A Collatio in Response to Edward Feser’s review of David Bentley Hart’s _That All Shall Be Saved_

A Collatio in Response to Edward Feser’s review of That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation By David Bentley Hart, Yale University Press (2019).

Feser recently published this review: David Bentley Hart’s attack on Christian tradition fails to convince

Precis of Feser’s Review

For Hart, at the end of the day it is not scripture, not the Fathers, not the councils, not the creeds, not Holy Tradition, that should determine what Christians believe.

The Fathers

Feser: The possibility of eternal damnation is taught in Scripture, by almost all the Church Fathers.

Why did Jesus not explicitly say that everyone will be saved, if that is what he meant? Why did it take centuries before any Christian even floated the idea?

Response:

Ambrose Andreano: Patristic universalism


The Councils

Feser: The Council of Trent rejected the view that a Christian can be certain of his salvation. As a non-Catholic, Hart would not be troubled by some of these facts, but his view is generally considered heterodox even in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Response:


Justin Coyle: May a Catholic faithful to the magisterium endorse universalism?


The Scriptures

Feser: Hart dismisses the traditional interpretation of the scriptural passages that teach the possibility of everlasting punishment. He claims that Christ’s words to this effect are either hyperbole of the kind typical of parables and apocalyptic literature, or have been mistranslated. When Christ speaks of punishment that is “everlasting”, he really means merely that it will last for an age.

Response:

Matthew Joss – Graduate Student of St. Mary’s College Logos Institute, University of St. Andrews writes:

DBH describes his hermeneutical method: obvious doctrinal statements (generally from the epistles) should be privileged over the figurative language of the Gospels and Revelation (93-94). There is an extended section dealing with the translation of aionios, which is quite helpful, although its actual application to texts is limited. He concludes, “The texts of the gospels simply make no obvious claim about a place or state of endless suffering”


Theological Anthropology

Feser: On the philosophical side, too, Hart’s book is a mess. A line of argument developed by Aquinas holds that it is impossible for the will to change its basic orientation after the death of the body. The reason is that the intellect’s attention can be pulled away from what it judges to be good and worth pursuing only by the senses and imagination, and these go when the body goes. The view has been spelled out and defended in detail within the Thomist tradition, but Hart has little to say about it other than to dismiss it with a few insults and cursory objections which Thomists have already answered.

Response:


Pastor Tom Belt:
Maximian irrevocability thesis


Moral Responsibility

Feser: Hart argues that since rational creatures are made to know and love God, any choice against God is irrational. If a choice is non-culpable because it is irrational, how can we be culpable for any bad thing that we do (given that bad actions are always contrary to reason)? How can we deserve even finite punishments? And if we can’t, then why do we need a saviour?

Response:

DBH: response to David W. Opderbeck, Ph.D.

Hart’s Rhetoric

Feser: DBH’s book freely indulges the boundless appetite for gratuitous invective and other ad hominem rhetoric for which he is famous.

Response:


John Sobert Sylvest:
re DBH’s harsh rhetoric

Hart’s Pantheism


Feser: Hart holds that all human beings are parts of Christ’s body in such a way that if even one person is damned forever, then Christ’s body is incomplete, and even his obedience to the Father is incomplete. Hart also holds that the individual self is destined to be “reduced to nothing” so that we can be “free of what separates us from God and neighbour.” What is left he compares to the Hindu notion of Atman. But all of this is hard to distinguish from a pantheism that blasphemously deifies human beings.

Response:


John Sobert Sylvest: That’s too facile a caricature to dignify with a response.


Divine & Human Agential Interaction

John Sobert Sylvest:
account of the noncompetitive nature of divine & human agencies

The Arguments of DBH Ed Feser Failed to Engage

Response 1

John Sobert Sylvest:
Essay Before Reading TASBS

Response 2

John Sobert Sylvest:
Essay After Reading TASBS

This should be read in conjunction with:

The Summer of Love: Feser-Hart Redux

And with:

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

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

Anyone Could Bust a Universalist Move!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

1) instrumental accounts of evil, suffering & pain

2) evidential theodicies

3) libertarianisms

4) compatibilisms

5) intellectualisms

6) voluntarisms

7) consequential (& instrumental) disproportionalities and

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

This is all more fully explicated in Retreblement.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In conclusion, an abbreviated Litany of Humility:

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

David B. Hart and the problem of evil

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

David Bentley Hart and Universalism: This Week

 

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

 

All Shall Be Saved


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Divine Communications – musings regarding the participatable logoi

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Closing:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

With some clarifications of my theological anthropology here:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

From early reviews and liberal previews of

David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved

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

hart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 2020

See this Twitter feed for an exhaustive list of reviews:

https://mobile.twitter.com/AEROdynamicCat1

Meanwhile …

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

Condemned to Salvation: Considering Universalism with David Bentley Hart

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

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

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

Shall All Be Saved?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Bentley Hart has Written a Silly Book

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

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

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

View at Medium.com

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

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

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

Review: That All Shall Be Saved

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

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

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

Good God?

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

David Bentley Hart: That All Shall Be Saved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dangerous Hart of Universalism

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

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

Rob Grayson reviews “That All Shall Be Saved”

David Bentley Hart – That All Shall Be Saved

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

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

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

That All Shall Be Saved: A Review

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

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

David Bentley Hart, on Grace Beyond Supply and Demand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian Humanist Profiles 169: That All Shall Be Saved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Misreading David Bentley Hart on Universalism [I]

David Bentley Hart & the Wisdom of Universalism [II]

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

View at Medium.com

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

Marcionism, Allegorical Exegesis, and the Question of Universal Salvation

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

David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved

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

DAVID BENTLEY HART FINDS A WAY OUT OF HELL

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

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

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

To Heck with Hell

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

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

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

Has David Bentley-Hart gone off his rocker?

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

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

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

Book Review: That All Shall Be Saved

God our Savior, Who Desires all People to be Saved

Is A Literal Hell Believable In The 21st Century?

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

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

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

The Gag-Reflex and the Doctrine of Hell

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

Hart, Martin, and the Evolution of Hell

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

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

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

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

https://simuljocularetpeccator.wordpress.com

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

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

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

David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament: A Review

Afterward

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

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

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

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

With some clarifications of my theological anthropology here:

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Vestigia, Imagines & Similitudines Dei per Universalism & Apokatastasis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are some reflections evoked by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These implications of my universalism thus turn on this distinction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dogmatic Presuppositions of my theological anthropology

In a way, the answers — to such questions as

1) “libertarianism or compatibilism?”

2) “intellectualism or voluntarism?” and

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

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

1) existence in potency to being,

2) efficient to material (will) and

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

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

1) leg braces, facilitating and/or

2) a bear trap, crippling the potentialities,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

voluntarism, intellectualism, libertarianism & compatibilism – Oh my!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

Calvin, Luther, Aquinas & Scotus

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

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

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

Bonaventure & Scotus on 1 Timothy 2:4

W

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At Academia: Retreblement – A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology

At Scribd: Retreblement – A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology

More Eschatological Anthropology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To wit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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