Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Photian Argument

Photius negat posse dari quid notionale commune duabus personis, sed ait quidquid non est commune tribus personis esse personale, et proprium unius tantum personae.

Gratis id negat, neque ullum est principium theologicum in quo fundari possit haec negatio. Praeterea etiam admittit Photius missionem Spiritus Sancti esse communem Patri et Filio, unde Patres cum Scriptura dicunt Spiritum esse proprium utriusque.


--Dalmau, De Deo Uno et Trino, sec.420.

All that the Father has which is not Paternity he gives to the Son. This includes the act of spiration, which cannot be identical to the divine essence, since the Spirit Himself does not spirate.

That the principle in question--that whatever is not shared by all three persons is a personal property--is false may be proved by the fact that the Son and the Spirit have in common originating from the Father, while the Father alone is unoriginate.

18 comments:

Lee Faber said...

I've never heard of that principle before; is that the root cause of this?

Lee Faber said...

ie, this controversy

Michael said...

Clearly you haven't been paying attention.

Lee Faber said...

I noticed it in some of Jones' comments over the past few days, but i've never had the patience to wade through their stuff on their own site before.

Michael said...

I don't blame you, I quit doing it long ago. But it used to come up often back when I did read their stuff a lot and debate them at length.

energeticprocession said...

The principle comes from Basil's Adversus Eunomium, "All that is common to the Father and Son is common to the Holy Spirit."

Michael said...

Mr Jones responds as follows:

“All that the Father has which is not Paternity he gives to the Son. This includes the act of spiration, which cannot be identical to the divine essence, since the Spirit Himself does not spirate.

“That the principle in question–that whatever is not shared by all three persons is a personal property–is false may be proved by the fact that the Son and the Spirit have in common originating from the Father, while the Father alone is unoriginate.”

Michael Sullivan posted this piece over at their blog to try and disprove the Basilian principle that “what is said about more than one hypostasis is of the nature, what is said about only one is personal.” Let’s start with the first part:

“All that the Father has which is not Paternity he gives to the Son.”

This much is true. The personal properties of the persons are not communicated, but all that is natural to the Father is natural to the Son. The personal feature of the Father is Ingenerate, Source, and Cause. These properties are not shared amongst persons according to Nicene Orthodoxy 101.

“This includes the act of spiration, which cannot be identical to the divine essence, since the Spirit Himself does not spirate.”

The act of spiration is common to the Father and Son, yet it is not identical to the divine essence. So is this a personal property resulting in the semi-Sabellian monster? Or is this a natural property? Or is it some new non-Trinitarian property that we are not even told that must be accounted for?

“That the principle in question–that whatever is not shared by all three persons is a personal property–is false may be proved by the fact that the Son and the Spirit have in common originating from the Father, while the Father alone is unoriginate.”

Here we see the hypocritical thinking in Roman Catholic theology, first we are told that the Father gives everything to the Son except his Paternity. Well is Paternity a personal property of the Father? Is it shared amongst persons? So, what is personal cannot be shared, and what is not shared is the personal properties.

Finally, to show the real problem with this critigue, does Mr. Sullivan give a reductio using Orthodox principles as they understand them? Does he give a true internal critigue? No he does not. There is no “common originating from the Father” property! No such thing exists in reality. Compare Mr. Sullivan here with Ratramnus of Corbie:

“The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father because he flows from his substance…and just as the Son received his substance from the Father by being begotten, so also he received from the Father the ability to send the Spirit of Truth from himself through proceeding…For just as the Father and the Son are of one substance, so too by procession from both did the Holy Spirit receive his consubstantial existence.”

–Ratramnus of Corbie, Contra Graecorum Opposita Romanam Ecclesiam Inflamantium, PL 121, 229

And,

“Therefore if the Son proceeds from God the Father and the Holy Spirit also proceeds, what will keep the Arians silent, not blaspheming that the Holy Spirit is also the Son of the Father.”

– Ibid., PL 121, 247
Ratramnus’ Arian presuppositions not withstanding, what is the problem with this critigue? It is none other than a commitment to “God-in-General” theology. Generation and procession ends up being the same thing as some “common property of coming forth from the Father,” as Mr. Sullivan affirms, and to distinguish the Son and Spirit, the latter must come from not one but two. This is why Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles can say that the Son proceeds from the Father or that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, they are both the same thing (divine simplicity at work). They are both just general ideas for “coming forth from the Father.”

Listen to John of Damascus, the other two Persons do not have some “common property of coming forth” (that doesn’t exist) but rather a very unique coming forth that is wholly and incomprehensibly unique:

“The Son is derived from the Father after the manner of generation, and the Holy Spirit likewise is derived from the Father, yet not after the manner of generation, but after that of procession. And we have learned that there is a difference between generation and procession, but the nature of that difference we in no wise understand.” -Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book I, C. VIII

Would any Orthodox affirm that generation and procession can be considered under a more broader heading of “coming forth from the Father” ? Surely not if we are being careful and following proper theological method.

Photios

Michael said...

My response:

“Finally, to show the real problem with this critigue, does Mr. Sullivan give a reductio using Orthodox principles as they understand them? Does he give a true internal critigue? No he does not.”

I’m not trying to give an internal critique, but to deny the Photian argument mentioned on my blog by denying its main principle. I’m rejecting your critique of my theology, not critiquing yours.

“The act of spiration is common to the Father and Son, yet it is not identical to the divine essence. So is this a personal property resulting in the semi-Sabellian monster? Or is this a natural property? Or is it some new non-Trinitarian property that we are not even told that must be accounted for?”

Goodness, what nonsense. You claim to have such a mastery of Western tradition as to be able to declare it contradictory and heretical, and you don’t know how Latin theologians answer this? Or are you being disingenuous? Open a book, man.

“Here we see the hypocritical thinking in Roman Catholic theology, first we are told that the Father gives everything to the Son except his Paternity. Well is Paternity a personal property of the Father? Is it shared amongst persons? So, what is personal cannot be shared, and what is not shared is the personal properties.”

Where is this “hypocrisy”? I’m not sure that word means what you think it means . . .

Your conclusion does not follow unless you presume the principle that I reject. This is called petitio principii, you know. You fail, by the way, to take account of the other argument given in my post, namely that the *temporal* mission of the Spirit by both the Father and the Son is admitted by all, and so this is common to two Persons but not three. That the Spirit is “proprium” to both the Son and the Father, that he is the Spirit *of* each but not, obviously, of himself, is admitted by all.

You attempts to smear me with your typical “God-in-general” complaints are mere diversionary tactics. I said nothing about any of it. I’m not obliged to work within your “ordo” simply to reject a principle of a Photian argument, nor is Ratramnus in the least relevant here. You’re making claims about “properties” wider than I have made. I never claimed that there is “in reality” a “common originating from the Father” property. What I claimed that there was a *fact* common to the Son and the Spirit, namely that each originates from the Father while the Father is unoriginate.

Finally, and speaking of hypocrisy, it’s just bizarre that you bring out the “God-in-general” business in order to accuse me of reducing generation and procession to the same thing. (Your incomplete reference to Thomas, by the way, is wildly misleading, since Thomas’ point is obviously not that procession and generation are the same thing but that the Holy Spirit is the same thing, i.e. God, as the Father and the Son.) It’s more clear than clear–your own quote from Damascene illustrates it admirably–that the Orthodox have no way to distinguish procession from generation except by the mere assertion that they are distinct, while Latin triadology has a very very clear way to distinguish between them.

One last point. Just as “originating from the Father” is *not* a “common personal property” belonging to both the Son and Spirit but a fact about both which is not true of the Father, so Spiration is not a “common personal property” for the Latins. It is neither a personal property, nor is it shared “in common” by the Father and the Son, since the Father’s spiration is not identical with the Son’s, to the extent that the Father’s spiration is from Himself alone and through the Son, while the Son’s spiration is from the Father and not through another.

The whole point of spiration as, for the Latins, a nexum amoris between the Father and the Son is that acts of Divine love are reciprocal and not merely replicative.

Anthony said...

Mr. Sullivan wrote:

"It is neither a personal property, nor is it shared “in common” by the Father and the Son, since the Father’s spiration is not identical with the Son’s, to the extent that the Father’s spiration is from Himself alone and through the Son, while the Son’s spiration is from the Father and not through another."

This is not my fight, but I've seen you commenting since Pontifications days and trust you know a thing or two about medieval philosophy, so I'm bold enough to ask: Based on the above comment, you would say that "and the Son" is more or less equivalent to "through the Son"? Rightly understood, I don't see that as problematic.

In defense of Mr. Jones, I have personally found the "Photian" principle mentioned here pretty congenial in its simplicity and power. And I understand the metaphysics of it better at this point than that of the Western tradition (I even find Thomas' ST difficult on occasion, and Scotus is a nightmare).

But the principle's defect, as you note, is that it cannot account for the difference between generation and procession. The response amounts to a denial that there is a legitimate call for explanation at all. That has always struck me as hand-waving.

energeticprocession said...

"But the principle's defect, as you note, is that it cannot account for the difference between generation and procession."

Anthony,

This was exactly what the Eunomians thought the problem was as well. For them God was Absolute Being, so generation and procession had to be grasped and understood by the intellect. But God is beyond any concept of being, as are generation and procession, which are completly and utterly ineffable.

Oration 32:8:

"You ask what is the procession of the Holy Spirit? Do you tell me first what is the unbegottenness of the Father, and I will then explain to you the physiology of the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Spirit, and we shall both of us be stricken with madness for prying into the mystery of God."

Anonymous said...

Quit paying attention to the E.P. crowd. They've drunk the Farrell/ Romanides Kool-Aid and are obviously affected.

Just state the positions without any extravagant display.

Their jumping up and down should not distract anyone who really wants to understand and think through the commonality and difference of viewpoints regarding theology.

Michael said...

Anonymous,

I'm inclined to agree with you and that's why I haven't bothered engaging with them for a long time. I only got pulled into it now because they came here. My patience for florid rhetoric and repeating myself ad nauseam is more limited than it used to be, however.

Anonymous said...

Just a note to Mr. Lee faber re Dionysius the Aeropagite and Fr. Golitzin.

Having studied under Fr. Golitzin many years ago I would venture to argue that Fr. Golitzin would not like to have his views bandied about on the E.P. site.

Fr. Golitzin has certainly defended Dionysius from the charges that he, ( Dionysius), is a Neo-Platonist. Fr. Golitzin essentially argues that Dionysius is a contemplative theologian, ( or mystic theologian if you wish), who used the most precise theological/ philosophical available at the time, that of Neo-Platonism to enunciate his views that Christianity is essentially a path of theosis or union with God.

I resent Fr. Golitzin's views being used by the E.P. folks. It's insulting.

Fr. Glitzin is an excellent scholar whse views should not be used in such a partisan setting.

Is Photios Really Orthodox??? said...

Lee Wrote on Energetic Procession, "I thought I might dry my tears for Tammuz and take off my Dagon-hat for a moment to ask Photius if you chaps really aren’t just Alexander Hislop or Lorraine Boettner in disguise; that is, are really just still a prot? "


I wonder if this is indeed the case.


By chance, I ran into the following dialogue with Photios & somebody by the name of Kepha:


Kepha Said:

"Photios, Thank you very much for the recommendation. Not too long ago I received a advertisement in the mail for a set of presentations on Orthodoxy by Prof. Peter Bouteneff of St. Vladimir’s Seminary. As soon as I can land a job, I’m buying this bad boy even if the sale is over! Orthodoxy is definitely one of my options upon leaving Rome. Only, I tend to agree with a good friend of mine who said that he would only convert to Orthodoxy if he lost hope in the Reformation. Nevertheless, a Christian alternative as old as Papal Christianity, yet so very different from it, especially in doctrinal matters, is intriging to say the least."


To Which Photios Responded:

"Kepha, I would skip that and look at Dr. Farrell’s work. It’s better worth your time and money, seriously. All your sensibilities about Development of Doctrine and patristic christianity are addressed there. It’s one of the best works on Christology and the doctrine of Recapitulation.

I have little desire to see you opt for official Orthodoxy as your ecclesiological profession, unless you insisted on your own. I do wish to nurture your own Western Reformation and in doing seeing you all dig deeper into those Western roots, taking a hold of it, and recovering it. Photios"


Is Photios implying here that Protestantism is more in line with Orthodoxy than Roman Catholicism?

If so, how????

Lee Faber said...

that's pretty weird. Maybe one could stretch it a bit and say that what he means is for kepha immerse himself in the early fathers. But maybe this is so that he can "see" that the reformation is just the sorry, inevitible outgrowth of romish errors that would have been avoided if the filioque god hadn't been adopted. who knows.

Is Photios Really Orthodox??? said...

Lee Faber,

Thanks.

I think you may be correct in your assessment here.

I just discovered the following comment by Photios at Michael Liccione's blog which invites that possibility:

"“Is this the primary reason why you generally side with the reformers?”

Not really. I generally side with them only proximately when the doctrine in question starts to dovetail with 'natural theology’ and here is where I take someone like Karl Barth very seriously. I see the principle of ‘sola scriptura’ at least as more of a reaction against the scholastic method. Christ is the foundation of the rational principle, in which there is no room for ‘unaided reason.’

I think the program was largely unsuccessful by the Reformers as they were wedded to the Augustnism they inherited, so it’s not a coincidence that Protestant Scholasticism emerged very quickly. What we have bursting forth with the Reformers is a fully fledged and shaped dialectical theology, most notably on the questions of predestination/freewill, church/state, scripture/church, belief/sacraments."

Photios
Photios Jones | Homepage | 06.10.08 - 7:06 pm | #

SOURCE:
http://www.haloscan.com/comments/michelangelo3/2095074914615223554/

Lee Faber said...

But note: thanks to Barth (who says the doctrine of analogy is the spirit of antichrist or somesuch) and co. our boy was already predisposed to hate scholasticism, and just managed to find an apostolic church that allows him to keep doing it (though scholasticism is basically dead now in catholicism, save for a few thomists trying to turn Thomas into an ecstatic biblical exegete).

Anonymous said...

Lee Faber,

It seems your boy is at it again:

On October 28, 2008 at 1:37 pm Photios Jones Said:
Luther was absolutely correct, though I think he understood the Greek Fathers in a similar way as Harnack did. There is certainly a Hellenization of the gospel but it’s a little more complicated then Luther thought. Luther was justified in his rhetoric against scholasticism as were the Jansenist Augustinians.

Photios

SOURCE:
http://consciousfaith.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/letham-on-the-essence-energy-distinction/#comment-1325



On October 28, 2008 at 3:34 pm Photios Jones Said:
Kevin,

If Aquinas was doing Christian “philosophy” he would be starting with the Incarnation in the first section of the Summa and not for philosophical proofs for God’s existence and philosohical simplicity of that existence.

That is not Christian.

Photios

SOURCE:
http://consciousfaith.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/letham-on-the-essence-energy-distinction/#comment-1336