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I am continuing to ponder all this, and I hope you won't mind if I mention a little more about my attempts to grasp the distinction you are making (Eastern vs. Augustinian understanding of the Trinity).

As I look through Scripture (I am Evangelical, so that is my natural starting point), I see a recurring "theme" (perhaps there is a better word) in which God makes or declares to be "one" what we would naturally observe to be "two" or even "many": We see the man and we see the woman -- different not so much as individuals as types, male and female -- but God declares them to be one. The Good Shepherd has not only the sheep the Jews knew (namely the Jews) but also other sheep (the Gentiles), and they will listen to His voice and there will be one flock and one shepherd. The apostle Paul speaks of the mystery God has revealed to him; "The mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 3:6). Later in Ephesians Paul speaks of the union between husband and wife and between Christ and the Church as a profound mystery. Our Lord Jesus, whom the Jews could plainly see as a man, caused tremendous offense at His assertion of being one with the Father. In I Corinthians the apostle Paul describes the Church as a body (the Body of Christ), of which all the Christians are members (members in the organic rather than organizational sense -- i.e., the sense in which my hand is a member of my body, not the sense in which I might be a member of a club). In His prayer in John 17 our Lord prays that those who believe in Him may be one, just as He is in the Father and the Father in Him. He says that the oneness of the believers testifies to the world of who He is. He speaks of giving to them the glory He received from the Father so that the believers may be one as the Father and Son are one. And He even speaks of being in the believers as the Father is in Him.

In our Lord's prayer in John 17 He seems explicitly to relate the oneness of the Church to His oneness with the Father, and thus I might hope to take these various pictures of oneness as reflecting in some degree the oneness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The idea is that God, in His creation, has given us pictures or metaphors that reflect something of Himself. They are material, finite pictures, and we must recognize their limitations (as you mention above, Fr. Jonathan, in my thoughts about Adam and Eve) and our own limitations in grasping them, and yet to finite creatures like ourselves they can be an aid in understanding God's truth. So, I hope with due reverence and caution, I am trying to draw some conclusions from these pictures.

In each of these cases the distinction of persons as individuals or as types (Jew/Gentile, male/female, God/man) is clear. The mystery or the point of offense is the oneness. In our thinking about the Trinity, then, if the metaphors carry over, we would expect to see the distinction of the Persons more clearly than their being one substance -- the distinction is likely to be more apparent, the union more a mystery, even though both are true (I would say "equally" true, but truth does not admit of degrees).

As I try to understand your post about Augustine's teaching about the Trinity, it comes across to me Augustine was trying to treat the oneness, the consubstantiality, as the obvious truth, leaving the distinction of Persons as the matter of deeper obscurity. Is this an accurate portrayal of his views, as far as it goes?

Some consequences of these views come readily to mind, though here perhaps my muddled thoughts become even more speculative: Unity, in its best sense, requires both distinction and union, for there must be a genuine joining of what is genuinely distinct. Tritheism denies unity because there is no union. Modalism denies unity because there is no genuine distinction and thus, ultimately, nothing to unite. Only in genuine unity are there the perfect ties of love and honor and submission that we see in, for instance, the Son's obedience to the Father and the Holy Spirit's glorification of the Son.

Here again I find the picture of marriage helpful, and I think the world's current decadence gives ready pictures of what tri-theism and modalism look like when transferred to the metaphor of marriage.

In the feminist, egalitarian thinking that dominates our society, marriage is an arrangement of convenience between two sovereigns. The man and the woman are equal in all ways and there are no meaningful distinctions between them (biology being a triviality). Each has his or her own profession and is, thus, self-sufficient. They will stay together as long as both find value in doing so, and they will divorce and continue their lives as separate sovereign persons if they find that more attractive at some point. This is the picture of tri- (or bi-)theism.

On the other hand the perversion falsely called "same-sex marriage" is a picture of modalism. When two men "marry," there is no union because there is no distinction in type. There is no husband or wife, nothing inherent in the two persons to distinuish them. You can distinguish them only in terms of function and in their having different names. There is no loving submission or loving accommodation reflecting the differences in type of the two.

In true marriage, however, two persons, genuinely different (again as types, as male and female), are joined together by God in a true union, in which the differences of the sexes give rise to the many expressions of love and consideration and submission and cooperation that could exist no other way. It is always clear at a glance who is the husband and who is the wife, and they are plainly not the same. Yet their union, though invisible and mysterious, is just as real as their distinction. This, I suspect, is one of the best pictures we are likely to get in this fallen world of the Trinity -- though again I say this cautiously, knowing the finite picture can represent only imperfectly what is infinite.

The SVSPress book on some Wesleyan-Orthodox dialogs mentioned the sourcing of Macarius or pseudo-Macarius by the Wesleys. Some efforts resulted in well known hymns--that I knew. Several interesting essays in the book. (Glad I got it.) More details can also be found from Googling.

"I'm not sure what 'visionary' means here"
I chose the wrong word. Luther was by far more charismatic than the more thoughtful Melanchthon (as far as I know). Certainly Luther was able to stir up the masses and then have them put down.

"Question though: do we know anything about the Reformers' understanding of the Cappadocians? John Wesley seems to have been remarkably Patristic, but what about the Reformers? The Anabaptists (Grebel et al) logically found the Fathers (Cappadocians and Augustine) equally repellent."

I don't know for sure, but I suspect Wesley's familiarity with the Cappodocians is due to his reading of Arminius, whose non-Augustinian teachings were clearly rejected by the latter Reformers. Just a guess, but Augustine does provide a determinism that has always appealed to westerners (e.g. Manifest Destiny, the Protestant work ethic). The visceral rejection of eastern "mysticism" is based on an abhorrence for mystery. I'd like to think that postmodernism will help correct it, but more likely the pendulum will swing to the other extreme: ahistorical buddhism.

Here's an interesting anecdote: a friend of mine was visiting a Muslim country and was on a bus. While engaging in the universal habit of driving like a maniac, the bus driver struck a bicyclist, who went spinning off into the gutter. The bus driver kept going, and exclaimed, "It was the will of Allah!" Hmm. Seems like determinism has found a comfortable place in Islam.

I thought so, Ben. I'm not sure what "visionary" means here, as I thought that Melanchthon was the actual author of the Augsburg Confession, and thus might have been the real visionary. Augsburg, by the way, retained the Filioque. I think at that time, Augustinian Trinitarianism was already the default position, since Patriarch Cyril Lucaris published a crypto-Calvinistic confession that included the "compromise formula" teaching that "the Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father through the Son and is homoouisios with the Father and the Son."

This was characteristic of a time when Orthodox opposition to Rome was based on Protestant principles, and opposition to the Reformers was based on Jesuit teaching.

That was an unfortunate recession of thought, where the proper dialectic was inverted, and the tip of the triangle occupied by Orthodoxy was at the bottom, when it should be atop the base. I'm afraid that very tradition continues in some circles today.

Question though: do we know anything about the Reformers' understanding of the Cappadocians? John Wesley seems to have been remarkably Patristic, but what about the Reformers? The Anabaptists (Grebel et al) logically found the Fathers (Cappadocians and Augustine) equally repellent.

Well, off to the Barber (old sense): the stones are back (every meaning of punishment is fully intended). Purgatory, not the apocalypse, is now.

"Why they picked Augustine instead of the Cappadocians, I still do not understand."

Because Martin Luther was an Augustinian friar. He worked with what he knew. True, Philip Melanchthon was a Grecophile, but he wasn't the visionary that Luther was. Calvin ... who knows.

Sorry, Father. Somehow I had thought that you are currently Anglican.

Well, V., of course you're right about there not being a real "Blessed" in the Orthodox hagiological system (probably because, thank heaven, we have no such system). Opinions certainly are all over the map: Seraphim Rose praises him; Azkoul and Yannaras excoriate him.

The title "Blessed" is used in my book simply to denote ambivalence. I don't think there is any doubt that he is the author of the doctrinal development that culminated in the Filioque, and the Roman Trinitarianism that I find so bothersome. At the same time, he is also the author of texts that include bon mots such as "Our hearts shall ever restless be, until they find their rest in Thee."

Gotta love him.

Thank you for your post. One minor correction: in the Orthodox Church, opinions about St. Augustine are all over the map. Nevertheless, the mind of the Church is clear: Blessed Augustine is a Saint of the Orthodox Church, despite his errors. "Blessed" and "Saint" are often used interchangeably in Orthodoxy, unlike Romanism.

Thanks for the good words. The apophatic approach is certainly saner, and truer, when thinking of the Trinity.

The possibility of Adam and Eve as a metaphor for the two views is intriguing. There is a limitation, however, in that the two humans are not nearly as "consubstantial" as is the Tri-Hypostatic Deity. We must, especially in the East, be careful in our Person-ism to not fall into Tritheism. Some early critiques of St. Justin the Philospher accused him of being a "di-theist," when he insisted on the distinction between the Father and the Logos.

The Athanasian Creed is rarely used anywhere in public prayer. I think it is called for in the Western office of Prime, at the beginning of the daily canonical cycle of the hours. That, however, is not done so often, and that Creed is not really exercised liturgically. It is probably not the work of St. Athanasius, since it was probably written in Latin, and has more to do with the thinking of St. Ambrose (whose Feast Day is today on the Gregorian Calendar). Nevertheless it is a fine Creed, especially in its focused fire against Arianism (and liberal Protestantism). I wouldn't call it deficient at all. Not with the likes of Dorothy Sayers, who wrote a brilliant literary essay entitled "The Mind of the Maker" based on this Creed.

Neither would I ever cast a single aspersion against the Apostles' Creed. This statement is noted first in St. Hippolytus in the early third century, and was used mainly as a confession of faith for baptismal candidates in the Roman church community.

Neither of these statements are shallow, ignorant or incorrect. There is no denial in either statement of the distinct Persons in the Trinity.

But the Creed that actually reflects the Patristic -- especially Athanasian and Cappadocian -- affirmation of the Tri-Personhood and Single-Essence of the Trinity is the one produced by the First and Second Councils at Nicaea and Constantinople respectively. This Creed is the best in the "apophatic" declaration of how not to think of the Trinity: we should not think of the Son as a Creature, but as consubstantial with the Father. We should not think of the Holy Spirit as "divine love itself," or as a derivative of the Father-Son dyad. The Creed does not define God, but it does identify how not to think of God.

Incidentally, that is why I continue to think that the Filioque controversy is far from being dead. The interpolation "and the Son" is not the meaningless phrase that some Romans think it is. It may even be stricken from the text, but the thinking represented by the Filioque remains in force: "And the Son" is definitely Roman theology as it stands in the Magisterium, and it is hardly indistinct from Patristic and Orthodox dogma.

The insertion of "Filioque" contradicts the apophatic mission of the Nicene Creed, and comprises a radical, "cataphatic" departure from Holy Tradition.

Your writings fascinate me, although I am not well educated in the history and theology that you refer to with such precision.
As a Lutheran, I have only been exposed to the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds. I've always felt that the Apostles Creed puts the Holy Spirit in the back seat.
Your writing, if I understand correctly, states that these creeds/my faith is...shallow?...ignorant?...incorrect? because it denies a mystical, personal identity to each of the Godheads?
Our service book includes the Anathasian Creed, which I always ask to use on Holy Trinity Sunday (and I am always politely told "no"...too long for a Protestant service, you know.) Does the Anathasian Creed come closer to satisfying your requirements?
Thank You

Fr. Jonathan, thank you for taking the time to write this summary.

This is new ground for me, and in trying to take it in I am thinking of the creation of Eve from Adam. Adam recognizes her as flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone -- if I may say it reverently, one substance with him. And yet they are persons, distinct persons, who relate to each other as husband and wife. This is how I am trying to draw a mental picture of the Eastern view of the Trinity.

In contrast the Augustinian view would see Adam and Eve as two expressions of their common flesh, distinguished as persons only by their relationships -- namely one being husband and one being wife.

I realize I am trying to speak of heavenly things in terms of earthly ones, but is this picture at least suggestive of difference between the two views of the Trinity?

Considering the expansive subject, this is a wonderfully concise summary.
If any reader is inclined to yawn at the mention of "scholasticism," let me suggest that you ponder the difference between apophatic and cataphatic/kataphatic theology (good ole Wikipedia is pretty good on this). Isn't the apophatic approach manifestly saner when speaking of the ineffable?

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