Boyd steps off the edge — Part 1

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We posted previously our thoughts on Greg Boyd’s recent articulations (here and here and here) regarding the nature of the separation between the Father and the Son that occurs on the Cross. There are two separate issues here. The lesser issue is whether Greg’s present position is compatible with his view of God argued in Trinity and Process (hereafter ‘TP’). Greg feels his present view is a “deepening” of beliefs he held in TP. We know it might come across as a bit bizarre for us to disagree with Greg about what’s in his PhD dissertation, but demonstrating that Greg’s present views are in fact an abandonment of TP is pretty easy to do.

The greater issue of concern for us, however, is whether his recent views are remotely orthodox and whether they avoid an inherent tritheism and err as well regarding just how it is that Christ’s sufferings accomplish our salvation. Greg is a brilliant guy whose head and heart are always fully engaged. He keeps us all on our toes. We want to make sure, however, that people don’t uncritically embrace what Greg says and that we keep him on his toes too, and we know Greg appreciates this.

Strap yourself in for a bumpy road.

Check this out. Greg wants us to believe that on the Cross the divine persons of the Father and Son temporarily sacrificed their mutually defining experience of each other. Now, stop right there and read that again, slowly and carefully: the Father and his own eternal image, the Logos (John 1:1), severed their eternal and unbroken enjoyment of each other as the Son/Logos was rejected and forsaken by the Father. It’s important to emphasize the real, actual “experienced” nature of this dissolution between the Father and the Son, Greg argues, because our salvation depends upon it. God had to suffer the actual consequence of our sin (in the divine nature and not just in embodied humanity), and that consequence is spiritual death and rejection by God. So the Son, the Father’s very Logos, had to become this, experience this, had to in fact be forsaken by the Father. But this dissolution of experienced personal union between the Father and the Son is possible, Greg argues — and here we reach the heart the matter — because such mutually enjoyed love is not necessary to God. Stop and read that again carefully: the conscious, experienced love which the Father, Son and Spirit enjoy as God, Greg argues, is not essential or necessary to God’s existence. That experience is contingent. It can come and go. And on the Cross, Greg says, it went.

The question we’re asking is, What happens to God as Trinity if the triune relations cease in the way Greg claims? If God is essentially and necessarily triune (something Greg presumably wants to say), then how can the persons who constitute this trinity cease to experience one another? Greg offers an analogy to illustrate an important distinction that explains how this is possible. This distinction is the defining center of Greg’s abandonment both of his views in TP and of orthodox Christianity. In his most recent blog he asks us to:

“…distinguish between the love and unity that the three divine persons experience, on the one hand, and the love and unity that defines God’s eternal essence, on the other. We could say that on the cross, the former was momentarily sacrificed as an expression of the latter. That is, the three divine Person’s sacrificed their previously uninterrupted experience of perfect love and union in order to express the perfect love and union that defines them as God.” (emphasis ours)

So, there is a love and unity that defines God’s existence necessarily but does not define God’s experience necessarily. If Greg thinks this is a “deepening” of his views in TP, then he’s forgotten what’s in TP. The muddled thinking is entirely his, not ours. We’ve been begging him for five years to pull TP off the shelf and get back into it.

So what’s in TP? Well, its central and often repeated claim is in fact the denial of the very distinction Greg is now making between God’s ‘experience’ and God’s ‘existence’. In TP, Greg argues that a certain kind of experience constitutes God’s necessary existence; that is, God’s experience of Godself as triune and God’s very existence are one and the same. What kind of experience? The experience of the unsurpassable enjoyment of his own beauty perceived in and as fully given and received love definitive of the divine persons (Father, Son and Spirit). In other words, this One’s triune essential ‘experience’ is this One’s essential triune ‘existence’. Don’t take our word for it. Here’s Greg circa 1992 in TP:

“God’s being is defined by God’s eternal disposition to delight in Godself and the eternal actualization of this disposition within the triune life of God. It is the unsurpassable intensity of the beauty of the divine sociality – their shared love ‘to an infinite degree’ – and God’s eternal inclination to eternally be such, which defines God as God….” (p. 386, emphasis ours)

Or this:

“If in fact a non-divine world is not a metaphysical necessity, and if in fact God is a metaphysical necessity — and with God, God’s knowledge and God’s love — then it is necessary that God be conceived of as being self-differentiated and that this self-differentiation consists of God’s social knowledge and love. As necessary, the God-defining social action within Godself must be in need of (contingent upon) no other, but must be sufficient unto itself. God must then be metaphysically defined as just the event of this eternal, divine, self-sufficient knowledge and love.” (p. 331, emphasis ours)

slsq_woman_stepping_off_red_cliffIf, however, it’s possible for God’s experience to be other than triune when Christ is on the Cross (i.e., if “the event of this eternal, divine, self-sufficient knowledge and love” can cease, as Greg is now claiming) and God remain triune, then there has to be for Greg something other than experienced relationality that defines God’s necessary existence. If the three divine persons continue to be God when they are not experiencing each other in loving, mutually constituting relationship, then Greg is committed to the proposition that something other than God’s experience of Godself accounts for God’s being three persons. And just what that something is Greg hasn’t said. But two things are certain about whatever he might suggest it is. First, it is not the view he championed in TP, and second, whatever it is it’s something more fundamental to God than God’s own experience of Godself.

To get the kind of severed or cessation of relationship between the divine persons that Greg is arguing for, you have to treat the persons as sufficiently discrete individuals the way the husband and wife are in his analogy, and that entails tritheism. Again, here’s Greg in TP:

“The unity of God is precisely the social relationality which constitutes this One’s being. And the multiplicity of God is precisely the divine Persons who are knowingly and lovingly encompassed and mutually defined by this unity. The “Persons,” in this view, are not first distinct and only secondly related, for in this case the relationality would be contingent. Rather, the Persons and the relation are both necessary, and hence the Persons are inconceivable apart from the relationality. The ‘I’ and the ‘Thou’ which define the reciprocal eternal loving event of the Trinity is inseparable from the relationality which unites and defines them. (p. 339f, emphasis ours)

There are dozens of such clear statements by Greg in TP, a work that argues (successfully we believe) that God’s necessary existence is defined by the necessary event of the relating of the divine ‘I’ and the divine ‘Thou’. But in now positing the separation in God between the divine persons as he does, he imagines the cessation of the very God-defining event of the relating of the divine ‘I’ and the divine ‘Thou’, a relating which is the love that is God’s existence. And thus Greg abandons his previous belief that this One’s triune existence is constituted as this One’s triune experience.

If in fact Greg thinks the three persons continue to exist as divine apart from their mutually defining enjoyment of each other, like the husband and wife who agree to a cessation of experienced union, then let it be known that he has stepped off the ledge into tritheism.

(Pictures from here and here.)

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58 comments on “Boyd steps off the edge — Part 1

  1. Jacob says:

    When you say “If God remains three persons when the three persons are not experiencing each other in loving, mutually constituting relationship, then Greg’s committed to the proposition that something other than the God’s experience accounts for God’s being three persons,” I think you mean to say, “If the three persons continue to be God when the three persons are not experiencing each other in loving, mutually constituting relationship, then Greg’s committed to the proposition that something other than the three person’s experience accounts for them being God.

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    • yieldedone says:

      Sounds cool, Jacob. Let’s go with that. It seems that you may see the major point we are trying to make. What do you think about it? 😉

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      • Jacob says:

        I think you are right that if Boyd believes unity of Godhood consists in having an infinite *experience* of being loved by the other persons of the trinity, then by Boyd’s own terms, God would have no unity, and something like polytheism would be his view. But it sounds, like y’all have argued, that he is changing his view to say that the *experience* is no longer a necessary condition for this unity. So on his current terms, he would be a monotheist.

        So I think y’all are right that he has changed his view, but I think it is the better part of charity to hold him to his current standards.

        But I think his current view is the only way we could meaningfully (and consistently) hold that Jesus had a complete identification with humankind.

        What do you think of my thoughts?

        I take it “yieldedone” is Dwayne, btw?

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      • yieldedone says:

        To Jacob,

        1) The problem is that Greg’s current view, as far as Tom and I can see, opposes orthodox Christianity. Chalcedonian Christianity (CC) says that the necessary “loving, mutually constituting relationship” experienced by all three divine persons that we have been talking about is a) the Father’s eternal generation of the Son, b) the Sons’ eternal begottenness from the Father, and c) the Spirit’s eternal procession from the Father to “rest” in the Son. The Father being the “fountainhead” of the Trinity in this eternal self-relational activity is what makes God ONE, instead of there being three Gods. Insofar as Greg agreed with all this in T&P, he was definitively a trinitarian monotheist.

        With his current stance, Greg ends up saying that, at a particular time on the Cross, the three persons continue to exist as divine apart from the triune experience noted above. In the duration of God-foresakenness, the Father is the Father without personally communicating his love and nature to his Image, thus “generating” the Son; corresponsively, the Son is the Son without being personally “begotten” of the Father’s love and nature. This asserts that the Son has his OWN divinity ontologically apart from the Father and the Spirit…and that, Jacob, nothing short of tritheism.

        2) CC says that the Son’s fully experiences the the Cross in and through his fully assumed human nature (ie fully created incorporeal and corporeal realities); As Jesus, the Uncreated Son did experience a soul “sorrowful unto death” and felt alienation from God. The difference between CC and what Greg says is that CC says that, post-Incarnation, the subjectivity of the Uncreated Son is not exhaustively limited to the human nature and that, through his naturally-possessed uncreated, transcendent, boundless nature, the Son’s triune experience with the Father and the Spirit does not cease either at the Immaculate Conception or the Cross. As Jesus, the Son is completely human…yet he is not *merely* human.

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    • tgbelt says:

      That helps Jacob. The thought is the same, but that might be an easier way to say it (hence our change). ;o)

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  2. Jeremy Myers says:

    Hmmm.

    I guess my question is why it matters whether or not Boyd is in agreement with his Ph.D. dissertation. Let’s say he is not. So what? His views changed.

    So for me, the real issue is not whether or not he agrees with his own Ph.D. thesis, but whether or not his current views properly express biblical theology. IF what you are saying is true, then they do not.

    Although…. Boyd is a pretty good thinker and theologian. I would not be surprised if he has been misunderstood or simply needs to clarify what he was trying to say.

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    • yieldedone says:

      Hey, Jeremy! Some points…

      1) I agree with you that Greg’s current divergence with his own Ph.D. thesis is secondary to the issue of his current disagreement with orthodox, biblical theology. I believe the reason we place the focus on the divergence that we do is, in part, to show that Greg hasn’t always held this belief. He could easily change his mind by simply going back to his own work. We think that’s pretty cool. 🙂

      2) I think that from Greg’s sermons, video, and blog posts, his perspective is fairly clear concerning the matter. He’s made quite clear that he believes the unity of the Godhead is grounded in God’s disposition for other-oriented love and not in the actual, unbroken experience of love between the three divine persons. That is the crux of the problem. And it seems to me, Jeremy, that understand that such a view is not orthodox Christian belief.

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  3. tgbelt says:

    Jacob, I’ll just second Dwayne’s reply to you. But I think you’re misunderstanding us. You say you agree with us that “if Boyd believes unity of Godhood consists in having an infinite *experience* of being loved by the other persons of the trinity, then by Boyd’s own terms, God would have no unity, and something like polytheism would be his view.” But that’s not what we’re saying (unless I’m misunderstanding you). That the unity of God consists in the experience of loving relations (F, S, and SP) IS the Orthodox view and Greg argued this in TP. Now he wants to say that God can remain triune (F, S, and SP can remain divine persons constitutive of God’s *existence*) while the persons cease relating to one another.

    Jacob: But it sounds, like y’all have argued, that he is changing his view to say that the *experience* is no longer a necessary condition for this unity. So on his current terms, he would be a monotheist.

    Tom: But the relations of the three would not constitute this unity, so when it comes to these persons, if they’re all three divine, and if they’re divine in the absence of any actual relation, then I don’t know how to distinguish this from tritheism. You’ve got three separate/separable divine individuals who just reeeeally love each other a lot. But just because you concede some unity underneath this separability doesn’t save you from polytheism since only the divine PERSONS are the bearers of divinity. There’s no fourth person, no fourth ‘thing’ which is the ONE God.

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    • Jacob says:

      Hi Tom,

      “But the relations of the three would not constitute this unity, so when it comes to these persons, if they’re all three divine, and if they’re divine in the absence of any actual relation,”

      But it is essential to Boyd’s new view that there definitely *is* an actual relation. But it is always an ontological relation and not necessarily always a phenomenological relation.

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      • tgbelt says:

        Jacob: But it is essential to Boyd’s new view that there definitely *is* an actual relation. But it is always an ontological relation and not necessarily always a phenomenological relation.

        Tom: That’s the problem though. He says the relations obtain but are not *experienced*. The relations are there, definitive of God’s actuality, but God doesn’t actually experience Godself as triune.

        Is anybody listening to this? The very relation definitive of the Father and Son, definitive of their identities, the very ACT of begetting and being begotten, of “I” and “Thou” — this is NOT essentially an experienced reality (as appropriately as we can use the term “experience” of something that transcends us)? What Greg is saying is that the triune divine being is contingently experienced though it exists necessarily. The experience of it can come and go, but even when it’s not there you still have *actual relations*.

        Two things:

        (1) We think Greg needs to concede publically that this is a clear departure (abandonment) of Trinity and Process. No big deal. Great minds change their minds about stuff they’ve published all the time. It would be strange if no one ever did. If Greg was publishing his present view in a professional journal (which he’s not) under the review of people who knew his doctoral work, he’d be expected to situate his present view in relation to Trinity and Process; he’d have to demonstrate the compatibility of the two if he wanted to convince people they were compatible. He wouldn’t be allowed to just say they’re compatible. That’s just the professional/academic side of things. Now, Dwayne and I could be wrong. Sure. But the TP quotes are all there to read. You can read them, Jacob. What’s your impression?

        (2) Greg then needs to seriously unpack the distinction he’s now making between God’s ‘existence’ as triune and the ‘experienced enjoyment’ of Father, Son and Spirit, i.e., how God continues to BE (exist) triune without BEING (experiencing Godself as) triune. We’re not saying (with actus purus) that God’s actuality permits NO contingent experiences whatsoever. Sure, God can have contingent experiences. But (as Greg argues in TP) God’s existence IS necessarily an ‘experience’, i.e,. there are necessary features to God’s experience.

        If God is necessarily an experiencer, the only experiencers are the divine persons. There’s no entity(ies) or subjects other than these three who together own (I’m stretching to find the words here) the divine experience. So if God is necessarily experiencing (as TP argues and as Greg presently must surely agree), then Father, Son and Spirit are your only candidates. Now, in TP the necessary, God-defining, sans creational content (as it were) of God’s own experience is the *enjoyment* of God’s own triune beauty had by the three persons not just in some abstract relation underneath their experience of each other, but in the eternally and infinitely full address and response of the divine “I” and the divine “Thou.”

        But now Greg’s saying this triune experience isn’t a necessary feature of God’s experience. The “I” can be separated from the “Thou,” i.e., not experience the “Thou” as the enjoyment that defines God essentially. The “I” can absolutely forsake and reject its own “Thou.” The *experience* of mutuality and the *enjoyment* it grounds can be forsaken and abandoned. It can just stop. But when it stops, the triune *relations* remain and are still *actual*? Father and Son are still related essentially and actually WHILE they are experientially separated?

        Of course, Greg has only posted a couple of video comments on this and a written response to us. But…somebody say something!

        Greg has very heavy lifting to do. He’s a huge voice who is listened to around the world by thousands of people. He doesn’t get to say this kind of thing and then not have to defend it with all the same academic rigor and biblical appeal he puts into other things he’s passionate about. Video blogs won’t do. THIS claim of his is immeasurably more important than anything else he’s writing or saying right now. Hands down.

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  4. yieldedone says:

    Want to put this here…

    From The Council of Chalcedon, 451 AD:

    “Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance (homoousios) with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer (theotokos); one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence (hypostasis), not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has handed down to us.”

    Let me pick out some parts…

    “…one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood…”

    “…of one substance (homoousios) with the Father as regards his Godhead…”?

    “…as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages…”

    “…the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ…”

    Putting all this together, it says Uncreated Son/Word gets his uncreated/divine nature–his “God-ness”–from being eternally begotten of the Uncreated Father. ***The Son doesn’t have his own divinity, and is the eternally “spoken” Word of the Father!*** Moreover, it says that the Christ’s “God-ness” is COMPLETE at the same his humanity is complete. Greg’s current view denies significant elements of what’s being said here.

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  5. Jacob says:

    yieldedone,

    Again… are you Dwayne? I like to know who I’m talking to, and I feel frustrated and lose the connection I enjoy with people when they don’t respond to my questions. I don’t tell you that as a guilt trip, but rather, to let you know how to help me enjoy the conversation.

    The thing is, I don’t remember anything in the creed saying anything about love between the persons of the trinity.

    When you say, “Chalcedonian Christianity (CC) says that the necessary “loving, mutually constituting relationship” experienced by all three divine persons that we have been talking about is…” I’m confused because I don’t recall the creed even purporting to be an explanation of how it is that the three persons of the trinity *love* each other. It’s rather about these ontological/causal relationships.

    Which means… there is no Chalcedonian standard for *how* it is that the Father, Son, and Spirit *love* each other. Of course, *Christian theology* says *that* the three persons do love each other, but again, the *Creed* doesn’t attempt to spell out *how* they love each other.

    Jacob (from the FB OT group)

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    • tgbelt says:

      Jacob: I don’t remember anything in the creed saying anything about love between the persons of the trinity.

      Tom: Read what the Fathers who wrote the Creeds say in explanation and defense of them. You’ll find lots there about the abiding and indissoluble love and desire that are the love and joy God is by virtue of the relations.

      The Creeds are necessarily brief, to the point, and employ key phrases that were fought over tooth and nail. They couldn’t have said “God is love” and walked away because the emergencies pressing upon them demanded in-depth answers to very specific questions.

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  6. yieldedone says:

    1) Yes, I am Dwayne. My sincere apologies for not clarifying that earlier. 🙂

    2) a) It seems to me that Chalcedonian Christianity would be inclusive of the “ontological/causal relationships” within uncreated self-relationality described in the Creed AND the pre-Creational *experience* of love and mutual-indwelling that the Son describes in John 17. (The Creed is not meant to be taken in isolation from John 17, I’m sure.) If this Pre-Creational event is eternal (and therefore, necessary rather than contingent), then “how” they love cannot in any way be separated from an *experience* of “loving, mutually constituting relationship.”

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    • Jacob says:

      Thanks Dwayne 🙂 I appreciate you answering that.

      So your view is that the creed is supposed to explain John 17?

      Jacob

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      • yieldedone says:

        No, sir. Just saying that taking John 17 to be an accurate portrayal of Jesus’s relationship to God the Father AND taking the descriptions described in the Creed, I don’t see how we can come away with saying that there is no Pre-Creational event of loving, mutually constituting relationoship that is *experienced* by the Son. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

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  7. tgbelt says:

    Dwayne: “How” they love cannot in any way be separated from an *experience* of “loving, mutually constituting relationship.”

    Tom: Exactly. Truth is, we don’t know (and can’t know first-hand) “what” God is or “how” the triune persons constitute the actuality of God’s triune experience as love. We can’t sit inside God and observe the metaphysics. But to say, as Greg is now, that this *experience* ceases for God is not just a debate over “how” what is necessary happens. It’s the denial THAT it happens.

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  8. Jacob says:

    To both Tom and Dwayne,

    I’m going to try to combine responses to both of y’all here because they seem to overlap some, in an attempt to keep the conversation unified. Sorry it’s so long, but there’s a lot for me to cover.

    Tom… you asked if I think that Boyd has changed his view. I say yes. Y’all have persuaded me so. Regarding that, you say that it is Boyd’s burden to admit his view has changed. I’d say that he ought to do so *if he’s persuaded* that his view has changed. But he isn’t persuaded, so he’s not obligated. Rather, he’s obligated to being open to being persuaded.

    Tom and Dwayne… I was previously going to say that y’all should change your articulation of your criticism of Boyd’s new view to saying that it is *unbiblical* instead of *uncreedal.* BUT… I now understand, thanks to Dwayne’s clarification, that y’all deem Boyd’s new view to be uncreedal because the readings of the church fathers inform us that the authorial intent of the creeds is something like Boyd’s view in TP. So I now understand *why* it is that y’all view Boyd’s new view as uncreedal. And I’ll say that y’all’s allegation that Boyd’s view is unorthodox when measured against the creeds as a standard of orthodoxy may have merit.

    BUT… it is BY NO MEANS UNCONTROVERSIAL that the authorial intent of the creeds is some form of social trinitarianism as the trinitarianism articulated in TP. In fact, it is by no means uncontroversial that the authorial intent of the creeds is some form of social trinitarianism, period. After all, any commonsense notion of Godhood implies some form of selfhood, even if that selfhood isn’t personhood per se. That’s much more plausible than the idea that a relation of experiences is plausibly described as a God (as in social trinitarianism). But I’d rather not argue that point here, as I’m not that learned on the subject of the trinity, and am content to just make the following point, and this is important: Y’ALL HAVE BEEN ASSUMING THE TP VIEW OF THE TRINITY IS THE ORTHODOX UNDERSTANDING OF THE TRINITY, WHILE THERE IS NO UNCONTROVERSIAL UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT AN ORTHODOX VIEW OF THE TRINITY CONSISTS IN. THUS, YOU CAN’T ASSUME WITHOUT ARGUMENT THAT THE TP VIEW IS ORTHODOX. And arguing that a social trinitarian view of the trinity is orthodox is a somewhat large project, and will take at least a few posts to even begin to legitimately persuade your readers of your view, and that will require a lot of quoting of the church fathers to give us an idea of the authorial intent of the creeds.

    ————————————————————————————————————–

    Okay… enough of that thought for now. Now, I’d like to see if I can flesh out Boyd’s view a little because I think it may have more merit than y’all are giving it. Regardless of whether or not Boyd’s old or current view of the trinity is orthodox, there’s the further question of whether or not his current view entails a break in the trinity, and whether or not it is theologically sound. Allow me to work out his view how I think he should work out his view:

    First of all, despite what Boyd actually says, I don’t think he has to say there was an actual separation of the Father and Son on the cross. His language is misleading and implies not only a phenomenological break but also an ontological break, and he doesn’t want to do this. Here’s how there could be ontological continuity with a phenomenological break, and is consequently where I’m responding to Tom’s concerns about the I/Thou relationship:

    I work at a hospital, and sometimes we have to go against a person’s expressed will and even put them in a lot of pain for their overall good. For instance, somebody may be at the peak of an alcohol withdrawal, and be hallucinating far too much and experiencing delerium far too much to do any purposeful action, such as feeding themselves. So we may have to pin them down while they’re yelling and fighting us and resisting while we do the very agonizing process of putting a feeding tube through their nose and into their stomach. Now, I’ve not made it all the way through Buber’s book, but I would imagine that I could be (and often am) related in an I/Thou way to my patient here. I can empathically identify with his agony, and yet continue to assist with putting the feeding tube down his throat. After all, I am concerned not only with his momentary state of being (as expressed by my empathic identification with his agony), but with his overall well-being (as expressed by my determining to assist with the feeding tube and concurrent empathic connection to his overall well-being). “But,” you might object, “is he empathically related to you at that time, Jacob? Because it doesn’t seem so, nor does it seem in Boyd’s view that Jesus is having a phenomenological experience of love from the Father.” And you are right. But this is the only way my patient could be empathically related to me after this. Similarly, perhaps failing to phenomenologically experience the Father’s love on the cross is the only way

    (1) Jesus could be in an I/Thou relationship with an phenomenologically afflicted creation, that relationship being necessary for Jesus’ ultimate good, and thus

    (2) the Father withdrawing Himself from Jesus’ phenomenological experience of the Father’s love was the only way for the Father to express His I/Thou relation to Jesus’ *overall* good.

    Otherwise, I argue, you are lead logically to the belief that Jesus would be just fine in his phenomenological experience for the rest of eternity knowing that he never had experienced the same agony as the raped and fatherless children, people who have been burned alive, widows, those suffering cancer, family who had been killed by their children who had been kidnapped and made into child soldiers, etc. Jesus would have to be okay with the fact that He made all of this possible, and yet never suffered the same agony. Would such a Jesus have integrity? Would the Father be loving in keeping His son from having such integrity?

    It is this integrity that that the Father provides, and Jesus allows, in Jesus’ absence of the phenomenological experience of love on the cross. Jesus is allowing the Father to continue to actively love Jesus’ self by allowing the Father to provide for Jesus’ overall good through Jesus’ complete and relentless identification with an ineffably afflicted creation.

    So… in my view, Jesus can’t have integrity or be emotionally whole while failing to suffer the evil he allowed His creation to suffer. Thus, in a world where you create the possibility for suffering, and such a possibility is actualized, you can’t be whole unless you suffer the extremity of the suffering possible. If Jesus failed to do this, His perfection could no longer be “generated” by the Father, and the lack of emotional wholeness would prevent Jesus from having the greatest (overall) phenomenological experience possible.

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    • tgbelt says:

      Thanks Jacob. Really appreciate the interaction. Loving the exchanges.

      Greg uses “sociality” in TP to describe the plurality of persons, yes. But I wouldn’t say he argues a social trinitarian view. He might hold that today. But in TP he had to stick pretty close to reconstructing Hartshorne, just he doesn’t get to trinitarianism until the final few pages I think. Before that it’s just the “I” and “Thou,” an un-named “sociality” you might say. So he uses “sociality” but not in the “social” trinitarian sense.

      But anyhow, I agree that it’s more than by no means controversial that the Creeds advocate a social trinitarianism. I think it’s positively impossible that they do so. The Orthodox aren’t in any way ‘social trinitarians’. I’m pretty sure they’d view social trinitarianism as tritheism.

      But maybe I could clear up something to because we might have led you astray. Dwayne and I don’t think Greg’s TP view of the trinity (which “as trinity” in an explicitly Christian sense is hardly present in TP) is one and the same as the Orthodox view. There are strong parallels, and the reasoning that gets Greg out of Hartshorne’s Process and into a more trinitarian view follows basic commitments that are Orthodox. But Greg’s clear that actus purus as understood by classical theists isn’t his view. And I still need the Orthodox to convince me they don’t hold to actus purus. So there’s an obvious disagreement. Greg (and we) hold that God can experience time, have contingent experiences, has memories, anticipates the future, etc. I don’t know of any Orthodox person who would attribute those things to God, at least not in the way Greg does. So Dwayne and I see Greg’s position as a very happy eclectic view, a medium, that combines the best of both Process intuitions (and there are some great ideas there) with core Orthodox commitments. But it’s far from being altogether Orthodox. Where it’s Orthodox is on the points we’ve been hammering on–necessary/unbreakable triune relations of love and beauty.

      For now…

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      • tgbelt says:

        Jacob: I don’t think Boyd has to say there was an actual separation of the Father and Son on the cross. His language is misleading and implies not only a phenomenological break but also an ontological break, and he doesn’t want to do this.

        Tom: I think Greg would agree. He’s making the distinction between the *experience* of love that F, S, and SP enjoy (on the one hand), and the *love that unites* them as one triune God (on the other hand). You’re making the same distinction—between *phenomenology* (Greg’s *experience* of personal love) and *ontology* (Greg’s *that which unites them* regardless of what’s happening up on the experiential/phenomenological level).

        Now, Dwayne and I agree that the experience Jesus is having on the Cross is, as you say, a “failure to experience the Father’s love on the Cross.” Jesus clearly doesn’t feel that love on the Cross. He feels rejected and abandoned. The question is, do we REDUCE without remainder the experience of the PERSON of the Son/Logos to the experience of his embodiment as Jesus? Does the experience of Jesus exhaust the experience of the divine Logos?

        If yes, THEN you will have to limit divine ontology (if I can use that phrase), that is, limit what IS necessarily experiential to God ‘being triune’, to the experience of rejection. You won’t be able to suppose MORE is true about being the divine Logos than the LEAST that Jesus experiences. Rejection on the Cross becomes the least common denominator for what DEFINES for the divine Logos the necessary experiential features of his being. See that? You’ll have to say God’s necessary experience as the necessary God doesn’t include the experience of unsurpassable aesthetic satisfaction (since that’s not occurring in Jesus on the Cross). That’s what you’re saying. You just want to add the qualifying claim that this sacrifice of essential aesthetic experience doesn’t mean there are not still three divine PERSONS in the mix, somewhere underneath all this failed experience.

        But if no, then (with Orthodoxy) you don’t reduce without remainder the experience of the person of the Son to the experience of the human Jesus. That is, the Orthodox don’t say that the experience of Jesus exhausts (without remainder) the experience of the Logos. They would say there is more to the Logos than there is to Jesus. They’d say the Logos/Son TRANSCENDS his own incarnation. They would say “one person, two natures.”

        Now, Greg will “say” ‘one person/two natures’ too, BUT he limits (without remainder) the PERSON of the Logos to Jesus, so that all there is to the divine nature of the Logos (as well as to human nature) is instantiated (without remainder) right there in front of you, actualized in Jesus’ human experience. For Greg, the undivided experience of Jesus has to instantiate both what is fully divine and fully human about the *experience* of being the divine Logos. So this Jesus is ALL THERE IS to the divine PERSON of the Logos/Son. He employs the Chalcedonian phrase “one person, two natures” but doesn’t at all mean what they meant.

        I agree with you (because I think you agree!) that we have to imagine a way that the experience of Jesus on the Cross can be the experience of a PERSON (the divine Son/Logos) who is also having all the necessary God-defining experiences that constitute his divinity. Greg accomplishes this be reducing the experience constitutive of the divinity of the Logos to his rejection by the Father for loving reasons. Whatever’s necessary to the *experience* of being the divine Logos can’t be anything MORE joyful or transcendence than what Jesus is FEELING on the Cross. That’s it. (Actually it can’t be anything more than whatever there is to being a one or two celled zygote in Mary’s womb–but never mind that for now.) But where Greg reduces the field of exploration to the experience of the human Jesus on the Cross, Orthodoxy expands the field of exploration to the experience of the all-present, all-knowing, unsurpassably joyful love that God is as Father, Son and Spirit, to the Son’s experience of unsurpassable aesthetic satisfaction beholding his Father’s face as act of being begotten of the Father, the act which IS the ‘ontology’ you’re looking for, the ontology you agree we cannot sacrifice.

        This is the problem — Greg wants to divorce *experience* (call it phenomenology) from *existence* (call it ontology). He wants to define the necessary existence of the Logos as something OTHER THAN the experience of the joy and pleasure of being begotten from the Father and beholding his Father’s face because THAT experience of pleasure certainly doesn’t happen throughout Jesus’ lifetime (not for 9 months in the womb, not for years before he matures into anything like a self-understanding of being beloved by God, and most intensely not on the Cross). So Greg reasons that aesthetic plesure MUST NOT BE NECESSARY TO BEING THE LOGOS. Why’s he reason that? Because he’s already committed himself to the kenotic belief that the Logos is reduced without remainder to the constraints of the embodied experience of Jesus; there’s no more to the Logos than Greg is able to see in the human Jesus. For Greg, this is part of what it means for Jesus to say “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father” (never mind thinking about what this means for the Father!).

        I’ll try to get back later. This is too big a conversation!

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      • tgbelt says:

        Just trying to follow up some more on this Jacob:

        Jacob: Similarly, perhaps failing to phenomenologically experience the Father’s love on the cross is the only way (1) Jesus could be in an I/Thou relationship with an phenomenologically afflicted creation, that relationship being necessary for Jesus’ ultimate good, and thus (2) the Father withdrawing Himself from Jesus’ phenomenological experience of the Father’s love was the only way for the Father to express His I/Thou relation to Jesus’ *overall* good.

        Tom: After another read, it’s clearer to me that you’re basically agreeing with Greg’s distinction in God between God’s *triune experience* of love/joy/well-being and God’s *unity in love*, except you make the distinction between the *phenomenology* of God’s triune experience/enjoyment and the *ontology* of God as triune, and you agree with Greg that the former is contingent (it can come and go) and the latter is necessary.

        But you add something Greg doesn’t say (but which I think he’d agree with), and that is that if the Son doesn’t suffer the loss of *enjoyed union with the Father in his divine nature then…

        (a) “…we’d have to conclude that Jesus would be just fine in his phenomenological experience for the rest of eternity knowing that he never had experienced the same agony as the raped and fatherless children” and

        (b) this would constitute a loss of divine integrity — for the Father for keeping his Son from achieving such integrity through suffering, and for the Son for not experiencing our agony.

        Re: (a), we agree. Father, Son and Spirit are as happy with each other without a world as they are happy with each other with a suffering world which cannot disturb how happy they are with each other. So we plead guilty on (a).

        In your view God has an obligation (so to speak) to experience the loss of fellowship between Father and Son and Spirit in the divine nature, that is, Father, Son and Spirit have to give up how happy they are with each other. God has to take responsibility for creating a world in which suffering was possible by sacrificing the joy of his own experience of himself. If he doesn’t suffer this loss ad intra (that is, if God were said to somehow transcend the world’s suffering and remain infinitely joyful ad intra) then he’s got no integrity. We wouldn’t have any basis for trusting in or loving God UNLESS we knew that our sufferings were able to disrupt the divine experience IN THE SAME WAY they disrupt ours.

        […edited…]

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  9. […] Boyd steps off the edge (anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com) […]

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  10. Jacob says:

    Hi Tom,
    I haven’t gotten to your second and third responses here… but regarding your first response, I think we’re been miscommunicating some. I’ve been reading your responses and posts thinking you were referring to orthodoxy as in Christian-but-not-heterodox. Turns out you’re speaking of Eastern Orthodoxy, no? It would probably help me if you use the nomenclature of Orthodox Simpliciter and Eastern Orthodox… or some other notation that helps me know which one you’re talking about.

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  11. Jacob says:

    Tom… okay… I think your second to last response to me is just too much to get into… and my thoughts aren’t fully developed regarding the issues of how the Logos relates to Kenosis/incarnation, etc. anyways. So… I’m going to bracket that for now.

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    • tgbelt says:

      It kinda boils down to this, Jacob: In what sense are the necessary triune relations an experience?

      TP argues that the divine reality is necessarily experiential, that this experience is necessarily relational, that this relational experience is necessarily an experience of aesthetic pleasure, and that this aesthetic pleasure is necessarily unsurpassably intense. Being necessary means (also) that this personal triune experience of unsurpassably intense satisfaction is not in any sense world-dependent.

      That’s all denied now. The triune relations are not necessarily experienced. For Greg, there is nothing necessarily *experiential* about the triune relations. Everybody needs to understand that now.

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      • Jacob says:

        Okay. I might take issue with the conept of “unsurpassably intense” later on as being coherent without qualification. But again… I’d like to leave the whole talk about the Logos/incarnation aside for now. I don’t know exactly what I think about all that, and I’ve got too much to say in response to your last longer response to me. Maybe I’ll even finish my response to you one day. I’ve been super busy, and haven’t had much time to devote to it.

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  12. Jacob says:

    Tom… you know… now that I think about it, there’s really not much to respond to in your last, longer reply to me. When you say: “I can only wonder where this pathology comes from (I’m speaking generally, Jacob), a pathology so self-centered” and so on… you fail to deal with my argument. I’ll respond to you when you respond to my argument.

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    • tgbelt says:

      Nothing in all that I said responds to anything you said? That final paragraph disqualifies it all?

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    • tgbelt says:

      Jacob, I don’t want my comments about what may be motivating some ‘Suffering God’ theologies to be understood as directed to you personally. So if it’s alright with everybody I’ll remove those comments from play. They’re not the sum total of even a necessary part of my response to you. But if my having expressed what I suspect is behind some ‘Suffering God’ theologies still bothers you, then we’ll have to end the conversation, because I don’t have anything to say in response other than what I’ve already said (excluding the portion you object to). I hope that helps.

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      • Jacob says:

        Hi Tom,
        Thank you for removing that stuff. I know it wasn’t personal, but I didn’t feel very good reading it anyways. You taking it down meets my need to be an honored partner in the conversation. I appreciate that!

        Okay…. taking a breather from emotional stuff… (it feels weird to go straight from that to philosophy)

        Other than admitting one of the implications I draw out (namely, the one about the Son being fine in his phenomenological experience for eternity etc.), I’m still unsure how your beliefs/reasoning relate to my argument. The criticism that you took down was of how the thought was motivated, but wasn’t about either the truth of the premises or how much said premises evidence my theory. I say that not to rehash old stuff… but just to say that I’d like for you to take an interest in my argument itself, so that I can have something to sink my teeth into. That would help me to have the sense of connection to you that I generally hope for in these types of conversations. Are the premises plausible to you? Why or why not?

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      • tgbelt says:

        Thanks Jacob!

        Jacob: I’m still unsure how your beliefs/reasoning relate to my argument. The criticism that you took down was of how the thought was motivated, but wasn’t about either the truth of the premises or how much said premises evidence my theory. I say that not to rehash old stuff… but just to say that I’d like for you to take an interest in my argument itself, so that I can have something to sink my teeth into.

        Tom: Maybe Dwayne can jump in if he sees something I don’t see. I thought I responded to your argument itself. You made the same distinction in God that Greg makes between the *experience* of the divine persons in/with/for each other, which *experience* (phenomenology) you’re suggesting can cease (being shattered, broken, abandoned, etc.) while the underlying *ontology* which you say accounts for God’s remaining a trinity of persons abides in the absence of the experience unity of the persons. You separate their unity from their experience of that unity. That’s the problem.

        My criticism of this would be the same we’ve suggested in Greg’s case. I don’t see the difference between you and Greg on this. As we see it, it divorces God’s *experience* of Godself in loving union from that underlying *ontology* which (if we can use language like this) makes God the trinity of persons God is. In other words, this distinction means (a) the relations are other than a particular kind of experience (i.e., they’re not personhood born of loving, joyful acceptance and celebration), and (b) the supposed ontology that grounds the existence and identities of the persons isn’t even necessarily conscious (the Son is offline when he’s a zygote in Mary’s womb, in the case of all kenoticists). The problem is imagining just what sort of *ontology* you have in mind if it remains an ontology of persons-in-relation necessarily but who are not necessarily experienced-love-in-relation. I can’t imagine what might be more fundamental to God’s being a unity of persons than the *experience those persons have in/with/for each other. I’m too convinced by Greg in TP that the triune experience of aesthetic pleasure IS the ontological basement of God’s necessary existence. There isn’t anything more ontologically fundamental to God (as necessary) than the experience of beauty. But if the experience of aesthetic pleasure is removed as unnecessary to God’s essential existence, what DO you have in mind as that ontological something which constitutes God’s necessary triune existence in the absence of the experience of the divine persons one to/with/for another?

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  13. Jacob says:

    Hi Tom,
    “what DO you have in mind as that ontological something which constitutes God’s necessary triune existence in the absence of the experience of the divine persons one to/with/for another?”

    I just want to make a clarification here. There’s two interpretations I could give:

    #1 What makes the three persons one God?

    #2 What constitutes the three person’s essential relational unity?

    Just to be clear, I’m not decided that the answer to the second question answers the first question. These are two separate questions, and there is much controversy over whether or not the answer to the second question ends up being the answer to the first question. The question you are I are discussing in this debate is #2. Just wanted to say that to add precision to our conversation.

    Now, the second question seems to me to reduce to the question of how it is that God is love. So the theory of unity given in TP that you outline and subscribe to seems to me to be precisely an answer to that question (how it is that God is love). And just for the record, I think that theory is pretty good as an answer to that question. I really do think it is on the right track: my disagreement with it is only minor.

    But it is important to note that since it is an open question whether or not the answer to #2 ends up being the answer to #1, it is an open question as to whether or not an unsatisfactory answer to #2 results in the rejection of the creedal formulation of the trinity (articulated in #1). Just clearing that up.

    ————————————-

    Okay… like I said… I think the answer to #2 that y’all subscribe to is pretty close to right. I mean, yeah… if the three person’s enjoyment of each other was overall greatly impoverished, you’d either have to question God’s character or God’s power. It would be like the problem of evil regarding the persons of the trinity. A critic might say, “well… if your god is so powerful, why can’t the three persons create an incredibly enjoyable aesthetic experience in each other. And if your god is so good, why wouldn’t he?” So stipulating that the three person’s create this incredibly rich aesthetic experience in each other barrs this critique from making any sense. That’s why I think it’s almost right.

    But in response to your question as to what constitutes this perfect relational unity, let me first show you how I think the TP theory is incoherent. It relies on the questionable premise that there could be an actual infinite. The aesthetic experience of the persons of the trinity in TP is supposed to be infinitely intense. But from Plantinga’s work, we know that it is possible (and in fact, I’m fairly convinced) to always add another to the quantity in question. So recall that his answer (in “God, Freedom, and Evil) to the problem of why this isn’t the best of all possible worlds is that it is possible that there *could be no* best of all possible worlds. There could always be more pleasure (or whatever makes a world “great”) in whatever possible world is being conceived. Similarly, there could always be more aesthetic satisfaction in God’s experience.

    Now, for the problem of evil, it is answered that all that because the demand that this be the *best* of all possible worlds is incoherent, all that is required of God is that He create a *good* world. Given that even though our world contains events such as the holocaust and other various horrendous evils, as Christians, we can say that our world contains an eschaton that is good and goes on for eternity. And that not only makes our world good, but it makes it ineffably wonderful.

    I would answer the problem of the relations in the trinity in a similar way by saying that even though there was a moment in God’s experience of incredible agony (though I would say the agony was as limited as the amount of suffering possible in this world), the aesthetic experience between the persons of the trinity, *given the duration of their existence,* is still on balance good. In fact, it’s ineffably wonderful, because if all the persons of the trinity have existed from eternity past, and will exist into eternity future, there’s ineffably more time to be had *without* the incredible lack of their aesthetic experience and *with* the experience of ineffably intense aesthetic experience, than *with* that experience of lack and *without* the ineffably intense aesthetic experience.

    So to answer your question “What constitutes the three person’s essential relational unity?” I would say that what constitutes the three person’s essential relational unity is (drumroll…) the essential *disposition* of the three persons to work for the overall ineffably intense aesthetic experience of the other person’s of the trinity.

    —————————————————————-

    But again… what is motivating my theory here? The following:

    The father who says, “I wouldn’t ask you to do something I wouldn’t do myself,” if speaking honestly and would do whatever in question for the sake of a greater good, has way more integrity than a father who wouldn’t do what he asks of his child.

    Now, you could retort that it is possible for God to be the kind of God who “would” suffer the suffering he made possible for the sake of a greater good, without having actually suffered. In such a scenario, God would have that same good character, but perhaps sees no need to manifest that character trait. But that’s not your view. Your view is that He *couldn’t* have suffered said separation, which means that your conception of God is one where He lacks the integrity a good father possesses.

    You might then retort with an appeal to perfect being theology here, and say that it is a greater good for God to continue to be God and thus not have this experience of separation, than to experience this separation. Thus, you’d say, it is impossible for God to both 1) remain God, and 2) possess the kind of integrity a good father has. And since the better option is for God to remain God – lest all hell break loose – the greater conception of God is one in which God doesn’t experience said separation. And by virtue of God choosing the better option of the two, the God who doesn’t so suffer actually ends up being the one with more integrity.

    But… I say… refer here back to my argument as to why your principle of God’s relational unity is incoherent, and places too high a demand on the intensity of God’s aesthetic experience. According to my more modest principle of unity, God can both experience this separation *and* suffer for the sake of a greater good, because there can be a momentary break in the ineffable aesthetic experience of God, as long as the experience is overall good, or even ineffably great.

    I would also say that my theory is truer to the bible in that there is actually suffering… and even *sacrifice* involved.

    Also, I’ve mentioned that the integrity of God is maintained only if the suffering is for the sake of a greater good. And that greater good is spoken of in scripture as the identification of God with humans. Even as a Christian, I’ve had agonizing experiences of the absence of God, and then when I realize that strangely, even Jesus knew what that was like, I’m pacified. It’s a God who is magnanimous enough to momentarily forego his own pleasure for the sake of being with me. So if we “weaken” this principle of unity, then God is actually, as scripture says, “God with us.”

    So can your theory make sense out of the suffering and sacrifice of Christ? And further, how is it that your theory actually has God identifying with humans – “God with us?”

    And as for the whole Logos bit… I still don’t know how that all works.

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    • tgbelt says:

      Thanks Jacob. We’ll get back to ya. A bit swamped right now. Peace!

      Like

    • tgbelt says:

      Jacob,

      A lot to discuss. We need a weekend conference!

      (1) I don’t at all see how God’s integrity is compromised if God is a happiness that can’t be diminished, if self-perceiving and self-relating as Father, Son and Spirit is so beautiful that their experience of each other constitutes a joy which is not world-dependent.

      I don’t want to run the risk of offending anyone by re-introducing my earlier comments. But I’ll confess to my own limited weakness in this regard and say that I’m struggling to understand what it is that convinces you that a joy which is not world-dependent compromises the integrity of God’s relations with a suffering world. That utterly escapes me.

      (2) As for the “infinitude” of this joy (this aesthetic pleasure which defines God’s essential experience necessarily), if “infinite” causes a problem for you because ‘actual infinites’ are impossible, that’s fine. Don’t look at in mathematical terms as an infinite pleasure. Just think of it as “unsurpassably intense.” I think ‘infinite’ is fine, but it would take far outside the scope of this conversation to tackle it. If you’ve got TP, you can check out what Greg says in this regard. If we just say God is an “unsurpassable aesthetic satisfaction,” we’re not positing a supposedly incoherent ‘actual infinite’.

      (3) You summarized two possible ways to read my question to you (about what constitutes the unity of the three persons):

      #1 What makes the three persons one God?
      #2 What constitutes the three person’s essential relational unity?

      So I should clarify. Here’s what I’m asking: What makes the one God three persons when the three persons aren’t experiencing each other?

      (4) I know you think it’s an open question as to whether or not an unsatisfactory answer to #2 results in the rejection of the creedal formulation of the Trinity (articulated in #1). I’m open to hear how you think these two questions are essentially unrelated, but I’ll just say more narrowly that there’s no question whatsoever that Greg’s view at this point (and all kenoticism equally) is incompatible with Chalcedon. Kenoticism can’t possibly answer your #1 or #2 in any way that would bring them within orthodox on the creedal points.

      (5) I want to ask you about something in this: “It’s ineffably wonderful, because if all the persons of the trinity have existed from eternity past, and will exist into eternity future…”

      This looks good. It looks like you agree, then, that the persons of the trinity exist necessarily AS PERSONS. Now we get to the nitty-gritty. You and I both know open theists are HUGE supporters of a “relational ontology” (to “be” is to “be related,” God is an irreducibly PERSONAL being and this obtains triunely, etc.) So I’m wondering two things here:

      If you (a) agree that the PERSON of the Son couldn’t possible not exist AS THE PERSON HE IS, and (b) agree that a ‘person’ is a person by virtue of relating to other persons (the whole personal/relational ontology mantra, which I agree with and is at the heart and so of open theism) then:

      How does the person of the Son exists as a person immediately post-conception, when the incarnate Person is but a two-celled zygote in Mary’s womb? We can’t put off having an opinion anymore.

      This relates to your agreement that to be a divine person is to be a subject exercising the essential divine disposition to work for the overall aesthetic pleasure of the other divine persons. So — if this divine disposition is essential and necessary (sounds like you agree it is), and if the persons of the Father, Son and Spirit exist necessarily AS persons by virtue of exercising this disposition (and you agree they do so exist), then the question is:

      How is the person of the Son instantiating this divine disposition as a clump of cells in Mary’s womb?

      Forget the Cross for now. We’ll get to Christ’s sufferings later, because in the Cross you’ve at least got a conscious, adult human being to attribute whatever minimal divine attributes are left after the incarnation which need to be instantiated to account for what you agree cannot fail to be instantiated. But whatever those minimal divine attributes are (the personal exercise of that divine disposition to pursue the joy of the other divine persons), they’ve got to be exercised by the person of the Son at all times. One can lose track of the issues by limited the answer to a discussion of the Cross since Jesus is an adult PERSON, a conscious human being who is exercising some disposition to love. But let’s move the discussion into Mary’s womb, immediately post-conception. Where’s the Son qua PERSON choosing to exercise the divine disposition to pursue the other persons?

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  14. Jacob says:

    “I don’t at all see how God’s integrity is compromised if God is a happiness that can’t be diminished, if self-perceiving and self-relating as Father, Son and Spirit is so beautiful that their experience of each other constitutes a joy which is not world-dependent.”

    Hmmm… so you think that it follows from the fact that (premise) God’s happiness and aesthetic experience can’t be diminished that (conclusion) God has integrity? Or are you simply stating that you don’t see the force of my arguments on this point, and so without dealing with them?

    “I don’t want to run the risk of offending anyone by re-introducing my earlier comments.”

    Not sure why you’re referencing those comments here then. If they are supposed to serve as evidence against my theory, you’re committing a genetic fallacy, which is a fallacy of *irrelevance,* as I’ve mentioned in other terms to you before.

    “I’m struggling to understand what it is that convinces you that a joy which is not world-dependent compromises the integrity of God’s relations with a suffering world.”

    Nothing convinces me that a joy which is not world-dependent compromises the integrity of God’s relations with a suffering world. God’s joy isn’t world-dependent in my view, it’s *character*-dependent. God can’t have perfect joy if He doesn’t have perfect character. Lacking integrity is a characer flaw, so a God who lacks integrity can’t have perfect joy. And I gave you a detailed argument as to why your conception of God lacks integrity. But you haven’t dealt with it here. I gave you that argument so you would understand, after all. I get tired at this point. I’m spending a lot of time trying to make my arguments subtle and clear, and seeing them passed over in your responses to me.

    “Don’t look at in mathematical terms as an infinite pleasure. Just think of it as unsurpassably intense.”

    That would be the same concept as an “actual infinite,” would it not? If Boyd makes a distinction between the two, maybe you could give me the page number.

    “So I should clarify. Here’s what I’m asking: What makes the one God three persons when the three persons aren’t experiencing each other?”

    Okay… I’m glad you clarified this, because I’ve been totally misunderstanding you. First of all, I’m not committed to a “relational ontology” (not that I *disbelieve* the view… I’m just not settled on it). I remember Boyd espousing that view in TP, but I don’t remember the argument. And I don’t have a good knowledge of the other views one might adopt on that topic, other than substantivalism, and I’m not that familiar with the arguments for substantivalism, so I don’t feel confident adopting a view on the issue. And I don’t see how a relational ontology is important to open theism. Maybe it is important, but I haven’t seen it in the literature except in TP, and again, I just don’t know the subject matter well enough to have an opinion. So maybe we’ve been talking way past each other on this topic.

    “If you (a) agree that the PERSON of the Son couldn’t possible not exist AS THE PERSON HE IS, and (b) agree that a person is a person by virtue of relating to other persons (the whole personal/relational ontology mantra, which I agree with and is at the heart and so of open theism) then:”

    I don’t have an opinion about (b) here. But I would say I agree with (a).

    “How does the person of the Son exists as a person immediately post-conception, when the incarnate Person is but a two-celled zygote in Mary’s womb?”

    Nothing about my tacitly assumed metaphysics jumps out at me with a red flag at the thought of the Son being a person as a Zygote. At least I don’t see how that would be more problematic than the belief that someone who’s been knocked unconscious is still a person. But again, I think I need to know more about the whole sub-category of metaphysics that you’re dealing with here to give a meaningful response.

    “and if the persons of the Father, Son and Spirit exist necessarily AS persons by virtue of exercising this disposition”

    But I didn’t say anything about exercising that disposition. I said they “have” that disposition. A disposition doesn’t have to be manifested/excercised/instantiated in every situation in order to be had. That’s what makes it a *disposition,* because even if you’re not manifesting the trait at a certain time, you may be *disposed* to manifest that trait at other times. If I have a courageous disposition, that doesn’t mean that I manifest that character trait in all situations. I only manifest it in situations in which it is possible or appropriate to display courage… as when I’m faced with an opportunity to confront danger for the sake of a greater good. If I’m not manifesting courage when I’m not in those situations, you wouldn’t say that I’m not a courageous person. Similarly, you wouldn’t say the Son doesn’t have a perfectly loving character while a zygote.

    “How is the person of the Son instantiating this divine disposition as a clump of cells in Mary’s womb?”

    Precisely by being “disposed” to work for the good of the other when put in situations in which He can. He’s just not in those situations yet… but He has said character. I know it’s a weird view, but it’s no more weird than the thought that the zygote is experiencing unsurpassable aesthetic experience.

    “because in the Cross you’ve at least got a conscious, adult human being to attribute whatever minimal divine attributes are left after the incarnation which need to be instantiated to account for what you agree cannot fail to be instantiated.”

    I mean… you know this, Tom. You know that a disposition doesn’t mean the disposition is instantiated. And I never even used the word “instantiated,” nor did I imply it. In fact, your characterization of my view is “exactly your view.” But my last post is based on the supposition that my view is different from yours, and though my view is similar to yours, I put it forth *in juxtaposition to your view.* Why are you characterizing my view as no different from yours?

    Arg! Tom… it so frustrating arguing with you here because you show such little contact with what I’ve actually said. But I’ve spent a long time thinking through these posts so I can give thoughtful and meaningful responses to you. Seriously… I spend at least an hour on every one of these longer posts… and usually *several* hours getting things just perfect… logical rigour, structure, even my grammar. I really wish you would spend more time trying to understand what I’m saying. Drives me nutz.

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    • tgbelt says:

      Jacob,

      Blog discussions can be frustrating. You’ll have to come to the next OV Conference a day or two early so we can hang out!

      For now we may have to agree to disagree. I’m pretty sure I comprehend the point of your arguments thus far. I just disagree. And I must be doing a bad job at expressing my replies if you think I haven’t even addressed some of your main points. If I really am missing something let’s hope it eventually comes to me. In the meantime I hope you don’t give up on conversation with me! That said, I think I understand what’s at the heart of our differences. I saw it here, when you said:

      “Nothing convinces me that a joy which is not world-dependent compromises the integrity of God’s relations with a suffering world. God’s joy isn’t world-dependent in my view, it’s *character*-dependent. God can’t have perfect joy if He doesn’t have perfect character. Lacking integrity is a character flaw, so a God who lacks integrity can’t have perfect joy.”

      Nobody would suggest that a person of deprived character could be truly happy. So in a sense, of course you’re right. True happiness and goodness certainly go together. But I think you mean to say that for God there’s a certain ORDER: character precedes happiness, i.e., character is the ground and premise and happiness a kind of reward or fruit. God GETS (logically speaking) to be happy BECAUSE his character is good. And with this I’d definitely disagree, and this may be at the heart of our differences. This ORDER is again in your question to me:

      “So you think that it follows from the fact that (premise) God’s happiness and aesthetic experience can’t be diminished that (conclusion) God has integrity?”

      I wouldn’t say it exactly that way, but the order is right. That is, I’d agree that God’s impeccable character flows from a delight/joy (viz., the felt quality of his experience) that cannot be diminished — opposite your order. The predictably good nature of God’s choices are entirely an EXPRESSION of undiminished delight that Father, Son and Spirit share. So where you believe God’s happiness is derived from his character, I would move in the opposite direction and derive God’s character from his happiness (God is endlessly beautiful, is as happy as he is beautiful, and so he consistently chooses).

      [Just to qualify. Though it helps US to make these sorts of distinctions, as far as GOD is concerned these distinctions are all a SIMPLE fact of existence for God. The beauty and delight and goodness which God is are not in God achieved (as they are in us) through a process of becoming: first do or be this AND THEN God gets to be or do that. In God as God, I think beauty, truth and goodness are one indivisible act. And this too may be a huge difference between us.]

      As for “dispositions,” I can only recommend TP. There are in fact two sorts of disposition Greg discusses, one which is only possessed at all insofar as it is in fact exercised and another kind of disposition which may or may not be exercised. You limit dispositions to the latter. Not all dispositional theorists/philosophers do this. Greg doesn’t do it (following a number of others before him). But in fairness to your view, as far as the terminology goes, Alan would be on your side. But for the sake of argument I’ll agree that dispositions by definition may be exercised sometimes and not exercised at other times.

      Does this help? No. Here’s why. No ‘actuality’ exists apart from the actual exercise of some capacity or power (call them powers or capacities or whatever if you don’t wish to call them dispositions). Point is, no existing thing can exist if ALL its dispositions and ALL its natural powers and capacities fail to exercise, i.e., if NONE of its possibilities of self-actualization are exercised. To be actual is to actualize SOME self-constituting power/capacity.

      So what we’re saying is the Son’s existence as a person is both actual and necessary (I think you agree). It doesn’t matter if what you’re calling the Son’s “dispositions” are all inactive, say, in Mary’s womb. Let’s shut all his ‘dispositions’ down. Fine. We still have to posit the actual exercise of SOME capacity of divine nature sufficient to account for the personal existence of the Son. Do you see this? Dispositions (as you understand them) aside, the Son exists, actually, as a ‘person’ in Mary’s womb (since his personal existence is a metaphysical necessity). And that actual personal existence means SOME self-constituting capacity for divine personal existence is exercised in unbroken fashion. He can’t turn everything off and exist. And whatever is not turned off has to account for his actual personal existence.

      You can suppose all his “dispositions” are shut down if you’d like. But you can’t suppose he’s not exercising any capacities or powers constitutive of personal divine existence. So my question is this: What divine capacities or powers ARE being exercised by that two-celled zygote which constitute the necessary and personal existence of the Son? (Please don’t say he could just be sleeping since, after all, WE are still persons when WE sleep. Metaphysical necessities don’t take metaphysical naps.)

      Peace,
      Tom

      Like

      • Jacob says:

        Hi Tom,
        Thank you for the time you put into your reply. I can actually tell by the absence of typos 😉 And thank your for the friendliness of your response in response to my expressed frustration. I appreciate that.

        “In God as God, I think beauty, truth and goodness are one indivisible act.”

        I think I may agree with this.

        And I also agree that we have a difference as to how we think the logical priority goes regarding God’s character.

        But let me clarify more precisely what I’m frustrated with. If you want to disagree with me after I give an *argument* for the falsity of your view, I would like for you to either 1) explain why you reject a premise of my argument, or 2) explain why you reject the inference I make from the premise/s to the conclusion. After all, showing how a premise and/or inference is faulty is the commonly agreed upon legitimate way to refute an argument. I don’t know how much practice you have in identifying these features or arguments (premises, conclusions, inferences), but I know that you have practice in evaluating them. After all, you debate alot, and that’s the main way people debate. But, just to be clear, I’m going to *formally* spell out the argument I’ve been wanting for you to evaluate, so that the features of arguments I mentioned are perspicuous. The argument is a reductio ad absurdum:

        1 (premise) God expects us to suffer for a greater good.
        2 (premise) God cannot suffer for any reason whatsoever.
        3 (premise) Someone who holds somebody else to a standard he himself cannot meet thereby applies a double standard. This is hypocritical/lacks integrity.
        4 (conclusion) God is a hypocrite/lacks integrity.

        Of course, the controversial premise between us is premise 2, which I reject. But as far as I know, you don’t reject premise 2, unless I’ve misunderstood you. And if you accept premise 2, it seems to me that you are logically obligated to the belief that God is a hyocrite and therefore lacks integrity. That is… unless you reject one of the other premises or believe the inference from them to the conclusion is faulty.

        Now, the other thing I would like for you to do is, if I offer a challenge to your view, please respond as to whether or not you agree that it is a challenge for your view, and why you think it is or isn’t a challenge for your view. And bring evidence forth in support of which road you take. If you’ll recall, I offered the challenge to your view that it seems to reject the biblical proposition that Jesus suffered, actually made a *sacrifice,* and identified with us in our sufferings. So again… how do you account for that biblical data?

        “No ‘actuality’ exists apart from the actual exercise of some capacity or power.”

        This seems like a pretty plausible principle to me. But before I respond to it, let me ask you… what is your view of personal identity? Are you a materialist? Substance dualist? Emergentist?

        Like

      • tgbelt says:

        Thanks Jacob!

        It’s hard to come up with a quick reply, but I’ll try! I did share that with respect to your thinking that unsurpassable aesthetic satisfaction is inconceivable because it constitutes an actual infinite, it’s not an actual infinite in the objectionable sense you mean. And secondly, with regard to your idea that God’s a bad parent who lacks integrity if he doesn’t suffer the loss of his own happiness and relational triune intimacy, I don’t see that at all. It’s a bit like saying I’ve got no integrity in counseling a couple getting divorced because of adultery because my marriage has never suffered THE SAME PAIN, as if couples who have always been in love and health have nothing to say to those who aren’t. We know that’s simply not true. It’s not the case that integrity of character requires the sacrifice of one’s happiness in the presence of evil. Well, it’s not obviously true to me at least. That looks to me like requiring us to succumb to evil’s desire as evidence of our integrity, since the loss of the enjoyment of relational intimacy is precisely what evil is out to destroy. Why define integrity of character as giving evil a measure of victory?

        Jacob: …

        1 (premise) God expects us to suffer for a greater good.
        2 (premise) God cannot suffer for any reason whatsoever.
        3 (premise) Someone who holds somebody else to a standard he himself cannot meet thereby applies a double standard. This is hypocritical/lacks integrity.
        4 (conclusion) God is a hypocrite/lacks integrity.

        Tom: There’s a lot wrong with this as far as I can tell. To begin with, God does suffer in Christ. So I don’t accept (2) as it stands. The kind of suffering Dwayne and I are denying in God’s case has specifically to do with suffering the loss of inter-personal divine relations and identity and what that experience produces in/as the divine nature. And even your (1) is false. God does NOT expect us to suffer the loss of relational intimacy with him, nor the loss of transcendent joy that such intimacy produces in us, all for the greater good. Quite the opposite. Read our last post (“Ineffable, etc.”). The gospel is the good news that there is a joy, a love, and a peace the loss of which we NEED NOT suffer. In fact, God expects us NOT to suffer the loss of these when we suffer the loss of other things (home, friends, health, possessions, civil rights, loved ones, political freedoms, physical pleasure, etc.). So your (1) and (2) are false in the relevant sense. Yes God expects us to suffer the loss of SOME things for the greater good. But he does not expect us to suffer the loss of HIM for the greater good.

        (3) strikes me as false up close. If I “cannot” meet a certain standard, then I’m simply not subject to it. But it doesn’t follow from this that I can never be in a position to hold accountable others who “can” meet the standard and who are subject to it. I might be an awesome basketball coach (because I understand the game, know how it’s to be played, know how to get the most out of players, etc.) but only be 5’5” tall myself and unable to expect from myself the performance I expect from my players. Am I hypocrite? No. So we can nitpik (3) into falsity.

        BUT I do agree with what I think you’re after with (3), and that is that God is not arbitrary or hypocritical because he’s unwilling to embrace the conditions under which WE have to live and under which we suffer. God can be subject to those conditions, and he is in Christ. The question is, must the assumption of the conditions of human nature (which God assumes in the incarnation) include suffering the loss of relational intimacy with God? And our answer to that is no. God would be a hypocrite (to go with your terms for the sake of argument) if he could but were unwilling to embrace the conditions under which we suffer the loss of relational intimacy with God. But he would not be a hypocrite if he embraced those same conditions without suffering the loss of relational intimacy with God.

        Jacob: If you’ll recall, I offered the challenge to your view that it seems to reject the biblical proposition that Jesus suffered, actually made a *sacrifice,* and identified with us in our sufferings. So again… how do you account for that biblical data?

        Tom: Via Chalcedonian Christology (‘one person/two natures’). Check out the analogy we shared re: lucid dreaming in “God entered our nightmare.” Jesus did suffer. No doubt about it. And that means the Son suffered, because Jesus IS the Son incarnate. Orthodoxy doesn’t hesitate in affirming the reality of Jesus’ sufferings. But they don’t limit the experience of the person of the Logos to sphere of his human nature. There’s more to the Son/Logos than Jesus.

        Jacob: (Tom: “No ‘actuality’ exists apart from the actual exercise of some capacity or power.”) This seems like a pretty plausible principle to me. But before I respond to it, let me ask you… what is your view of personal identity? Are you a materialist? Substance dualist? Emergentist?

        Tom: It doesn’t matter. We’re talking about divine personal identity here. In the absence of a material creation, God is still three ‘persons’. I know you agree with that much. So whatever we think personal identity amounts to in our case, it can’t entail substance dualism or materialism in God’s case since we know the necessary conditions constitutive of divine personhood obtain sans creation. We’re talking about the eternal, metaphysically necessary, personal identity of the Son who is a person sans the material creation AND (more specifically) who remains that person (metaphysically necessary, remember) in Mary’s womb. So if you deny an experience to the Son/Logos transcendent of the material conditions of her womb, then help me see what actual exercise of self-constituting powers definitive of the Son’s personal existence are being fulfilled by that zygote.

        Like

  15. Jacob says:

    Tom,

    I’ll finish this up later. But real quick,

    “It doesn’t matter. We’re talking about divine personal identity here.”

    It does matter. I’m not going where you think I’m going with this. There’s always more up my sleeve than you can guess, good buddy 🙂

    So again… what’s your view of personal identity?

    Like

    • tgbelt says:

      Don’t wait on me, Jacob. The floor is yours.

      Like

      • Jacob says:

        Hi Tom,

        Sorry I hadn’t gotten back to you for a while. Here goes:

        “I did share that with respect to your thinking that unsurpassable aesthetic satisfaction is inconceivable because it constitutes an actual infinite, it’s not an actual infinite in the objectionable sense you mean.”

        Right. You shared *that* you don’t believe it poses a problem, but you didn’t share *why.” So you haven’t given me reason to believe your view.

        “with regard to your idea that God’s a bad parent who lacks integrity if he doesn’t suffer the loss of his own happiness and relational triune intimacy”

        Nope. This isn’t my view. It’s not that a God with integrity *must* suffer, it’s that such a God *would* suffer if that is what the situation called for. But if you say that God *couldn’t* suffer when the situation calls for it, then you’ve conceptualized of a God who *can’t* suffer when the situation calls for it, which means, given that God asks us to suffer when the situation calls for it, your God *can’t* have the courage He expects from us. If you were to merely say (am I repeating myself here?) that God *didn’t* suffer, but could have, you might be off the hook. You would then just need to show why God didn’t suffer when it seems like such a necessary (given God’s perfectly loving character) good as identification would result from it. I’d love to hear you try to state my position here in your own words. But your claim is stronger…. you say that God *couldn’t* have suffered… if I understand you correctly.

        “It’s a bit like saying I’ve got no integrity in counseling a couple getting divorced because of adultery because my marriage has never suffered THE SAME PAIN, as if couples who have always been in love and health have nothing to say to those who aren’t. We know that’s simply not true”

        Again… you’re characterizing me as thinking that you *must* willingly suffer or have suffered the same pain. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that a person of integrity *would* suffer the same pain if that were the only means to the greater good. And don’t think I’d support the auxiliary point that I think you shouldn’t advise couples to do X even if you don’t have the character to do X (i.e. *couldn’t* do X). Giving such advice may outweigh the bad of the lack integrity manifested in giving said advice, it just isn’t optimal. It would be better to both have said character *and* give said advice.

        “It’s not the case that integrity of character requires the sacrifice of one’s happiness in the presence of evil.”

        Exactly.

        “God does suffer in Christ. So I don’t accept (2) as it stands.”

        Awesome. I think we’re getting down to the nitty-gritties here. So we agree here.

        “And even your (1) is false. God does NOT expect us to suffer the loss of relational intimacy with him, nor the loss of transcendent joy that such intimacy produces in us, all for the greater good. Quite the opposite. Read our last post (“Ineffable, etc.”). The gospel is the good news that there is a joy, a love, and a peace the loss of which we NEED NOT suffer.”

        Again… getting into the nitty-gritties here. This is really good. I was hoping you’d parse out these distinctions if you needed to in replying to my argument. Now, when you say “God does NOT expect us to suffer the loss of relational intimacy with him” I think we are equivocating on the word “expect.” If we are suffering and are able to commune with God in this suffering, God hopes that we would so commune. Agreed. 100%. Yes. Fireworks! WOOHOO! Indeed.

        I’m so glad you brought this up. Did I mention that? Okay… but the problem here is that it seems to me that there are times in which some people in the human race *cannot* commune with God in their suffering, either because they don’t have the emotional resources, or because they’ve never heard of God, or something like that. PERHAPS THIS IS THE ONE OF THE PROPOSITIONS THAT NEEDS TO BE DECIDED BEFORE ONE CAN DECIDE ON YOUR VIEW OR MINE.

        “(3) strikes me as false up close. If I “cannot” meet a certain standard, then I’m simply not subject to it.”

        Right. You wouldn’t be *subject* to it, but you still can’t have the virtue that comes with meeting the standard, which means that such a God could feasibly lack courage but still have integrity. Fair enough. But again… as I said before… perfect-being-theology doesn’t allow for God to not be “able” to suffer, because such a God who *can* suffer is plausibly a greater God than one who can’t. But maybe this can’t be meaningfully responded to until we talk about whether or not there are people who *can’t* commune with God in their suffering.

        “But it doesn’t follow from this that I can never be in a position to hold accountable others who “can” meet the standard and who are subject to it. I might be an awesome basketball coach (because I understand the game, know how it’s to be played, know how to get the most out of players, etc.) but only be 5’5” tall myself and unable to expect from myself the performance I expect from my players. Am I hypocrite? No.”

        So as in the previous example, this coach could lack the virtue of being a good basketball player, while still not lacking integrity. But the *nature* of a basketball coach is limited in his possibilities in a way that a being to which the concept of “that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought” can be applied. So, if I’m right that there are situations in which people *cannot* experience God in their suffering, then the fact that a perfect God must identify with such people means perfect being theology decides in favor of my view, that is, unless you can show me that the greater good in not served in God being able to identify with people who can’t supposedly experience God in their suffering.

        “Jesus did suffer. No doubt about it.”

        Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying.

        And I’m sorry, but I forgot where I was going with the dualist/materialist/emergentist thing. If this issue of defining a person as a person by virtue of it’s relations, I’m sure it will come back.

        So… I now believe that what decides between the views you and I are discussing is this question:

        IS IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR SOME HUMANS AT SOME TIMES TO EXPERIENCE GOD?

        And maybe the question is only relevant when it comes to Christians specifically, but I’m not sure.

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      • tgbelt says:

        Thanks Jacob. Good to hear from you. It’s not easy to iron out these complexities in this kind of format. It forces long posts, and that can get wearisome. I hope it’s given us all food for thought though.

        ——————-

        Jacob: You shared *that* you don’t believe it poses a problem, but you didn’t share *why.”

        Tom: Because God’s aesthetic intensity isn’t a set of an infinite number of discrete countable things which (per the impossibility in question) are impossible to finish counting through.

        Jacob: It’s not that a God with integrity *must* suffer, it’s that such a God *would* suffer if that is what the situation called for.

        Tom: To me, in the circumstances you describe, “would” implies the same *necessity*. But maybe I can’t get inside your view because I can’t conceive of a situation that would “call for” God to suffer in the way it sounds to me like you’re describing.

        Jacob: But if you say that God *couldn’t* suffer when the situation calls for it then…

        Tom: I’d never say “God couldn’t suffer when and in the sense that any situation calls for.” If the situation (say, our salvation and redemption) calls for a particular kind of suffering on our behalf, then God embraces it. The question isn’t whether God can do what our salvation requires. The question is what our salvation requires. I don’t grant that it requires that God suffer in the sense you’ve been (as I understand it) arguing.

        Jacob: …you’ve conceptualized a God who *can’t* suffer when the situation calls for it.

        Tom: I’m conceptualizing a God who cannot suffer what YOU think the situation calls for. But I’m not conceptualizing a God who can’t suffer what I think the situation calls for.

        Jacob: …which means, given that God asks us to suffer when the situation calls for it, your God *can’t* have the courage He expects from us.

        Tom: I don’t see that as a handicap of any kind. How is God (in and with respect to his devine nature) supposed to act “courageously”? Courage is bravery in the face of one’s fears and perceived threats to one’s well-being. What would you like God to be afraid of? What is there about God’s existence and being that you think we could manage to get him to believe is under threat by us so that he can THEN behave courageously? See what I mean? Not all virtues which are virtues for us in a given set of circumstances relative to our createdness (like bravery or courage) apply to God relative to his uncreatedness. It’s a tricky thing to conclude that what would result in a loss of virtue or integrity for us (say, your notion of “not suffering” in particular way) applies to God across the board. See what I mean?

        Now, as a MAN, that is, with respect to his humanity, the incarnate Christ can indeed be courageous; he can confront natural fears and threats to his life and comfort. And he did just this; but not with respect to his essential divine nature since the divine necessary essence cannot be threatened or fearful.

        —————————-

        Jacob: When you say “God does NOT expect us to suffer the loss of relational intimacy with him” I think we are equivocating on the word “expect.”

        Tom: You were saying God can only expect (or require) of us what he’s willing to do himself, otherwise he has no integrity. So I was just picking up ‘expect’ as your word and saying that the incarnate God does walk our walk IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH we have to live it out. And living it out means sometimes suffering for others.

        But this doesn’t entail ever giving up our relationship with God or whatever transcendent enjoyment of God comes from not losing sight of this relationship when we suffer. In other words, God never asks us to suffer the loss of our perceived oneness with him, even when we suffer the greatest loss Jesus says one can give for another in love, i.e. the loss of our life. To use your words, no “identification” required for any salvation or redemption can conceivably “call for” us to suffer the loss of self (i.e., the self-defining perspective that who we are rests in the unconditional love of God). So, following your flow here, why are we asking God to suffer what he doesn’t ask us to suffer? While God can fulfill in incarnate form the virtues he expects of us, this doesn’t mean suffering the loss of self since he never expects that of us either. Hope that helps.

        Jacob: …the problem here is that it seems to me that there are times in which some people in the human race *cannot* commune with God in their suffering, either because they don’t have the emotional resources, or because they’ve never heard of God, or something like that.

        Tom: Not everybody is able, given their disconnectedness from God, to persist in the enjoyment of Christ’s transforming presence in suffering. Sure.

        Jacob: If I’m right that there are situations in which people *cannot* experience God in their suffering, then the fact that a perfect God must identify with such people means perfect being theology decides in favor of my view, that is, unless you can show me that the greater good in not served in God being able to identify with people who can’t supposedly experience God in their suffering.

        Tom: I don’t agree that there’s a fact which states that a perfect God must identify with people who can’t experience God in their suffering IF “identify” means God must sever relationship with himself. All God’s got to identify with is the SAME CIRCUMSTANCES which produce in us despair and brokenness. He doesn’t have to fall into the same despair. On the contrary, our salvation is in the fact that he doesn’t. I’m not sure what notion of “perfection” requires the kind of identity you’re describing, i.e., experiencing the same existential despair which humans suffer as fallen. In fact, that despair IS our falleness. I just don’t share your notion of moral perfection that says to love those in such despair means suffering that despair like they do. On the contrary, it means embracing the conditions which occasion that despair but without its occasioning despair in him.

        On the journey!

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  16. Jacob says:

    And again, Tom… sorry for having not replied for so long. These discussions were really draining on me, and I couldn’t muster up the energy to get back into it. But I experienced a re-frame.

    And thanks for responding to my argument head on!

    Like

  17. Jacob says:

    It’s usually actually much easier for me to iron out these things in writing. There are only a few people in this world I’m tight with who are willing to simply listen in person to my philosophical thoughts with an attentive enough ear and interested enough mind for it to be meaningful (I keep those people around when I find them!). In writing, there’s nobody cutting me off or showing disinterest while I’m doing the writing, and I can even review and polish things up before I send it. I like it like that. I was more getting irritated because I was needing a (subjective) experience of being taken more seriously, witnessing more incicive critiques of my arguments, and having my questions answered directly. But now those needs are being met… so thank you for helping with that. And again, I also appreciate the attention to grammar… it makes your thoughts easier to read and gives me the impression that you’re putting more thoughtfulness into your posts, and helps my sense of connection with you.

    Okay… I’m going to avoid doing the quoting each other quoting each other thing, because it will just get too unmanagable. I’m just gonna try to hit the main points.

    You have claimed that the triune relations are unified by an infinitely intense aesthetic experience of each other. I’ve rebutted that this supposes an actual infinite which is problematic given the assumption we both hold that the thought of an actual infinite is incoherent. You retort that it’s not incoherent because there are no discrete and countable wholes of aesthetic satisfaction, only undifferentiated degrees. I don’t think this get’s you out of the hole, because even degrees are countable. But I actually don’t think this matters, because you could still retort in the same way we retort to the problem of evil. That is, just as God doesn’t have to create the “best of all possible worlds,” but only has to create a *good* world, the persons of the trinity could be unified by a merely *good* aesthetic experience of each other. So there is a view of God’s unity you could take that is relevantly similar to your current view that would still undermine my view for the same reason your current view would (if either of them were evidenced enough in the first place). So I’m gonna let go of this.

    You say that Christ didn’t suffer with respect to His divine nature. But this view seems to include a two-minds christology, which I think is incoherent. Minds are individuated by the persons to whom they belong. Two minds thus equals two persons. If you don’t hold a two-minds view here, you’re going to have to spell out what Christology you’re assuming here, because without specifying that, the term “not with respect to his essential divine nature” can’t be evaluated.

    You say that you can’t see the difference between how God “would” and how God “must” suffer godforesaken suffering on the cross. This is correct, because I don’t believe it is virtuous to suffer any particular evil unless that was the only way to acheive the greater good at hand. So it follows from the fact that God *did* suffer in a godforesaken way that He *must* have. And since I hold that God *did* suffer so, I believe that He *must* have.

    Beyond this… I’m pretty confused as to the relevant points on your last response. Do you think people are sometimes people are nomologically necessitated to Godforesaken suffering? You say:

    “Not everybody is able, given their disconnectedness from God, to persist in the enjoyment of Christ’s transforming presence in suffering. Sure.”

    Which makes me think you do. But you also say:

    “But this doesn’t entail ever giving up our relationship with God or whatever transcendent enjoyment of God comes from not losing sight of this relationship when we suffer.”

    Are you differentiating between what Christians and non-Christians are able to experience? Maybe you could tease this out a bit for me.

    Like

    • tgbelt says:

      I’ll stick to quoting! Ha. And I’ll try to be quick.

      Jacob: You have claimed that the triune relations are unified by an infinitely intense aesthetic experience of each other.

      Tom: Two things. (1) We haven’t specifically claimed it’s “infinitely” intense. We’re just going with Greg’s old view that it’s “unsurpassably” intense. And (2) while I think this intensity of enjoyment ‘obtains’ triunely (i.e., it’s the enjoyment OF the persons in relation), I don’t know that I’d say this enjoyment itself is what “unifies” the persons. I don’t think we can know what actually unifies them. I’d be inclined to go with a carefully worded version of the Orthodox belief in the priority of the Father as the “fount” or “head” of deity, that is, it is the Father who begets the Son and spirates the Spirit, so the Father himself is the principle of unity. He is the only of the three who’s personal identity is not derived identity. The other two derive their identities from him. In the case of the Son/Logos, it is THIS “begetting of the Son” which IS the UNCREATED divine relation and which constitutes the essential/necessary experience constitutive of God as triune, uncreated being. But with kenotic views, that’s all out the window.

      Jacob: I’ve rebutted that this supposes an actual infinite which is problematic given the assumption we both hold that the thought of an actual infinite is incoherent. You retort that it’s not incoherent because there are no discrete and countable wholes of aesthetic satisfaction, only undifferentiated degrees. I don’t think this get’s you out of the hole, because even degrees are countable.

      Tom: We don’t think of it in terms of “degrees” of intensity either, as if God’s joy is actually “measurable” alongside some standard measurement of aesthetic enjoyment, like a happiness thermometer.

      Jacob: You say that Christ didn’t suffer with respect to His divine nature. But this view seems to include a two-minds christology, which I think is incoherent.

      Tom: Ooops. Then we’ve hit a wall, because we’re totally Orthodox on this. Apart from a two-minds Christology, Dwayne and I are done. Dude, I mean D.O.N.E. I wouldn’t know how to be a Trinitarian without Chalcedon. Everything we are arguing requires that two-nature/two-minds view. If that’s incoherent to ya, Bro, then we’re incoherent to ya. Dang.

      Dwayne and I know we’re the oddities here. Evangelicalism is pretty much (pardon me) bankrupt Christologically speaking. Even Millard Erickson (Mr. Evangelical) is a kenoticist. In denying the two-minds view, one’s left having to say that immediately post-conception (incarnation), you simply don’t have three divine “persons” to speak of. You’ve just got a binaty, not a trinity, of persons actually relating, unless you want to insist that the two-celled zygote in its createdness in Mary’s womb is instantiating all the PERSONAL qualities of the eternal Logos, in which case we’re even in thinking each other’s view incoherent! ;o)

      Jacob: But you also say: “But this doesn’t entail ever giving up our relationship with God or whatever transcendent enjoyment of God comes from not losing sight of this relationship when we suffer.” Are you differentiating between what Christians and non-Christians are able to experience?

      Tom: Yes. Human beings do in fact fail to embrace the truth of their identity in Christ as unconditionally loved and we suffer on account of that. But God never expects us to fail to embrace this. It’s not a form of suffering that any ‘love’ would “call for,” so I don’t see why we should suppose our redemption “calls for” the Father and Son to fail in this regard either.

      Like

      • Jacob says:

        So you mentioned adopting a two-minds Christology, but without responding to my argument against that. Do you think my argument suceeds or fails? I’ll let you look back at my last post for the argument.

        But at any rate… yes, Kenoticism has problems, but I don’t see how the problems arise from how a relational ontology would undermine Kenoticism, probably partially because I don’t totally understand that ontology at this point. Feel free to explain. I don’t recall TP being that helpful in this regard.

        BTW… I have no idea what is true about Christology. I’m personally not comitted to Kenoticism. And I haven’t found a view without problems.

        “Human beings do in fact fail to embrace the truth of their identity in Christ as unconditionally loved and we suffer on account of that. But God never expects us to fail to embrace this.”

        Sounds like you are saying that everybody is always, at least in their wakeful moments, *able* to embrace their identity in Chist, but not always *willing.* This is where I disagree. Certainly we are often not willing, but I go further and say I think there are times when we are not able. So when you characterize my view as saying that God “expects” us to suffer without experiencing Him, I think you are thinking of my view in terms of a moral expectation. But that’s not what I mean. Let me clarify:

        I think there are situations in which it is nomologically impossible for some humans to experience God. Since in those situations, it is *impossible* to experience God, we are not obligated to experience God. But we are, at least most of the time, obligated to continue on in this world anyways. It is in this sense that we are “expected” to suffer without experiencing God. For example, think of people who have barely any or no cognitive or emotional control over themselves, and are so deluded that their mentation tricks them into doing the opposite of what they mean. I see this all the time in the hospital. Or what about babies. Are babies *always* able to experience God? Before they’ve even developed a sense of self-consicousness? When they’re being abused? Those are all extreme examples, but I’m inclined to think that there are times throughout the day when normal folks like you and I can’t experience God. For us… we can cultivate better or worse habits. But we still have bouts of confusion and emotional overload that hinder our abilities in this regard. But for the sake of argument, even if folks do have general control over themselves, and can always experience God’s presence, doesn’t it come in degrees? Can’t we be mildly distracted?

        I agree that all of the above situations are products of the fall. But I’m inclined to think that one of the things the fall effected was our *abilities* in this regard. And it is a terrible consequence indeed.

        Like

      • tgbelt says:

        Jacob: So you mentioned adopting a two-minds Christology, but without responding to my argument against that.

        Tom: You said “Minds are individuated by the persons to whom they belong.” That seems a safe assumption. You can’t have a mind without some person. Then you said “Two minds thus equals two persons.” This doesn’t follow. It doesn’t follow from “minds are individuated by the persons to whom they belong” that “one mind = one person, two minds = two persons, etc.” It might be impossible to hash it all out here. It’s a big subject.

        At any rate, you haven’t yet told me how you think the essential personal attributes of the UNCREATED consciousness (or mind) of the Son is individuated (on your one-mind view) by the two-celled zygote in Mary’s womb. Looks like you’ve got a “no mind” view there. If you want the mind of the Son/Logos to obtain in some transcendent sense in the zygote, then welcome to the two-mind view. But if you’re going with a one-mind Christology, and you admit (as it seems you do) that the Son/Logos really has no “mind” (self-perceiving consciousness that instantiates the loving relationality essential to the divine persons), then you’ve got a “no-mind” Christology so far as the zygote is concerned. At THAT time, there is no divine person being and doing what persons do.

        Jacob: Sounds like you are saying that everybody is always, at least in their wakeful moments, *able* to embrace their identity in Christ, but not always *willing.* This is where I disagree. Certainly we are often not willing, but I go further and say I think there are times when we are not able.”

        Tom: Sure, the severely mentally handicapped are not able to enjoy the fullness of their identity in Christ. The point in all this was your claim that since people do suffer the failure of such identity, the redemption of such persons “calls for” God to suffer the same loss of identity. I’m just saying that doesn’t follow, and I can’t think of a single instance in which it would, nor can I think of any circumstances in which suffering with others in love would “call for” us to suffer the loss of self and identity in Christ. There’s simply no created suffering (mental incapacities, despairing sinfulness, whatever manner of failure of personal identity) that can “call for” God to suffer the loss of those personal identities which define the uncreated relations of the One God OR “call for” us to suffer the loss of our identity IN Christ.

        Jacob: Or what about babies. Are babies *always* able to experience God? Before they’ve even developed a sense of self-consicousness?

        Tom: Obviously not. Zygotes in the womb don’t seem to me to be a sufficient context in which human beings can engage in such things, and that’s partly why we embrace the Orthodox two-minds Christology, because the divine relations are UNCREATED being; they’re essentially and necessarily consciously and perichoretically engaged. You can’t have THAT fulfilled BY a zygote AS a zygote. Without a two-minds Christology you’ve got no trinity of persons-in-relation immediately post-conception.

        Like

  18. Jacob says:

    “”It doesn’t follow from “minds are individuated by the persons to whom they belong” that “one mind = one person, two minds = two persons, etc.””

    You’re right. What I should have said was the following: A mind *just is* the *totality* of an individual’s subjective experience at any given time. It follows necessarily that there can be no more than one mind per person. The argument would look like this:

    1) A mind is nothing more nor less than the *totality* of a person’s experience at any given time.
    2) Therefore, minds cannot differentiate in a single person.
    3) Therefore, a person can have no more than one mind.

    And if you deny premise 1, what is your definition of a mind?

    “At any rate, you haven’t yet told me how you think the essential personal attributes of the UNCREATED consciousness (or mind) of the Son is individuated (on your one-mind view) by the two-celled zygote in Mary’s womb. Looks like you’ve got a “no mind” view there.”

    Actually, yes. I believe two-celled zygotes don’t have minds. Their minds emerge with time. But I still believe them to be persons. And I believe there is a difference (though I’m not sure if it’s an *essential* difference) between human and divine persons. Here’s my view:

    Definition of a human person – a living human organism with the nomological potential of posessing a mind.

    It would then follow from my view that Jesus as the two-celled zygote is a person.

    “If you want the mind of the Son/Logos to obtain in some transcendent sense in the zygote, then welcome to the two-mind view.”

    Yeah, if there are essential divine features of the Son, like “holding everything in existence,” and stuff like that, then Kenotocism can’t account for these features.

    “Tom: Sure, the severely mentally handicapped are not able to enjoy the fullness of their identity in Christ. The point in all this was your claim that since people do suffer the failure of such identity, the redemption of such persons “calls for” God to suffer the same loss of identity. I’m just saying that doesn’t follow, and I can’t think of a single instance in which it would, nor can I think of any circumstances in which suffering with others in love would “call for” us to suffer the loss of self and identity in Christ. There’s simply no created suffering (mental incapacities, despairing sinfulness, whatever manner of failure of personal identity) that can “call for” God to suffer the loss of those personal identities which define the uncreated relations of the One God OR “call for” us to suffer the loss of our identity IN Christ.”

    “I’m just saying that doesn’t follow, and I can’t think of a single instance in which it would, nor can I think of any circumstances in which suffering with others in love would “call for” us to suffer the loss of self and identity in Christ.”

    Where did you get that I think we are called to suffer the loss of self and identity in Christ, when I never said it and have flatly contradicted it several times? Can you even state my view?

    When you say, “Sure, the severely mentally handicapped are not able to enjoy the fullness of their identity in Christ,” don’t you contradict yourself when you combine your statement “All God’s got to identify with is the SAME CIRCUMSTANCES which produce in us despair and brokennes,” with the thought that inability to experience God produces in us despair and brokenness?

    I can actually make a reductio out of your statements. I assume I’m missing something here, this is how I understand you:

    1) Jesus must experience the same kind of experiences which produce in us despair and brokenness.
    2) Failing to experience God’s love produces in us despair and brokenness.
    3) Therefore, Jesus fails to experience God’s love.
    4) (assume for reductio) Jesus never fails to experience God’s love.
    5) Therefore, Jesus fails to experience God’s love and Jesus never fails to experience God’s love. (contradiction!)

    “Without a two-minds Christology you’ve got no trinity of persons-in-relation immediately post-conception.”

    According to *your* definition of “persons-in-relation,” there are no person’s-in-relation here. Obviously, in my view, there is such a relation. God loves Jesus the zygote by “generating” him, if you want to use the term that way…. actively loving and sustaining Him. The relation is assymetrical, as when a mother is related to her zygote by already having affection for it and sustaining it with her body.

    Like

    • Jacob says:

      I’m sorry… “Can you even state my view?” that came across as short. Let me just ask you to state my view of that stuff because I’d like to know if you understand it.

      Like

    • tgbelt says:

      Tom: “Without a two-minds Christology you’ve got no trinity of persons-in-relation immediately post-conception.”

      Jacob: According to *your* definition of “persons-in-relation” there are no persons-in-relation here. Obviously, in my view, there is such a relation. God loves Jesus the zygote by “generating” him, if you want to use the term that way…actively loving and sustaining Him. The relation is assymetrical, as when a mother is related to her zygote by already having affection for it and sustaining it with her body.

      Tom: And that love of the Father for the zygote is what makes that zygote, and ONLY that zygote, the uncreated eternal Logos of God? So in your view the relationships of the divine persons that define God essentially and necessarily are only essentially asymmetrical? They need not be mutual relations? That is, divine personhood isn’t essentially a mutual perceiving and loving, isn’t even essentially ‘conscious’ (because the divine Son is, in your view, all the Son essentially is, as a zygote). So the zygot is all there is to the eternal uncreated Logos of the Father?

      ———————–

      I’m sorry Bro. I don’t know where to go from here. If Dwayne or somebody else wants to pick it up I’d be cool with that. I’m not sure I can add anything more. We’ve got pretty different views and I don’t know how to span the gulf between us. I’m passionate about it, but I don’t know what else I can say to move things along. We might need to let it simmer. I’m OK with that.

      Like

  19. Jacob says:

    “And that love of the Father for the zygote is what makes that zygote, and ONLY that zygote, the uncreated eternal Logos of God?”

    I don’t personally have a view about this. And I don’t know what Boyd would say, though I think there would be a problem with his Kenoticism here, as I mentioned in my last post.

    “So in your view the relationships of the divine persons that define God essentially and necessarily are only essentially asymmetrical?”

    Yes. You might call me heterodox here, but what else does it mean for one to proceed from another and not vice versa? And for one to gererate another and not vice versa?

    “They need not be mutual relations? That is, divine personhood isn’t essentially a mutual perceiving and loving, isn’t even essentially ‘conscious’ (because the divine Son is, in your view, all the Son essentially is, as a zygote).”

    Yup.

    “So the zygot is all there is to the eternal uncreated Logos of the Father?”

    I have no idea how that works.

    “I don’t know where to go from here.”

    Why not just deal with the arguments?

    Then we will come to understand our views better, or we will see something about our views that we hadn’t before. Arguments illuminate. Try this… try never letting an argument go without 1) a premise being disputed, 2) an inference being disputed, or 3) accepting the conclusion. I bet we would get somewhere quickly. For instance, in my last post, I came to be persuaded that the way I had supported my conclusion was a non-sequiteur. I then challenged myself to articulate in clearer terms how to support this conclusion. And I now see more clearly that my view about personal identity entails that minds can go in and out of existence while the person remains… and that while some might view such going in and out of existence as a cost, I actually find it pretty intuitive. It also challenged me to think a little harder about my view of personal identity and how it might be wrong. But through this process, I’ve realized that I can’t think of any problems for my view of personal identity, and am even more persuaded of it… and am realizing that it brings me to a stronger anti-abortion stance than previously. You might be dismayed that all this learning has little to do with you view, but if you take my aforementioned suggestion of never failing to deal with an argument, I bet we’ll get somewhere quickly. And spend more time simply trying to understand my arguments. The ethics in my philosophy program was, “you should understand your opponent’s argument to the point in which they would feel honored by your representation.” I try to stick to that ethic, and I learn quite a bit. Try that on… and see where it gets you!

    Like

    • tgbelt says:

      Tom: “And that love of the Father for the zygote is what makes that zygote, and ONLY that zygote, the uncreated eternal Logos of God?”

      Jacob: I don’t personally have a view about this.

      Tom: On the contrary, Jacob. In denying Orthodoxy’s two-minds Christology, you’re saying (as you agree below) that the zygote itself instantiates ALL the metaphysically necessary personal attributes (whatever they are) that constitute the personal existence of the eternal Logos; that is, post incarnation there’s no Logos OUTSIDE the zygote and its created, natural capacities. And since you’ve already said there’s no ‘mind’ or ‘subjectivity’ to the zygote (and I agree), it follows that you don’t think conscious subjectivity is essential to divine personhood. The zygote is all there is to the Logos, period. There’s no consciousness or mind constitutive of the Son’s essential experience of being begotten by the Father at that point in time, in which case such experience cannot be a metaphysical necessity.

      —————————-

      Tom: So in your view the relationships of the divine persons that define God essentially and necessarily are only essentially asymmetrical?

      Jacob: Yes. You might call me heterodox here, but what else does it mean for one to proceed from another and not vice versa? And for one to gererate another and not vice versa?

      Tom: That’s not what I was getting at by asymmetrical. Yes, there’s an asymmetricality to the relations in Orthodoxy so far as the Father’s being the only underived person of the persons. But all three are essentially/necessarily ‘persons’ (not just potentially persons; we’re talking metaphysically necessary trinity here). What I meant by asymmetrical in my question to you was that in your view there doesn’t have to be an actual experiencing person on the derived side of the equation. The person of the Father can beget the Son without there being a ‘person’ (a fully realized person) of the Son. As you say, the zygote IS the Father begetting the Son, and there’s no mind or consciousness or subjective experience OF the begotten, no personal experience of the Father BY the Son. You don’t find this problematic?

      ——————————-

      Tom: They need not be mutual relations? That is, divine personhood isn’t essentially mutual perceiving and loving, isn’t even essentially ‘conscious’ (because the divine Son is, in your view, all the Son essentially is, as a zygote).

      Jacob: Yup.

      Tom: So the zygote is all there is to the eternal uncreated Logos of the Father?

      Jacob: I have no idea how that works.

      Tom: But your answer is ‘yup’, the zygote is all there is to the uncreated Logos of the Father, even if you don’t know how that works.

      ———————————–

      Tom: I don’t know where to go from here.

      Jacob: Why not just deal with the arguments?

      Tom: I’ll leave it for now, Jacob. Your view isn’t orthodox (even with a small ‘o’). I mean, Arius was as orthodox, perhaps more so, than the kenoticism of your view.

      Jacob: Try this… try never letting an argument go without 1) a premise being disputed, 2) an inference being disputed, or 3) accepting the conclusion. I bet we would get somewhere quickly.

      Tom: I’ll keep that in mind, Bro. Thanks. And if I may make a suggestion as well. Take the next few years and read a bunch on the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries.

      Blessings Jacob!

      Like

      • Jacob says:

        “in denying Orthodoxy’s two-minds Christology, there’s nothing left you but to say (as you agree below) that the zygote itself instantiates ALL the metaphysically necessary personal attributes (whatever they are) that constitute the eternal Logos.

        Actually, I think, as far as being a trinitarian is concerned, you can hold a mysterian view about this. I’m not committed to such a view, but it’s an option… an option with it’s own problems for sure.

        ” You’ve already said there’s no ‘mind’ or ‘subjectivity’ to the zygote, so it follows that you don’t think conscious subjectivity is essential to divine personhood. ”

        I can see why you would say that. You’ve probably been thinking this whole time that I’m a committed trinitarian. I’m actually not… I think some heterodox views are viable options. Though I’m not committed to any heterodox view, either.

        “Tom: They need not be mutual relations? That is, divine personhood isn’t essentially a mutual perceiving and loving, isn’t even essentially ‘conscious’ (because the divine Son is, in your view, all the Son essentially is, as a zygote).
        Jacob: Yup.
        Tom: So the zygote is all there is to the eternal uncreated Logos of the Father?
        Jacob: I have no idea how that works.
        Tom: But your answer is ‘yup’, the zygote is all there is to the uncreated Logos of the Father, even if you don’t know how that works.”

        My question here is whether or not the Logos is uncreated. But, come to think of it… I really am pretty committed to the belief that He is uncreated. But I still hold out the possibility for some kind of mysterian Christology here, amongst other views. Clarkean subordinationism being one of them.

        “I’ll leave it for now, Jacob. Your view isn’t orthodox (even with a small ‘o’). I mean, Arius was as orthodox, perhaps more so, than the kenoticism of your view.”

        This whole time I’ve been trying to juggle defending Boyd’s view and inserting little clarifications of my own views, without opening of the whole can of worms implicated in me mentioning that I’m open to heterodox views. Also, my statements have left room open for me being a mysterian. See James Anderson’s book! I’m telling you man, it fits so nicely with what you already believe… especially with your emphasis on both orthodoxy and transcendance! But I think you can now see that, even when not considering the option of a two minds Christology, my openness to mysterianism and heterodox beliefs leaves me uncommitted to Kenotocism. So yes… Boyd is a Kenotocist, but I’m undecided.

        But here’s the rub. My motive here in this debate has been my need to see a sense of fairness played out in the Body of Christ. Boyd has already dealt with enough accusation of being heretical, and I think on unfair grounds. Here’s why.

        Yes, he is a Kenotocist, which has it’s own problems. For one, it’s totally unclear how Jesus could in any meaningful way be called GOD if Kenotocism is true. It seems to entail that Jesus is not God, while claiming that He is! It’s contradictory. But your charge is more than claiming Kenotocism is contradictory, it is the claim that it is unorthodox (i.e. out of sync with the creeds), which is to say that it is outside the bounds of what most people say could respectably be called Christian. And, for what it’s worth, I agree that his view entails a non-creedal belief.

        Now, I’ve given a critique of your view, that it is incoherent. But here’s where the rubber meets the road. Exactly where I find your veiw contradictory, it entails a NONCREEDAL BELIEF!! In my view, your view leads to the belief that there are 4 persons (“two minds” equals two persons, even if two person’s doesn’t equal two minds. See above argument. Add the Father and the Spirit and you get four.)! I understand you don’t see that your view entails a quaternity. My hope is that you would see this quaternity issue and either stop calling Boyd unorthodox, or admit that you’re just as unorthodox. And I would hope that, even if you don’t currently see my point, the prospect of unintentionally committing the same error you’re accusing Boyd of may cause you to look deeper at this. Just on a personal level, I think that would be quite radical of you… in a Jesusy kinda way, and it would have *integrity* (and you know I’m all about that!)!

        Like

      • tgbelt says:

        I thought you were a Trinitarian, Jacob. Sorry.

        My two-minds Christology (or the “one person—two minds” view) can’t possibly be a non-Creedal belief, Jacob, since it IS Chalcedon. If you knew the Chalcedon and the debates that surrounded it, you’d know that.

        You can think I affirm an incoherent ‘quad’ of persons because of this view, but you’d have to think all Orthodox Christians are equally non-Creedal, since Orthodoxy affirms this very two-minds Christology I’ve been sharing. I’m not making this up.

        So I can’t possibly be unorthodox for affirming the Orthodox Creed on this point. As for Greg, there’s no question his Christology is heterodox. I don’t think he cares whether it is or isn’t. We’re just interested in getting him to (a) read his own work again to remember what’s in it, and (b) admit that he’s abandoned it.

        Take for example this single quote of his from TP (p. 394): “A reality is non-divine if it is the subject of a surpassably intense aesthetic experience.” Does that sound like anything he’s been saying lately about Christ on the Cross? No. Quite the opposite. His view now is the contradictory of this; i.e., that the Son MUST become the subject of a (very) surpassably intense aesthetic experience.” Nowhere close.

        Like

  20. Jacob says:

    “My two-minds Christology (or the “one person—two minds” view) can’t possibly be a non-Creedal belief, Jacob, since it IS Chalcedon. If you knew the Chalcedon and the debates that surrounded it, you’d know that.”

    I’ve read authorities on the subject who disagree that the two minds view is the best interpretation of Chalcedon. If I spent the next few years studying said controversies, I might come to agree with you, but for now, I have no reason to take your word over said authorities. But I’ve come across authorities who agree with you as well, for what it’s worth. It’s possible that you’re right.

    Or are you meaning to simply refer to the “two natures” view? Maybe you already know this, but a “two natures” view isn’t the same as a “two minds” view. I hope I haven’t saddled you with a two-minds theory when you didn’t mean to assert it.

    “You can think I affirm an incoherent ‘quad’ of persons because of this view, but you’d have to think all Orthodox Christians are equally non-Creedal, since Orthodoxy affirms this very two-minds Christology I’ve been sharing.”

    If I were persuaded that a two-minds view was the best theory of how the two natures subsist in Christ, I might agree with you.

    “So I can’t possibly be unorthodox for affirming the Orthodox Creed on this point.”

    The first question is whether or not the two-minds view is contradictory. The two-minds view (1) explicitly affirms that there is exactly 1 person, but (in my view) implicitly entails that (2) there are two. (1) is “orthodox”/creedal (hereafter termed OC), (2) is not. And (2) contradicts OC in more than one way! First, it contradicts the explicit Chalcedonian assertion that there is only one person to Jesus, but moreover, it contradicts OC statements of the trinity that affirms there are exactly three people to the trinity! But I’m talking into the ether now, since you’re not going to respond to my argument for the contradictoriness of the two-minds view.

    Anyways… supposing you are right and the two-minds view is the correct interpretation, there would be no way to be orthodox because “being orthodox” would involve denying the law of noncontradiction, and a denial of the law of noncontradiction entails that that anything can entail anything, thus disallows one to have any meaningful thoughts whatsoever, and thus there would be no way to be orthodox! You could avoid all this if you want to add that all the relevant terms in a two-minds Christology are analogous and thus the view isn’t necessarily contradictory because we don’t know exactly *how* the terms are analogous. How the paradox is resolved would then be a mystery (a view I think you would be privy to). In *that* case, you’d get off the hook, but there would no longer be any motivation to accept the two-minds Christology, because it’s usually only accepted for the sake of resolving the paradox of the two-natures anyways. So there’s no need to go the extra step with the two-minds Christology… you might as well just stop with accepting that how the two natures relate is a mystery.

    “As for Greg, there’s no question his Christology is heterodox. I don’t think he cares whether it is or isn’t.”

    Boyd doesn’t think a two-minds Christology is necessarily OC. But he does seem to want to be OC. See:
    http://reknew.org/2008/11/hellenistic-philosophy-and-the-problem-of-chalcedon/
    http://reknew.org/2012/07/qa-isnt-it-contradictory-to-say-jesus-is-fully-god-and-fully-human/

    “Take for example this single quote of his from TP (p. 394): “A reality is non-divine if it is the subject of a surpassably intense aesthetic experience.” Does that sound like anything he’s been saying lately about Christ on the Cross?”

    Again, no. You persuaded me a long time ago.

    Like

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