Not thru Ontological Middling but thru Teleological Muddling do Sophia, Energies & Logoi Operate in a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

Sophia has been a challenge to map as revealed in historical treatments. Setting those descriptive accounts to the side, at least in part, below is my own normative formulation.

I like to conceive Sophia as an

attribute of the divine essence, belonging to the Trinity,

exemplified hypostatically by the Son as wisdom & Spirit as glory, &

manifested as uncreated Sophia thru such as divine energies (Palamite) & logoi (Maximian).

These uncreated logoi are manifested theophanically, as they terminate in effects on determinate being (as created logoi) in manifold & multiform participable ways, e.g. teloi, laws, nomicities, gifts, grace, signs & wonders.

Every creaturely cooperation with, hence participation in, the logoi constitutes a theotic, sophianic eternalization that incorporates us into created Sophia, Christ’s Bride or Mystical Body.

Thus we imitate the Bridal Fiat of the Theotokos & thereby participate in her incarnational synergism as it’s both eschatologically consummated in the divine nuptial union & protologically anticipated by  (contained in) the pre-existent logoi of Christ.

Creation happens.

To Be or Not, to Sophianize or Not our human secondary nature: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (eternally self-determined)

Divine Modes of Identity – Bulgakov, Balthasar & Bracken with Scotus & the Greek Fathers

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

Creativity would be the nature of God, pattern of existence & activity proper to God that God shares in varying degrees w/finite entities in an expression of divine empowering love. ~ Bracken

Thus I re-situate Bulgakov’s sophiology, Maximus’ Logos-logoi & Palamas’ energies.

re: use of Whitehead’s cosmology for Christian understanding of the God- world relationship risks misinterpretation of ANW: In my judgment, Aquinas made basically the same “mistake” in employing Aristotelian metaphysics to set forth his understanding in the ST. ~ Joe Bracken

Bulgakov claims Aquinas’s account is insufficiently Trinitarian, too influenced by pagan philosophy, & separates the divine will & intellect in such a way as to introduce arbitrariness into the relationship between the divine ideas & creation. ~ John Hughes

Here I am not endorsing the controversial thesis of creatio ex nihilo advocated by Irenaeus and others over the centuries, but instead proposing the notion of creatio ex deo. ~ Joseph Bracken

Bulgakov understood the doctrine of creation to be negatively defined as creatio ex nihilo and positively defined as creatio ex Deo. ~ Pavel L. Gavriljuk

Christian systematic theologians until quite recently grossly overemphasized the role of divine power and thereby significantly underestimated the role of divine love in their understanding of how God deals with the creatures of this world. ~ Joseph Bracken

For God to be the transcendent source of creativity within the cosmic process, God must be ontologically both the primordial source and ultimate goal of the cosmic process. ~ Joseph Bracken

A New Process-Oriented Approach to Theodicy Joseph Bracken, Process Studies, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Spring-Summer 2019), pp.105-120 https://jstor.org/stable/10.5406/processstudies.48.1.0105#metadata_info_tab_contents

The Problem of Pantheism in the Sophiology of Sergii Bulgakov: A Panentheistic Solution in the Process Trinitarianism of Joseph Bracken? by Brandon Gallaher

This essay explores Bulgakov’s thought as an alternative form of panentheism to Bracken’s

‘The Problem of Pantheism in the Sophiology of Sergii Bulgakov: A Panentheistic Solution in the…academia.edu

The God-World Relationship Between Joseph Bracken, Philip Clayton, and the Open Theism, by Dong-Sik Park, Claremont Graduate University

The God-World Relationship Between Joseph Bracken, Philip Clayton, and the Open Theismscholarship.claremont.edu

In Whom We Live & Move & Have Our Being, Panentheistic Reflections on God’s Presence in a Scientific World, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004 Below, I will list several chapters of this book, above, as are relevant to energies, logoi & sophia in a panentheism.

a) God immanent yet transcendent : the divine energies according to Saint Gregory Palamas, Kallistos Ware

b) The universe as hypostatic inherence in the logos of God : panentheism in the eastern orthodox perspective, Alexei V. Nesteruk

c) The cosmic vision of Saint Maximos the Confessor, Andrew Louth

d) Panentheism : a field-oriented approach, Joseph A. Bracken

e) The logos as wisdom : a starting point for a Sophianc theology of creation, Celia E. Deane-Drummond

Bulgakov’s Account of Creation: Neglected Aspects, Critics and Contemporary Relevance, Pavel L. Gavriljuk, International journal of systematic theology, 2015, Volume: 17, Issue: 4, Pages: 450-463

Creatio ex nihilo and the Divine Ideas in Aquinas: How fair is Bulgakov’s critique?, John Hughes, Modern Theology, Volume 29, Issue 2, 2013

“Words and phrases must be stretched towards a generality foreign to their ordinary usage; and, however such elements of language be stabilized as technicalities, they remain metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap” ~ Whitehead, Process and Reality

Implicit here is my long- standing conviction that every metaphysical system is inevitably provisional and thus in principle open to reform and revision. ~ Joseph Bracken

Notes regarding Divine-Human Interaction & Grace per Libertarian Free Will

My account, below, will not exhaust every manner of divine-human interaction & of grace, but will address one aspect that I find deeply consoling — that God infuses grace universally, superabundantly & even without our assent, ever respecting our libertarian free will.

In reconciling divine-human interactions via grace & libertarian freedom of the will, might we draw on diverse conceptions from Scotism, Neoplatonism & Thomism (analytical not Banezian)?

We could conceive of both Scotus & Maximus as libertarians for whom the intellect’s necessarily operative but not wholly determinative in volition, where self-determinative volitional acts remain limited in potency to the logoi of being, well-being & eternal being.

The divine & human wills are thus not connected by one’s choosing between “this or that” but in “why the will wills at all,” as it does remain free not to act (via a type of quiescence). Such a volition would entail a moderately libertarian & moderately voluntarist free will.

Scotus locates the will in efficient causation. For many, this represents a conceptual relocation from the formal.

Interestingly, this can be squared with Eleonore Stump’s relocation of the operation of grace from efficient to formal causality over against Banezian premotion.

Stump distinguishes between an “assent to,” a “refusal of” & an “absence of refusal of” grace, as, per Aquinas, one can cease to refuse grace without assenting to it.

God thus infuses grace in us all, even when we don’t assent, as long as we’re not refusing it, i.e. as long as our wills are “quiescent.”

Thereby He infuses the good will of our justifying faith.

Thereby we can abandon ourselves to Divine Providence through quiescence.

Thus, let us pray –

w/Ignatius: “Take, Lord, receive all my liberty.”

w/the Psalmist: “Be still & know that I am God.”

with Merton: “I know you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.”

May we both cooperate with the graces of today & be alert to divine infusions.

Divine Freedom & Necessity in a Cosmotheandrism

For Bulgakov: I”s are constituted by “Thou”s

In the semiotic approach to emergence, Terry Deacon has coined two terms:

1) an “ententional” phenomenon is characterized by

2) a specific reality that it lacks, i.e. an “absential

Those terms, for me, bring to mind what I would call “embodied antinomies” or dynamical ententional-absential aboutnesses.

If epistemology models ontology, then, not every mediation need dialectically express some accommodative middle, whether epistemologically &/or ontologically.

Rather, because some of reality’s deepest value-realizations are precisely generated by the antinomial embodiments of ententional phenomena in ontologically creative tensions with their absentials (i.e. via epistemic & axiological distancing), our languages can semiotically express such dynamics only through such non-accommodative mediations, as would nurture a healthy aporetic sense.

We might say, for example, that ententional “I”s are constituted by absential “Thou”s.

And we might even observe that certain forms of “freedom” are constituted by “necessity.”

We could even say that, we, as creatures, exist as absential “thou”s for the necessarily freely willing loving God, the supremely ententional “I am.”

Such a divine ententionality depends essentially on a supremely personal divine intentionality per a divine volition that’s, at once, in some sense groundless as well as grounded by a self-constituting love, beyond all of our meager voluntarist or libertarian conceptions.

What might the Trinity’s economic generation of our own antinomial embodiments, our own radically social natures, our own human ententional phenomena (logoi) & absentials (tropoi), reveal “about” the ad intra Trinitarian generations & taxis?

The economic can, in principle, reveal nothing ontologically quidditative about the immanent Trinity (ad intra aporia).

Semiotically, however, because the divine energies do, at once, connotatively signify the essence & denotatively indicate the hypostases, from the unitary nature of the divine energies, while epistemically constrained by sophianic aporia (e.g. un/created, in/determinate, non/necessitating, causal logoi & teloi?), we can nevertheless connotatively infer the ultimate unicity of the divine ousia, even though constrained by essential aporia (e.g. indivisible yet communicable?), and denotatively infer the unitive relations of the divine hypostases, i.e. Monarchy of the Father & divine taxis, although constrained by hypostatic aporia (e.g. how & which metaphysical idiomata are modeled by our epistemic gnorismata?).

Because human symbolic inference is irreducibly triadic, interpretively, it’s also inherently performative, which means such connotative & denotative inferences, above, flow from our efficacious participations in the divine logoi, i.e. concretely & experientially, hence, sacramentally. Only then can our participatory imaginations, next, lend themselves to the post-experiential abstractions & discursive formulations of our Eucharistic anamnesis.

So, this creation’s not born of any necessity as would in any measure negate the eternal freedoms (both with & without ratio, i.e. both groundless & of a self-constituted ground, e.g. love) of nondeterminate divine being. Rather, it would ensue from the radically free, kenotic self-limitation of the self-determined divine being.

The Logos thus freely & donatively gifts participable logoi.
And not just per those bilateral theandric logoi as are proportionally (asymmetrically) participated in via incarnational humanization & theotic divinization, such as when we live as we pray – Biblically, creedally & liturgically. The entire creation participates, cosmically, proportional to other ententional aboutnesses or teloi – all as existentially oriented in an emergent hierarchy of nested absentials:
• veldo-poietic (field-like) entities present as teleopotent or end-unbounded;
• cosmopoietic – teleomatic or end-stated;
• biopoietic – teleonomic or end-directed or end-coded;
• sentiopoietic – teleoqualic or end-purposed; and
• sapiopoietic – teleologic or end-intended.

As such, this account approaches being, apophatically, as radically discontinuous ontologically, with an aporetic approach to nondeterminate, self-determinate, indeterminate & determinate entities, which exhibit characteristic aboutnesses via manifold & multiform antinomial embodiments.

Kataphatically, reality’s cosmotheandric hierarchy of ententional-absential participations via the Maximian Logos-logoi identity affords us a profound degree of existential actionability as we proportionally imitate the Christ, analogically & ontologically – each per her unique embodied tropoi, and literally & teleologically – all via participation in identical logoi.

Antinomial embodiments thus constitutively relates all being, whether nondeterminate, self -determinate & in/determinate, in dynamical terms of essential unicity, hypostatic unity & unitary energeia.

The protological (paterology, christology & pneumatological) thus constitutes – not only the eschatological, but – the ecclesiological, soteriological, sacramental & sophiological.

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

Liturgically, then, after our meditation on the Word, the Logos, through our Offertory, our own ecstasis & proodos of self-transcendence, we’ll enjoy Communion, our enstasis & mone in union, to then go forth empowered to love & serve via our Post Communion epecstasis & epistrophe or self-reception.

Notes regarding different forms of volition:

indetermined w/o ratio or with freedom from necessity, including one’s choosing whether to will at all, moderately voluntarist

in/determined w/ratio (desires or needs) or freedom to – assent, refuse or permit (absence of refusal), moderately libertarian

self-determined or self-limited or freedom for, as in kenosis, authentically sacrificial

These are imagoes Dei of the Divine Volition which is nondeterminate (both w/ & w/o ratio) & self-determinate via ad intra ur-kenosis & ad extra kenosis.

Neo-Chalcedonianism is Uncommonly Commonsensical

Cyril & Maximus ambitioned nothing robustly explanatory. Instead, they much more modestly established Christological grounds, which remain fertile for cultivating new meanings of the Incarnation, today. In our Trinitology & Christology, we can take a commonsensical approach to understanding the divine persons. We can fruitfully employ vague & general exploratory heuristics, using grammatical semantic references, in our ongoing probes of the meaning of our encounters of these persons in scripture & liturgy.

We similarly probe the meanings of methexis & theosis. Terms referring to essential propria, hypostatic idiomata & relational energeia & logoi, in principle, can’t be considered constitutive ontological definitions suitable for use in analytical, explanatory metaphysics.

The question of meaning put to us was – not WHAT, but – WHO do you say I am?

As we recognize & affirm the protological in the eschatological & vice versa, this needn’t entail a thoroughgoing theological determinism, not even for a universalist stance, at least, not if we properly distinguish & nuance determination, causation, necessitation & freedom.

Proportional participations in Maximian logoi, beyond being theandric realities, express universal cosmic realities?

This evokes for me Bulgakov’s seeing divine beauty in nature, God as indifferentia oppositorum & his embrace of Nicholas of Cusa’s coincidentia oppositorum.

Not thru an ontological “middling” but via a teleological “muddling” of antinomial realities do sophia, energeia & logoi reveal the unitary nature of the divine energies, ultimate unicity of the divine ousia & unitive relations of the divine hypostases.

Peirce’s semiotic realism well navigates past the existentially perilous shoals of an empty nominalism, vulgar pragmatism, idealist anti-realism, arbitrary voluntarism & corrosive relativism.

Insofar as life’s inescapably liturgical, we might more parsimoniously refer to that creedal collection of negations as the Litany of Nihilism.

To the extent that our creeds are inherently orthopraxic, we must all be on our guard to not celebrate this Litany of Nihilism, i.e. unawares & in the very manners that we move and live and have our being.

This is to observe that we all need to be more vigilant, as we will all on occasion entertain angels, unawares, and they best not be Screwtape or Wormwood.

While Peirce’s abduction of the reality of God does barely sneak by a naive fideism, any refusal to journey beyond his Ens Necessarium would implicitly entail a radically apophatic deism.

So, in the same way that Peirce went beyond both Scotism & German Idealism, influenced by & appropriating their best intuitions, setting aside any inadequacies, I’ve found a most profitable way to go beyond (not contrary to) Peirce is by turning to Булга́ков & Флоре́нский.

Of the Actus Purus, we may semantically predicate though not ontologically define essential, personal & energetic distinctions like being, willing & doing. If we attentively, concretely & experientially behold the Trinity’s universalized & particularized presences among & donative presents for us, we’ll be overwhelmed by the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. In our post-experiential processing, as our participatory imaginations yield to a cognitive map-making of discursive reasoning, an ineluctable antinomial residue will inevitably remain.

Our numinous experiences do not dialectically resolve the dynamical tensions that resist our fallible reasoning. We don’t know what to make of essences, persons & energies, which present, at once, groundless, grounded & self-grounded vis a vis our meager conceptions of necessity, freedom & kenosis. And this involves no mere Gödelian trade-off of consistent axioms for systematic incompleteness, such as we employ for determinate being. Rather, we’re confronted by an horizon where our logic’s unavoidably paraconsistent, at best, our systematics remain semi-formal, at best, the nature of our language, itself, antinomial, at best, our notions of identity alternately absolute, relative or nonstrict, at best.

But, wait!

For philosophers, who’ve paid any attention at all to the intractable aporia confronting our accounts regarding the origins of the quantum, of the cosmos, of life, of consciousness & of language, the above-listed epistemic constraints & antinomial residues yet pertain no less to the essences, persons & energies of determinate beings than they do to their divine analogates?

Just as with our failed theodicies, what will finally rescue our rationalistic theologies, will not be sylly syllogisms. What will finally satisfy our insatiable appetite for Goodness beyond all goodness, our admirable quest for Beauty beyond all beauty, our insatiable longing for Unity beyond all unity, our transformative realization of a Freedom beyond all freedom, need not require the elimination of reality’s antinomial residues but, instead, may be divinely provisioned by a ceremonial rescue of being by Being, itself, Who loves us with the same ur-kenotic Love of Our Father, Who eternally generates our Saviour & Advocate, the Son & Spirit. Having thus tasted & seen the Goodness of the Lord, we might even lose interest in His antinomies, or, at least, be no more concerned with them than we are with the axioms that ground 2+2=4, for which one would have to proceed halfway through the Principia to grasp their proof? It’ll finally be the participatory encounter with Love that calms our restless hearts.

Any idle curiosity regarding the biographical knowledge ABOUT our Divine Spouse will thus get eclipsed by the experiential knowledge OF Her via Mystical Union in a vision, most beatific.

The concept of ens is everywhere engulfed in antinomies. In fact ens seems to be subject to the most contrary dialectical passions: it is one but also many, necessary but also contingent, infinite & finite, immutable yet mutable … Rosmini

The Litany of Nihilism employs a vulgar pragmatism as a theory of knowledge, but, regarding a theory of truth, is eliminativist. Few journey that way, theoretically, b/c it’s just not sustainably actionable, existentially.

All of us do fall prey to lapsing into a practical nihilism, as we un/consciously opt, in any given moment, at this or that existential disjunction, to live as if there “really” is no truth, beauty, goodness, unity or freedom.

Our belief in Truth is a disposition & decision we make anew, in every moment, b/c, as God sustains our essential natures via creatio continua, as imagoes Dei, we volitionally sustain our virtuous (or vicious) secondary natures per our own co-creative creatio continua.

Whether historically justifiable or not, Bulgakov charitably interpreted Apollinaris as consistent w/Chalcedon. We might return the favor & tweak Bulgakov’s sophiology in doctrinally consistent ways?

Sophia may not be the only idiom but, for me, seems a felicitous one to collectively approach:

a) paterologically, the monarchia as principium of the hypostatic unity;

b) christologically, the eternal hypostatic union, Logos-logoi indentity, created & uncreated logoi;

c) pneumatologically, the eternal universal cosmic-indwelling presence;

d) trinitologically, the ad extra economic dynamics in relation to ad intra immanence;

e) theanthropically, androgyne, feminine & masculine realities;

f) scripturally, divine wisdom;

g) speculatively, antinomial (not dialectical) mediations & the essential unicity; h) eschatologically, the eternal protological ur-kenotic taxis, kenotic creatio continua & theotokos’ incarnational fiat;

i) soteriologically, an aesthetic teleology;

j-1) sacramentally, creaturely imitation & participation, and

j-2) sophiologically, theurgy & theosis – via the divine unitary energeia & logoi (at once humanizing & divinizing);

k) ecclesiologically, the Mystical Bride;

l) mystagogically, cosmotheandric intimacization;

m) theodicially, intertwined ontic & personal evils, as privative realities finally overcome by sacrificial love per

m-1) a primordially liminal, supra-temporal fall or

m-2) sophiology placed in non-nominalistic process theology.

n/ systematically, its anticipation of an open theist approach. In my view, it best be re-situated in a view more sympathetic to classical theist commitments, e.g. Norris Clarke’s personalist Thomism or Joe Bracken’s neo-Whiteheadian divine matrix.

Also see: Paul L. Gavrilyuk (2005). The kenotic theology of Sergius Bulgakov. Scottish Journal of Theology, 58, pp 25

http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0036930605001390

Bulgakov’s Sophiological Panentheism’, keynote address at the Fourth Annual Symposium in honor or Fr. Georges Florovsky, ‘Creation and Creaturehood: The Doctrine of Creation in the Patristic Tradition’, Princeton Theological Seminary, 14-15 February 2014

https://www.academia.edu/9802768/_Bulgakov_s_Sophiological_Panentheism_keynote_address_at_the_Fourth_Annual_Symposium_in_honor_or_Fr._Georges_Florovsky_Creation_and_Creaturehood_The_Doctrine_of_Creation_in_the_Patristic_Tradition_Princeton_Theological_Seminary_14-15_February_2014

‘Graced Creatureliness: Ontological Tension in the Uncreated/Created Distinction in the Sophiologies of Solov’ev, Bulgakov and Milbank’, Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, 47.1-2 (2006), 163-190.

https://academia.edu/220401/_Graced_Creatureliness_Ontological_Tension_in_the_Uncreated_Created_Distinction_in_the_Sophiologies_of_Solov_ev_Bulgakov_and_Milbank_Logos_A_Journal_of_Eastern_Christian_Studies_47.1-2_2006_163-190

Theology serves as Queen of the Sciences in an axiologically integral relationship to them but doesn’t deny their methodological autonomy. While it’s implicit metaphysica generalis rejects nonoverlapping magisteria, still, its role contributes – not explanatory, but – only heuristic value. And it can thus impart same even for those who receive its metaphysical presuppositions as mere methodological stipulations. As such, it should emulate the epistemic humility of a servant leader, eschewing any triumphalistic hubris. There’s no reason to believe that a robustly fecund theological heuristic can’t fruitfully proceed from a radically inclusivistic pneumatology (rather than imagining its success need require some militantly Christocentric account).

Bulgakov: Science is sophic: this is the answer we can give to skeptical pragmaticism & dogmatic positivism. It is removed from Truth, for it is a child of this world … but it’s also a child of Sophia, the organizing force that leads this world to Truth.

Sophiology, Science And Technology

Moderately Libertarian Approaches to the Will – with Scotistic & Maximian influences

Both Duns Scotus & Maximus the Confessor sufficiently nuance their notions of the will in ways that sufficiently navigate past both voluntarist & intellectualist flaws.

The following strategies are influenced by but not developed solely from Scotistic & Maximian approaches.

relocate primary causation (as an immediate, continuously conserving cause) to the act of existence, which is in limited potency to an essential cause

recognize that secondary causality includes realities that vary in degrees of indeterminacy

relocate the will from a formal to an efficient causal act, which is in limited potency to a material cause

relocate the operation of grace from an efficient to a formal cause, which is in limited potency to a final cause

distinguish will (self-determination) from nature (hetero-determination)

distinguish an “assent to,” a “refusal of” & an “absence of refusal of” grace (as one can cease to refuse grace without assenting to it)

distinguish three logoi of being, well-being, and eternal being, God the sole cause of the first & third, while well-being’s intermediately caused by our sponaneous movement & gnomic willing (epistemic & axiological distancing), hence, intellect’s necessarily operative but not wholly determinative in volition

attribute gnomic will to evolution not a “fall”

distinguish freedoms to assent, refuse or permit (absence of refusal)

distinguish:

freedom from – an indeterminate willing w/o ratio (choosing among goods, including one’s choosing whether to will at all) from

freedom to – a determinate willing w/ratio (fallibly choosing between goods, per one’s constitutive desires & needs, and privations, iow, refusing grace) and

freedom for – a self-determined or self-limited willing (as in kenosis)

Helpful Resources:

The Subtle Doctor and Free Will, Part 1, Maximus Confesses

The Subtle Doctor and Free Will, Part 2, Duns Scotus on Freedom of the Will and Divine Foreknowledge

A paradox in Scotus account of freedom of the will by Gonzalez-Ayesta

Duns Scotus on the Natural Will by C. Gonzalez-Ayesta

Chapter 4, Duns Scotus on Freedom as a Pure Perfection – Necessity & Contingency by Gonzalez-Ayesta in
Margaret Cameron ed., Philosophy of Mind in the Early and High Middle Ages: The History of the Philosophy of Mind, Volume 2, Routledge, Jul 6, 2018

St. Maximus the Confessor on the Will—Natural and Gnomic by David Bradshaw, Ph.D.

But the Problem of Free Will by David W. Opderbeck, Ph.D.

Divine Freedom & Necessity (analogues & antinomies)


no best possible worlds but a pareto front of equipoised optimalities, choosing among the perfectly good – jssylvest

Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology, Oxford University Press, 2016

Brandon Gallaher shows that the classical Christian understanding of God having a non-necessary relationship to the world and divine freedom being a sheer assertion of God’s will must be completely rethought.

Review of Brandon Gallaher, Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology (Oxford: OUP, 2016), Reviews in Religion & Theology 24.4 (2017): 697-699–Justin Shaun Coyle.pdf by Justin Shaun Coyle

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

One can find further resources regarding Scotistic & Maximian libertarian conceptions of the will within these notes, above, especially by searching for Mary Beth Ingham, Marilyn McCord Adams & Eleonore Stump.

Nature & Grace, Natural & Supernatural, Primary & Secondary Causality, Volitional Aspects With & Without “Ratio

Ordinarily & universally, primary causality operates via existential & formal acts of secondary causation per their essential & final potencies, i.e. in the gratuity of creation or naturally.

Extraordinarily & particularly, primary causality operates – not only via those existential & formal secondary causes, but – via efficient causes, i.e. gratuities of grace & miracles or supernaturally.

Only, per the divine kenotic condescension, grace does not act via the efficient cause of human volition (teleological intention, which includes the proto-rationality* normally designated as w/o ratio). This does not preclude divine activity via other human efficient causes per hierarchically nested (embedded) emergent, ententional (& absential) phenomena (teleoqualic, teleonomic, teleomatic & teleopotent).

*The proto-rationality of connaturality, abductive inference, illative sense, tacit dimensionality, etc apprehends the beauty of universal harmonic orders, both implicate & explicate.

When talking about the divine being or essence, aseity means “not made.” When talking about divine persons or hypostases, aseity has a different meaning – “not from.” All of the persons are “not made,” but only the Father is “not from” God.

To what might such an eternal (not temporal) cause, origin or principle (aitia, arche or principium) refer? Communication. The Father freely & willingly communicates Love, eternally loving (begetting) the Son, loving (spirating) the Holy Spirit & loving (exnihilating) creation.

All persons then participate in the Logoi proportionate to the nature of their being, e. g. God “from” God, “made” by God, hypostatic union, etc
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While neither Maximus nor Scotus viewed the Incarnation as a result of some felix culpa, that conclusion was a response to different questions posed by each. There’s little doubt that they would’ve very much agreed with each other.
Oversimplifying, but – Maximus inquired after the purpose of creation, concluding it was the means toward the end of the Incarnation. Scotus inquired after the purpose of the Incarnation, concluding it was to communicate divine love & Ad majórem Dei glóriam.
When we conceive of divine freedom (e.g. creative) in terms of w/& w/o ratio, as variously ungrounded, constitutively-grounded &/or self-grounded, what’s “constitutively grounded” would refer to – not an essential necessity, but – a volitional inevitability.
All is distant from God, and is remote from Him not by place but by nature— ou tôpo alla physei— as St. John Damascene explains. And this distance is never removed, but is only, as it were, overlapped by immeasurable Divine love. ~ Archpriest Georges Florovsky

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian and Byzantine Writers ~ Bogdan G. Bucur https://academia.edu/4996258/Foreordained_from_All_Eternity_The_Mystery_of_the_Incarnation_According_to_Some_Early_Christian_and_Byzantine_Writers

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian…

academia.edu
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While recognizing that “dance” clearly lacks philological warrant, LaCugna valued dance because of its metaphorical effectiveness. Still, what justifies a metaphor that portrays such a human participation in divine operations?

Well, even if not ad intra trinitarian taxis, certainly the hypostatic union. The perichoretic concept was used in late Patristic Trinitology to convey – not circle dance, but – mutual interpenetration or permeation without merging or mixing (Maximus & the Damascene).
But, such a concept was first employed in early Patristic Christology by the Cappadocians (Nyssen & Nazianzen). While the Trinitarian perichoresis refers to homogenous, consubstantial realities, the Christological refers heterogenously & heterosubstantially.

The practical upshot?
There’s no reason it can’t refer cosmotheandrically!

Beyond Christological perichoresis, the Logos-logoi identity of Maximus further emphasizes how we as creatures participate, albeit proportional to our being, in divinity, for the very same logoi that humanize the divine also divinize the human.

Dance thus remains a great metaphor, even if much of Western theology stumbled upon it accidentally!

cf. Stamatović, Slobodan. (2016). The Meaning of Perichoresis. Open Theology. 2. 10.1515/opth-2016-0026.
#
As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus is more felicitous w/Capps is all.

More Notes re Theological Anthropology of this project


Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautiful.

Since the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi
#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological
& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
#
Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the divine logoi, Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).
#
Another нет (nyet) to Aquinas’ irreversibility thesis & да to Maximian irrevocability! “Scotus is particularly dismissive of the view (held by others besides Thomas) that angels, once they choose, choose irrevocably (ibid. d.7 esp. nn.9–26).
The possibility is expressly left open by Scotus that some angels sinned but repented (ibid. d.6 q.2 n.78).” So, not all medieval speculative angelology supports Feser’s post-mortem anthropology & related infernalistic premises.
I’d continue to insist that “habitus,” whether as one’s virtuous &/or vicious secondary nature, remains always situated between formal acts & final potencies, facilitating or crippling but never “killing” those potentialities, which remain eternally immersed in Divine Logoi.
#
Yes. Scotus holds the keys to any coherent angelology: All finite causes must be together, spatially, to produce an effect. I’d made up a little heuristic to navigate such distinctions but, instead, relied on the term “embodied.” Scotus departs from TA in many regards.
1) in/communicable essence? all essences, divine & creaturely are communicable 2) dis/embodied? all creaturely entities are naturally embodied (communicatability & spatial extendability) 3) in/animate? some entities are animate & some animate entities are agential 4) in/corporeal agents? angels & contingently dis/carnate souls are incorporeal 5) im/material? agential formal causes are immaterial 6) presence spatially located operationally (Aquinas) or per se (Scotus)?
#

When talking about the divine being or essence, aseity means “not made.” When talking about divine persons or hypostases, aseity has a different meaning – “not from.” All of the persons are “not made,” but only the Father is “not from” God.

To what might such an eternal (not temporal) cause, origin or principle (aitia, arche or principium) refer? Communication. The Father freely & willingly communicates Love, eternally loving (begetting) the Son, loving (spirating) the Holy Spirit & loving (exnihilating) creation.

All persons then participate in the Logoi proportionate to the nature of their being, e. g. God “from” God, “made” by God, hypostatic union, etc
#

While neither Maximus nor Scotus viewed the Incarnation as a result of some felix culpa, that conclusion was a response to different questions posed by each. There’s little doubt that they would’ve very much agreed with each other.
Oversimplifying, but – Maximus inquired after the purpose of creation, concluding it was the means toward the end of the Incarnation. Scotus inquired after the purpose of the Incarnation, concluding it was to communicate divine love & Ad majórem Dei glóriam.
When we conceive of divine freedom (e.g. creative) in terms of w/& w/o ratio, as variously ungrounded, constitutively-grounded &/or self-grounded, what’s “constitutively grounded” would refer to – not an essential necessity, but – a volitional inevitability.
All is distant from God, and is remote from Him not by place but by nature— ou tôpo alla physei— as St. John Damascene explains. And this distance is never removed, but is only, as it were, overlapped by immeasurable Divine love. ~ Archpriest Georges Florovsky

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian and Byzantine Writers ~ Bogdan G. Bucur https://academia.edu/4996258/Foreordained_from_All_Eternity_The_Mystery_of_the_Incarnation_According_to_Some_Early_Christian_and_Byzantine_Writers

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian…

academia.edu
#

While recognizing that “dance” clearly lacks philological warrant, LaCugna valued dance because of its metaphorical effectiveness. Still, what justifies a metaphor that portrays such a human participation in divine operations?
Well, even if not ad intra trinitarian taxis, certainly the hypostatic union. The perichoretic concept was used in late Patristic Trinitology to convey – not circle dance, but – mutual interpenetration or permeation without merging or mixing (Maximus & the Damascene).
But, such a concept was first employed in early Patristic Christology by the Cappadocians (Nyssen & Nazianzen). While the Trinitarian perichoresis refers to homogenous, consubstantial realities, the Christological refers heterogenously & heterosubstantially.
The practical upshot?
There’s no reason it can’t refer cosmotheandrically!
Beyond Christological perichoresis, the Logos-logoi identity of Maximus further emphasizes how we as creatures participate, albeit proportional to our being, in divinity, for the very same logoi that humanize the divine also divinize the human.
Dance thus remains a great metaphor, even if much of Western theology stumbled upon it accidentally!
cf. Stamatović, Slobodan. (2016). The Meaning of Perichoresis. Open Theology. 2. 10.1515/opth-2016-0026.
#
As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus is more felicitous w/Capps is all.
#
Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautiful.

Since the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi
#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological
& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
#
Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the divine logoi, Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).
#
Another нет (nyet) to Aquinas’ irreversibility thesis & да to Maximian irrevocability! “Scotus is particularly dismissive of the view (held by others besides Thomas) that angels, once they choose, choose irrevocably (ibid. d.7 esp. nn.9–26).
The possibility is expressly left open by Scotus that some angels sinned but repented (ibid. d.6 q.2 n.78).” So, not all medieval speculative angelology supports Feser’s post-mortem anthropology & related infernalistic premises.
I’d continue to insist that “habitus,” whether as one’s virtuous &/or vicious secondary nature, remains always situated between formal acts & final potencies, facilitating or crippling but never “killing” those potentialities, which remain eternally immersed in Divine Logoi.
#
Yes. Scotus holds the keys to any coherent angelology: All finite causes must be together, spatially, to produce an effect. I’d made up a little heuristic to navigate such distinctions but, instead, relied on the term “embodied.” Scotus departs from TA in many regards.
1) in/communicable essence? all essences, divine & creaturely are communicable 2) dis/embodied? all creaturely entities are naturally embodied (communicatability & spatial extendability) 3) in/animate? some entities are animate & some animate entities are agential 4) in/corporeal agents? angels & contingently dis/carnate souls are incorporeal 5) im/material? agential formal causes are immaterial 6) presence spatially located operationally (Aquinas) or per se (Scotus)?
#

How might our experience of God serve as an authoritative source of theology? Peter Neumann employs the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to engage the projects of 3 contemporary Pentecostal theologians: D. Macchia, Simon K.H. Chan & Amos Yong …
placing them in dialogue w/Catholic, Orthodox & Protestant streams: Congar, E Johnson & D Gelpi; Lossky & Bulgakov; & Moltmann, J Cone & Jenson. Pentecostal Experience: An Ecumenical Encounter, Pickwick Publications 2012 I resonate most w/ Yong, Gelpi, Bulgakov & Moltmann.
Yong echoes the “warning of Robert Jenson that the tension in pneumatology between the particularity of the Spirit in Jesus & in the Church & the universality of the Spirit as a cosmic reality ‘strains Western intellectual tradition to breaking . . .

To identify in other religious traditions elements of grace capable of sustaining the positive response of their members to God’s invitation is much more difficult. It requires a discernment for which criteria have to be established. ~ Giovanni Cereti http://vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01091997_p-56_en.html

cf Discerning the Spirit in World Religions: The Search for Criteria by Benno van den Toren in The Spirit Is Moving: New Pathways in Pneumatology, Studies in Reformed Theology, V 38 pp 215–231, Ed: Gijsbert van den Brink, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman & Maarten Wisse

cf KirsteenKim, The Holy Spirit in the world: a global conversation

The Holy Spirit in the world: a global conversation

Because experiential discernment criteria (Kirsteen Kim) will have ecclesial (confess Jesus is Lord), ethical (fruits), charismatic (gifts) & liberational aspects , we have to go beyond a mere hierarchical episcopal magisterium (vis a vis Scripture & tradition)

to include other magisteria. Theologians, laity, the poor & marginalized & believers of non-Christian religions must also be considered to achieve authoritative teaching (Peter Phan). I would add criteria related to a growth in intimacy, i.e. devotional, theotic, etc

As we go forward to better establish pneumatological discernment criteria in a global context – not just theistic, but – Christic criteria remain essential, because Christ remains – not just our norm, but – our Goal.
#
If not for a healthy aporetic sense, paraconsistent logic, dialethism, antinomism, semiformal systems, gödelian axiomatic constraints, our speculative approaches to quantum, cosmic, life, sentience & language origins would explode. The Trinity? Got a sylly syllogism for that!
#

The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus more felicitous w/Capps is all. As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
#
Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautifulSince the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi identity?

#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological

& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
It’s necessary to inhabit the proper historical thought patterns, as they emerged from post-experiential encounters (exegetical & liturgical) of Christ. Such a successful inhabitation (existential) presupposes our own holistic encounters of Christ in Scripture,
worship & theosis — encounters that must be adequately ortho-communal, ortho-pathic, ortho-praxic & ortho-theotic if our thought patterns are ever to be sufficiently ortho-doxic. Translated, right belonging, right desiring, right behaving & right becoming
will best foster right believing. Only then can we optimally engage, historically, the proper thought patterns (patristic &/or scholastic) & go beyond mere recitations of true statements & mere rehearsals of proper grammars to authentically encounter Christ &
will best foster right believing. Only then can we optimally engage, historically, the proper thought patterns (patristic &/or scholastic) & go beyond mere recitations of true statements & mere rehearsals of proper grammars to authentically encounter Christ &
to truthfully bear witness to Him in our thoughts, words & deeds. Otherwise, we’ll talk the talk, creedally, but may inadvertently find ourselves in material heresies, not just christological or trinitological (as in the example above), but walking the walks of gnosticism,
historicism, manichaeism, antinomianism, donatism, iconoclasm, pelagianism, jansenism, or worst of all, a practical nihilism.
#

Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the logoi.

Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).

When talking about the divine being or essence, aseity means “not made.” When talking about divine persons or hypostases, aseity has a different meaning – “not from.” All of the persons are “not made,” but only the Father is “not from” God.

To what might such an eternal (not temporal) cause, origin or principle (aitia, arche or principium) refer? Communication. The Father freely & willingly communicates Love, eternally loving (begetting) the Son, loving (spirating) the Holy Spirit & loving (exnihilating) creation.

All persons then participate in the Logoi proportionate to the nature of their being, e. g. God “from” God, “made” by God, hypostatic union, etc
#

While neither Maximus nor Scotus viewed the Incarnation as a result of some felix culpa, that conclusion was a response to different questions posed by each. There’s little doubt that they would’ve very much agreed with each other.
Oversimplifying, but – Maximus inquired after the purpose of creation, concluding it was the means toward the end of the Incarnation. Scotus inquired after the purpose of the Incarnation, concluding it was to communicate divine love & Ad majórem Dei glóriam.
When we conceive of divine freedom (e.g. creative) in terms of w/& w/o ratio, as variously ungrounded, constitutively-grounded &/or self-grounded, what’s “constitutively grounded” would refer to – not an essential necessity, but – a volitional inevitability.
All is distant from God, and is remote from Him not by place but by nature— ou tôpo alla physei— as St. John Damascene explains. And this distance is never removed, but is only, as it were, overlapped by immeasurable Divine love. ~ Archpriest Georges Florovsky

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian and Byzantine Writers ~ Bogdan G. Bucur https://academia.edu/4996258/Foreordained_from_All_Eternity_The_Mystery_of_the_Incarnation_According_to_Some_Early_Christian_and_Byzantine_Writers

Foreordained from All Eternity: The Mystery of the Incarnation According to Some Early Christian…

academia.edu
#

While recognizing that “dance” clearly lacks philological warrant, LaCugna valued dance because of its metaphorical effectiveness. Still, what justifies a metaphor that portrays such a human participation in divine operations?
Well, even if not ad intra trinitarian taxis, certainly the hypostatic union. The perichoretic concept was used in late Patristic Trinitology to convey – not circle dance, but – mutual interpenetration or permeation without merging or mixing (Maximus & the Damascene).
But, such a concept was first employed in early Patristic Christology by the Cappadocians (Nyssen & Nazianzen). While the Trinitarian perichoresis refers to homogenous, consubstantial realities, the Christological refers heterogenously & heterosubstantially.
The practical upshot?
There’s no reason it can’t refer cosmotheandrically!
Beyond Christological perichoresis, the Logos-logoi identity of Maximus further emphasizes how we as creatures participate, albeit proportional to our being, in divinity, for the very same logoi that humanize the divine also divinize the human.
Dance thus remains a great metaphor, even if much of Western theology stumbled upon it accidentally!
cf. Stamatović, Slobodan. (2016). The Meaning of Perichoresis. Open Theology. 2. 10.1515/opth-2016-0026.
#
As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus is more felicitous w/Capps is all.
#
Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautiful.

Since the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi
#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological
& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
#
Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the divine logoi, Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).
#
Another нет (nyet) to Aquinas’ irreversibility thesis & да to Maximian irrevocability! “Scotus is particularly dismissive of the view (held by others besides Thomas) that angels, once they choose, choose irrevocably (ibid. d.7 esp. nn.9–26).
The possibility is expressly left open by Scotus that some angels sinned but repented (ibid. d.6 q.2 n.78).” So, not all medieval speculative angelology supports Feser’s post-mortem anthropology & related infernalistic premises.
I’d continue to insist that “habitus,” whether as one’s virtuous &/or vicious secondary nature, remains always situated between formal acts & final potencies, facilitating or crippling but never “killing” those potentialities, which remain eternally immersed in Divine Logoi.
#
Yes. Scotus holds the keys to any coherent angelology: All finite causes must be together, spatially, to produce an effect. I’d made up a little heuristic to navigate such distinctions but, instead, relied on the term “embodied.” Scotus departs from TA in many regards.
1) in/communicable essence? all essences, divine & creaturely are communicable 2) dis/embodied? all creaturely entities are naturally embodied (communicatability & spatial extendability) 3) in/animate? some entities are animate & some animate entities are agential 4) in/corporeal agents? angels & contingently dis/carnate souls are incorporeal 5) im/material? agential formal causes are immaterial 6) presence spatially located operationally (Aquinas) or per se (Scotus)?
#

How might our experience of God serve as an authoritative source of theology? Peter Neumann employs the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to engage the projects of 3 contemporary Pentecostal theologians: D. Macchia, Simon K.H. Chan & Amos Yong …
placing them in dialogue w/Catholic, Orthodox & Protestant streams: Congar, E Johnson & D Gelpi; Lossky & Bulgakov; & Moltmann, J Cone & Jenson. Pentecostal Experience: An Ecumenical Encounter, Pickwick Publications 2012 I resonate most w/ Yong, Gelpi, Bulgakov & Moltmann.
Yong echoes the “warning of Robert Jenson that the tension in pneumatology between the particularity of the Spirit in Jesus & in the Church & the universality of the Spirit as a cosmic reality ‘strains Western intellectual tradition to breaking . . .

To identify in other religious traditions elements of grace capable of sustaining the positive response of their members to God’s invitation is much more difficult. It requires a discernment for which criteria have to be established. ~ Giovanni Cereti http://vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01091997_p-56_en.html

cf Discerning the Spirit in World Religions: The Search for Criteria by Benno van den Toren in The Spirit Is Moving: New Pathways in Pneumatology, Studies in Reformed Theology, V 38 pp 215–231, Ed: Gijsbert van den Brink, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman & Maarten Wisse

cf KirsteenKim, The Holy Spirit in the world: a global conversation

The Holy Spirit in the world: a global conversation

Because experiential discernment criteria (Kirsteen Kim) will have ecclesial (confess Jesus is Lord), ethical (fruits), charismatic (gifts) & liberational aspects , we have to go beyond a mere hierarchical episcopal magisterium (vis a vis Scripture & tradition)

to include other magisteria. Theologians, laity, the poor & marginalized & believers of non-Christian religions must also be considered to achieve authoritative teaching (Peter Phan). I would add criteria related to a growth in intimacy, i.e. devotional, theotic, etc

As we go forward to better establish pneumatological discernment criteria in a global context – not just theistic, but – Christic criteria remain essential, because Christ remains – not just our norm, but – our Goal.
#
If not for a healthy aporetic sense, paraconsistent logic, dialethism, antinomism, semiformal systems, gödelian axiomatic constraints, our speculative approaches to quantum, cosmic, life, sentience & language origins would explode. The Trinity? Got a sylly syllogism for that!
#

The Capps reconcile with Augustine, Cyril, Aquinas, Scotus, Maximus, Palamas, RC, EO & much of Protestantism on MOF & ousia. Even if for Scotus it’s a primary substance & immanent universal, like TA, it remains communicable but indivisible. Scotus more felicitous w/Capps is all. As w/equivocal uses of God (eg predicate, name), so too re Oneness (eg essential unicity, unitary energeia, hypostatic unity, monarchical uniqueness). Behr’s concern seems to be that MOF most straightforwardly reconciles w/monotheism? Which oneness does monotheism most implicate?
#
Evokes for me the aesthetic teleology of those who employ metaphors fr complexity theory & nonequilibrium thermodynamics, except they say (of dissipative structures): the more complex, the more fragile (due to number of permutations that can be threatened), the more beautifulSince the Beautiful beyond all beauty acts eternally as a Simplicity beyond all simplicity with no residues like fragility, those metaphors seem to express an antinomy that’s not mediated ontologically but teleologically, e.g. via the Maximian Logos-logoi identity?

#
The paterological uniqueness of the MOF is not in the least over against the essential unicity, unitary energeia or hypostatic unity. Still, we best get this historical account correct
because the proper reconciliation of monotheism & trinitarianism hangs in the balance. Furthermore, especially for those of us who affirm both the soteriological & theotic significance of the Incarnation, unitarianism, for example, undermines – not just our trinitological

& Christological dogma, but – the practical, hope-filled, dynamical approaches of our participatory anthropology & transfigurative cosmology. So, it’s not sufficient to learn true statements, creedally, or even speculative grammars, heuristically.
It’s necessary to inhabit the proper historical thought patterns, as they emerged from post-experiential encounters (exegetical & liturgical) of Christ. Such a successful inhabitation (existential) presupposes our own holistic encounters of Christ in Scripture,
worship & theosis — encounters that must be adequately ortho-communal, ortho-pathic, ortho-praxic & ortho-theotic if our thought patterns are ever to be sufficiently ortho-doxic. Translated, right belonging, right desiring, right behaving & right becoming
will best foster right believing. Only then can we optimally engage, historically, the proper thought patterns (patristic &/or scholastic) & go beyond mere recitations of true statements & mere rehearsals of proper grammars to authentically encounter Christ &
will best foster right believing. Only then can we optimally engage, historically, the proper thought patterns (patristic &/or scholastic) & go beyond mere recitations of true statements & mere rehearsals of proper grammars to authentically encounter Christ &
to truthfully bear witness to Him in our thoughts, words & deeds. Otherwise, we’ll talk the talk, creedally, but may inadvertently find ourselves in material heresies, not just christological or trinitological (as in the example above), but walking the walks of gnosticism,
historicism, manichaeism, antinomianism, donatism, iconoclasm, pelagianism, jansenism, or worst of all, a practical nihilism.
#

Scotus is definitely in the “felix culpa or not” camp. It took Maximus to properly extend the implications of the 3C’s further. Going beyond the Cappadocians, Cyril (mia-physite) & Chalcedon, in identifying the Logos’ divine will with the logoi.

Maximus advanced our understanding of deification, when he recognized it as the corollary of Christ’s humanization. That’s to say that creation was the means toward the end of the Incarnation, which, itself, provides the means toward the end of our deification (& salvation).

Divine Modes of Identity – Bulgakov, Balthasar & Bracken with Scotus & the Greek Fathers

Some analytic theologians would charge all trinitarian defenses with ad hoc philosophizing?

Nyet!

I intuit a general amenability of Abelardian-like syllogistics to reality writ large, i.e. beyond trinitarian logic.

It seems to me that essential, hypostatic & formal modes of identity could be applied in any noncomposite, monist ontology, e.g. materialist monism, pantheism or even a mereological panen-theism.

Aristotelian syllogistic logic can be recovered from the Abelardian-like approach precisely because the distinction between modes of identity & modes of predication collapse for composite realities, where all predications are of formal identity.

The more widely embraced pan-entheism, like classical theism, employs an ontological distinction between humans & God, where God donates & communicates creatively as we participate & are liberated imitatively.

The panen-theistic parsing employs a mereological distinction between humans & God, where God donates & communicates diffusively as we participate & are liberated substratively.

My own pan-semio-entheism, in bracketing ontology, conceives divine donation & communication both creatively & diffusively and creaturely participation & liberation both imitatively & substratively.

Because I precisely nurtured such intuitions in dialogue with Bulgakov, Balthasar & Bracken (due to my own sophiological, aesthetic & Peircean sensibilities), I was delighted to encounter Brandon Gallaher’s reflection:

The Problem of Pantheism in the Sophiology of Sergii Bulgakov: A Panentheistic Solution in the Process Trinitarianism of Joseph A. Bracken?’ in Seeking Common Ground: Evaluation and Critique of Joseph Bracken’s Comprehensive Worldview (A Festschrift for Joseph A. Bracken, S. J.), eds. Gloria Schaab and Marc Pugliese (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2012), 147-167.

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In a divine syllogistic of modes of identity, we’ve conceived the individual essences of the divine hypostases as originating in the Father and interrelating – not causally, but – as essentially dependent, hence, not subordinationist.

[re: not causally, arche, when regarded as an hypostatic idioma of the Father, in my view, can felicitously be conceived in a causal sense; it would refer to a personal cause, paternally, i.e. ad intra, a person via nature causing persons & ad extra, persons via will causing energeia & oikonomia? To be avoided would be any misconception of an impersonal and/or abstracted essence as variously causal, as well as any conceptions of either cause or person that aren’t suitably nuanced, apophatically, analogically, etc, eg I like supremely personal, trans-causal & trans-formal! I shy away from qualifying divine causalities with “quasi,” e.g. quasi-formal. I prefer, instead, to imagine that it’s we contingent, determinate beings & realities who act “quasi” on the way to becoming authentic & eternal!

For, you see, the essential, personal & formal modes of identity of divine syllogistics reflect three integrally related types of divine unity – substantial, hypostatic & dynamical – each correlatively presupposing the others. And yet, it’s the Father, as absolute unoriginate, Who secures the Trinity’s unity?

For, is it not this very monarchy that, in principle, precedes (not temporally, but in the order of intelligibility) & makes meaningful perichoresis, in the first place (pun intended)? Over against any subordinationist charges, I would simply suggest that, if there is anything like that, it’s nothing personal & isn’t substantial (puns, again, intended!).]

We have acknowledged THAT this account has ontological implications without suggesting HOW.

In Abelard’s first two modes of identity, the essential & personal, paralogisms (modalism & tritheism) present if we conceive the hypostases & ousia, respectively, as primary & secondary substances in the same Aristotelian sense that we apply to determinate being.

Happily, in the third mode, formal identity, we do have an epistemic bridge between the syllogistics of divine & determinate being.

This has all been addressed here:
Gödel & the End of Physics and Abelard et al & the End of Trinitology

Having acknowledged that there must be ontological implications for the first two modes of identity, the essential & personal, can we similarly build a bridge between the syllogistics of divine & determinate being?

Scotus has already constructed that bridge & it rather uncannily accommodates the thought of the Greek Fathers!

I have previously addressed other resonances between, for example, Scotus & Palamas.

See:

How Gelpi’s Inculturated North American Theology “Graced” my encounter with Eastern Orthodoxy

My Mon-Arche-I-tectonic Shift

I’ve been through the Desert Fathers on an Ousia with No Name — It felt good to get out of the Reign (of Rationalism) with the help of the Cappadocians.

Simply Divine or a Divinity Fudge? Cooking with Dionysius, Scotus, Peirce, Aquinas & Palamas

But how might Scotus further resonate with the approach of the Greek Fathers, beyond my previous preoccupations with divine energeia & formal modes of identity?

How might Scotus demonstrate a resonance with the Greek Fathers for the first two modes of identity, also?

How, exactly, has Scotus bridged the syllogistics of divine & determinate being?

No one more elegantly answers that question than does Richard Cross:

Duns Scotus on Divine Substance and the Trinity

Cross asserts that, by employing a conception of the immanent universal, Scotus constructs an account of the doctrine of the Trinity that is conceptually compelling, philosophically coherent & closer to that found in the later Greek Fathers, from Gregory of Nyssa onward, than the Augustinian approach (predominant in Aquinas’ own) to the divine essence.

Per Cross, Scotus flips the metaphysical script in considering – not the divine persons, but – the essence as – not a secondary, but – a first substance.

In fact, Scotus doesn’t consider the divine persons substances at all, whether primary or secondary, because they are incommunicable.

The relations between the persons are nonetheless real – as exemplifications of the divine nature.

Thus, apart from the Scotistic insights into the divine energeia, economy & formal identities, which I’d focused on previously (the links above), Cross well articulates how Scotus’ doctrines also have intrinsic value & address the divine nature & persons.

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To me, the most interesting meta-metaphysical questions posed to any given metaphysic include –

Is reality, writ large,

  • 1) non|un/composite?
  • 2) non|in/determinate?
  • 3) non|in/finite?
  • 4) non|im/personal?

We can, a priori, envision (abductively) competing answers that are logically consistent & internally coherent, but, unavoidably incomplete, both axiomatically (deductively) & evidentially (inductively). Ergo, there’s an inevitable leap of faith involved in any existential opting for one or the other of these options.

What both religious & Enlightenment (e.g. Dawkins, Dennett) fundamentalists have in common is that they all fail to look over their epistemic shoulders to recognize their own leaps.

More concretely, then –

Some (e.g. materialist monists) view reality writ large as uncomposite & indeterminate, in the sense that, as a whole, the One’s simply brute & the Many dynamical causes just infinitely regress.

Others (e.g. idealist monist pantheists) view reality writ large as uncomposite & wholly determinate, in the sense that, as a whole, it’s sufficiently caused in a most thoroughgoing way. They answer the riddle of the One & the Many with The One “is” The Many.

Finally, there are various ontological dualists & pluralists, who are all over the map w/their, mostly both-and, answers to those questions & generally theistic. A lot of them are on Twitter & politely advocating all sorts of unitarian & trinitarian hypotheses!

My purpose in setting forth those meta-metaphysical questions in rather sharp relief was not just philosophical.

For sure, many “leap” existentially past materialist & pantheist construals because the first does violence to our innate aspirations to enduring values, the latter – to our universal volitional experience, each nihilistic (but in a various senses).

I want to further suggest that our philosophical categories of non|un/composite & non|in/determinate remain very much in play, theologically, for the trinitarian tensions that present, as we strive to defensibly thread the needle between tritheism & modalism.

Tritheism presents obvious problems as, exegetically & historically, we’re precommitted to the One (noncomposite deity). The more stringent a strategy for avoiding tritheism, however, the more a spectre of modalism will threaten one’s trinitology.

It is less obvious how a modalist (determinate) deity would necessarily do violence to our notions of divine & human volition, however, especially granting that the deity, modally, would still be self-determinate, humans contingently so. But, again, exegetical & historical contours circumscribe for us a much more eminent conception of the divine will, which is to say, with an intrinsically nondeterminate aspect to the divine nature that, certainly, constitutively entails self- determinate attributes, but in a way that’s essentially kenotic.

That kenotic aspect affords us a much more robust notion of freedom vis a vis the divine will & a much more eminent conception of the divine nature?

At stake in each metaphysic, then, whether philosophically or theologically, are conceptions with practical implications for the logical consistency (exegetical & historical), internal coherence & external congruence of our creedal stances toward the One & the Many (divine & determinate) and of all authentic conceptions of Freedom (divine & human).
Pneumatological kenosis: the Spirit immanentized in the gratuity of creation & Christological kenosis: the Son incarnated in the gratuity of grace, both, implicate a Paterological ur-kenosis of the Father in the generation of the Son & procession of the Spirit.
ur-kenosis entails an unoriginate, nondeterminate, principium, an idioma of the Father, eternally self-emptying in (self)determinate relating thru eternal generation of Son & procession of Spirit. Nothing modal. Hypostatic & personal in gratuitous ad intra & ad extra dynamism.

Father-Son-Holy Spirit [FSH]

FSH denotations, while epistemic denotations, have ontic not modal connotations (neither phenomenal nor noumenal).
A concurrent noumenal modalism suggests that the Persons are “three ways that God really is.”
Rahner’s “distinct manners of subsisting” derives from the Summae’seach of them subsists distinctly from the others in the divine nature” and in continuity with Gregory of Nyssa.

Hence, there are three subsistences, lacking the same formal identity, not one formal identity taking on three different manners of subsisting, i.e. ‘three ways that God really is.”

FSH denotations refer to divine hypostatic realities or idiomata like nondeterminate persons (EO), exemplifications (Scotist) or subsistences (Thomist) that are analogous to determinate persons (psychological), haecceities (Scotist) or instantiations & primary substances (Thomist).
FSH denotations do not refer to divine substantial realities or propria like nondeterminate ousia, essence or primary substances (Scotist) that are analogous to determinate essence, form, quiddity (Scotist) or secondary substances (Thomist).

As the most fecund metaphysics have rejected this phenomenal-noumenal distinction, the best systematic theologies have, too.

Such classical, disjunctive, dyadic conceptions as the phenomenal vs noumenal, epistemic vs ontic, essentialism vs nominalism, idealism vs realism, logical vs efficient causes, etc all represent two sides of the same bankrupt coinage of our metaphysical realm. If it has no metaphysical currency, that’s precisely because it presupposes the impossibility of metaphysics.

In the most robust metaphysical systems (classical realisms), the structures of objective knowledge remain – not dyadic, but – irreducibly triadic, introducing a third category – mediation (variously, but indispensably, accounted for & articulated). I’ve no space to explicate that here, but, classically, we encounter this triadicity in Aristotelian-Thomist & Scotist accounts and, more recently, in Peirce’s semiotic realism. Various triadic thought systems have indeed presented ubiquitously across cultures & throughout history.

The chief problem with any radically apophatic, trinitarian ignosticism is that it’s epistemically corrosive. It inevitably & successively will reduce to theological & metaphysical ignosticisms, which, in turn, will, necessarily & correlatively, also annihilate our highly speculative theoretical sciences.

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Metaphysical Account of Substantial (Being or Esse) & Hypostatic (Existant or Subject) Modes of Determinate Being
Modal temporality categories include possible, actual, probable & necessary.
Modal adequacy categories include mereological (whole/part/noncomposite) & non|in/finite.
Modal ontology categories include descriptions & references to specific hypostatic realities (determinate persons, instantiations or haecceities or primary substances) with attributions to their precise properties (determinate essence, form, quiddity or secondary substance).
Semantic Univocity & Ontic Analogy of Being
logical categories for dogma e.g. ‘distinct manner of subsisting’ (subsistenzweisen)
ontic categories for systematics
Metaphysical Account of Substantial (Being or Esse) & Hypostatic Modes of Identity of Nondeterminate Being
Modal indentity categories include apophatic references (idiomata) to specific hypostatic realities (nondeterminate persons, exemplifications or subsistences) with apophatic attributions (propria) to their precise properties (nondeterminate ousia, essence or primary substance)
Formal Modes of Identity of Nondeterminate & Determinate Being
Theopoetic Account of Substantial (Being or Esse) & Hypostatic Modes of Nondeterminate Identity
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In Sympathy with many of Scotus’ Detractors if not with all of their Detractions

In a symposium on Daniel Horan’s Postmodernity and Univocity, John Milbank contributes:

To the contrary, to read the univocity of being as “semantic” (a description never given by Scotus himself) must in Scotist terms imply that it occupies a kind of middle ground, exactly that of the formal or transcendental. It is on the middle ground that Scotus has indeed logicised and conceptualised metaphysics, in a revolutionary fashion, but that does not mean that he has replaced it with logic, far less with grammar.

I can’t presume to speak for Scotus. Many others in that symposium and elsewhere offer respectable interpretations. Precisely what’s at stake, though, involves the clarification of whether or not the univocity of being refers to a logical, semantic, conceptual or grammatical term rather than an ontological, metaphysical, ontotheological or actual reality.

It does seem to me, however, that one could say that, in terms of Peircean firstness, non-actual possibilia, which have no reality, a univocity of being would indeed apply – not ontologically, but – grammatically or semantically to our concepts.

Therefore, the univocity of being, as Peircean firstness, would not, in this sense, occupy a metaphysical middle ground. And formal distinction would otherwise refer to Peircean thirdness, what some Thomists might refer to as a metaphysically real distinction.

Wherever they come out on the debate regarding the Scotus Story, it does seem that most interlocutors want to affirm a metaphysics of participation. For Jesus’ part, in his essay, The Vates Christ Jesus and the Struggle to Say Amen, Brian C. Moore, Ph.D. cites my late friend, Jim Arraj:

When Jesus takes our human nature, it does not become less, but more human, and it is made more by its contact with God, the very source of all being, and this intensification of Jesus’ human nature must be understood not only in a personal sense, but in a social one, as well.

And, for our part, Moore emphasizes:

You have to discover yourself as gift. It is not just a question of an isolated will defending its autonomy. Indeed, that is a lie most pernicious. This event is outside time, perpendicular to all temporal happening. It is metaphysically prior and coincident with the gift that is passio essendi. Thus, there is always mystery to identity because identity is a participation in divinity and entails infinite depths.

Moore’s essay reminds me why I resonate with all sorts of tendencies:

Existential Thomism,

neo-platonic thought,

Russian Sophiology,

overcoming – not overturning – metaphysics,

creedal formulae as – not primarily arguments, but – prayers,

theology as – not primarily a science, but – a dance (David Burrell) and, when as science, the science of love (William Johnston),

the integral relationship of science, philosophy & theology,

and such.

I remain, however, agnostic regarding who may be practicing eisegesis or exegesis of either Aquinas or Scotus – not because I believe such can’t be known, in principle, only – because I’m not equipped to discern same, in practice.

I am heartened that so many, who are otherwise in disagreement regarding what Aquinas & Scotus said or really meant to say, seem to resonate in favor of participatory accounts, proper notions of freedom & theosis, etc and over against an artificial extrinsicism (grace vs “pure” nature), voluntarism & neutral secularism (nihilism), etc.

I would like to add the voice of Benedict XVI with his take on Scotus:

Lastly, Duns Scotus has developed a point to which modernity is very sensitive. It is the topic of freedom and its relationship with the will and with the intellect. Our author underlines freedom as a fundamental quality of the will, introducing an approach that lays greater emphasis on the will. Unfortunately, in later authors, this line of thinking turned into a voluntarism, in contrast to the so-called “Augustinian and Thomist intellectualism”. For St Thomas Aquinas, who follows St Augustine, freedom cannot be considered an innate quality of the will, but, the fruit of the collaboration of the will and the mind. Indeed, an idea of innate and absolute freedom – as it evolved, precisely, after Duns Scotus – placed in the will that precedes the intellect, both in God and in man, risks leading to the idea of a God who would not even be bound to truth and good. The wish to save God’s absolute transcendence and diversity with such a radical and impenetrable accentuation of his will does not take into account that the God who revealed himself in Christ is the God “Logos”, who acted and acts full of love for us. Of course, as Duns Scotus affirms, love transcends knowledge and is capable of perceiving ever better than thought, but it is always the love of the God who is “Logos” (cf. Benedict XVI, Address at the University of Regensburg, 12 September 2006). In the human being too, the idea of absolute freedom, placed in the will, forgetting the connection with the truth, does not know that freedom itself must be liberated from the limits imposed on it by sin. All the same, the Scotist vision does not fall into these extremes: for Duns Scotus a free act is the result of the concourse of intellect and will, and if he speaks of a “primacy” of the will, he argues this precisely because the will always follows the intellect.

Whether or not Scotus was the ontological villain & epistemological culprit as some insist, I can’t say. Respectable voices differ. It does seem that suitably appropriated in Peircean terms, neither a univocity of being nor a formal distinction would threaten an ontology of participation. And, Scotus’ primacy of the will need no more devolve, necessarily, into voluntarism than Peirce’s aesthetic primacy ushers in hedonism, if suitably (re-?)framed. Happily, though, I can give my assent to many of the tendencies that some of his biggest detractors affirm!

What the Contemplative Stance Means to Me

A contemplative posture orients one’s disposition toward reality more than it offers propositions about reality. It more so norms “how” we see and less so describes “what” we see.

Contemplation effects metanoia, which includes intellectual, affective, moral, social and religious conversions. While these conversion dynamics are distinct from developmental growth mechanisms (for example, as described by Piaget, Maslow , Kohlberg, Erikson and Fowler, et al), they are not unrelated as they do foster those processes.

The conversions gift us horizon-situated dispositions, which

1) open our perceptions via an awareness that there’s more to any given reality than our own thoughts can suggest; via logos;

2) open our minds to recognize the intelligence on display in other interpretations of any given reality outside of our own social and political circles; via topos;

3) open our souls by expanding what’s reasonable to expect regarding any given reality beyond what our own feelings might suggest; via pathos;

4) open our hands by enlarging our sense of responsibility toward any given reality beyond our own moral and practical concerns; via ethos;

and

5) open our hearts to being in love with and beloved by God, others, the cosmos and even one’s self; via mythos.

See: Contemplative Being, Believing, Belonging, Desiring, Behaving & Becoming

These conversions gift us with what Lonergan described as human authenticity, when he articulated his transcendental imperatives: be aware, be reasonable, be responsible and be intelligent.

Still, what theorists like Lonergan, Maslow, Gerald May, Viktor Frankl and others all eventually came to understand was that self-actualization was in fact a by-product of self-transcendence (not the end-product of self-interested strivings). Any pursuits of self-actualization, authenticity, Enlightenment and such for their own sakes, i.e. as sought after end-products, would be self-defeating, frustrating their own realizations. Any who would aspire to be aware, reasonable, responsible and intelligent — would best realize those values by, first, being in love!

Without following the imperative to be in love, one could not realize sustained authenticity. Without seeking Enlightenment out of solidarity and compassion, rather than for one’s own sake, Enlightenment would forever elude one.

The contemplative stance, then, while mostly dispositional, does entail one universal, even if vague, propositional posit, which is that reality’s origin and end, being and essence, value and appeal, meaning and purpose, is love.

Thus contemplation, as entailed in the spiritual practices, asceticisms and disciplines across traditions, expresses a singular, orthodoxic, soteriological trajectory. This orientation goes beyond the norms of authenticity or of a suitable epistemic humility, dis-positionally, to also include, pro-positionally, a belief that reality is robustly relational. It warrants an existentially actionable interpretation that, wholly and thoroughly beloved, we simply must be loving. (As the children sing why they love Jesus … because He first loved me).

In many cases, through interreligious dialogue, we are discovering that, beyond this singular, shared, orthodoxic, soteriological trajectory, the great traditions and indigenous religions will otherwise diverge with pluralist, diverse, polydoxic, sophiological trajectories, which, more simply put, correspond to different ways of being in love with different aspects of reality, including God, others, self and cosmos.

This is to recognize that, in many ways, as we move beyond the vaguely spiritual to embrace more specific religious paths, it will not necessarily entail competing interpretations of reality but only complementary approaches to reality, which can be variously more inchoate or developed, more or less inclusive, variously emphasizing our unitary being or our unitive strivings, more or less suited to foster conversions and to sustain authenticity, more or less perfectly articulating truth, enjoying comm-unity, celebrating beauty, preserving goodness and growing freedom & love. I mean to say all of that in full consonance with Pope Paul VI’s proclamation, Nostra Aetate.

When institutionalized religions fail in fostering conversions and in sustaining authenticity, many followers will, understandably, retreat into a spiritual but not religious stance. When religions are at their best, though, well, we “see how they love one another” as they foster open minds, open hearts and open hands!

And we see where the quest, itself, becomes our grail; the risks of faith, hope and love, themselves, become our rewards; the journey, itself, becomes our destination; the spiritual process, itself, becomes our transformational product; the next good step becomes the entire recovery program; the commitment, itself, becomes our outcome; the prayer and sitting, themselves, become our consolation.

Life’s highest goods, alone, can thus be enjoyed without moderation, as the pursuits of truth, unity, beauty, goodness and freedom are, intrinsically, their own rewards. The contemplative stance embodies that real-ization. Good religion enhances it.