Saturday, June 07, 2008

Prayer to Jesus in the NT / Prayer to All Three Persons in the Trinity ("Perichoresis" / "Circumincession")

By Dave Armstrong (6-7-08)

[all verses RSV]

John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

Acts 7:59
And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Acts 22:6-10 As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, `Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' And I answered, `Who are you, Lord?' And he said to me, `I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.' Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, `What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, `Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.'

Acts 26:14-16 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, `Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.' And I said, `Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, `I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,

Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;

[Here the 24 elders are worshiping Jesus and they have the prayers of the saints (what are they doing with them?), presented to Him. So it is not only prayer to Jesus, but also prayer to Jesus through the intercession of the (dead) saints: something that Protestants reject, even though it is right in front of them here and in Revelation 8:3-4 where angels do the same exact thing: present prayers of people to God.]

1 Corinthians 1:2b . . . all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

The phraseology of "call upon the name" is used of God the Father, too, in the OT, thus suggesting that it implies direct address to God (with Jesus being the recipient, since He is analogous to God the Father in this scenario, as opposed to praying "in His Name" to the Father, as in Jn 14:13; 16:23-26; Eph 5:20; Col 3:17, etc.). Calling upon (the name of) Jesus is calling Jesus Himself, not praying to the Father in His name. It appears to be two different concepts. This is shown in the following parallels:

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass, {that} whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered:...

(quoted in Acts 2:21, Rom 10:12-14, using the same word for "call," epikaleo, as that in 1 Cor 1:2)

Genesis 4:26 At that time men began to call upon the name of the LORD.

Genesis 26:25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD.

Isaiah 12:4 And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name; make known his deeds among the nations, proclaim that his name is exalted.

1 Esdras 6:33 Therefore may the Lord, whose name is there called upon.

Judith 16:2 And Judith said, Begin a song to my God with tambourines, sing to my Lord with cymbals. Raise to him a new psalm;
exalt him, and call upon his name.

Acts 9:10-17 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani'as. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Anani'as." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Anani'as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." But Anani'as answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." So Anani'as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

(cf. Dt 4:7; 1 Sam 12:17-18; 2 Sam 22:4,7; 1 Chr 21:26; Ps 14:4; 18:3,6; 55:16; 88:9; 141:1; 145:18; Jer 33:3; Sir 2:10; 46:16; 48:20; 2 Mac 3:22; 12:36; 13:10; 14:46; 15:21-22; 2 Tim 2:22 -- "call upon the Lord," etc., without "name" included)

* * * * *

Circumincession in Latin and perichoresis in Greek is the doctrine describing how all three Persons in the Trinity are contained in each other. I've written about it before (see section 8).
Theologian Ludwig Ott, in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, has a lot to say on this, though I couldn't find anything specifically on prayer:

In God all is one except for the opposition of relations. (De Fide).

From the doctrine of the Divine Relations there flows the so-called basic trinitarian law, which was first formulated by St. Anselm of Canterbury (De processione Spiritus S. 2), and which was solemnly asserted by the Council of Florence in the Decretum pro Jacobis (1441) . . . Denzinger 703. According to this assertion, the real distinction of the Persons rests exclusively on the opposition of the relations.

(p. 70)

The Trinitarian Perichoresis (Circumincession)

The Three Divine Persons Are in One another. (De Fide.)

. . . Denzinger 704. Christ testifies that the Father is in Him and that He is in the Father. John 10,30: "I and the Father are one." 10,38 . . . Cf. John 14,9 et seq.: 17,21. The Indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Father and in the Son is indicated in 1 Cor 2, 10 et seq. . . . The fundamental basis of the Trinitarian Perichoresis is the one Essence of the Three Persons. Cf. S. th. I, 42, 5."

(p. 71)
Here are texts from Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, 703-704:
A Decree in Behalf of the Jacobites *

[From the Bull "Cantata Domino," February 4, Florentine style,

1441, modern, 1442]

703 The sacrosanct Roman Church, founded by the voice of our Lord and Savior, firmly believes, professes, and preaches one true God omnipotent, unchangeable, and eternal, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; one in essence, three in persons; Father unborn, Son born of the Father, Holy Spirit proceeding from Father and Son; that the Father is not Son or Holy Spirit, that Son is not Father or Holy Spirit; that Holy Spirit is not Father or Son; but Father alone is Father, Son alone is Son, Holy Spirit alone is Holy Spirit. The Father alone begot the Son of His own substance; the Son alone was begotten of the Father alone; the Holy Spirit alone proceeds at the same time from the Father and Son. These three persons are one God, and not three gods, because the three have one substance, one essence, one nature, one divinity, one immensity, one eternity, and all these things are one where no opposition of relationship interferes . *

704 "Because of this unity the Father is entire in the Son, entire in the Holy Spirit; the Son is entire in the Father, entire in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is entire in the Father, entire in the Son. No one either excels another in eternity, or exceeds in magnitude, or is superior in power. For the fact that the Son is of the Father is eternal and without beginning. and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son is eternal and without beginning.''*Whatever the Father is or has, He does not have from another, but from Himself; and He is the principle without principle. Whatever the Son is or has, He has from the Father, and is the principle from a principle. Whatever the Holy Spirit is or has, He has simultaneously from the Father and the Son. But the Father and the Son are not two principles of the Holy Spirit, but one principle, just as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three principles of the creature, but one principle.
And St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, 42, 5, reads:
On the contrary, It is said (Jn. 14:10): "I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me."

I answer that, There are three points of consideration as regards the Father and the Son; the essence, the relation and the origin; and according to each the Son and the Father are in each other. The Father is in the Son by His essence, forasmuch as the Father is His own essence and communicates His essence to the Son not by any change on His part. Hence it follows that as the Father's essence is in the Son, the Father Himself is in the Son; likewise, since the Son is His own essence, it follows that He Himself is in the Father in Whom is His essence. This is expressed by Hilary (De Trin. v), "The unchangeable God, so to speak, follows His own nature in begetting an unchangeable subsisting God. So we understand the nature of God to subsist in Him, for He is God in God." It is also manifest that as regards the relations, each of two relative opposites is in the concept of the other. Regarding origin also, it is clear that the procession of the intelligible word is not outside the intellect, inasmuch as it remains in the utterer of the word. What also is uttered by the word is therein contained. And the same applies to the Holy Ghost.
Prayer to one Divine Person is also at the same time prayer to the other two Divine Persons in the Holy Trinity. This follows from these dogmas. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states outright that this is so:
2670 "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? . . .

2789 When we pray to "our" Father, we personally address the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By doing so we do not divide the Godhead, since the Father is its "source and origin," but rather confess that the Son is eternally begotten by him and the Holy Spirit proceeds from him. We are not confusing the persons, for we confess that our communion is with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, in their one Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is consubstantial and indivisible. When we pray to the Father, we adore and glorify him together with the Son and the Holy Spirit.

2801 When we say "Our" Father, we are invoking the new covenant in Jesus Christ, communion with the Holy Trinity, and the divine love which spreads through the Church to encompass the world.

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