Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The View of The Divine Essence in Eastern Orthodoxy is Self-Referentially Incoherent

The Eastern Orthodox view of the Divine Essence is outrageously absurd. Eastern Christians hold that there are three things that God is comprised of: the Essence, the Energies, and the Hypostasis. The Essence of God is entirely unknowable in Eastern Orthodoxy. The energies are the uncreated light or actions of God. The Hypostasis is the persons who are distinct but are related to the Divine essence. Now what is the problem with this?

The problem is as obvious as 1+1=9. If we do no know anything of the Divine Essence then we know at least one thing about it: that it is unknowable. So the proposition that we do not know anything of the Divine Essence is not only false but necessarily false. Therefore, Eastern Orthodoxy is necessarily false.

NPT

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude, you need to stop embarrassing yourself. Read some sophisticated Orthodox theologians. Heck, read some basic stuff.

Every single critique you have authored thus far has caused me to laugh audibly. It's sad.

Nathanael Taylor said...

Well thanks for responding to my argument.

NPT

Anonymous said...

You haven't made an argument.

Samuel Garcia said...

Anonymous, he who declares he knows much while basing his claim on others apart from his own reasoning betrays the simple nature of his grandiose claims. One should offer substantive critiques.

Why? Go read some sophisticated logicians, or some basic logic. :P

Nathanael Taylor said...

hmmmm....well I am glad you got that...that was pretty thick sarcasm.....

Dionysios said...

Nate -

It might be a good idea to request the admin of this blog (whichever of you is doing that) to disable anonymous commenting. That should help you with accountability and allow you to weed out jerks.

Just a suggestion, feel free to take it or leave it.

Again, I'm sorry about this person's unkind comments.

- Dionysios

- Dionysios

Nathanael Taylor said...

Thank you again!

By the way I really respect the blog that you, Garten, and Mark have up. It's a great source for natural theology and for a clear understanding of eastern theology, which westerners like myself at times lack. By the way Michael Garten is pretty much a theological and philosophical machine....not to mention a good guy in general.

God Bless,

NPT

David N said...

"By the way Michael Garten is pretty much a theological and philosophical machine..."

Amen. :)

(Mike, if you're reading this, don't get a big head, haha).

David Cox said...

Do you guys all know eachother?

David N said...

To everyone,

I have disabled anonymous comments. From now on, if you're going to have a bad attitude, at least have the guts to leave your name.

David C,

Nate, Catz and I all know the bloggers from "Well of Questions." We went to college together last year. It was the fruit produced in that small, personal community that prompted us to carry the Protestant-Orthodox dialog to a wider audience via this blog.

David N said...

CORRECTION,

Anonymous comments will NOT be disabled, because to do so would also bar anyone from commenting who doesn't have a blog or livejournal, etc.

Still, we would appreciate it if no one commented anonymously. Thank you.

Acolyte4236 said...

It would prove helpful to you Nate, if you spent some time reading the best that a position has to offer prior to proclaiming absolute victory and convicting the other side of stupidity.

So, I'd ask, what have you read on this subject?

Catz206 said...

"By the way Michael Garten is pretty much a theological and philosophical machine..."

Tis true :)

"Do you guys all know eachother?"
Some of us. We go to school together.

David N said...

acolyte,

It would prove helpful to everyone if comments were restricted to actually addressing the content of the post. If you think that Nate hasn't read anything on this subject, and therefore that he's misrepresented the Orthodox position in some way, simply point out the misrepresentation and help Nate to correct his position. Or offer a suggestion of a good book you think he should read, if he hasn't already. This post was short enough, it should be easy for you to point out the flaw.

Nathanael Taylor said...

So, I'd ask, what have you read on this subject?

Response: What have I misrepresented that would suggests that I need further reading? You told me this very view to my face and I told you then that's why I could never become eastern orthodox. So what about my post have I gotten wrong in this post?

NPT

Acolyte4236 said...

David,

I would, but I am more concerned about what Nate and others here are *doing.* It doesn't seem good for *them* to be condemning a view prior to doing any significant research into it. Is that how they prefer their view to be treated? Is it good for them to be imprudent? What's with the mad rush to trash Orthodoxy? It is if they have some need to do so. I mean none of the objections that have been raised here seem to me to be substantial or difficult to address. Further, why should I have to recommend a good book on the subject if Nate and others here have already done the research? If they haven't, why are they prejudging the matter?

As for the material, here are some comments.First, the three part distinction between Person, activity and essence is taught by the Fathers. You can only impugn Orthodoxy on this point by saying that the majority of Christian theologians for centuries were idiots.

Second, you get the view wrong in a number of ways. God is not “comprised” of anything since that would imply composition. Second, the “essence” functions as a place holder, particularly a causal place holder in Ps. Dionysius’ thought for example. Further, it is no more absurd than to say that there are truths that we do not and cannot know. When we deny knowledge of God ad intra we are denying anything informative. If you think it is informative that the essence is unknowable, then I can’t help you. And yet we are not quite there. If the essence of God is not being, then the verb to be isn’t strictly speaking applicable and so there can’t “be” one thing about it that we know, since knowledge is only appropriate relative to things that “be.” To be (pun) apophatic, to say that the divine essence IS unknowable is also inadequate.

David Cox said...

The main problem here is that no one has the authority to claim the other side of "heresy" or of being "incoherent." All you can rely on is your best informed reason. Due to the fact that you deny the authority of tradition or the magiesterium, you find yourself lacking any real backing for your arguments.

Here is the thing:
The main difference between the Orthodox/Catholic position and the protestant position is that Orthodox and Catholics follow tradition and admit it. Protestants follow tradition as well, yet deny it. Whether you like it or not, your opionions are formed by your culture, upbringing, teachers, etc. When you find a passage in scripture that is difficult to interpret, you may search a commentary or a book on the subject. Once that happens you are using an outside authority to help shape your opinion, the very thing that you say makes the RC or EO wrong.

The beauty of the Catholic (I can't speak for Orthodox)position on scripture interpretation is that it gives us parameters within which we can dig as deep as we like. It isn't binding, it is liberating. It is like a scientist using the laws of physics or mathematics to guide them in their quest for answers. The protestant has no such parameters (other than their own intellect), which allows them to bounce around never really being able to go very deep. The difference between looking at the laws of nature and theology is that there is no way to gather empirical evidence in regards to God. We can't observe God in order to test our hypotheses.

Which then leads us to the ultimate question which is appropriate for this blog, "By Whose Authority?" What are the possible answers to this question?

Catz206 said...

“What's with the mad rush to trash Orthodoxy? It is if they have some need to do so.”

This blog is not part of a mad rush to trash Eastern Orthodoxy or our brothers and sisters who belong to it. The blog has been in existence for quite sometime as my personal exploration and was later opened up in order to share my findings (originally geared more towards the canon) with other Protestants and Eastern Orthodox. Before it was linked with other blogs it was available for quite some time on my profile on face book while I began cleaning it up so as to delete specific names of people who I came across.

The want and not “need” is mere curiosity and the joy of dialogue on my part and I suspect on the parts of the others who contribute and interact on this blog.

Nathanael Taylor said...

”I would, but I am more concerned about what Nate and others here are *doing.* It doesn't seem good for *them* to be condemning a view prior to doing any significant research into it. Is that how they prefer their view to be treated? Is it good for them to be imprudent? What's with the mad rush to trash Orthodoxy? It is if they have some need to do so. I mean none of the objections that have been raised here seem to me to be substantial or difficult to address. Further, why should I have to recommend a good book on the subject if Nate and others here have already done the research? If they haven't, why are they prejudging the matter?”

Response: I wouldn’t mind if someone made a post about Reformed theology that was incorrect. I would just correct it and say oh that isn’t what Reformed people believe; rather they believe this or that. Or if they made a bad argument against my position then I would give reasons for why I reject one of their premises otherwise I just wouldn’t arbitrarily wave my hand like an old angry reformed fart saying “you need to read Berkof” *not that you’re an old crazy reformed far *. Anybody can do that it’s not hard….usually I find it when someone who holds a contrary position other than mine tells me to read someone when they can’t defend their own position….I find in these special circumstance the person I was talking to could defend their position better than the stuff they referred to. But if I am ignorant of something then I apologize for that and I would ask that you would correct me and give me some orthodox authority to support that claim.

As for the material, here are some comments.First, the three part distinction between Person, activity and essence is taught by the Fathers. You can only impugn Orthodoxy on this point by saying that the majority of Christian theologians for centuries were idiots.

Response: That’s right but that would be only problem if I held your view of church and scripture, which thankfully I don’t. So I don’t mind your subtle begging of the question.

Second, you get the view wrong in a number of ways. God is not “comprised” of anything since that would imply composition.

Response: Oh okay. Thank you for that. I wasn’t using the word in that way, but I could understand where you are coming from since that is the basic usage of the word so far as I can see.

Second, the “essence” functions as a place holder, particularly a causal place holder in Ps. Dionysius’ thought for example.

Response: So you do know something about the divine essence then? That seems to contradict one what of your best friends has said…you might know him 

“The super-essential nature of God is not a subject for speech or thought or even contemplation, for it is far removed from all that exists and more than unknowable . . . incomprehensible and ineffable to all for ever. There is no name whereby it can be named, neither in this age nor in the age to come, nor word found in the soul and uttered by the tongue, nor contact whether sensible or intellectual, nor yet any image which may afford any knowledge of its subject. . . None can properly name its essence or nature if he be truly seeking the truth that is above all truth.”
- St. Gregory Palamas


Further, it is no more absurd than to say that there are truths that we do not and cannot know. When we deny knowledge of God ad intra we are denying anything informative. If you think it is informative that the essence is unknowable, then I can’t help you.

Response: Interesting. I think it’s pretty informative that’s why I think your position is so unreasonable. It’s like me saying I don’t think it is informative that my little cousin doesn’t know that 1+1= 8,090 and that he therefore, doesn’t know that 1+1=2. It seems to me what you are saying is equally absurd but I think we might just have to disagree with you on that. Fair enough I suppose.

And yet we are not quite there. If the essence of God is not being, then the verb to be isn’t strictly speaking applicable and so there can’t “be” one thing about it that we know, since knowledge is only appropriate relative to things that “be.” To be (pun) apophatic, to say that the divine essence IS unknowable is also inadequate.

Response: I know you and Garten are very consistent with your interesting position. You cannot even speak of it. It seems very irrationalistic and mysterious to me. My question is this: Why even make the distinction between the essence, the hypostasis, and the energies? Why not just the energies and the hypostasis? Since God is so ineffable (his essence) then his essence doesn’t exist…so then would you be comfortable with saying that God doesn’t exist? For you to even mention it or mention place holders already presupposes some knowledge of it either negatively or relationally which you strictly don’t have. So like other eastern irrationalitisic view points such as Hinduism arguments and philosophy becomes useless because our concepts which are expressed by language cannot adequately grasp reality or in your case the divine essence. It seems to me what you are saying here doesn’t seem at all like I have misrepresented your position at all badly…it is what I thought it was originally except I just use philosophy and reason to plow through the eastern conception of God which you will just decry as inappropriate or as a category mistake.

Thanks for your time Perry. I encourage you to post on this blog again. Your time and impute is very great on these matters….seeing that you know more orthodox theology and philosophy than I will ever know.

God Bless,

NPT

Nathanael Taylor said...

The main problem here is that no one has the authority to claim the other side of "heresy" or of being "incoherent." All you can rely on is your best informed reason. Due to the fact that you deny the authority of tradition or the magiesterium, you find yourself lacking any real backing for your arguments.

Response: No we don’t. The Bible is our authority. We have to interpret just like you have to interpret tradition and teaching authority.

Here is the thing:
The main difference between the Orthodox/Catholic position and the protestant position is that Orthodox and Catholics follow tradition and admit it. Protestants follow tradition as well, yet deny it. Whether you like it or not, your opionions are formed by your culture, upbringing, teachers, etc. When you find a passage in scripture that is difficult to interpret, you may search a commentary or a book on the subject. Once that happens you are using an outside authority to help shape your opinion, the very thing that you say makes the RC or EO wrong.

Response: You have misunderstood the Protestant position. We grant that we interpret the Bible in light of the influences of our culture, but the culture is not authoritative like the teaching of the church. We try to be epistemologically self-conscious of our biases. We interpret the Bible (which is infallibly) fallibly. You also are influence by your culture when you interpret the churches teaching but the culture isn’t divinely inspired or authoritative. So this is just a basic mistake in language and logic here Dave in equivocation. We both have the same problem Dave but Protestants are more honest about it. We interpret our infallible authority fallibly just like you, even if you are reading or listening to a interpretation by church you still have to interpret that interpretation fallibly.

The beauty of the Catholic (I can't speak for Orthodox)position on scripture interpretation is that it gives us parameters within which we can dig as deep as we like. It isn't binding, it is liberating. It is like a scientist using the laws of physics or mathematics to guide them in their quest for answers. The protestant has no such parameters (other than their own intellect), which allows them to bounce around never really being able to go very deep. The difference between looking at the laws of nature and theology is that there is no way to gather empirical evidence in regards to God. We can't observe God in order to test our hypotheses.

Response: I’ve think I have answered this like over 5 times. You use your own intellect to interpret the church and their parameters. The only difference between you and I is that you have the church as an authority and I have scripture. Unfortunately, your church accepts the scriptures as authoritative (albeit as interpreted by the church which you have to interpret to interpret the Bible) and what is funny about that is in doing so your church rejects the gospel taught in the scripture which is justification by faith!

Which then leads us to the ultimate question which is appropriate for this blog, "By Whose Authority?" What are the possible answers to this question?

Response: The answer to your Question is simple and I am glad you asked it! By the Word of God as contained in the Old and New Testament! Sola Scriptura! Long live the Protestant Reformation that rediscovered the true teaching of the Gospel through the only infallible authority the word of God.

God Bless…it’s been great talking with you again! Keep em coming guys!

NPT

Acolyte4236 said...

Cat

Well it doesn’t seem to come off that way. In fact, Nate seems to have something else in mind from what you state. Notice he writes in the post on dual procession,

“Take it this way Perry this blog is a western critique of eastern mystical theology…”

His tone is also consistent with polemics.

Acolyte4236 said...

Nate,

Your comments about old farts and such are dismissive. Do you think I don’t know what I am talking about? Perhaps you need a refresher from that evening at the Road House last Christmass? Ask Michael, I was being "nice."

2nd What you would respond with is irrelevant. What I asked is, if you wish to respond to me

3rd Just put up or shut up. Why should anyone think that you are an informed commentator on Orthodoxy?

As for Fathers, you are mistaken for the problem doesn’t turn on any particular ecclesiological model, unless of course you espouse some form of Lamarkian Trail of Blood theory. It is implausible to think that the major creedal statements and major theologians for century upon century got the Trinity grossly wrong with the categories I gave if you wish to claim continuity with the church of the first 1,500 years.

Further, if your views are not continuous with theirs, then please articulate the doctrine of the Trinity without using those concepts, specifically, Person, Essence and Activity.

If you weren’t using the word “comprised” in terms of composition, in what way were you using it? And given that I employed it with its common usage, do you concede that your framing of the matter was on the surface misleading to that extent?

If ousia functions as a place holder, then how could knowledge of the place holder license knowledge of the thing it is holding a linguistic place for? Further, what I have written is perfectly in line with Palamas’ teaching and you didn’t give an argument to show that it was. In fact the translation of huper ousia “super essential” while misleading shows this, since the divine essence is beyond essence. This indicates that the term “essence” functions in the way that I indicated.

Of course your example is informative since it carries in it conceptual content, but apophatic terms don’t. It is like the term immaterial, which simply means not material or unconfused. Hardly conceptually informative. In any case, you left untouched the examples I gave, namely there are truths that we can’t ever know.

Your objection to our position, which is the position of Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Cyril, et al., that it is mysterious is the same objection that all of the heretics explicitly gave. The Arians mocked the Nicenes with the question, Do you worship that of which you are ignorant? The Nicenes replied that they worshipped that which they did not know. Of course, perhaps they read the Bible for the Bible speaks of divine ways being beyond finding out and that God cannot ever be seen and that God cannot be defined by a name but will be who he will be. But silly irrational and mystical me, I just believe the Bible but I suppose you being wiser than me, must not.

You ask why even make the distinctions between Essence, Person and Energy. Uhm, because the bible does. The Bible distinguishes between the nature, persons and then uses the common activity to argue for a common nature. Try John 5 for starters. This is Trinitarianism 101.

If God is beyond being, then strictly speaking “existence”, which is a verb is applicable to the energies, since they are doings. To say that God ad intra is not something is not tantamount to saying that God is nothing. And to speak of God ad intra negatively doesn’t imply knowledge of God. You confuse the ways of speaking with the ways of knowing. Try some later Wittgenstein.

Your attempt to tar my view with pagan views like Hinduism is a flop since we maintain that God is not being ad intra and being ad extra, which cuts across the dialectical thinking that Hinduism and other Idealisms turn on. Further, unlike Hinduism and Western Protestant theology that posit an absolutely simple one, we don’t. Which is why our theology doesn’t produce a spirituality of absorption like you find among the Anabaptists for example, or in evangelical worship where those entering “worship” (bad ‘70’s music combined with the Pastor Bob show) have to undergo a phlebotomy and emote. And we don’t come up with gimmick after gimmick to manufacture and recapture that oozing spiritual absorption either. So frankly, the shoe is on the other foot.

David Cox said...

Nathanael,

I have tried to comment on your statements wholistically, but you made a couple of statements that I do have to directly address.

"No we don’t. The Bible is our authority. We have to interpret just like you have to interpret tradition and teaching authority."

Response: Then how do you know that you have the correct interpretation? All heretics think that they have the correct interpretation. (and no, I am not calling you a heretic.) If you use a fallible intellect to interpret infallible scripture, then who are you to tell anyone they are wrong? I am seeking truth just as you are...but, unfortunately, one of us has to be wrong.

I don't have to interpret the Church's interpretation. Is Christ present in the Eucharist? Yes. (no interpretation necessary) Am I born into the Family of God through Baptism? Yes. (no interpretation necessary) Am I made righteous or merely declared righteous? I am made righteous. (Rom. 5) It is actually quite simple. I can go on, but I think you get the point. :)

"...your church rejects the gospel taught in the scripture which is justification by faith!"

Response: You are grossly mis understanding the Catholic position on justification; almost to the point of being irresponsible. I will leave it at that as it is probably more suitable for another post.

"You have misunderstood the Protestant position."

I used to be a protestant. I think I understand the protestant position pretty well. I think that you may not really understand your own position as well as you think. You are working from a false premise. If you deny the authority of the Church that gave you the bible, what evidence do you have that scripture is the infallible word of God? And claiming that it is self evident is no argument at all. If I write a book that says it is infallible, that doesn't make it infallible. If I write an algebra book that contains no errors, that doesn't make it inspired.

It seems in many of these discussions that the Catholic position doesn't even have a seat at the table. It is almost as if you dismiss my arguments solely on the reason that they are Catholic.

By the way, I really appreciate your tone in this dialogue. It must be tough as you are dealing with many arguments at once. Thanks.
And God Bless you too.

Dave Id. said...
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Dave Id. said...
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Dave Id. said...

Good argument. But I smell an equivocation on what is meant by "divine essence."

Also, perhaps on what is meant by the idea of "knowable."

In short, the fringe reality of God can be known. I.e. the most limited knowledge that we can have in terms of what has been specifically revealed. Revelation has numerous forms.

The essence of God, the essential quality that makes Him who He is, is infinite, and is necessarily unknowable. It can't be conceived of in anything remotely resembling entirety, and is therefore unknowable.

It's a statement to God's glory. It should carry no implication as to how we can relate to him.

I do think, that if God did not reveal himself, we could not conceive of him.

This distinguishes us from other religions, and I think is statement to the reality of our God.

I could go into the details of that, but you are smart people, and it would take forever.

Dave Id. said...

"your church rejects the gospel taught in the scripture which is justification by faith!"

My experience is that they don't reject that doctrine. the protestant formula for Salvation by faith is a categorically restrictive one.

Incredibly, incredibly, incredibly, incredibly, restrictive one.


Sorry for the double post. I'm sort of reading and posting. I'm David Sidebotham by the way, Allison's friend. (if you don't mind me using real names once). Trying to get involved, forgive if I sound stupid, I'm diving off the deepend.

Hey, someone said "put up or shut up?"

Just a clue, Nathan IS putting up. So he doesn't have to shut up.

If you're going to resort to cultural cliches, use contextually appropriate ones. :)

David N said...

David C,

You said: "Is Christ present in the Eucharist? Yes. (no interpretation necessary) Am I born into the Family of God through Baptism? Yes. (no interpretation necessary)"

I'm afraid this is a bit naive. The answer to the question, "is Christ present in the Eucharist" may be "yes", but that hardly means that there is no interpretation going on. Lutherans and many Calvinists could also answer "yes" to that question, but they would mean very different things.

Just consider an analogous Biblical example. I could ask the question, "does God predestine those who will be saved?" and many non-Calvinists could say "yes" because they believe that predestination is based on foreknowledge. Even a simple answer requires interpretation.

You said: "You are grossly mis understanding the Catholic position on justification; almost to the point of being irresponsible."

I don't think Nate grossly misunderstands the Catholic position. We all understand that faith plays a significant role for Catholics as well as Protestants, just not quite the same role.

You said: "I used to be a protestant. I think I understand the protestant position pretty well. I think that you may not really understand your own position as well as you think."

I'm confused. In the first sentence you simply take it for granted that you understand Protestantism because you were one, but then you accuse Nate of not understanding his own position.

You said: "If you deny the authority of the Church that gave you the bible, what evidence do you have that scripture is the infallible word of God?"

As Nate has pointed out already, the problem is only one step removed for you. What evidence do you have that the Church has infallible authority? Either you need another infallible authority, or you can show that the church is infallible using your own fallible reasoning faculties. Thus the same is true for SS.

You said: "And claiming that it is self evident is no argument at all. If I write a book that says it is infallible, that doesn't make it infallible."

Nate's claim that belief in the Bible as the Word of God is properly basic is not the same as saying that the Bible is the Word of God because it says so.

You said: "If I write an algebra book that contains no errors, that doesn't make it inspired. "

Again, this is not Nate's argument.

Likewise, if the church selects the canon without making any errors, that doesn't make it infallible.

David N said...

acolyte,

You said: "Well it doesn’t seem to come off that way. In fact, Nate seems to have something else in mind from what you state. Notice he writes in the post on dual procession,

“Take it this way Perry this blog is a western critique of eastern mystical theology…”

His tone is also consistent with polemics."

I'm sure you would agree that polemics against specific EO doctrines would undermine the church's authority, and thus such polemics do in fact serve the primary purpose of the blog, though indirectly.

You also don't seem to have a problem using an equally polemical tone in response to Nate, so I assume you aren't offended. :)

Catz is correct, however. The purpose of this blog, as I have stated on other sites, is:

"to consider various arguments for different views of church authority. More specifically, my coauthors and I will be looking closely at Orthodox (and Catholic) arguments against Sola Scriptura. Obviously attempts will be made at refuting these arguments, but the primary goal of this blog is to foster communication between Protestant and Orthodox Christians, and to work towards an increasingly charitable and transparent dialog between the two."

So, we thank you for your willingness to take part in the dialog...

...we'll continue to work on the charity.

Nathanael Taylor said...

Nate,

Your comments about old farts and such are dismissive. Do you think I don’t know what I am talking about? Perhaps you need a refresher from that evening at the Road House last Christmass? Ask Michael, I was being "nice."

Response: I wouldn’t mind a refresher…I plan to interact with your blog and the things you said that night (for another post of course). You know what you are talking about in terms of eastern theology. But you were wrong then and you’re wrong now….not much has changed I am afraid. But this doesn’t have to do much with my post now does it.

2nd What you would respond with is irrelevant. What I asked is, if you wish to respond to me

Response: I don’t buy that bag of meat…if you don’t want to have rational interchange then that’s your call….please stick to the post.

3rd Just put up or shut up. Why should anyone think that you are an informed commentator on Orthodoxy?

Response: I don’t have to be an expert on Mormonism to totally know it’s false and defenseless. And Guess what Perry I am not an informed commentator on eastern orthodoxy or Mormonism. But please stick to the argument and don’t get side tracked. This isn’t helping me understand your position, if indeed I need to understand anything additional about it.

As for Fathers, you are mistaken for the problem doesn’t turn on any particular ecclesiological model, unless of course you espouse some form of Lamarkian Trail of Blood theory. It is implausible to think that the major creedal statements and major theologians for century upon century got the Trinity grossly wrong with the categories I gave if you wish to claim continuity with the church of the first 1,500 years.

Response: I happen to think that certain versions of Trinity are correct, but most of theology you hold to through the tradition of the east I have no problem rejecting. I don’t care how old it is, I don’t think it corresponds to the biblical text. You saying that it is unreasonable doesn’t make it so…so please try to provide clear arguments for your position.
:

Further, if your views are not continuous with theirs, then please articulate the doctrine of the Trinity without using those concepts, specifically, Person, Essence and Activity.

Response: I will do that on a later posts. I hold to Michael Rae’s version of the trinity to be short. Let’s stay on subject since I know that is not your style of argumentation.

If you weren’t using the word “comprised” in terms of composition, in what way were you using it? And given that I employed it with its common usage, do you concede that your framing of the matter was on the surface misleading to that extent?

Response: I already granted that…did you read my response by the way?

If ousia functions as a place holder, then how could knowledge of the place holder license knowledge of the thing it is holding a linguistic place for?

Response: Are you saying that it’s only a place holder in name and not a place holder in reality? This is sloppy this needs to be stated clearly.

Further, what I have written is perfectly in line with Palamas’ teaching and you didn’t give an argument to show that it was. In fact the translation of huper ousia “super essential” while misleading shows this, since the divine essence is beyond essence. This indicates that the term “essence” functions in the way that I indicated.

Response: Well that’s what I was hoping! Thanks for now admitting that you don’t know anything about God’s essence and being consistent again….but you do know that you don’t know anything about it of course, but it’s of course a category mistake because it mystical and beyond being so your okay from your perspective, but I can’t help but think it is totally nonsense and completely incoherent. If you don’t see it then oh well.

Of course your example is informative since it carries in it conceptual content, but apophatic terms don’t. It is like the term immaterial, which simply means not material or unconfused. Hardly conceptually informative. In any case, you left untouched the examples I gave, namely there are truths that we can’t ever know.

Response: I disagree with the via negativa because if I were to say an event had no cause then that would logically imply a cause, now if you wanted to reject logic and the law of excluded middle then that’s fine, but that seems to me to be the paradigm of rationality and if you don’t just *see* that that is so then oh well. I did respond to your examples in a very informative way: with unknowable propositions to creatures we cannot know the direct content of those propositions but we can know certain relations about them mainly that they conform to logic, they are true or false, and that they are unknowable to creatures. But I don’t know the content of those propositions such as *at t1 in circumstance X I will eat a red apple*.

Your objection to our position, which is the position of Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Cyril, et al., that it is mysterious is the same objection that all of the heretics explicitly gave. The Arians mocked the Nicenes with the question, Do you worship that of which you are ignorant? The Nicenes replied that they worshipped that which they did not know. Of course, perhaps they read the Bible for the Bible speaks of divine ways being beyond finding out and that God cannot ever be seen and that God cannot be defined by a name but will be who he will be. But silly irrational and mystical me, I just believe the Bible but I suppose you being wiser than me, must not

Response: I wouldn’t say my view of the trinity is contradictory or irrational. I don’t what this little example is supposed to prove. You know Arians probably believe, like me, that they had hands, but that doesn’t mean I am going to buy their Christology. So if you’re trying to draw some implication it is either for cute rhetorical purposes or you’re just having a poor inference pattern. You’re a pretty clever fellow so I will assume the former.

You ask why even make the distinctions between Essence, Person and Energy. Uhm, because the bible does. The Bible distinguishes between the nature, persons and then uses the common activity to argue for a common nature. Try John 5 for starters. This is Trinitarianism 101.

Response: Last time I checked this was about the eastern view of the divine essence. Stay on topic please. You can probably assume that I don’t buy your apostolic hermeneutics while you are at it.

If God is beyond being, then strictly speaking “existence”, which is a verb is applicable to the energies, since they are doings. To say that God ad intra is not something is not tantamount to saying that God is nothing. And to speak of God ad intra negatively doesn’t imply knowledge of God. You confuse the ways of speaking with the ways of knowing. Try some later Wittgenstein.

Response: I disagree with that distinction you laid out there. I think we can come to positive statements through negation. For if I do not know anything about a something or other I can’t say it is not a rock. Since I don’t know anything of it for all I know it just might be a rock.

Your attempt to tar my view with pagan views like Hinduism is a flop since we maintain that God is not being ad intra and being ad extra

Response: From nothing nothing comes……so how can his energies which are necessary (at least some of them) come from something which is not necessary? And how can being (energies) come from non-being (essence)?

, which cuts across the dialectical thinking that Hinduism and other Idealisms turn on. Further, unlike Hinduism and Western Protestant theology that posit an absolutely simple one, we don’t.

Response: Well I only hold to simplicity and not ADS! And guess what I am a proud Reformation Bible carrying Protestant. I think there are distinctions and different content in the divine essence, whereas ADS only thinks of different content without distinctions (so says Brian Davies).

Which is why our theology doesn’t produce a spirituality of absorption like you find among the Anabaptists for example, or in evangelical worship where those entering “worship” (bad ‘70’s music combined with the Pastor Bob show) have to undergo a phlebotomy and emote. And we don’t come up with gimmick after gimmick to manufacture and recapture that oozing spiritual absorption either. So frankly, the shoe is on the other foot.

Response: No comment. Well thanks again for the all the interesting stories and such but next time lets talk more about the blog.

God Bless,

NPT

Nathanael Taylor said...

“Then how do you know that you have the correct interpretation?”

Response: By reading in context and using other objective tools of reason for interpretation, just like anything else. We could be mistaken but in absence of a reason to think we are then we are warranted in our interpretation.

All heretics think that they have the correct interpretation.

Response: And they were mistaken.

(and no, I am not calling you a heretic.) If you use a fallible intellect to interpret infallible scripture, then who are you to tell anyone they are wrong?

Response: Because I have good reason to think it more true than false. The very same thing is true if I see a car speeding at my girlfriend driving….I am going to tell her to watch out…now it could be true that I am going crazy and seeing things or that aliens have put a chip in my brain to me to see cars come at me when my girlfriend is driving, but in light of any reason to doubt it I am going to tell my girlfriend to watch out for the car coming for even though I might be mistaken.

I am seeking truth just as you are...but, unfortunately, one of us has to be wrong.

Response: Yes, isn’t that always the problem.

I don't have to interpret the Church's interpretation. Is Christ present in the Eucharist? Yes. (no interpretation necessary) Am I born into the Family of God through Baptism? Yes. (no interpretation necessary) Am I made righteous or merely declared righteous? I am made righteous. (Rom. 5) It is actually quite simple. I can go on, but I think you get the point. :)

Response: Yeah you don’t know any of those statements for sure. What if you have been fooled this whole time and what you think is the Roman Catholic Church isn’t and its run by crazies that have systematically deceived you and the real Catholic church believes something totally different. Now that could be true but there is no reason in hell and high water to believe it so you’re warranted in thinking those things. And furthermore, every statement you read you have to interpret so I don’t really get the point here. I can pretend that there is no interpretation here with anything, but sadly there always is whether we like it or not…for example: Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. YES! No interpretation necessary.

"...your church rejects the gospel taught in the scripture which is justification by faith!"

Response: You are grossly mis understanding the Catholic position on justification; almost to the point of being irresponsible. I will leave it at that as it is probably more suitable for another post.

Response: You guy do not believe you are justified or saved by faith you think faith starts the saving process. And besides that faith you have is really caused by a prior work in the heart of love.


"You have misunderstood the Protestant position."

I used to be a protestant. I think I understand the protestant position pretty well. I think that you may not really understand your own position as well as you think. You are working from a false premise. If you deny the authority of the Church that gave you the bible, what evidence do you have that scripture is the infallible word of God? And claiming that it is self evident is no argument at all. If I write a book that says it is infallible, that doesn't make it infallible. If I write an algebra book that contains no errors, that doesn't make it inspired.

Response: I am not saying it is self-evident, I am saying that it is properly basic. You don’t understand Reformed epistemology. We would never say that saying something is so makes it so rather we say that certain belief formations that fulfill the necessary and sufficient conditions I gave in my other post makes a belief warranted. You don’t have to give arguments for basic beliefs otherwise you would go into skepticism. How do you know that the external world exists or how do you know that your memory in reliable?

It seems in many of these discussions that the Catholic position doesn't even have a seat at the table. It is almost as if you dismiss my arguments solely on the reason that they are Catholic.

Response: Maybe so, but I am honestly not doing that here. I just don’t see any good reason to be Catholic and I see continually reasons why I shouldn’t.

By the way, I really appreciate your tone in this dialogue. It must be tough as you are dealing with many arguments at once. Thanks.
And God Bless you too.

Response: Hey thank you! You too….don’t worry about me..I live for argument and interesting discussions.

God Bless,

NPT

Acolyte4236 said...

David N,
There is a difference between giving an argument or reason for a position and being polemical.
I have actually sat back and said nothing for some time. Then I watched as you put a link up to my blog. Then I watched as the attacks here became more virulent. Then I interacted in a dispassionate way. But Nate still seems to need to be rhetorical. I thus decided to treat him as he seems to wish to be treated, since that is how he is treating others. When he gets tired of it and resorts to a more dispassionate and irenic tone and maybe backs of, of his rather cock sure disposition, I’ll change my presentation.

Acolyte4236 said...

Nate,
I would think that a bit of fair mindedness would prevail on your part, but it seems not. Usually, one would hope that a person would suspend judgment on a position prior to a significant investigation, but it seems that you have prejudged it. That is usually denoted as prejudice, which makes you something of a theological bigot I am afraid. Of course I suspect that you’d defecate a brick if someone did the same to your position. So frankly you aren’t even in an adequate epistemic position to claim that I am wrong.
It should be obvious that I am engaging in a rational exchange, which is why I asked you to address the points I made but it seems that you can’t. So physician, heal thyself. Stick to the argument.
As for not being an expert on Orthodoxy, you construct a straw man. I never claimed that you had to be an expert. You seem to have a reading comprehension problem since there is a difference between being “an informed commentator” and being an “expert.” If you need help understanding my position, perhaps you should actually do some research on it by doing something quite novel-reading some scholarly or representative literature? The fact that you have to rely on me to tell you what the position is simply confirms the fact that you aren’t an informed commentator and in fact are acting out of some psychological need to some perceived harm someone who is Orthodoxy did you.
I think you’d expect someone to treat your own position, whatever that actually is, quite differently than you treat others. You’d simply dismiss out of hand as non-credible who acted as you act, even if you chose to engage and correct their mistakes. The entire line that “if indeed I need to understand anything about it” simply displays this kind of bigoted attitude on your part. “Don’t confuse me with the facts!”




The question wasn’t whether you reject or adhere to most theology I adhere to. The question was whether it was plausible to hold to continuity with pre-Reformation Christianity and reject the categories of person, essence and energy. It’d be helpful If you could focus on answering the actual questions. And if you wish to claim continuity with pre-reformation Christianity, you had better care how old it is since if it is new it is probably not continuous with it. Of course perhaps you are considering membership in the LDS or some other everyone-fell-away-and-we-have-a-new revelation group. And given your penchant for prejudice, you’ll excuse me if you I don’t capitulate to your judgment that my views don’t correspond to the biblical text. As for clear arguments, I did provide one and you have yet to address it above.

Rae’s position isn’t going to get you out of using person, essence and energy. But if you wish to enter the morass of social trinitarianism and other contemporary muddles, go for it.
So you granted that using “comprised” was misleading? So was this misleading act deliberate or accidental?

To say that a term is a place holder in name but not reality is sloppy since reality is rather ambiguous, so again, janitor, clean up your own slop.
I haven’t tried to make the imcomprehensibility of God some state secret. In confessing ignorance concerning God ad intra, which Protestants and Catholics have also done BTW, I have simply followed biblical and Nicene teaching. You seem to have a problem with a God that you can’t get your head around so I suppose that you have a problem with the Bible. If you don’t see your disbelief in what the Bible teaches, then oh well.

If you disagree with the via negativa per se, then you disagree with practically all traditions of Christian theology, Reformation or non-Reformation since they all affirm some version of it. Furthermore, it is simply abusrd to say that if an event had no cause that that would imply that it did just in the same way that to say that an anomalous event is nomological. Besides, you need to read up on Hume about causation. Your reason for rejecting the via negativa is actually an argument for it, namely that terms garnered from temporal usage are inadequate as they stand, unless of course you think God the Father has male genitals. And while I subscribe to the law of excluded middle for things that be, you write as if it is beyond question. Plenty of logicians have called it into question.

And actually the mathematical examples still require conceptual content and so they aren’t germane. And the case of unknowable truths wasn’t even touched on directly. Knowing that there are such things doesn’t imply knowing them. Knowing that and knowing what aren’t the same things. And it doesn’t imply knowing relations between them, and even if it did in some cases of created being, it in no way follows that this is the case for God, on pain of affirming either pantheism or panentheism. Have you been doing your devotions in Spinoza again? Further, you suppose that logic is of the divine essence, which is derived from middle Platonism which combined the Nous with the One, as Augustine did. Of course that’s fine if you want to be a Platonist of sorts, but it will hardly meet the requirement of a biblical demonstration. I know it is hard for you to find out that you are inconsistent with your own principles such as sola scriptura, but buck up little camper!

The Arian belief in hands is irrelevant. The Arian objection to Nicene teaching regarding the incomprehensibility of God is, since it is pretty much the same objection you raise. What it means is that somewhere nestled in that heterodox mind of yours is implicit Arianism. Modern Arianism came out of and as a result of Calvinist distinctives you know so its not surprising.
I can’t help that the Eastern view is biblical so not writing about what the bible says will be difficult, but I am sure you are used to it. And if you reject the apostles’ hermeneutics I can’t help you much either.

You disagree with a distinction between possession and utilization? So if own a rake it follows that you are always using the rake while you own it? Do you sleep? Second you seem not to understand the via negativa at all. If God is incomprehensible it doesn’t follow that if I can’t know God ad intra that God might be a rock ad intra. The only way that could be true is if God existed in a created mode of being or was being at all. But a full denial of God as either precludes the confusion you posit. So again, you don’t seem to know what you are talking about.

I already denied the Parmenidian dialectic of be-ing and nothing as applicable to God ad intra, so the principle from nothing, nothing comes is not applicable since God is not nothing. And I never said the energies are “necessary.” Here you are putting words into my mouth. This is why you should actually learn about a position before pontificating about it. Some of the energies or acts of God are eternal and some are not. Eternity doesn’t entail necessity. As to your question, you posit two places rather than the position which posits three. You leave out persons. The persons bring divine power to act. Just because God always has the power to create, that he is necessarily creating. Since being is an activity I don’t see the supposed problem with the Trinity bringing about powers to actualization.

Saying that you hold to “simplicity” is hardly informative since that could denote a whole host of views, including the LDS view. If you are a “proud” bible carrying Protestant, perhaps you can cite a verse that teaches that God is “simple?” And here’s a big clue, Thomism allows for different definitional content as well as distinctions within the essence so you must have misread Davies. If this weren’t so, Davies would be a modalist.

As an aside, the appeal to proper basicality isn’t going to help you. First, why can’t someone just as easily hold that the Great Pumpkin is properly basic? Why can’t David simply retort that his Catholicism is properly basic? How does a belief being properly basic imply that it is true or amount to a reason for thinking that it is? And can one take a belief to be properly basic and it turn out that it is not in fact so for them? If so, what work concerning warrant has proper basicality done for us? None.

Nathanael Taylor said...

Nate,
I would think that a bit of fair mindedness would prevail on your part, but it seems not. Usually, one would hope that a person would suspend judgment on a position prior to a significant investigation, but it seems that you have prejudged it. That is usually denoted as prejudice, which makes you something of a theological bigot I am afraid. Of course I suspect that you’d defecate a brick if someone did the same to your position. So frankly you aren’t even in an adequate epistemic position to claim that I am wrong.

Response: Not on topic.

It should be obvious that I am engaging in a rational exchange, which is why I asked you to address the points I made but it seems that you can’t. So physician, heal thyself. Stick to the argument.
As for not being an expert on Orthodoxy, you construct a straw man. I never claimed that you had to be an expert. You seem to have a reading comprehension problem since there is a difference between being “an informed commentator” and being an “expert.” If you need help understanding my position, perhaps you should actually do some research on it by doing something quite novel-reading some scholarly or representative literature? The fact that you have to rely on me to tell you what the position is simply confirms the fact that you aren’t an informed commentator and in fact are acting out of some psychological need to some perceived harm someone who is Orthodoxy did you.

Response: got you. I would say that I am some what informative on some issues in Orthodoxy but not all.


I think you’d expect someone to treat your own position, whatever that actually is, quite differently than you treat others. You’d simply dismiss out of hand as non-credible who acted as you act, even if you chose to engage and correct their mistakes. The entire line that “if indeed I need to understand anything about it” simply displays this kind of bigoted attitude on your part. “Don’t confuse me with the facts!”

Response: I disagree with this, but I don't really care enough to respond since it's just not relevant to the post and it's just all rhetoric.


The question wasn’t whether you reject or adhere to most theology I adhere to. The question was whether it was plausible to hold to continuity with pre-Reformation Christianity and reject the categories of person, essence and energy. It’d be helpful If you could focus on answering the actual questions. And if you wish to claim continuity with pre-reformation Christianity, you had better care how old it is since if it is new it is probably not continuous with it. Of course perhaps you are considering membership in the LDS or some other everyone-fell-away-and-we-have-a-new revelation group. And given your penchant for prejudice, you’ll excuse me if you I don’t capitulate to your judgment that my views don’t correspond to the biblical text. As for clear arguments, I did provide one and you have yet to address it above.

Response: Okay perhaps I will take this up on another post.

Rae’s position isn’t going to get you out of using person, essence and energy. But if you wish to enter the morass of social trinitarianism and other contemporary muddles, go for it.
So you granted that using “comprised” was misleading? So was this misleading act deliberate or accidental?

Response: Obviously I don't agree with this, but you have a habit for not staying on topic so your reputation does you well.

To say that a term is a place holder in name but not reality is sloppy since reality is rather ambiguous, so again, janitor, clean up your own slop.
I haven’t tried to make the imcomprehensibility of God some state secret. In confessing ignorance concerning God ad intra, which Protestants and Catholics have also done BTW, I have simply followed biblical and Nicene teaching. You seem to have a problem with a God that you can’t get your head around so I suppose that you have a problem with the Bible. If you don’t see your disbelief in what the Bible teaches, then oh well.

Response: You didn't even respond this is very odd. This shows how weak your position is. You can't even defend it or even explain it philosophically...all you can do is spout worthless rhetoric to side track the real issue at hand.

If you disagree with the via negativa per se, then you disagree with practically all traditions of Christian theology, Reformation or non-Reformation since they all affirm some version of it. Furthermore, it is simply abusrd to say that if an event had no cause that that would imply that it did just in the same way that to say that an anomalous event is nomological. Besides, you need to read up on Hume about causation. Your reason for rejecting the via negativa is actually an argument for it, namely that terms garnered from temporal usage are inadequate as they stand, unless of course you think God the Father has male genitals. And while I subscribe to the law of excluded middle for things that be, you write as if it is beyond question. Plenty of logicians have called it into question.

Response: You once again didn't really give an argument...you just gave me reading list. If your so clever why don't you just give me the arguments. Secondly, causation doesn't have to be temporal for all you know I could be referring to non-temporal causation so my point does not in fact serve as support for negative theology. I just *know* with the eye of reason that event is either caused or not either you see that or you don't. Negation does give knowledge even though the knowledge is not as robust and informative it still is slightly informative, and if you reject that then I would say that's just as absurd as saying that Charles does not know that 1+1=2 is not informative. It clear gives you information albeit negative which could imply something vaguely (God is not a rock)or clearly (Event X was not no cause).

And actually the mathematical examples still require conceptual content and so they aren’t germane.

Response: There is conceptual content to saying that we don't know anything about a given something mainly the concept of not knowing anything about that something or other.

And the case of unknowable truths wasn’t even touched on directly.

Response: If you want to keep on putting your hands over your eyes when you read my responses that's fine but don't just make stuff up.

Knowing that there are such things doesn’t imply knowing them. Knowing that and knowing what aren’t the same things. And it doesn’t imply knowing relations between them, and even if it did in some cases of created being, it in no way follows that this is the case for God, on pain of affirming either pantheism or panentheism.

Response: Yes, you know something about that something mainly you know it exists and that you can't speak of it. That may be all you know of it, but you do know something about it and to say that you know absolutely nothing about it is just self-referentially incoherent. Your vague reference to Spinoza's work doesn't even make sense until you learn to actually give arguments for position instead of just making references that are more mysterious than your theology, which is a joke since nothing could be more mysterious than your theology.

Have you been doing your devotions in Spinoza again? Further, you suppose that logic is of the divine essence, which is derived from middle Platonism which combined the Nous with the One, as Augustine did. Of course that’s fine if you want to be a Platonist of sorts, but it will hardly meet the requirement of a biblical demonstration. I know it is hard for you to find out that you are inconsistent with your own principles such as sola scriptura, but buck up little camper!

Response: This is hardly a informed response as it is more an example of excellent rhetoric.

The Arian belief in hands is irrelevant. The Arian objection to Nicene teaching regarding the incomprehensibility of God is, since it is pretty much the same objection you raise. What it means is that somewhere nestled in that heterodox mind of yours is implicit Arianism. Modern Arianism came out of and as a result of Calvinist distinctives you know so its not surprising.

Response: Nice rhetoric. You should try arguments.


I can’t help that the Eastern view is biblical so not writing about what the bible says will be difficult, but I am sure you are used to it. And if you reject the apostles’ hermeneutics I can’t help you much either.

Response: it's anything but biblical and reasonable, but the former is off topic.

You disagree with a distinction between possession and utilization? So if own a rake it follows that you are always using the rake while you own it? Do you sleep?

Response: What are you even talking about? How did you infer this from anything I said.

Second you seem not to understand the via negativa at all. If God is incomprehensible it doesn’t follow that if I can’t know God ad intra that God might be a rock ad intra. The only way that could be true is if God existed in a created mode of being or was being at all. But a full denial of God as either precludes the confusion you posit. So again, you don’t seem to know what you are talking about.

Response: Good point. I forgot you don't believe God exists, well at least you know that.

I already denied the Parmenidian dialectic of be-ing and nothing as applicable to God ad intra, so the principle from nothing, nothing comes is not applicable since God is not nothing. And I never said the energies are “necessary.” Here you are putting words into my mouth. This is why you should actually learn about a position before pontificating about it. Some of the energies or acts of God are eternal and some are not. Eternity doesn’t entail necessity.

Response: I didn't say all of them where necessary. So you are telling me that none of God's energies are necessary? I was talking to Garten and he said that some of energies are necessary and others are not..is this true or false? So many different view points in eastern orthodoxy it is very interesting indeed.

As to your question, you posit two places rather than the position which posits three. You leave out persons. The persons bring divine power to act. Just because God always has the power to create, that he is necessarily creating. Since being is an activity I don’t see the supposed problem with the Trinity bringing about powers to actualization.

Saying that you hold to “simplicity” is hardly informative since that could denote a whole host of views, including the LDS view. If you are a “proud” bible carrying Protestant, perhaps you can cite a verse that teaches that God is “simple?” And here’s a big clue, Thomism allows for different definitional content as well as distinctions within the essence so you must have misread Davies. If this weren’t so, Davies would be a modalist.

Response: I didn't misread him and you need to stay on topic because I am realizing pretty quickly that you have a infinite amount of time to talk about stuff that is not related to the topic. So you really have me beat on that seeing that I have to conserve my time for things that matter as opposed to just writing stuff that isn't relevant to the topic at hand.

As an aside, the appeal to proper basicality isn’t going to help you. First, why can’t someone just as easily hold that the Great Pumpkin is properly basic? Why can’t David simply retort that his Catholicism is properly basic? How does a belief being properly basic imply that it is true or amount to a reason for thinking that it is? And can one take a belief to be properly basic and it turn out that it is not in fact so for them? If so, what work concerning warrant has proper basicality done for us? None.

Response: This would be good to put on my other Ockham's razor blog.

After all this I still don't see how you have ever gotten away from the argument on my blog. You may have changed the subject a lot, but you haven't denied my my claim in the blog that you don't know anything about God's essence. And you know that. So you know something of God's essence that it is not knowable. If you don't think that you can't have knowledge of negations then that's fine you can sit in that absurdity but if you want to be reasonable then it seems like we do have knowledge when we using negations....either you see that or you don't...just like if I were talking to a person who did not think that 1+1=2..if they didn't just see that then I couldn't really help them much.

You know that you don't know anything about God's essence, so you do know something indeed. My question is why stop there? Why not explore the beauty of the divine essence?

Thanks again for your time. I look forward to your response.

David Cox said...

David N.
My point about the necessity to interpret the church's interpretation did come off a bit naive. However, what I was trying to say was that there is no need for me to "interpret" the Church's teaching on Christ's presence in the Eucharist. I realize Calvinists, Lutherans, etc. may have another way to look at it.

The thing that I take issue with is the fact that I am not seeing an argument made for belief in Sola Scriptura or for the inspiration of the Bible. I am simply reading you say that you have good reasons to believe, or that the best arguments won the day. Nate simply says that scripture is properly basic.

Dionysios said...

Nate -

Would you be willing to explain, as a kind of solution to the problem you see in this post, your own view of the Divine Essence?

Thanks!

Nathanael Taylor said...

Nate -

Would you be willing to explain, as a kind of solution to the problem you see in this post, your own view of the Divine Essence?

Thanks!

Response: Sure! I would love to do that. You know the strange thing is the other day my friend (Steven G.) was asking me to do that in order to show how my view doesn't involve incoherence. So I will plan on doing that in a future post God willing. I want to be clear when I further comment that I want to do more research on eastern orthodoxy because I found my readings of a few of the church fathers and readings of Perry's and Mike's (your blog also) blog to be very interesting. I think I would side with something similar to Horton's approach of integrating some eastern theological concepts into Protestant theology. I still disagree, respectfully, with some eastern views, but I have benefited so much so far. And there is always more spiritual growing to go so far as I can see.

Thanks again!

Acolyte4236 said...

Nate,

I don’t see how simply retorting “not on topic” addresses your prejudicial stance. If anything it is an implicit admission that you can’t address the point made. And so the point stands.

You are informed enough to claim to have a proof that shows that my position is “necessarily false?” That is a very high standard philosophically speaking and would require far more study than you have done of the topic. Furthermore, you have still left unaddressed the question of what you have in fact read on the topic beyond the casual Wikipedia type stuff. So, you still haven’t given your readers a reason to take you as an informed commentator on the topic. And do you think it is really plausible that as a “somewhat informed” commentator you came up with a knock down argument? Credibility is a big part of apologetics. If you don’t take the time to master the position you are opposed to prior to claiming to have knock down arguments, then your readers will certainly not be in a position to take you seriously or persuasively.

To say that perhaps you’ll take up points in another post indicates that you expect people to address your points but you don’t see the need to reciprocate. I’ll take this as ground that you have conceded.

I wasn’t off topic with Rae, as you brought him up and not me. So if you feel it is off topic then you have a habit of getting yourself off topic. I simply responded to your statements.

My response regarding place holders isn’t odd at all, if you’re familiar with Wittgenstein and how he thinks natural languages work. Rather than showing how weak my position is, the way in which you are struck by it reveals your ignorance. All I need to point out is that your line of thinking as a form of theological rationalism puts you outside that of the classical reformation itself. Perhaps you are comfortable with cutting off the limb you are sitting on. Consequently, I wouldn’t think that I would need to give a full blown defense of a doctrine defended and articulated over centuries that is common ground between Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox. In any case, I did give a philosophical defense against the supposed knock down argument you gave, which you have left substantially unaddressed.

Once again you didn’t engage, let alone recognize the arguments I gave re the via negativa. Why should I have to give you the arguments if you know what you are talking about? And frankly why should I spend the time to do the work you should have done prior to pontificating. The fact that you have to challenge me to give them to you is proof that you don’t know them. I gave you a reading list because you can’t even represent the view correctly. And noting that causation doesn’t have to be temporal leaves my point untouched since it doesn’t address the supposed quasi analytic claim that all events have a cause. Even if some causes are not temporal, it doesn’t follow that all events have a cause, temporal or not. And stating that you “just know” is not an argument, it is fist pounding. I "just know with the eye of reason" that you’re wrong, so there!

Asserting that negation gives positive knowledge isn’t an argument that it does. Giving examples of created objects misses the arguments I put forward. It doesn’t follow that if something is true for created being it is true for God, whether God is being or not. So it doesn't matter if one takes a western or eastern view, your argument still flops. You have to show that it is true for God. Further, you conflate knowledge of what a thing is with that a thing is. And you’d need to prove that God is being in order to prove that the general principles you take to be practically analytic are applicable in this case in order for your original argument to God through. If you can’t there is sufficient reason to think that the argument doesn’t go through. What we have here from you is a rather silly verion of the univocity of being.

What I meant by conceptual content regarding mathematical propositions is that they assume a context and hence carry with them conceptual content. But such is not the case for God, unless you think the world forms the context for God. Further, your claims also ignore the most radical forms of skepticism, namely Pyrrhonianism. If Pyrrhonianian skepticism is applied to this case, then the argument won’t go through yet again, just on epistemological grounds.

I haven’t made stuff up. It seems that way because you aren’t familiar, it seems with the matter of unknowable truths in contemporary epistemology, let alone classical western or Byzantine theology on this question of divine incomprehensibility.

My reference to Spinoza isn’t mysterious as there is an implicit argument there. The only way your claim that knowledge that something exists would license quidditative knowledge would be if there was an intrinsic relation between all things such as occurs in pantheism. But you didn’t see it. So your argument could only be true of God if pantheism is true. But you agree that pantheism is false, therefore your argument is. Modus Tollens.

Again, your comments do not amount to a demonstration that if positive knowledge of created things can be had in this way, that this is so for God. Where is your argument that this is so for God? Without that argument, your main argument fails to go through.

My points concerning logic and the divine essence are quite appropriate and informed and will appear such to anyone familiar with the history of the issues we are discussing. The fact that you aren’t familiar with the philosophical background and what is at stake shows that you are clearly in over your head. Fools rush in I suppose.

If your position follows the same line of reasoning and implies heterodoxy, either you have to affirm heterodoxy and contradict your own position, or deny your position along with the heterodoxy. That’s the argument I gave, but you can’t manage to recognize a dilemma when you see one. That was the point of pointing it out to you, to perhaps jolt you back to reality.

You claim that my view is anything but biblical and yet you are giving philosophical defenses for papal doctrines. Do I even need to mention the word “irony?” First, I can give clear and direct biblical support for the single procession of the Spirit from the Father. Can you give the same for the Filioque?

You wrote that you rejected the distinction between essence and activity if I recall, which is nothing else here than the distinction between possession and utilization. Haven’t you read Plato at all? More importantly, do you think there is any passive potency in God or do you subscribe to the doctrine of actus purus?

As for those that think God is being, Classical Protestants and Catholics, your argument still does not go through, which is what I pointed out. The only way you could get positive knowledge of God by the via negativa is if God existed in a created mode of being. But on Protestant and Catholics principles, God as self subsisting being does not exist in a created mode of being. So your argument can only go through if the Classical Protestant doctrine of God is false. Is it false? I don’t even need to presuppose my view to refute the argument.

I didn’t claim that you wrote that all of the energies were necessary. You said some were and I never claimed that any of them were. Now some and none can’t be true of the same object, so your claim is false. Can’t you read? I already wrote that some of the energies are eternal. If you had read even the most standard writings of Palamas you’d know this already. As for Michael, he and I spoke about this very point some time ago and I corrected him on this point. This is why conversations aren’t an adequate research methodology. Trying to create the impression that there is some great host of views in Orthodoxy on this basis is therefore a silly mistake.

You obviously seem to have misunderstood Davies as I already demonstrated. And I am on topic for I am replying line by line to everything you wrote. If you don’t like it, then stay on the topics you wish to discuss. (Again, still no biblical proof for your doctrine of simplicity.) So I haven’t changed the subject a lot. And why would I deny the claim that I make myself that the divine essence is incomprehensible? Your claim was far more than that. Your claim was that you had an argument that showed that the Orthodox view was necessarily false. I showed why that argument rests on presuppositions that the Orthodox reject and hence begs the question, rests on assumptions that run counter to your own position and so you are inconsistent, and given reasons for thinking that the argument turns on various confusions. QED.

You ask why not explore the divine essence? If your rationalism were true, revelation would be unnecessary since reason would be sufficient to know God. The irony is that someone plugging for the Reformers has now sided with Natural Theology and via the principle of parsimony made revelation unnecessary.

Nathanael Taylor said...

Nate,

I don’t see how simply retorting “not on topic” addresses your prejudicial stance. If anything it is an implicit admission that you can’t address the point made. And so the point stands.

Response: Perry everybody knows (both Mikes and everyone on this blog) that you have a compulsive problem with changing the subject. So don’t act so innocent and stupid because you are obviously neither of those. Furthermore, just because I don’t choose to follow your pointless red herrings isn’t an admission of anything except that I don’t have time or that I wish to address something that is more relevant.

You are informed enough to claim to have a proof that shows that my position is “necessarily false?” That is a very high standard philosophically speaking and would require far more study than you have done of the topic.

Response: No, it’s not. Not if you believe in fallibilitistic apriorism about modal propositions like planitnga then it’s not so far out there, I could be mistaken, but judging by your responses I am probably not.

Furthermore, you have still left unaddressed the question of what you have in fact read on the topic beyond the casual Wikipedia type stuff. So, you still haven’t given your readers a reason to take you as an informed commentator on the topic. And do you think it is really plausible that as a “somewhat informed” commentator you came up with a knock down argument? Credibility is a big part of apologetics. If you don’t take the time to master the position you are opposed to prior to claiming to have knock down arguments, then your readers will certainly not be in a position to take you seriously or persuasively.

Response: You haven’t rejected my claims about your position. You claim that you cannot know anything about the divine essence…this is what I wrote on my blog. I really appreciate you affirming the things on my blog by the way. So which is it Perry do believe the Divine essence is unknowable or not? We may disagree on applying reasonable western logic to your eastern mysticism, but I have something right that you think the divine essence is unknowable and you haven’t denied that so obviously my readers should take me seriously. You seem to be responding with such passion to my blogs it seems as if you are taking me seriously, so thanks again Perry.

To say that perhaps you’ll take up points in another post indicates that you expect people to address your points but you don’t see the need to reciprocate. I’ll take this as ground that you have conceded.

Response: You can think that, in your mind you can believe that I conceded all you want if that makes you feel better. But the sad fact of the matter is that your changing the subject and grasping at straws. I do not concede these points because I wish to addresses them in a future blog because I don’t have time and/or because they are so heinously off topic that it would be a disservice to our readers. So if you want to take what I say at face value then that’s fine if you want to read into it to make yourself feel better that’s fine too: I don’t concede. But if all you want is for me to say that you are the debate winners to give you a boost of confidence then I can do that for you.

I wasn’t off topic with Rae, as you brought him up and not me. So if you feel it is off topic then you have a habit of getting yourself off topic. I simply responded to your statements.

Response: This is classic! You have got to be kidding me. Perry you are the one that brought up the trinity off topic originally. I was stupid enough to take the bait and actually respond since I compulsively interested in the trinity, but just because I fall for your sophistic traps doesn’t mean that you should keep on doing them. I am not interested in arguing with you for the sake of argument I want to get into the meat of this blog and deal with eastern vs western perspectives of the divine essence as it relates to it being unknowable.

My response regarding place holders isn’t odd at all, if you’re familiar with Wittgenstein and how he thinks natural languages work.

Response: Just because Wittgenstein thought it, the father of postmodernism, doesn’t make it not crazy.

Rather than showing how weak my position is, the way in which you are struck by it reveals your ignorance. All I need to point out is that your line of thinking as a form of theological rationalism puts you outside that of the classical reformation itself. Perhaps you are comfortable with cutting off the limb you are sitting on. Consequently, I wouldn’t think that I would need to give a full blown defense of a doctrine defended and articulated over centuries that is common ground between Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox. In any case, I did give a philosophical defense against the supposed knock down argument you gave, which you have left substantially unaddressed.

Response: Calvin and Luther also believed that Marry was a perpetual virgin but that doesn’t mean I believe such things. I believe in the Solas of the Reformation and I agree with the 3 of unity. None of these Reformed statements of faith are in conflict with my theological and philosophical methodology. You haven’t shown any contradiction with these tenants that I hold to in Reformation theology. I believe in sola scriptura and right reason not tradition as authoritative so do yourself a favor and stop appealing to church tradition as if it was authoritative and as if it had some sort of relevance in a debate with a Protestant. What I am basically suggesting is that you are begging the question. Finally, you haven’t really given any arguments except a reading list and telling me that my western logic is a category mistaken when applied to your eastern mysticism.

Once again you didn’t engage, let alone recognize the arguments I gave re the via negativa. Why should I have to give you the arguments if you know what you are talking about? And frankly why should I spend the time to do the work you should have done prior to pontificating. The fact that you have to challenge me to give them to you is proof that you don’t know them. I gave you a reading list because you can’t even represent the view correctly. And noting that causation doesn’t have to be temporal leaves my point untouched since it doesn’t address the supposed quasi analytic claim that all events have a cause. Even if some causes are not temporal, it doesn’t follow that all events have a cause, temporal or not. And stating that you “just know” is not an argument, it is fist pounding. I "just know with the eye of reason" that you’re wrong, so there!

Response: Well obviously Perry you could come with new arguments or heard of arguments that are not published. The arguments I have heard for the via negativa are anything but convincing so If I am missing some I am waiting for a positive argument, but of course you would rather give me a reading list. I don’t doubt that you have read a lot and that you know a lot of weird stuff, I just doubt that you are able to defend eastern orthodoxy reasonably. Someone could say that they just see that 1+1=4,938 instead of 1+1=2. You can’t really argue against someone who thinks unreasonable things like that. Just like you can’t argue against some crazy person that doesn’t believe that every event has a cause. Saying that I am just wrong without any argument is either indication of you not functioning properly or just being argumentative.

Asserting that negation gives positive knowledge isn’t an argument that it does. Giving examples of created objects misses the arguments I put forward. It doesn’t follow that if something is true for created being it is true for God, whether God is being or not. So it doesn't matter if one takes a western or eastern view, your argument still flops. You have to show that it is true for God.

Response: This is Thomas Williams argument against the via negativa. If someone doesn’t want to apply the basic logic and reason to God then that’s fine, but the rub is that you end up an eastern mystic like yourself, but you don’t mind that so I can’t really help you with that. It’s funny that you say I know nothing about these subjects seeing that Williams is a fine scholar on medieval philosophy and God talk and the funny thing is you didn’t even realize it….that’s great telling me I know nothing about the via negative….this just proves you just make things up to hide the weaknesses in your eastern view points. This just shows that you are an unreliable source on saying who has read something on a subject or not.

Further, you conflate knowledge of what a thing is with that a thing is.

Response: How do I do this? This is a unclear reference and maybe you should work on clarifying your argument rather than spouting rhetoric and changing the subject.

And you’d need to prove that God is being in order to prove that the general principles you take to be practically analytic are applicable in this case in order for your original argument to God through. If you can’t there is sufficient reason to think that the argument doesn’t go through. What we have here from you is a rather silly verion of the univocity of being.

Response: First, there is reason to doubt my views if you can’t use logic and reason to know statements that lead to contradictions to about the divine essence. If you just say you just can’t do that because it’s the divine essence and its special and mysterious then you are right I my argument doesn’t go through but who would ever grant you this case of special pleading on behalf of your eastern mysticism. Secondly, there are certain doctrines of analogy that don’t lead one to be self-referentially incoherent and that lead them to knowledge of the divine essence. I thought you use to be Reformed? I haven’t you done any reading in Reformed theology at all? I don’t mind correcting you on this and you are not going to hear my get all upset about you not understanding my position because you’re not omniscient.

What I meant by conceptual content regarding mathematical propositions is that they assume a context and hence carry with them conceptual content. But such is not the case for God, unless you think the world forms the context for God. Further, your claims also ignore the most radical forms of skepticism, namely Pyrrhonianism. If Pyrrhonianian skepticism is applied to this case, then the argument won’t go through yet again, just on epistemological grounds.

Response: This form of skepticism is self-referentially incoherent and if they don’t see that then again there is nothing you can do. If the skeptic says that he doesn’t know anything, including that…then that is just contradictory and if someone doesn’t see that A is A then you just say alright and move on with your life.

I haven’t made stuff up. It seems that way because you aren’t familiar, it seems with the matter of unknowable truths in contemporary epistemology, let alone classical western or Byzantine theology on this question of divine incomprehensibility.

My reference to Spinoza isn’t mysterious as there is an implicit argument there. The only way your claim that knowledge that something exists would license quidditative knowledge would be if there was an intrinsic relation between all things such as occurs in pantheism. But you didn’t see it. So your argument could only be true of God if pantheism is true. But you agree that pantheism is false, therefore your argument is. Modus Tollens.

Response: I wouldn’t be comfortable with saying that God’s existence is an exemplification of a quidditative property. If I say God exists unique in an infinite sense and that no such being exists this way then God uniqueness would block this argument for quidditativeness. Once again your presumptuous way of thinking has made a false inference from what I have said. How does an accepting relational contingent properties of knowing about something lead to pantheism? If I say I know something about the divine essence ad extra and this is a relational property of the essence (accidental, non-essential, contingent) ad extra this in no way suggests pantheism.

Again, your comments do not amount to a demonstration that if positive knowledge of created things can be had in this way, that this is so for God. Where is your argument that this is so for God? Without that argument, your main argument fails to go through.
Response: You can’t demonstrate that logic and reason apply to all things. If someone rejects obvious starting points then there is not a whole lot you can do. I don’t lose sleep at night knowing that I can’t refute a consistent Hindu’s worldview with my reasonable western logic. You know something about God. This is positive. But that thing you know is that you don’t know anything about him, which is contradictory. This would lead you to say that you know at least one thing about God and nothing else, but you’re a consistent mystic so I won’t bother.

My points concerning logic and the divine essence are quite appropriate and informed and will appear such to anyone familiar with the history of the issues we are discussing. The fact that you aren’t familiar with the philosophical background and what is at stake shows that you are clearly in over your head. Fools rush in I suppose.

Response: I am no more foolish than any reasonable person that understands and immediately agrees that A=A and that anything that contradicts this truth is absurd. It doesn’t matter if there was a whole history of people discussing how A= can be non A, it’s false to anybody who is honest. The philosophical background doesn’t matter; it is clearly false to anybody who thinks about it honestly.


If your position follows the same line of reasoning and implies heterodoxy, either you have to affirm heterodoxy and contradict your own position, or deny your position along with the heterodoxy. That’s the argument I gave, but you can’t manage to recognize a dilemma when you see one. That was the point of pointing it out to you, to perhaps jolt you back to reality.

Response: Assuming church authority another case of begging the question.

You claim that my view is anything but biblical and yet you are giving philosophical defenses for papal doctrines. Do I even need to mention the word “irony?” First, I can give clear and direct biblical support for the single procession of the Spirit from the Father. Can you give the same for the Filioque?

Response: Off Topic.

You wrote that you rejected the distinction between essence and activity if I recall, which is nothing else here than the distinction between possession and utilization. Haven’t you read Plato at all? More importantly, do you think there is any passive potency in God or do you subscribe to the doctrine of actus purus?

Response: I don’t subscribe to actus purpus. I hold the distinction, but an altered form of it. Off Topic again Perry.

As for those that think God is being, Classical Protestants and Catholics, your argument still does not go through, which is what I pointed out. The only way you could get positive knowledge of God by the via negativa is if God existed in a created mode of being.

Response: This is so absurd. God could exist in an uncreated mode of being and he could have logic and reason apply to this being only not ascribing the property of being created.

But on Protestant and Catholics principles, God as self subsisting being does not exist in a created mode of being. So your argument can only go through if the Classical Protestant doctrine of God is false. Is it false? I don’t even need to presuppose my view to refute the argument.

Response: I don’t think holding to that particular form of the Protestant of doctrine of God fails to make one a Protestant, as I have shown above, you can talk about God with using logic and reason with uncreated modes of being.

You obviously seem to have misunderstood Davies as I already demonstrated.

Response: You haven’t demonstrated anything on this score.

And I am on topic for I am replying line by line to everything you wrote.

Response: Everything I wrote was a response to you being off topic in the first place.

You ask why not explore the divine essence? If your rationalism were true, revelation would be unnecessary since reason would be sufficient to know God. The irony is that someone plugging for the Reformers has now sided with Natural Theology and via the principle of parsimony made revelation unnecessary.

Response: We need revelation for the Gospel, atonement, and the trinity. This argument is such a straw man and misunderstanding of natural theologians in the Reformed tradition.

NPT

Nathanael Taylor said...

Nate -

Would you be willing to explain, as a kind of solution to the problem you see in this post, your own view of the Divine Essence?

Thanks!

Response: I am not able to make a post on this subject seeing that Allison and David have advised me to only discuss sola scriptura more often than these strange philosophical tangents that I go on. So my view of the Divine essence is that some aspects of it our knowable. However, there are aspects of it that are unknowable. We do not have the cognitive ability to grasp the content of those aspects of the divine substance. This is similar to how a infant cannot intellectually grasp geometry. Thus we cannot know the content of some propositions in God's mind or some aspects of the divine essence. But you might ask well then you know one thing about those unknowable aspects, mainly that you don't know anything of them. I would say to this that I know a few things of these unknowable aspects: 1) I know that the content is either true or false 2) I know it's is not logically impossible or incoherent 3) I know it has relational properties. Thus these unknowable things are unknowable in some sense and knowable in other. This is all we know about these aspects of God. But the content of these aspects of God are unknowable in this sense that I have described. What I mean by content is the content that is very meaningful and rich in propositions such as the tree's exists in this world or there are at least 10,000 cars in this world...so this is what I mean by content and there is some content or truths in God's essence that we can never grasp because we are finite creatures and his thoughts are higher qualitatively and quantitatively than ours, but this does not end in logical incoherence as the eastern view point does.