Getting caught with their pants down

Seven years ago when i was exploring other Christian traditions and reading heavily in the early fathers (and all the leading monographs), I came to the conclusion that if you don’t make Triadology (or its correlate Christology) central, you risk getting your whole theological method wrong.

A number of Conference Calvinists said, “Nuh-uh.”

Well, here we are today.  My thoughts on the current fighting on the Trinity regarding complementarianism:

  1. CMBW (or complementarian advocates on the Trinity) say you shouldn’t exalt the Fathers over the Bible.  Well, it’s not the simple.  As Torrance pointed out, once you terms like Ὁμοουσιον become enshrined in Christian discourse, you can’t go backwards. Ὁμοουσιον safeguards the ontological structure and identity of of the essence.  If you jettison this doctrine, you risk jettisoning everything that goes with it.
  2. As it stands, the complementarians/EFS guys are wrong.   But they aren’t 100% wrong.  It is wrong of them to read roles and functions into the eternal being of God.  You end up with Arianism.  Since God’s being is simple and identical among the Persons, it just doesn’t work.  If the Son’s being is eternally subordinate and the Father’s isn’t, then by definition they don’t have the same Being.
  3. But they have noticed something.  There is a difference of taxis in the Trinity.  That’s what the Fathers call “monarchia.”
  4. Neither side has really come to grips with that.
  5. I suspect one of the reasons is that the Evangelical world only has two categories for the Trinity: Ontological and Economical.  The Fathers had a third category:  The Person.
  6. But the real reason is we just don’t talk about the Trinity, and if we do we don’t let the full import of Athanasius’s ontology change how we do everything.   For one, it’s hard.  Athanasius’s most important work is Contra Arianos.  It isn’t On the Incarnation.  And the former work is quite demanding.  You won’t get invited to TGC conferences speaking on an Athanasian metaphysics.

 

T. F. Torrance (Intellectual Biography)

This book is divided into two parts: a brief treatment of Torrance’s life and an examination of his thought. His parents were missionaries to China and fostered a deep piety and evangelistic zeal in the young Torrance. Torrance grew up reading the bible through each year. His dad could repeat the Psalms and Romans by heart.

T. F. Torrance: An Intellectual Biography

Of particular interest is Torrance’s lectureships in America, ironically at liberal institutions. They were not ready for his evangelistic style of lecturing. Auburn Theological Seminary (largely liberal) invited a 25 year old Thomas Torrance to guest lecture. He ended up evangelizing his students on the deity of Christ. He was invited to teach at Princeton University but they told him it was to be a neutral atmosphere and that he shouldn’t get involved with the students religious beliefs.
Torrance: I make no such promises. He was hired nonetheless.

McGrath skillfully makes use of unpublished mss and shows us a very interesting side of Torrance. Torrance’s life often borders on a heroism found in novels.

His Thought

Was Torrance a “Barthian?” No. As he made powerfully clear to Donald Macleod he was an “Athanasian” before he was a Barthian. Nevertheless, Torrance’s legacy is connected with Barth’s.

On the reception of Barth

No one is a pure Barthian. McGrath notes the numerous difficulties in Barth’s reception in the English-speaking world. This narrative takes place within Torrance’s “cold war” with John Baillie. McGrath quotes A. Cheyne in suggesting four different ways someone could “receive” Barth’s teachings:

1. Superficial influence, but largely unchanged and staying within the liberal tradition
2. Entire outlook affected but withheld ultimate approval.
3. real but cautious admirers.
4. Uncritical admirers (Alec Cheyne, “The Baillie Brothers,” in Fergusson, Church and Society, 3-37, 33, quoted in McGrath, 89).

McGrath notes that Barth wasn’t well-received in the Scandinavian Lutheran countries, given Barth’s firm commitment to Reformed Christology. Barth took longer to make headroads into Anglican because, as McGrath ruefully muses, Anglicanism didn’t have much of a dogmatic center (McGrath 122-123). This was not the case in Presbyterian Scotland, which in many ways was a dogmatic center!

McGrath lists four criteria that must be in place if a foreign thinker like Barth is to make headway:
1. Competent translations of the most important works into the new language.
2. A journal dedicated to sympathetic viewpoints.
3. A publishing house which is prepared to handle primary and secondary material.
4. A platform where a rising generation may be influenced.

Torrance’s thought is a Reformed reworking of Athanasius’s insight that the homoousion–the oneness of being between Father and Son–means a oneness of Being-in-Act in God’s saving and revealing himself to us. The doctrine of the Trinity is an outcome of an intellectual engagement with God kata physin. “The nature of God was disclosed to be such that Trinitarian thinking was the only appropriate response to the reality thus encountered” (161). Scientific realism allows direct correlations between self-revelation of God and God himself.

McGrath breaks new ground in shedding light on a key tension in Torrance’s so-called “Barthianism.” Can there be a positive relation between God’s self-revelation and a bare natural theology? Maybe. Problem: If all theology proceeds from God’s self-revelation in Christ, then where can natural theology fit (185)?

Early Torrance: “revelation is an act in which God confronts us with his person, in which he imparts himself” (Torrance, Christian Doctrine of Revelation, 32, Auburn lectures). If this is the case, how can man “reason upwards to God?” Again, and as always, the solution is found in Athanasius. Knowledge of God and knowledge of the world share the same foundations in the rationality of God the creator.
1. God is in possession of an intrinsic rationality–the divine logos.
2. That logos has become incarnate in Jesus Christ, so that Christology becomes the key to accessing the inner rationality of God.
3. the divine rationality is also seen in the created order, in which the divine logos can be discerned at work in the contingent yet ordered nature of the world.
4. Creation (1-3) makes natural theology possible.

The book is magnificent. Its rather foreboding price prevents it from being an otherwise perfect introduction to Torrance’s thought

Frame: Early Christian Philosophy

I’m more critical on Frame on this section.  I am not a specialist in patristic literature, but I think I am close.  Still, Frame has a number of incisive points that are worth mentioning.

Justin Martyr

Logos is logos spermatikos, the seed of reason in all peoples.   Justin tends to ignore the principle that men suppress the truth in unrighteousness (91).

Via Negativa

Justin says we should prefer negative descriptions of God.  This isn’t biblical.  Scripture doesn’t hesitate to ascribe positive names to God.  Differerence here between covenantal thinking.

Creation

Borderline Gnostic.  God doesn’t create directly “but brings forth subordinate beings to the task” (92).  For a great survey see Colin Gunton’s The Triune Creator.

Irenaeus

rule of faith:  early baptismal creed (Frame 95).

Tertullian:

Stronger doctrine of the antithesis and a development in Christian epistemology (98).  Tertullian was a traducianist.  Tended to confuse metaphysical and ethical categories.

Athanasius

Decent summary of Nicene controversy.  The reader is encouraged to seek out Torrance on Athanasius.  Frame hints that Athanasius was present at Nicea and made speeches (106).  This is highly doubtful.

Augustine

Good survey of Augustine’s epistemology. I can doubt but I can never doubt my doubting.  Truth by nature is imperishable.  If truth passes away, then it is true that truth passes away.  Therefore, truth didn’t pass away.

My criticisms of Frame in this chapter

*He faults Irenaeus for holding to recapitulation (96), thinking it leads to Eastern Orthodoxy.  Well, but what about Ephesians 1:10?

Vindicae Torrance Contra Orthodox Bridge

Normally when I respond to Orthodox Bridge, I am trying to refute them and vindicate Reformed theology.  This post will be different.  Orthodox Bridge, in a move completely out of character for them, examined a high-profile Reformed theologian’s work. I encourage you to read the piece.  True, it does have all of the flaws of an OB post, but it is also quite informative and comes close to getting to the “real issues.”

I say they “came close” to the real issues.  They did not address them. Orthodox Bridge doesn’t like talking about prolegomena, Revelation, or the Doctrine of God.  And that’s where Torrance is most powerful.

We can spend all arguing over Election vs. Works-Righteousness, but what’s the point? I think this topic highlights the fundamental epistemological and ontological differences between the two streams of thought.  Much of the article is informative and needs no interaction on my part.  So let’s begin:

Arakaki is interacting with a Participatio issue on Torrance.

He was also critical of certain elements of Reformed theology, at least of the Dutch variant.

(and he goes to mention Torrance’s rejection of Limited Atonement stems from his Scottish theology.)  Several problems here:  LA wasn’t a Dutch innovation.  It has strong British and even Scottish elements.  

Arakaki writes

 

I would argue that the Nicene Creed emerged out of the interaction between the regula fidei (rule of faith) handed down by the bishops and the Church’s reading of Scripture, that is between oral tradition and written tradition.  I noticed that Torrance made no mention of oral tradition in his essay.  This is a significant omission because it is in oral tradition that the sense of Scripture is preserved.  If one looks at the early patristic writings, e.g., Irenaeus of Lyons, one finds that the rule of faith (creed) was derived from oral tradition, not from Scripture (Against Heresies 1.10.1).

 

First of all, Arakaki isn’t “arguing” anything.  He is asserting.  An argument has defensible premises leading to a conclusion.  Secondly, Torrance didn’t mention oral tradition because oral tradition is impossible to empirically verify. What would have been the point of such a discussion?  Orthodox apologists are big on telling us the “that” of Oral Tradition.  They have never proven the “what” of it.

The appeal to Irenaeus doesn’t alleviate the problem.  If Oral Tradition is simply “the rule of faith,” then a number of key distinctives are ruled out:  iconostasis, incense, prayers to Mary, etc.  I am not saying these are wrong, mind you, but if Oral Tradition = Regula Fide = something like early Roman baptismal creeds, then the above distinctions cannot be part of Oral Tradition.

Arakaki is bothered that Torrance doesn’t view the Nicene Creed prescriptively with regard to the teaching authority of the bishops.  He notes,

So, as much as Torrance is sympathetic to the Orthodox Church’s position, he does not seem to get it at certain significant points of doctrine and polity.

My initial reaction is “so?”  You’ve merely illustrated a difference.  You have not demonstrated Torrance to be wrong.

Torrance on Justification

Arakaki quotes Fairbairn on Cyril defining the Protestant view of justification as

The challenge here lay in finding in Cyril the Protestant understanding of justification as a passively received righteousness and sanctification as a cooperatively produced holiness/righteousness (Fairbairn p. 126).

This isn’t entirely true of Torrance’s position.  Torrance, given his Barthian view of revelation, sees both objective and subjective elements in Justification. The objective element is Christ’s work on the cross.  The subjective element is the faith of Christ in his life, which presents itself to us in an objective manner.

Maybe Torrance is wrong on here, but it is a glaring oversight to ignore Torrance’s most important essay on the topic (“Justification in Doctrine and Life,” in Theology in Reconstruction, pp. 150-168).

Divine Energies

Not surprisingly, Torrance rejects the essence/energies construction.  Arakaki, by contrast, follows the Palamite claim that  while God is unknowable in His Essence, we can know God through his Energies.  Now we are at the heart of the disagreement.  

For Torrance, not only is such a claim unnecessary, it is wrong and un-Athanasian.  To be sure, Arakaki is bothered by Torrance’s pitting Athanasius against other Fathers, but so be it.  Torrance argues that we can know God.  Per Athanasius, there is a mutual relation of knowing and being.  Christ’s being homoousion with the Father means that he really gives knowledge of God to us.  God really communicates himself to us.  He doesn’t hold anything back.  Our knowledge of God is rooted in the eternal being of God himself (Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith, 59).  If Jesus really gives us knowledge of himself–indeed, he gives us his very self–and if the Logos inheres in the very being of God, then how can we posit an unknowable gap in the knowledge of God?

Here is another way to state the problem:  Is God the same God in his modes of origination as he is in his modes of revelation?  If yes, then that is Torrance’s position.  If no, you might not have the Christian God.

Didymus rebuts Basil’s distinction between the energies/operations of God and the immediate activity of his being…for it would damage a proper understanding of the real presence of God to us in his Spirit” (Torrance 210).

The Monarchia of The Trinity

What is the causal anchor point of the Trinity?  Does the monarchia refer to the hypostasis of the Father (per Basil and later EO teaching) or does it refer to the Triunity of God?  This is the key moment where Torrance wins the debate.  Well, I say wins the debate.  Arakaki doesn’t really argue the point. But here is the problem:

In order to rebut the charge that their (i.e., the Cappadocians) differentiation between the three hypostases implied three divine principles, they shifted the weight of the term “Cause” onto the Father. This had a damaging effect of seeing the Deity of the Father as wholly uncaused but the deity of the Son/Spirit as eternally derived or caused.  Further, they cast the internal relations between the three Persons into a consecutive structure or causal chain of dependence, instead of conceiving them (like Athanasius) in terms of their coinherent and undivided wholeness (Torrance 238).  Gregory of Nazianzus was probably closest to Athanasius in that he could speak (if somewhat inconsistently) of the deity as Monarchia.

Torrance: “The Cappadocian attempt to redefine ousia as a generic concept, with the loss of its concrete sense of being as internal relations, meant that it would be difficult if not impossible for theology to move from the self-revelation of God in his evangelical acts to what he is inherent in himself.  If God’s Word and act are not inherent (enousia) in his being or ousia, as Athanasius insisted, then we cannot relate what God is toward us in his saving relation and activity to what he is in himself” (246).

Assessment

 

One of Torrance’s greatest shortcomings was his failing to understand or take seriously the conciliar nature of Orthodox theology.  This failing seems to apply not just to Torrance, but to other Protestants as well.

 

And these are assertions, not arguments.  I need not take them seriously.  What you would need to do is a) prove that your approach is correct and b) then show how the Protestant approach entails logical self-refutations.  

 

Until Protestants grapple with the ecclesial and conciliar dimensions of doing theology, theological dialogue between Reformed and Orthodox Christians will be hampered by misunderstandings and people speaking past each other

 

Until EO apologists like Orthodox Bridge move beyond surface-level assertions, theological dialogue will be hampered and we will speak past each other.  Remember, a bridge is a two-way street.  Methinks–in fact, meknows–that Orthodox Bridge has no intention of learning from Protestants in form of correction.  Given their identity as having the fullness of faith, what could they possibly learn from us schismatics?  

 

Protestant theologians need to engage in a critical scrutiny to theological methods, both theirs and those outside the Protestant tradition.

 

Orthodox theologians  need to engage in a critical scrutiny to theological methods, both theirs and those outside the Orthodox tradition.

 

For example, Reformed Christians need to discuss with the Orthodox the importance of the Ecumenical Councils and the patristic consensus for doing theology.

 

You first.  This is a two-way street.  Where are you wrong that we can help you?  If you are not willing to admit that, you are dishonest.  You don’t want dialogue.  You want converts.  That’s fine.  Just say so in the first place.  You see, you can’t say that.  Your tradition is infallible.  

 

All too often one finds Reformed theologians who are quick to stereotype Orthodox Christianity or who fail to read the church fathers in their historical context.

 

All too often one finds Orthodox theologians who are quick to stereotype Reformed Christianity or who fail to read the church fathers in their historical context

Outline Torrance Trinitarian Faith

Chapter 1
1.  Christ is himself the content of God’s self-revelation

    1. We know the Father through his Son.
    2. Christ’s vicarious humanity
      1. he did not come in a man but as man.
      2. Christ ministers the things of God to man and the things of man to God.
  1. The Nicene Ordo
    1. The triune God’s activity
      1. Godward relations: From the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.
      2. manward relations: in the Spirit, through the Son and to the Father (Torrance 5).
  2. Nicene Creed is Kerygmatic
    1. Passed on by faith
    2. Radical shift in the pious’s understanding.
      1. Moved from in-turned human reason (epinoia) to a centre in god’s revealing activity in the incarnation of the Logos (19).
      2. view of faith: not subjectively grounded, but objectively grounded persuasion of mind, supported by the hypostasis of God’s being.   Hilary: in faith a person takes his stand on the ground of God’s own being (De Trin. 1.18).
    3. scientific knowledge: episteme–standing or establishment of the mind upon objective reality.
      1. It is through faith that our minds are put in touch with a reality independent of themselves.
      2. It is through faith our minds assent to the inherent intelligibility of things, yield to their self-evidencing power and are adapted to know them in their own nature (kata phusin).
    4. Faith is not non-cognitive.
      1. it involves the mind’s responsible assent to the self-revelation of God in Christ.
      2. it arises under the creative impact of God’s word (21).
      3. it is listening obedience (upakoe tes pisteos).

Conclusion: we must learn from God himself what we are to think of him (Hilary, De Trin. 5.20).

  1.  Rejection of Dualism: Irenaeus rejected the Philonic aisthetos cosmos/noetos cosmos distnction, preventing the faith from being relativised.

Chapter 2: Access to the Father

  1. Father/Son relation
    1. We approach God as Father through the Son (49).
      1. If we begin, rather, with concepts like “Unoriginate” then we will have a vague concept of God and we know nothing about who he really is.
      2. If we cannot say anything positive about God, then we really can’t say anything negative about him.
      3. Leaving us, therefore, with no point in God by reference to which we can control our assumptions (51).
    2. Scientific knowledge, again
      1. In accordance with the nature of the reality being investigated (kata phusin).
      2. Therefore, we can speak truly about God.
      3. Since there is no likeness between God’s being and the created being, God can only be known from himself.
    3. God’s Communication
      1. In the Incarnation God does not tell us some fact about himself, but he gives us his very self.
      2. By Jesus’s coming to us as man, his humanity reveals the very nature of God (56).
    4. Knowing and Being
      1. Matt. 11:27
      2. The father and the son have a mutual relation of knowing.  Only the Son can know the Father and reveal him.
      3. Therefore, a mutual relation of knowing entails a mutual relation of being.  This gives us direct access to the closed circle of divine knowing.
      4. Our knowledge of God is rooted in the eternal being of God himself (59).
    5. More on epistemology
      1. The doctrine of the Son comes first because he is Logos.  Our knowledge of God is already pre-Worded.
      2. The humanity of Christ is the arche of all of God’s works.
        1. It is a vicarious humanity: the controlling principle by which all of our knowledge of God is tested.
        2. Our knowledge of God must conform to Christ because he is the Eidos of the Godhead.
  2. Contrast with Judaism
    1. Epistemology: we may know God the father in a more positive way.
    2. We have a conceptual grasp on God’s internal relations.
  3. Contrast with hellenism
    1. Priority of Vision
      1. Hellenism gives a conceptual priority of sight.
      2. Modes of seeing: idea, eidos, theoria
      3. Knowledge = vision taking place conceptually through a beam of light directed from eye to object.
    2. The Obedience of Hearing
      1. (hupoke tes akoues)
      2. Are the terms “Father” and “Son” meant to be visual images?   Hellenism said yes.  Hebraism said no.
      3. Images:
        1. For Hellenism images were mimetically related to what they signify.
        2. Hebraism: proper images used in speech and thought refer to God without imaging him.
    3. Activity of God
      1. Word and activity are intrinsic to the very being of God (enousios logos and enousios energia).
      2. The Greek doctrine of Logos was coopted by the Hebrew notion of The Word of the Lord (Debar Yahweh).
      3. The Logos is not an abstract cosmological  principle.
        1. The Logos inheres in the very being of God.
        2. The inner being of God is always an eloquent, speaking being.
      4. Energia refers now to the providential activity of God.
        1. rejected is the Aristotelian energia akinesias.
        2. God is never without his activity.  Being is dynamic.  And so is creaturely being.  Doctrine of motion.  
        3. God’s act is always act-in-his-being.  

The Almighty Creator

    1. Priority of Fatherhood: our knowledge of God as creator is taken from our knowledge of God as Father.
      1. Source and Fount: God is the ultimate source only as he is Father of the Son.
        1. If God is without offspring, then he is without works, for the Son is the offspring through whome he works.
        2. The triune God is the arche: mia theotes kai mia arche
      2. It is as Father that God is the fount (pege) of all being.
        1. Our concept of God must be controlled through the revelation of God as pater of the Son.
        2. The Son’s becoming man links the created arche with the uncreated arche.
        3. Thus, a two-fold, vicarious humanity.
    2. God was not always creator.
      1. Distinction between nature (phusei) of God and the will (Boulesei) of God.
        1. Son is by nature.
        2. Creation by will.
        3. Phusei and Boulesei can’t be identical, otherwise we risk linking the generation of the Son with the creation of the world.
      2. Athanasius: the nature of things that came into existence have no likeness in being to their maker, but are external to him and depend on him for existence.
      3. For God to create is secondary and for him to beget is primary.
        1. God was always Father but not always maker.
        2. In God’s self-communication to us in the Incarnation there is something new to the eternal being of God.  God is free to do what he has never done before.
    3. God does not will for himself to exist alone
      1. Creation out of nothing, part one.
        1. What is the relation of God to the universe?  It is neither a necessary relation nor an accidental relation.
        2. the universe was created by the eternal Word, so it is an intelligible product of the Divine Mind.
      2. The Universe is a temporal analogue
    4. Ex Nihilo
      1. The real starting point of creation ex nihilo was the Resurrection of Christ, for it demonstrated God’s power over death and non-being.
      2. Distinction between Word and Will
    5. Contingence of Creation
      1. creation is suspended and unstable (reustos).
      2. It is sustained by the divine Logos.

 

  • sumbebekos: creaturely events are neither necessary nor random.

 

      1. Thus, they are contingent.
    1. Contingence Proper
      1. creation has a measure of genuine, if limited independence.
      2. However, the independence itself is dependent on God.
      3. Nature has a limited autonomy: “bring forth fruit after its own kind.”
    2. Intelligibility of Creation
      1. Rejecting dualisms of intelligible and sensible realms.
      2. Single rational order pervades the universe.
  1. Relational Conception of Time and space
    1. it relates to God one way in his transcendent nature and to creatures another way.
    2. Within the universe are spatial-temporal structures which are open to the creative and ordering activity of God.
    3. This broke free from the deterministic universe of Greece.
      1. the laws of nature depend on the voice of God.
  2. Freedom of creation
    1. physics of light: created light is a created reflection of the uncreated light of God.
    2. It is contingently related to God’s constancy and invariance.

God of God, Light of Light

  1. Homoousios safeguards God’s Revelation
    1. If Christ were not homoousios toi patri, then he could not reveal God to us.
      1. There is no interval of time, being, or knowledge in the Godhead.
      2. The Father/Son relationship falls within the one being of God (Torrance 119).
    2. Light
      1. Light is never without its radiance.
      2. The Son is proper to the being of the Father.
  2. Homoousios
    1. Always implies another.
      1. Begotten from within the being of the Father.
      2. Implies internal distinctions and internal relations.
    2. Hermeutical Significance
      1. Inner structure of the gospel.
      2. Kerygma of truth = canon of scripture.
      3. The words of Scripture point to realities beyond themselves.
    3. Hermeneutical Instrument
      1. What God is toward us and in the midst of us is what God really is in himself (130).
      2. “ousia” now means more than simply “being.”  It means “being” in its inward reference.  hupastasis means being in its outward reference (or at least it did for Athanasius).
      3. The Being of God is never static.  The doctrine of enousios energeia means that being is dynamic.

Chapter 5: The Incarnate Savior

    1. Divine philanthropia
      1. The mediation of Christ involved a twofold movement: man to God::God to man
      2. Only God can save, but he saves as man.
    2. The Incarnation
      1. Kenosis was not a dimunition of God’s being but tapeinosis, impoverishment and abasement (153).
      2. The notions of servant and priest are tied together in Christ.
    3. The Atonement
      1. The atonement falls within the being and life of God.  It does not take place outside of Christ, but in him.
      2. The traditional biblical language of atonement is connected with Christ’s ontological solidarity.
      3. Deification (166)
        1. redemption and knowledge/illumination were closely connected in Patristic thought.
        2. Redemption is tied to the whole of Christ’s life
      4. Athanasius’s vicarious terms are not merely external to the being of Christ.
        1. They reveal a coherent pattern governed by an underlying unity in the person of Christ.

The Eternal Spirit

    1. Lexicography of Spirit

 

  • ruach carries a connotation that pneuma normally didn’t:  active, concrete presence/force.

 

    1. The spirit of God is not some emission of divine force but the confrontation of human beings and their affairs with his own divine self (192).
  1. Perceiving the Spirit
    1. Spirit is the specific nature of God’s eternal being.
    2. Christ is the only Eidos of the Godhead but Spirit is the Eidos of the Son.
      1. The Spirit himself is imageless.
      2. Epiphanius: we must use our ears rather than our eyes, for we know the Spirit only through his Word.
  2. Function
    1. The Holy Spirit no less than the Son is the self-giving of God (201).
    2. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit is derived from God.
      1. God himself is the content of his self-revelation.
      2. “doctrine developed naturally and properly out of the inner structure of knowledge of the one God grounded in his self-revelation and self-communication as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (202).
      3. Yet, knowledge of the spirit is taken and controlled by our knowledge of the Son’s homoousios, for it is only through this prism is the knowledge of God mediated to us.
  3. Interpretive Account
    1. God is Spirit and the Holy Spirit is God
      1. The Arians equated the limits of their understanding with the limits of reality (207).
      2. However, the Holy Spirit controls the categories for understanding.  He stands for the “unconditionality and irreversibility of the Lordship of God in his revelation” (Barth, CD I/1, 468ff).
    2. Spirit and Homoousion
      1. When the Holy Spirit is given to us, God is in us, and if the homoousion holds true, then Christ is in us.  “It is not merely by his power or operation, but God himself is present to us in his being.
      2. Didymus rebuts Basil’s distinction between the energies/operations of God and the immediate activity of his being…for it would damage a proper understanding of the real presence of God to us in his Spirit” (Torrance 210).
      3. The Spirit is spirit both in his ousia and his hypostasis.
        1. The Spirit reveals both the hypostases of Father and Son, but he is not directly known to us in his hypostasis.
        2. He remains veiled as he unveils the other two (Didymus, De Trin. 3.36)
        3. “He is the invisible light in whose shining we see the uncreated light of God manifest in Jesus Christ, and is known himself only in that he lights up the face of God in Jesus Christ” (Torrance 212).
  4. The Holy Spirit is distinctively personal reality along with and inseparable from the Father and the Son.
    1. Basil drew a sharp distinction between the one ousia of God and the three hypostases.
      1. He drew prosopon and onoma into the range of meaning expressed by hypostasis.
    2. Epiphanius had a more Hebraic slant.
      1. He preferred to see the persons as enhypostatic rather than as modes of existence.
      2. He applied homoousion beyond simply relating to each person, but also to the inner relations as well (Torrance 222).
    3. Personalism
      1. We are personalized persons, persona personata.
      2. God alone is properly and intrinsically Person.
  5. The Procession of the Spirit
    1. Whatever else we may say about the procession of the Spirit, we must ground our knowledge of the Spirit in our knowledge of the Son (231).
    2. Thesis 1: The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, and belonging to the Son is from him given to the disciples and all who believe on him (Torrance 231).
      1. The Spirit proceeds from the father and receives from him and gives (kai ek tou autou lambanei); the Spirit receives from the Son (ek tou Hiou lambanei).
      2. If the Son is of (ek) the Father and proper to his being (idios tes ousias autou), the Spirit who is said to be of (ek) God must also be proper to the Son in respect of his being (idion einai kat’ ousian tou Hiou).
    3. Double movement of thought
      1. What the Holy Spirit is towards us, he is in himself AND what he is in himself he is towards us.
      2. the Holy Spirit belongs to the constitutive internal relations of God.
    4. The Cappadocians
      1. In order to rebut the charge that their differentiation between the three hypostases implied three divine principles, they shifted the weight of the term “Cause” onto the Father.
      2. This had a damaging effect of seeing the Deity of the Father as wholly uncaused but the deity of the Son/Spirit as eternally derived or caused.
      3. Further, they cast the internal relations between the three Persons into a consecutive structure or causal chain of dependence, instead of conceiving them (like Athanasius) in terms of their coinherent and undivided wholeness (Torrance 238).  Gregory of Nazianzus was probably closest to Athanasius in that he could speak (if somewhat inconsistently) of the deity as Monarchia.
        1. Nazianzus saw the terms arche and aitia as more likely referring to relations or schezeis subsisting in God beyond all time, origin, and cause.
    5. Beginning the Filioque Problematic
      1. Athanasius had taught that the Spirit is ever in the hands of the Father who sends and of the Son who gives him as his very own.  This is where Trinitarian reflection should have stayed.
      2. Torrance: “The Cappadocian attempt to redefine ousia as a generic concept, with the loss of its concrete sense of being as internal relations, meant that it would be difficult if not impossible for theology to move from the self-revelation of God in his evangelical acts to what he is inherent in himself.  If God’s Word and act are not inherent (enousia) in his being or ousia, as Athanasius insisted, then we cannot relate what God is toward us in his saving relation and activity to what he is in himself” (246).
        1. Cappadocian impasse:

The Triunity of God

  1. Athanasius
    1. God is eternally triune in himself.
    2. The true knowledge of God is knowledge of Him as he is Father and Son in his own being.
      1. The fullness of the Father’s godhead is the being of the Son (Contr. Ari. 3.5).
      2. homoousion carried within it the idea of coinherent relations within the one being of God.
        1. not a mere linking of properties but complete indwelling.
    3. There is a hierarchy of our knowing God but not a hierarchy in the being of God.
      1. We take our knowledge of the Father from the Son and our knowledge of the Spirit from the Son.
    4. Terminology
      1. ousia: lays stress on intrinsic constitution
      2. hypostasis: a reality ad alios, God as manifest.
      3. Monarchia:
        1. The Father is the arche of the Son.
        2. As the Son has the Godhead, he, too, is an arche.  But he is not an arche subsisting in himself.
        3. His view of the complete identity, equality, and unity of the Persons was so strong that he declined to advance a few of the Monarchy with respect to the person of the Father.
        4. He rather prefered to speak of God as Monas rather than Arche.
  2. Basil, The Gregories, and Didymus
    1. Basil: ousia should be treated as an abstract generic term.  This modified the early Athanasian approach.  Ousia was now equated with phusis as the common nature of the three persons.
    2. This is connected with Basil’s sharp distinction between God’s essence and God’s energies.  This also means we can only differentiate the persons by their peculiar characteristics.