What happened to the Son in Andrei Rublev’s icon? Answer: He’s been ‘ReKnewed’. Is that really what kenoticism does? We think so. Here we’ll briefly summarize Greg’s view in Trinity & Process (T&P). In a following post we’ll compare these to his present kenoticism and consider an analogy Greg shares for viewing kenoticism as a deepening of his views in T&P. We’ll demonstrate that, barring his magically pulling a Rublev Son out his hat, Greg essentially abandons his earlier Trinitarian work in favor of his present kenoticism.
We’ve summarized T&P here and here. There’s no way to unpack all his supporting arguments. We can only present the key conclusions he arrives at. But it’ll be enough. Feast yourself on these T&P quotes:
“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)
“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)
“The metaphysical necessity of God’s self-relationality means, I believe, that it is not possible to conceive of the death of the Son as anything other than an expression of the intense love of God’s inner life. This paradox shall be discussed shortly, but it presently needs to be said that this means that all talk about a ‘breakdown of the relationship that constitutes the very life of the Trinity’ such as we find (for example) in Moltmann is, if taken literally, strictly impossible….” (p. 381, n. 64, emphasis ours)
“….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)
“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.” (p. 377, emphasis ours) [Draw a line connecting “existence” to “enjoyment” to “experience” and ask yourself what Greg might mean now by suggesting that God’s triune “experience” ceases while his “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.” (emphasis ours)
“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.” (emphasis ours)
“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 have seen that both [Jonathon] Edwards and [Charles] Hartshorne argue that God is most fundamentally distinct from the world in terms of God’s beauty. God is distinct in many other ways, too, of course, but for both of these thinkers that aesthetic uniqueness of God is what is most fundamental. With this we have agreed, though we have redefined the definition of divine beauty from a quantitative to a qualitative conception. God can be thus defined, most fundamentally, as the unsurpassably intense event of beauty. It follows, then, that non-divine reality can fundamentally be defined in terms of its surpassable beauty. This too is precisely in keeping with the thought of both Edwards and Hartshorne. A reality is non-divine if it is the subject of, and/or the contributor to, a surpassably intense aesthetic experience.
This should be sufficient to demonstrate Greg’s belief in T&P that God’s necessary and essential triune “experience” is this One’s equally necessary and essential “existence.” There can be no cessation of the former (triune experience) without cessation of the latter (divine existence). But this cessation is precisely what Greg’s present kenoticism entails given T&P.
Back later for more.