And Then There Were Three…

20 Responses

  1. evagrius says:

    If God is "self-contained", ( is this "God as esse or the Tri-Une God?), then how can God have any relationship to human beings and the world?

  2. Elmo says:

    "Self-contained" is not synonymous with "isolated" or "unapproachable". It means what it says, God is contained within himself. There is no thing or place that contains God, except God.

    While being self contained the hypostases of the Godhead can and do interact with humans and the world as they please.

  3. evagrius says:

    You might do better reading Palamas and Dionysius. Your terms are too ambiguous.

  4. Elmo says:

    Ambiguous? The term is as simple as it could possibly be. There is no extrapolation needed. You would like to attach the concept of "ego" or the jump to the conclusion that God would not be able to interact, but those are not part of the simplistic term "self-contained".

    There is no ambiguity here. God contains all of God. No thing in creation, nor creation itself, can contain God. To say that God is not self-contained is to say that he is not contained at all, and that he cannot separate himself from anything. Is that what you're saying?

  5. evagrius says:

    I think you mean that God is "self-sufficient". "Self-contained" is a spacial term, one not appropriate to God Who is not "contained" by either space or time but is neither in space or time since both of these are creations of God.

    All beings are not self-sufficient being dependent on a Source for their being and existence.

    God is not dependent on Being, since God is the Source of Being, hence is self-sufficient.

    Self-sufficiency does not limit relationship with dependent beings.

  6. Elmo says:

    You've made my point. God "is not 'contained' by either space or time, but is neither in space or time." But God, while being transcendent and immanent, is separate from creation. Creation exists through God, but is not God, thus God is "other".

    Perhaps what I mean is that creation is contained by, and separate from, God. God sustains and upholds creation, and interacts at his pleasure, but is not "one with" creation. There is still a barrier standing between the two. That barrier exists only because God wills/allows it to. But it is there, nonetheless.

    I agree with your statement about God's self-sufficiency. Well said.

    You close by saying, "Self-sufficiency does not limit relationship…" The implication being that containment does, and I agree with you there. I'm going to dump the "self-contained" language, because it isn't suitable for the concept I'm trying to articulate.

    Creation is separated from God. By this I mean that creation and God are not one. They are separated. That separation is caused by sin, and is governed by God. Nothing limits our relationship with God but God. He will not have full union with a sinful being. So, yes, our ability to relate to God is limited, and I have no theological problem with that.

  7. evagrius says:

    Have to disagree on the separation between creation and God. It's not caused by sin. It's the very fact that existence is dependent on God and not vice-versa.

    Creation is always contingent and always "in" space and time, ( space-time are correlative). Existence is always in space-time.

    God, properly, does not exist. God is "beyond" existence.

    Our separation from God is two-fold. One is caused by sin, the other is ontological, the fact of being creatures.

    Gregory of Nyssa pointed out that we will never attaing the "fulness" of God since God is infinite, or better, beyond infinity, ( though what we perceive is infinity).

    Read "Cosmic Liturgy" on St. Maximus the Confessor, by Hans Urs Von Balthasar. It gives a good overview of all this.

  8. Elmo says:

    Have to disagree on the separation between creation and God. It’s not caused by sin…Our separation from God is two-fold. One is caused by sin…

    Were you being ironic intentionally, or did you just stumble into it?

    As for the ontological separation, I'd rather call it "difference", but that's neither here nor there. It doesn't really matter. Though you may not like to admit it, we now agree. I never saw it coming.

    On a side note, I just recently encountered an opinion about the difference between the statements "God exists" and "God is". I agree that God is beyond existence, beyond being. I think that's the purpose of the "I am" statements of the Bible.

    I also agree that "we will never attain the fullness of God, since God is infinite" (though if we could haggle semantically, "infinity" is not perceivable; but saying that God is beyond infinity, or beyond unending, beyond eternal, adds to his majesty…I like it). This makes it even more significant that Christ was "in very nature God" and that "all the fullness of the Deity will be pleased to dwell" in our risen bodies, just as in Christ's risen body.

    I'm still on Bloesch right now, and trying to finish this Counterpoints book on salvation.

  9. evagrius says:

    I wasn't being ironic. You stated creation is separated from God by sin. It's not. Creation is separated from God ontologically.

    We human beings are separated from God ontologically and by sin. The two are different types of separation.

  10. Elmo says:

    So, both times you said that creation isn't separated from God by sin, only to state that creation is separated from God by sin. I'm confused. Do you mean to say that creation isn't only separated from God by sin?

    Nevertheless, the sin-separation is the important one here. The ontological separation is not the reason God chooses not to have full union with man, sin is. This is evidenced in Christ, who was the perfect union of God and man.

  11. evagrius says:

    You're confusing creation with humanity.

    Is the world, ( the universe, nature), the creation of God?

    Human beings are a "special" creation of God, separate from the world, ( the rest of creation if you wish).

    The universe is not separated from God by sin. It's we who are separated from God by sin.

    The creation is not sinful. We are.

    Creation suffers from our sin, not from its sin. It's we who affect creation that way. It's not the other way around.

    As far as the ontological separation, some Church Fathers held that the Incarnation would have taken place even without sin. It would just have a full development of creation without the necessity of conquering death..

  12. Elmo says:

    I see what your saying now. I don't necessarily see the need for the distinction. But hey, I'll say humanity instead. I'll even spot you that "creation" isn't separated from God by sin.

    Back to the original point: God is self-contained(i.e.: separate from man and all of creation).

    As for the Fathers' position about the Incarnation…I disagree, but it's not really important.

  13. Elmo says:

    Ok, so I'll take your silence on the issue to say that you now agree with my premise that God is self-contained. Since that, along with Borg's denial of the incarnation, which you asked me to cite, was the topic of this thread, I'm going to move on.

  14. evagrius says:

    No. No silence.

    Read the article.

    THEN discuss self-containment.

  15. Elmo says:

    So, that was…interesting. I disagree, but it was interesting. My problems?

    1) The redemption view that is discarded is Biblical, and I don't believe that it developed because the disciples were grieving and trying to make sense of it all.

    2) The atonement is not about God being angry, nor did he "[demand] Jesus' suffering and death". Jesus came to offer himself as a sacrifice. The atonement is about God condescending to right our wrong. As Christ says in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends."

    3) "God becoming human is not an afterthought," but where in Scripture do we see that the incarnation is the purpose of creation? God and humanity had an undamaged relationship in Eden, before the fall. There was contact, and the "divine dance". But God knew that the fall would ruin that, and knew what he was going to do to redeem creation.

    4) Is one Gospel account more important than the others? The article admits that the other accounts view Jesus' death as a ransom…why does John's account take priority? Not only that, but John does use sacrificial language: "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"; "…he gavehis only begotten…"; "The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep."; and the aforementioned 15:13. Why is he laying his life down, if not for atonement?

    5) Are two epistles more important than the rest? The writer's acknowledge "Paul’s theology of the cross with its imagery of ransom and sacrifice," so why is that theology not important?

    That's my brief critique of the article. Back to self-containment: this article holds no authority for me, particularly because of the problems I listed. So it's one line reference to God's interrelatedness not being self-contained is meaningless to me. On top of that, the reference is to the acts of creation, incarnation and final fulfillment, which implies that it is self-contained between those acts. Now I really am going to move on.

  16. evagrius says:

    You should since you still can't understand the nuances of theological language.

    No offense but you're using a much too simplistic language..

  17. Elmo says:

    Oh, right, no offense. I'm sure. Why is there a problem with simplistic language? Nuance is good, but it's too often used to cloud the evidence, and the truth, rather than clarify it. I guess the problem with simple language is that it means what it says.

    Thank you for insulting my intelligence, though. Can't get enough of that. I'm sure you feel the same, so I'll say that you don't understand the Biblical narrative, a simplistic term by which I mean creation, fall, and redemption.

    Have a nice day!

  18. evagrius says:

    I'm not insulting your intelligence. I'm insulting your refusal to use your intelligence.

    And no, I don't "understand" creation, fall and redemption. It's not something to understand.

  19. Elmo says:

    "It's not something to understand"? What in the world does that mean? Wait, is this where you throw in some theological "nuance" that, in essence, is a very complicated way of saying that the word "understand" is too simple to use in this situation, so you throw in words like "apprehend"?

    If so here is my preemptive strike – creation, fall, and redemption is something that must be apprehended by faith, but also understood intellectually in order to think and speak theologically.

    My refusal to agree with you is not the same as a refusal to use my intelligence.

    I also have to say that it's strange that a few weeks ago you said my terms were too ambiguous, now you think they are too simple. Make up your mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *