Chain of Being (Review)

Arthur Lovejoy analyzes a powerful if flawed concept’s “control” over Western mind since Plato. The chain of being is the continuum of “substance/essence/stuff” beginning with God (or Plato’s Good) and ending with either inorganic life or nothingness itself. The chain of being hinges around three concepts: plenitude, continuity, and gradation.

chain-of-being-multicolor
(photo courtesy of Christianciv.com)

Summary of the Idea

At the top of the chain is pure Being. At the bottom is pure nothingness. Further, Good is coterminous with Being. Thirdly, good is self-diffusive. So far this isn’t too bad. It becomes tricky when it becomes “ontologized.” a) the line between Creator and creature is fuzzy; b) if something is lower on the chain, is it less good? What’s the difference between less good and bad?

If there is an infinite distance between God and not-God, and all of this is placed on a “scale” or chain, then is there not an infinite distance between each link in the scale? This was Dr Samuel Johnson’s critique, and it highlighted the problem of the chain of being: reality had to be static and exist all at once. This called creation into question, since if the Good is necessarily self-diffusive, then it had to diffuse into creation. God had no freedom to do otherwise. Ironically, this Idea also called evolution into question: if there is an infinite distance between the links, then there is no changing from one link to another.

Analysis

This book’s value lies in its being a prime example of clear, penetrating thinking. In each chapter Lovejoy presents a new difficulty with the idea of a chain of being and the force is cumulative. The chain functions as a snapshot of the God-world relationship. Since God is perfect, and the chain is a diffusion of his goodness, and since God is eternally perfect, then we must see this eternal perfection. If not, we have to find “the missing link” (and is not evolution a mere temporalizing of the chain?)

Review of Reformation Scholasticism (Dooyeweerd)

Identifying this book is tricky.  I am reviewing Herman Dooyeweerd’s Reformation and Scholasticism volume 1.   Paideia Press, an otherwise outstanding publisher, has released what appears to be several volumes under similar titles.  This volume only covers up to Aristotle (but not Aristotle).  It is Works Series 5/1.

Herman Dooyeweerd identifies four religious ground-motives in Western thought. These aren’t just “worldviews.” They go much deeper than that and control the thought-formations in a pre-conscious way.

1. Form-Matter of Greeks
2. Creation-Fall-Recreation of Scripture
3. Nature-Grace of Western Medievalism
4. Nature-Freedom of Modernity

1, 3, and 4 are dialectical and are torn by an inner dualism (Dooyeweerd 3).

Greek Form-Matter

This ground-motive is torn between earlier nature-religions (pre-Homer) which posited a divine, eternally-flowing stream of life (5-6). It is a psychic fluid which technically isn’t material, yet it is bound to material life and is conceived materially.

The best way to review this book is to highlight a number of “pressure points” within the Greek ground-motive.

Pressure Point #1: What is the soul made of?

The Socratic “Idea” is the life-giving principle, so it is necessarily related to the sensible cosmos; yet it is exalted above the matter principle of flux (137). For Plato Like must be known by Like–so the thinking soul must share in the immobility of the eide, and even to the eidos of “life in itself.” Why is this a problem? This would make the soul the world of ideas.

But if the soul is furthered pursued on these lines, then it is “deprived of the anima rationalis of all vitality, rendering it completely inert” (154). But if the soul contains the principle of motion, is this not a move backwards towards the Elatic school and its ever-flowing physis?

The nous is only the origin of the pure form, not of the chaotic elements in matter, or the chaotic motions. Thus, if the soul is the source of all motion in the cosmos (or in the microcosmos), then its simplicity is under tension.

Plato alleviates this problem with a tripartite division of the soul.

Pressure Point #2: Forever Apart?

Dooyeweerd notes that the ontic realm of the Forms “can never be joined logically to matter…an eidos of hule is inherently contradictory” (192). He points out that if motion and rest can both be applied to Being, then there is nothing to distinguish it from temporal reality. We aren’t quite at Plato’s chorismos (sharp division) between the eternal and sensible worlds, but we are getting there.

Pressure Point #3: Is Weakness Evil?

In the Timeaus Plato notes that faulty conditions of the body give rise to bad decisions (Tim. 86D). In Christian terms, you sin because you are finite and created. Something just seems wrong about this. Given a Platonic anthropology, the rational part of the Soul is good but the rest of the body is subject to Ananke. Thus, man is both rational and irrational (Dooyeweerd 310).

Conclusion

There is no denying the book’s value in its giving a minute and precise analysis of pre-Aristotelian philosophy, yet that might also be its problem. Dooyeweerd’s “Ground-Motive” schema is accurate and with it we agree 100%. And I think Dooyeweerd is successful in identifying the problems in pre-Aristotelian philosophy. Nonetheless, one often loses the forest for the trees. It is easy to get lost in the analysis and it isn’t always clear when Dooyeweerd is bringing you back to the larger picture. Yet, this book is certainly valuable for its deconstruction of Greek thought and its indirect establishing the ground for the Creation-Fall-Redemption Ground motive.

Origen and the Life of the Stars

Alan Scott sheds light on key problems in Hellenism by focusing on Origen’s view of the stars’ souls.  Ancient Greece certainly discussed the possibility that the stars are alive (and we will use the phrase” alive,” “intelligence,” and “souls” interchangeably in this review) but there was no consensus.

Plato

The presence of intelligence is the presence of a soul (Scott 9, cf. Soph. 249a4) and a mind must exist in the soul.  The universe, accordingly, must be ensouled since “mind was present in it.” aether: the body in which the soul operates.  The astral soul and aether co-operate.

A problem for later Platonists: if the “divine” is incorporeal, and if stars are divine, how can we see them in the heavens?  Jewish and Christian thinkers exploited this weak point.  The only way to respond to this criticism was to weaken the “divine claim” and see them rather as intermediate beings.

Origen

Scott argues against reading too much of any single school into Origen’s thought.  While he is close to Middle Platonism, for example, he was also very familiar with Jewish Apocalypticism and Gnosticism (54).

Philo

Philo’s sometimes wooden borrowing of philosophy allows us a “snapshot” of the Hellenistic classroom (63-64).

  • Earth is centre of cosmos
  • Yet Philo rejects the somewhat Stoic claim that the mind is material. The mind is neither pneuma nor matter.  
  • Stars are definitely living beings.
    • Ontologically superior to angels.
    • Not surprisingly, Philo was tolerant of those who worshipped heaven (something no biblical writer could say!), but elsewhere says it is wrong to do so (74).

“Philo is too good a Jew and too good a Platonist to take these arguments to their logical conclusions” (74).  Origen advances beyond Philo in seeing the possibility of evil in heaven.  

Heavenly Powers

Problem: how does the soul enter into the generative powers of the world?  Phaedrus said because of evil, whereas Timeaus said because of a good demiurge.  “The belief began to slowly evolve that the soul was joined to the body through the medium of an ‘astral body’” (77).  This became a major theme in Platonism after Iamblichus (79).

At this time Oriental sources entered Hellenistic thought, notably Mithraism, which taught that a gate corresponded to a planet (82).

However, once the idea of fate was firmly attached to the stars, and given that people have “bad luck,” many began to question whether the stars were truly benign.  This meant, among other things, that the neutral “daimons” in the heavenly realms could now be seen as demons in the traditional understanding (90-93).

Toll Houses (!)

A common theme in later Platonic and Gnostic thought is the soul’s traveling through planets after death.  The Apocalypse of Paul (Nag Hammadi Library) has Paul passing through toll collectors (98).  Granted, there are huge differences between this and the later Russian Orthodox teaching of toll houses.

Clement

Clement believes there are angels who oversee the souls’ ascent (106). Clement holds that stars are governed by their appointed angels (55.1; cf. p. 108).

Origen and the Stars

Origen divides the soul with a highest sense–mind (nous).  This is fallen and capable of sin.  There is an unfallen portion called “spirit” (pneuma).  Origen is aware that many of his views are speculative, and he is not setting them forth as doctrine (122). He is “thinking out loud” in the face of very difficult problems.  And compared to the current Alexandrian cosmology, Origen’s is quite restrained (124).

Are the stars alive?

Origen tentatively answered “maybe.”  But before we judge him, we must see that his answers are based on terminology that both Christians and pagans accepted.  For example, only rational agents are self-moving.  This would appear that the stars are in some sense rational agents.  But Origen was also aware of Jewish Apocalyptic and he would have been on better ground had he said that “angels move the stars.”

This really isn’t that problematic.  Scientifically wrong, to be sure, but that’s all.  The problem came when Origen had to account for why some stars are greater than others.  And is answer, of course, was of some pre-temporal fall.  And that is problematic.

The Stars and the resurrection body

Origen is actually very careful on this point.  He affirms the resurrection body, but he knows, as does Paul in 1 Cor. 15, that it isn’t the same type of body we have today.  But perhaps he gets in trouble with his discussions of the “astral body.”  All Christians have to believe in the post-mortem existence of the soul.  This is a mode of existence that isn’t bodily yet which the soul is in one place at one time.  

Given both Scriptural teachings, logic, and the experiences of wise saints, we posit that the soul has an existence after death.  But how does it exist?  Does it recognize other souls?  Surely it does.  Is it omnipresent in the spiritual world?  Certainly not, for not even angels (who are bodiless) are omnipresent.  Therefore, there must be some sort of identifiable mode of existing that is bodiless.  Origen called this an “astral body.”  

Conclusion

Does Scott fully vindicate Origen?  Not quite, but he does alleviate a lot of problems.  Origen was very reticent about using philosophy.  He didn’t innovate but rather held to established, conservative opinions in the intellectual world (even if they were wrong in hindsight).

Intro to Systematic Theo (Pannenberg)

A fantastic read, but ended in a let down. Pannenberg rightly suggests that a lot of our categories for doing systematic theology are not only outdated, but a few are contradictory and wildly at odds with the Hebrew narrative. Our understanding of God, for example, owes more to the quasi-heretic Origen’s definition of God-as-mind (that is how Origen glossed “pneuma” in John 4:24ff), which raises problems when we discuss God’s immutability, infinity, and other doctrines. Interestingly, John of Damascus and essentially everyone else in the ancient world followed Origen on this point. Glossing pneuma as spirit in the Hebraic sense solves all these problems.

The take on Creation was good.

The Christology section was a let down. He did a great job emphasing the Hebraic-ness of Jesus but conceded to much to neo-Protestantism and didn’t deal with the potential tensions in Chalcedonian ontology.

Liturgical Nestorianism (1)

I picked up Jordan’s treatise rebutting Greenville Seminary’s Worship in the Presence of God.  Disclaimer: I am certainly NOT advocating Jordan’s approach to worship nor really much else associated with the man.  But I do think Jordan neatly summarizes the situation and points out several flaws in some (not all) RPW approaches.  Jordan’s thesis is more or less correct: As (practical) Nestorianism is the separating the human and divine natures in Christ, leading to a diminution of the human nature, so liturgical Nestorianism means keeping the human so far away from worship that he is nothing more than a recipient who hears preaching sings (a little).

Initial key points:

  1. Strict RPW advocates charge any kind of maximalism in worship as going back to OT types and shadows, as best seen in Roman Catholic worship.  Jordan asks the obvious question: “Why do you assume (without proof) that Rome got Old Covenant worship correct?”
  2. The contrast in biblical is not a move from exterior to interior (this is Plato on crack) but from glory to glory.  The goal is eschatological maturation, not Platonic interiorizing.
  3. Strict RPW advocates claim that a) NT worship is based on the Synagogue and not the Temple; and b) NT worship is regulated by God by direct command.  Jordan points out that obvious: If this is true, then it is a meeting of silence.  Nowhere does God command what goes on in the Synagogue.  God simply commanded a holy convocation every Sabbath (Lev. 23).  He didn’t say anything else.
  4. If something is “Fulfilled” in the New Covenant why do we normally assume that “fulfilled” means “done away with?”  Isn’t this the textbook definition of dispensationalism?  Mind you, I don’t think that everything should be done in the New Covenant.
  5. When God commands singing in the Bible, it is always accompanied by instruments.  The 4th book of the Psalter (specifically Psalms 90-98) progresses from the arrival to the enthronement of Yahweh’s king).  Music is connected with ascension and enthronement (Jordan 37).
  6. Levitical priests weren’t really mediators.  There weren’t any mediators before Moses (not systematically).  Levitical priests were household servants.  Psalm 110 tells us who the true Mediator is in the old covenant.  Only priests in union with the Melchizedekian priest-king mediate. But this is exactly what new covenant believers are (44).
  7. Can Revelation be used as an order of worship?  Maybe.

Frame: The Greeks

This is where neo-Puritans and Scholastics of all stripes will get mad.  Rebutting any form (or perceived form) of Harnack’s charge on Hellenism is the new sexy in theology today.

But there is a Hellenism.  And it isn’t good.   Frame does a pretty good job summarizing different Greek thinkers, but I want to pay attention to the larger picture:

Major Premise: “The Biblical God tolerates no Rivals.”  What makes Zeus less offensive than Moloch? Aphrodite than Ashteroth?

There is no way to reduce “Greek thought” to any one position.  Some thinkers were monists, others atomists.  But there are patterns that overlap and are not compatible with biblical revelation.  Here are some unifying (oops, is that a Greek concept?) principles:

  1. None of them believed in Yahweh.
  2. None believed that a personal God (absolute personality) created the cosmos.
  3. “The dictates of fate might  agree with those of morality, but not necessarily” (Frame 49).
  4. Form-matter dialectic.
  5. The gods were personifications of nature (this is clearer by the time of Plotinus).
  6. Rejected wisdom of the past; reason is now the measure.  Not only is this a break with biblical tradition, but with most other human tradition.
  7. Reason, not the fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.

General Moments

Frame does a decent job summarizing the pre-Socratics, Plato, etc.  No need to spend time on it here.

The Greeks weren’t “children looking on the world in wonder,” but “as those without the biblical God suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” (53).

Man is the measure of all things = reality is what man says it is = irrationality (62).

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.