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Thread: Question about the Trinity

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorrinRadd View Post
    As usual, I find this whole discussion only reaffirms my conviction that human language is inadequate to meaningfully characterize the details of the Trinity and the Incarnation (which two doctrines are, IMO, inextricably linked).
    We cannot fully comprehend the Trinity, but at least it can be stated in such a way to avoid contradiction.

  2. Amen Bill the Cat, Chrawnus, Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxb View Post
    What would be the distinction between these things?

    one being and three persons
    One being and three persons are distinct according to mode of being. Being by essence is the nature of God. Being by divine supposit is the nature of personal being in God. being by essence and being by supposit are both being, yet diverse according to manner by which being is had in God. Hence the modes of being in God distinguish the essence from person in God.

    one dog nature and three dogs
    The one dog nature is had in common with the three dogs. The three dogs are distinct according to the seal of matter as a cause of each dog being an individual dog. A dog is not a person, for a dog is not a rational animal, but a sentient animal. As sentient, the dog does not have an intellect and will. A dog is therefore not distinct from another dog according to distinct supposit of intellectual nature, but a distinct supposit of sentient nature, sealed by matter.

    Some good questions here. Keep them coming.

    JM

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxb View Post
    We cannot fully comprehend the Trinity, but at least it can be stated in such a way to avoid contradiction.
    We can also know something about the Trinity to support faith. The Christian faith is not fidistic, whereby faith is the only way to know of the Trinity. The Trinity is believed by faith, but also understood by reason, even though our understanding is weak and incomplete.

    JM

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorrinRadd View Post
    As usual, I find this whole discussion only reaffirms my conviction that human language is inadequate to meaningfully characterize the details of the Trinity and the Incarnation (which two doctrines are, IMO, inextricably linked).
    Human language is inadequate to fully understand the mysteries of the Trinity and incarnation, but any inadequacy is to be taken with the truths we can understand about the revelation given. We do know something of the following - three, person, nature, being, one, relation, substance, accident, infinite, life, intellect, will, and several other concepts. We can use such knowledge to develop a knowledge of those mysteries, whilst knowing that such mysteries we never be fully comprehended in this life.

    A mystery is intelligible, in so far as it can be understood, and is not absurd or contradictory. A mystery is not fully comprehensible, as it cannot be fully understood. Any incomprehension does not destroy any comprehension we do have and any intelligibility within the mystery.

    JM

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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    A more delicate question is whether Christ is one or two beings. As Christology was finally formulated, Christ has a separate human will with separate human actions. In a common-language sense I think itís clear that Jesus is a human being. However Iím not aware of classical theology speaking of Christ as two beings. I think it could be justified.
    St Thomas says Christ had only one being - that of the Word. The being of the Word actualized the human nature of the Word, which is united to the divine nature. Even though it seems there are two beings in Christ, following upon two natures in Christ, yet two beings in Christ is a heterodox doctrine.

    JM

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMartin View Post
    St Thomas says Christ had only one being - that of the Word. The being of the Word actualized the human nature of the Word, which is united to the divine nature. Even though it seems there are two beings in Christ, following upon two natures in Christ, yet two beings in Christ is a heterodox doctrine.
    I noted when I asked the question that itís not entirely clear how to define ďbeingĒ in this context. Iím not a Thomist, but in the section on the incarnation in the Summa, he sometimes treats the human nature as a kind of pseudo-hypostasis. I think whatever technical vocabulary was used historically, heís treating the nature as a being. However as weíll see, he doesnít do that with complete consistency.

    The clearest example of treating that human nature as a pseudo-hypostasis is Part 3, Q3, Art 7: Can one Person assume two individual natures? The answer is yes. He says that the Son could assume two distinct human natures. This makes it clear that heís seeing the human nature as an individual. Otherwise there couldnít be two of them. This is far from how "nature" is used in common speech.

    Similarly in Part 3, Q2, Art 2, he says that the Word assumed the human nature not in general but in an individual. However he argues that this individual is not a person because it doesnít exist by itself but rather in a more perfect thing, i.e. the incarnate Word. ďAnd hence, too, this is signified by a "person" being defined as "an individual substance," for the hand is not a complete substance, but part of a substance. Therefore, although this human nature is a kind of individual in the genus of substance, it has not its own personality, because it does not exist separately, but in something more perfect, viz. in the Person of the Word. Therefore the union took place in the person.Ē

    I donít think that he used this terminology with complete consistency. In Part 3, Q4, Art 2, reply to Obj 1, he uses the exact same language about the Word assuming human nature in an individual, but this individual is the Logos. Because in this analysis thereís no separate human individual, he refuses to say that ďa manĒ was assumed.

    I believe the language in 3.2.2 is sufficiently clear that it has to be speaking of an individual as separate from the Word, since otherwise it makes no sense to argue that it isnít a Person because it isnít complete. Yet in 3.4.2 it is equally explicit that the individual is the Word, because there is no separate human individual. This kind of inconsistency may mean that we can both find support for the idea that there is a human being and the idea that there is not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    I believe the language in 3.2.2 is sufficiently clear that it has to be speaking of an individual as separate from the Word, since otherwise it makes no sense to argue that it isnít a Person because it isnít complete. Yet in 3.4.2 it is equally explicit that the individual is the Word, because there is no separate human individual. This kind of inconsistency may mean that we can both find support for the idea that there is a human being and the idea that there is not.
    You think so, only because you have been vague with your terms and have misunderstood what St Thomas said. I suggest you go and purchase a good dictionary of St Thomas and check the meaning of words such as logos, nature, individual, hypostasis etc before making an argument contrary to what St Thomas teaches. Try Bernard J. Wuellner, A Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy as a good source. Just do it for your own education to see what you got it right and where you can improve your own understanding of what St Thomas is saying.

    St Thomas clearly teaches there is only one being in Christ, which is that of the Word. Hence any claims of a pseudo human nature in Christ is merely your own understanding of what St Thomas has said in other parts of the summa, made apart from the direct argument for only one being in Christ. As there is only one being, then there is only one act in Christ. Therefore both the human and divine natures, though distinct, have the same fundamental act, which is the being of the Word.

    The Word and the Logos are fundamentally the same notion, using different terms. The difference between Word and Logos is of no consequence with regard to your argument for a pseudo human nature in Christ. Even if there is evidence for your argument, you have not informed us of what a pseudo nature is. As far as I can tell, St Thomas never uses such terminology. In this manner, if you make the claim, then for others to take your claim seriously, you must bear the burden of demonstrating such a claim from St Thomas's writings.

    It is good that you are thinking, but I believe your argument suffers from a lack of clarity concerning the definitions of your words used and projecting meanings into St Thomas that aren't there. Keep thinking, but to understand what St Thomas is saying, it is best to remain faithful to his clear teachings and use words the way he used them.

    JM

  9. Amen Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMartin View Post
    St Thomas says Christ had only one being - that of the Word. The being of the Word actualized the human nature of the Word, which is united to the divine nature. Even though it seems there are two beings in Christ, following upon two natures in Christ, yet two beings in Christ is a heterodox doctrine.
    In a posting just above you defined God as one being with three persons.

    It seems very odd to turn to the Incarnation and equate being with person. Youíre now saying that the Logos is a being, after having denied it a couple of posts before. I don't think you want to say that Christ has one being, meaning the being of the Trinity, because making Christ the incarnation of the Trinity as a whole is Patripassian.

    I actually think that this whole approach of dealing with theology in terms of metaphysics is a dead end. I don't think you can say anything non-trivial about God or Christ without ending up in self-contradiction, heresy, or both. With all due respect to Aquinas, who clearly did the best job one could hope to do.
    Last edited by hedrick; 05-30-2016 at 11:10 AM.

  11. Amen Obsidian amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    ...

    I actually think that this whole approach of dealing with theology in terms of metaphysics is a dead end. I don't think you can say anything non-trivial about God or Christ without ending up in self-contradiction, heresy, or both. With all due respect to Aquinas, who clearly did the best job one could hope to do.
    Kind of my point earlier.
    Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

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    "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

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    Modalism is the theological doctrine that the Father, Son, and Spirit are not three distinct Persons, but rather three modes or forms of activity under which God manifests Himself.

    Basil defended the "one in substance" three in person formula that destroyed the revitalized semi-Arian heresy arising at the time of the Council at Constantinople 381.

    Don't let the word "mode" trick you into believing he was teaching modalism, most strongly recognized in the teachings of Sebellius (No not the 20th century Finnish composer), in the late 3rd century.

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