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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 12:18 pm 
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Umm... Crimson, as all the Three Persons are ONE Being, what do you mean by

"while still affirming that the being of the Holy Spirit came from the Father through the Son"

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 12:31 pm 
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Umm... Crimson, as all the Three Persons are ONE Being, what do you mean by

"while still affirming that the being of the Holy Spirit came from the Father through the Son"

Exactly that. I'm referring to perichoresis, the sharing of the divine substance (ousia) among the persons of the Trinity.


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CrimsonCatholic wrote:
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Umm... Crimson, as all the Three Persons are ONE Being, what do you mean by

"while still affirming that the being of the Holy Spirit came from the Father through the Son"

Exactly that. I'm referring to perichoresis, the sharing of the divine substance (ousia) among the persons of the Trinity.

Got ya...

AFAIK there is a difference in Western and Eastern thought here as well (though not exclusive). The difference between circumsession and circumcession? Either way though I do not see how it relates here as the Divine Perichoresis normally refers to the indwelling of the Persons in one another, both active penetration and passive coherence. Perhaps you could expound.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 12:47 pm 
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Either way though I do not see how it relates here as the Divine Perichoresis normally refers to the indwelling of the Persons in one another, both active penetration and passive coherence. Perhaps you could expound.

Actually, I think you've got it. The point is that the bare hypostatic existence of the persons of the Trinity is solely by virtue of the Father as arche of the Trinity. The Son is generated from the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. Perichoresis is logically subsequent to the hypostatic generation of the Son and the Holy Spirit, but there is no "in between" when the Son exists and the Holy Spirit does not.

You can think of it analogously (recognizing the feebleness of this analogy, of course) to water in three interconnected vessels. The Father is solely responsible for the placement of the vessels (hypostases as "vessels" for the divine substance), but in terms of water (ousia), the water flows from the source (Father) through the vessels and back to the source in constant circulation.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:17 am 
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Crimson, before I respond, please clarify, for I don't want to stomp all over a strawman. Are you positing a real (not merely mental) distinction between person and essence in the Trinity?

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Are you positing a real (not merely mental) distinction between person and essence in the Trinity?

Yep. St. Augustine (and others following him) argued that the distinction was purely mental, and I think he was wrong.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2005 1:02 am 
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CrimsonCatholic wrote:
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Are you positing a real (not merely mental) distinction between person and essence in the Trinity?

Yep. St. Augustine (and others following him) argued that the distinction was purely mental, and I think he was wrong.



Well, you should really think again. It is an error to imagine that there are any real distinctions in the Godhead except where the opposition of relation exists between the Persons, "not, indeed, according to that which is absolute--namely, essence, wherein there is supreme unity and simplicity--but according to that which is relative". Your error is reminiscent of Gilbert of Poitiers who posited a real difference between God and Divinity and also between the Divine Persons and the Divine Essence. If one admits of such a distinction one logically ends up asserting a quaternity in God. Consequently, Poitiers' doctrine was condemned at the Council of Rheims. Thankfully, he revoked his error and I pray you do the same, for you will serve better your cause to unite the Eastern Schismatics with the Roman Catholic Church if you present to them sound theology.

I also fear that your stressing of the so-called "monarchy of the Father" has a certain subordinationist tendancy that results in the logical subjection of the Son and Holy Ghost to the Father. This will mitigate against the truth that the Divine Persons are "consubstantial and coequal and coomnipotent and coeternal" (IV Lateran Council). One should rather stress that the Father is the "Prime Origin" of the Blessed Trinity, this would avoid any hint of subordination.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:23 pm 
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It is an error to imagine that there are any real distinctions in the Godhead except where the opposition of relation exists between the Persons, "not, indeed, according to that which is absolute--namely, essence, wherein there is supreme unity and simplicity--but according to that which is relative".

I don't have any difficulty affirming the simplicity of the divine essence. I have a major difficulty with identifying the divine essence with being, when it is in fact beyond being.
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Your error is reminiscent of Gilbert of Poitiers who posited a real difference between God and Divinity and also between the Divine Persons and the Divine Essence. If one admits of such a distinction one logically ends up asserting a quaternity in God.

Only if you identify the divine essence with being. Besides, it is equally serious to deny the metaphysical reality of the persons: a monolithic essence is no better than a quaternity. Neither works.
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Consequently, Poitiers' doctrine was condemned at the Council of Rheims. Thankfully, he revoked his error and I pray you do the same, for you will serve better your cause to unite the Eastern Schismatics with the Roman Catholic Church if you present to them sound theology.

I don't believe that my position was condemned at Rheims (and in fact, it's hard to know whether Gilbert's was, but that's another issue entirely). Regardless, unless one is willing to label many of the Eastern Fathers as bearers of "unsound theology," it would behoove one to explain why they spoke as they did before condemning their position.
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I also fear that your stressing of the so-called "monarchy of the Father" has a certain subordinationist tendancy that results in the logical subjection of the Son and Holy Ghost to the Father. This will mitigate against the truth that the Divine Persons are "consubstantial and coequal and coomnipotent and coeternal" (IV Lateran Council). One should rather stress that the Father is the "Prime Origin" of the Blessed Trinity, this would avoid any hint of subordination.

"Monarchy" has a technical theological sense in that the Father is the sole principle (mono arche) of the Trinity, which is not subordinationist. If people find that term has undesirable connotations, "Prime Origin" would serve as well, but I feel that it would be better to educate people in the patristic usage so that they do not erroneously interpret the language of the Fathers.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:37 pm 
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God's essence is indentified with His existence though...Because He is Pure Act. A real distinction exists between being and essence only in things that admit of potency and act, that is lesser creatures.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:48 pm 
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I don't have any difficulty affirming the simplicity of the divine essence. I have a major difficulty with identifying the divine essence with being, when it is in fact beyond being.


In your own mind, you may not have any difficulty, but the logical consequence of positing a real difference between essence and person would do harm to the absolute simplicity of God, whether you honestly admit it or not. The essence of God is His being; nothing can go beyond this truth.

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Your error is reminiscent of Gilbert of Poitiers who posited a real difference between God and Divinity and also between the Divine Persons and the Divine Essence. If one admits of such a distinction one logically ends up asserting a quaternity in God.

Only if you identify the divine essence with being. Besides, it is equally serious to deny the metaphysical reality of the persons: a monolithic essence is no better than a quaternity. Neither works.


What? Asserting the identity of person and essence in God forces a quaternity? Merely asserting the opposite of what I say is infantile and not very productive. Are you accusing me of denying the "metaphysical reality of the persons"? I think you are confusing the Being of God with how we think of God according to our categories. One must be more modest and cautious in dealing with Trinitarian doctrine, I must say.




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I don't believe that my position was condemned at Rheims (and in fact, it's hard to know whether Gilbert's was, but that's another issue entirely). Regardless, unless one is willing to label many of the Eastern Fathers as bearers of "unsound theology," it would behoove one to explain why they spoke as they did before condemning their position.


That is just how the Protestants sequester the Fathers. They claim them for themselves, imagining they support their errors. The Fathers taught what I have taught, namely the absolute simplicity of God. You have the problem with unsound theology, not them.


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"Monarchy" has a technical theological sense in that the Father is the sole principle (mono arche) of the Trinity, which is not subordinationist. If people find that term has undesirable connotations, "Prime Origin" would serve as well, but I feel that it would be better to educate people in the patristic usage so that they do not erroneously interpret the language of the Fathers.


It has been the rule of theologians to first utilize the documents of the Church in formulating theology, where She has spoken on a subject-matter, recourse is then had to the Fathers if there is anything wanting. As you know, not every jot and jittle of their writings is to be promoted, but that which is universal in time and place. That aside, I would be interested in seeing some texts in which they utilized the term "Monarchy" in an unequivocal sense, as you have done. If some refered to the "Monarchy of the Father", they may well have been justified, but it is not the most desirable term, for it implicitly indicates "superiority" and "subjection". In fact, it was the Semi-Arians in their confession of faith that used the term "Monarchy", thereby indicating the Son's inequality with the Father.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:50 pm 
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God's essence is indentified with His existence though...Because He is Pure Act. A real distinction exists between being and essence only in things that admit of potency and act, that is lesser creatures.

I do not think that St. Thomas (or Aristotle) was correct in this matter, although I say that not in the least intending to disrespect the Angelic Doctor. The Cappadocian Fathers, for example, were careful to explain that the "being" of God was utterly beyond what we consider "being." Within the range of philosophical tools available, St. Thomas never endorsed anything remotely heretical (and in fact, contradicted even the hint of a heretical conclusion), but I am not entirely certain that his defense was entirely consistent or systematic.
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In your own mind, you may not have any difficulty, but the logical consequence of positing a real difference between essence and person would do harm to the absolute simplicity of God, whether you honestly admit it or not. The essence of God is His being; nothing can go beyond this truth.

You're simply asserting your conclusion. That simply begs the question of whether God's essence can be equated with His being.
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What? Asserting the identity of person and essence in God forces a quaternity? Merely asserting the opposite of what I say is infantile and not very productive. Are you accusing me of denying the "metaphysical reality of the persons"? I think you are confusing the Being of God with how we think of God according to our categories. One must be more modest and cautious in dealing with Trinitarian doctrine, I must say.

What I said was that asserting that distinctions between persons are merely relational distinctions quoad nos as opposed to ontological distinctions effectively makes the divine essence into a monolith, which is no better than a quaternity. So yes, I am accusing making the metaphysical reality of the Trinity into mere relations of opposition. As I said, if one conceives of the essence as the Being of God and argues a separation of the persons and the essence, then it would, as you note, compromise the metaphysical simplicity of the essence. But if the essence is beyond being, then it does not compromise the simplicity of the essence to say that God exists as multiple real persons. So again, the question is whether God is beyond being or not? I don't believe there is anything immodest or incautious in suggesting that He is.
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That is just how the Protestants sequester the Fathers. They claim them for themselves, imagining they support their errors. The Fathers taught what I have taught, namely the absolute simplicity of God. You have the problem with unsound theology, not them.

The Fathers taught the absolute simplicity of the divine essence, but not that the essence was equivalent with being. Rather, they taught that the essence was beyond being. If anything the Protestants error was taking the concept of God as being to logical consequences that more circumspect theologians (like St. Augustine and St. Thomas) refused to do. Absolute divine simplicity (at the level of being) is the problem, not the solution.
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It has been the rule of theologians to first utilize the documents of the Church in formulating theology, where She has spoken on a subject-matter, recourse is then had to the Fathers if there is anything wanting. As you know, not every jot and jittle of their writings is to be promoted, but that which is universal in time and place. That aside, I would be interested in seeing some texts in which they utilized the term "Monarchy" in an unequivocal sense, as you have done. If some refered to the "Monarchy of the Father", they may well have been justified, but it is not the most desirable term, for it implicitly indicates "superiority" and "subjection". In fact, it was the Semi-Arians in their confession of faith that used the term "Monarchy", thereby indicating the Son's inequality with the Father.

St. Basil says it thusly: "Worshipping as we do God of God, we both confess the distinction of the Persons, and at the same time abide by the Monarchy." There are others, of course, but I think that it is clear enough that my usage is not unusual.
http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/basil_spiritu_18.html

I know of nothing stated by the Church that contradicts this doctrine; accordingly, I see no difficulty in following the counsel of the Fathers in this matter.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:54 pm 
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crimson, God indentified Himself as "I am who am"

I am amazed, though I realise that it isn't dogma, to find anyone who denies that God's metaphysical essence is His being Substinent Being. I know the Scotists identifed it with His radical infinity, and the heretical nominalists with the sum of His perfections, but it is unusual to find one actually denying this...

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:56 pm 
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Crimson, why do you think St. Thomas was wrong? How does God "ipse substinens esse" not fulfill the metaphysical essence of God? How is it wrong, seeing as it seems to be how God revealed Himself to Moses and how so many Fathers saw it this way?

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Crimson, why do you think St. Thomas was wrong? How does God "ipse substinens esse" not fulfill the metaphysical essence of God? How is it wrong, seeing as it seems to be how God revealed Himself to Moses and how so many Fathers saw it this way?

Peculiarly enough, the Eastern Fathers came to the exact opposite conclusion of "I AM." Through the apophatic lens of the Cappadocian Fathers, the statement "I Am Who Is" is made exactly to contrast God's being with existence as we know it, IOW, to affirm God's transcendence. Arguably, St. Thomas did the same thing with the analogia entis, but that is a point of some debate. At any rate, if one constructs divine simplicity in terms of God's being, it would appear to be impossible to reconstruct the doctrine of the Trinity coherently. Christopher Hughes lays out some of the metaphysical difficulties in On A Complex Theory of A Simple God, and although I don't agree with his argument entirely, I think he makes a pretty good case for St. Thomas's distinction of persons as relations to be incompatible with the definition of identity that he sets out. I don't claim to have the last word on the subject, but my position appears to be a viable Catholic alternative, and I have yet to see a persuasive argument for how the notion of absolute simplicity in the divine being can be coherently maintained.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2005 12:54 pm 
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Who was it who said "Anytime you speak of the Trinity for more than 15 seconds, you are most likely committing heresy"? I can see why this was said.

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I do not think that St. Thomas (or Aristotle) was correct in this matter, although I say that not in the least intending to disrespect the Angelic Doctor.


It is never a good sign for an amatuer who dabbles in theology to disregard the Angel of the Schools in such a fundamental and delicate matter as trinitarian dogma. Not a good sign at all.

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The Cappadocian Fathers, for example, were careful to explain that the "being" of God was utterly beyond what we consider "being."


Why do you restrict this concept to the Cappadocian Fathers? It is quite absurd, considering all theologians, of any School, have taught that the Divine Being and Essence are absolutely incomprehensible. I see a trend in your thought that is becoming readily apparent; you are so prejudicial to the Eastern Fathers that you make all else to look like blithering fools.

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Within the range of philosophical tools available, St. Thomas never endorsed anything remotely heretical (and in fact, contradicted even the hint of a heretical conclusion), but I am not entirely certain that his defense was entirely consistent or systematic.


This is quite humorous. You aren't serious?

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You're simply asserting your conclusion. That simply begs the question of whether God's essence can be equated with His being.


The only thing you have done is to repeat your conclusion, and then appeal to the Fathers for support without every bringing a quote to the table. It is mine, and every other approved theologians contention that to posit any other distinction into the very Being of God is tantamount to destroying His absolute simplicity. This doctrine was defined by the Fourth Lateran Council: "In God there is only a Trinity, not a quaternity, because each of the three persons is that thing which is the substance, the essence, or the divine nature." And again at the Council of Rheims against Poitiers. Again, from the authority of Augustine, ""When we say the person of the Father we are saying nothing else than the substance of the Father" 526 De Trinitate, VII, 6. "Nothing else" here means not really distinct.

In the realm of creatures, essence and existence are indeed distinguished because, "It is proper in every substance, except subsisting being itself, that the substance itself be one thing and the being another." Contra Gentes, Bk. II, chap. 52, no. 1. It is antecedent to any consideration of our minds that you are not your being; in creatures, being is a "contingent attribute", it is something other than essence. In the Divine Being, all attributes are identical because God is a self-subsisting Being. The result of your doctrine is to make part of God into a creature.

"Relations inhere accidentally in creatures, but in God they are the essence itself because their <esse in> is substantial. But a divine person, for example, the Father, signifies a subsisting relation. Therefore the divine persons are not really distinct from the divine essence although they are really distinct from each other because of the opposition of relation. Symbolically, in the triangle the three angles are really distinct from each other but they are not distinct from the common surface." Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange

"The Deity as it is in itself is above being and above unity, it is above all simply simple perfections, which it contains formally and eminently in their formal natures." Cajetan, Commentarium, in q. 39, a. 1.

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What I said was that asserting that distinctions between persons are merely relational distinctions quoad nos as opposed to ontological distinctions effectively makes the divine essence into a monolith, which is no better than a quaternity.


Merely asserting your conclusion again? Now going beyond even what the Church has clearly defined? It does no such thing because the Divine Persons are incommunicable, whereas the Essence is communicable.

"The expression 'simplex omnino" asserts that with regard to God any kind of composition, whether physical or metaphysical, is out of the question". "God is an absolutely simple spirit, that is, in God there is no composition of any kind, of substance or accidetns, of essence and existence, of nature and person, of power and activity, of passivity and activity, of genus and specific difference. Holy Writ indicates the absolute simplicity of God when it equates the Essence of God with Hhis Attributes: "God is charity", "I am the way, the truth and the life". Augustine says of the Divine Nature: "it is called simple because it is that which it has, except that which is said of one Person in relation to the Other"." Ott, pg. 32.

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So yes, I am accusing making the metaphysical reality of the Trinity into mere relations of opposition.


And we can see how that accusation is completely without foundation.

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Crimson, you didn't answer my question

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It is never a good sign for an amatuer who dabbles in theology to disregard the Angel of the Schools in such a fundamental and delicate matter as trinitarian dogma. Not a good sign at all.

And it is the invariable sign of a dabbler to retreat to the authority of names when a specific argument is being discussed. Arguments are not defended by the name of the person offering them.
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Why do you restrict this concept to the Cappadocian Fathers? It is quite absurd, considering all theologians, of any School, have taught that the Divine Being and Essence are absolutely incomprehensible.

They do so in different ways, and they treat what we "know" from revelation in different ways as well. The oversimplification does not address the difficulty.
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I see a trend in your thought that is becoming readily apparent; you are so prejudicial to the Eastern Fathers that you make all else to look like blithering fools.

Unless you can equate "mistaken" with "blithering fools," you are going to have a long way to go to prove your accusations, to which, incidentally, I do not take kindly.
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The only thing you have done is to repeat your conclusion, and then appeal to the Fathers for support without every bringing a quote to the table.

You'll notice that several were quoted in the original article, including Doctors of the Catholic Church. For example:
St. Basil already said of the Holy Spirit: "Through the Son (dia tou Uiou), who is one, he is joined to the Father, who is one, and by himself completes the blessed Trinity" (Treatise on the Holy Spirit, XVIII, 45, Sources chretiennes 17 bis, p. 408). St. Maximus the Confessor said: "By nature (phusei) the Holy Spirit in his being (kat'ousian) takes substantially (ousiodos) takes his origin (ekporeuomenon) from the Father through the Son who is begotten (di Uiou gennethentos)" (Quaestiones ad Thalassium, LXIII, P.G. 90, 672 C). We find this again in St. John Damascene: "ho Pater aeien, echon ex eautou ton autou logon, kai dia tou logou autou ex eautou to Pneuma autou ekporeuomenon," in English: "I say that God is always Father since he has always his Word coming from himself, and through his Word, having his Spirit issuing from him" (Dialogus contra Manichaeos 5, P.G. 94, 1512 B, ed. B. Kotter, Berlin 1981, p. 354; c.f. P.G. 94, 848-849 A). This aspect of the Trinitarian mystery was confessed at the seventh Ecumenical council, meeting at Nicaea in 787, by the Patriarch of Constantinople St. Tarasius, who developed the Symbol as follows: "to Pneuma to agion, to Kyrion kai Zoopoion, to ek tou Patros dia tou Uiou ekporeuomenon" (Mansi, XII, 1122 D).
...
St. Maximus the Confessor then wrote a letter from Rome linking together the two approaches - Cappadocian and Alexandrian - to the eternal origin of the Spirit: the Father is the sole Principle without Principle (in Greek, aitia) of the Son and of the Spirit; the Father and the Son are consubstantial source of the procession (to proienai) of this same Spirit. "For the procession they (the Romans) brought the witness of the Latin Fathers, as well, of course, as that of St. Cyril of Alexandria in his sacred study on the Gospel of St. John. On this basis they showed that they themselves do not make the Son cause (aitia) of the Spirit. They know, indeed, that the Father is the sole cause of the Son and of the Spirit, of one by generation and of the other by ekporeusis - but they explained that the latter comes (proienai) through the Son, and they showed in this way the unity and the immutability of the essence" (Letter to Marin of Cyprus, PG 91, 136 A-B).

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It is mine, and every other approved theologians contention that to posit any other distinction into the very Being of God is tantamount to destroying His absolute simplicity.

Nonsense. First, by any standard that would make someone an "approved theologian," Doctors of the Catholic Church like St. Gregory Theologian and St. John Damascene would be "approved theologians," and they all disagree with the notion that ontological (rather than relational) distinctions between the persons of the Trinity destroyed the divine simplicity. Second, I'm not aware of anything that dogmatically binds Catholics to every word that comes from the pen of an "approved theologian;" it is defined dogma that binds the conscience.
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This doctrine was defined by the Fourth Lateran Council: "In God there is only a Trinity, not a quaternity, because each of the three persons is that thing which is the substance, the essence, or the divine nature."

Oddly enough, that's probably the strongest passage against your view, since it affirms that each of the persons is the divine essence, not that all three together are. As you noted, the stronger passage is "three Persons indeed but one essense, substance, or nature absolutely simple," but I believe that Ott simply assumes his conclusion in interpreting that one.
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And again at the Council of Rheims against Poitiers.

St. Thomas himself says "It is reported that Gilbert de la Porree erred on this point, but revoked his error later at the council of Rheims. For he said that the divine relations are assistant, or externally affixed." I am not saying that the persons are something external or assistant to the essence.
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Again, from the authority of Augustine, ""When we say the person of the Father we are saying nothing else than the substance of the Father" 526 De Trinitate, VII, 6. "Nothing else" here means not really distinct.

Yes. As St. Thomas explains, "These words of Augustine do not imply that paternity or any other relation which is in God is not in its very being the same as the divine essence; but that it is not predicated under the mode of substance, as existing in Him to Whom it is applied; but as a relation. So there are said to be two predicaments only in God, since other predicaments import habitude to that of which they are spoken, both in their generic and in their specific nature; but nothing that exists in God can have any relation to that wherein it exists or of whom it is spoken, except the relation of identity; and this by reason of God's supreme simplicity." That is exactly what I consider to be the error, per Hughes's argument among other reasons.
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In the realm of creatures, essence and existence are indeed distinguished because, "It is proper in every substance, except subsisting being itself, that the substance itself be one thing and the being another." Contra Gentes, Bk. II, chap. 52, no. 1. It is antecedent to any consideration of our minds that you are not your being; in creatures, being is a "contingent attribute", it is something other than essence. In the Divine Being, all attributes are identical because God is a self-subsisting Being. The result of your doctrine is to make part of God into a creature.

Only by circular reasoning. You have assumed (without proof) that God is self-subsisting Being and that divine simplicity means that all attributes are identical in this self-subsisting Being. I reject both premises, as did the Eastern Fathers I cited. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange and Cardinal Cajetan provide no additional argument in that regard.
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Merely asserting your conclusion again? Now going beyond even what the Church has clearly defined? It does no such thing because the Divine Persons are incommunicable, whereas the Essence is communicable.

It's irrelevant that the Divine Persons are incommunicable if they aren't real. Moreover, if it were true, then the Father ought not to be able to pass the incommunicable personal attribute of spiring the Spirit to the Son, so to then assert the filioque would be self-contradictory.
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And we can see how that accusation is completely without foundation.

... if one uncritically accepts the word of particular theologians without actually examining the arguments involved.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 4:10 pm 
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Crimson, you didn't answer my question.

To repeat, "being" in the context of God is utterly beyond the human experience of being. To read God's "I AM WHO IS" as if it were simply an affirmation of the human mode of existence is simply anthropomorphizing the transcendent and ineffable God.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 4:16 pm 
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CrimsonCatholic wrote:
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Crimson, you didn't answer my question.

To repeat, "being" in the context of God is utterly beyond the human experience of being. To read God's "I AM WHO IS" as if it were simply an affirmation of the human mode of existence is simply anthropomorphizing the transcendent and ineffable God.

And to assume that is what Thomists do is naive and betrays a poro reading of them. We know being here analogically, not univocally

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