Go with the Flow

rohrThanks to Fr Kimel for the heads up on Fred Sanders’ review of Richard Rohr’s new book Divine Dance: Trinity and Your Transformation. I don’t usually get with the Gospel Coalition’s vibe in general, their view of the atonement, or their rejection as heresy of other orthodox positions, “but never mind that for now” (as Sanders repeatedly says in his review). I have not yet read Rohr’s new book (definitely will, and soon). I also want to kick myself for not remembering the passage, but I do recall running across the word “dance” in one of the Greek Fathers in reference to the Trinity. Regardless of the accuracy of my memory though, I don’t share Sanders’ suspicion of the word “dance” to describe the dynamism of the Trinity’s fullness.

Not having read Rohr’s book, it’s impossible to judge the content of Sanders’ review. That said, I didn’t find Sanders’ tone insulting or dismissive, even if it was passionate. He was helpful and fair, ever if he ignores the notorious (and orthodox!) language of the mystics (like Eckhart) who are infamous (and loved!) for their shocking claims regarding being one with God and experiencing one’s own self as inseparable from the divinity in (even ‘of’) all things. If Sanders hasn’t read Denys Turner on the Christian mystics, that might help him understand people like Rohr and what such language is doing (even if it doesn’t always announce what it’s doing). There’s no way to bring mystical expression (more art that a recipe to follow) into any neat – concept for concept – alignment with precise doctrinal formulae. You’re going to have messy conceptual leftovers on the table. I could pull phrases out of Maximus, not identify him as the author, and almost certainly get a similar assessment of them by Sanders. Rohr is a mystic, and you have to remember that.

However, at the same time I’m glad we have the mystics to push us beyond stale and clinical formulae, I’m thankful we have thoughtful, informed, debated, conciliar statements too. I’ve posted on aspects of Rohr’s thought from earlier works that I find helpful, but if Sanders has accurately captured Rohr’s essential claim regarding the Trinity, I agree with Sanders that there’s room for great concern – not because Rohr uses the words “dance” and “flow” (those can be put to good use), but because of more sinister metaphysical assumptions at work (i.e., God’s dependency upon the world by which God constitutes or enriches his own being, a distinction between the divine persons and something “other” [viz., “the Flow”] than those persons in which the persons participate, or the idea that we participate in that “Flow” as the divine persons do and so expand the Trinity’s partnership to Four, etc.). If this is just Eckhartian mysticism being uncomfortable with the boundaries of neat formulae, fine. That just is the ongoing conversation that is Christianity. Experience will always exceed language, territory will always exceed the map. Hopefully Rohr will clarify his position. But if these other metaphysical assumptions are at work, those are of concern.

So, another book to buy!

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Mirroring the Infinite: No tain, no pain

mirror-art-kaleidoscope-3-468x468A couple of lines from David Bentley Hart’s “The Mirror of the Infinite: Gregory of Nyssa on the Vestigia Trinitatis” (Modern Theology 18:4 | October 2002) from a piece I read some time ago but which I picked this week in an attempt to occupy my mind with something as far and as different as possible from the madness which is American politics.

It’s a splendid piece. The first quote below is from Section I which summarizes trinitarian theology. The second quote is from the first half or so of Section II. Enjoy!

Our being is synthetic and bounded; just as (again to borrow a later theological vocabulary) the dynamic inseparability but incommensurability in us of essence and existence is an ineffably distant analogy of the dynamic identity of essence and existence in God, the constant pendulation between inner and outer that constitutes our identity is an ineffably distant analogy of that boundless bright diaphaneity of coinherence, in which the exteriority of relations and the interiority of identity in God are one, each Person wholly reflecting and containing and indwelling each of the others. Because for us personality is synthetic, composite, successive, and finite, we are related always in some sense “over against,” in a fragmentary way, and to be with others always involves for us a kind of death, the limit of our being. In God, though, given the simplicity of his essence, there is an absolute coincidence of relation and unity. For God, the “inwardness” of the other is each Person’s own inwardness, the “outwardness” of the other is each Person’s outwardness and manifestation.

One word came to mind upon finishing this paragraph—“fractal.” Can you see why? Fractals both contain and are contained by their content and form. They are a “coincidence of relation and unity,” a visual diaphaneity of coinherence. This shouldn’t surprise me, I thought. Wouldn’t the source and ground and giver of a world whose being and nature manifest such fractality need to be infinite as well?

mirror1A second more lengthy portion spoke to me. Honestly, after this past year’s election cycle and particularly the role my own faith tradition played in the final result, I have wanted to give up on the Church (which my entire adult life has been dedicated to vocationally). I’m still struggling. I know it sounds weird, but I was enjoying this next portion of Hart for the escape that it provided my wanting to leave all thought of the church behind when the passage came to an uncomfortable rest in the final sentence’s nearly final word: “church.” “Crap,” I thought. There’s no escaping Christ’s Body in the earth.

Certainly if one were to attempt to isolate the one motif that pervades Gregory’s thought most thoroughly, and that might best capture in a single figure the rationality that unifies it throughout, it would be that of the mirror: the surface in which light is gathered, creating depths where none previously existed, and by which it is reflected back to the source of its radiance. One might say, to being with, that for Gregory all knowledge consists in theoria of the reflected, and this is in some sense so even within the life of God: the Son is the eternal image in which the Father contemplates and loves his essence, and thus the Father can never be conceived of without his Son, for were he alone he would have no light, truth, wisdom,, life, holiness, or power; “if ever the brightness of the Father’s glory did not shine forth, that glory would be dark and blind.” This “mirroring” is that one original act of knowledge in which each of the Persons shares; the Only Begotten, says Gregory, who dwells in the Father, sees the Father in himself, while the Spirit searches out the deeps of God. God himself is, one is tempted to say, an eternal play of the invisible and the visible, the hidden Father made luminously manifest in the infinite icon of his beauty, God “speculating” upon himself by way of his absolute self-giving, in the other. And it is from this original “circle of glory” that the “logic” of created being unfolds: a specular ontology, according to which creation is constituted as simply another inflection of an infinite light receiving God’s effulgence as that primordial gift that completes itself in summoning its own return into existence. Creation is only as the answer of light to light, a created participation in the self-donating movement of the Trinity, existing solely as the manifestation—the reflection—of the splendor of a God whose own being is manifestation: recognition and delight.

Even “material” nature, for Gregory, is entirely subsumed in this economy of reflectivity: the physical world, he says, in its interminable dialectic of constancy and change stands on the one hand in absolute contrast to divine reality, but, on the other hand, it mirrors within its extraordinary intricacy, magnitude, and inscrutability the incomprehensibility and majesty of God. And the beauty that perdures in the midst of the world’s ceaseless becoming excites in the soul a longing for the infinite beauty that it reflects. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that, for Gregory, apart from that reflex of light that lies at creation’s heart, there is no world to speak of at all. Gregory, like Basil before him, in various places denies that the world possesses any material substrate apart from the intelligible acts that constitute its perceptible qualities: the world of bodies is a confluence of “thoughts,” “bare concepts,” “words,” noetic “potentialities,” proceeding from the divine nature; its esse, one might say, is percipi. The phenomenal realm is not, says Gregory, formed from any underlying matter at all, for “the divine will is the matter and substance of created things (υλη και ουσια των δημιουργηματων),” the “matter, form (κατασκευη), and power (δυναμις) of the world.” The here below, it seems, is like a mirror without tain, a depth that is pure surface, and a surface composed entirely of the light that it reflects. Otherwise said, the physical world is a “primordial, archetypal, and true music,” a purely rhythmic and harmonious complication of movements—in which, adds Gregory, human nature can discover an image of itself.

The intelligible creation, however, is an even more thoroughly specular reality. For one thing, all talk of human “nature” most properly refers, in Gregory’s thought, not merely to some abstract set of properties instantiated in any given individual, but to the pleroma of all persons who come into existence throughout time, who together constitute, as in a single body, the one humanity that God first willed in fashioning a creature in his image, the ideal anthropos who dwells eternally in the wisdom and foresight of God, comprehended “altogether in its own plenitude.” This alone is truly that “God like thing (το θεοεικελον χρημα)” in whom God has condescended to impress his likeness. When, eschatologically, its temporal unfolding is complete and it is united to the Logos as his pure and glorious body, subjected to the Father, the form of Christ will be proclaimed, made visible in a body stamped with his shape, in whose every part the divine image will shine with equal brightness. Humanity, then, is nothing, either ideally or collectively, apart from its power to display in itself the “form and fashion” of its creator; and this final beauty—this unveiling of the divine likeness—can be glimpsed even now in the church, which Gregory describes as the mirror in which the face of the sun of righteousness, Christ, has become visible within creation…. (bold emphasis mine)

Tying a Trinity Knot—Part 4

knot3I’m trying to process Unitarian objections to Trinitarianism. I’ve been exploring this conversation in the context of Dale Tuggy’s writings. Here’s my struggle. Dale sees Trinitarianism and Unitarianism both as viable expressions of Christian faith because both share the earliest belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The earliest believers, Dale points out, didn’t have any developed belief in the Trinity. The faith was defined as trusting in Christ (his life, death, and resurrection) as God’s means of salvation—period. Beliefs outside of that act of faith shouldn’t be subject to condemnation.

How later conciliar expressions of the faith can legitimately be viewed as authoritative is an extremely important issue and I’m very interested in it. However, that’s a separate question unrelated to my interest here regarding the Unitarian’s openness to embrace Trinitarians as Christian believers. I don’t see how Dale can maintain that Trinitarian faith is compatibly biblical, Christian monotheism. Why do I suppose this? Because surely monotheism is essential to biblical faith generally and to the NT proclamation of the gospel and participation in its salvation specifically. But Dale has made it clear, or so I understand, that he knows of no trinitarian version of the faith that successfully qualifies as monotheistic. The Unitarian’s rejection of Trinitarianism isn’t the rejection of one adiaphoron in favor of another more preferred adiaphoron. I don’t see how Unitarians can regard Trinitarianism as other than polytheism and thus as not viably Christian. So I should think Unitarians are bound to treat Trinitarians the way Orthodox Trinitarians treat Unitarians, i.e., as something other than Christian however historically related Unitarianism might be to Christianity and its first confessions. But in accepting the other as compatibly Christian, Trinitarians and Unitarians both compromise their commitment to what each must believe is fundamental to his/her view of God. Orthodox Trinitarians concede this already. My point here is that Unitarians also cannot maintain that their Unitarianism is adiaphorous to Christian monotheism.

Creation as intra-trinitarian gift

the_baptism_of_the_christ_21Dwayne found this note of mine from a few years ago, tucked away hidden somewhere. It represents where he and I have been on this road together, and God knows I wouldn’t be here thinking these thoughts or living this life had God not brought our journeys together.

______________________________

Let’s conceive of creation as an intra-trinitarian gift. Take the rationale for incarnation out of the sphere of human salvation. Instead of finding a place for the incarnation within the larger act of creation, let’s turn it around and locate the rationale for creation within incarnation. In other words, creation occurs to make incarnation possible. Creation really is about God celebrating Godself. Creation is God’s gift to Godself. The cosmos is just the means by which God creatively expresses himself to himself for his own enjoyment. One might conclude that we humans are an afterthought, and in a qualified sense, yes, that’s exactly right.

This views the incarnation not as a necessary means to a prior and independent project of human fulfillment. That would make incarnation subservient to humanity and elevate humanity unduly. What if we turn this all on its head and say God creates first to incarnate for Godself (viz., to express God to himself in a new and contingent way) and then to pursue relations with us as a consequence? We exist for him. Novel thought.

This would remove any need to understand the incarnation as intended for or in the service of human perfection in the sense traditionally believed. It means human perfection becomes necessary to God’s larger intentions for incarnation, not vice versa. To inset it just for the sake of emphasis:

Human perfection and glorification become implicated in incarnation in precisely the opposite direction we usually think. So human perfection doesn’t require the incarnation as much as the incarnation entails the perfecting of creation.

What I’m suggesting is that the reason for the incarnation be sought within the trinitarian relations (i.e., God re-expresses himself to himself via creation) and not within human perfection per se. Why should the Son desire to incarnate within the constraints of finitude as an end in itself? Perhaps because it is in the nature of God to personalize gift-giving. One puts one’s self into a gift, one becomes the gift. Thus the finite cosmos becomes intra-trinitarian gift as it is personalized by being united personally to the Son incarnationally. Creation is just the stage upon which the divine persons personalize their love as creative expression.

I think it was Bulgakov who said that a precondition for the incarnation is a certain identity between the divine “I” of the Logos and the human “I.” If creation is the place/means by which God re-expresses Godself ad extra and personally, there must be within creation some created sphere of personal capacities sufficiently adequate for personal existence. The Son isn’t personally incarnate as a rock or a tree, and the point is not finitude per se either. Some created entity must sufficiently bear the image of the Logos and thus be that created arrangement whereby the fully personal existence of the Logos can be manifest in created finitude. Humanity is that space. We are God’s gift to himself.

(Picture from here.)

Human Self-Presencing an Image of the Trinity

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I’m coming up on finishing Kaled Anatolios’ Retrieving Nicaea. It’s a wonderful book with a helpful thesis around which he organizes the 4th and 5th century Christological debates. The chapters on Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine are great. I thought I’d share a portion of his chapter of Augustine. Enjoy!

This is where Augustine’s project of “looking inward” achieves its full existential and social resonances. As it turns out, the question for the trinitarian image in humanity coincides entirely with Augustine’s moral schema of the ordering of love. Charges that Augustine’s project is solipsistic can only be sustained if we omit the connections that he himself is at pains to draw between authentic self-knowledge and self-love, and being in right relation with the whole order of reality. The mind’s proper self-knowledge is bound up with its correctly placing itself within the hierarchy of being…If the mind’s self-awareness is to correctly imagine its own existence, so as to safeguard the perfect mutuality whereby it knows itself exactly to the extent that it is, then this self-knowledge must take the exact measure of the mind’s creaturely mode of existence.

It is the same with an authentic and true self-love. In both cases, the perfect mutuality and equality between the mind’s existence, its self-knowledge, and its self-love is not simply manifest in the human condition. This equality and mutuality, which [are] integral to the divine image in humanity, is a moral task susceptible to moral failure: “The mind therefore and its love and knowledge are three somethings, and these three are one thing and when they are complete they are equal (cum perfecta sunt aequalia sun). If the mind loves itself less than [as] it is—for example, if the mind of a person loves itself only as much as a person’s body should be loved, though it is itself something more than body—then its sins and its love is not complete. Again if it loves itself more than [as] it is, for example if it loves itself as much as God is to be loved, though it is itself incomparably less than God, here too it sins by excess and does not have a complete love of itself.” The motif of the ordering of loves explains the discrepancy between the mind’s ineluctable self-presencing and its habitual self-forgetting. The self-forgetting through which the mind appears to fail to know itself is not due to the real absence of self-knowledge that constitutes the self-presence that is identical with the very being of mind. Rather, this self-forgetting happens when the mind’s act of self-presencing is overlaid by an excessive and inordinate attachment to what is external to it. By improperly identifying itself with what it is not, the mind loses sight of its own act of self-presencing. This fate is unavoidable unless the mind attends to God according to its proper creaturely mode of being and thereby knows itself and loves itself in subordinate relation to its knowing of God and loving of God. The human person most properly knows herself and loves herself through knowing and loving God. When this happens, the human person also knows and loves other creatures in proper subordinate relation to knowing God. But the mind that does not attach itself to God will become attached to other lesser realities, precisely because the mind is so innately transitive. In that case, the mind will not authentically know God or itself or other creatures, nor will its self-knowledge and self-love be equal and identical to its real existence, or even transparent to itself. The trinitarian image imprinted in human consciousness will thereby become obfuscated, and the mind’s capacity for certainty will be radically compromised. That is the situation of the human person in exile from the enjoyment of knowing and loving God.

Augustine wasn’t the first to imagine the divine relations in such (psychological) terms or to see human self-relationality (human self-presencing by which we perceive our own image of ourselves in conversation with ourselves) as an analogy of the triune relations. Anatolios provides passages in Gregory of Nyssa which are similar and a few in Athanasius which at the very least anticipate such conceptions.

(Picture here.)

Tying a Trinity Knot—Part 1

trinity-knotBeing recently asked why I would ever insist that Trinitarianism is essential to Christian faith and experience, I thought I’d like to try to describe why belief in the Trinity is not only important but is, in the end, non-negotiable.

Let me begin by saying that I don’t mean (and don’t believe any of the Fathers meant) to say that unless a person comprehends the Trinity and intentionally confesses a studied doctrine she cannot in any measure experience Christ’s salvation. One mistake some make when thinking through this is to suppose that only beliefs which are absolutely necessary to the initial experience of “getting saved” (I don’t much care for that phrase any more) should be allowed to define essential Christian belief. That is, whatever one needs to believe to enlist, to sign up, to “get in” with God in the Christian sense is all one should ever need to believe. And since—so the thinking goes—one doesn’t need to understand a doctrine of the Trinity in order to begin a life with God, belief in a Trinity isn’t necessary to Christian faith and experience.

There are a couple of problems here. The first is to think that “getting saved” (to go with that language) defines a kind of end to Christian experience, a point of “arrival” if not a “crossing” of a finish line. You’re “in”—pause—and whatever it took to get you in is all that the Church should ever consider “essential” to the articulation of its experience, identity and destiny. One reasons that since one can begin life with God through, say, trusting Christ without any conception of the Trinity, it follows that one can mature into the fullest experience and expression of human existence as God intended it without the Trinity. But does that follow? Why must successfully ending a journey, or achieving one’s telos, not require of one any more than beginning it required? Secondly, such reasoning is so individualistic (typical of Protestants and Evangelicals) that it fails to appreciate the role that shared belief and community play in defining what the Christian faith essentially is for those who wish to identify with and belong to it. The problem is that for many today, community doesn’t have a role in defining Christian faith and experience.

Sadly, these mistakes are built into Protestantism which only a sincere intention will help Evangelicals consciously avoid. Might a person begin a life with God with no comprehension of the Trinity? I certainly hope so. Might a person step into faith believing that Christian faith and experience are all about her “individual” journey? Let’s hope so, since this is pretty much where all us Protestants and Evangelicals get our start (and where a frightfully increasing number of us have parked ourselves permanently). But since one can launch out into faith in such circumstances, should the faith and beliefs that define the Church as Christ’s Body and which express its identity and destiny grounded in the identity of God not exceed those circumstances? I think not. Stay tuned.

(Picture here.)

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.)