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.


A Roundup of Relevant URLs

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 proves 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:




David B. Hart and the problem of evil










David Bentley Hart and Universalism: This Week




All Shall Be Saved

















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















About that Recent Seismic Activity in the Vicinities of Athos & Athens

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 peacably, instead!

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.



More urls as of 12 Sept 2019












U-turns and Transcendentals


Because comments are closed, above, to wit:

It recent reading regarding free will, both temporally & in the eschaton, a thought occurred to me.

Temporally, the issue of being equipoised deliberatively arises, raising a concern of arbitrariness.

Eschatologically, the nature of deliberation, itself, is questioned, presumably, because of a lack of dispositional potencies.

Now, in my view, our freedom necessarily derives precisely from both epistemic AND axiological distancing, both temporally & eternally.

Therefore, even when one realizes a given divine telos, precisely attaining its divinely specified epistemic-axiological intensity, whether that value-realization has gifted one a temporal equi-positioning (chocolate or vanilla?) or even an eternal dis-positioning (God or God?), that need neither, in the former case, implicate arbitrariness, nor, in the latter, obviate deliberative willing.


Because aesthetic intensity, alone, needn’t exhaust our notions of intentionality, whether temporally or eternally, whether of human volition or of the divine esse intentionale.

Integral to any coherent notion of intentionality, one must include the conception of an aesthetic scope, even if a relatively thin notion of post-mortem human enrichment, as one has thus happily moved from image to likeness (vis a vis our thin notion of divine passibility, as has been well articulated & defended by folks like Norris Clarke & Greg Boyd).

The human will thus perdures deliberatively, temporally & eternally, epistemically & axiologically distanced, varying aesthetically in scope even when not in intensity, appropriating novelty & enjoying diversity, moving from glory to glory to glory (hence nonarbitrarily choosing now vanilla, now chocolate, unless C.S. Lewis was correct regarding our heavenly desires for sex and ice cream).

Regarding those post-mortem, who’ve not thus closed their epistemic-axiological distance, haven’t been glorified, they, too, remain irrevocably deliberatively engaged, so to speak, on purgative & illuminative paths toward unitive beatitude.

Not to adopt Pastor Tom Belt’s irrevocability thesis but to embrace various irreversibility theses does violence to our common sense & sensibilities regarding personhood.

In Dialogue with Boyd on Hartshorne & Neville on Divine Freedom

Re: The true role of deduction in metaphysics is not to bring out the content of the initially certain, but to bring out the meaning of tentative descriptions of the metaphysically ultimate in experience so that we shall be better able to judge if they do generally describe this ultimate. <<<

Reminds me of Newman’s illative sense, Polyani’s tacit dimension, Maritain’s connaturality, Fries’ nonintuitive immediate knowledge & Peirce’s abduction.

Boyd succeeds at threading the nominalism-essentialism needle with his affirmation of Jonathan Edwards’ dynamical category of disposition, consistent with Peirce’s category of thirdness, where probabilities mediate between possibilities & actualities.

Hartshorne’s emphasis on beauty resonates with Peirce’s aesthetic primacy, but his doctrine of God seems to deflate God’s self-determinate nature, failing to make a sufficient distinction between a nondeterminate esse naturale & determinate esse intentionale. In the end Hartshorne will fall prey, unnecessarily, to the same peril as the Whiteheadian approach – it’s too nominalistic. Without a PSR, a category of dispositions and a Peircean-like abduction of an Ens Necessarium, he badly misconceives freedom, as Lord Acton might say, in terms of a volitional license to do what one, wholly indeterminately, wants, rather than in terms of the true volitional liberty to do what one — not extrinsically determinately, but — self-determinately must (per one’s esse naturale, which self-realizes freedom precisely in eternally be-ing all that’s true, beautiful, good & unitive).

See my own recent twitter thread re freedom, in/determinacy & telos:

re: We shall, in short, utilize the modification of Hartshorne’s foundational statements, combined with his theistic arguments, to arrive at a view of God which accomplishes what the classical view of God as actus purus accomplished—seeing God as self-sufficient, and thus creation and salvation as acts of grace—while yet avoiding the logical fallacies of the classical view and articulating a view of God which is, like the Process view, in accord with the dynamic categories of modernity. <<<

C’est bon

Re: And finally, while we have defended Hartshorne’s view that aesthetic value is a priori (III.vi.1), we have argued that his correlation of aesthetic intensity with synthesized multiplicity is not necessary (III.vi.2). One can, rather, distinguish between the subjective intensity of an experience, and the expression of that experience: the former admits of an acme point, the latter does not (III.vi.3). <<<

This all sounds consonant, still, with Peirce’s aesthetic primacy, i.e. how it avoids hedonism, and Scotus’ primacy of the will, i.e. how it avoids voluntarism. And, having considered Boyd’s project before, I’m reminded how his aesthetic distinctions between intensity & scope, experience & expression, were consonant with those between esse naturale & intentionale, reminiscent of that old formulation, albeit anthropomorphic, “appropriation of novelty & shedding of monotony.”

Re: This view is somewhat paradoxical in the context of Neville’s own system, for central to his entire ontology is the claim that the events of the world must “reveal” God’s character. See ibid., p. 11, “…God’s moral character is revealed in events….” But clearly, if God is genuinely wholly “indeterminate” ad intra, there can be nothing, literally “no-thing,” to reveal. A determinate revelation presupposes a determinate “something” to be revealed. Neville, however, is consistent in admitting that because God’s character is indeterminate, “the divine character” can be said to be “only as good as experience shows it to be as creator of just this world, and no more.” <<<

Yes, when I appropriated Neville on my own terms, I was not satisfied with a kataphatic predication of indeterminacy, ad intra. I appreciate the sentiment to cast God’s freedom more robustly, i.e. ontologically as well as morally. But I also felt that God ad intra must be predicated apophatically, beyond both in/determinacy & non/existents of being, e.g. no-thing-ness.

Essential propria like freedom would not be justified metaphysically but exegetically from both the gratuity of creation & the gratuity of grace, from both general & special revelation.

So, my taxonomy of determinacies looks like this:

Nondeterminate Emptiness (e.g. ground of Tillich & Neville, Ens Necessarium of Peirce)

Nondeterminate Nothingness (e.g. nihilum, ex nihilo)

Indeterminate Being (e.g. tehom)
• uncreated
• created
• lapsarian

Determinate Being (e.g. probabilistic in/determinacies as variously in/determinable and/or in/determined in degrees; as absolutely and/or relatively self-determinate)

God’s freedom

ad intra predicated

  • apophatically & essentially by a proprium of nondeterminacy,
  • apophatically & hypostatically by an idioma of unoriginacy, then,

ad extra – predicated kataphatically & hypostatically by

  • an idioma of absolute self-determinacy as the sole source of the Trinity
  • the pneumatological & Christological hypostases as relatively self-determinate
  • the Trinity, as Actus Purus, essentially & hypostatically, dynamical, determinable by substantial energies & hypostatical economies via the vestigial realities in the gratuity of creation & theotic realities in gratuity of grace, all as effected by the Trinitological synergy & revealed in special revelation

I recently observed:

It seems to me that many arguments – regarding what precisely was and remains at stake in those tensions still playing out between our patristic, scholastic & modern schools – turn on whether or not we imagine the Fathers & Medievals were mostly trying to solve, on one hand, the One & the Many, or, on the other, the Mystery of Freedom, both divine & creaturely, as all we most deeply cherish derives from its putatively coinherent gratuities, what we celebrate in our lives as Love. I hope I have unpacked enough to hint that such a tension represents a false dichotomy.



Re: God’s being is, in our view, determinate, at least with regard to God’s necessary God-defining characteristics. <<<

I think I suggested above – d’accord.

There are fundamental issues for me in univocally predicating in/determinacy of both God ad intra and creation. Even ad extra, I maintain, above, an apophatic predication of God’s determinacy by negating any coinherence of extrinsic determinacy with God’s self-determinacy. Divine self-determinacy further distinguishes itself as Actus Purus, while creaturely self-determinacy entails formative actualization of telic potencies in a dynamical theotic be-coming.

The question left begging, of course, is the causal nexus of creaturely participation in the divine economy & incorporation into the divine nature. Of course, it must be located

  • in our responses to special revelation,
  • in our responses to all that is true, unitive, beautiful, good & liberative in the vestigia of general revelation,
  • in our responses to our spontaneous abductions of the Ens Necessarium as we muse about effects we encounter as would be proper to no known creaturely causes, specifically vestigial & theotic effects that full body blow us with an excess of meaning, and
  • as those responses erupt in worship, foster conversions, instill a solidarity & unity from which compassion directly ensues in spiritual & corporal works of mercy.

Not to be coy, I imagine the nexus is semiotic.

And, when I tweet such things as I did earlier today —

What’s intrigues me about certain telic realities, including both formal & final causes, is that they can be lurking in such incredibly latent, implicate, tacit & unobtrusive ways, while, at the same time, so ineluctably & utterly efficacious. —

I very much have in mind both created & Uncreated grace, sacraments & symbols, vestigial & theotic signs.

My meta-ontological categorizing does not need a specific metaphysic but I intend it to be normative for any approach, whether creatio ex nihilo, amore or profundis, whether classical, neo-classical or process. And I do think panentheism & creatio ex profundis can be consistently conceived within rather classical contours. I first outlined same in a prologue to my project called pan-semio-entheism:


As for the Trinity, I think I subscribe to a negative mysterianism, combined with an ananoetic approach that serves only as an exploratory heuristic device & not as an explanatory model. This heuristic locates trinitarian unity substantially in one ousia; hypostatically in one source, the Father, as principium; dynamically, in the Trinity, as synergy.

I’m not a priori suggesting there’s no ontological root metaphor that could be had in principle, but am dang sure observing that I’ve never see a sufficient one in practice.



Re: link between a diversified harmony and the intensity of an aesthetic experience is not necessarily proportional


Re: view of God wherein the self-sufficient actuality of God could be conceived of as necessary, while yet allowing for a contingent “expressive” actual aspect to God’s being


Re: And the benevolence of the Trinity consists in the fact that God appreciates, and eternally remembers, the goodness acquired in the world along this journey, transforming it in a way that “feeds back into the world” to further its progress.

My own sophianic vision!

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; along with 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:
https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/mapping-metaphysical-distinctions-aristotelian-thomist-peircean/ ), — 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 quasi- or trans-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.

Re: Hence, God enjoys the world—the world “means something” to God—not as an essential element in God’s necessary self-constitution, but as an expression of God’s self-constitution. The world provides a new occasion for the unsurpassable beauty of God, defined in terms of divine intensity, to be expressed and in a sense “repeated” in a novel form. <<<

Important & defensible, again w/esse naturale vs intentionale distinction.

Re: dispositionality

Peircean Thirdness, the category of telic realities, formal acts in various degrees of final potencies, the loci of semiotic symbols, nexus of the divine & human, the dispositional, Christological & pneumatological.

Tom Belt, I can see why Robinson & Southgate appealed to you. You must’ve well intuited that you & Boyd (erstwhile?) would capture my imagination.

My Mon-Arche-I-tectonic Shift

The reflection, below, is in dialogue with Eclectic Thoughts on Holy Trinity: Person, Essence, Energy, and Stuff Like That .

Thanks for generously sharing, Robert, and Father for providing this forum for all, including us nonacademic anawim. I love grappling with this stuff as hard as it is for, on my daily walks, it feels very much like prayer.

Your essay evokes analogies to the way I have appropriated Charles Sanders Peirce. I say analogy because his modal ontology applies to finite, determinate being. His category of firstness or possibilities roughly maps to essence or ousia or quiddity. He’s no essentialist but neither does he countenance nominalism. As a moderate realist, that essence would only ever be encountered in his category of secondness or actualities, roughly mapping to existents or hypostases or haecceities (think act = efficient & potency = material cause). His realism comes in via thirdness, a category of generalities, which maps roughly to probabilities or relations, which actually mediate (think teloi, where act = formal & potency = final cause) between firstness & secondness. One can see from those act|potency dynamics why this only applies analogically to Actus Purus.

No divine ousia could be abstracted, as it’s only ever eternally instantiated in divine hypostases, where the act|potency analog is pure act.

Of course, the determinate being of creation, as a whole & even in rational creatures’ theotic realizations, would, as vestigia & imago Dei, present as effects proper to no other known causes, leading us to our abductions of the Ens Necessarium, to Whom, aided by both general & special revelation, we could only make successful references but could not fashion definitions (think idioma of hypostases & propria of ousia). Our essential references would be strictly apophatic negations: nondeterminate, noncomposite, nonfinite, etc, predications we casually toss around as if we comprehend them, when their intelligibility, propositionally, barely leads to an analytic conceivability. But GOD is such a LARGE reality (Peirce says we should avoid the fetish of saying He “exists”), that a meager informative intelligibility can go a long way performatively & dispositionally (like on my prayerful walks or when I first prayed the Credo in Latin as an altar boy). Discussions like these, even disagreements within dogmatic contours, to me, aren’t arguments but prayers. Think pragmatic semiotic realism.

Whether the unity is substantial via ousia, hypostatic in the Father via principium or dynamical in the Trinity via synergy or all of the above, our logical analytics, which manipulate propria & idiomata, energeia & economies, remain strictly epinoetic & ananoetic, propositionally, but our metanoetic & theotic encounters in Word & Sacrament & Creation lead us to partake of the divine synergy & to be incorporated in the divine nature, where trinitology yields to trinitophany, evoking psalms, hymns, prayers, creeds, all manner of worship & all types of ongoing conversions.

But good worship & good conversion, good fellowship & good behavior, will only ever best be fostered if we get good Trinity-talk right. That’s why I defer & demur. (Think of a fugue of orthodoxic, orthocommunal, orthopathic, orthopraxic & orthotheotic dispositions. Oremus!

Another evocative analog to me between Peircean approaches & trinitology comes from his speculative grammar, wherein, for his modal ontology, one can map – not only the act-potency dynamics, but – at least, insofar as this grammar is applied to determinate being, to our applications of first principles (noncontradiction & excluded middle or PNC & PEM).

For possibilities, PNC folds & PEM holds; actualities, PNC & PEM both hold; probabilities, PNC holds & PEM folds.

This all prescinds from a metaphysic of necessity to a more vague-general phenomenology or meta-ontology to guide syntax, semantics & contextual realities that present indeterminately (viz. in an epistemic-ontic omelet, where we can’t always say, a priori, whether our ignorance derives from the methodological advances & constraints of in/determinability or ontological revelations & occultings of in/determinedness.)

Anyone, who’s ever toyed with alternate cosmogonies, quantum interpretations or philosophies of mind, will recognize these epistemic-ontic omelet phenomena and how those competing interpretations represent our analytic-semiotic attempts to technologically unscramble those phenomenological eggs.

What of necessity as a modal category? Wherein all of the first principles would hold, including identity, with variously weak or strong versions of the principle of sufficient being [PSR]?

Here we reach the threshold of the abduction of the Ens Necessarium? Here we see Russell & Copleston debating primordial mereology viz. fallacy of composition? Here we encounter Leibniz and a pantheism that derives from a PSR on steroids?

Next we see Hawking taking the square root of imaginary numbers (axiomatized by taking the square root of negative one) to predicate a finite but unbounded universe, as well as others, who propose a plurality of worlds, a multiverse or even an ultimately thoroughgoing formless abyss?

But we also find Anselm, Augustine & Aquinas, Basil, Bonaventure & von Balthasar, Cappadocians, Chalcedonians & Christmas!

How we axiomatically predicate putatively non/determinate realities, hopefully looking over our epistemic shoulders at Godel-like constraints, Agrippa’s trilemma & a robustly aporetic intuition, will algorithmically steer us away from either, on one hand, an unmitigated nihilism, which “grounds” an ultimate epistemic idealism, ontic nominalism, evaluative voluntarism, vulgar pragmatism & moral relativism (you recognize the litany of bogeymen of a radically deconstructive postmodernism), or, on the other hand, a thoroughgoing pantheism, with its mindboggling implications for all notions of – not only divine, but -creaturely freedom.

What’s most at stake, then, for those who properly thread the needles of non/determinate & in/determinate realities, are precisely our notions of freedom.

And how we ground them primordially & ultimately, as well as dispose ourselves to them, contingently, will profoundly impact our quotidian existence.

It seems to me that many arguments – regarding what precisely was and remains at stake in those tensions still playing out between our patristic, scholastic & modern schools – turn on whether or not we imagine the Fathers & Medievals were mostly trying to solve, on one hand, the One & the Many, or, on the other, the Mystery of Freedom, both divine & creaturely, as all we most deeply cherish derives from its putatively coinherent gratuities, what we celebrate in our lives as Love.

I hope I have unpacked enough to hint that such a tension represents a false dichotomy.

Let me unpack a few more trinitological implications of my Peircean architectonic.

Numerically, if not ontologically, I suggest that (where > indicates a conceptual greater than vis a vis a sheer number of putative concepts to be limned existentially)

  • Being (possibilities, essence, ousia, quiddity, epistemic vagueness) >
  • Reality (actualities, existents, hypostases, haecceities) >
  • Relations (probabilities, necessities, teloi, ontic generalities, non/determinacies & in/determinacies) >
  • Existence (determinate & composite beings)

If we reify a sphere of pure being, we might predicate its ontic extremes either in terms of a formless void or tehomic abyss or in terms of a platonic plenitude of forms, neither “essentially” a no-thing-ness but, instead, a realm of infinite possibilia or potentialities not otherwise in potency to act.

“Potentialities not in potency” makes for a great analytic conception until one recognizes it’s inherently self-contradictory, unsurprisingly though if, per one’s speculative grammar, noncontradiction has folded, leaving only the implicit ontological imperatives of the excluded middle: Choose! Determine! Act!

“To Be or Not To Be,” that is the question!

Here we, the Many, are faced with the Existential Disjunctive, but only proximately & derivatively.

Ultimately & primordially, there must be some One, a Who, a Person, a Pure Act, existentially & hypostatically, to freely answer that call, then, to donatively gift being to One-self, pivoting from nondeterminate emptiness as the unoriginate Source of – not being, itself, but – relationality, itself, as self-determinate, which is one’s relationship to one’s self, one’s very existence, One’s hypostasis choosing One’s essence.

Alternatively, I suppose a tehomic realm of dynamical nondeterminate material is certainly conceivable. It would perdure in an eternal flux of ever-emergent but merely ephemeral teloi, for example, presently in a radically entropic, materio-energetic, spatio-temporal configuration, as might just so brutely happen. (See unmitigated nihilism, above).

Or, of course, there’s pantheism.

That’s the Existential Trilemma of our three mereological-metaphysical-sufficient reason tautologies: nihilism, pantheism & all manner of needle-threading theistic conceptions, switching metaphors, trying to navigate the radically nondeterministic nihilistic or radically deterministic pantheistic existential shoals, trying to adjudicate, with some modicum of epistemic warrant, between those equiplausible worldviews and various competing theistic stances.

At least, some suggest they’re equiplausible, but those, in my view, seem to subscribe to either a thoroughgoing nominalism or a radically naïve realism, both which, per my pragmatic semiotic realism, caricature our otherwise inherently axiological epistemology.

I address, elsewhere, how such forced, vital existential options become “live” through a combination of epistemic warrant & normative justification. And it doesn’t involve epistemic adhocery, just the ordinary furnishings of our epistemic suite: perinoetic, ananoetic, epinoetic, metanoetic, etc

Confronted with “Why is there not rather nothing?” or “Whither the One & Many?” or “Of whom & how can we predicate ‘freedom’ or even define it?” — I’ve suggested they reduce to a single question, even though there are many putative answers.

Wise guys know that, for The Answer, all roads lead to Bethlehem, prior to Cappadocian & Roman excursions. And our responses begin, dispositionally, in a gnosis discovered on our knees, before the post-experiential processing of our episteme of participatory imaginations, long before the cognitive map-making of our doxastic propositions.

What flows algorithmically from such a Mon-Arche-itectonic as I hinted at above?

We set aside both a nondeterminate nihilum of ultimate nothingness & a wholly determinate one-thing-ness of necessary being or being-itself and consider – not a nondeterminate ground of nothingness, but – a nondeterminate ground of emptiness (a Christological intuition from The Tomb), freely choosing (in absolute ontological freedom) to Supremely Be (a Paterological intuition from both general & special revelation, onto-theologically & theo-ontologically), freely or Self-determinately (substantially unoriginated) originating & spirating, on One hand a generated Son & on One hand a processing Spirit, as Trinity donatively gifting both the gratuity of creation and, to rational creatures, the gratuity of grace (Pneumatological intuitions from both the coeternal via vestigia & our theotic realizations and sans filioque).

Elsewhere, I address grace as transmuted experience, following my late Jesuit friend, Don Gelpi.

All of our theophanic & trinitophanic sensibilities & intuitions, taken together, would reflect how our theotic transformations, while they are not patterned after Ascensions, are exemplified in the Assumption (a Mariological intuition).

As I begin to close, now, I would summarize by suggesting that the substantial, hypostatic & relational unity of the One — known, however imperfectly, in divine propria, idiomata & synergies, experienced as divine energy & economy as we partake in One Mission & are incorporated into One Bread, One Body, One Lord of the Many — is communicated to us via a quintessential semiosis – what Peirce would call icons, indexes & symbols. But others, like Andrew Robinson & Christopher Southgate, have told that story.

What I have set forth are my Peircean Trinitophanic Preambulae, which remain meta-ontological, bracketing any root metaphors du jour, as I remain, substantially, in search of a metaphysic, just like the rest of Christianity, at least, those who bring an aporetic sense and apophatic sensibility to the Divine Essence, because, really, it’s no-thing.

Much Ado About Nihil – a taxonomy of in/determinacies

Nondeterminate Emptiness (e.g. ground of Tillich & Neville, Ens Necessarium of Peirce)

Nondeterminate Nothingness (e.g. nihilum, ex nihilo)

Indeterminate Being (e.g. tehom)
• uncreated
• created
• lapsarian

Determinate Being (e.g. probabilistic in/determinacies as variously in/determinable and/or in/determined in degrees; as absolutely and/or relatively self-determinate)

A Cajun Credeaux – as believed consistent with any number of theo-cosmogonies, metaphysics & trinitologies

Hypostasis of the Father = idioma of the unoriginate originator (principium)

necessarily (per esse naturale) or, alternatively, freely (cf Eclectic Orthodoxy), originating (as self-determinate dynamis-actus),

possessing divine ousia as referenced, not defined (via negativa), via apophatically predicated propria &

gratuitously (per esse intentionale) creating determinate being, thereby

revealing Himself as Creator, including both pneumatologically (idioma of Spirit proceeding) from the via vestigia in the divine gratuity of creation (per general revelation) & Christologically (idioma of Son begotten) from the via positiva in the divine gratuity of grace (per special revelation), thereby

communicating with determinate being via the Godhead’s singular trinitarian synergy and

offering special intimacy (Abba) to rational beings via theotic participation in that divine economy & incorporation into that divine nature, illuminated by divine energeia.

More is fleshed out here in my collaboration with Amos Yong.



A new phase in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church began formally with the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the Pan-Orthodox Conferences (1961-1968), which renewed contacts and dialogue. From that time, a number of theological issues and historical events contributing to the schism between the churches have begun to receive new attention. In this context, our own North American Orthodox-Catholic Consultation was established in 1965, and the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches was established in 1979. Although a committee of theologians from many different Churches, sponsored by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, studied the Filioque question in depth in 1978 and 1979, and concluded by issuing the “Klingenthal Memorandum” (1979), no thorough new joint discussion of the issue has been undertaken by representatives of our two Churches until our own study. The first statement of the Joint International Commission (1982), entitled “The Mystery of the Church and of the Eucharist in the Light of the Mystery of the Trinity,” does briefly address the issue of the Filioque, within the context of an extensive discussion of the relationship of the persons of the Holy Trinity. The Statement says: “Without wishing to resolve yet the difficulties which have arisen between the East and the West concerning the relationship between the Son and the Spirit, we can already say together that this Spirit, which proceeds from the Father (Jn. 15:26) as the sole source of the Trinity, and which has become the Spirit of our sonship (Rom. 8:15) since he is already the Spirit of the Son (Gal.4:6), is communicated to us, particularly in the Eucharist, by this Son upon whom he reposes in time and eternity (Jn. 1:32).” (No. 6).

Trinity & Metaphysics

McInerny sees us as Characters in Search of Their Author. Like Pip in Great Expectations, we are beneficiaries in search of a Benefactor. Like the Empty Tomb, our Empty Mangers during Advent instill — not lost meaning or unintelligible references, but – Great Expectations!

Practical upshot is that neither revelation nor metaphysics gift us with an exhaustive, descriptive definition of the divine hypostases. But the former gifts us w/adequate character references, while the latter aspires to adequate phenomenological references w/categories that – even if only intelligible to a modest degree, propositionally, are profoundly impactful, dispositionally, & eminently actionable, existentially.

Apophatic references to divine esse, metaphysically, only ever clear the epistemic stage of half-gods that God may appear.

Noncomposite esse or simplicity tells us, ergo, what God is not as well as not like. Such attributes, even taken together in a cluster concept, increase descriptive accuracy, only by eliminating impostors & idols, not by providing terms to be used in sylly syllogisms.

Our successful references, then, both metaphysical & revelational, allow us to distinguish relations, ad intra & ad extra, impersonal & personal, re both propria & energies of ousia as well as idioma & economies of hypostases, as the causes of otherwise inexplicable vestigial & theotic effects, respectively, in the divine gratuity of creation, generally, & gratuity of grace, specially.

Like the Empty Tomb of Triduum & Empty Manger of Advent, as unoriginate originator & sole source of the Trinity, the Godhead – the Father has a freedom grounded in – not an indeterminate nothingness, but – a nondeterminate emptiness, that eternally implicates the Son & Spirit.

The Metaphysics of Authentic Freedom

Probabilities refer to formal causes as acts in potency to final causes, where, modally, noncontradiction [PNC] holds & excluded middle folds [PEM], while actualities refer to efficient in potency to material, where PNC & PEM both hold.

Via probabilities, we prescind from both logical & ontological necessities & take a fallibilist stance to each indeterminacy we encounter, not a priori casting it as an epistemic in/determinable or ontic in/determinedness, recognizing each may contribute in terms of degree.

Emergent complexities confront this moderate realism, presenting it w/novel properties & indeterminacies. We then disambiguate any vague conceptions of telos into teloi, recognizing that different forms may be variously im/potent re the actualization of their associated ends.

Formal actualizations of various ends or finalities might be conceived in terms of traveling epistemic distances to overcome ontic privations, the latter conceived in terms of an entity’s freedom “to be” what it “ought” via a real-ization of ought-henticity, no longer deprived.

Conceptions of teleonomy thus needn’t be taken as deflationary of teleology, but neither are they sufficient to distinguish the more robustly telic realities from the weaker forms (double entendre) & less complex ends, e.g. end-stated “whereby”s vs end-intended “in order to”s.

Somewhat paradoxically, then, authenticity cast as freedom translates – not into auto-nomy of being, but – into the oughts of being, which, for a human, who aspires to real-ly be, will then get actualized only if one heeds certain imperatives of be-coming.

Habitual practices, often counterintuitively, gift freedom. Good habits “form” virtues, which may take on the outward appearance of enslavements, but otherwise truly indicate the fullest realization of an inner freedom that allows one to effortlessly & self-forgetfully be _____.

Habits marked by such an effortlessness & self-forgetfulness distinguish the robustly teleo-logical from the merely teleo-nomic & teleo-matic habits, which, divorced from divine logics of transcendental imperatives, will devolve into those self-indulgent efforts known as vices.

Thoroughgoing nominalists remain ignostic re teleology, having no need for that hypothesis, a stance ultimately dissolving into nihilism. Essentialistic naive realists, w/a fully deterministic telos & no epistemic distance to travel, in their own way, deny authentic freedom, too.

re PNC & PEM in the “actualizing condition” of generality

cf Bradley, James (2009) Beyond Hermeneutics: Peirce’s Semiology as a Trinitarian Metaphysics of Communication. Analecta Hermeneutica, 1. pp. 56-72. ISSN 1918-7351

Do we have Norms to Evaluate Trinitological Distinctions – like Fatherhood?

Syntactical References to Nondeterminate Being, meta-ontologically (neither physical nor metaphysical) — include

Being, Esse Naturale, Ousia & Quiddity, some say substantial or secondary substance

Reality, Esse, Hypostasis & Haecceity, some say primary substance or personal

Relations, Esse Intentionale, Energeia of Ousia-Economy of Hypostases & Trans-Formal Distinction, some say ad extra relational

And they roughly map, syntactically, via references to Determinate Being, ontologically (physical and/or metaphysical).


We can refer to the substantial (abstract), personal (concrete) or relational distinctions of determinate beings, but we distinguish divine hypostases not substantially (as they’re nondeterminate) but relationally.

For example, ad extra & relationally, theosis implies a twofold theopoietic distinction, whereby energeia foster our creaturely participation in divine activities and the divine economy fosters our creaturely incorporation into Christ by nature?

And as we turn from a consideration of ad extra relations per Esse Intentionale, Energeia of Ousia-Economy of Hypostases & Trans-Formal Distinctions, what about trinitarian ad intra relations?

What can we meaningfully say of divine immanence, hypostatical plurality & character, personal distinctions, eternal generation & procession (necessarily & via esse naturale not intentionale), etc, as we next turn to such a question as:

What is distinctive of the Fatherhood?

We realize this how – through

• doxastic belief of what?

• epistemic understanding of what?

• gnostic participation & incorporation in what?

Of what regarding –

• Being? that’s nondeterminate, nontemporal, noncausal, nonoriginate, noncomposite?

• Hypostatic & Personal Properties? Derived – not being, but – identity?

• Relations ad extra & ad intra? energies of ousia? economic activities of hypostases?

Whatever relational distinctions (ad extra and/or ad intra) we aspire to articulate, meta-ontologically, whether onto-theologically or theo-ontologically, their meaningfulness should be evaluated by how well those distinctions foster the above mentioned theopoietic dynamics?

And we should employ norms that will gauge the degrees of effectiveness of those dynamics in terms of the very same secular & religious conversions that have been fostered by our Scriptural narratives & Liturgical traditions?

Haven’t those narratives & traditions, from of old, long oriented, empowered, consecrated, saved, healed & sanctified God’s People?

So, when we engage in speculative, systematic trinitology, in addition to our syntactical, semantical & syllogistic methods, we must also reason, contextually, from the trinitophanic encounters and theopoietic participations & incorporations gifted us by our time-honored theopoetic narratives & prayers?

Otherwise, we risk reducing our theology to sterile exercises in abstract logic, mere puzzles for intellectual musement?

Indeed, we aspire to pastorally elevate systematic theology, reaching for its mystical fruits, precisely by concretely grounding it in its mystical roots, or what William Johnston called the Science of Love?

Some prayers, hymns & readings do articulate, sometimes more or less explicitly or implicitly, meta-ontological arguments, trinitologically (or paterologically, christologically or pneumatologically), but those vague & general theological contours often leave a great deal of space for theological opinions?

To the extent such opinions aspire to offer meaningful (e.g. theotic) distinctions, we can ask of their authors what difference their distinctions might make in the life of prayer & dynamics of conversion, fostering believers’ participation in divine activities & incorporation into the Body of Christ?

Over-coming not Over-turning Metaphysics: A Peircean Trinitophany of Divine THATness, WHATness & HOWness

For Peirce,

Being > Reality > Existence

We can successfully reference the

Being of God

Reality of God

Will of God

But the Peircean category of Existence does not refer to God, only to creation.

Peircean categories can help us avoid the category errors that can easily arise in our references to distinctly different types of trinitarian properties, haecceities & relations, e.g. what we attempt to predicate of ousia, hypostases & energeia.

Philosophically …

from the HOWness (primary & secondary relations) of certain effects as would be proper to no known causes …

we reason to the THATness (primary substance) of the Reality of God, as such effects …

evoke the WHATness (secondary substance) of the Being of God – as another “kind” of being, an Ens Necessarium (Peirce), which only special revelation can qualify.

Divine aseity, kataphatically & quidditatively, describes the Being of God as a secondary substance or essence (Aristotelian) or quiddity (Scotistic WHATness), i.e. the Father’s revealed, concrete unoriginateness (e.g. Rahner), all corresponding to Peircean firstness.

Divine simplicity, apophatically & nondescriptively, references the Reality of God as a primary substance (Aristotelian) or haecceity (Scotistic THATness), i.e. God’s philosophically knowable unoriginateness (e.g. Rahner), all corresponding to Peircean secondness.

Ergo, the divine hypostases of revelation refer to the trinitarian relations of three primary substances, while the divine ousia refers to the trinitarian relations in one secondary substance or essence.

Divine energeia, participatably & experientially, diffuse the Will of God as esse intentionale (Thomist) or relationality (Cappadocian HOWness), i.e. the personhood of the Eucharistic divine-human communion (e.g. Zizioulas), all corresponding to Peircean thirdness.

Of course, all of this presents over against Arianism, modalism, tritheism, etc

How do we understand the content of special revelation, as our analogical & doxological predications of God, employing ever-cascading but always-collapsing metaphors, seem to challenge Thomas’ doctrine of analogy?

Aquinas denies univocism & equivocism prior to, apparently, affirming their amalgamated version, some might suggest, in an ad hoc manner, i.e. not defending that leap or deriving its logic?

It seems to me, however, that his trans-analogical, amalgamated analogia, derives in the same way that Christopher McHugh derives his God argument. McHugh improves Anselm, Gödel & Hartshorne’s ontological proofs by employing only apophatic predications, while otherwise still following formal modal logic. Any logical inconsistencies are thereby guaranteed not to derive from conceptual incompatibilities, thereby immunizing the argument from any susceptibility to a subversion by parody.

So, properly predicated, our quidditative probes do employ a complete cycling of triadic inference, abductively hypothesizing, deductively clarifying & inductively testing our knowledge of God.

But they accomplish only so much.

Onto-theologically, regarding God’s primary substance, we abduct the Reality of God’s THATness.

Theo-ontologically, regarding God’s secondary substance, we deduct the Being of God’s WHATness, our kataphasis necessarily translated into apophasis.

Avoiding a sterile, nonvirtuous cycle of dyadic inference, i.e. of rationalistic hypotheses & syllogisms …

In other words, not over-turning but over-coming metaphysics

Theopoetically, beyond our abductive onto-theologizing regarding the Reality of God’s primary substance or THATness, and deductive theo-ontologizing regarding the Being of God’s secondary substance or WHATness …

regarding the Will of God’s HOWness, then, we inductively participate in the theophanic Divine Energies.

We existentially engage their connatural, eudaimonistic invitations ever-aspiring to embody their entelechies.

While often inchoately & confusedly, these participations via engagements & embodiments can serve to implicitly authenticate the ortho-doxic formulations of our onto-theologies & theo-ontologies …

through their ongoing transformative realizations of manifold & multiform ortho-communal, ortho-aesthetic, ortho-pathic, ortho-praxic & ortho-theotic efficacies.

Another parsing:

Presupposing 1) a root metaphor (substantial &/or relational) 2) reasoning formally & 3) predicating apophatically (albeit constrained by indeterminacies of vagueness & generality)

Propositionally, then –

Onto-theologically, we abduct the Ens Necessarium w/a successful reference to the Reality of God’s divine esse via philosophy, i.e. THATness or hypostasis.

Theo-ontologically, we increase the accuracy of our theological references to the Reality of God’s divine essence, apophatically, saying what God is not (univocally &/or literally) &/or not like (equivocally &/or analogically), i.e. WHATness or essence or ousia.

Dispositionally, then –

Theo-poetically, we increase the accuracy of our theological descriptions of the Reality of God’s divine energies, kataphatically & apophatically, via myth, storytelling & liturgy w/ever-cascading, always-collapsing metaphors, norming our responses to divine relationality, i.e. its HOWness or teloi, as they re-positionally transform us (fostering what Peirce might call a quietus vis a vis admirability via the primacy of the aesthetic, what the mystics might call sweet repose).

See also: