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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Doctrinal Note of Thomistic/Augustinian Teaching on the Trinity

I doubt anyone is very interested in this, but I have something of an obsession with it. A lot of dodgy types try to jettison the teaching that the Eternal Word proceeds from the Father per modum intellectus and the Holy Spirit from both per modum voluntatis. Different dodgy people have different reason for doing this. Muscovisers want to ditch the Filioque and they think to lay the ground work by attaching the doctrine of the Logos. Neo-Modernists detest the perennial philosophy and so detest a doctrine that underlines both the perennial philosophy's unity and verity and ties it inextricably to the most sublime articles of faith. This truth is most beautifully expressed by Raphael's two paintings "The School of Athens" and "The Exaltation of the Blessed Sacrament" where the doctrine of the Incarnate Word is shown as the truth which reconciles the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. It is with reluctance that I describe this teaching as Augustinian/Thomistic as it is not their invention but at least implicitly a part of the deposit of faith as is clear from Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Athanasius.... Indeed, though it doesn't say it is de fide or think it wise to preach on the subject at length the Roman Catechism goes so far as to assert that

"Among the different comparisons employed to elucidate the mode and manner of this eternal generation that which is borrowed from the production of thought in our mind seems to come nearest to its illustration, and hence St. John calls the Son the Word. For as our mind, in some sort understanding itself, forms an image of itself, which theologians express by the term word, so God, as far as we may compare human things to divine, understanding Himself, begets the eternal Word."

Anyway, the reason I'm going on about this is that I have finally tracked down the Wednesday audiences where John Paul II says what he things the doctrinal note of the teaching is.

First on the Son...

"It is certain that this eternal generation in God is of an absolutely spiritual nature, for "God is Spirit." In the cognitive process of the human mind, man, in knowing himself, produces an image of himself, an idea, a "concept," that is, a "conceived idea," which from the Latin verbum (word) is frequently called the interior word. By analogy with this process, we dare to think of the generation of the Son, or the eternal "concept" and interior Word of God. God, in knowing himself, begets the Word, the Son, who is God just as the Father. In this begetting, God is at the same time Father, as he who begets, and Son, as he who is begotten, in the supreme identity of the divinity which excludes a plurality of "Gods." The Word is the Son of the same substance of the Father, and with him he is the one God of the Old and New Testament revelation.

The whole Christian tradition contains this exposition of the mystery of God's inner life, which is inscrutable to us. If the divine generation is a truth of faith contained directly in revelation and defined by the Church, we can say that the explanation given of it by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church is a well-founded and certain theological doctrine."

Then on the Holy Spirit...

"The Holy Spirit is "sent" by the Father and Son, as he also "proceeds" from them. For this reason he is called "the Spirit of the Father" (e.g., Mt. 10:20; 1 Cor 2:11; also Jn 15:26), but also "the Spirit of the Son" (Gal 4:6), or "the Spirit of Jesus" (Acts 16:7), since it is Jesus himself that sends him (cf. Jn 15:26). Therefore the Latin Church professes that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (qui a Patre Filioque procedit) while the Orthodox Churches profess from the Father through the Son. He proceeds "by way of will," "in the manner of love" (per modum amoris). This is a sententia certa, that is, a theological doctrine commonly accepted in the Church's teaching and therefore sure and binding."

To say that these two doctrines are Sententiae theologice certae is to assert that they are, though not directly revealed, inextricably logically connected to directly revealed truths. Thus, though not (yet) heresy to deny them, it is nevertheless an error. Furthermore, because it is deduced from revealed premises, it is definable. And, if it was defined, that would make its denial a heresy. One can but hope...