Trinity and Process

Video1 Now is as good a time as any to throw up some more quotes from Greg Boyd’s Trinity and Process to demonstrate how incompatible this work is with his present belief in the dissolution (on the Cross and in the womb of Mary) of God’s triune experience. Enjoy.

“…this modification of Hartshorne’s system shall allow us to conceive of God as essentially constituted by an unsurpassable aesthetic experience of God’s own self-relationality….God is best conceived as being at once unsurpassable in God’s definitional aesthetic disposition and actual eternal enjoyment of what this disposition produces within Godself….” (p. 176, emphasis ours)

“Once we have determined that God is to be conceived of as antecedently actual, internally relational, and ‘more than’ self-sufficient, there is no longer any need to postulate an eternal world to provide the ground and the material for God’s concrete experience of goodness. God is, in this view, good within Godself, and this means that God can experience goodness within Godself—apart from the world…. In contrast to all possible and actual evil, God experiences God’s own triune sociality as unsurpassably good.” (p. 375, emphasis ours)

“…God’s essential and necessary existence is…most basically defined by the unsurpassable intensity of aesthetic enjoyment which characterizes the triune sociality of God. God experiences Godself with an intensity which can under no circumstances conceivably be improved upon. As with Hartshorne, we are here most fundamentally defining God’s transcendence in terms of God’s aesthetic satisfaction.” (p. 377, emphasis ours) [Tom here: Draw a line from “existence” to “enjoyment” in the first sentence of this quote and ask yourself what Greg might mean now by suggesting that this “enjoyment” ceases while God’s essential and necessary “existence” does not.]

“If we may now utilize the language of Scripture, we may, in light of our reconstruction, view God’s essential being as eternally consisting in the event of the perfect knowing and loving of the Father and Son in the power of the Spirit.”

“The One whose power is this One’s love, and whose love is this One’s knowledge, is the necessary and eternal divine event which structures and internally satisfies, in and of itself, all rationality and which further grounds all contingent being.”

“But, we further hold, this God-defining zenith of aesthetic intensity has been constituted in the triune sociality of God from eternity. This is necessary, and as such it is neither increased nor diminished by the contingent and temporal affairs of the world.” (p. 378, emphasis ours)

We say “Amen” to all this. It’s in line with Orthodoxy in expressing the infinite beauty of God’s triune experience of knowing and loving as Father, Son and Spirit. This is what’s leaving people confused about Greg’s present position that this very God-definining experience is now no longer necessary to God.

(Picture here.)

7 comments on “Trinity and Process

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    My immediate response is: these citations provide more than ample proof why the use of “Godself” as a reflexive pronoun cannot work. There is no way to read it without reifying its antecedent, as if it were referring to some kind of thing (like divine being) and not just being used as a place-marker for the subject of the sentence.

    But this is totally irrelevant. Just saying, though. 🙂


  2. tgbelt says:

    How would you suggest we SAY it, Fr Aidan? God loves “himself”? “Theirselves” (if we think of ‘self’ in terms of divine ‘person’ and they are three)? None of it’s adequate, but how do we talk about God at all without using a word to name that which we’re imperfectly discussing?


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      We are talking about a pronoun. A pronoun has one purpose–to point to its antecedent–it has no other meaning and function. In English we use pronouns so we don’t constantly have to repeat the subject. Hence we properly use the word “himself.” See my essay, co-written with linguist Donald Hook: “The Pronouns of Deity: A Theolinguistic Critique of Feminist Proposals,” in The Scottish Journal of Theology, vol. 46, no. 3, 1993, pp.297-323. “Godself” was invented as a way to avoid the masculine pronoun “himself.” As we point out in the essay, we cannot simply “invent” new pronouns. We can easily invent new nouns–we do it all the time–but we can’t invent new pronouns. It just doesn’t work that way. “Godself” is artificial, awkward, and most importantly, misleading. Unfortunately, my own electronic copy of the essay was lost years ago when my PC harddrive died many years ago, so I cannot send you a copy of it.


      • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

        You can download a much shortened version of our article here: Is God a He?. In this piece we write:

        The proposed reflexive Godself is doomed from the outset. Reflexive pronouns (and intensifiers) are constructed by adding the suffix -self (pl. -selves) to the determinative possessive forms of the first and second person and to the objective form of the third person. Because the first constituent part of Godself (viz., God) is a noun, this precludes the word from ever becoming a reflexive pronoun. Nouns simply do not become pronouns. Consider the sentence “God gives Godself to humanity in Jesus Christ.” Is not the sense here that God gives something to us which is not identical to his person? Godself will not be construed — grammatically cannot be construed — as a reflexive referring to the antecedent God. When self and nouns are joined, self- is a prefix instead of a suffix (e.g., “self-assurance,” as opposed to “him- self”). But note that not all nouns accept self- (e.g., “self-service,” but not “self-chair”). Apparently, the noun must be derived from a transitive verb. Godself is, therefore, doubly unacceptable, as would be Janetself or Robertself.

        As a final objection to this innovation, let us repeat this construction in a single sentence and ask if it is anything but gibberish: “God Godself gives Godself to God’s children in God’s Church through God’s son, Jesus Christ.” It is abundantly clear that we cannot make up function words (i.e., words of limited number, such as prepositions, subordinating conjunctions, articles, and pronouns, that belong to the syntactic structure of a language and thus form a “closed class”) to satisfy our preferences.

        The notion of “closed class” is crucial–closed class words (pronouns, prepositions, articles, etc.) simply cannot be invented and imposed on a community of speakers.


  3. tgbelt says:

    I’m not especially adverse to using “himself,” though I know God isn’t male (or female). I’ve gotten used to “Godself” when discussing Greg’s stuff because he uses it in TP. I believe it was a Princeton requirement then. Many institutions place such constraints on their dissertations: “Say it this way or don’t get your degree.”


  4. Tom says:

    Reblogged this on An Open Orthodoxy and commented:

    You probably feel like you’ve heard Greg’s name enough from us the past month or so since I’ve been responding to his recent book. But I was checking out a couple of older posts and thought these snippets from an earlier Greg were wonderful.


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