The Best Systematic Theologians Become Ascetics & Mystics!

The existential leaps entailed in our liturgical & devotional practices and dogmatic & doctrinal formulations can be normatively justified by foundational theologies – philosophical, historical & exegetical.

Most believers appropriate such norms w/a subconscious competence.

Theologians, as practical more so than speculative scientists, first, consciously appropriate & explicate those foundational & doctrinal disciplines, then craft systematic expositions that might best foster pastoral communications & complement pastoral practices.

At one level, such expositions, while yet vague & commonsensical and trafficking in contemporary idioms, can still be eminently efficacious in fostering ongoing conversion & in integrally applying a faith outlook to every sphere of human concern.

I say this because, at another level, systematic expositions properly aspire to go beyond our vague & idiomatic expressions, which rely more so on successful “references to” than on robust “descriptions of,” to more rigorously define reality’s entities & precisely specify their relations.

The more speculative a metaphysic, however, the more tentative will be its ontology, hence, the more modest one should be in urging its de-ontological implications.

Metaphysical idioms aid apologetics, deepen understandings & help us locate the theological tensions within dogmatic & doctrinal canons.

We can’t expect metaphysics to resolve any tensions, dialectically, but they can help us dissolve some, paradigmatically &, when unable, otherwise, can still open new horizons for us to exploit them, creatively.

Christianity remains in search of a metaphysic, as does any philosophy of science (due to manifold & multiform aporetic causal joints).

When theological opinions diverge, eg trinitarian, their impasses might be found at any number of methodological loci, but, among coreligionists, presumably not in foundational & dogmatic disciplines.

If impasses are located in such a choice as between substantive & relational ontologies, we can too often expect them to prove too much, theologically, especially since such idioms have done very little to adjudicate so many other aporiae, whether philosophically or commonsensically, eg quantum interpretations, philosophies of mind, in/determinist freedom, etc.

When systematics cum metaphysics do locate tensions we can exploit creatively, beyond apologetics & deepened understanding, what forms might such exploitations take?

It’s here that our systematics serve – not only the missiological & epistemic, but – the ascetical & mystical!

Good systematics foster intellectual, affective, moral, sociopolitical & religious conversions, instill humility & expand horizons on our journeys to authenticity. They integrate with our prayer, mortification & unitive ascents. They transform us from otherwise hopelessly & aimlessly wondering wanderers into hope-filled & purpose-filled worshipful wonderers!

The best systematic theologians become ascetics & mystics!

​From ontotheological (trinito-logical) is-ness to theopoetic (trinito-phanic) dance-ness? YES!!!

Regarding perichoresis, Rohr has spoken and written rather extensively regarding divine interpenetration and indwelling, all in fidelity to its patristic etymological roots. Of course its not uncontroversial to univocally predicate such a perichoretic dynamism of persons, both divine and imago Dei, but its eminently defensible.

What’s not defensible, though, is the presupposition that Rohr’s use of dance imagery was grounded in philological warrant, though, rather than metaphorical effectiveness, which was precisely LaCugna’s position.

As it is, again, the apophatic and theopoetic evocation of perichoresis refers to a relational reality and not an ontotheological modeling attempt. The dance metaphor thus belongs to Rohr’s trinito-phany and is not over against classical trinito-logy. As such, it doesn’t tell us how to think about the immanent Trinity in terms of essence, but how to experience the economic Trinity in terms of divine energies (or other psalmodic not philosophic metaphors).

Rohr’s inviting us into a robustly relational, contemplative, mystical experience and not rewriting classical trinitarian formulae.




trinitology, trinitophany, catherine lacugna, richard rohr, mike morrell, perichoresis, divine energies, divine dance, immanent trinity, economic trinity, ontotheology, theopoetic, mystical experience, contemplative experience, apophatic

Divine Dance: Rohr, Morrell & Panikkar – Oh my!

As to Fr. Richard Rohr, ​I’ve been getting excited with his every new publication, tape, mp3, video, webcast or daily e-mail for almost 40 years now. I can never resist hyperbole and superlatives as I commend each new work to family and friends. Why stop now?

I have always unwrapped each new gift from Fr Rohr anticipating its practical, pastoral significance, looking for changes I can make in my relationships to God, others, the world, even myself. He’s never trafficked in idle, academic speculation (nothing wrong with that, just not his theo-schtick) but has engaged us with invitations to new ways, dis-positions, of seeing, imagining, participating, giving, receiving and experiencing Love, moreso than any new pro-positions.

The Divine Dance, in all of the above ways, in my view, represents Fr Richard’s magnum opus!

In a nutshell, right away, I thought: Fr Richard and Mike Morrell have done regarding the Trinity precisely what Panikkar did regarding the Christ!

That’s to suggest that in the same way that Panikkar elaborated and related his Christo-phany to classical Christo-logy, they’ve, in effect, elaborated and related their beautiful Trinito-phany to classical Trinito-logy.

Enough of my words. But, to my point, I used the glossary entry for Christophany at the Panikkar website and did word substitutions — Trinity for Christ, Trinito-logy for Christo-logy and Trinito-phany for Christo-phany.

Below’s what fell out.

It’s eerily on the mark???!!!

Trinito-phany is the Christian reflection that the third millennium must elaborate.


– It does not claim to offer a universal paradigm, nor even necessarily a model to adopt, but rather simply to offer to all humanity a believable image of Trinity.


– It is a Christian word yet opened to the universal problematic in a concrete and thereby limited way.


– The word is used in the sense of “phaneros of the Christian scriptures”, visible and public manifestation of a truth. Divine energies are a direct manifestation of God to human consciousness and represents an experience.


– Trinito-phany does not ignore nor claim to abolish the preceding trinito-logy, but trinito-phany rather tries to situate itself in a continuity with trinito-logy in order to deepen it.


– Trinito-phany “suggests that the encounter with Trinity can not be reduced to a mere doctrinal or intellectual approach”; it wants to elaborate a reflection on the economic Trinity and the human being with clear reference to the immanent Trinity: “The logos is also the Logos of God, but the Logos is not “all” of the Trinity.”


– The Trinito-phany does not take anything away from the Trinito-logy, but shows itself opened to the reality of the Spirit.


– This contemplative, mystic attitude situates trinito-phany in a more receptive posture, in contrast to the more aggressive search on the part of reason.


– This notion of Trinity must include both the figure from the historic past as well as the present reality.


– Trinito-phany is a reflection opened to the Christian scriptures, but is in dialogue with the other religions; opened to dialogue with the past (even the pre-Christian) and with the present (even the non-Christian) and in particular the contemporary scientific mentality.


– Trinito-phany, therefore, does not exclude a priori any epiphany of the sacred or the divine when searching for an integration of the image of the Trinity in a more spacious cosmovision.”



http://raimon-panikkar.org/english/gloss-christophany.html

trinitology, trinitophany, christophany, christology, raimon panikkar, richard rohr, mike morrell, divine dance, perichoresis, trinity, mystical experience, contemplative mystic