• Strange Notions Strange Notions Strange Notions

A Bad Case Against Classical Theism

NOTE: This is the second of a three part series on classical theism by theologian Thomas M. Cothran. Read part one here.

 

Stephen Webb not only misstates what classical theists believe, he misstates why they believe it. Consider, by way of example, Webb’s review of David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God. Webb claims that Hart infers “the main tenets of classical theism … from the deceptively simple premise of God’s immateriality.” Webb attributes a similar line of reasoning—namely that “being immaterial, God is not limited in any way”—to classical theists in his book Mormon Metaphysics.1 But classical theists, including Hart, can (and for the most part do) believe in all manner of immaterial things—angels, concepts—without ascribing to them divinity or infinity. Classical theists, including those Webb cites as representative, simply do not argue that immateriality entails divinity or infinity.2

Webb’s review proceeds to claim that Hart “does not mean that God is literally infinite.” This is quite an odd statement, since an insistence on God’s infinity has been a core theme of Hart’s work for well over a decade. Hart, in fact, clearly and repeatedly insists on a positive notion of divine infinity not only in the Experience of God,3 but also his more substantial Beauty of the Infinite and sundry essays such as “The ‘Christian Infinite.’”4

These sorts of misreadings are not limited to contemporary authors. Webb attributes to Plato (among others) the notion that God is “pure being” when famously, for Plato, being is subsequent to the one in the metaphysical order. Webb claims that “Christians worshiped Jesus for several centuries before any of them thought to argue that God created the world out of nothing ….”5 In fact, the Old Testament narrative probably presupposes creation ex nihilo6, and the doctrine is rather baldly stated in 2 Maccabees 7:28. The doctrine can be found quite early among Christian sources such as The Shepherd of Hermas and Irenaeus’ Against Heresies circa 180 AD.

The result of all of this is that it is quite difficult to find anything salvageable in Webb’s critique of classical theism, since he accurately presents neither what classical theists believe nor the arguments they actually give for their beliefs. Atheist polemicists unfortunate enough to adopt Webb’s account of classical theism would resemble a ragtag legion lost on the wrong continent, without enough of an idea what the foe looks like to identify him in the unlikely event that they someday meet. Webb sometimes abandons even the semblance of rational argument and stoops to accusing classical theists of bad faith, as when he says “for me, [Hart’s] mantra that ‘God is outside of space and time’ is most certainly false, and I think he knows that too.” If there is one thing popular anti-atheists do not need to learn from theologians, it how to make nasty personal attacks.

Why Is God Immaterial?

If classical theists don’t affirm God’s transcendence in bad faith or because they think God is imaginary, what reasons do they have for so overwhelmingly conceiving of God as immaterial? The Christian answer comes quickly enough from Scripture. The Gospel of John stoutly declares that ”God is a spirit,” and, as Jesus himself says, spiritual things “lack flesh and bone.” The Hebrew scriptures define idolatry as the confusion of God with any particular reality on earth, below the earth or in the heavens, the Wisdom literature praises God’s transcendence, and the New Testament indicates the abyss of God’s transcendence through Jesus Christ’s very imminence.

It is unclear whether Webb intends to indict the author of John’s Gospel with those “elite theologians” embarrassed by Christian doctrine. Yet the theological reason that Christians do not believe God to be material does not hinge on this or that text considered in isolation, but on the basic notion of God that emerges from the Scriptures: as the Creator of the universe, the ultimate source and origin of all that has being.

Webb, on the other hand, proposes a material god, a god with a body.7 Such a deity cannot be the creator of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, for reasons Philip Cary cites in his review of one of Webb’s books. All material beings depend for their existence on something more fundamental—that out of which they are made. Yet any god who is dependent for his existence on something else is only a proximate, and not an ultimate, source of being.

Take the classic example of a statue. A statue can be made out of bronze while sharing the same form, say, of Richard the Lionheart. The material is not really identical to the form—since the same material can be reshaped to become a pillar or a number of coins—but it is necessary to the statue’s existence. The statue depends on the material out of which it is made, and we rightly speak of the bronze as a cause of the statue. Material entities have material causes.

If God were a material being, then, he would be caused and dependent. God would not be the ultimate origin of all that is; he would himself depend on something more basic. No Christian could affirm this, of course, because it puts God on the side of the caused and the contingent. It is, therefore, straightforwardly the case that asserting the materiality of God is inconsistent with the Christian doctrine of creation.

The Intrinsic Connection Between Classical Theism and Christian Doctrine

Webb also thinks the doctrines of divine immateriality and the Incarnation are ill suited for one another. For example, in “Plato is not Paul” he says “I don’t believe that God is outside space and time for the simple reason that I believe Jesus Christ is in heaven, fully bodied, and ruling over the world.” And indeed, readers unfamiliar with the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation might find themselves confused: if Jesus is God and Jesus is a material being, why shouldn’t way say that God is a material being?

Yet for the Christian, this objection runs immediately into problems: if we attribute materiality to God, why not attribute ethnicity to God. Does it belong to God to be semitic? The way that Christians have thought about this answer traditionally has been to say that Jesus had two natures: human and divine, and that those two natures are unmixed. Indeed, the denial of this point places one outside Christian orthodoxy.8 Not everything true of Jesus with respect to his humanity can be affirmed straightforwardly of his divinity.

Christians, then, can attribute material being to God in much the same sense as they can attribute to him an ethnicity or being the son of Mary. But this does not commit us to say that God qua God is a material being. The eternal can become united, in history, to the temporal. While perhaps paradoxical, it is obviously not contradictory.

Indeed, it is the notion of a material deity which cannot be reconciled to the doctrine of the Incarnation. Webb’s materialism would mean that the Incarnation would no longer be the singular event in which the infinite and eternal takes up the finite and temporal. It would be simply the reincarnation of a certain extra-terrestrial. Christians, after all, believe in the eternal Logos who took on flesh, not in bad late night science fiction.

The classical theistic notion of God is not only necessary to maintain Christological doctrine; it is requisite for Trinitarian dogma. Webb makes several strange claims on this point. He claims, for instance, that classical theists consider “Jesus Christ identical with God the Father”9, when, in fact, any orthodox Christian denies this. Webb veers to the other extreme when he says that “[n]o classical theist has ever given a convincing account of how God can be without parts and yet composed of three persons.”10 But of course, no orthodox Christian thinks that the divine persons are “parts” of God.

Webb frequently misstates what divine simplicity is understood to be. For example, Webb claims that simplicity and immateriality are equivalent: “divine simplicity can be stated in many ways, but it basically means that God has no parts. Or you could just say that God is immaterial (since anything material can be divided).” Webb’s assumption that simplicity just is the same as immateriality rather obvious errs, of course, in that there are immaterial things that are not simple—such as angels or concepts. Moreover, as William Vallicella has pointed out, Webb’s summary of simplicity is deficient: divine simplicity excludes not only parts, but metaphysical composition between act and potency, thus ruling out any real composition of essence and existence, substance and accident, matter and form, and so on.11

Far from being at odds with the Trinity, the doctrine of simplicity is a necessary component to any sound Trinitarian dogma. There is one God. Yet simplicity, while excluding composition and extension, does not exclude all real relations. Were the persons “parts” of God or distinct accidents that belong to God, the triunity of God would contravene simplicity. However, the persons are subsistent relations. None of the arguments used to establish God’s simplicity would exclude subsistent relations; and, indeed, when the notions of simplicity and subsistent relations are combined we are given a perfectly consistent (though obviously not comprehensive) way of affirming the unity and triunity of God.

If Webb’s theological arguments run afoul both of the historical record and logical coherence, what of his philosophical argument? Is Webb right that classical theism asserts God’s immateriality because it misunderstands the nature of matter?

Webb’s exposition of how the Western philosophical tradition understands matter is, unfortunately, unreliable at best. In the first place, Webb misunderstands what classical theists typically mean by “matter.” For example, he attributes to classical theists the view that matter is “a substance that makes up everything we know, [and] is unknowable.”12 Yet perhaps the most elementary point about the classical Western understanding of matter and substance is that matter is not a substance.

Webb goes on to claim that the traditional notion that matter is a limiting factor is true “if matter is the inert stuff that is destined to disappear when our souls enter into the afterlife. But what would happen to these assumptions if we thought that matter is more like the fields of energy that animate the whole cosmos rather than incredibly small particles held together by external forces?”13 But precious few classical theists think of matter as “incredibly small particles held together by external forces.”14 Webb’s assertion that classical theists talk about “bare matter in its most elementary form,15 wildly conflates the most basic metaphysical categories of theists like Plato, Aristotle, Origin, Aquinas (etc.) are.

But then, classical theism as such entails no particular position on the relation of matter and form (other than their distinction). Indeed, though none of the classical Western traditions actually resemble Webb’s portrait, classical theists do not hold to a single doctrine of what matter is. Being a classical theist does not commit one to any particular Greek, Latin, German, of Indian view of material being. Webb’s attempts at refutation are directed only at his Frankensteinian creation, and do not come near any particular living species of theism.

 

NOTE: Stay tuned for part three of this series on Friday.

Notes:

  1. Mormon Metaphysics, 29. It is true, of course, that God’s immateriality is an important part of understanding God’s transcendence and can, in combination with other premises be part of an argument establishing other tenets of classical theism. But it is not the case that Hart or other classical theists (with the possible exception of universal hylomorphists) argued that “God is immaterial” entails God’s infinity or divinity. For this enthymatic argument would obviously require the major premise to be thatallimmaterial beings have the characteristics of God, which is generally rejected (again, with the exception of universal hylomorphists).
  2. A more expansive explanation of Webb’s error has been made by William Vallicella: http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2014/01/a-misunderstanding-of-divine-simplicity.html
  3. See e.g., The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, 7, 30, 31, 33, 36, 39, 42, to cite only a fraction of the places Hart attributes infinity to God.
  4. David Bentley Hart, “The ‘Christian Infinite’” in Infinity: New Research Frontiers,eds. Michael Heller & W. Hugh Voodin, pp. 255-276 (esp. 283 ff).
  5. Emphasis added.
  6. See Walther Eichrodt, “In the Beginning,” in Israel’s Prophetic Heritage: Essays in Honor of James Muilenburg, (1962). There is, of course, some controversy on this point.
  7. See e.g., chapter 10 of Jesus Christ, Eternal God.
  8. For a discussion of the Council of Chalcedon, see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03555a.htm
  9. Mormon Christianity, 168
  10. "Plato is not Paul".
  11. William Vallecella, “A Misunderstanding of Divine Simplicity.” (http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2014/01/a-misunderstanding-of-divine-simplicity.html
  12. Mormon Metaphysics (emphasis added).
  13. Mormon Metaphysics, 8.
  14. Mormon Metaphysics, 8.
  15. Mormon Metaphysics, 81 (emphasis added).
Thomas M. Cothran

Written by

Thomas M. Cothran is a writer that lives with his wife and son in Lexington, KY. He blogs occasionally at thinkingbetween.blogspot.com.

Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.

  • I think the idea of a God that is simple, infinite, immaterial, material, is fraught with contradictions.

    This idea of "pure being" is far too vague to me to. Be in any way meaningful. What is pure being? What does it explain?

    The problem we see here is that to justify God as creator of all matter and energy, God needs to be other that that stuff. This works better with Jewish and Muslim theology, but best with deism.

    The big problem for Christians, because it seems to be completely at odds with the tenet that God is also a human being named Jesus born of a woman who can an did die.

    The proposed solution that God is both, is an unjustified statement. How and why is it both? Impossible to know. Why believe it? Scripture.

    Not good enough. There is another more plausible explanation. A kind of transcendent Hellenistic theology originated in the Iron Age, and overlapped with an emergent Jewish theology, monotheistic, transcendent and generally immaterial. This became associated with a growing following of Jesus, who was thought to be divine. Because he was easily killed, you have to chose whether you are wrong about Jesus or whether he died for a purpose. One purpose was that he was actually god and his death atones for sin. One group took this approach and became very successful. Is there a contradiction, I'd say so. But this is the trick with religion. Any contradiction or weirdness can be chalked up to the mysterious transcendent nature if the divine.

    Not good enough for me I'm afraid.

    • Ladolcevipera

      Because he was easily killed, you have to chose whether you are wrong about Jesus or whether he died for a purpose. One purpose was that he was actually god and his death atones for sin.

      "Just because a man has died for it, does not make it true" (Oscar Wilde).

      • Brilliant. Wilde was a genius.

        • Alexandra

          And ultimately became a Catholic ;)

          • I won't hold that against him. ;)

          • Alexandra

            But he is a genius. :)

          • Lots of Catholic geniuses. My grandfather was one. I might pause to say that, though I have huge philosophical disagreements with Catholicism, I am a big fan of the music, architecture and other aesthetics it has inspired. Most of my favorite buildings in the world are catholic churches. And most of my favorite classical music is inspired by Christianity (or at least framed in that way.)

            Less of a fan of Christian mystery plays and political adventures.

            But it is nice to pause to reflect that Catholicism has a wondrous history. I might also add, that this wonder doesn't diminish if you lack a belief in god, but opens you up to seeing Protestant, Bhuddist, Islamic culture with similar affection.

          • Alexandra

            Aw, your grandfather is my brother in Christ. (Hello my grandnephew Brian! ;) )
            He sounds like he was a wonderful man. I will light a candle in church for your grandfather. (He'll understand :) )

            Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your sentiment.

          • Alexandra
      • William Davis

        Personally I think he died because of a general intolerance for revolutionaries, something we still see today (but much less so). If nothing else, we was definitely a revolutionary Jew (mythicists don't shoot me, just switch the claim to Paul).

        • I agree, and this seems to be the generally accepted view of historians.

          All the Jewish authorities needed to do was go to Pilate and say "this guy is trouble, his followers are claiming he is king of the Jews, he is saying he has come to break up families. He flipped over tables in the temple."

          Pilate: "You had me at 'trouble'. Want to go watch some slaves fight to the death for our pleasure?"

          Jewish Leadership: "Can't, got to go stone a disobedient child to death and marry his mother to her rapist."

          • William Davis

            Contrary to what many get out of the gospels, history shows Pilate to be a serious a-hole. So much so, the Romans fired him because he was disturbing the peace.

            In chronicling the history of the Roman administrators in Judaea, ancient Jewish writers Philo and Josephus describe some of the other events and incidents that took place during Pilate's tenure. Both report that Pilate repeatedly caused near-insurrections among the Jews because of his insensitivity to Jewish customs.

            Josephus notes that while Pilate's predecessors had respected Jewish customs by removing all images and effigies on their standards when entering Jerusalem, Pilate allowed his soldiers to bring them into the city at night. When the citizens of Jerusalem discovered these the following day, they appealed to Pilate to remove the ensigns of Caesar from the city. After five days of deliberation, Pilate had his soldiers surround the demonstrators, threatening them with death, which they were willing to accept rather than submit to desecration of Mosaic law. Pilate finally removed the images.[32][33]

            Philo describes a later, similar incident in which Pilate was chastened by Emperor Tiberius after antagonizing the Jews by setting up gold-coated shields in Herod's Palace in Jerusalem. The shields were ostensibly to honor Tiberius, and this time did not contain engraved images. Philo writes that the shields were set up "not so much to honour Tiberius as to annoy the multitude". The Jews protested the installation of the shields at first to Pilate, and then, when he declined to remove them, by writing to Tiberius. Philo reports that upon reading the letters, Tiberius "wrote to Pilate with a host of reproaches and rebukes for his audacious violation of precedent and bade him at once take down the shields and have them transferred from the capital to Caesarea."[34]

            Josephus recounts another incident in which Pilate spent money from the Temple to build an aqueduct. Pilate had soldiers hidden in the crowd of Jews while addressing them and, when Jews again protested his actions he gave the signal for his soldiers to randomly attack, beat and kill – in an attempt to silence Jewish petitions.[35]

            In describing his personality, Philo writes that Pilate had "vindictiveness and furious temper", and was "naturally inflexible, a blend of self-will and relentlessness". He writes that Pilate feared a delegation of the Jews might send to Tiberius protesting the gold-coated shields, because "if they actually sent an embassy they would also expose the rest of his conduct as governor by stating in full the briberies, the insults, the robberies, the outrages and wanton injuries, the executions without trial constantly repeated, the ceaseless and supremely grievous cruelty".[34]

            Pilate's term as prefect of Judaea ended after an incident recounted by Josephus. A large group of Samaritans had been persuaded by an unnamed man to go to Mount Gerizim in order to see sacred artifacts allegedly buried by Moses. But at a village named Tirathana, before the crowd could ascend the mountain, Pilate sent in "a detachment of cavalry and heavy-armed infantry, who in an encounter with the firstcomers in the village slew some in a pitched battle and put the others to flight. Many prisoners were taken, of whom Pilate put to death the principal leaders and those who were most influential."[36] The Samaritans then complained to Vitellius, Roman governor of Syria, who sent Pilate to Rome to explain his actions regarding this incident to Tiberius. However, by the time Pilate got to Rome, Tiberius had died.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontius_Pilate

            Of course it's too off topic to go into detail about how historically inaccurate the later gospels are likely to be. The only one that is somewhat believable, to me, is Mark.

          • What I have found interesting is that Jesus, as with the woman they wanted to stone, seemed to be more consistent with Roman law, than Jewish law. I have always loved Pilate simply for his remark: What is truth? So maybe he was more 'pragmatic' than even the Jews. (Don't know how much I really believe all these reports on him!!!!).

          • William Davis

            I wrote you a good response, but it seems to have disappeared (it showed it posted but now it's gone)...maybe it will show up later, disqus is acting weird today.

          • Guest

            Another drive by since you peaked my interest.....

            Actually it might consistent with the Jewish Law if the woman was the daughter of a Priest. In the Pericope Adulterae it was said the Pharasees were trying to trap Jesus. Also the woman's paramour as we read is nowhere to be seen. This is either because the trap is the man is not also present for judgement (& by Moses should be) or the woman is the daughter of a Priest and as such if she is caught in adultery she must be burned not stoned.

            Side note: According to the Talmud, Stoning involved throwing the condemned off a two story height backwards to land on a pile of rocks so they could break their necks. If they survive the fall two volunteers had to be standing by with a heavy rock to put the condemned out of their misery.

            This practice is hinted at in the NT because when they threatened to stone Jesus they "tried to throw him off a cliff". Then there was the stoning of James the Less who was thrown from the roof of the Temple.

            Burning according to the Talmud consisted of pouring hot wax or wick down someone's throat so it hardened and it suffocated them. The Talmud contains an injunction that executions should be as quick and painless as possible. So later on hot wick was changed to hot tin. Which might have been more painful but likely quicker.

            In the Talmud the only mention of a Priest's daughter being condemned for adultery & burned reported she was wrapped in reeds and set on fire. The Rabbis of the Talmud said this was the condemned and wicked actions of a corrupt Sadducee court that did not correctly apply the Law of Moses thus this court was murderous and guilty of the woman's blood before God.

            With all this in the background it is hard not to imagine how this would apply to the Pericope Adulterae.

          • William Davis

            The Periscope was added in the 5th century, 400 years after Jesus death. It was made up.

            The pericope is not found in any place in any of the earliest surviving Greek Gospel manuscripts; neither in the two 3rd century papyrus witnesses to John - P66 and P75; nor in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus andVaticanus, although all four of these manuscripts may acknowledge the existence of the passage via diacritical marks at the spot. The first surviving Greek manuscript to contain the pericope is the Latin/Greek diglot Codex Bezae of the late 4th or early 5th century.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_and_the_woman_taken_in_adultery

            Just one example in a mountain of evidence that the scriptures are untrustworthy. There is absolutely no justification for adding such a thing 400 years later. I don't think that gospel of John is historical anyway. Another major problem is John 5:7, added later to support the "trinity" that was clearly made up later.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_Johanneum#Forgery

            I'm not even going to start on forged Pauline letters like the pastorals...lying doesn't set well with me.

          • Guest

            >The Periscope was added in the 5th century, 400 years after Jesus death. It was made up.

            No it is referenced in the writings of Papas who's is from the second century & was a disciple of John the Apostle. It has been reported by the Fathers to be found at the end of the now lost Hebrew version of Matthew in a list of sayings by Jesus at the end of that Gospel. In the Fourth century it definitively was placed in the Gospel of John thought some manuscripts have it in the Gospel of Luke. All this tells me is that it was an independent Apostolic narrative whose author was likely John. It is said by critics it was a conflation of two independent narratives about Jesus and a woman taken in adultery but I see no reason why the two narratives reported by the Fathers aren't two distinct tellings of this one narrative.

          • David Nickol

            No it is referenced in the writings of Papas who's is from the second century & was a disciple of John the Apostle.

            You mean Papias? I have heard that Papias makes reference to a story of a woman taken in adultery, but I have never seen exactly what he says. How is there any way to know it was a story from John. The NAB says that the style of the writing more closely resembles Luke than John.

            It has been reported by the Fathers to be found at the end of the now lost Hebrew version of Matthew in a list of sayings by Jesus at the end of that Gospel.

            What is your source for this? Few contemporary scholars even believe there was a Hebrew version of Matthew, so a description by the Fathers of what followed it would be rather startling information.

          • William Davis

            I had fun responding to that one, let me know if you see I've made an error, as usually I source most if not all claims :)

          • Guest

            You are going to have to consult experts on authenticating the Biblical.

            My amature specialty is natural theology.

            I just got sucked into this because William has a chip on his shoulder.

          • William Davis

            Ah Papias, that's the best defense muster, and now it gives me an opportunity to show why Papias is unreliable. I love history and we can actually bring evidence to the table, imagine that. First, historical consensus has Papias's birth at around 70 AD (I can source this if you doubt). If John was about the same age a Jesus, he would have been 70 years old when Papias was born. The average life expectancy back then was around 30 years...so yeah. Second Eusebias doubted that Papias had any relationship to John the Apostle.

            According to Irenaeus, our earliest witness, Papias was "a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, a man of primitive times," who wrote a volume in "five books" (haer. 5.33.4; quoted by Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 3.39.1). Eusebius already doubted the reality of a connection between Papias and the apostle John on the grounds that Papias himself in the preface to his book distinguished the apostle John from John the presbyter and seems to have had significant contact only with John the presbyter and a certain Aristion (Hist. Eccl. 3.39.3-7). Eusebius' skepticism was no doubt prompted by his distaste - perhaps a recently acquired distaste (Grant 1974) - for Papias' chiliasm and his feeling that such a theology qualified Papias for the distinction of being "a man of exceedingly small intelligence" (Hist. Eccl. 3.39.13). Nevertheless Eusebius' analysis of the preface is probably correct; and his further point that Papias' chiliasm put him to the same camp as the Revelation of John is surely relevant. It is notable that Eusebius, in spite of his desire to discredit Papias, still places him as early as the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98-117); and although later dates (e.g., A.D. 130-140) have often been suggested by modern scholars, Bartlet's date for Papias' literary activity of about A.D. 100 has recently gained support (Schoedel 1967: 91-92; Kortner 1983: 89-94, 167-72, 225-26).

            http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/papias.html

            Next up let's look we have Papias as the first to claim some of the authorship of the gospels. One problem with this is good old Justin Martyr (who I respect and think was honest and bright) did not know anything about their names. He calls them "Memoirs of the Apostles" repeatedly. If they had names why wouldn't he use them? It's possible Mark wrote Mark, but Matthew and Luke clearly used Mark as a source..they copied Mark (I can go into detail about this and essentially prove it with the texts, it's also the scholarly consensus) This isn't powerful evidence against Papias, but let's look at reasons to think Papias would just make things up out of the air (or from hearsay) like his supposed relationship to John.

            This is from Papias:

            Judas was a terrible, walking example of ungodliness in this world, his flesh so bloated that he was not able to pass through a place where a wagon passes easily, not even his bloated head by itself. For his eyelids, they say, were so swollen that he could not see the light at all, and his eyes could not be seen, even by a doctor using an optical instrument, so far had they sunk below the outer surface. His genitals appeared more loathsome and larger than anyone else's, and when he relieved himself there passed through it pus and worms from every part of his body, much to his shame. After much agony and punishment, they say, he finally died in his own place, and because of the stench the area is deserted and uninhabitable even now; in fact, to this day one cannot pass that place without holding one's nose, so great was the discharge from his body, and so far did it spread over the ground.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis

            Like that happened. One made up story why not more? Let's also look at where Papias got this story from:

            Eusebius concludes his account of Papias by saying that he relates "another account about a woman who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is found in the Gospel according to the Hebrews".[22] Agapius of Hierapolis (10th century) offers a fuller summary of what Papias said here, calling the woman an adulteress.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis

            So this is hear say from secondary sources (that lived 100 years or more later than Papias) and it seems Papias's source is a missing gospel. The gospel is missing because even Eusebius thought it was unauthentic and it was excluded from the canon for obvious reasons. If we want to start pulling from non-canonical gospels we can bring up all kinds of fun stories. Jesus using, as a child, using his powers full evil (Infancy gospel of James), The Apocalypse of Peter has adulterous women hanging from their hair, men from their feet (I've red one copy has them hanging by their penises), liars from their tongues, all kinds of fun stuff. Some non-canonical works even have Paul condemning all sex (which actually fits 1 Cor 7). It's a mess full of made up stories. Personally I like the periscope, it's a good story, but I definitely believe it was a later invention, if not why wouldn't Mark or any of the canonical gospels mention it? Why would they leave such a good story out?

          • Guest

            Cut and Paste and Arguments by Special pleading are the best you can come up with?

            So your argument is because lifespains are short it was impossible for John to live to 70 back then? St Polycarp lived to be 80 so a longerlifespain

            though uncommon would not have been impossible. My 4th Great Grandfather born in 1791 lived to his late 80's without modern technology. That is the

            worst form of special pleading. Of course at worst this would have meant Papias was a disciple of one of John's disciples like Irenaeus was to Polycarp

            was to John and only met him as a child unless John lived to his late 80's. Still none of this supports your weird belief the Periscope was a fouth

            century product since the events are mentioned by a Second century father.

            >Like that happened.

            That is your evidence it didn't? I am well aware of the Tradition Judas survived his hanging & died later & Eusebias was a Semi-Arian herettic so his

            bias are noted. But I don't believe in Sola Scriptura so that things happened to the Apostle not mentioned by the Gospels doesn't suprise me.

            Still I am not seeing anything like a smoking gun showing the Periscope to be a fraud.

            >So this is hear say from secondary sources (that lived 100 years or more later than Papias) and it seems Papias's source is a missing gospel.

            A source that still mentions it in the 2nd century not the 4th as you claimed by a disciple of a disciple of John. I have read Baggatti's CHURCH FROM

            THE CIRCUMCISION and PRitz NAZARENE JEWISH CHRISTIANITY. The Gospel according to the Hebrews was used more often then not for either the Hebrew Matthew

            or a now lost narative of the Early Jewish Christians of Pella who fled Jerusalem. So the first Jewish disciples of Christ himself testify to the

            varacity of this story (& of course where else was John in his youth?) thus puting the providence of it well in the first century Palestine in the

            context of early Jewish Christianity. Rather then cast doubt on it it rather makes it even more plausible.

            >The Apocalypse of Peter has adulterous women hanging from their hair, men from their feet (I've red one copy has them hanging by their penises), liars

            from their tongues,

            Yes in HELL(I read it years ago) . So some unknown Christian wrote a Proto Dante's Inferno what does that have to do with the story of the Woman taken

            in Adultery?

            >Personally I like the periscope, it's a good story, but I definitely believe it was a later invention, if not why wouldn't Mark or any of the canonical

            gospels mention it? Why would they leave such a good story out?

            We Catholics have Tradition we don't need or believe in Sola Scriptura so we are not suprised if the Apostles left stuff out & some of it comes down

            from the extra-bilbical writings of the Fathers. John himself said not everything was written.

            BTW it's St Papias and it has never been St Eusebias.

          • William Davis

            I know you don't believe in Sola Scriptura. I just wanted to show a little taste of Christians making things up left and right. Everyone in the time period did that, it's rare to see writing with out all kinds of tall tales, miracles, ect. The stuff is completely uncredible unless you're already a "true believer" and blindly trust the Church. One last note (it's kind of comical to me that you get upset with copying and pasting...it's called sourcing and anyone who wants to back up their claims should practice it), this is from a Catholic source, 80% of scholars are confident the pastorals were not written by Paul, though the author claimed to be Paul, making him a liar.

            http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Paul-Disputed.htm

            Here's a great passage from 1 Timothy 2

            11 Let a woman[b] learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman[c] to teach or to have authority over a man;[d] she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

            So whoever this guy is, he thinks women should shut up and have babies. Of course that isn't enough, he's got to blame women for the fall. No one put a gun to Adam's head in the story (which is based on Sumerian mythology). If I were Paul, I'd be ticked that someone wrote this kind of garbage in my name.

            BTW it's St Papias and it has never been St Eusebias.

            Eusebias is a Saint in Italy. I don't do Saints, they are just men. If you're criticizing my spelling, you should have clarified, and you are correct.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusebius_of_Vercelli
            http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=46

            In the end my point, which I will continue to make, is the Church makes stuff up as it goes along, and is completely unreliable for truth. I care about the truth, and thus I am at odds with the Catholic Church. Next we can go into the forgery of 2 Peter is you want ;)

          • William Davis

            But I don't believe in Sola Scriptura

            Lies are lies, Sola Scriptura or not. You keep saying this over and over again, it's meaningless to me. These documents provide evidence of making things up as you go along, false attributions, forgery...ect. And you wonder why I couldn't care what the Council of Chalcedon has to say (not to mention all the Catholics back then who rejected the council...I pointed this out earlier and it seemed to baffle you.)

            If I seem hostile, it's because I hate misinformation. It's incredibly damaging in many ways. I'm here putting all this stuff on this forum because I feel morally obligated to do so. Maybe it's the holy spirit ;)

          • This passage has been discussed some time ago on this site. At that time, with the help of a Priest, progress was made in relating this incident to a precedent found in the Old Testament: i.e. the relation of Daniel to Susan. In these cases, may we consider the possibility then, that the woman is actually 'innocent' of any offense, and although Jesus does end in communication to her with the direction to 'sin no more', such a statement could be made to 'any one of us'....(This story has a very personal context for me, and thus I am very sensitive to its subtlety).

        • What I learned from my study with the Kaballah people, was that the last thing that Judaism would accept would be that God would be 'incarnate' within a specific human being. This was not, I understand, their understanding of the long awaited 'messiah'. There's was/is a community-religion, and very 'pragmatic'. . God is achieved (Israel means towards God, or something) through the interaction of the community. To single out an individual within that community as God, would be 'totally' unacceptable. Jesus, as Prophet, Priest, and King? (i.e. Lord). (i.e. God!!!) - Unacceptable!

          • William Davis

            The idea that Jesus is God, also directly contradicts passages in Mark's gospel, and other parts of the synoptics (largely based on Mark). One example Mark 10

            17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.

            Look at the controversy behind John 5:7, I have no doubt it was added later to support the Trinity. The evidence for meddling with the text to support later theological consensus is all over the place, including a clearly forged ending to Mark.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_Johanneum

            There is serious evidence from archaeology that later doctrines and teachings have little to do (in many cases) with later theology. I thought this article was also interesting

            http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/the-strange-ending-of-the-gospel-of-mark-and-why-it-makes-all-the-difference/

            This is why I'm completely uninterested in what later councils came up with. I'm only interested in what came from Jesus or maybe Paul...guess that's the Protestant upbringing in me. I'm not discounting later philosophy (I think philosophy is much more important than religion as such), but don't tell me things about Jesus that I have absolutely no reason to believe even Jesus himself thought.

          • William. It is very rare that I have any 'argument' with you and this case is 'no exception'. Indeed, a while back I read John and actually found it very difficult (because of my indoctrination, you will understand) to admit, that I did not actually 'like' Jesus. C.S. Lewis may have made the description, lunatic, liar, lord in jest, but I definitely am familiar enough with the disposition of mental illness that it was difficult not to think of the term 'megalomania' in reference to this gospel.

            I have read all your references, and have come to the same conclusion myself. I am again, attempting another -experiment- i.e. how to 'get at' these problems. I know anthropologists -get inside- their investigations, very often, to see the society from its own point of view. As in another comment to something you wrote, I can be most skeptical of what is said in documents, as I was in relation to what was said about Pilate. In cases where evidence and witness relate to a personal or societal context one must be skeptical, I feel with respect to the possibility of finding 'certain' truth..

            So I'm not really interested in the councils per se, but am merely attempting to take a specific Catholic metaphysical belief and see if I 'can get anywhere with it', with the hope that the observance of my attempts to flush out any meaning or structure, might produce some awareness as to the purpose, or 'rationale' of the thinking behind it.

            In acting it's called 'The Stanislavsky Method'....grin grin or L0L - take whichever you like. Thank you for allowing me to do 'crazy things'!!

            I still believe however, that if there is an idea, this implies within particular logics the existence of what these 'logicians' refer to as form, substance, truth, ---a reality, according to Hegel. I can however, also be truly regarded as a nominalist, because I believe the conventionality of language is a major consideration to keep in mind, as do the Buddhists, and possibly we cannot 'get' at an understanding through 'logic' alone. . You see, fundamentally, I have to acknowledge, that I 'really' don't 'know' what I am talking about!!!

            P.S. In my dialogue with the Guest, I also was hoping to flush out a response on his part. I did not get same, but even in this, I feel I learned something about the hesitancy, or denial involved with respect to the approach of many Catholics to the metaphysics of their religion. (Or rather I saw deeper perhaps into this characteristic as what they perhaps conceive 'faith' to be.) So even there the question was fruitful. I feel I 'learned something'. Thanks for coming to my defense, by the way. Have a good rest. Loved to learn something about your role as daddy. Keep up the good work there! Good night. Think I'll just read things tomorrow! (Hopefully).

          • William Davis

            Good luck with it :) I'm just focusing on historical facts as usual...I've pretty much settled on materialism with supervenience as my philosophy, it's just what I've concluded is true.

          • Neither the down to up process (epiphenomena) nor the up to down process (the word made flesh- do I want all my thoughts to become a reality????) have been established as 'scientific fact' I understand. So perhaps you are taking things a bit on faith,just like I have to admit, I am!!! I too like Spinoza as the cosmological idea of God, far better than say Aristotle. And then, for us humans, there's philosophy, psychology - Buddhism) and the 'personal'.....(authority, model, etc. etc. etc.)

        • Alexandra

          If you are interested in a counter-response for Jesus as a revolutionary , here is a commentary by Fr. Barron.

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YtvXbEMkiCY

    • Guest

      If I might be permitted this little drive by.....

      >The big problem for Christians, because it seems to be completely at odds with the tenet that God is also a human being named Jesus born of a woman who can an did die.

      It seems somebody has not read the Council of Chalcedon and is channeling their inner monophysite heresy.

      Peace.

      • I would say that almost nobody has read the Council of Chalcedon. But let me guess it was held resolve disputes about the nature of Jesus? So it was something in dispute? The Bible and tradition was not clear to everyone?

        I am not channeling any heresy, I proudly proclaim it. There is no god, there is no Holy Spirit. Jesus was just another human being. In fact I deny the very notion of heresy, this is a word religious people used to justify oppression and burning people at the stake.

        • Guest

          Another drive by......

          I don't care that you hold the heresy of Atheism. Why should I? The problem is your objection to the Incarnation not being compatible with Classic Theism only makes sense if you postulate the monophysite heresy. That the divine nature mixes with human nature or that somehow God transforms his divine nature into human.

          That is not two distinct natures in one divine person. Not even close and the later is not against Classic Theism but presupposes it.

          You need to brush up on your Christology if you wish to make a coherent critique.

          >The Bible and tradition was not clear to everyone?

          Of course not, that is why we have a church. Private interpretation, perspicuity and Sola Scriptura are heresies taught by Protestantism.

          It won't fly with Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

          • Well, I don't see how something can be both immaterial and material. But this is the problem with the immaterial, we have no idea what we are talking about, so we can't even postulate how it works. You can claim the immaterial is capable of anything and theists generally do.

            I would suggest that this is an unjustified conclusion which only exists to explain what would be an otherwise be an obvious contradiction. And it isn't really an explanation, it is just stating "he is both", or all three.

            But this is an internal dispute among Christians, maybe one day you'll convince each other. But it seems to be going the other way. Christianity has been fracturing for hundreds of years.

          • Guest

            More drive by.....

            >Well, I don't see how something can be both immaterial and material.

            Neither do I which is why monophysite heresy & it's relatives is wrong. Unless you say something has two distinct natures that are unified in some manner then that makes more sense.

            >But this is an internal dispute among Christians, maybe one day you'll convince each other.

            But an atheist who is doesn't understand it shouldn't venture ill informed critiques or at least should accept graciously correction when they do.

            I am just looking out for you that is all.

          • If there is any possible 'truth' in the possibility that God could/can be both Transcendent ( in accord with the Hellenistic philosophers which are the backbone, perhaps, of the Rational element of Catholicism) and the Immanent, which I think, without argument you would at least acknowledge with respect to Christology, then:

            Is this not the basis for the 'idea' that there can be some, at least, transformation, association/relation between the immaterial and the material.
            Indeed, philosophy accepts the characteristic of what they refer to as 'the eternal' with respect to mathematical (I know -no- math) and at least tautological truth. In the latter case, these propositions are considered to be empty, in the sense that they are not 'normally' related to temporal context. And paradoxically, it is this 'empty content' which makes -the bachelor is a married man- a 'necessary truth- but one of definition only.

            One of the reasons, I am thus going into these arguments with you is to explore these approaches, (called mysteries) which I believe are analogous attempts to develop 'eternal truths'. But my main motivation is not to discover 'who' God is, but rather how - to use your terminology - we come to 'know' these (empty-immaterial) 'truths', - and thus in what way they could be called 'truths', rather than 'mysteries'. Just talking here. Pay me no mind. Thanks.

          • Guest

            A married bachelor is a contradiction because it is asserting X and Not X at the same time.

            Specifically if we mean he is married to a woman yet not married to any woman.

            OTOH a celibate Catholic or Orthodox Priest is considered spiritually married to the Church but he is obviously not married to any woman. Thus in that sense he is a married bachelor.

            A logical contradiction is found in the categories of Aristotle (You can't have X and Not X etc).

            It all depends on using consistent definitions. Having different definitions is not wrong but they should be on the table to avoid confusion.

            I am also thinking out loud. Pay no mind to me either and peace be with you my dear.

          • Quote: It all depends on using consistent definitions
            That actually is the 'real' problem I find with the definitions I find on such subjects with the tradition of Catholicism/Christianity. But I'm attempting to see if I can find a logical conceptual coherence, which for me, is 'quite something'.
            But the principles of identity, and non-contradiction and excluded middle are not in any way, shape or form the categories of Aristotle.That 'definition I hold with some certainty, as being a 'real' truth- conceptually and 'as written' empirically existent.

          • So is god immaterial or material?

          • Guest

            Immaterial.

          • Was Jesus immaterial?

          • William Davis

            Excellent question. Mythicists sure think so.

          • Guest

            His divine nature was as was his human soul. His human nature sans his soul and the immaterial aspects of the intellect where material.

          • Quote: But this is the problem with the immaterial, we have no idea what we
            are talking about, so we can't even postulate how it works.
            Possibly that has bearing on what is 'meant' by having 'two natures'. I am beginning to wonder whether all of these arguments have a bearing on the attempt to think rational thoughts within argumentative discourse, without resorting to syllogistic argument. These occur before the introduction of Aristotle's logic, I understand. Right? I just feel it is relevant to understand these discourses within a 'scientific perspective', so that 'we' can explain why and how they 'happen'....

          • William Davis

            I don't care that you hold the heresy of Atheism.

            Why should anyone care what the Council of Chalcedon said? It was just a bunch of men a long time ago. Issuing proclamations and expecting them to be taken as fact worked much better back then than it does now.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

          • Guest

            >Why should anyone care what the Council of Chalcedon said?

            You should only care if you wish to make a coherent critique of wither or not Classic Theism is compatible with the doctrine of the Incarnation.

            I could give a rat's behind about the Protestant Synod at Westminster in terms of my beliefs but if I wanted to critique Calvinism with any credibility I think I should at least read it before I confuse them with the Augsberg confession or Eastern orthodox Synod of Jerusalem?

            Or confuse Atheist Idealism vs Atheist reductionist materialism vs Platonic Atheism etc....

            That is just common sense.

          • Please know that I, at least agree with you there. Such exploration into the actual issues, and discussion of the positions held, I believe would contribute much to this ongoing dialogue, diatribe, debate.

          • William Davis

            To me, it seems the council didn't go that well, even if you think it was "infallible".

            The near-immediate result of the council was a major schism.[clarification needed] The bishops that were uneasy with the language of Pope Leo's Tome repudiated the council, saying that the acceptance of two physes was tantamount to Nestorianism. Pope Dioscorus of Alexandria advocated miaphysitism and had dominated the Council of Ephesus.[24] Churches that rejected Chalcedon in favor of Ephesus broke off from the rest of the Eastern Church in a schism, the most significant among these being the Church of Alexandria, today known as the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.[25]

            Justinian I attempted to bring those monks who still rejected the decision of the Council of Chalcedon into communion with the greater church. The exact time of this event is unknown, but it is believed to have been between 535 and 548. St Abraham of Farshut was summoned to Constantinople and he chose to bring with him four monks. Upon arrival, Justinian summoned them and informed them that they would either accept the decision of the Council or lose their positions. Abraham refused to entertain the idea. Theodoratried to persuade Justinian to change his mind, seemingly to no avail. Abraham himself stated in a letter to his monks that he preferred to remain in exile rather than subscribe to a faith contrary to that of Athanasius.[clarification needed] They were not alone, and the non-Chalcedon churches compose Oriental Orthodoxy, with the Church of Alexandria as their primus inter pares. Only in recent years has a degree of rapprochement between Chalcedonian Christians and the Oriental Orthodox been seen.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Chalcedon

            I could give a rat's behind about the Protestant Synod at Westminster in terms of my beliefs but if I wanted to critique Calvinism with any credibility I think I should at least read it before I confuse them with the Augsberg confession or Eastern orthodox Synod of Jerusalem?

            To me, it seems like you make up your own thing, and they make up theirs. There is no way to tell what up and what's down, no method of testing. If God cared what we thought about all that, wouldn't he just come down and tell us?

          • Guest

            This is not an objection this is just you showing you know how to cut and paste.

          • William Davis

            There was no substance in anything you have said to object to, lol. I demonstrated how so many disagreed with the great and wonderful proclamations of your council. If you guys can't figure it out, I don't see why we non-Christians should be interested.

          • Guest

            >There was no substance in anything you have said to object to, lol.

            Physician heal thyself.

          • William Davis

            P.S. Why not just present your case in plain English? I love this quote from an American Catholic priest:

            ”I think my colleagues in theology and exegesis are open to the charge that they have become mandarins, who speak only to other mandarins about topics which are of interest only to mandarins in a style of discourse which is gibberish to any except mandarins, and one sometimes wonders about them too. Scholarship is and ought to be a form of public service and not an expensive enterprise dedicated to the production of a few more mandarins who can spend a leisurely life in the production of other mandarins”.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_L._McKenzie

            An then you wonder why Bart Ehrman is so popular ;)

          • Guest

            >Why not just present your case in plain English?

            I just did. I showed Brian Green Adams claims about Classic Theism and the incarnation where wrong. One does not have to believe in gods to see that. Now agree with me or counter argue.

            Because I have no clue what all this mishigoss you are cutting a pasting has to do with anything?

          • William Davis

            I just did. I showed Brian Green Adams claims about Classic Theism and the incarnation where wrong. One does not have to believe in gods to see that. Now agree with me or counter argue.

            I never saw you do anything than said he needed to read some Council proclamation. I'm not Brian Green Adams, am I missing something?

          • Guest

            Yes I am arguing with him and responding to something he posted.

            You I have no idea what you are talking about....

          • William Davis

            I have never had anyone fail to understand what I'm saying before. Perhaps I'm just going over your head, who knows. Let's not bother wasting each other time anymore. I copy and paste to reference material, rather than make unsubstantiated claims. You should try it some time :)

          • Guest

            Rather you should speak plainly & avoid tangents & yes we are wasting each other's time.

            PS I bare you no ill will.

          • Perhaps you could expand on the distinctions: l) that the trinity 'defines' three persons with one nature, which as 2) Christology defines one person with two natures. (I assume from the last definition that there is a separation between natures within the person of Christ, but what is a 'nature'? Can you explain this in relation to the subsistence of relation within the trinity?
            Thanks.

          • Guest

            Not interested. It contributes nothing to my original critique of Brian's claim Classic Theism is incompatible with the incarnation.

          • I would question perhaps this sentence: That is not two distinct natures in one divine person.
            I would accept more readily the 'division of two natures, one human and one divine, within a single 'Human Person'. Indeed, I have a lot of friends who suggest they qualify for such a criteria of 'enlightenment'. I doubt, however, whether many of them would sacrifice their 'lives' for me. "All we need is love"....da, da, da, da, da!!!! Peace.

        • Just to make it available to the 'argument' Brian: monophysite: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Chalcedon (Lots of different versions (heresies) - yes?)

          • Guest

            At least now you are being helpful.

            Good on you my dear.

          • I try. At least with respect to Google, I am learning I believe to be a very good 'searcher'!!!!

    • Yes. I have accepted the 'mysteriousness' in the transcendent nature of God, in my discourse with 'Guest' who speaks below. This follows from your first paragraph which ends with the quote: Be (but?) in any way meaningful.

      I wonder how important the philosophy of Plotinus really was in the development of early Christian thought. I refer of course to the trilogy of One, the Nous, and the Soul. In this construct the 'idea' of unity, appears to be primary, within my interpretation. This idea is thus satisfied within certain limitations according to the idea of subsistence mentioned in this article. I have left the dialogue with the odd, may I say, 'seemingly' contradictory possibility that the 'unity' does not include any 'form' of the material universe. What is 'Love'? if it is the unifying force; Even in Kant's trilogy, practical reason, is referred to the rational criteria of universal and necessary truth, (as with the Catholic Natural Law). The 'idea' of subsistence related to the idea of 'love', gave for me an unexpected 'insight', particularly with respect to the 'concept' of 'unity'. It also gives me such 'explanation' of how the material would not be included within the transcendent, even though I believe some videos show that animals can be as or more 'loving' than humans!!
      However, I believe I can expect perhaps, the usual difficulties of finding 'coherence' within the use of transcendental individual concepts. And as you say, there is, with respect to the concept of 'love' as spoken about even in Corinthians, that suggests, for me at least, a mysterious, transcendent power, essence, nature. Wasn't there a Beatles song - Love is the answer - or something. Thus, with respect to 'practical reason', (as in morality?) as distinct from 'theoretical pure reason', The 'search' continues..... (grin grin!)

    • Brian:

      What specifically is contradictory in the notions of God as infinite, eternal, immutable, etc.? Or is the idea that Jesus is God that you find contradictory?

      • The idea of God being both an abstract an immaterial "pure being" as well as truly a human being which, I suggest is a material being. I don't see how God can be both. It is not necessarily contradictory, it just seems very at odds.

        • Brian:

          I would certainly agree that it is paradoxical, but I don't consider it contradictory. The distinction is important, because paradoxes can be true (and often are), while contradictions can't.

          One thing that might help is that when one says "Jesus is God", Christians will qualify that by saying that Jesus possessed both a divine and a human nature. Not everything true of his human nature is considered by Christians to be true of his divine nature (for instance, that he is a Roman citizen).

          It's important to note the ambiguity in "is." (This isn't peculiar to theology: "is" is used in a very different way when we say "Mark Twain is Samuel Clemons" and "Mark Twain is an author.") When we say Jesus is God, that needs to be unpacked by things like the doctrine that Jesus has two unmixed natures (which every orthodox Christian is required to affirm), rather than being taken as a simple identity statement without further context.

          • William Davis

            Due to his divine nature, was Jesus omniscient? If not, isn't that an indicator he wasn't divine, or, at least, didn't have full access to the mind of God?

          • William:

            The typical answer to this question would be that Jesus possessed both human and divine knowledge (in virtue of possessing distinct human and divine natures). Christ's human knowledge is able to develop, and so there are things he might not know through it. However, he also possesses divine knowledge, by virtue of which he is omniscient.

            It's important to keep in mind that God's way of knowing is qualitatively different from human knowledge. Human knowledge is discursive and mediated by the senses. God, on the other hand, knows things in the same act as he knows his own essence.

            So to say that Christ can know something through his divine nature but not his human nature would involve no contradiction, since those sorts of knowledge are qualitatively different.

            The Catholic Catechism discusses some of these issues: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p1.htm

          • William Davis

            In part I have this in mind, Mark 13

            32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

            It indicates there is separate knowledge for the Father and the Son, is there a more specific theory on this, out of curiosity?

          • Perhaps what I am getting at is that multiple "natures" are being claimed for one "entity". You can use these words in different ways, but to me "nature" here is used to express what this entity is and what it is not. I would say that human nature and god nature are mutually exclusive, if these terms are to be useful in this context.

            But this explanation of the evidence needs to be contrasted to the other explanations. One of which contains no paradoxes or contradictions. That is that this Jesus person was not a God at all, was an actual human being who was crucified and stayed dead. The Gospel accounts are a mixture of broken telephone and invention.

            The amount of interpretaiton and philosophical mumbo jumbo that is required to have this all make sense, from the nativity stories to how many gods is god, seems to give the game away. Maybe the reason it doesn't seem to make sense is because it doesn't.

          • loreenlee

            You have I assume, read among other recent analysis of language, Bertrand Russel's Theory of Descriptions. The difficulty for me is that these readings do not make the impact on me that I would wish. or affect me in the way I 'perceive' they do you. . Why is it that attempts to understand abstractions are 'experiences', possibly because of my limited ability, that seem to 'come and go'? - and that, I admit, there is often more vagueness in regard to these concepts than explicit comprehension????? Perhaps that's one of the reasons academic philosophers concentrate on a specific area of 'expertize'. I shall 'never know'. Adieu. (I still 'believe' there is a paradox, if not a contradiction, for instance, between one person with two natures, and three persons with one nature. I need a 'theology' for dummies, because I can even find it somewhat of a 'mystery' how you can talk about these subjects the way you do. Just my 'honest confession'. Hopefully you will expect me to 'bear' neither remorse, guilt, nor the need to be forgiven as I also sometimes cannot distinguish between satire and ???? Sometimes, Thomas, I am very pleased, that within the parameters of the Church, I, as a woman, would never be allowed the position of authority which perhaps places such an onus, I assume upon the male, homosexual or heterosexual. This would involve for instance, considerations of theories of descriptions, or whatever, that .......again----I am beyond the pale. I am going to delete this e-mail update, immediately. These dialogues' definitely, beyond a doubt - make me think too much. Good day. Good night. Good bye.

          • Kraker Jak

            ...

          • loreenlee

            At first I thought your reply was merely ..... In either case, Thank you.l The 'book' is after all called Portals of Paradox, and perhaps self-reference can be an easier form of expressing 'madness' than what could be my current 'obsession' - let 'them' call it what they will, with the 'arguments'.. I do appreciate the 'significance' of the cartoon. May I though pick up on my original interpretation, take your lead and have the courage to respond in the future to the disqus updates with the simple word: ................

            Without getting all caught up in the arguments regarding 'presence'. This, and the political debates, etc. etc. etc.........Indeed, please understand 'why'?? I do appreciate your 'humor'. Always your friend. Loreen.

  • What, PLEASE, is a 'subsistent relation'?????

    • Raymond

      That phrase was offered as an explanation of the simplicity of trinitarian doctrine, but I'm afraid it does not seem simple at all.

      • Thanks Raymond. Been doing a little 'research' on my own. There are many posts. Here's just one: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/trinity-is-a-school-of-relations This 'abstract' way of 'doing logic', has not, I believe, been entirely eliminated from even current theories within the scientific community. I want to be 'open' here to both, (although as the interpretations seem 'infinite'?) certainly, not 'all' possibilities. Thanks again.

    • Guest

      While I am at it another drive by......

      A relation is something that is really opposed and distinct from another related opposite. Like Father to Son, etc....

      A subsistent divine relation is a real distinction that dwells in the Godhead Divine Essence that is really distinct from an opposing relation.

      But the dogma of the divine simplicity mandates the nature of the real distinction cannot be physical or metaphysical and thus is mysterious which is a vital component of the doctrine of the Trinity.

      • Your comment suggested to me that definition, (also in use the term essence) of subsistent 'divine' revelation, is (contradictorily) not capable of 'definition'. Please note in this regard, that I was most happy to read: (Quote: Webb’s summary of simplicity is deficient: divine simplicity excludes not only parts, but metaphysical composition between act and potency, thus ruling out any real composition of essence and existence, substance and accident, matter and form, and so on.) and the information regarding the distinction between the immateriality of God, and that of angels and concepts. Regrettably, however, I have read of other explanations: (definitions): i.e. that immateriality of (human?) intelligence and will, can perhaps be related to the exclusion of sensation, and also, the possibility that it may be a way to describe what today we refer to as 'empty concepts'.

        But I shall keep attempting to find 'coherence', 'consistency' and some 'correspondence' with what I understand of my mind, within its 'empirical manifestations'. Thank you.
        P.S. As far as 'mystery' is concerned, though, could that not possibly be either an admission of the impossibility of 'knowing' such metaphysical concepts (as per Kant), or alternatively, a way of asserting that the issue is so 'simple' that it cannot be understood, which to my mind is a kind of 'excuse' rather than a challenge to understand even 'how' or 'why' such thoughts occur to the 'human' mind, (without offering a comparable 'mystery' based on the assertion that God 'made' humans that way). I merely wish to develop a better understanding of HOW 'the mind' works, and will be happy even if any 'success' in this venture is limited to a better understanding of my own attempts to 'think'.

        • Guest

          >Your comment suggested to me that definition, (also in use the term essence) of subsistent 'divine' revelation, is (contradictorily) not capable of 'definition'.

          It seems more likely you don't understand the definition & are too lazy to do your homework. A contradiction is to claim X and Not X at the same time in the same relation.

          >Webb’s summary of simplicity is deficient: divine simplicity excludes not only parts, but metaphysical composition between act and potency,
          thus ruling out any real composition of essence and existence, substance
          and accident, matter and form, and so on.)

          Correct so far & there is no such distinctions as listed above between the divine relations. Their distinctions are by definition real but mysterious.

          Your views on the human mind & cognitive faculties don't interest me so I will not comment on them.

          But so far I see no contradiction here. No claiming X and Not X at the same time & in the same relation.

          • William Davis

            It seems more likely you don't understand the definition & are too lazy to do your homework.

            Loreen does all kinds of homework and has a degree in philosophy. She can be difficult to understand at times, but your comment here gives us some insight into your character.

          • Guest

            But I still don't see the X and Not X at the same time and in the same relation in regards to my definition. If she is as accomplished as you say then she is still phoning it in or not using her gifts.

          • William Davis

            In the end, she's a kind person and doesn't deserve your insulting tone. Christ hasn't done much for your behavior has he?

          • Guest

            Nor do I need yours & I have been kind. I have merely said she is wrong. So that is now an insult?

          • William Davis

            Calling someone lazy is an insult. Where have I insulted you? I just called you out on your behavior...is that an insult?

          • Guest

            It is lazy to venture a critique based on ignorance.

            It's insulting to do so.

          • Guest: I will agree with you regarding the limits of my 'expression'. I will admit that it very often takes many attempts to 'get' at' what it is I am attempting to say. Very often the insight comes much later than the limitations of these com-boxes allows for communication. You definitely have the advantage. You have the answers, already. I am always 'coming to new territory' and my comments are quite often expressions of my 'search'.

            I am following the advice of Nietzsche, as I understand him, and I would even state that very few people do. For instance, it is believed that he held a metaphysical idea that there was such a principle as The Eternal Return. Readers thus ignore his general approach to metaphysical ideas, and fail to see the specific context of his reference to this - he merely suggested to someone such a possibility - a what if - with a question:something like - What would you do if what you just did now....etc. etc. etc. I merely refer to him as an example that in reference our different perspectives, he would agree that your path way of religious faith may indeed give you more peace, but even with the example of Nietzsche's 'madness', I would still prefer to seek out an individualized, personalized perspective with respect to both dogma and heresy.

            By the way I believe that the concept of contradiction can indeed be applied to 'a' concept of divinity. But that would be another -argument-discussion!!!! All the best. I enjoy your comments.

          • Guest

            Peace be with you Loreen.

          • Just came to this again. Do I understand you correctly. With respect to the original Aristotelean principles, I believe the principle of non-contradictions related to what would be called 'truth-value' within today's logic. If the concept of relation is involved, therefore, it would I suggest be related to Plato's concept of definition: i.e. the relation of subject to predicate within a 'relation' of identity. A contradiction therefore, would thus simply cancel out the identity within a sentential construct.

            By the way, to recap the comments: I believe your original response to my question was - quote: A subsistent divine relation is a real distinction that dwells in the Godhead Divine Essence that is really distinct from an opposing relation.

            Well, perhaps on second thought this could be described as some sort of tautology. The point is that it didn't, I believe, answer my 'question', and thus my remark that it was a definition offered that was not really a definition - this last phrase then identified by me as being a contradiction.

            Anyway, that's how I believe we got into this 'argument'. Hopefully this explanation will meet the criteria of subsistent at least in regard as not being the source of any future opposing relation!!!

          • Thanks William. I am still attempting to be more 'coherent'!!!!

          • This is the major distinction between our 'points of view': i.e. your quote: Your views on the human mind & cognitive faculties don't interest me so I will not comment on them.

            What I found most interesting about my attempt to understand the philosophy of Kant, for instance, was a sudden insight I got that the three books or critiques, were related to the Christian division we call the Trinity: with the good, truth, and beauty, etc. etc. Indeed, it was a recognition of this, which prompted my interest to understand Catholicism/Christianity better.

            Indeed, I would hazard a heresy, in suggesting that much study involved in the examination of the 'nature' of God, etc. etc. could be explained at least in part, as being the result of an abstraction from consideration of what constitutes human thought. Indeed, since Bacon, I would agree with naturalism, that the primary focus that makes my interest at least nominally 'scientific' is my belief that even if I were a devout Christian, my essential duty would be to understand my self, (and my neighbour). Although what this is 'for the sake of' and it's purpose, I will allow to you, as does Kant, can certainly be directed to a higher 'purpose', and thus perhaps the 'mystery' may at some time find greater clarity, depending I suggest whether we ever overcome our 'dis'ability' in not being able to understand 'HOW' we think.

          • Guest

            That is all very interesting but I still don't see how that makes my explanation of what is a subsisting divine relation a contradiction?

          • Did I explicitly say this? Did I suggest it unknowingly? I did ask for a clarification of the distinction between One Person and Two Natures in Christ- and -Three Persons and One Nature in God.
            Perhaps if you could provide for me an explanation of this, I might be able to elaborate on what could be the basis of any perceived contradiction.
            However, I have indeed, thought that perhaps what is relevant to the need to refer to these issues as 'mysteries' might have something to do with some 'subconscious' awareness that some kind of contradiction is involved in the concept.

          • Guest

            >Did I explicitly say this?

            I thought so quote"Your comment suggested to me that definition, (also in use the term essence) of subsistent 'divine' revelation, is (contradictorily) not capable of 'definition'."

          • Guest

            Well I am interested for now....

            >Perhaps if you could provide for me an explanation of this, I might be able to elaborate on what could be the basis of any perceived contradiction.

            I could that for you. All claims of contradiction come from straw man definitions of the Trinity or Incarnation.

            Like Trinity =three gods in One God or Three Persons in One Person. Which are contradictions.

            >However, I have indeed, thought that perhaps what is relevant to the need to refer to these issues as 'mysteries' might have something to do with some 'subconscious' awareness that some kind of contradiction is involved in the concept.

            A mystery in this context is something we don't comprehend and in principle never could.

            I don't know what the nature of the real distinction between divine persons is. I only know it is no type of real physical or metaphysical distinction.

            That is not a contradiction and I conclude this even if I reject God.

          • Quote: I don't know what the nature of the real distinction between divine persons is. I only know it is no type of real physical or me5taphysical distinction.

            Oh come on, Guest - I know you can do better than that!

            On the level of 'Person'. Jesus Christ, you hold is one person.
            So OK. Within his nature there is divinity and humanity - hope I'm phrasing this right.
            As God, then his Person would only entail the divinity of his nature.
            That divinity which according to John was there at the beginning of Creation - the Logos. - as Divine, not as 'mere human intellect', (which I understand you would argue is also 'immaterial' but that another -argument-)
            So now within the Trinity, we have the Divine Person of God being identical with the Divine nature of his Son Jesus Christ - without the Personhood of the unity of person and nature within a Christology. (Have I run into any contradictions yet????)

            So we have the Persons, of God the Father - God the Son, Jesus, and The Holy Ghost - united within a single Nature.

            But the Person of Jesus Christ is either somehow segmented, or perhaps a distinction needs to be made with respect to 'The Incarnation'.if it is possible that you will acknowledge the possibility of some kind of 'contradiction' here.
            I can speculate that perhaps what is meant by the resurrection, the ascent of Christ's body into Heaven, the glorification of the body, etc. etc. represent the possibility perhaps even for some the promise of some kind of achievement of 'divinity' within these 'material' orders of being, (even that of bread and wine - or am I being heretical). Myself, personally, being a kind of imaginative person, would not object to such 'speculation' even as 'real' possibility, even if it was the 'reality of a psychosis'. That's fine with me. It is rational, and thus according to Hegel, it can be accepted as 'real'. I don't have these kinds of difficulties with the 'metaphysics' of religion.

            So what comes to mind, in thinking this over, while writing this out, is that the 'continuity' we are looking for may have something to do with the actuality of transformation. And thus I do assure you that I understand the need within dogma to postulate an immateriality. even if as a logical construct, within the paradigm as given, as some explanation of the relationship between person and nature - what you might define perhaps within a definition as a relation of existence to essence. Does this meet your criteria? (Actually, please note that in this case I have accepted the burden of proof - (i.e. exposition) although technically, or legally, (and understanding that yes, I did raise the question) as a Catholic (more so than me, I believe) I would suggest that the onus is on you, not me to approach and attempt to elucidate these mysteries of 'faith'. (But I expect I will not receive same. I merely hope my attempt was not 'in vain!! and at least pointed out some of the difficulties I intuitively feel require further attempts at explication. Thanks.).

          • Guest

            >Quote: I don't know what the nature of the real distinction between divine persons is. I only know it is no type of real physical or me5taphysical distinction.

            >Oh come on, Guest - I know you can do better than that!

            We never can since when it comes to the Trinity one must only use Negative Apropotic theology since the Mystery is a vital part of the dogma. If you want to discuss something else other then that then you are not talking about the Trinity with me.

            >On the level of 'Person'. Jesus Christ, you hold is one person.

            One divine person since I am Catholic if you haven’t figured out by now, not a Nestorian.

            >So OK. Within his nature there is divinity and humanity - hope I'm phrasing this right.

            You are not. Not even close. One Divine Person uniting without separation or mixture two distinct natures.

            >As God, then his Person would only entail the divinity of his nature.

            No the Divine Person is the operating principle of the Incarnate God-man Jesus by which He operates His divine and human natures.

            >That divinity which according to John was there at the beginning of Creation - the Logos. - as Divine, not as 'mere human intellect', (which I understand you would argue is also 'immaterial' but that another -argument-)
            So now within the Trinity, we have the Divine Person of God being identical with the Divine nature of his Son Jesus Christ -

            Your sophistry and fallacy of equivocation is tedious my dear but I will assume it is accidental not on purpose. The Divine Person of the Father is identical to his Son in terms of the divine essence/nature. He is really and mysteriously distinct from the Son as a distinct divine person. By using the wrong Grammar “Divine Person of God” instead of "Divine Person of the Father" this is just a sophistical attempt to redefine the Trinity to mean Three Persons in One Person or Three Gods/Natures/Essence in One Essence...etc.

            I must charge you to discuss the doctrine of Trinity with me not what you wish to be the doctrine of the Trinity for the sake of convent and inaccurate polemics. That will not do and you are better than that.

            > without the Personhood of the unity of person and nature within a Christology. (Have I run into any contradictions yet????)

            Of course we have, if I let you re-define the Trinity, and commit fallacies of equivocation without calling you out on it.

            But that is not going to happen here. I actually had a long bitter conversation with an ex-Muslim turned Atheist on this matter doe years ago. I have learned my lesson and am prepared.

            >So we have the Persons, of God the Father - God the Son, Jesus, and The Holy Ghost - united within a single Nature.

            My dear you need to read some Garrigou-Lagrange or at least some Frank Sheed on the Trinity and Incarnation.

            Because trying to make up your own doctrine which neither of us believes in & believes is a contradiction is not helpful.

            It’s a straw man fallacy. Because I am not too sure you know what the above is suppose to mean and more importantly what it is not suppose to mean.

            >But the Person of Jesus Christ is either somehow segmented, or perhaps a distinction needs to be made with respect to 'The Incarnation'.if it is possible that you will acknowledge the possibility of some kind of 'contradiction' here.

            If I deny God but not the classical rules of Logic then I must say no, since the Person of Christ is not divided in essence merely distinct as a divine person from the other two persons in a mysterious way. Your presupposition the divine person is segmented is not the doctrine of the Trinity. Nor can I accept it.

            Let me skip to the relevant parts.

            >relationship between person and nature - what you might define perhaps within a definition as a relation of existence to essence.

            I don’t get this bit? In God there is only a notional distinction between God’s Existence and His essence as God as Divine. Thus in the divine nature there is no distinction between existence and essence. The Divine Relations/Persons as God thus have no distinction between their existence and essence as God.

            >Does this meet your criteria?

            No it at best looks like a word salad and equivocations of concepts I don’t hold. But I salute your effort and assume your good will.

            >Actually, please note that in this case I have accepted the burden of proof -

            Yeh but if you don’t understand the doctrine or the terms behind it or the accepted Philosophy behind it they sou are just talking past me.

            > (i.e. exposition) although technically, or legally, (and understanding that yes, I did raise the question) as a Catholic (more so than me, I believe) I would suggest that the onus is on you, not me to approach and attempt to elucidate these mysteries of 'faith’.

            Others have done it better than I. I merely knowing what I know expressed why I find the claims of contradiction factually incorrect.

            > (But I expect I will not receive same. I merely hope my attempt was not 'in vain!! and at least pointed out some of the difficulties I intuitively feel require further attempts at explication. Thanks.).

            The thing is only Aristotelian categories of contradiction apply here. To know a true contradiction is only possible if you understand the nature of a thing. If some says “It’s a contradiction to say Stanley is Obama’s mother because how can a man be his mother”. Well if I know the President ’s material Grandparents gave their daughter a man’s name and I know it is not an absolute a person must on;y name their kids according to the correct gender. Some women have men’s names and some men have women’s names. Examples: Stanley Obama & or A boy Named Sue.

            But I don’t know what God is as God. Thus I don’t know if it is impossible for Him to contain subsisting relations or not so I can’t know if that is a contradiction. I can only know the statements "Divine Relations are subsisting in the Divine Essene" or the "Divine Essence subsists in the Divine Relations” is not logically contradictory.

            That is it.

          • A contradiction is to claim X and Not X at the same time in the same relation.

            Actually, I am in the process of attempting to 'redefine' what is meant by 'contradiction'. I believe, for instance that there can be many 'kinds' of contradiction. Your definition above, I would classify as 'analytic' to use a modern word, and yes, I agree that it would be the definition given to contradiction within Aristotle's principles.

            However, (for your information) these principles, have even with Kant's philosophy, been adapted to usage within a temporal rather than an eternal order. (The concept eternal is used today, for instance, by modern analytic philosophers to describe such analytic truths as tautologies, which are true, irregardless of space-time 'constraints'.
            However, within Kant, he explores them as the third category of 'Relation'. (Won't go into detail here)- The second of the three categories of relation is that of the hypothetical - i.e. cause and effect.
            Thus we can see the concept of contradiction, as inherent even within ancient philosophies, such as that of Heraclitus, which I have found within my continual 'research' to be held as 'orthodox' by (as usual) at least some of the early Patriarchs. And so it continues. Kant's thesis, antithesis, Synthesis, through Hegel, etc. etc. etc. Contradiction can thus, within a temporal framework, be thus concurrent, sequential, continual, or consecutive, or recurrent over a discontinuity within the time process, and thus possibly more within the 'realm' of ideas than with fact alone. (I'm speculating a bit here in the last sentence). Please, know though, that I am not contesting the 'truth' of your analytic definition of what constitutes definition within the context of propositions understood to be analytic, which according to Plato's definition assumes that the subject and the predicate have a correlation based on some relation of identity. This however would raise another whole cartload of 'philosophical 'worms'. May I suggest that are some limitations within any attempt to 'do philosophy' within these com-boxes.....- let alone in the universities! grin grin.....

          • Nonsense: you 'define- God's essence as a subsistent relation and then can't define what the subsistent relation is!!!! That's hardly being 'analytic'.

          • Guest

            Who said I am doing that? You made that up.

      • I just found this, Guest: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2005/05/subsistent-relations That helps, although you will note there is suggested possible contradictory explanations. But also, in scripture, Jesus does say, I am in the Father and the Father is in me - or something, and also 'No one goes to the father except through me, (and may I add the Holy Ghost). It's so difficult, is it not, to find completion in these 'searches'. Take care. Rest well.

        • Guest

          I don't know what conversation they are having is or if either is understanding Aquinas correctly or the precise quote from Aquinas in context so I can't use it.

          But thank you for your efforts & the link.

          At worst it would mean there are problems with Aquinas understanding of subsisting relations precise formulation not the dogma itself(thought I think that is unlikely since Aquinas and later Thomists presuppose a strong Negative theology here & use analogy not unequivocal language).

          • I just pressed the red marker at the top of your other comment, and was moved here. Therefore, I shall make a comment on this, and possibly not respond to the difficulties encountered in the discussion or attempt to understand 'subsistent relations' whether the correct wording is person to nature or person to essence.

            With regard to the above, therefore, I hope it will suffice to state my understanding that the attempts to find unequivocal language, or univocity have not been successful. My understanding is that the church fathers concentrate primarily, and perhaps exclusively on the use of analogy, although I believe that in some scholastic argumentation some forms of dialectic are also used.

            Perhaps you are more read up on the church history in this regard as well. But as far as the arguments in the other comment box, I have just gone through a summary of arguments within the higher echelons over the centuries, so I am not in the least feeling bad, that you consider any of my attempts at understanding, - 'unworthy of belief'.

            Take care.

          • Guest

            > I have just gone through a summary of arguments within the higher echelons over the centuries, so I am not in the least feeling bad, that you consider any of my attempts at understanding, - 'unworthy of belief'.

            If you are trying to understand I salute you even if you fail the effort is significant. But what is unworthy of my belief is any claim the doctrine of the Trinity is contradictory because well I need a logical example of how the doctrine states X and Not X at the same time in the same relation.

            It is no more possible to do that then it is to show 1+1=2 is contradictory.

            Have a good one.

          • Actually, I trust you realize that I'm not the only one, (as per the discussion of St Thomas) who has at least noticed some 'inconsistency' - let alone all those arguments within the higher echelons. In any case, I do not believe mathematical statements have the same criteria of proof as do the dynamic statements given within 'language' per se. But this would involve another 'argument', and to be frank, I believe that most arguments on both sides within this series, often fail to approach the 'contest' with what the analytic philosophers refer to as having 'charity'. Same to you. Sleep well.

          • Guest

            Cheers!:-)

    • Guest

      >What, PLEASE, is a 'subsistent relation'?????

      Maybe instead of showing off I should have kept it simple. Sorry about that.

      Answer: A subsisting relation is another term for a Divine Person.

      • I actually liked the definition that a subsistence was one which consisted of no disagreement of any kind.....or opposition.....a perfect 'sharing' of love in other words. The dictionaries on line also gave some interesting definitions as:

        1. The act or state of subsisting.
        2. A means of subsisting, especially means barely sufficient to maintain life.
        3. Something that has real or substantial existence.
        4. Christianity Hypostasis.
        Also a reference to words which were not 'real' in the sense of a nominal understanding of language, etc. etc. etc. So, let's just say, I'm satisfied that I've done at least some 'worthwhile' research on the subject.

        • Guest

          I am pleased.

          • Actually, (but thank you), there are some outstanding difficulties with respect to my understanding that Jesus is one person with two natures- human and divine. I can speculate that there is possibly a subsistent relation implied within dogma regarding this, as well. But would that commit a believer into accepting that the Ascension of Jesus into heaven (body and soul?) would imply that Jesus as human would also be within the Divine Godhead? (For instance!!!!).

          • Guest

            As a Divine Person before & after the Incarnation & before and after the resurrection and ascension into Heaven He was always in the Godhead.

            His human body, mind, intellect and will are in Heaven (wherever or whatever that is) but the human nature still does not confuse or mix with the divine nature.

            >there are some outstanding difficulties with respect to my understanding that Jesus is one person with two natures- human and divine.

            Fear of God is the beginning of divine wisdom but the beginning of human wisdom is the words "I don't know". I am in favor of both.

          • I don't think a better answer could have been given than this.

            Quote: but the human nature still does not confuse or mix with the divine nature (Even perhaps Three Persons within One Essence or 'Nature').

            Scripture speaks of the right hand of God, and heaven. whether these are to be taken literally, analogically, allegorically, or morally, is as you say a matter of faith, not reason. My understanding is that all of these possibilities should be attempted. Yet our understanding, even of
            the truths of mathematics, are limited accordingly to what knowledge can be given within their written and spoken expressions.

            The unity of divinity and the essence of the human, (particularly the logos or rationality) are perhaps of prime consideration in all of these passages of scripture. Could the glorification of the body be implied within the procession of will and intellect to spirit? - the idea' of 'subsistence' suggesting perhaps an appreciation of a unity that incorporates diversity as love.

            The concepts of faith and reason are therefore coherent, one with the other, if perhaps the revelations of scripture, (experience) entail a 'theology' of being understood as the acquiescence to the possibility of attaining 'virtue' within the 'experience' of being human, while the rationale of even the pagan classical theism would possible place reason within that frame of reference recognized even within philosophy as eternal truth: i.e. reason. With your help therefore, perhaps I will be able to find that the different perspectives within this series are not entirely incompatible. I shall await the next post so that I can read the series again in its entirety.. Thanks, guest.

          • Guest

            My pleasure and William is right you are a nice person.

          • A pleasure to speak with you, too- Guest. (Please note however that your judgment on this 'nicety' does not necessarily meet the criteria of universality. So I thank you for your generosity!)
            - At the moment I am attempting to understand the incompleteness theorem - although I am told by the Evil Overload that I do not have the math-prerequisites to understand it in any way. I guess I'm still wrapped up in thinking of examples of a personal nature that demonstrate the 'truth' of this paradox. At least I attempt to 'understand'! I gave the Escher, Bach book of Hofstadtler as an example.that the principle can 'possibly' have applications outside the sphere of mathematics. (Would this itself be an example of the incompleteness Godel is talking about).....Maybe I really should maintain my silence on some of these topic that are beyond my 'ken'.- and chose this wise mode of making 'incomplete' statements!!!

          • Ladolcevipera

            seems like hightech wizardry to me...

    • To say that a relation is subsistent is to say that there is no real distinction between nature and relation. That is, while the divine hypostases are really (and not merely conceptually) distinct from each other; the relations are not really (but only conceptually) distinct from the divine nature. Only if the relations were posited as not subsistent (i.e., as accidents) would the notion of the Trinity be contradictory to divine simplicity.

      • Thanks for this. It is the most thorough theological/philosophical explanation I have been given. I have been working on understanding such concepts as hypo stasis, - and 'pondered' for instance Plato's conception of essence, yesterday, for instance. Will you allow an attempt to 'break down' the explanation you have given, expecting your correction or clarification. Please know that I am aware of various interpretations, even over the centuries, that can be considered confusing, (if not strictly contradictory in the logical sense or consistent one with another - is this qualification acceptable, for instance to you?)
        So I understand that 'hypostases' can be considered with respect to each individual person within the Triune Godhead? -correct? Each then would have a particular form- or essence- within a context of definition. -correct?

        Conclusion: the concept of subsistence would therefore be possible inclusive of such particular definitions or essences. - correct?

        I am aware of the use of the term subsistence with respect to a 'description' of God as being transcendent in some way, which is expressed in the 'univocity' of the 'relation' of existence to essence. - correct? as in- I am who I am, or I am that I am, or I am who am. God therefore is considered to constitute the 'essence' of 'being' per se, not an instance, particular, or limitation of any kind as associated with what Hegel describes as 'becoming' in contrast to 'being' for instance in his logic: i.e. Being, Nothing, Becoming, as the primary triadic process of synthesis. - correct?

        These hypostases - not sure whether we are discussing individual Persons here, (I assume such on the basis that I have above related the concept of subsistence to the concepts of 'nature' and 'relation' within, among, between, the hypostasis I have associated with personhood. - correct? or rather allowable' in order to be consistent?

        The concept is considered to be 'real' rather than 'merely' ideal. (This would distinguish such from Plato's forms perhaps, if in this instance, essence is related solely to form. (Excuse- I can't help but feel I am being caught against within what I find inter-relationships between concepts and different usages by philosophers, - even between Plato, Aristotle, and Thomas, which I find very 'confusing'.

        Yet even if hypostases of individual divine persons is considered to be the subject with respect to essence, I recognize the validity of an assignment of 'reality' to the Concept-Being of God, so defined.

        Now relations. We assume a unity of some kind within the Godhead, with respect to the assertion that there is only a 'conceptual' difference between the Persons with respect to their relation one- to another.

        What kind of relationship could this be? I have considered.
        1. A unity involved in the concept of a transcendent love. A love perhaps of a Creative Will, (The One of Platonis) related 'creatively, lovingly to both Nous (Logos) Plotinus et al, and Soul, Plotinus or Spirit- as the Christian terminology. Thus we have Plato's Goodness- (God), Truth- Logos as Word, and Nous as -intellect- both within the Catholic relation of procession to the Holy Spirit, which may you allow me to question as to why it is seldom referred to within any definitive clarification as to perhaps essence or 'being'? - possible? correct?

        Now here's the crunch. My only understanding of 'accidents' is with respect to my limited reading of Aristotle where I believe accidents are distinguished from essences, or as you note - what is subsistent - and therefore there in some way - transcendent. (Don't fully understand!!)

        So the simplicity of which you speak is somehow related to a unity, possibly that of love, (through subsistence) God is Love? and thus simplicity has definitely some inclusion with other Aristotelean/Thomistic cosmological proofs such as that of necessity, first cause, formal cause, - and perhaps also the teleological cause. Would there be any difficulty in including within this conceptual unity the Aristotelean causes of material cause and efficient cause, without involving some 'accidental' relationship? (Just a question- tangential to the main issue- )

        Of course, I have also got to accommodate references to the Holy Ghost which associate this Third Person with unity and love. Such perplexities as these, I merely note, arise from the many different interpretations that I have found within the literature. Perhaps this distinction can be resolved through an extension of the conceptual relations, which would include the upward motion described, (my understanding) within scripture. Within such a context, and within my personal understanding of such, relations of beauty and truth for instance are related, within my personal life, to experience within the temporal rather than transcendent order of 'reality'!! If these attempts to understand subsistence, therefore, are in any way 'reasonable' may I conclude that as an individual person, I could have not knowledge, or experience either of the conceptual or relation transcendence that is described within the context of 'subsistence'. My experience with any 'reality' of these concepts therefore, would occur within the hypostasis, of constitute the 'hypostasis' (still struggling with this concept) between such experiences of truth and beauty which are associated with reason/law, and the order experienced as beauty within the 'physical/temporal' universe. I am therefore, not surprised, that my experiences, in life, even those that could be called spiritual, have within them some 'degree' of 'accidens' which would explain the difficulty of finding, unity, within the sphere of temporal reality. (as per what the Buddhists say with respect to their interpretation of what they call conventional truth). Perhaps then, I do not experience 'divinity' because I cannot experience any unity of a subsistent nature, although there can be both the possibility of conceptual unity and reality within particular instances of truth, beauty, and goodness.

        This exercise was done primarily for my own benefit, as a means to reflect on the on-going -argument- it obviously does not quality for a considered conclusion regarding the position of the moderns as distinct from the ancients with respect to such concepts. Thanks. You're new here. Hope you can regard this long, drawn out, explication, as being appreciative of your comment.

        • This differs from ordinary Trinitarianism at the outset. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do not possess independent forms or essences. They are not individuals of a (divine) kind. Or, put another way, they do not share an essence as members of a species (on the Thomistic account) do. They are distinguished by their relations of origin, not by being different individual existences. And these relations simply are the divine essence. It's not something that is demonstrable philosophically, or even fully explicable. It's generally considered (with some interesting exceptions) to be something accepted as a revelation, not something demonstrable as God's existence or general features.

          Aquinas talks about this in the Summa, and it's actually fairly readable (for Trinitarian theology) if you want to search for it.

          • Thanks for your critique of my effort to test whether I understood some of the concepts here. Unfortunately, once again I find that I have read an account of Trinitarianism that conflict in some way with what you tell me is the 'accepted' tradition. This unfortunately, has become a common and now expected experience within my attempts to sort out all of the different conceptual distinctions. I understand the sharing of essences as a definition of even mankind not as an individual, but only within the hierarchy, as a species, of the genus (predicate) animals with the differentia- what's does that word refer to - I hesitate to ask, an exception to the rule- a characteristic nature or essence related to the genus but particular within the species. This really get just 'too complicated'.
            I have got from this so far, however, that this is some kind of analytic study of the ordering of concepts, and like modern concepts of analytic a priori, and synthetic a priori, and synthetic a posteriori, they define specific characteristic of classes of concepts.
            With respect to the person of Jesus, however, - and what I believe to involve both a human and divine essence, is it understandable to you, that I find it difficult to understand how the human essence is somehow eliminated from the Personhood when considerations of the 'subsistent relation'
            within the divine 'unity?' are offered. It is like the belief that when we did our immortal intellect and even will, (is the latter true) are somehow separated from our body, while the other elements of mind such as imagination, perception, memories perhaps even, are buried with our disintegration corpse. Yet, we are told in scripture that the body of Jesus was glorified. Would this, hopefully, suggest, that these elements of mind I just spoke about would in some way receive a Catholic blessing that I think they rightfully deserve.
            Thank you for giving me some idea regarding some of the issues that would be involved in studying Trinitarian theology.
            I do feel however, that it is a most 'abstract' endeavor, and thus feel with the moderns, that such logical and conceptual clarifications need be done within the compass of study of human elements, where mind can be studied, at least potentially, in relation to the body, as in neuroscience.
            I am with you, thought, that mental processes that have been clarified with such studies as propositional logic, modal theory, etc. etc. are possibly more like the Thomistic studies than would be recognized by the philosophers, in that the study of concepts etc. is studied as an independent enterprise.
            Thanks you for helping me to become a little more aware at least, of what is involved in these theological speculations. It is an occupation of the mind, which I believe is comparable to what is done within the study of pure mathematics. I do hope therefore that all of these angelic ideas will at some time prove to be fruitful for the health and welfare of man/woman kind. Thank you for your patience.

  • neil_ogi

    I'm quite confused: atheists believe that a 'nothing' could produce a 'something' therefore, 'immaterial' could be classified as 'nothing'? is God an 'immaterial' being but a personal being too?

    • Doug Shaver

      I'm quite confused: atheists believe that a 'nothing' could produce a 'something' therefore, 'immaterial' could be classified as 'nothing'?

      No, atheists do not believe that nothing could produce something. If you think they do believe it, that is probably the source of your confusion.

      • Even Hegel's logic begins with the 'abstractions' - Being. Nothing. Becoming.

        • Kraker Jak

          Hi Loreen....Just to mention that I noticed your recent, tentative but brave foray into the realm of Outshine The Sun. In which I am sure it was no surprise to you that you were greeted with a dismissive attitude verging on contempt disguised as reasonable and tolerant, and am sure that it was no surprise that you were given such short shrift. In the common pub vernacular that is called the bum's rush. However I do admire your integrity and tenacity. Therefore...for what it is worth...I award you the brave heart award....for....bravery in the face of invincible odds. You should not have to grovel and suck up and apologize for everything that you think Andrew and his minions would be critical of. Fondly....K.J.

          • I don't believe I grovelled. I thus feel I have attained much more self confidence than I had in my youth. The dialogue didn't even bother me, emotionally, or anything. I merely attempted to place within the immediate context my personal experience as an example of truth being denied in social situations that I understood to be closed systems. I suggested that perhaps, despite my confessed ignorance of mathematics, that with respect to his comments, any possible truth in my comment was perhaps also in conformity with the incompleteness theory, being excluded a the 'closed system' in that he was possibly was denying any possibility that I had anything of value to say, or alternatively reducing me to silence, on the basis that I did not have understanding of mathematics. Possibly this could be called a closed system of assessment as it discounts any possible relevance of metaphorical/analogical reasoning.

            I actually believe this example may be relevant with respect to the current argument. Is classical theism at odds with revelation - or what we might call 'personal experience'.? Does one have to understand a mathematical theory within the abstract context, or can it be used even metaphorically, within an attempt by a person to express a personal experience by an adaptation of such a theoretical construct as the incompleteness theory to her/his understanding of a life experience? Is there no possibility that there can be a viable translation between mathematics and linguistics? I ask this sincerely, because I 'don't know'!!!! Perhaps thought it does demonstrate my appreciation of the relevance of the argument as to whether there was a viable synthesis accomplished with respect to deistic classical philosophy and what we refer to as Christian theism. I certainly am not a 'linear thinker'!!! Thanks for the medal, Kraker Jak. "The will to do. The soul to dare. (These include perhaps the One and the Soul in Platonic thought. I shall await further developments on this subject regarding either/or - both/and the intellect- whether understood as logos or nous!!! (Oh dear. Is this another example of an exclusion of (a/the) truth due to the incompleteness theorem???)

          • Kraker Jak

            I don't believe I grovelled.

            Sorry ...I missintetrpreted the following as sucking up to the Evil Overlord. Won't make the same mistake again.

            Wow. The comment got 'accepted'. (I guess it was 'coherent' enough for the evil overlord!
            Note to the evil overlord. I kinda got carried away today. Please be assured this extravagance on my part will not be 'the norm'. Thanks. </blockquote

          • That's what happens when a kind of ironic 'arrogance' can be mistaken for a subservient humility - or vice versa???? !!!

          • Kraker Jak

            I think i see now....you were just being humble and I mistook it for groveling or sucking up ;-) Okee Dokee.

          • You mean you took no note of the aggressive, arrogant, satire? No wonder some people can mistake me for being a kind person. I wonder if there might be a confusion between the characteristics of my material existence, and the conceptual characteristic of my nature or essence, without excluding any middle, between human either/or- both/and divine of course!

        • Doug Shaver

          I've never read Hegel, and nothing that I have read about him has led me to suspect I might be missing anything important, aside from historical considerations.

      • neil_ogi

        nope. there are at least 3 creation myths of secular astronomers about universe's origin: 1. eternal 2. an 'infinitely small 'dot' started the universe 3. a 'nothing' evolved into a 'something'

        • Doug Shaver

          The first two make no reference to something coming from nothing. For the third, all you have is a book's title, which is a publisher's decision, not a scientific hypothesis.

          • neil_ogi

            tell that to lawrence krauss and other 'PhD astronomers

          • Doug Shaver

            How do you know what he would tell me? Have you read the book?

          • neil_ogi

            i'm only asking you to ask him!

          • Doug Shaver

            So, you have no idea what he wrote in that book, do you?

          • neil_ogi

            have you watch his presentations on youtube? you just denied that a 'nothing' produced a 'something'. the title on his book is sound and clear: why there is something rather than nothing

          • Doug Shaver

            you just denied that a 'nothing' produced a 'something'.

            No, I did not.

          • neil_ogi

            then watch him how he meticulously and marvelously explain how a 'nothing' produce a 'something'

          • Doug Shaver

            I just watched this video of Krauss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjaGktVQdNg. The "nothing" he refers to is not what I consider nothing.

          • neil_ogi

            then atheists should not consider the catholic's church errors (priests molesting child, corruptions, etc) as the total representation of all christians.

            quote: 'The "nothing" he refers to is not what I consider nothing.' -- then you must believe that the universe just 'pop'

          • Doug Shaver

            atheists should not consider the catholic's church errors (priests molesting child, corruptions, etc) as the total representation of all christians.

            I agree absolutely with that statement.

            you must believe that the universe just 'pop'

            You may think I must. Nevertheless, I don't.

          • neil_ogi

            then you must be another 'offshoot' of atheist movement

          • Doug Shaver

            We atheists are as diverse as all the rest of humanity. We don't believe in any gods, but other than that, anything goes. And it does.

          • neil_ogi

            if you don't believe in any creator, gods or other supernatural entities, then why not just believe that you just 'pop' from nothing? (i know you just deny it)

          • Doug Shaver

            if you don't believe in any creator, gods or other supernatural entities, then why not just believe that you just 'pop' from nothing?

            Because I see other possibilities besides those two.

          • neil_ogi

            the why are you here? are you so concerned about christians and other believers in God? why not just sit down on your own sofa and not be mindful of other's belief?

          • Doug Shaver

            then why are you here?

            I could ask you to same question.

          • neil_ogi

            why read science journals and research papers if you just 'pop'??
            why involve in this evolution/creation debates?

          • Doug Shaver

            why read science journals and research papers if you just 'pop'??

            You seem to be reading what I write, but you don't seem to be paying attention to what I'm actually saying.

          • neil_ogi

            then what really is the true atheist's statement on the origin of the universe?

          • Doug Shaver

            There isn't any. A true atheist can think whatever he likes about the origin of the universe, just as long as he doesn't say any god was involved.

          • neil_ogi

            why you don't want any supernatural 'thing'?

            is there nothing to lose? or there is?

          • Michael Murray

            Doug was just telling you the definition of atheist.

          • neil_pogi

            yes, i know.. but why are you here? why are you concerned about christians on why they believe in God? when i ask some of you what's your origins, you denied vehemently that you just 'popped'?

          • Doug Shaver

            why you don't want any supernatural 'thing'?

            What does what I want have to do with any of this?

      • Alexandra

        Hi Doug, Excuse me if I'm wrong, because I know little about this subject - I thought there are some athiest proposing that it may be possible "something can come from nothing". Stephen Hawkings comes to mind.

        • Doug Shaver

          I thought there are some athiest proposing that it may be possible "something can come from nothing".

          There are some, yes. You can be an atheist and believe anything at all except that some god exists.

          Atheists who also happen to be scientifically literate enough to have informed opinions about the origin of the universe (and plenty of atheists are not) tend to go with the scientific consensus on that subject. The last time I checked, there was no scientific consensus on the question of the actual origin of the universe, i.e. what happened at exactly time t = 0.

          I am not up to speed on Hawking's thinking on this matter, since it has been many years since I've read anything he wrote. I am aware of Lawrence Krauss's book A Universe from Nothing but have not had a chance to read it yet. From certain clues I have picked up, it seems likely that what he is calling "nothing" is different from what most people mean when they use that word.

          • Alexandra

            Thank you very much Doug for your response.

          • Doug Shaver

            You are very welcome.

          • Ladolcevipera

            The last time I checked, there was no scientific consensus on the question of the actual origin of the universe, i.e. what happened at exactly time t = 0.

            I am scientifically illiterate but I am wondering. Since the Big Bang at t=0 was the beginning of time and space, it is probably senseless to ask what was "before" the Big Bang. Although...Is it scientifically inconceivable that there are other universa and that something within one of them "caused" the Big Bang to happen? So "something" outside our universe, something that already existed, would be at the origin of our laws of physics? In that case we cannot say that something came from nothing.
            It seems to me the more we discover about the universe, the greater the mystery. It also seems that at the moment we almost have "caught" or debunked "God", he recedes a bit farther. If a God exists he is a Deus Absconditus: he is unknowable by the human mind.

          • Doug Shaver

            Since the Big Bang at t=0 was the beginning of time and space, it is probably senseless to ask what was "before" the Big Bang.

            Yes, it is. However, I don't believe we know that it was the beginning of space and time. There is a unit of time called Planck time, which is 10 to the minus 43 seconds. The last time I checked, our current best science has no idea what was going on between t = 0 and the Planck time. It would follow, it seems to me, that we have even less basis for supposing anything about what could possibly have been happening before t = 0, or whether anything could have been happening. At this point, t = 0 just marks the beginning of the universe as we know it, not necessarily the actual beginning of time itself.

            Is it scientifically inconceivable that there are other universa and that something within one of them "caused" the Big Bang to happen?

            No, it's not. There are no currently well established scientific principles that rule it out, so far as I'm aware.

            So "something" outside our universe, something that already existed, would be at the origin of our laws of physics?

            That is possible, but we must never forget that possibility never implies any particular probability. To say that something is possible is just to say that its probability is not zero.

            It seems to me the more we discover about the universe, the greater the mystery.

            Every answer to a question does seem to raise more questions. Given our current scientific understanding of ourselves and our origins, though, this is to be expected.

            If a God exists he is a Deus Absconditus: he is unknowable by the human mind.

            It looks that way to me.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Okay. Thank you for your response!!

  • joe ho

    lol.

    so much decadent navel gazing, trying to convince yourselves you'll have eternal life and that jeebus loves you.

    as the new atheists point out, there's no credible evidence for the existence of a god.

    all you do is engage in intellectual contortionism, word games and logic puzzles to convince yourselves that a divine jesus must exist. and so you spend time adjusting your definitions and premises to the end of coming up with an argument that shows a divine jesus must exist.

    and yet you can't produce any credible evidence.

    it's sad. you're living all in your head, while trying to deny the overarching importance of empirical evidence for your claims about reality.

    luckily religions like christianity are in rapid decline throughout the industrialized west. it's becoming clear that your emperor has no clothes--just self-indulgent hair-splitting and wool-gathering.

  • michael

    A statue doesn't rely on bronze to exist, it IS the bronze in a certain shape/condition.