Monday, March 05, 2012

Dialogue on the "Western" View of the Holy Trinity, Monarchia, Procession, Etc. (vs. David Waltz and Drake Shelton)

 
On David Waltz's blog (he was Catholic not long ago; not sure what, precisely, his present views are) is a recent post entitled, Drake Shelton's recent YouTube reflections on the Monarchy of God the Father and it's implications. Shelton is a Calvinist. In the combox and in earlier related threads that David links to (one / two / three) are elaborate discussions of trinitarian theology, including a sustained Orthodox critique of the prevailing Catholic dogmatic view. It's very dry stuff, but in its own way, interesting (at least to me). 

I was asked by someone else to watch the video and I also followed up by perusing these threads. As usual, I had a few thoughts and (also as usual), I tried to focus my observations on the biblical data. David Waltz's words will be in blue; Drake Shelton's in green.

* * *

David introduced the Drake Shelton video in the following glowing terms:

In the following YouTube video, Drake Shelton, owner of the UNCREATED LIGHT blog and The King's Parlor website, has given us a excellent presentation of the Monarchy of God the Father (see THESE THREADS for some of my own reflections on this important issue).

Drake, in less than 16 minutes, has provided his viewers a concise and clear understanding of not only the theological issues at stake, but also the philosophical ones, by exposing the Neo-Platonism that lies behind the Latin/Western understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.
[later] The nature of the above verses is that John is referring to both the Father and the Son in the same context. That Jesus is termed God (and sometimes with the article—the Greek grammar makes this a highly complex issue) in contexts were He it the primary referent is fully affirmed by this beachbum. What I believe that you (and so many others) are 'missing' are the very important distinctions that John makes when he is directly discussing both persons in the same context.

Hi David,

Hope you are well.

You wrote in an earlier paper that you linked to above:

the Bible makes some important distinctions between the One who called ό θεός and the one called θεός; between the ό θεός who begets, and the μονογενής θεός who is begotten; between the one termed "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ" (John 5:44) and "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν" (John 17:3), and the one He sends. I also pointed out that only one person in the Bible is declared to be the "εἷς θεὸς" (and it is not Jesus).
And further, it is God the Father alone who is referred to as the "one God" in the New Testament (and the Church Fathers of the first 300 years).

The Bible refers to Jesus as "the God" in some fashion at least five times [source]:

John 20:28 Thomas said to Jesus (direct address): ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou, lit. “the Lord of me and the God of me”

Titus 2:13 “The great God and Savior”: tou megalou theou kai sōtēros hēmōn Christou Iēsou, lit. “the great God and Savior of us Christ Jesus.” Note: in 2 Peter 1:1 is the same grammatical construction (i.e., article-noun-kai-noun): tou theou hēmōn kai sōtēros Iēsou Christou, lit. “the God of us and Savior Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 2 Thess. 1:12; see Gk.)

Hebrews 1:8 “But of the Son He [the Father] says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD IS FOREVER AND EVER. . . . ” (ho thronos sou ho theos, lit. “the throne of thee the God. . . . ”).

2 Peter 1:1 "The God and Savior, Jesus Christ: tou [“the”] theou [“God”] hēmōn kai [“and”] sōtēros [“Savior”] Iēsou Christou (lit., “The God of us and Savior, Jesus Christ”).

1 John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God [ho alēthinos theos] and eternal life”. The JWs [Jehovah's Witnesses] attempt to deny this reading by asserting that the pronoun houtos (“this one”) refers not to the Son, but to the Father—Jehovah. Even though the grammar is somewhat unclear, there are solid reasons that support the position of houtos referring to the Son. First, the closest antecedent to houtos is “Jesus Christ.” Second, although the Father is said to possess “life” (cf. John 5:26 and 6:57), just as the Son does (cf. John 1:4, 6:57, 1 John 5:11), “life” is never attributed to the Father in the NT, but it is to the Son in John 11:25 and 14:6.

Does this answer your objection (whatever it is you are objecting to)? If not, why?

No, the verses you provided do not pertain to the monarchy of God the Father.

You also wrote in a comment: "I personally believe in the monarchy of God the Father, which has its basis in the fact the He and He alone is the ultimate Archē of everything except, of course, Himself."

Jesus is also called arche in the New Testament as I learned 30 years ago in studying the heresies of Jehovah's Witnesses:

Revelation 3:14 (RSV) . . . the beginning [arche] of God's creation.
Once again, you are missing a very important point, namely, that God the Father is the arche of the Son; which is why I said that, "He [God the Father] is the ultimate Archē of everything except, of course, Himself."

In Revelation 21:6 God the Father states about Himself: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning [arche] and the end." Jesus says the same of Himself in Revelation 22:13: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning [arche] and the end." Revelation 22:16 identifies the speaker as Jesus. In Revelation 22:12 and 22:20, Jesus says He is coming "quickly," as indicated by 22:20: "come, Lord Jesus" (cf. Matt 16:27). The Father and Son are also both called "the first and the last" (cf. Is 44:6 and Rev 1:17; 22:13).
No difference at all . . .  They are both creator and source of all things, as is stated elsewhere, too (Hebrews, Colossians), and both arche.

But there does exist an important difference Dave: God the Son's very life (i.e. beginning/cause) is via His begetting from/by God the Father. This pertains to the issue of etiology, which is often overlooked and/or brushed aside by most 'Western' Trinitarians. 

Why this is an issue at all with you or anyone who accepts biblical inspiration, is the mystery here.

Scripture also indicates (I think) that there is a sense in which the Father is subject to the Son:

John 16:15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

John 16:23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.

This is totally new to me—I have never heard anyone else speak of the Father being subject to the Son—I am not convinced that the above passages are saying what you have suggested.


To say that only the Father is the "one God" is to demote Jesus and the Holy Spirit (and I thought that was the Orthodox gripe about us in the filioque dispute: that we supposedly do that).

But Dave, that is exactly how the Bible (also the early CF's, and Nicene Creed) describes God the Father; it is He and He alone who is termed the "one God". (We/I believe in one God, THE FATHER.)

If Jesus is not the "one God" and if the Holy Spirit is not the "one God" then what / who are they, pray tell? They are either God or not. Since God is one (monotheism), then if they are God, they are also "the one God." If they are not "the one God" then neither one is God! Thus, trinitarianism requires that they must be.

The Son is the second person of the Godhead; he is the: μονογενὴς θεός. And the Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. Both the Son and the Spirit have their life/being from the "one God".

Whether Scripture specifically refers to them in that way is not required, since Scripture teaches that they have every attribute of God. In fact, Jesus has at least one attribute that His Father does not: He became a man, whereas the Father never did.

Neither the Son nor the Spirit are autotheos; this attribute/property belongs to God the Father alone. (See THIS THREAD for some discussion on autotheos.)

I think these sorts of discussions get so far into abstraction and unbiblical either/or fallacious thinking, neglecting biblical paradox and common sense and many relevant biblical passages, that they can become spiritually dangerous, not to mention, potentially lead one astray into various heresies.

Here are a few examples of the Bible referring to "one God" and then giving a definition of at least some attributes of what that means, and then applying the same to Jesus (thus by deduction, if Jesus has every quality applied directly to the "one God" then He, too, is the "one God"):

1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Compare:

Colossians 1:16-17 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

"for whom [the Father] we exist" = "all things were created . . . for him [the Son]."

We exist for the Father; all things (including us) are "for" Jesus. Same thing . . .

In both passages we are told that creation was "through" Jesus. This may sound lesser in some way until we realize that Colossians 1:16 appears to equate "through" and "for": "through him and for him". Since "for" is applied to both, then "through" (by deduction and cross-reference) doesn't prove any inferiority, since it appears to be equal in importance to "for" -- if we can speak in such a way.

Moreover, if "through" is seen in this way, that view collapses, since the same notion is also applied to God the Father:

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.

Also, the notion of God "sustaining the universe" is applied both to the Father and the Son:

Acts 17:28 . . . `In him we live and move and have our being'; . . . [Father; cf. 1 Tim 6:13 w Jn 5:21]

Hebrews 1:3 . . . upholding the universe by his word of power. . . .

Here's another "one God" passage:

Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Something quite similar to this is also said about Jesus:

Ephesians 1:22-23 . . . the church, [23] which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.

Colossians 3:11 . . . Christ is all, and in all.

In short, we find that virtually every attribute or characteristic of the Father is also used of the Son in Scripture (circumincession or perichoresis). I have documented this endlessly in my documentation of biblical proofs for the divinity of Jesus and for the Holy Trinity.

Cardinal Newman wrote in his book on the Arians:

It is the clear declaration of Scripture, which we must receive without questioning, that the Son and Spirit are in the one God, and He in Them. . . . in naming the Father, we imply the Son and Spirit, whether They be named or not. Without this key, the language of Scripture is perplexed in the extreme. . . . (Arians of the Fourth Century, 1833 / 1871; London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 3rd edition, 1908; ch. 2, sec. 3)

I am pleased that you quoted the above passage, which was penned by Newman in 1833, twelve years before he entered the Catholic Church. Note what Newman wrote in 1872:
The Monarchia : that is, that of the Three the Father is emphatically, (and with a singular distinction from the Other Two, as the πηγὴ θεότητος,[*]) spoken of as God. (John Henry Newman, "Causes of the Rise and Successes of Arianism", in Tracts - Theological and Ecclesiastical, 1974, p. 161.)
 * πηγὴ θεότητος = the cause/origin/source of deity/divinity 

This tract of Newman's is a must read (in my humble opinion), for in it he expounds at length the "Monarchia of the Father" (which he also terms the "Principatus of the Father"). Given the much later date of this work, one must recognize these reflections as his more mature thought on the matter.

Hi David,

Yeah, it's been a while.

I'm delighted that you want to discuss Cardinal Newman, my own "theological hero" and subject of my next book, to be published in a few months (Sophia Institute Press): The Quotable Newman. I was just discussing it on the phone today with an editor and marketer. Perhaps I can count on you to purchase a copy. :-)

As with most of these discussions, it becomes a series of increasingly abstract ruminations, and oftentimes, the parties are not as far apart as they think (and not as accurate as they make out, in describing other views). Shelton wanted to bash western theology / St. Augustine, etc. (sounding very much like an Orthodox Christians when he did so), but I don't see that we are so drastically different from Orthodox conceptions with regard to the Trinity.

There are some real differences, sure, but I find that they are often exaggerated to the point of distortion and almost calumny at times. For these notions you are discussing, rightly-understood, are all part of Catholic dogma. Ludwig Ott, in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, devotes twelve fascinating pages to "The Triple Personality of God," covering every conceivable ground of processions, spirations, generations, relations, appropriations, and perichoresis (or circmincession).

You seem to see a contradiction between Newman's statement of 1833 and his later 1872 observations. I search in vain to see any such thing. You cite a small portion. But Newman is discussing the matter in the context of four aspects of the Trinity: 1) Divine Triad, 2) Unity, 3) Monarchy, and 4) Circumincessio. Hence, at the end of the paragraph from which you drew your quotation, Newman ties the notion in with circumincession, precisely as I did in my replies:


But, as such enunciations might seem to separate the First from the Second and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity, they are explained by

(4) The Circumincessio; or intimate co-inherence of Each Person in the Other Two. Thus Athenagoras:—"The Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son, by the unity and power of the Spirit;" Tertullian, "Not that we can number Two Gods or Two Lords, although the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Each is God." And he speaks of their being "Three Co-inherents." The Alexandrian Dionysius says:—"The father is not divided from the Son, nor the Son apart from the Father, and in Their Hands is the Spirit." Pope Dionysius:—"We must not preach Three Gods, dividing the Holy Monad into three hypostases, foreign from each other, and altogether separate: for of necessity with the God of the Universe the Divine Word is One, and in God must the Holy Ghost reside and dwell."

[my bolding; his italics] [source]

What am I missing? Both Cardinal Newman and I sought to place the monarchia within a larger context, to make sure the meaning is not misunderstood in a heretical direction. He expressly states this, and the entire larger section is devoted to perversion of these orthodox concepts into Arianism, Semi-Arianism, and other heresies: on which he was an expert.

Your paper extolls Shelton's video mini-lecture, which wants to bash St. Augustine and historic Catholic theology, yet you end up citing Cardinal Newman making more or less the same point you (and Shelton) seek to make.

But since Newman was (orthodox) Catholic when writing this (and is one of our most celebrated theologians), how, exactly, is that a proof of western error on these points?

I was mainly disagreeing with your contention that only the Father can be entitled "the one God." In one of your papers you cited at least a few eastern Church fathers who made the same point (and I made mine before I read those, so inadvertently echoed their thinking).

I thought I showed by my biblical examples that we can't just go by a phrase, but also have to exegete more deeply and look into what it means in context, with appropriate cross-referencing (i.e., the stuff of systematic theology).

When I did that, I demonstrated that in two instances of the Father being called "the one God", all the attributes included in the definition in context were also possessed by the Son.

I didn't deny procession and all of those intricate facts about the Holy Trinity.

You also claim that the Father is the arche of the Son. Perhaps you mean to express something not explicitly biblical (which is fine), but arche in Scripture is not applied, far as I can see, in terms of the Father's generation of the son, but rather, used of both (as I have shown), in relation to creation. If you know of a verse where arche is used in your sense, please direct me to it. 

Cardinal Newman elaborates, a little later, in the same work, with his typical emphasis on words in the fathers and how heretics abused them for their nefarious ends:


§ 5. The first opportunity opened to the heresy, the Principatus of the Father

{167} The Principatus of the Father is a great Catholic truth, and was taught in the Church after the Nicene Council as well as before it; but on the other hand, it might easily be perverted into a shape favourable to Semi-Arianism. This danger is so obvious, that I shall have chiefly to employ myself in this Section in defending the doctrine, not in showing its capability of perversion. Let us consider the place it holds in the Catholic system.

No subject was more constantly and directly before the Christian intellect in the first centuries of the Church than the doctrine of the Monarchia [Note 1]. That there was but one First Principle of all things was a fundamental doctrine of all Catholics, orthodox and heterodox alike; and it was the starting-point of heterodox as well as of orthodox speculation. To the orthodox believer, however, it brought with it a perplexity, which it did not occasion to the adherents of those shallow systems which led to heresy. Christianity began its teaching by denouncing polytheism as absurd and wicked; but the retort on the part of the polytheist was obvious:—Christianity taught a Divine Trinity: how was this consistent with its profession of a Monarchy? on the other hand, if there was {168} a Divine Monarchia, how was not Sabellius right in denying the distinction of Persons in the Divine Essence? or, if not Sabellius, then Arius, who degraded Son and Spirit to the condition of creatures? Polytheists, Sabellians, Arians, it might be objected, had more to say for themselves in this matter than Catholics.

Catholic theologians met this difficulty, both before and after the Nicene Council, by insisting on the unity of origin, which they taught as existing in the Divine Triad, the Son and Spirit having a communicated divinity from the Father, and a personal unity with Him; the Three Persons being internal to the Divine Essence, . . .

. . . it is plain, that this method of viewing the Unity as centered in its Origin, and the Monarchia as equivalent to the Monas, might be perverted into a Semi-Arian denial of the proper divinity of Son and Spirit, if ever They were supposed, by reason of Their derivation, to be emanations, and therefore external to the Essence of the Father. . . . 
I have fully allowed that the Principatus in the Ante-Nicene times was one of those doctrines which gave a shelter to the Semi-Arian heresy which came afterwards; and I think I have shown, even in the instance of a clear-headed divine like Bull, who desires with his whole heart to believe with Athanasius, that it is easy so to hold it as to be on the verge of heresy. However, I still consider it as an important doctrine, and valuable now not less than when it was more insisted on. It is remarkable that the great Fathers of the fourth century, with their full experience of Arianism, nevertheless continued to enunciate it. . . .

Though Augustine in this extract lays down with much distinctness the doctrine of the Principatus, yet the tendency of his theology—certainly that of the times that followed—was to throw that doctrine into the background. The abuse of it by the Arians is a full explanation of this neglect of it. However, what St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, and St. Basil taught, never can be put aside. It is as true now as when those great Fathers enunciated it; and if true, it cannot be ignored without some detriment to the fulness and the symmetry of the Catholic dogma.

One obvious use of it is to facilitate to the imagination the descent of the Divine Nature to the human, as revealed in the doctrine of the Incarnation; the Eternal Son of God becoming by a second birth the Son of God in time, is a line of thought which preserves to us the continuity of idea in the Divine Revelation; whereas, if we say abruptly that the Supreme Being became the Son of Mary, this, however true when taken by itself, still by reason of the infinite distance between God and man, acts in the direction of the Nestorian error of a Christ with two Persons, as certainly as the doctrine of the Principatus, when taken by itself, favours the Arian error of a merely human Christ. The Principatus then is the formal safeguard of the Faith against Nestorianism. And (if the thought is not too bold) I may suggest, in coincidence with what I have been saying, that the heresy of Nestorius did, in matter of fact, immediately spring into existence upon this reaction; and St. Augustine, to whom we owe so much for what he has written on the Holy Trinity, lived long enough to be invited on his death-bed to the Ephesian Council summoned by St. Cyril for the condemnation of the Nestorian teaching.

But St. Augustine is not the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Nor is even St. Thomas Aquinas. Both have been deemed to be wrong on certain points.

Here is a later Catholic theologian correcting him, in accordance with our dogma, and I shall cite actual Catholic dogmatic texts next, from Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Dogma (#275-277)


(ADEODATUS 672-676)

COUNCIL OF TOLEDO XI 675*

Creed of Faith (especially concerning the Trinity and the Incarnation) *

["Exposition of faith" against the Priscillianists]

275 [The Trinity] We confess and believe the holy and ineffable Trinity, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God naturally, to be of one substance, one nature, and also of one majesty and power. And we profess that the Father, indeed, is not begotten, not created but unbegotten. For He from whom both the Son received His nativity and the Holy Spirit His procession takes His origin from no one. Therefore, He is the source and origin of all Godhead; also is the Father Himself of His own essence, He who ineffably begot the Son [Another version: Father, essence indeed ineffable, Son of His own substance] from an ineffable substance; nor did He, however, beget other than what He Himself is: God God, light light, from Him, therefore, is all paternity

276 in heaven and on earth [Eph. 3:15].--We confess also that the Son was born, but not made, from the substance of the Father without beginning before all ages, because neither the Father without the Son, nor the Son without the Father ever at any time existed. And yet not as the Son front the Father, so the Father from the Son, because the Father did not receive generation from the Son, but the Son from the Father. The Son, therefore, is God from the Father; the Father, however, is God, but not from the Son; Father indeed of the Son, not God from the Son. He, however, is Son of the Father and God from the Father. However, the Son is equal in all things to God the Father, because at no time did He either begin or cease to be born. We believe that He is of one substance with the Father, and because of this we say that He is (Greek text deleted) to the Father, that is, of the same substance with the Father, for (Greek text deleted) in Greek means one, (Greek text deleted) means substance, and the two joined together mean "one substance." For, neither from nothing, nor from any other substance, but from the womb of the Father, that is, from His substance, we must believe that the Son was begotten or born. 
Therefore, the Father is eternal, and the Son is eternal. But if He always was Father, He always had a Son to whom He was Father; and by reason of this we confess that the Son was born of the Father without beginning. Neither do we call the same Son of God a part of a divided nature because of the fact that He is begotten of the Father; but we assert that the perfect Father begot the perfect Son without diminution or division, because it is a characteristic of Divinity alone not to have an unequal Son. Also, this Son is Son of God by nature, not by adoption, * whom we must believe God the Father begot neither by will nor by necessity; for, neither does any necessity happen [ al. capit, 'take hold'] in God, nor does will precede wisdom.--We believe also that the

277 Holy Spirit, who is the third person in the Trinity, is God, one and equal with God the Father and the Son, of one substance, also of one nature; that He is the Spirit of both, not, however, begotten nor created but proceeding from both. We believe also that this Holy Spirit is neither unbegotten nor begotten, lest if we say unbegotten, we should affirm two Fathers, or if begotten, we should be proven to declare two Sons; He is said to be the Spirit, however, not only of the Father but at the same time of the Father and the Son. For, neither does He proceed from the Father into the Son, nor does He proceed from the Son to sanctify the creature, but He is shown to have proceeded at the same time from both, because He is acknowledged to be the love or holiness of both. Therefore, we believe that this Holy Spirit was sent by both, as the Son was sent by the Father; but He is not considered less than the Father and the Son, as the Son, on account of the body He assumed, testifies that He Himself is less than the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Glad to dialogue with you.

Likewise.

I have benefited greatly from your website.

Thank you. All glory to God. If even a donkey could talk and utter truths, perhaps once in a while even we lowly papists may come up with truth. It's bound to happen, if only by chance. :-)
Revelation 3:14 . . . the beginning [arche] of God's creation.

The Eastern Triadology distinguishes between ontological actions and economical-thus the distinction between the ontological and economical trinity. The Father is the arche with reference to the ontological trinity. Creation regards the economy of salvation.

Understood (that this is your, and their view). My problem is that I don't see arche in Scripture used in this fashion. It is used in relation to creation. If it is not a scriptural use, then why make a big deal of the word? Why not use another more appropriate word, like monogenes? Both of you have cited this particular word and applied it in your own fashion, but without (far as I recall) citing any biblical passage in your favor (whereas I have cited many).
No difference at all. They are both creator and source of all things, as is stated elsewhere, too (Hebrews, Colossians), and both arche. Why this is an issue at all with you or anyone who accepts biblical inspiration, is the mystery here.

You answer some of your own questions below, however, to your assertion "No difference at all". If that is true, is there no difference between them and the Spirit? If no, then what does the Spirit cause and how does that not dissolve out into Neoplatonist emanationism and a hierarchy of being?

You are far afield. In context, I was referring solely to the biblical use of arche as applied to both the Father and the Son (in the same way).
To say that only the Father is the "one God" is to demote Jesus and the Holy Spirit (and I thought that was the Orthodox gripe about us in the filioque dispute: that we supposedly do that.

We subordinate at the level of person the Spirit and the Son, BUT NOT THE NATURE. You refuse the attribute (on your view) of causality to the Spirit and therefore demote his nature.
If Jesus is not the "one God" and if the Holy Spirit is not the "one God" then what / who are they, pray tell? They are either God or not. Since God is one (monotheism), then if they are God, they are also "the one God." If they are not "the one God" they are not God. Thus, trinitarianism requires that they must be.

They are WITH the one God eternally. (John 1)

I deny that Jesus cannot be properly called "the one God" since He is virtually called that in essence in the passages I cited, and since the use of the phrase in reference to the Father involve concepts all themselves also characteristic of Jesus. In other words, I contend that it could have been properly used of Jesus in Scripture without contradiction even if it was not so used in fact. David hasn't yet answered that deductive biblical argument of mine; perhaps you will.

Secondly, John 1 says the Son (logos) is with God (1:1-2), but it also ways that He was God (1:1). So why do you highlight the "with" but not the "was"? 

Because David (W) already dealt with this. 

If you say that you denied the Hypostatic Union for a time, this goes to show that you are quite capable of being led into Christological heresy, with all these ponderings. 

Well specifically I denied the confused representations of it akin to the confusion you mentioned above. I never denied that the union between the Logos and his Humanity was an ontological union at the level of hypostasis contrasted with an ontological union at the level of nature. As soon as that definition was presented to me I relinquished all complaints and made a public statement concerning it. It shows I am willing to submit to the truth when it is presented to me.  

Much better to accept apostolic succession and the wisdom of the Fathers, as drawn from Holy Scripture. 

Actually your view of transubstantiation is one principle reason why I rejected my understanding of the hypostatic union for so long. That is a union at the level of nature as clear as can be proved. 

You were heretical even by the standards of most Protestant denominations: in denying what is the trinitarian consensus of Chalcedon (451). 
Whether Scripture specifically refers to them in that way is not required, since Scripture teaches that they have every attribute of God.

Do they all have the attribute of causality?

I did neglect there the aspects we are discussing: generation, spiration, etc. So I gladly clarify that.
In fact, Jesus has at least one attribute that His Father does not: He became a man, whereas the Father never did.

This is confusing and one of the reasons I rejected the hypostatic union for about a year and a half. The hypostatic union affirms that Christ's humanity connects to the Logos at the level of person not nature, therefore it is not a DIVINE attribute. 

That's correct. I simply said "attribute". :-) But it is an attribute possessed by a Divine Person (Jesus: God the Son), and an attribute willed by both the Father and the Son (the Father sent the Son, Who willingly became man and died for us).

This again shows your confusion between the Ontological Trinity and the Economical Trinity. What the Logos does in the Economia is NOT the subject of this conversation. 

* * *

Aquinas says in Summa Theologica Part Three, Incarnation, General, On the Union Itself, Article 2. Whether the union of Incarnate Word took place in the Person?

"to Objection 1. Although in God Nature and Person are not really distinct, yet they have distinct meanings, as was said above, inasmuch as person signifies after the manner of something subsisting. And because human nature is united to the Word, so that the Word subsists in it, and not so that His Nature receives therefrom any addition or change, it follows that the union of human nature to the Word of God took place in the person, and not in the nature." [http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4002.htm]
Colossians 1:16-17

Again this is the economia.
But that distinction is beside my point, which was to show that in terms of creation, Jesus is described in almost all the ways that the Father is described. 

Again, the Eastern complaint against filioque is that it confuses the Ontological Trinity and the Economical Trinity. The eastern view is that the spirit proceeds through the Son IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION, NOT, in eternity [FILIOQUE]. 

In one place it even applies "through" to the Father, whereas we usually think of that with regard to the Son's role in creation. But that brings in circumincession . . . I was making this argument in response to the assertion that "one God" can only apply to the Father.
We exist for the Father; all things (including us] are "for" Jesus. Same thing.

IN THE ECONOMIA. 

See my last comment. You are responding to my arguments completely out of context; thus missing my points, which remains essentially unresponded to.

What you are going to have to end up saying is exactly what my video portrays: A collapsing of nature and will where the creation emanates from God as a necessity of nature. 

Not at all. God didn't have to create. 

Agreed, because of the ontological distinction between nature and will. But as I demonstrated, you can't believe that.

He was (is) not bound by any such necessity. 

So then from what fount doth creation spring sir? If not nature, then what else is there? Due to your divine simplicity there are no other objects of choice for you.  

You are arbitrarily applying categories without proper discrimination. I'm trying to get both you and David on an objective track of discussing 1) what Scripture says, and 2) what Catholic dogma says, and 3) showing me how these supposedly contradict, rather than flying off on these extended forays about words (with those not even connected enough to biblical usage).

Thus far, I have been singularly unsuccessful in that goal. But hope springs eternal! 

I had no intention of bashing Saint Augustine. My entire view of metaphysics and philosophy is built off his De Magistro. I love Augustine. I just think he was in error on this issue. Now I do bash Roman Catholicism. That's true. I'm not trying to divert the dialogue onto this issue but Catholic bashing does goes along with the whole Protestant Calvinist thing.

There are some real differences, sure, but I find that they are often exaggerated to the point of distortion and almost calumny at times.

The difference between generic and numeric unity cannot be emphasized enough. Its not even close to the same understanding of God. You guys are making the nature a subject and the persons predicate relations. In Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica Q 29 Article 4, Whether this word "person" signifies relation? he says
To determine the question, we must consider that something may be included in the meaning of a less common term, which is not included in the more common term; as "rational" is included in the meaning of "man," and not in the meaning of "animal." So that it is one thing to ask the meaning of the word animal, and another to ask its meaning when the animal in question is man. Also, it is one thing to ask the meaning of this word "person" in general; and another to ask the meaning of "person" as applied to God. For "person" in general signifies the individual substance of a rational figure. The individual in itself is undivided, but is distinct from others. Therefore "person" in any nature signifies what is distinct in that nature: thus in human nature it signifies this flesh, these bones, and this soul, which are the individuating principles of a man, and which, though not belonging to "person" in general, nevertheless do belong to the meaning of a particular human person.
Now distinction in God is only by relation of origin, as stated above (Q[28], AA[2],3), while relation in God is not as an accident in a subject, but is the divine essence itself; and so it is subsistent, for the divine essence subsists. Therefore, as the Godhead is God so the divine paternity is God the Father, Who is a divine person. Therefore a divine person signifies a relation as subsisting...Thus we can say that this signification of the word "person" was not clearly perceived before it was attacked by heretics. Hence, this word "person" was used just as any other absolute term. But afterwards it was applied to express relation, as it lent itself to that signification, so that this word "person" means relation not only by use and custom, according to the first opinion, but also by force of its own proper signification." [source]

Protestant Richard Muller follows suit:
Thus in God, there are three proprietates – paternitas, filiatio, and spiratio. Relatio also refers to personal properties but in the very specific sense of the way in which the distinct subsistencies…relate to one another. (Muller, Vol 4 pg. 187)  

You quote St. Thomas Aquinas a lot. What he says in particulars may or may not be harmonious with Catholic dogma, and even when it is (which usually) there are different levels of infallibility (as I assume you are aware).

I have cited Cardinal Newman (since a book of his was cited by David in supposed opposition to either 1) my view, or 2) the Catholic dogmatic view (and I always seek to be in harmony with that).

As far as I know, what he says is consistent with our dogma on these trinitarian issues.

What, exactly, do you (or David) disagree with, in what I cited from Newman or from Denzinger (actual Catholic dogma)?

I'm unclear as to what it is we are even disagreeing about. It seems that we are perhaps talking past each other. Just because Catholics emphasize nature and essence in the Godhead doesn't mean we ignore or don't make statements also about the Divine Persons. This is what I mean about Orthodox (and sometimes Protestant) caricature of Catholic theology proper.

Invariably when I look into some of the controversies that are bandied about, the Catholic Church ends up discussing and making dogma all the aspects (both/and), while we are accused of denying one of them (an either/or mentality or false dichotomy projected onto us).

That seems to be the case presently, though I am no kind of expert at all on these highly complex matters. I'm just trying to understand the objections and offer whatever replies I am able to give.

Certainly we all agree that these are very deep waters, and that we must tread with extreme caution.

We subordinate at the level of person the Spirit and the Son, BUT NOT THE NATURE. You refuse the attribute (on your view) of causality to the Spirit and therefore demote his nature.

How do I (Catholics) "refuse the attribute (on your view) of causality to the Spirit"? What exactly are you talking about? Please explain in plain English. :-)

Joseph P Farrell in a critique of Augustine’s view of Simplicity says,

In other words, there is an artificial opposition of one person to the other two. It is at this point that the flexibility of Augustine’s Neoplatonic commitment begins to surface in a more acute form...Thus came Augustine to argue for the deity of Christ by means of the filioque; for, if the Son, acting as a cause along with the Father, causes the Spirit, then clearly the Son is God. But underlying Augustine’s response to Arianism is his acceptance of the Arians’ own confusion of person and nature by the acceptance of the Arian definition of the divine nature in terms of the causality of the Father.

I ask for plain English and you give me pointy-headed gobbledygook from a guy who appears to have quite a reputation as a conspiracy theorist and is an "Adjunct Professor of Patristic Theology and Apologetics" at an unaccredited university (California Graduate School of Theology). According to Wikipedia, his ostensible masterwork, entitled God, History, and Dialectic "has yet to be peer reviewed by any major scholarly journal."

His four-volume book isn't listed on amazon (which is quite a feat: even my own obscure Lulu books are on there). Barnes & Noble informs me that it was published by the prestigious Seven Councils Press (which I can't even find in a Google search) in 1997, and has to be special-ordered. It's not listed in any library (several of my books are), according to its Google page. There is a page linked from the above book-page where it can at least be purchased in electronic form.

This is the source for your claims contra St. Augustine? You couldn't come up with a better source than this?

Augustine argues for the "deity" of Christ by appealing to his causality (Because the father eternally begets the Son-Causes the Son), that is, his action of producing the Holy Spirit (Filioque). If causality, production of a divine person, is necessary for "deity" the Holy Spirit is not deity because he doesn't cause any divine person.

I see. Please give me a reference to where St. Augustine argues in this fashion, so I can look it up and read it in context.

No problemo,


New Advent Version of On the Trinity by Saint Augustine (Book XV) Chapter 26.47

"47. Are we therefore able to ask whether the Holy Spirit had already proceeded from the Father when the Son was born, or had not yet proceeded; and when He was born, proceeded from both, wherein there is no such thing as distinct times: just as we have been able to ask, in a case where we do find times, that the will proceeds from the human mind first, in order that that may be sought which, when found, may be called offspring; which offspring being already brought forth or born, that will is made perfect, resting in this end, so that what had been its desire when seeking, is its love when enjoying; which love now proceeds from both, i.e. from the mind that begets, and from the notion that is begotten, as if from parent and offspring? These things it is absolutely impossible to ask in this case, where nothing is begun in time, so as to be perfected in a time following. Wherefore let him who can understand the generation of the Son from the Father without time, understand also the procession of the Holy Spirit from both without time. And let him who can understand, in that which the Son says, As the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself, not that the Father gave life to the Son already existing without life, but that He so begot Him apart from time, that the life which the Father gave to the Son by begetting Him is co-eternal with the life of the Father who gave it: let him, I say, understand, that as the Father has in Himself that the Holy Spirit should proceed from Him, so has He given to the Son that the same Holy Spirit should proceed from Him, and be both apart from time: and that the Holy Spirit is so said to proceed from the Father as that it be understood that His proceeding also from the Son, is a property derived by the Son from the Father. For if the Son has of the Father whatever He has, then certainly He has of the Father, that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from Him.

But let no one think of any times therein which imply a sooner and a later; because these things are not there at all. How, then, would it not be most absurd to call Him the Son of both: when, just as generation from the Father, without any changeableness of nature, gives to the Son essence, without beginning of time; so procession from both, without any changeableness of nature, gives to the Holy Spirit essence without beginning of time? For while we do not say that the Holy Spirit is begotten, yet we do not therefore dare to say that He is unbegotten, lest any one suspect in this word either two Fathers in that Trinity, or two who are not from another. For the Father alone is not from another, and therefore He alone is called unbegotten, not indeed in the Scriptures, but in the usage of disputants, who employ such language as they can on so great a subject. And the Son is born of the Father; and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father principally, the Father giving the procession without any interval of time, yet in common from both [Father and Son]. But He would be called the Son of the Father and of the Son, if— a thing abhorrent to the feeling of all sound minds— both had begotten Him. Therefore the Spirit of both is not begotten of both, but proceeds from both. 


Thanks for the passage in context (a rare treat in this discussion).

Now, you wrote, in interpreting the above:

Augustine argues for the 'deity' of Christ by appealing to his causality (Because the father eternally begets the Son-Causes the Son), that is, his action of producing the Holy Spirit (Filioque). If causality, production of a divine person, is necessary for 'deity' the Holy Spirit is not deity because he doesn't cause any divine person.

But there is a slight problem in your presentation. The problem is that, in this section (perhaps there is something before or after it), St. Augustine is not arguing for the divinity of Christ, but rather, for the filioque.

That changes everything, in terms of your argument. The "proof" for the thing you are arguing for is nonexistent in the passage. More caricatures of St. Augustine's views . . .

You say he is arguing for Christ's deity by claiming that the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him.

But what he actually is arguing, is that the Spirit proceeds from him, not as a proof that He is God, but as a proof that He has life in Himself, just as the Father does, and that there is a certain analogy:

Son ---> Spirit 

to
Father ---> Son.

You simply read into his position what you want to see; not what is actually in the passage. This is par for the course of this whole discussion:

1) Things are read into Scripture that aren't there.

2) Things are read into Catholic dogma that aren't there, when we actually read the dogmas.

3) And now things are read into patristic statements that aren't there, either, and all these wild disconnected speculations are made, based on a complete lack of documented evidence thus far.

You say, "causality, production of a divine person, is necessary for 'deity' the Holy Spirit" -- yet St. Augustine never uses such an argument at all (in this passage). He doesn't even assert that Jesus is God because the Spirit proceeds from Him as well as from the Father, let alone this being a "necessary" characteristic in order for Him to be God at all.

I read the passage four times and could not ever find in it what you are claiming is present. You'll have to do better than this to prove your case. As it is, you are grossly misrepresenting St. Augustine, and if you can't see that (referring to this instance alone), then it's an even greater difficulty in your viewpoint than I imagined before I saw this astonishing "proof".

The big dispute, of course, is over the filioque, not monarchia. If St. Augustine is to be bashed and pilloried for this, then let's include also many eastern fathers who basically agreed with these conceptions:

(1) St. Athanasius (d. 373), in at least three places, refers to the "dependence in origination of the Spirit in the Son." He uses the expression para tou Logou.

(2) St. Epiphanius (367-403) refers to the Spirit as proceeding from the Father and receiving from the Son. He also said that the Spirit is ("has his consubstantial being") from the Father and the Son.

(3) St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) used a great variety of formulae to express the relationship between the Spirit and the Son:

The Spirit is proper to the Son

He comes from the Son

He proceeds from the Son

He proceeds from the Father and the Son

He proceeds from the Father through the Son

(4) St. Maximus the Confessor uses the language of "through the Son." He also used the expression: dia mesou tou Logou, "by means of the Word."

(5) St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. John of Damascus also referred to a "procession from the Father through the Son."

Thorough documentation for all of the above in a paper hosted on my site for almost 15 years now.

* * *
deny that Jesus cannot be properly called "the one God" since He is virtually called that in essence in the passages I cited,

Are you referring to the passages that mention him being the arche of creation? If so, I answered these. This conversation involves the Ontological Trinity, not the Economical Trinity.

Drake's position on St. Augustine's supposed neo-Platonism is not held by all. Michel R. Barnes, associate professor of historical theology at Marquette, according to his faculty page:

. . . has written extensively on the Trinitarian theologies of Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine of Hippo, and has published in Augustinian Studies, Journal of Theological Studies, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, Modern Theology, Theological Studies, and Vigiliae Christianae. He is the author of the monograph, The Power of God: A Study of Gregory of Nyssa's Trinitarian Theology, and co-editor of Arianism After Arius. He is presently writing a monograph on Augustine's Trinitarian Theology as well as a book on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the early church.

His Wikipedia page goes into great depth:

Barnes achieved early acclaim for his correction of the narrative that developed from DeRégnon’s characterization of Eastern and Western Trinitarian theology as starting from distinction and unity, respectively. The nineteenth-century scholar Theodore DeRégnon had asserted that Western Trinitarian theology had historically emphasized God's oneness, while Eastern Trinitarian theology had emphasized God's threeness. This characterization was as pithy as it was inaccurate, and it became repeated in theological and historical circles up to the present day, until Barnes traced its origin and dismissed it, so that it could no longer distort Christian descriptions of God as Trinity. In the Harvard Theological Review Khaled Anatolios spoke of the impact of Barnes tearing down this long-standing structure of misunderstanding that had distorted Christian theologies of God, acknowledging that “The assertion of a substantive rift between Eastern and Western trinitarian theologies… is not found in either Hanson or Simonetti, for instance, and its genealogy, traced back to the figure of de Régnon, has been famously exposed by Michel Barnes.” Similarly, Matthew Drever noted Barnes's leading role in recasting this history of the Christian understanding of God, lauding the “recent attempt by Barnes, Ayres, and others to argue that many of the traditional categories for analyzing pre- and post-Nicene thought (especially the distinction between East and West on the starting points of de Deo Trino vs. de Deo Uno) are inadequate.” . . . Along with Lewis Ayres, holder of a chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Durham, and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Barnes is part of a rereading of Augustine's trinitarian theology that overturns the older, neoplatonic-centered account. This new reading is referred to as "New Canon" Augustine scholarship.[5] Through this work, contemporary scholarship on Augustine has become aware that one of the greatest of Christian theologians has been read primarily through a non-theological lens, and is therefore peculiarly in need of a thoroughly theological or doctrinal re-reading.

This guy has done extensive Augustinian studies. What credentials do you bring for rendering your opinions on the same matters, Drake?



This question is very disappointing Dave and is a typical Roman Catholic appeal to authority. I have none, Dave. I'm just a dude. I have read quite a bit in the Greek Fathers, Palamas, Photios, Florovsky, and Farrell. Farrell, in my opinion is the most knowledge human alive on these issues. His primary work is here: [link]

I see. So you're a dude just as I am. You make a You Tube video pontificating about all sorts of very complex matters of trinitarian theology, that have occupied the greatest minds in the history of theology, east and west.

You expect us to accept that as if you are an expert: running down St. Augustine and the Catholic Church; stating that we can't possibly hold that God didn't create out of necessity (which is a Catholic de fide dogma), because of Divine Simplicity.

Asked what your credentials are, you produce none except reading a lot of stuff. I'm not going around claiming anything like [i.e., an equivalent of] what you are claiming: that Catholic theology was horrendously perverted by supposed Augustinian neo-Platonism. If extraordinary claims are made and expected to be received, then the least we can demand is that the person making such claims give us some reason why we should accept their argumentation.

So I inquire about that, and (with great irony) you blast me for appealing to authority? Asking for credentials commensurate with the grandiosity of claims made is, of course, entirely different from the fallacy of appealing to authority.

Now we see that you are relying on an apparently controversial conspiracy theorist who can't even get his masterpiece published properly, and who is adjunct professor at an unaccredited college.

Looks to me like it is merely the usual distortions of the anti-Catholic wing of Orthodoxy, enlisted by a Reformed Protestant for the (again usual) purposes of bashing Catholicism. But at least you could produce a decent scholar . . .  


* * *

Sounds to me that if Barnes is correct, it is more of the same old false dichotomies that I have often observed myself in Orthodox-Catholic polemics. Some people just don't want to see agreement where it exists.

In “Reading Augustine on the Trinity” in The Trinity ed. Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O’Collins, pg. 152-153, Barnes wrote:

What I will suggest now is that the judgment of the ‘neoplatonic’ character of Augustine’s trinitarian theology may have once had the function of placing that trinitarian theology within a historical context and within a narrative of the development of doctrine (namely, placing that trinitarian theology within the historical context of late fourth-, early fifth-century Latin neoplatonism). But if such a judgment on neo-platonic character of Augustine’s emphasis on unity ever had the function of locating that theology within a historical context, the judgement does not, cannot, continue to do so credibly any longer.
I disagree and Farrell shows it here: [link]
There are several reasons why reading Augustine’s trinitarian theology as an event in Latin neoplatonism can no longer credibly serve to locate that theology historically, of which I shall only three name. The first reason is that the understanding of neoplatonism as a historical phenomenon which was presumed for that narrative is itself no longer viable from a scholarly point of view. The second reason is that he secondary work which supposedly supports such a judgement (e.g. du Roy’s) in fact does not. The third reason . . . is the point of departure of this essay: such a location fails to reflect the doctrinal content of the texts is is supposed to explain, depending as it does upon an ahistorical, decontextualized, or dismembered reading of the texts.

Dave's view is easier to understand? Have I drifted into a different dimension?

Here are your two choices:

I. The Original Nicene Creed: You have one God, the Father, a concreted person and eternally with him is his Son and Spirit that extend from the Father at the level of nature.

II. The Roman Popish view: You have one God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; So three gods? No One God! But you just listed three gods; I know but three really equals one; Do you mean one nature and three persons?; Yes; So then the nature is the God?; Yes, but, no, no wait, hold on. There is one God eternally subsisting as Father, Son and Spirit. God is HE who is the Trinity; So then the persons are just three modes of the same thing or person however way you slice it. Isn't that what Sabellius said?; No!; what's the difference?; The difference is I don't want that to mean Sabellianism because the Trinity falls outside the scope of natural reason; So then it has not been revealed then? By definition you would have to change your view of revelation in order for the Trinity to be revealed but not attainable by reason; No!; Why not?; Because I don't want that to mean that. Knowledge of God is not rational or propositional it is relational; So then truth is not found in a proposition but in a psychological state; Yes!; That is exactly what Plotinus said in the Enneads. One leaves natural cognition to be dissolved into the One because the One is simple and cannot suffer the distinctions of a mind (Which is why the Nous/Mind is the first production of the One). therefore to be united to the One is not propositional/rational activity, it is a psychological trance state. On this view then, Knowledge of God BY DEFINITION CANNOT MAKE SENSE. That's the whole point.

So then The Roman view by definition cannot make sense at all, much less make MORE sense that what David and I are saying.

I do not "see a contradiction between Newman's statement of 1833 and his later 1872 observations", but rather I see a contradiction between your reading of the 1833 selection you provided, and what Newman actually taught. That is why I provided the 1872 quote, for it expands and clarifies what he wrote in 1833. You stated:

I was mainly disagreeing with your contention that only the Father can be entitled "the one God." In one of your papers you cited at least a few eastern Church fathers who made the same point (and I made mine before I read those, so inadvertently echoed their thinking).

I thought I showed by my biblical examples that we can't just go by a phrase, but also have to exegete more deeply and look into what it means in context, with appropriate cross-referencing (i.e., the stuff of systematic theology).

When I did that, I demonstrated that in two instances of the Father being called "the one God", all the attributes included in the definition in context were also possessed by the Son.

The core substance of the concept of the Monarchia of God the Father is that it is He, and He alone, who is the "one God". Your attempts to give the concept/title of the "one God" to the Son (and I assume the Holy Spirit also), are inherently flawed. All you have done is provide generic commonality between the three persons of the Godhead, while ignoring the fundamental, core difference between God the Father and the other two persons. Newman, echoing the Bible, early Church Fathers, and the Nicene Creed reserves the title of the Monarchia to God the Father alone. That is why he stated that:

The Monarchia : that is, that of the Three the Father is emphatically, (and with a singular distinction from the Other Two, as the πηγὴ θεότητος) spoken of as God.

Note that this "singular distinction from the Other Two" lies in the fact that God the Father is "the πηγὴ θεότητος". It is this "singular distinction from the Other Two" which lies behind the restriction of the title "one God" to the Father alone. It is why the Bible restricts the title "one God" to the Father, and why it makes a clear distinction between the one from whom are all things, and the one through  whom are all things. It is also why it is an error to give the Son the title autotheos, for the Father alone is "the πηγὴ θεότητος".

And lastly, it is why most Western/Latin theologians fall into error when they attempt to identify the Son (and Holy Spirit) as the "one God", or the Trinity as a whole as the "one God", or the divine essence, as the "one God"—all these attempts contradict the teaching of the Monarchia of God the Father which flows from the fact that God the Father is "the πηγὴ θεότητος".

Sincerely hope that I have identified for all why the concept of the Monarchia of God the Father is crucial to a correct understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Good answer, but I have dealt with, already, most of what you say, in several different ways.

You continue to bypass the various biblical arguments I have made. For example, you write, "It is why the Bible restricts the title 'one God' to the Father, and why it makes a clear distinction between the one from whom are all things, and the one through whom are all things."

I already showed that you need to get to what "one God" means. If you do that, you see nearly all of His attributes are also true of the Son. Even in this very example, you ignored a text I already produced, showing that the language of "through" is also applied to the Father, and not just to the Son:

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.

The same is said of Jesus:

Colossians 1:16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him.

But you go blithely on in your argument, as if I had never shown that verse to you: as if it isn't there in the Bible at all.

In other words, we see perichoresis / circumincession in play all over the place. But for some reason you (over against Newman, as I also demonstrated) want to ignore that and stress monarchia exclusively.

I have already shown how monarchia is part of Catholic dogma, in terms of procession and generation. That is not at issue. I don't dispute that. I only disputed the argument about "one God" and an overly sweeping statement you made about arche.

So you beat to death the thing that Catholics agree upon, while ignoring other equally relevant considerations in theology proper. You cite Newman, as if he is somehow against me, when in fact he is expressing Catholic dogma, which I wholeheartedly espouse: whatever it teaches.

The historical problem is the distortion of Catholic teachings by anti-Catholic Orthodox and Protestant factions: something that I deal with on almost a daily basis, as an apologist.

Wouldn't it be nice if folks could at least properly understand the doctrines they ostensibly oppose?

But then I would probably be out of a job. LOL I can barely survive as it is, under Obama's mindless economic policies . . .

My last plea for you to understand the onto-econo distintion in the Trinity is a direct response to your Romans 11:36-Colossians 1:16 appeal that I have addressed here already. I am not sure the context of David's use of "from him", but in the context of this conversation, as I have stated many times before, these verses relate to the economy of salvation while this conversation is referring to the ONTOLOGICAL TRINITY!  

I was responding to one particular statement of David's: "a clear distinction between the one from whom are all things, and the one through whom are all things."

He made the statement in order to "prove" that "from whom" exclusively applies to the Father (monarchia and "through whom" to the Son. So I produced Romans 11:36, which shows precisely that "through" is also applied to the father; thus demolishing (I think) this particular argument.

That little mini-discussion stands on its own, no matter what category you attach to it or what box you put it in (ontology, economy or what not). You can give it whatever name you want, or 100 different names. The basic facts remain what they are. It is its own little logical discussion. A claim was made: I responded to it with direct counter-proof from the Bible.

Hello again Dave,

Thanks for responding. I am beginning to think that I am a terrible communicator in these combox dialogues, for I it seems that I am unable to bring clarity to the primary issue at stake (i.e. who/what is the "one God"); but given the importance, I shall yet once again make another attempt.

You continue to bypass the various biblical arguments I have made. For example, you write, "It is why the Bible restricts the title 'one God' to the Father, and why it makes a clear distinction between the one FROM whom are all things, and the one THROUGH whom are all things."

I see little need to comment on the items we agree upon (e.g. Jesus is called God, is called First and Last, is called Alpha and Omega, participated in the creation of "all things", etc.)

I already showed that you need to get to what "one God" means. If you do that, you see nearly all of His attributes are also true of the Son.

Two points, first, early on in this dialogue you stated the Son shared all of the attributes of God the Father, but now (and correctly in my humble opinion) you say "nearly all of His attributes"; 

So what? It was simply an instance of making a general statement and then realizing that important qualifications were left out. It isn't as if I changed my mind on anything. No biggie . . . 

and second, you seem to be avoiding the most important distinction between the Father and the Son, namely, that God the Father is "the πηγὴ θεότητος. You have yet to provide an antidote to why this unique property of the Father deservedly restricts the concept/title "one God" to the Father alone.

The texts you cite (and others like 1 Cor. 8:6) demonstrate the very opposite of what you propose, for even though they speak to the economy of the Trinity (as Drake correctly points out) they still point out an important distinction: the Son is never spoken of in terms of being the πηγὴ (neither economically, nor ontologically), that distinction is reserved for the Father.

Rom. 11:36 ὅτι ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ δι' αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα: αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας: ἀμήν. (NAS Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.)

1 Cor. 8:6 ἀλλ' ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατήρ, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, δι' οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι' αὐτοῦ. (NAS - 1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.)

1 Cor. 11:12 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ γυνὴ ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρός, οὕτως καὶ ὁ ἀνὴρ διὰ τῆς γυναικός: τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ. (NAS - 1 Corinthians 11:12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.)

Col 1:16 ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα, εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι: τὰ πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται, (NAS - Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him.)

In reference to the "creation of all things" the preposition ἐκ (out of/from) is reserved for the Father alone—this is an important distinction which I believe is related to ontological distinction of the Father alone being the πηγὴ θεότητος.

But as Drake points out, what we really need to be focusing on is ontological aspect of the Trinity, not the economic (even though as I point out above that there exists an important distinction in that aspect too). The ontological distinction of the Father alone being the πηγὴ θεότητος needs to be addressed, and quite bluntly, you have not done so.


This is untrue. I have done so. I agree with you: "I see little need to comment on the items we agree upon."
I agreed in two different ways, and I have also stated that this stuff is Catholic dogma: all of which I accept. But specifically, I did the following:

1) I agreed with the second extensive Newman quote that you initiated (in agreement with what you were saying) and that I expanded upon in a much lengthier citation. He says this there (which is why you cited him). I said also that as far as I knew, what he states is in accordance with Catholic dogma. I have noted more than once the irony or oddity of you quoting Cardinal Newman "against" me (the very person whose quotations I have compiled in my upcoming book), when in fact I totally agree with his sentiments, which are also Catholic dogma. Yet somehow you get this notion that I haven't dealt with πηγὴ θεότητος. I can only shake my head in bewilderment.

2) Secondly, I cited at length the Council of Toledo from 675: straight from Denzinger. It contains the portion:

And we profess that the Father, indeed, is not begotten, not created but unbegotten. For He from whom both the Son received His nativity and the Holy Spirit His procession takes His origin from no one. Therefore, He is the source and origin of all Godhead . . .

Now, you yourself defined πηγὴ θεότητος as "the cause/origin/source of deity/divinity".

The Council of Toledo says that the Father "is the source and origin of all Godhead".

Is that good enough; close enough for you, or do we have to play ring around the rosey for another two days for you to accept what I have gladly agreed to several times; or will you now contend that what Toledo says is somehow vastly different: perhaps going back to the Latin, so we can by any means find a disagreement where there is none?

I say, "here is Catholic dogma" and "I agree with it" and it contains this section that says almost exactly what you are contending. So why is it still an issue?  There are enough things to argue about, heaven knows, without ridiculously wrangling over and over about what two parties agree with.



the Son is never spoken of in terms of being the πηγὴ (neither economically, nor ontologically), that distinction is reserved for the Father.

Where is this word applied to the Father in the Bible? I looked it up and I couldn't find it. Maybe I'm missing something. . . . please inform me where this word is used in your sense.

The term itself is not used with reference to God the Father, but the concept is. Newman employs the term in reference to the Father alone, as do a number of the Greek Church Fathers.

It seems like another instance where you make an argument from a Greek word, but can't back it up from the biblical usage (just as with arche).

??? I got the term from Newman.

I don't even know Greek, but it is easy enough to look up in lexicons, whether a word occurs, and how it is used.

I assumed that you read Greek—my bad—I will keep this in mind in my future dialogue with you.

As for the πηγὴ when used in conjuction with θεότητος, as I mentioned above, Newman employs it, as do a number of the Greek Church Fathers. It is equal to Latin employed by the Council of Toledo:

πηγὴ = fons ; origo

θεότητος = totius divinitatis

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In reference to the "creation of all things" the preposition ἐκ (out of/from) is reserved for the Father alone—this is an important distinction which I believe is related to ontological distinction of the Father alone being the πηγὴ θεότητος.

It's true that ἐκ isn't applied to Jesus with regard to creation, and that is an interesting distinction, but it doesn't really change anything, since you once again neglect the consideration of circumincession: a thing that applies to creation like everything else.

Ludwig Ott expresses the Catholic dogma about "The Trinity and Creation" (pp. 82-83):

The Three Divine persons are one single, common Principle of the Creation. (De fide.)

As the work of Creation, however, exhibits a certain similarity with the proprietates of the First Person, it is usually referred to the father by "appropriation." (Cf. The Apostles' Creed.) . . .

Holy Writ stresses the communal character of the operation of the father and the Son and founds this on their community of Nature. Cf. John 5:19; 14:10 . . . In Holy Writ the work of Redemption is sometimes attributed to the Father, sometimes to the Son Cf. Mt. 11:25; John 1:3; Col. 1:15 et seq.; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebr. 1:2.

Here are the first two passages:

John 5:19 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.

John 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

I would add the following:

John 10:30-32 I and the Father are one." [31] The Jews took up stones again to stone him. [32] Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father;

John 10:38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

Now, when it comes to creation, sure: the usual biblical expression (I agree) is the notion of "from / by the Father through the Son," but it is an instance of biblical paradox. They both create, and it could be said of either one that they are the Creator.

This sort of "both/and" paradox is all over the place: in the many instances where Paul says he is "saving" people (when we know that ultimately God is doing it), or in a typically Pauline statement like:

1 Corinthians 15:10 On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.

Or, Paul refers to being "co-workers" with God. It's the same with creation. Scripture bears out the Catholic dogma. God the Father created; God the Son created; God the Holy Spirit created.

Lastly, an argument I used to use with the JWs 30 years ago comes from Isaiah 44:24: ". . . I am the LORD, who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth -- Who was with me?"

They used to argue that Jesus was created Himself, then He created the world. So I would spring this on them, saying only God did it, and no one was with Him. Thus, Jesus is God. But they deny that, so they have to deny the inspired revelation.

It applies in a similar way here: If God the Father, as the Jews construed Him in a non-trinitarian way, was Creator, and He alone, then how is it that the NT shows that it was through Jesus, and that He is also described as Creator?

The solution is that Jesus was also Creator just like the Father; else it is a glaring biblical contradiction. The Catholic dogma is shown again to be biblically supported (as always).

Job 9:8 refers to God "who alone stretched out the heavens." Malachi 2:10 states: "Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?" In Hebrews 1:10 God the Father says that God the Son was the Creator: "And, "Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands;"

When have I ever written that I somehow disagree with the selection from the Council of Toledo that you have provided? Fact is, I have not, because my take on this issue is identical with that selection. It is also identical with what the Nicene Creed says; when you put what the Council of Toledo says, with what the Nicene Creed says, you have my position: "I believe in one God, the Father", and that this one God "is the source and origin of all Godhead"—this is my position Dave.

Now, you say you agree with the above, if you do then there is no argument, which leaves me scratching my head over why you have produced over a dozen posts which take issue with my position—this is quite confusing to me.

With that said, I suspect that your disagreement with me lies not with what it written in the Nicene Creed and the Council of Toledo, but rather, with YOUR additions to those clear teachings.

QUESTION: in YOUR view, who/what is the "one God"?  

He has dodged so many issues here I doubt he will answer you. If he admits that the father is the source/origo then he has to distinguish attributes from properties-causality not being a divine attribute but a personal property of the father. In this case ontological eternal causality is not in the Son and he has to back away from Filioque. As I proved Augustine clearly argued for the deity of Christ by means of causality/filioque. Now Dave is caught in a tangled web he spun. 

Agreed. 

By the way, the Council of Toledo (675 - a local council of only 17 bishops) which he provided a selection from, while affirming that the Father is the πηγὴ θεότητος (Latin: Fons ergo ipse et origo est totius divinitatis), it contradicts the Nicene Creed, for in its opening we read:

"We confess and believe that the holy and ineffable Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is one God by nature, of one substance, of one nature as also of one majesty and power."

The "one God" is no longer the Father, but the Trinity.

This dialogue has exhausted itself, seeing that now I have to clarify for the third, fourth, fifth time that I agree with many of your contentions, or have to reiterate what I have already stated / argued (often more than once), and seeing that my views are otherwise repeatedly misrepresented.

Now it is claimed that I have "dodged" many things, when in fact I have systematically replied (as anyone who reads the entire exchange can clearly see), and quite the opposite is true: both of you have ignored quite a bit of what I have written, as shown in behavior / rhetoric described in my first paragraph.

When that happens, true dialogue has ceased, and thus, also my interest in pursuing whatever little is left of the remnants of true dialogue, and the ships-passing-in-the-night caricatures of same.

Nevertheless, despite the sour ending, it was truly fun and interesting for a while, and I enjoyed it, and thank you for the input and stimulation. Credit where it is due, but I'm done with this. It's no longer fun: now it is boring and tendentious and annoying, because true dialogue has ceased and the name-calling has set in.

In any event, I've preserved virtually all of it on my blog. 

Sorry to hear that you have chosen to cease participation in this thread. I want you to know that I have sincerely appreciated the time and effort you have given us.

For the 'record', I think it prudent to comment briefly on a few of the items from your last post.

I do not believe I have misrepresented your views even once, let alone "repeatedly".

I have tried to focus on the major differences between our respective views, rather than dwell on those things we are in agreement on. Since I have no argument with a good portion of what you have written, I guess it could be said there is a certain sense to your charge that "have ignored quite a bit of what [you] have written". But, I deny the charge of "rhetoric".

Thanks again for taking the time to participate. I hope you know that it was never my intent to offend you (I can't recall any "name-calling" on my part), and that you are always welcome here.


For further related reading:

Orthodox Catholic Christology: A Theological Primer




Filioque (Church Fathers; ed. Joe Gallegos)

Catholic Encyclopedia: Filioque


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5 comments:

Martin said...

Good post Dave,

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks!

Dave Armstrong said...

The original post was greatly expanded (maybe five times longer) by additions of comments from David Waltz and Drake Shelton, and my replies, as of 3 AM ET 3-7-12.

Martin said...

Excellent! David Waltz if one of the nicest guys on the internet and incredibly well read but clearly mistaken on his theology. I have long been puzzled by his position.

You did an amazing job of pulling out what he's trying to say and holding his feet yo the fire and keeping on . I was surprised at your grasp of theology, you know, for a guy who advertises himself as a Bible guy

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks again. Well, I try. Trinitarian theology and Christology are extremely important areas, so as an apologist I always try to make sure I am representing the Church's views accurately. It's not my personal view, but that of the Church: always (excepting areas where we are allowed to disagree, like Molinism, etc.).

Even one small slip can send someone off into heresy, so it is a fairly grave responsibility.