Thursday, June 28, 2007

One from the comments

Thanks to Sceptre of Orthodoxy for the kind comment for my cousin Julie.

He asks the question:
Jonathan, if I may ask, what is your take on the theological contribution of Patriarch Gregory II of Cyprus to the question of the Filioque? Do you detect a Patristic precedent for his formulation of the Spirit's eternal "shining forth" through the Son? Also, according to Patr. Gregory, could there be any energetic manifestion of the Son through the Spirit? If not, why? What, indeed, does energetic 'procession,' as hypostatically specified, *mean*, if according to Palamas the Energies are common to all the Trinitarian Hypostases?

I do think there is patristic precedent for what he says, and I do think that it is well grounded in the distinction between nature and will as formulated in Byzantine doctrine. In response to your last question, it seems to indicate simply that even the common actions are tri-personal, that they bear a personal stamp even though the energies are not themselves the hypostaseis. I do not think that the Byzantine description is exhaustive or exclusive of other explanations, and that is where I believe Gregory oversteps his bounds.

Regarding the Son's manifestation through the Spirit, the spirituque if you will, I confess to being perplexed by its eternal implications. It seems that at the economic level, there must be this sort of perichoresis. As I understand the Western view of the eternal hypostatic processions, however, it is necessary to pick one or the other. As St. Thomas says, 'Now there cannot be in God any relations opposed to each other, except relations of origin, as proved above (28, 44). And opposite relations of origin are to be understood as of a "principle," and of what is "from the principle." Therefore we must conclude that it is necessary to say that either the Son is from the Holy Ghost; which no one says; or that the Holy Ghost is from the Son, as we confess.' I take this to mean that for the purpose the relations of origin serve in the explication of the immanent Trinity, one cannot simply appropriate the economic activity without qualification, which would tend to confuse the persons and render them indistinguishable.

Even more perplexing to me, though, are the various accounts that have been given of the relationship, and the strange bedfellows they engender. Michael Liccione and Fr. Thomas Weinandy take the view that the spirituque is a necessary logical consequence of the filioque, however interpreted. Dr. Liccione is clearly a Thomist, so I take them nonetheless to be saying that the filioque has a sense other than the one St. Thomas describes above. In other words, even in affirming the use of "from/not from" as a distinction, the actual modes are still interrelated, and perhaps this is a way of bridging between the level of hypostasis and activity. Hieromonk Alexander Golitzin, an Orthodox priest, suggests the same thing, being that the economic activity of the Son through the Spirit is recognized in the epiklesis of the Eucharist and the Incarnation itself, and he approvingly cites Leonardo Boff's use of the spirituque.

So far, so good. But there is also Neil Ormerod, who approaches the matter from a Lonerganian perspective and who criticizes Weinandy's view as necessarily undermining the conceptual framework of the Trinity, particularly the psychological analogy at the heart of Western Triadology. He criticizes the Cappadocian view among others as being inadequate, but equally rejects the criticism of LaCugna and others who reject the East on Rahnerian grounds. But then another member of Lonergan's school, Eugene Webb, argues that the psychological analogy is itself untenable as a Christian perspective (N.B., I think Ormerod gets the better of him by pointing out that the analogy fulfills its purpose even granting the existence of the error Webb points out, i.e., that Augustine takes self-knowledge as knowledge rather than judgment). Suffice it to say that I think there are two poles, the very ones pointed out by Patriarch Gregory, but it seems that there are numerous ways in both East and West to account for the explanation of how one connects the two. I think that the sorts of conflicts shown above, which are intramural as much as intermural, illustrate that there are a variety of ways of conceptualizing this matter and that we must take care that we are not confusing different views is whatever dialogue takes place. That is why I am hesistant to adopt Patriarch Gregory's concept wholesale and why I think that the fact that his view has been dogmatized in the East need not imply any necessary conflict between East and West.

3 Comments:

At 10:00 PM, Anonymous sceptre of orthodoxy said...

Dear Jonathan,

Thanks so much for your response.

I hope you will take the time to satisfy some of my uncertainty concerning elements of your response, which derive entirely from my fundamental ignorance of basic concepts which your response presupposes I possess.

1. How, precisely, is the Byzantine distinction between nature & will particularly pertinent to Gregory's energetic filioque?

2. Are you aware of Patriarch Gregory espousing anything like an energetic spirituque? The heiromonk's identification of an economic spirituque in Pentecost & the Eucharistic Epiklesis is interesting, but can you think of this connexion being manifested in earlier Byzantine theologians, or Gregory specifically?

3. I seem to remember you describing the actions of Patriarch Gregory as 'bumbling' or something like that. It seems you've modified your opinion - is this so? Regardless of you current postion, were you at that time refering to a mere lack of ecclesiastical tact, or to theological incompetency?

4. It seems to me that the spirituque would undermine St. Anselm's argument for dual spiration. Do you think that St. Anselm would find Wienandy or Liccione's formulation novel, or inconsistent with the metaphysical framework he assumes he shares with the Greeks?

5. For that matter, do you think that the concept of an energetic procession would have been cognizable by such as St. Anselm? I am still unsure of what the Catholic Church has dogmatized re: the Filioque, especially as to its nature as *hypostatic origin*. Is it fair to say the Catholic Church has said that the Son is, together with the Father, the *hypostatic origin* of the Holy Spirit?

Thanks for your consideration.

 
At 7:56 AM, Blogger Mike L said...

Jonathan:

Thanks for your reaction.

My spirituque proposal arose as a corollary of my main thesis, which was that the filioque as defined at Lyons II and Florence can and ought to be interpreted so as to rule out dual procession. For the Orthodox are right to reject dual procession; and the Fathers of Florence seemed to agree, which is why they defined that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son "as from one principle." So I must confess to being surprised by the vehemence of the objections from Catholics to my proposal. I don't think it incompatible with anything defined at Lyons and Florence, and Weinandy seems to agree.

For my own part, I agree completely that there's a sense in which the Spirit proceeds from the Son that cannot be affirmed, either reciprocally or in parallel, of the converse. But I don't think that affects either my main thesis or its spirituque corollary. The filioque, on my account, means that the Spirit proceeds from the Father only as Father, so that spiration depends on filiation in such a way that filiation is logically prior to spiration. There are various ways of explaining why that is the case. I gave a few: one derived from Gregory of Nyssa and alluded to by the Vatican white paper; another from Maximus the Confessor, invoked by Weinandy. Augustine's psychological analogy, whose utility as an analogy is the irreformable teaching of the Catholic Church, is another such way. Granted as much, all spirituque entails on my account is that filiation also depends on spiration in a way different from the converse, so that spiration is not logically prior to filiation even as the two are both co-eternal and logically equivalent.

I believe such a result preserves the asymmetry that you and other Catholic objectors want to preserve while transcending the terms of the old debate.

Best,
Mike

 
At 8:19 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

Mike:
That's what I thought after re-reading St. Thomas on the point. I agree with your view, and I think that Ormerod is wrong about Weinandy, and therefore, concluding wrongly that St. Thomas has taken a different view. It makes sense to me now. Thanks for the comment!

Sceptre:
1. How, precisely, is the Byzantine distinction between nature & will particularly pertinent to Gregory's energetic filioque?

The distinction between essence and energies is analogous to the distinction between acts of nature and acts of will. The energies are not necessarily manifested, while the essence is (or, more properly, is beyond such characterizations as necessity).

2. Are you aware of Patriarch Gregory espousing anything like an energetic spirituque? The heiromonk's identification of an economic spirituque in Pentecost & the Eucharistic Epiklesis is interesting, but can you think of this connexion being manifested in earlier Byzantine theologians, or Gregory specifically?

I know of no explicit use of the spirituque; that is one thing that makes the Eastern objection to the filioque questionable. That is to saythe following: there seems to be no hostility against the Eastern Fathers for preferentially describing the economic relationship in terms of the Son's priority, even though there is necessarily a symmetry in the relationship as well. The spirituque would appear to be implied by the doctrine of the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary in the Incarnation.

3. I seem to remember you describing the actions of Patriarch Gregory as 'bumbling' or something like that. It seems you've modified your opinion - is this so? Regardless of you current postion, were you at that time refering to a mere lack of ecclesiastical tact, or to theological incompetency?

With respect to the West, theological incompetency, and my opinion hasn't really moved on that. I doubt that it was deliberate, but it seems clear to me that he blew it. Nonetheless, I do not think that the mischaracterization of the West renders his position wrong. It seems that the West, correctly understood, could be compatible with it.

4. It seems to me that the spirituque would undermine St. Anselm's argument for dual spiration. Do you think that St. Anselm would find Wienandy or Liccione's formulation novel, or inconsistent with the metaphysical framework he assumes he shares with the Greeks?

Given Mike's explanation, I think he would have no difficulty with it at all, since they are speaking of two difefrent senses of the filioque. Anselm is talking about the distinction between the modes of processions, while Mike is speaking of their symmetry. There is no contradiction between those two, since distinction does not require asymmetry.

5. For that matter, do you think that the concept of an energetic procession would have been cognizable by such as St. Anselm? I am still unsure of what the Catholic Church has dogmatized re: the Filioque, especially as to its nature as *hypostatic origin*. Is it fair to say the Catholic Church has said that the Son is, together with the Father, the *hypostatic origin* of the Holy Spirit?

I think Anselm would have been reluctant to accept that the filioque was purely energetic. Particularly when placed alongside Mike's formulation, the filioque serves both a hypostatic and an economic role. Hypostatically, it represents the absolute distinction between the persons so that they can have relations with one another, and energetically, it preserves the symmetry of relations that ensures that no person is subordinated. It really means two different things, neither of which is what the Greek view really means by aitia/source/font, which conflates the two concepts in some sense. So I think Anselm would reject the categories and say that a distinction needs to be drawn along the lines that Mike drew it. Now that I understand what he is saying completely (or I at least think I do!), Mike's vew appears to be the most accurate description. On the other hand, I don't think that where one draws a metaphysical distinction based on one's ontological commitments ought to be a church-dividing issue. I think that Aristotelian metaphysics is superior to Platonic metaphysics, and I think that Aristotelian metaphysics was watered down in Neoplatonism, meaning that I consider the West to have a superior metaphysical framework. But I would hope that even if one doesn't share that conclusion, it would still be understood that both sides are describing the dogma accurately given their respective metaphysical commitments.

 

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