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JohnMartin
12-24-2016, 10:15 PM
St Thomas Aquinas holds the title as universal doctor of the Church. He is responsible for writing the great works of the Summa Theologia (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/) and Summa Contra Gentiles (http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles.htm), among many other important works. (http://dhspriory.org/thomas/) I intend to introduce some Thomistic concepts for discussion.

The first concept is that of the person which may be understood in contrast to that of being in God.

Question - What is the difference between a being and person in God?

Answer - being in God is the divine nature. God is being. A person is understood diversely as -

1) a hypostases or supposit of rational nature. A hypostases is a concrete thing, for example a a chair existing in the real is a concrete thing. Likewise a person is a concrete thing existing in the real, and therefore a hypostases. A person is also different from a chair for a person is rational, and thereby has the spiritual powers of intellect and will. A person is then a concrete thing, existing in the real, with an intellect and will.

If this definition is transferred to the notion of a divine person, each person is then a concrete thing with an intellect and a will. Yet in God, there is only one intellect and one will, for God is not composed of parts, nor has accidental perfections. A divine person is also a hypostases or supposit as a concrete thing. Such means the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three, concrete things that exist in the real. Each concrete thing existing in the real is really distinct from the other. The Father is not the Son, nor the Holy Spirit and so on. The Father is then a concrete thing with an intellect and will. This definition does tell us something of the nature of a divine person, but the definition is lacking according to the manner in which 1) the Father's personhood is not that of the Son and Holy Spirit, and 2) the Father's intellect and will is identical to that of the Son and Holy Spirit. Likewise for the Son and Holy Spirit.

2) that which is incommunicable. A person owns everything which it has. For example Peter owns his arms, legs, eye, heart, thoughts, willing and actions. Each of these parts can be communicated to another. Such as an idea. Peter can have an idea, which is known to him and is therefore Peter's idea. Peter can then also express the idea to another and thereby communicates the idea to another. Likewise Peter can give every other part of himself to another. For example, Peter can give all of his actions to another as to an employer.

However, there is something Peter cannot communicate, or give to another. That which cannot be communicated to another is Peter's person. Peter is the name we give to the person, which is that that cannot be given to another. When Peter gives, it is Peter, and not another person that gives. Peter then cannot give something of himself that is Peter, for there is not person, prior to the person of Peter, by which Peter can be given to anther. Peter, then is the name given to the personhood of the rational substance, which is fundamentally incommunicable.

When applied to God, the divine person is that which cannot be communicated to another within God. The Fathers, intellect, will, being, and life are all communicated to the Son and the Holy Spirit. Yet the Father as a person, cannot communicate His own distinct personhood to another divine person. For the Father is, and always will be a distinct, incommunicable being, other than the Son and the Holy Spirit. Like wise for the Son and the Holy Spirit.

3) the first subject of attribution. The first subject is that subject which is before all others. A second subject is that which depends upon the first subject as a first. For example, my hand is the subject of my fingers. My fingers are dependent upon my hand as a third subject is dependent upon a second subject. The hand is then in turn dependent upon the first subject, which is the owner of all other subjects. The first subject, is the person that owns all the attributes of the man, called Peter. Peter has hands, legs and arms and habits, which are all owned by Peter. All these things are known as attributes. Therefore Peter, is the first subject of attribution, and is therefore the human person, who owns all of the attributes.

When applied to God, the F/S/HS all own the divine attributes. The divine persons who own the divine attributes are the first subjects of attribution. Therefore in God, there are three, first subjects of attribution.

4) Substantial relation. There is no examples in creation of a substantial relation. We do however have examples of accidental relation. Predicamental relation occurs when a substance has an accidental being towards another, whereby that relational (accidental) being is not the natural power of the substance. For example a Father has an accidental relation to the Son. The Father as man, is naturally a rational animal, and is not thereby naturally a Father. This means, man as the nature of man, is rational animal, and man as man is not from the nature of man, a father. In this way, fatherhood, motherhood, sonship and daughterhood are all accidental to the nature of man, and are thereby predicated of man. For example, Peter is a father, Jane is a mother. Both the predicates of father and mother indicate they are accidental to the nature of man.

Transcendental relation occurs when there is a relation within a thing that is ordered to act towards another, from the nature of a thing. For example, the eye is an organ of sight and is thereby from the nature of eye, ordered towards another thing - illuminated colour. Similarly, the other senses are also ordered towards another, and thereby are transcendentally related to another, as to an object.

In God there are no accidents. Therefore in God, there is neither predicamental, nor transcendental relation. All in God is substance. Yet in God it has been revealed that there is opposition and therefore relation. Each relation in God is not accidental, but substantial. Therefore in God, there are three persons, whereby each person is defined as a substantial relation. The F is a substantial relation to the Son. The Son is a substantial relation to the Father, etc. There are four relations in God of F->S, S->F, F&S->HS, and HS->F&S. Each relation, of F/S/HS indicates a divine person as a being towards another.

Now as to the question of what is the difference between a being and person in God? The differences are according to manner of defining person within God.

1) a hypostases or supposit of rational nature. A divine person is a hypostases. The divine being is the being had in common with the three divine hypostases.

2) that which is incommunicable. A divine person is that which is incommunicable. The divine being is that being which is communicated to each of the divine persons.

3) the first subject of attribution. A divine person is that first subject of the divine attributes. The divine being is owned by three divine, first subjects of the F/S and HS.

4) Substantial relation. A divine person is a substantial being towards another. The divine being of each person is not had as a being towards another, but as being had is common. The divine person is then a mode of being, particular to each person, whereby the divine being had in common is being had as essence.

Further Discussion on the Concepts of Being and Person in God.

God is one being, but the one being is had in diverse modes in the three persons. As Christians we cannot say God is not one being. God is being and God is three persons, who are three modes of the one, essential being. God is then according to person, three modes of being, but according to essence, one being. A mode does not indicate a really distinct being had apart from that being. For example, a piece of string may be had according to different modes of straight and curved. The string is the same, but the manner by which the string exists is modally different. For the string to be really distinct, the string would have to be distinct to the chair, or table. The string is not the chair or table, but the string. So too the straight and bent piece of the same string, are modes of the same string. Hence the modes of string do not mean the bent string is really distinct from the straight string.

Analogously, the three divine persons and the divine essence are not really distinct from each other. The divine person is not another thing, distinct from the divine essence, like the table or chair are distinct from the string. In God, all the divine persons and the divine essence are one, but had in different modes, and are therefore distinct by modes of being. God is being. F, S and HS are three beings, modally different to the one essence of God, which is being.

The difficulty in understanding this manner of understanding God, is the modes of the string are accidental, but the modes in God are substantial. We creatures only know of accidental modes of existence, such as the modes of string. Hence, we do not know by experience of any substantial modes of existence. To then say God is three and one according to modes of being, cannot be understood in itself, but only according to analogy from the experience of accidental modes had in creation.

To understand modes of being in God by analogy from creatures only provides some assistance in removing any allegation of contradiction in God. The modes of being in God are simply not knowable in themselves to man. We cannot know what the diverse modes of being in God really are essentially in God, for the distinction made in God according to modes of being is wrapped up in the supernatural mystery of God as both one and three. Therefore when we arrive at the conclusion, along with Basil the Great, that the distinctions of person and nature in God are according to mode, we do so, knowing that we have only obtained some insight into what has been revealed by God, without ever directly knowing the nature of God, nor how God is both three and one.

I could tell you how a car works, then you would both know what a car is and how it works. God has told mankind what He is as both one and three, but not how both one and three work out in the inner life of God. Such an explanation would consist in God explaining the transcendent life to a creature, which is a life that only God, who alone has a supernatural mind, can fully comprehend. Evidently God cannot explain such a reality to creatures, whereby the creature comes to know that reality in God, which is naturally above a creatures comprehension. Only in heaven, when the saints see the divine nature face to face in the beatific vision, whereby the mind of a creature is raised to the supernatural life of God, will the creature know the inner workings of the divine life. So too, God has revealed the Trinitarian life of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In doing so, He has shown man there is a life in God had properly in God alone. Yet man simply cannot fully comprehend in this life, what this inner life of God really is.

Part of the mystery of revelation is God has revealed some truths to man, without revealing the full nature of those truths. For example, God has revealed the Word became flesh, but He has not revealed how this mystery was caused. Likewise God has revealed that man is justified by a free act of grace, yet the nature of grace is not fully understood by men in this life. Similarly, we know of the one and three in God, but we cannot fully comprehend in this life, what that means.

God is one and God is three. God is a Trinity, understood in this life by faith, and in the next life by vision.

Note - Much of the above OP was derived from my previous post on "Question about he Trinity Thread" (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?10832-Question-about-the-Trinity&p=326026&viewfull=1#post326026) which is used as a kick starter to the current thread.


JM

JohnMartin
12-26-2016, 11:34 PM
Can someone make a comment so I can continue the thread?

JM

The Thinker
01-24-2017, 12:34 PM
Can you define the intellect and the will a little more?

Leonhard
01-25-2017, 05:54 AM
As a Thomist, I'd have to say that JohnMartin is only slightly more capable of explaining Thomism, than he is of cosmology.

JohnMartin
01-25-2017, 05:28 PM
As a Thomist, I'd have to say that JohnMartin is only slightly more capable of explaining Thomism, than he is of cosmology.

And what is your evidence for this? Please be specific with links to posts.

JM

Roy
01-31-2017, 07:49 AM
As a Thomist, I'd have to say that JohnMartin is only slightly more capable of explaining Thomism, than he is of cosmology.And what is your evidence for this? Please be specific with links to posts.Example #1 (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?11072-Proofs-for-the-Existence-of-God&p=411105&viewfull=1#post411105). Undefined, ungrammatical, non-standard terminology.