truly be. (Hartian)

The Christological kenosis, via the divine will, opens up the infinite possibilities that determinate persons could truly be-come love via the gratuity of grace. The Trinity thereby flipped the divine donative script, when, via the hypostatic union, Jesus participated in human nature. And He did this as a real personhood (enhypostasis), which belonged to Him, alone (anhypostasis).

These divine kenoses, via epektasis, open up an infinite human desire (aesthetically), and via ekstasis, open up the space for one to stand outside one’s self (relationally & personally). (Bulgakov, Balthasar, Hart & Zizioulas?)

I explain later, below, that human persons traverse these distances theopoetically, theologically and relationally. DBH would say rhetorically (via theological nomination) and epistemologically (via philosophical attribution).

And we might all agree that, by relationally, we mean Eucharistically (liturgically & sacramentally, doxologically & theotically).

In the personal and relational sense, in all forms of kenoses, including the paterological, pneumatological, Christological and our Eucharistic participations, we might see, in sharp relief, Zizioulas’ conception of person playing out, i.e. that of other & communion, economy & intimacy, epektasis & ekstasis.

If our analogia gift us, semantically, icons & indexes (signs & locations) of divine encounters (knowledge about God), it is finally a Eucharistic participation that will symbolically & efficaciously (semiotic pragmatism) gift us divine Communion (knowledge of God).

Our determinate oikonomia are the divine oikonomia & the economic trinity is the immanent trinity, just not vice versa, as the Trinity perpetually opens eternal distances (ad intra) and infinite intervals (ad extra), precisely that we might be, might become & might commune, forever & ever! Amen?

Now, has this not opened up the eternal space & infinite interval where we may all reasonably hope for ἀποκατάστασις ?

The Semiotic Eucharistic Cycle

Liturgy of the Word

  • Iconic theo-poetic nomination of divine names

  • Indexic theo-logic attribution of divine locations

Liturgy of the Eucharist

  • Symbolic doxological & theotic engagement of divine participations

Offertory – Ecstasis & Proodos as self-transcendence

Communion – Enstasis & Mone as union

Post Communion – Epecstasis & Epistrophe as self-reception

Dismissal (Ecstasis & Proodos)

Unitive Living (Enstasis & Mone)
ReturnIntroibo ad Altare Dei (Epecstasis & Epistrophe)
Liturgy of the Word – repeat the cycle

There’s Nothing Ontological About Scotus’ Univocity of Being

Because Scotus’ univocity of being refers to a semantic not ontological thesis, it’s – not only not over against analogy, but -tacitly relied upon on by, thereby integral to, analogy. It’s a thesis about language or how we think & talk about God and not about ontology or what God is.

So, does analogy with its implicit univocity still take back all the meaning it ostensibly gives?

It takes back a LOT but not ALL because our God-concepts are, at least, grounded empirically.

Like icons, images, similes & metaphors, both our univocal & analogical terms are likenesses or similarities of the realities they SIGN-ify or bring to mind, prior to conveying any complete meaning, which may or not be “fixed.”

For example, whiteness (Scotus’ example, in fact) is such a concept as can signify more than one reality irrespective of their generic ontological differences. And it can do so with a fixed meaning, too, even though it conveys nothing, in and of itself, ontologically, about different white things, i.e. neither what they are nor how they came to be white. (Scotus is not nominalist but moderately realist regarding universals, but that’s another conversation.) It’s thus a mental construct that’s been abstracted away from the things it variously signifies, while otherwise “proper” to none of them.

Once modalized as a white sheep or white Corvette, we have two new “composite” concepts.

Substitute “loving” for whiteness, “finitely” for sheep & “infinitely” for Corvette and one can see that the meaning of loving is fixed and so has some empirical bearing on our understanding of God, but the composite concept “infinitely loving” is qualitatively different & refers only to God.

Such an understanding remains rather meager, to be sure, but nevertheless sufficient to avoid wholesale equivocation, thereby rescuing the syllogisms of natural theology’s Analogia Entis from fallacy. It gifts us an imperfect knowledge and a small amount at that, but it’s an empirical – not just semantic & conceptual – knowledge of a very BIG & ULTIMATE reality, so, can have profound existential import, doxologically & theotically.

It’s only an ontological univocity of being, as a generic category, that should draw anyone’s metaphysical fire or raise anyone’s theological ire.

There’s Nothing Esoteric About Apophasis

One afternoon, one notices that the glass vase, which normally rests on an outdoor table in their backyard, has been shattered into so many pieces & that one of the bricks on the house’s rear wall has been cracked. One immediately infers that a projectile from over the back fence did the damage, then tries to muse to the best explanation, unable to find the offending object.

Taking out one’s compass, protractor & sliderule, estimating the projectile’s velocity, angle of trajectory, distance travelled, putative weight & such, the resident rules out the object having been thrown, fired from a potato cannon, tossed by a pitching machine, flung by a lawnmower and so on. For now, the determinable effects remain proper to no known causes.

Those effects were not entirely dissimilar to those one might expect from zinged marbles, fired potatoes, thrown baseballs or flung rocks, but, at bottom, were inconsistent with such acts even though, in certain other ways, very much like them.

The resident cleans up the mess & replaces the vase. It happens again! The resident, again, does forensic measurements, cleans up the mess & replaces the vase. It happens a third time! Still, the effects remain proper to no known causes. But, now, the resident starts to take the cause “personally.”

What kind of person is doing this and how? Well, it can’t be the sweet little old childless widow, who lives there. Of course, then, not any grandchild. And it’s positively not her yardkeeper, house-cleaner or physical therapist. It must be a neighborhood prankster, but one without a name or motive.

We’ve talked very intelligibly about this unknown personal cause, only able to make successful semantic references but unable to make good ontological descriptions of the actor or the actor’s specific machinations. We have employed analogies that apply literally, qualifying them with all manner of apophatic negations.

You see, there’s nothing occult or gnostic about apophasis. It’s quite quotidian in application, with a positive epistemic valence, even, as a supplemental way of increasing descriptive accuracy by saying what something is not or is not like.

Pip did this in Great Expectations, searching for – not a malefactor, but – benefactor. Ralph McInerny has described us as Characters in Search of Their Author.

Not just the fast & frugal heuristics of common sense employ such abductive inference, ananoetics & apophasis, as this has long been the tradecraft of our highly speculative theoretic sciences, of quantum interpretations & philosophies of mind, of undiscovered elements on the Periodic Table & putative genes carrying the traits of Mendel’s peas.

Yes, our God-talk traffics only in successful references not ontological descriptions and takes back, apophatically, more than what it gifts, analogically. But that’s just the philosophical part of our human episteme. It, at least, renders our beliefs reasonable, partly intelligible even if not wholly comprehensible.

For some, that serves as the praeambula fidei to making the existential leap in responding to special revelation, musing that, if Jesus of Nazareth & his People Gathered are that loving, that beautiful, that good, that liberative, then, maybe just maybe, I can reasonably hope He & They are also that True!

That’s what this entire blog is really all about, reconciling Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, Palamas & Peirce, Bulgakov & Bracken, Zizioulas & Scotus.

When I say “successful reference” to God, I mean that literally in a robustly ontological sense.

From divine vestigia of the gratuity of creation via general revelation & energeia-oikonomia of the gratuity of grace via special revelation, I say we can infer from those divine effects, which are proper to no known causes, a putative Actus Purus.

Because the nondeterminate divine ousia & hypostases involve Act sans potency, similarities to the acts of determinate beings are far outnumbered by dissimilarities.

From a separate conversation, I’d written:

A practical take-away from Neville (following Peirce’s semantics):

Modally, if one takes an analogy to be a type of possibility (e.g. along w/ icons, images, diagrams, similes & metaphors, which are similarity-invoking), then, as a form of indeterminacy, it might be treated as a case of vagueness, where noncontradiction [PNC] wouldn’t apply?

We’d thus distinguish it from that form of indeterminacy, modal generality, where excluded middle wouldn’t apply but a continuum of probabilities could (scalar).

Without PNC, a great deal of epistemic humility‘s warranted in all analogy-discourse!

Dissimilarities abound!

Apophasis thus redounds!

When DB Hart gets outdone with some neo-scholastics, it’s because they apparently give more weight to the Analogia than it can epistemically bear. <<<

We believe, then, that nondeterminate divine realities cause determinate effects – vestigia, energeia & oikonomia & invite our participation. But what is the “nature” of our participation, considering divine acts are nondeterminate and/or self-determinate & ours determinate? Is there anything univocal going on?

It seems to me that when we cooperate with the divine gratuities of creation & grace, we as creatures foster the very same doxological & theotic effects as the Trinitological Synergy, soteriologically, sophiologically, ecclesiologically, eschatologically & sacramentally. We do this imitatively & instrumentally, by actively surrendering, kenotically, thereby becoming passive conduits, pneumatologically.

Correcting Bulgakov w/Bracken, I imagine a panentheistic, divine matrix, which, participatorily, not only involves us creatively & imitatively, but, which neo-platonic-like, also influences us diffusively & substratively, as the divine telos gently coaxes us toward the fulfillment of our human nature (sustained authenticity).

I guess I’m suggesting that there’s a participatory univocity of loving effects via our determinate kenosis, imitating Jesus’ self-determinate kenosis, unleashing the Spirit’s gifts, charisms & universal salvation.

Flipping the Semantic Script for Determinate & Divine Being

Turning this thing on its head has been precisely how I’ve come to approach this all. The more jargonistic way of condensing my above contributions is to wit:

Determinate syllosistics are derived from divine syllogistics.

If one begins with the Athanasian Creed, then formalizes it, one gets Abelard’s 3 modes of identity: essential, personal & formal.

The first 2 modes do not apply to determinate being, precisely due to radical dissimilarities in predications of ousia & exemplifications of hypostases.

For determinate realities, the only mode of identity is formal & we can consider it a derivation of divine syllogistics (rather than taking them to be an ad hoc strategy of our Aristotelian-like syllogistics).

Of course, for determinate realities, essence, hypostases & forms (the last = generalities, laws, regularities) reflect modes of being.

This doesn’t gift us a formal systematic accounting but it very much entails a rather robust semi-formal heuristic. This is the intersection where determinate effects interact, inter-participatively, as they variously ensue from divine nondeterminate or self-determinate realities or from creaturely determinate realities, either which can, variously, generate “effects proper to no known causes” whether putatively theological, metaphysical, scientific or common sensical.

It’s from the synergistic divine vestigia, energeia & oikonomia that we abductively infer a putative divine cause, Actus. We can thus affirm Rahner’s axiom that the economic trinity is the immanent trinity, even though many of us would hesitate regarding any vice versa. At least, I can’t go there.

Rahner spoke of a divine quasi-formal cause. Inverting the script, though, perhaps it’s better said that it’s our Aristotelian-like categories that are quasi, not the divine categories:

  • quasi-formal in potency to quasic-telic,
  • quasi-actus (efficient) in potency to quasi-substantial (material),
  • quasi-existential in potency to quasi-essential,

whereby, imitatively, we realize our authentic human nature as we grow from mere image (quasi) to clear likeness (REAL-ly), co-creatively fulfilling our created potential.

Not sure I’ve connected any dots or successfully unpacked my divine imaginary, but those are my categories, their semantic rules & implications for intelligible god-talk.

Further Nuancing Apophasis

Some Orthodox theologians point out that both the via positiva and via negativa are RATIONAL approaches, both sharing the same trajectory of increasing descriptive accuracy, whether through affirmation of what something is, ontologically, or is like, analogically, or through negation of what something is not or is not like. That’s how kataphasis and apophasis are largely conceived in the West, often through radically logo-centric lenses.

When Lossky employed an apophatic, perichoretic strategy, though, he referenced a transrational mystical experience moreso in terms of ineffability. He aspires merely to a successful relational reference but does not ambition a successful metaphysical description. (This distinction applies, by the way, to so much of nondual teaching in Buddhist & Hindu traditions, as they aren’t doing metaphysics as much as they are leading us into experiences or real-izations).

The Orthodox priest, Dumitru Staniloae, according to some, was more rigorous and nuanced than Lossky. He would refer to our ineffable experiences as transrational and trans-apophatic.

Such distinctions ground others, for example, a trinito-logy vs a trinito-phany.

An Afterward Regarding Univocity, Analogy & Apophasis

Our irreducibly triadic inferential cycling of abductive hypothesizing, deductive clarifying & inductive testing can fall into a sterile, nonvirtuous dyadic cycling of abduction & deduction, never gaining the realist traction that can only come from, at least, some inductive rubber hitting the epistemic road.

To be sure, sometimes, despite our mindful exploratory excursions, this happens because we’ve encountered a genuine explanatory aporia. In such cases, our alternating univocity, analogy & apophasis can make a salutary contribution to enhanced intelligibility by presenting then discarding one heuristic device after another in the form of more icons, images, diagrams, similes, metaphors & analogies.

This is analogous to our Popperian alternation of conjecture & criticism in the falsification of our abductive hypotheses via inductive testing, but unlike falsification in that, unable to critically engage inductively, it simply generates more hypotheses, more potential pathways to serve as candidates for testing, sometimes via rather weak forms of inference &, if lucky, sometimes using more robust methods.

So, the role of univocity, analogy & apophasis might best be conceived as an inference generator, souping up the abductive engine we already have. It can be thought of, too, as a meta-heuristic device, which keeps churning out heuristics.

  • When it does this using icons, images, diagrams & metaphors, our heuristics are poetic (e.g. theopoetic).
  • When using univocity, apophasis, similes & analogies, our heuristics are logocentric (e.g. theological).
  • When actively engaged by our participatory imaginations (e.g. liturgically, doxologically, theotically), such heuristics can foster interpersonal relations, trans-rationally, trans-apophatically & axiologically.

In my view, then, we best engage our Scotist, Thomist, Palamist, Aristotelian & Peircean approaches – not as explanatory metaphysics, but – as exploratory heuristics, setting forth metaphysical contours in the same way that our creeds define the theological boundaries of essential dogma.

Here’s a concrete application as an example:

An Aristotelian hylomorphism, properly conceived in a triadic semiotic sense, doesn’t compete as an explanatory metaphysic (i.e. aspiring to explain consciousness in competition with eliminativism, nonreductive physicalism, cartesian dualism, etc) but, instead, serves as an exploratory heuristic, which can guide empirical research, keeping relevant questions alive & foregrounded. It might suggest, for example, that one mustn’t conflate materialism with physicalist accounts. Instead, we best distinguish that conception of consciousness, which we properly take to be immaterial (i.e. for materialist approaches are prima facie absurd) from that of any physicalist conception of same, which needn’t necessarily be absurd (e.g. inconsistent with freedom).

Note re Thomist-Scotist “Impasse”

It seems that an analogy certainly needs nonanalogical grounds (positive & negative, dis/similarities) as a univocal foundation. And it further seems that, semiotically, there can be inconic & indexic signs and syntactic & semantic logics in play that can involve direct experience, existential significance & immediacy, via Scotus’ cognitive intuitions — all apart from & prior to conceptualizations. Signs & images can evoke analogous realities, including causes, effects, events & activities — again, without words, apart from discursive reasonings (per Peircean categorizations). Such signs would provide univocal foundations when “having one meaning,” but need not be conceptual, semantically. The semiotic logic of such intuitions would be intact & implicit, subject to eventual explication. Scotus’ semantical univocal predication of concepts would thus be a special case of a more general univocal grounding, which could be either intuitive or conceptual. Analogy could certainly be subverted by equivocation without any univocal grounding, whatsoever, but it would only require univocal conceptions for our discursive reasonings & not our quotidian participatory imaginings? I’m trying to locate & articulate the impasses.

What I mean to suggest, then, is that the Scotistic semantical-conceptual univocity does differentiate itself as a deductive approach. At the same time, the Thomistic approach does not differentiate itself vis a vis a univocal grounding. What both approaches, unavoidably, have in common is an irreducibly triadic inferential process of abduction, induction & deduction, each presupposing the others.

In higher animals, abduction is hardwired as an instinct, an adaptation gifting more behavioral plasticity than available from mere stimulus-response algorithms (lower lifeforms). In humans, we have the same teleo-nomic S–>R reflexes & abductive instincts plus the teleo-logical triadic inferential capacity, which is unleashed by our symbolic language capabilities. Whether implicitly & instinctively or explicitly & inferentially, the same syntactic & semantic logics are in play, and, for the symbolic species, Homo sapiens, pragmatic, contextual logics are added.

There’s no secret formulae kept in Scotistic, Thomistic or Palamitic vaults. There are only the fast & frugal, semi-formal heuristics of our biosemiotic legacy.

Taken semiotically, Scotus also distinguishes between immediate significates and mediate significates. In the former, an intelligible species is immediately signified, an extramental, existing physical thing. In the latter, a thing may be signified not as it physically exists, but as an object of the intellect, insofar as it is known or understood, what Scotus called objective being.

Signs as univocal ontological relations can refer to existent or nonexistent objects with equal facility, an important distinction if abduction is to work – hypothesizing, for example, putative unknown causes from determinate effects. (This distinction doesn’t straddle idealist vs realist accounts, but is strictly constructivist.)

Such a Scotistic semiotic account of mediate significates, objective being, univocal conceptions & formal distinctions, operates semantically — but not over against Thomistic metaphysical accounts of either univocity or analogy.

As for Aquinas’ metaphysical approach, some might imagine that he was denying univocism & equivocism prior to, apparently, affirming their amalgamated version in an ad hoc manner, i.e. not defending that leap or deriving its
logic?

But Aquinas needn’t be interpreted as denying Scotus’ univocal predication of God (via mode of conceiving), so, in that sense, also wouldn’t need to be interpreted as objecting to taking same (univocal predication) as defined per its successful use as a middle term in a syllogism. i.e. a univocal grounding, semantically.

However, there’s another grounding, metaphysically, which goes beyond mere intelligibility & avoidance of fallacy (equivocation) to make the predication true, i.e. not just consistent & valid but in a truth-making sense regarding how any given attribution is true.

There not only can be but there must be a heterogeneity, here, in how the attribution is metaphysically grounded, because the same claim will be true but for different reasons when, on one hand, talking about divine realities in their modes of identity, versus, on the other hand, determinate realities in their modes of being.

For a concrete example, see Pruss’ discussion regarding Wisdom:

http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2010/09/do-aquinas-and-scotus-disagree-on.html?m=1

Coming full circle back to DBH, while he retrieved & affirmed the Analogia (I think to counter some radical aphophaticism in certain Palamitic cohorts), my impression is that he doesn’t countenance its being deployed in a naively realist manner that, in turn, overemphasizes the speculative & kataphatic, i.e. rationalism. We must continue to strike a careful balance between overemphases of either the affective or speculative as well as the apophatic or kataphatic, thus navigating past the shoals of rationalism, encratism, fideism, pietism & quietism. A modicum of epistemic humility is called for.

We mustn’t imagine that either our syllogisms or heuristics have proved anything. What I refer to as divine syllogistics (modes of identity) & determinate syllogistics (modes of being), which I won’t explicate here but which are consonant with the general consensus of neo-platonist, scotist & thomist classical theisms, should not be employed to say way more than can possibly be said or to tell untellable stories.

Those very same modes of identity can similarly be used to properly predicate and to consistently & intelligibly formulate other “Theories of Everything.” Different a priori mereological presuppositions can articulate, for example, either a pantheism or materialist monism, the latter which is nihilistically corrosive of ultimate meaning. Other dualist & pluralist ontologies similarly compete, speculatively.

What the Analogia gifts us is the speculative reasonableness of our faith. And the modes of identity gift us a demonstration of the consistency & intelligibility of even the Trinity. They don’t, however, eliminate nihilism or other approaches via speculative reason — at least, not in a manner as is repeated way too often by “apologists” engaged with atheists in cyberforums & chatrooms.

What vaults the believer past nihilism is, instead, a form of practical reasoning under speculative uncertainty, employing what I like to call an equiplausibility principle, which then guides us toward the most eminently actionable live options, existentially. There’s an existential disjunction or “living as if” that takes hold of our participatory imaginations as we choose to pursue, in each uncertainty, the most life-giving & relationship-enhancing response available.

Such is the calculus that leaves a materialist monism in the dustbins of history, whether philosophically or existentially, along with its corrollary skepticism, solipsism, nominalism, voluntarism, relativism & ultimate nihilism. As a matter of practical reasoning, it’s not existentially actionable and, however uncertain one may be speculatively regarding 1) What can we know? 2) What can we hope for? & 3) What must we do? —- we can be practically certain in a most eminent manner: We can “hope” to “know” what we “must do,” which is to love!

And this is not just logically consistent, internally coherent, existentionally actionable & philosophically intelligible, but is externally congruent, inductively & probabilistically, with a great deal of historical evidence, whether historically (N.T. Wright re: Resurrection), ecclesiologically (Luke Timothy Johnson re: our living witness) or pneumatologically (Amos Yong re: Spirit in the great traditions) and notwithstanding marginal voices like John Dominic Crossan (Jesus Seminar).

I think DBH would rightly extoll the rolls of both our metaphorical theopoetics & participatory doxologies & theotics, while deemphasizing what the Analogia contributes (as necessary but woefully insufficient).

I’m also deeply sympathetic with DBH’s critique of what Natural Law reasoning might truly contribute beyond the most general of precepts; only the most rationalistic approaches (devoid of an authentic personalism) would imagine that it can deliver concrete norms for virtually every conceivable circumstance.

If I’m reading DBH correctly, at least his general thrust, it seems he’s asking us to cast off both an epistemic hubris & an excessive epistemic humility vis a vis speculative reasonings, but to put on a confident assurance in things hoped for & always eschew living as those who have no hope!

Coming full circle back to DBH, while he retrieved & affirmed the Analogia (I think to counter some radical aphophaticism in certain Palamitic cohorts), my impression is that he doesn’t countenance its being deployed in a naively realist manner that, in turn, overemphasizes the speculative & kataphatic, i.e. rationalism. We must continue to strike a careful balance between overemphases of either the affective or speculative as well as the apophatic or kataphatic, thus navigating past the shoals of rationalism, encratism, fideism, pietism & quietism. A modicum of epistemic humility is called for.

We mustn’t imagine that either our syllogisms or heuristics have proved anything. What I refer to as divine syllogistics (modes of identity) & determinate syllogistics (modes of being), which I won’t explicate here but which are consonant with the general consensus of neo-platonist, scotist & thomist classical theisms, should not be employed to say way more than can possibly be said or to tell untellable stories.

Those very same modes of identity can similarly be used to properly predicate and to consistently & intelligibly formulate other “Theories of Everything.” Different a priori mereological presuppositions can articulate, for example, either a pantheism or materialist monism, the latter which is nihilistically corrosive of ultimate meaning. Other dualist & pluralist ontologies similarly compete, speculatively.

What the Analogia gifts us is the speculative reasonableness of our faith. And the modes of identity gift us a demonstration of the consistency & intelligibility of even the Trinity. They don’t, however, eliminate nihilism or other approaches via speculative reason — at least, not in a manner as is repeated way too often by “apologists” engaged with atheists in cyberforums & chatrooms.

What vaults the believer past nihilism is, instead, a form of practical reasoning under speculative uncertainty, employing what I like to call an equiplausibility principle, which then guides us toward the most eminently actionable live options, existentially. There’s an existential disjunction or “living as if” that takes hold of our participatory imaginations as we choose to pursue, in each uncertainty, the most life-giving & relationship-enhancing response available.

Such is the calculus that leaves a materialist monism in the dustbins of history, whether philosophically or existentially, along with its corrollary skepticism, solipsism, nominalism, voluntarism, relativism & ultimate nihilism. As a matter of practical reasoning, it’s not existentially actionable and, however uncertain one may be speculatively regarding 1) What can we know? 2) What can we hope for? & 3) What must we do? —- we can be practically certain in a most eminent manner: We can “hope” to “know” what we “must do,” which is to love!

And this is not just logically consistent, internally coherent, existentionally actionable & philosophically intelligible, but is externally congruent, inductively & probabilistically, with a great deal of historical evidence, whether historically (N.T. Wright re: Resurrection), ecclesiologically (Luke Timothy Johnson re: our living witness) or pneumatologically (Amos Yong re: Spirit in the great traditions) and notwithstanding marginal voices like John Dominic Crossan (Jesus Seminar).

I think DBH would rightly extoll the rolls of both our metaphorical theopoetics & participatory doxologies & theotics, while deemphasizing what the Analogia contributes (as necessary but woefully insufficient).

I’m also deeply sympathetic with DBH’s critique of what Natural Law reasoning might truly contribute beyond the most general of precepts; only the most rationalistic approaches (devoid of an authentic personalism) would imagine that it can deliver concrete norms for virtually every conceivable circumstance.

If I’m reading DBH correctly, at least his general thrust, it seems he’s asking us to cast off both an epistemic hubris & an excessive epistemic humility vis a vis speculative reasonings, but to put on a confident assurance in things hoped for & always eschew living as those who have no hope!

Note on Moderate Realism:

I distinguish between THAT an objective being has “the same” meaning regarding two different realities, univocally & semantically, and HOW it can be “the same” for (more so “true of”) those two realities, analogically & metaphysically.

Even for those of us who stipulate (not uncontroversially? or, at least, “it’s complicated!”) that neither a semantical nor metaphysical grounding is sufficient and that both are necessary in the Analogia, the HOW of the analogical sameness is far more interesting, philosophically, and way more compelling, existentially, because its truth-making speaks directly to & literally of the Reality of God, while the THAT of a univocal sameness, alone, wouldn’t convey whether we’re even talking about existents or nonexistents, divine or determinate realities.

Scotus’ account of the transcendentals, including univocal & coextensive qualia, seems to be, itself, pre-suppositionally grounded analogically, implicitly articulating an Anselmian-like ontological proof of noncomposite Being (in a disjunctive relationship to modal beings).

I get the legitimately equivocal references to both types of sameness.

I even more so get why there’s a much stronger emphasis on analogy’s metaphysical import, which must be argued with rigor, philosophically, than on univocity’s semantic logic, which can almost be taken for granted, intuitively?

Robert Fortuin wrote: “Yes if we remain on a purely horizontal level then indeed univocal, ordinary semantics is quite proper, self evident, and intuitive. However the theological task doesn’t remain on the horizontal level, we are concerning ourselves with a cause of an altogether different and higher mode of being then creaturely being. Ipso facto likeness and difference is analogous: the resemblance in the lower effect of the higher cause is not univocal but analogical.”

https://anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/lost-in-translation/#comment-3105

My response:

Yes, and, as we reason from determinate effects as would be proper to no known causes, our abductive task necessarily begins on this horizontal level. And it doesn’t a priori presuppose whether it will remain there or not. And, further, once we find it heuristically fruitful to explore the possibilities of additional vertical levels (of aboutness), we wouldn’t a priori presuppose whether we’ll be moving beyond a metaphysical to a theological task.

This is all to suggest, then, that the resemblances in lower effects of higher causes, for example, in an emergentist frame (Let me say that I’m not not invoking supervenience, here), may become analogical long before we commence a theological task.

Concretely, we encounter metaphysical tasks at different aporia, even in our scientific explorations, e.g. in the emergence of symbolic language, consciousness, life itself, the cosmos & quantum fluctuations.

The explanatory interpretations of various exploratory heuristics invoke novel realities that can, putatively, exhibit both univocal & analogical resemblances (here some invoke supervenience), raising both quantitative & qualitative questions.

More specifically, even, human symbolic language does not just surpass sentience or animal consciousness quantitatively but does so qualitatively. Animals already exhibit abductive instincts and syntactical & semantical sign usages, employing iconic & indexic signs BUT human consciousness, which exhibits not only abductive instincts but inferences, with its contextual & pragmatic sign usage, employing arbitrary symbol conventions, is qualitatively distinct, semiotically.

We thus anthropomorphize certain animal behaviors, when we univocally project onto them what are otherwise only analogous behaviors or, even, a mixture of univocal, analogical or even equivocal realities. We can sumilarly anthropomorphize divine hypostases, ousia & energeia.

So, it’s helpful, heuristically, to distinguish reality’s causes in terms of “aboutness,” recognizing that not all causes can be explained in univocal terms, that the concept of telos, itself, can be analogically differentiated into various teloi, as we move through the great chain of being from the robustly end-intended to the end-purposed to the end-directed to the merely end-stated to, perhaps even, the end-unbounded, respectively what I would refer to as teleologic, teleoqualic, teleonomic, teleomatic & teleopotent “aboutnesses.”

The arguments begin as various schools of, for example, quantum interpretation or philosophy of mind, will a priori presuppose which aporia are epistemic and/or ontic and/or both in nature, which novelties demonstrate weak or strong emergence or supervenience. I resist such distinctions as, on one end, they can remain question begging, while, on the other, they can seem trivial. In many cases, such presuppositions can mistake what are merely exploratory heuristics for explanatory accomplishments (e.g. Dennett’s consciousness “explained” or, more appropriately, eliminated, having the deleterious effect of prematurely shutting down critically important research programs.

It is immensely gratifying to me that, whether as Scotists, Thomists, Neo-Platonists or such, we enjoy a great deal of normative consensus regarding how different realities are predicated and properly grounded, metaphysically. That’s where my interests lie in this conversation. And, it’s further satisfying that we all, of course, eschew the corrosive axiological effects that necessarily ensue from nominalism, voluntarism, relativism, etc that all decay into an ultimate nihilism. As if ever there was (or could be) a disagreement …

Which Scotus narratives are eisegetic or exegetic, descriptively, is above my paygrade (and I work for free, SO … ) & of no consequence to my normative approach.

Of course, the principle of meaning refers to judgment. That’s why I continuously invoke jargon like icon, index & symbol – not b/c others find it informative, but b/c it helps me think straight, for any robust conception of meaning requires both denotation & connotation. Denotation merely references things. A sign representation that only denotes but does not connote is only an index. A sign representation that only connotes but does not denote is only an icon. As usual, each is necessary, neither sufficient.

The trick is not to move toward or away from nominalism, on one hand, or toward or away from essentialism, on the other, for these are but the obverse sides of the same bankrupt coinage of our epistemic realm. Instead, we must approach reality as moderate realists, precisely by perceiving, understanding, judging, deciding & acting in a complete hermeneutical spiraling of descriptive, interpretive, evaluative, normative & relational approaches to reality.

For the most part (not necessarily mapping perfectly), Aquinas met this moderate criterion with his “metaphysically real” distinction & Scotus with his “formal distinction.” Peirce met it with his category of Thirdness (regularities & real generalities), which was inspired by but not developed directly from Scotus. Moderate realisms vis a vis approaches to universals, as far as nominalism goes, have no need of that hypothesis.

The musing, above, dialogues with this conversation at Pastor Tom Belt’s Open Orthodoxy blog.

Divine Names

No argument w/analytic approach, generally, BUT too many analytics imagine they’re providing solutions to problems in classical trinitarianism that exist in neither Latin nor East, e.g. modalism/tritheism, b/c they engage (ontological) caricatures of (meta-ontological) creeds.

A communicated essence (not divisible) coinheres in three persons (not communicable), the Son (eternally begotten) & Spirit (eternally spirated) proceeding from the Father (eternally originating).

The Cappadocians & fathers derived various names/propria Biblically, not philosophically, from prayers & practices, traditions & transformations.

Because names usually reify or indicate the form or intrinsic characteristics of the thing (entity or existent) named, since (the reality of) God (no thing) has no form, He has no name in that sense ..
so divine names refer to divine propria of the essence (intrinsically) & idiomata of the persons as revealed by energeia, vestigia, oikonomia. One could take simplicity as a name, where God is both simplicity itself (as pure act) & beyond simplicity (as its source).

Simplicity as such wouldn’t prevent such divine distinctions as between a singularity of source & multiplicity of expression, an aesthetic intensity & scope, or the divine nature & will (e.g. John Damascene doesn’t identify the esse naturale with the esse intentionale).

Mary-Jane Rubenstein: The bottom line for Hart is that whether the fathers claim that illuminated souls see the divine essence or participate in God’s energies, or whether they call God “Being” or “beyond being,” they are saying the same thing, which is … that God is “the transcendent source & end of all things,” who “reveals ever more of himself & yet always infinitely exceeds what he reveals.” review – Orthodox Readings of Augustine, ed. Aristotle Papanikolaou & George E. Demacopoulos (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008).

It’s not in our geographic positions but our humble dispositions the Holy Spirit works – even beyond a seminary or cloister wall, a workaday world or homelife of masked contemplation, the visible frontiers of the church – in all people of goodwill.
https://t.co/iIXMUWDnfu

How Scotus Might Gift Zizioulas Coherence

Zizioulas’ musings evoke images for me that work really well, metaphorically & theopoetically.

And any rhetorical & liturgical approach, which is that existentially persuasive & intuitively appealing, just has to implicate some coherent ontological account?

For example,

  • 1) Leading w/hypostases rather than ousia,
  • 2) recognizing, in the order of intelligibility, the essential dependencies of individual essences,
  • 3) interpreting each as personal &
  • 4) trinitarian dynamics as relational –

How might we best conceive such modes of identity?

Scotus, too, eschews substantial references to hypostases (e.g. primary substances & subsistences), recategorizing them as exemplifications!

He doesn’t altogether abandon substance-talk, but relocates primary substance to ousia (Thomist analogue being secondary substance), thus avoiding causal dynamics (act-potency ascriptions).

Zizioulas’ critics point out that, at some point, he must retrieve substantial distinctions into his relational ontology to avoid conundra of the one & the many & metaphysically differentiate un/created realities and I suspect Scotus could gift the coherence, which some opinions (nod to the Dude) hold, his account lacks!?

A Scotus Glossary

divine realities

  • extreme realism
  • numerically singular essence
  • immanent universal
  • communicability or predicability = exemplifiability
  • persons = exemplification
  • individuality is not nonexemplifiability but indivisibility
  • communicable essence (like secondary substance)
  • indivisible essence (like primary substance)
  • persons = exemplifications not individuals or substances (b/c incommunicable)

determinate realities

  • moderate realism
  • numerically many essence
  • created universal
  • divisibility = instantiability
  • individuality = noninstantiability
  • persons = individuals or substances (communicable)

The Scotist approach to divine syllogistics is not over against, for example, the Thomist, but addresses divine realities on its own terms. Both Scotistic & Thomistic trinitarian approaches well conform to our classical creedal formulations.

There are theological contours implicit in our creeds, which, when explicated, metaphysically, can only employ meta-ontological, semantic references, not ontological descriptions. The Scotistic glossary makes more explicit how this is the case, when differentiating divine & determinate realities by using neologisms. Of course, the definition of such coinages still must make explicit the extensive nuancing required in distinguishing divine & aristotelian syllogistics.

For example, such nuancing as set forth in a Dionysian-type logic, where:

God is | x | is true kataphatically & trans-analogically; as a simile, analogically & literally or metaphorically & nonliterally;

God is | not x | is true apophatically & literally; and

God is neither | x | nor | not x | is true relationally & really.

Put another way, consider DBH’s admonition from The Hidden & the Manifest:

This donation of being is so utterly beyond any species of causality we can conceive that the very word cause has only the most remotely analogous value in regard to it. And, whatever warrant Thomists might find in Thomas for speaking of God as the first efficient cause of creation (which I believe to be in principle wrong), such language is misleading unless the analogical scope of the concept of efficiency has been extended almost to the point of apophasis.

I’m sympathetic to Zizioulas’ eschewal of substance-talk in trinitarian logistics. However, I receive it as more of a rhetorical than substantial (double entendre intended) critique, because, point of fact, properly parsed & nuanced, neither Latin nor Greek Fathers, Augustinians nor Cappadocians, Chalcedonians nor Alexandrians, Thomists nor Scotists, when speaking of the Trinity, however much they may have implicitly relied on a univocity and/or analogy of being, ever really employed ontological categories, such as in terms of modes of being. Rather, properly understood, they spoke semantically using meta-ontological categories, such as in terms of modes of identity.

See:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/godel-the-end-of-physics-and-abelard-et-al-the-end-of-trinitology/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/how-to-re-conceive-substance-for-divine-modes-of-identity-scotus-the-greek-fathers/

This category error should be avoided when critiquing other trinitologies or we’ll end up caricaturizing them.

If Zizioulas wanted to advance our trinitarian conceptions, idiomatically, perhaps he could’ve followed in Scotus’ footsteps, updating Scotus’ neologisms? And perhaps he should’ve begun his project meta-ontologically using vague semantical references rather than ontologically with robust metaphysical descriptions?

How might one commence such a project?

A Proposed Relational Meta-ontology Glossary

Personhood – a cluster concept including communion & otherness

Essence or ousia – primary not secondary substance for divine realities

Divine person – exemplification of relational personhood & incommunicable

Human person – individual self-consciousness, communicable or predicable

Person – cluster concept including ekstasis (moving toward communion or unitive striving) & hypostasis (particularity or haecceity via idiomata)

The Father – not personal cause but unoriginate originator in order of intelligibility (essential dependencies) & eternally generating (donatively & eucharistically) communion & otherness (persons via ur-kenosis)

Essential Dependencies – donatively gift not what one is, essentially, but how one is, economically, in the order of intelligibility not ontologically, not a substantial subordination

Divine Other – person or hypostasis, neither an individual (i.e. not an indivisible essence or primary substance) nor an essential nature (i.e. not a communicable essence or secondary substance)

Human Other – person or hypostasis as self with both individual & essential natures

The One or monasBegetter and Emitter, of whom the others are the one begotten and the other the emission

Necessity – refers to ousia or nature but only applies to instantiations of secondary substances (hence not predicated of divine primary substance)

Divine Nature or Essence or Ousia – refers to primary substance as numerically singular essence, which, as an immanent universal exhibits communicability or predicability or exemplifiability (hence not predicated of human primary substances, which instantiate only created universals or secondary substances)

Necessary Being – Borrowing Hartian phraseology, this language is misleading unless the analogical scope of the concepts of necessity & being have both been extended almost to the point of apophasis, for divine ousia refers to primary substances & created ousia refers to secondary substances, where necessary or contingent ordinarily would refer to the hypostatic instantiations of same.

Divine Necessary Being – could only refer to personal hypostatic exemplifications of the divine ousia as the numerically singular, communicable primary substance, which entails eternally communicating communion (ekstasis) & otherness (hypostasis). As such, in a dynamical, relational ontology, necessity would refer not to an essential whatness but the economical howness of divine realities, which does not involve causal, substantial transmissions but unitive strivings, loving relationalities or perichoresis, which, semantically, are logically not ontologically necessary. Hence, beyond the primally gratuitous paterological ur-kenosis, ad intra, a pneumatological kenosis ad extra donates the gratuity of creation & a Christological kenosis gifts the gratuity of grace. And by gratuitous, we mean radically free.

Divine Oneness – can be expressed

  • 1) essentially (singular, communicable, primary substance, whatness or propria of esse naturale), an Augustinian conception
  • 2) hypostatically (ad intra paterological ur-kenosis & Christological & pneumatological ad intra communing and ad extra kenoses, howness or idiomata) and
  • 3) dynamically (synergeia of trinitarian will, of the esse intentionale via energeia & oikonomia).

After Thoughts

To me, this would all still entail, it seems, only an “analogy of universals,” which would implicate an extreme realism for the immanent divine universals but only a moderate realism for instantiable created universals.

If, by universals, one refers to shared properties like HOW one acts & as WHAT one acts,

Then, even unable to generically specify WHAT thus acts divinely, i.e. only able to apophatically say what one is not & only able to analogically imagine what one is connotatively like,

One could apophatically distinguish divine & creaturely realities by defining the latter’s shared essences as divisible, the former’s as NOT so & the latter’s persons (substances or individuals) as communicable, the former’s persons (nonsubstantial exemplifications) as NOT so.

Such apophatic predications of the divine essence would guarantee more conceptual compatibility & logical consistency than related, but still very much distinct, kataphatic affirmations.

For example, to be more clear that I wouldn’t mean to say that the divine essence is one per some strictly numeric determination, I’d want to say, instead, that it includes, rather, Oneness, itself (per a verbally iconic denomination.) And I’d emphatically not want to refer to divine being per any strictly generic determination but, instead, refer, rather, to Being itself, again, strictly denominatively.

Orthodox Dialogue on the Trinity

The Father is the primordial source (arch‘) & ultimate cause (aitia) of the divine being. ~ 1992 Orthodox-Reformed dialogue

https://t.co/8rK9l8PCMf?amp=1

in ineffable ways that are beyond all time (achronos), beyond all origin (anarchos), & beyond all cause (anaitios). Orthodox-R. Catholic dialogue 2003

https://t.co/0WqgRkqHmv?amp=1

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/filioque-church-dividing-issue-english.cfm

Not everything Torrance had to say is acceptable to the Orthodox. The disagreements are real & not trifling. But the affinities also are significant, & the mutual respect is profound.

https://t.co/VMMmjDKDOp?amp=1

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxbridge/tf-torrance-and-reformed-orthodox-dialogue/

Such language is misleading unless the analogical scope of the concept of efficiency has been extended almost to the point of apophasis. ~ DBH, The Hidden & the Manifest 4/

What’s instructive about the trinitarian dialogue cited above, beyond the significant descriptive & normative agreements expressed in those joint statements, is the manner in which it was conducted with such prayerful, respectful, charitable dispositions of all participants. 5/5
In recent years, with much dialogue & many joint declarations among Anglican, Roman, Orthodox & even Reformed traditions, even interpretations of such as the MOF & Filioque present fewer conceptual stumbling blocks to a rather BROAD creedal consensus re Trinitarian doctrine?

A Brief Defense of Common Sense

Our “participatory imagination” engages “common sense.”

Our common sense derives from events encountered, first, nondiscursively & preconceptually, & is, next, articulated by our stories, & finally, organized by our conceptual mapmaking.

I have chosen to interpret Aquinas, Scotus & Peirce as providing meta-ontological heuristics that, more than almost anything else, amount to a robust defense of common sense & insistence on the epistemic indispensability of our participatory imagination.

Why, then, all the subtlety, nuance & neologisms? Why a Summa, for goshsakes? How, then, do such peripatetic wanderings arrive at anything more than a metaphysical haystack of philosophical straw, if all we’re talking about is common sense?

That irony comes about precisely because, as we employ our common sense & participatory imagination, we’ll often discover, nondiscursively, more than we can say, discursively, and we’ll often know, preconceptually, more than we can map, conceptually.

Many have variously described distinct aspects of this “knowing” such as in terms of connaturality (Maritain), an illative sense (Cardinal Newman), a tacit dimension (Polyani) & abduction (Peirce), all which are prior to robustly inferential understandings, for example, of creedal & moral realities. Such a knowing can be existential, confessional, performative & participatory, though always certainly anticipating, albeit inchoately, sapiential, theoretical, informative & conceptual formulations.

There’s undeniably a sensus fidei (of laity, theologians & bishops) that might be conceived as a charism of discernment & graced via nondiscursive instinct, intuition, empathy, heart knowledge, innate inclinations or synderesis. And it’s going to be obscure & unsystematic before it gets discursively appropriated with any degree of conceptual clarity. We must not forget that this sensus, as grace, pertains to all the faithful, and that we can learn something of God even from the ordinary, distracted, confused, ill-informed, sinful, & ecclesially marginalized. This is also why a written tradition presupposes an oral tradition, wherein the stories once told & prayers once prayed will indispensably contribute to any proper theological interpretation beyond mere texts.

So, there’s a LOT going on of a logical nature, tacitly & implicitly, in our common sense & participatory imagination. And they’re so fearfully & wonderfully made that it’s systematic explication does require no small effort that yields no simple schema. Their elaboration yields such as the first principles & the various causations, entails realism & fallibilism, eschews nominalism & essentialism and norms practical reasoning even under speculative uncertainty.

For a good grasp of how our participatory imagination works, think of how one’s “hometown knowledge” works. To give a stranger directions, one needs determinative descriptions like how many blocks (numerically), which direction (locatively), which street signs (indexically) and, perhaps, a map. To give a fellow inhabitant directions, one who participates in the same imaginary, one might only require a denominative connotation: “You’re looking for directions to the local IGA store? Ha ha, silly! That’s just Mr. Gower’s Grocery!”

The chief problem with dismissing our concrete participatory imagination & common sense, esteeming only conceptual map-making, is that we can inadvertently jettison first principles, causations & realism, things we’ll want to go beyond but never without. We’ll end up subverting science, itself, along with our common sense, embracing epistemic dead-ends like logical positivism, radical empiricism, metaphysical ignosticism, theological noncognitivism & scientism.

What I personally discovered in examining the defense of common sense as inheres in Aristotle, Aquinas, Scotus, Peirce, Maritain, Newman, Polyani et al is a type of second naiveté, a re-enchantment, the realization that, everything I felt & believed, when making my joyous First Communion, when learning my Latin responses as an altar boy, when baptized in the Spirit & first prayed in tongues, is ultimately eminently defensible, philosophically, and still rationally actionable, existentially. The proper use of my common sense & participatory imagination in a community of earnest inquiry & value-realization very well epistemically entitled me long before I had a more precise understanding of how. I’ve told my loved ones that, if they trust their common sense & participate in an earnest community of value-realizers, they don’t have to follow my path, where I happily discovered thru various means that my common sense was justified by that grace we experience as common sense, itself. The rest is — so much straw!

Epilogue –

January 2020

Last year, Pastor Tom Belt initiated a great conversation regarding univocity & analogy, which partly inspired my musings, above, and caught the attention of Lee Faber, The Smithy, who wrote:

On the internet, there have been some fascinating discussions of analogy and univocity, that may be of interest to some.

A. John Sylvest.

B. Al Kimel

Sadly I don’t have time to comment at the moment, but they are well worth reading.

All of these folks have been a singular blessing to me on my journey.

Yes to Radical Orthodoxy, BUT

Over the years, it’s taken me a great deal of parsing to differentiate DBHart from Milbank at times, not rhetorically, of course, but philosophically.

Hart has critiqued certain strands of Thomism, humorously to me, arrogantly to some, in a way that makes me suspect he grounds his epistemology in a weakened foundationalism, i.e. a suitable response to a postmodernist chastisement.

Milbank, on the other hand, seems to be suspicious of all metanarratives … ahem … with the exception of his own. And he seems to urge it by only resorting to a distinct existential panache & rhetorical magnetism, which will invite others in to his ecclesial participatory imagination.

And, honestly, I do believe that, soteriologically, that can indeed be necessary & sufficient for many.

It’s foundational in the sense that, in my view, philosophy is best articulated by a life well-lived as progressively conforms, orthotheotically, to that divine telos, which is embodied in our human nature & will and manifest in humanity’s common sense & sensibilities. And his approach realizes this telos orthopathically, orthopraxically & orthocommunally in a radically orthodox manner.

But, here’s the rub.

Any authentically human anthropology will be holistic and will integrate our participatory imaginations with our discursive cognitive map-making, which, for some, may provide a necessary
praeambula fidei, and, for others, a richer life of prayer & worship.

And I say this knowing that explicit philosophical articulations, including syllogistic arguments, of faith’s implicit existential interpretations have contributed to my own life of faith in both ways.

I don’t begrudge RO its harsh critiques of vulgar modernistic & postmodernistic depredations of meaning, manifest in all manner of encroachments such as skepticism, voluntarism, relativism, nominalism & nihilism (although, they’ve manifestly caricatured Scotus beyond recognition).

BUT there’s a certain McCarthyesque strain in their interrogations of other stances, which results in R.O. seeing nihilists behind every modernist tree and under every philosophical rock?

See:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/08/12/natural-theology-natural-law-however-otherwise-weak-at-least-defeat-nihilism/

Natural Theology & Natural Law -however otherwise weak, at least- defeat Nihilism

In science, faith & quotidian life, epistemic virtues should first vault our speculative claims over the threshold of equiplausibility, where we can normatively adjudicate any competing responses using the principles of reasoning under uncertainty.

The hermeneutical spiral, above, recapitulates Lonergan’s transcendental imperatives & functional specialties.

See: https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/contemplative-being-behaving-believing-belonging-desiring-becoming-an-outline-of-foundations/

To wit:

De-liberatively, regarding our references, descriptively & interpretively, epistemic virtues should first vault our speculative claims over the threshold of equiplausibility, where we can adjudicate, normatively, any competing responses, using the principles of reasoning under uncertainty, evaluatively.

De-liberatively (cosmos & mythos – be free, be loving, be-loved per both temporal & ultimate teloi) …

regarding our references …

descriptively (logos or perceptionbe aware in research & communications) & …

interpretively (topos or understandingbe intelligent in interpretation & systematics) …

epistemic virtues should first vault our speculative claims over the threshold of equiplausibility, where we can adjudicate …

normatively (ethos or actingbe responsible in dialectics & foundations), any competing responses, using the principles of reasoning under uncertainty

evaluatively,(pathos or judging & decidingbe reasonable in history & doctrines).

I must stipulate with Hart & Milbank that any rivalry between ultimate worldviews, say nihilist vs theological, cannot be logically coerced. Reality remains far too ambiguous for us & way too ambivalent toward us to compel belief through speculative reason, alone.

With the Thomists, I would insist that, even stipulating that nihilism has not thus been refuted, philosophy well demonstrates the reasonableness of natural theology as an equiplausible competing worldview.

For me, Thomism’s reasonableness remains indispensable over against any thoroughgoing fideism, much less, nominalism, idealism, voluntarism or relativism.

I do not receive Milbank as coming from some Thoroughly [Post]Modern Millie, but, instead, take (eisegetically) his postmodern critique as an admonition to avoid the temptations of dueling hyper-formalisms in countering those insidious –isms.

This is to recognize that —

no essentialistic framing will finally foreclose nominalism, descriptively;

no naïve realism will convincingly defeat idealism, interpretively;

no intellectualistic speculation will logically overcome voluntarism, evaluatively;

no absolutistic insistence will compellingly obviate relativism, normatively; and

no rationalistic appeals will definitively refute fideism, existentially.

But what amount to epistemic misfires for some are but caricatures for others, whose

1) descriptive probes include semiotic & moderate critical realisms;

2) interpretive heuristics employ a metaphysical fallibilism;

3) evaluative dispositions engage an irreducible triad of logos-pathos-ethos, e.g. Aristotelian eudaimonia, Augustinian beatitudo or Thomist summum bonum;

4) normative propositions allow some degree of ethical pluralism grounded – not in an insidious relativism or vulgar pragmatism, but — suitable epistemic humility, metaphysical fallibilism & moral probabilism ; and

5) philosophical preambula vault fidei past the threshold of equiplausibility.

Thomism’s reasonableness thus gets vaulted philosophically past the threshold of equiplausibility by the valid & coherent arguments of natural theology & natural law. (And its deontological conclusions should be considered at least as modest as its ontological commitments are tentative). There, philosophy culminates in either the theological preambula fidei & its general precepts or a nihilistic cosmogony.

Any “competing” theological or nihilistic mythos would come after a normatively justified existential leap.

Past this threshold of epistemic warrant, speculative reason yields to practical reasoning under uncertainty. The speculative arguments between essentialism & nominalism, realism & idealism, intellectualism & voluntarism, absolutism & relativism and fideism & rationalism have previously been transcended by a fallibilist, critical realism.

Normative justifications commence and can lead either to the fideistic, voluntaristic dichotomy of a theological versus nihilistic mythos or to an existential disjunction, where rational equiplausibility principles, albeit often implicit, adjudicate a decision to “live as if” that which is (more so, perhaps, they who are) the most life-giving & relationship-enhancing, the most beautiful & good, the most unitive & liberative, will — first & proleptically, i.e. proximately & temporally, as well as eventually & eschatologically, i.e. ultimately & eternally — also happen to be the most true.

This constitutes meta-discourse, however inchoate or implicit, whether variously held provisionally or confidently, yes, prior to special revelations, and yes, on tradition-transcendent grounds. Importantly, this needn’t be formal discourse or what can sometimes devolve into sylly syllogisms, but more often, via our participatory imaginations, comes from our common sense & common sensibilities, from connaturality, an illative sense, a tacit dimension, intuitions & informal abductions.

The most problematical arguments of natural theology are rationalistically grounded in naïve rather than critical realisms. The most problematical arguments of the natural law are a prioristic, rationalistic, deductivistic, biologistic, physicalistic & infallibilistic, especially as they move from general precepts to specific concrete norms, particularly because of epistemic hubris and the lack of a more inductive, personalist relationality-responsibility approach. But the abuse of natural theology & natural law is no argument against their proper use.

The questions that beg?

What constitutes the most life-giving, existentially?

How do we define & measure the most relationship-enhancing? The most unitive, interpretively & orthocommunally?

Where’s the most beautiful instantiated, evaluatively & orthopathically?

And the most good realized, normatively & orthopraxically?

And the most liberative, metanoetically & orthotheotically?

These are not questions that yield to an armchair cognitive map-making but which must actively engage participative imaginations that are naturally embodied, historically situated, socially embedded, culturally bound, politically immersed & transcendentally horizoned.

Of course it’s incredibly problematical to apply our ortho-metrics to competing worldviews, precisely because their instantiations are so very particular & traditioned.

But I wouldn’t want to defend the notion that nihilism remains in that competition?

Finally, Between an overly pessimistic Augustinian interpretation & overly optimistic transcendental Thomism, perhaps a Goldilocks theological anthropology can be articulated:

/https://opcentral.org/resources/2015/01/12/donald-l-gelpi-two-spiritual-paths-thematic-grace-vs-transmuting-grace-part-1/

https://opcentral.org/resources/2015/01/12/donald-l-gelpi-two-spiritual-paths-thematic-grace-vs-transmuting-grace-part-ii/

Gelpi recognized both as donative realities – a gratuity of creation & gratuity of grace, the Spirit’s universal presence (e.g. nomicities) & particular presence, where Grace is mediated via transmuted experience, where, for example, Kerygma matter immensely.

This discussion continues here:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/augustinians-thomists-nature-grace-politics-religion/

Where in the World is Sophia? —a Sophiological footnote

The created grace Gelpi refers to would be constituted by reality’s actualized potencies, eternalized teloi (both temporal & ultimate teloi) of Peircean thirdness, efficient materialities of secondness, connaturalized indeterminacies of firstness, existentialized essences, formalized finalities, participatory intimacizations eternalized, all temporal realities coaxed forth Pneumatologically, Christologically & Paterologically via Divine Energies as would account for effects as would be proper to no known causes.

Every trace of human goodness, for example, eternalized, i.e. every beginning of a smile & all wholesome trivialities!

Whether interpreted in Platonic, Neoplatonic, Aristotelian, Thomist, Scotist, Palamitic or Peircean categories (and I cross hermeneutical bridges between them all), collectively & dynamically, these cumulative actualized potencies or eternally realized divine teloi may represent Sophia, who participates in the Divine Energies in a perichoretic Divine Dance.

In The Wisdom of God, Bulgakov spoke of two Sophias, one created and the other uncreated. She to whom I refer above would be the created Sophia in her participatedness. While I affirm the Divine Energies per a formal distinction, I must defer to others regarding the manner of viewing Sophia in Orthodoxy. And still wonder just how we might best account for ecstatic visions of Sophia.

See more re this theophany:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/essential-theophanic-putative-theo-ontological-aspects-of-human-divine-relations/

FINAL NOTE:

This body of work largely comprises my project, which I refer to as Pan-semio-entheism, because, as a systematic theology, while it is metaphysically realist, it prescinds from any given metaphysical root metaphor (substance, relational, process, experience, etc) to a phenomenological meta-heuristic.

See: Amos Yong With John Sobert Sylvest, “Reasons and Values of the Heart in a Pluralistic World: Toward a Contemplative Phenomenology for Interreligious Dialogue,” Studies in Interreligious Dialogue 20:2 (2010): 170-93

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/contemplative-being-behaving-believing-belonging-desiring-becoming-an-outline-of-foundations/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/mapping-metaphysical-distinctions-aristotelian-thomist-peircean/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/morrells-4-d-imax-rohrian-perichoretic-adventure/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/divine-dance-rohr-morrell-panikkar-oh-my/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/%e2%80%8bfrom-ontotheological-trinito-logical-is-ness-to-theopoetic-trinito-phanic-dance-ness-yes/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/perichoresis-as-vehicle-negativa-in-rohrs-divine-dance-a-trinito-phany-in-continuity-with-orthodox-trinito-logy/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/the-trans-formal-distinction-between-the-divine-essence-energies/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/epistemic-distance-the-greatest-good-as-divinely-willed-ends-in-an-anti-theodicy/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/06/18/maritain-murray-macintyre-milbank-a-medieval-integralist-walk-into-a-bar/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/a-semiotic-phenomenology-toward-a-more-ecumenical-trinitology-and-trinitophany/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/freedom-from-aquinas-to-modern-emergentist-semiotics/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/08/04/a-defense-of-metaphysics-to-be-or-not-to-be-or-to-e-prime-or-not/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/truth-broadly-conceived/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/the-pre-political-grounding-of-both-liberal-illiberal-regimes/