Saturday, January 4, 2014

"The intimate logic of the New Testament . . . imposes" the whole of that familial analogy of the Trinity according to which Adam stands for the Father; Eve for the Son; and Seth or Abel for the Holy Spirit

     “The familial analogy of the Trinity can be broken down into two aspects:  the paternity-filiation aspect, and the conjugal aspect.  It is clear that the first is explicitly contained in revelation and suggested by it.  It is permitted, even indispensable, to think that the second is at least insinuated [therein].  Theological, logical, and psychological or cultural reasons have not until recently permitted the development and explicit-ation of this implicit content of revelation.
     “First, the theological reasons:  such an explicitation [of the Trinity] [pre]supposes [that] the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit ‘a Patre Filioque tamquam ab unico principio, unica spiratione’ [(‘from the Father and the Son as from a single principle, a single spiration’)] has been irreversibly acquired [(en effet solidement acquise)].  Now, the first declaration of the extraordinary magisterium of the Church on this subject is that of the ecumenical council of Lyon in 1274 (DS 850; DB 460).
     “Next, the logical reasons:  the natural tendency of the human mind inclines it to associate Seth, Abel, or the infant with the only Son rather than [(et non à)] the Holy Spirit, and this parallelism seemed at first sight more satisfactory, because it underscored an analogical relation between son and earthly father [on the one hand] and Son and heavenly Father [on the other]; by a consequence not less logical, one was spontaneously inclined to assimilate aspects of [(partiellement)] the creation of Eve from the side of Adam to the procession of the Spirit (as did, for example, Saint John Damascene), in order to symbolize the procession of the Spirit from the Father, inasmuch as that would differ from the generation of the Son.  It did not even occur to most [(à l’esprit)] that one must invert the logical order in order to attain to a dogmatically satisfactory analogy, and assimilate Eve to the Word, [the] only Son.  Yet this was, as we have shown, the only way open to a fruitful understanding of the mystery, because it was the only [one] that allowed for an account, by way of [(en)] this analogy, not only of the generation of the Son, but also of the eternal procession of the Spirit in full conformity with definitively elaborated Catholic dogma.  The first [(i.e. Eve-Son)] version of the analogy was only a false lead that, for a long time, prevented the explicit-ation of the conjugal image of the Trinity.
     “Finally, the psychological or cultural reasons:  the familial analogy, since it implied, not only the father-son relation, but also the role of the woman, could not without peril be integrated into the didascalia, and much less still, into the kerygma; it would have favored a tritheist and sensual understanding of the Trinity, that is to say, its misunderstanding; even today it would doubtless be inopportune to promote it in an Islamic context; one can even wonder about the extent to which it can be presented to the Christian people as a whole, in our hedonistic age,  without peril of grave confusion.  Nonetheless, we think that it could [well] be the most eloquent way of facilitating from afar a glimpse into [(de faire soupçonner de loin)] the loving splendor of the procession [(la processions)] of the Holy Spirit, [that] mutual Love who proceeds from the Father and the Son as from a single [(unique)] principle and by a single spiration.  Thus the infant procedes from the mutual love of its parents as from a single principle, and by a single act of two [separate] persons.  Moreover, it would be easy to obviate the [(d’obvier aux)] perils of confusion by recalling not only the material, but also and above all the spiritual character of conjugal love [(cf. p. 83)], not to mention the divine transcendence:  ‘one cannot observe a similitude between creature and Creator without having to observe a dissimilitude even greater still’ (DS 806; DB 432):  inter creatorem et creaturam non potest similitude notary quin inter eos maior sit dissimilitudo notanda). . . .
“the two aspects of the analogy mutually implicate one another.  Paternity and filiation are situated in the framework of a matrimonial relation, and the latter is an image of the mystery only in the measure in which it is procreative, if, with Saint Paul, one admits the universal paradigmatic value of the triad Adam-Eve-Seth."

     Bertrand de Margerie, S. J., “L’analogie familiale de la Trinité,” Science et esprit 24, no. 1 (janvier-avril 1972):  86-87, 90 (77-92).  For further suggestions as to why the conjugal aspect of the analogy remains in Scripture only implicit, see. p. 91.  The hero of Margerie’s story is Gregory of Nazianzus, as sidelined on this point by the likes of Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas:
“What was Adam? A creature of God. What then was Eve? A fragment of the creature. And what was Seth? The begotten of both. Does it then seem to you that Creature and Fragment and Begotten are the same thing? Of course it does not. But were not these persons consubstantial? Of course they were. Well then, here it is an acknowledged fact that different persons may have the same substance. I say this, not that I would attribute creation or fraction or any property of body to the Godhead (let none of your contenders for a word be down upon me again), but that I may contemplate in these, as on a stage, things which are objects of thought alone. For it is not possible to trace out any image exactly to the whole extent of the truth. But, they say, what is the meaning of all this? For is not the one an offspring, and the other a something else of the One? Did not both Eve and Seth come from the one Adam? And were they both begotten by him? No; but the one was a fragment of him, and the other was begotten by him. And yet the two were one and the same thing; both were human beings; no one will deny that. Will you then give up your contention against the Spirit, that He must be either altogether begotten, or else cannot be consubstantial, or be God; and admit from human examples the possibility of our position? I think it will be well for you, unless you are determined to be very quarrelsome, and to fight against what is proved to demonstration” (Oration no. 31=Theological oration no. 5, sec. 11, as translated by Browne & Swallow (NPNF, ser. 2, vol. 7)).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"what imaginary world you're skipping through"

Louis:  “Where’s your gatekeeper?  Any Tom, Dick, or Harry can just waltz right in.”
Harvey:  “Well, I don’t see any Toms or Harrys here, but. . . .” (indicating Louis)
Louis:  “Okay.  Can we just please cut the small talk and you let me know what I’m not privy to?”
Harvey:  “I don’t what imaginary world you’re skipping through right now, Louis, but you’re there all by yourself.”

Suits, Season 2, Episode 4 (Discovery).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Every man is not a proper Champion for Truth, nor fit to take up the Gauntlet in the cause of Verity. . . ."

"I have no Genius to disputes in Religion, and have often thought it wisedome to decline them, especially upon a disadvantage, or when the cause of truth might suffer in the weakenesse of my patronage:  where wee desire to be informed, 'tis good to contest with men above our selves; but to confirme and establish our own opinions, 'tis best to argue with judgements below our own, that the frequent spoyles and victories over their reasons may settle in our selves an esteeme, and confirmed opinion of our owne.  Every man is not a proper Champion for Truth, nor fit to take up the Gantlet in the cause of Veritie:  Many from the ignorance of these Maximes, and an inconsiderate zeale unto Truth, have too rashly charged the troopes of error, and remaine as Trophees unto the enemies of Truth. . . ."

     Sir Thomas Browne, Religio medici I.6 (Sir Thomas Browne:  selected writings, ed. Sir Geoffrey Keynes (Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 1968), 11).  I was put on to this by Alan Jacobs, "No apologies," Books and culture, November/December 2013, 17.

"I have no Genius to disputes in Religion, and have often thought it wisdom to decline them, especially upon a disadvantage, or when the cause of truth might suffer in the weakness of my patronage:  where we desire to be informed, 'tis good to contest with men above our selves; but to confirm and establish our own opinions, 'tis best to argue with judgments below our own, that the frequent spoils and victories over their reasons may settle in our selves an esteem, and confirmed opinion of our own.  Every man is not a proper Champion for Truth, nor fit to take up the Gauntlet in the cause of Verity:  Many from the ignorance of these Maxims, and an inconsiderate zeal unto Truth, have too rashly charged the troops of error, and remain as Trophies unto the enemies of Truth. . . ."

Monday, December 30, 2013

"The preaching of grace can only be protected by the preaching of repentance."

"The promise of grace is not to be squandered; it needs to be protected from the godless.  There are those who are not worthy of the sanctuary.  The proclamation of grace has its limits.  Grace may not be proclaimed to anyone who does not recognize or distinguish or desire it. . . .  The world upon whom grace is thrust as a bargain will grow tired of it, and it will not only trample upon the Holy, but also will tear apart those who force it upon them.  For its own sake, for the sake of the sinner, and for the sake of the community, the Holy is to be protected from cheap surrender.  The Gospel is protected by the preaching of repentance which calls sin sin and declares the sinner guilty.  The key to loose is protected by the key to bind.  The preaching of grace can only be protected by the preaching of repentance."

     Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collected works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ed. Edwin H. Robertson, trans. Edwin H. Robinson and John Bowden, vol. 2, The way to freedom:  letters, lectures and notes 1935-1939 (New York:  Harper and Row, 1966), 151, citing Mt 7:6, as quoted on pp. 292-293 of Bonhoeffer:  pastor, martyr, prophet, spy (Nashville, TN:  Thomas Nelson, 2010), by Eric Metaxas.
     Statements like this were of course coupled with the practice of confession (to, for example, Bethge).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

"'With your splendid theological armor and your upright German figure, should you not perhaps be almost a little ashamed at a man like Heinrich Vogel? . . .'"

"Dear Colleague!

"You can deduce from the very way in which I address you that I do not regard your departure for England as anything but a necessary personal interlude.  Once you had this thing on your mind, you were quite right not to ask for my wise counsel first.  I would have advised you against it absolutely, and probably by bringing up my heaviest artillery.  And now, as you are mentioning the matter to me after the fact, I can honestly not tell you anything but 'Hurry back to your post in Berlin!' . . . With your splendid theological armor and your upright German figure, should you not perhaps be almost a little ashamed at a man like Heinrich Vogel, who, wizened and worked up as he is, is just always there, waving his arms like a windmill and shouting 'Confession!  Confession!' in his own wayin power or in weakness, that doesn't matter so muchactually giving his testimony? . . . Be glad that I do not have you here in person, for I would let go at you urgently in quite a different way, with the demand that you must now let go of all these intellectual flourishes and special considerations, however interesting they may be, and think of only one thingthat you are a German, that the house of your church is on fire, that you know enough and can say what you know well enough to be able to help, and that you must return to your post by the next ship. . . ."


     Karl Barth to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 20 November 1933, as quoted (but with the substitution of "now" (jetzt) for "not") by Eric Metaxas, in Bonhoeffer:  pastor, martyr, prophet, spy (Nashville, TN:  Thomas Nelson, 2010), 197-198, where DBWorks 13 (London:  1933-1935), trans. Isabel Best (2007), 39-41, is cited.
     Until I can check DBWerke 13, here is the German as quoted on p. 158n275 of Wie Schafe mitten unter die Wölfe:  Die Bekennende Kirche in Ostpreußen und Dietrich Bonhoeffers Visitationsreisen 1940 (2012), by Ulrich Schoenborn: