The Evangelical Universalist Forum

JRP addresses recent metaphysical crits of trinitarianism

A bit more complex than that in some ways, but simpler too in some ways. If God chooses to utterly remove an entity or spirit from existence then that’s basically the same as saying He is already choosing not to bring it back. (To “balefire” it out of the existence of its own prior history–if I may borrow a term from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series :mrgreen: --would on the other hand be self-contradictory; for God was, at those points of space-time, acting to keep that entity in existence. God would be acting directly against Himself to do that.)

The intention of God regarding any created entity exists distinct from the creation itself, of course, but that isn’t the kind of pre-existence Origen was talking about (and probably doesn’t count as “pre-existence” per se at all.)

This on the other hand has a lot of connection to what it means for something to cease existing, whether materially (in a natural sense) or ontologically (in relation to God). It also leads into some rather interesting thematic overlaps between supernaturalistic theism (especially trinitarian theism) and various non-Christian religious beliefs throughout the world.

These will become more obvious when I finish editing the paper and post it up.

The longer discussion is now edited and attached to this comment.

Some things will be discussed here which are going to look rather… weird.

(I mean weird even to the usual orthodox trinitarian. :wink: )

This paper has relevance to annihilationism theories, too–not in refutation of annihilationism, but in clarification of what annihilation can and cannot entail if supernaturalistic theism (broadly speaking, though with some connection to ortho-trin) is true.
How far can anyone die.doc (35 KB)

I’m looking forward to reading that paper when I get a chance.

Oh, and :laughing: @ the Wheel of Time reference… balefire :open_mouth: . I loved those books, but eventually got away from them when I had to wait too long for the next installment. I can’t even remember which book I got to, now.

I can’t remember who TOR hired to compose the final book in that series (Book 12), after RJ died. But it’s on the way, probably next year.

(Knife of Dreams was Book 11; Crossroads of Twilight Book 10; Winter’s Heart was Book 9. I’ve read WH, and I think I may actually have CoT, but I decided to wait after WH until the whole series was concluded–hearing reviews of CoT from other fans, including the fan whose opinion I most treasure, didn’t encourage me to pick it up. But the general word on KoD, including from her, was that things picked up momentum again substantially. We’ll see about Book 12. I’m in no rush; I have plenty else to read. And to be writing, myself. :mrgreen: )

I know I’ve read WH. I can’t recall if I read CoT or not, but the title sounds familiar and for some reason, I have book 10 in my head as the one I stopped with. I definitely haven’t read KoD yet. So it sounds like I’m one or two books behind at this point. I would like to read through to the conclusion of the series at some point, though.

I found this particular bit of the paper both surprising and interesting:

"The most ‘annihilated’ any natural entity can be, paradoxically, is for God to raise that entity to full deity in such a way that it ceases to be a non-God entity: God ceases self-sacrificing for the sake of that entity’s existence as a natural not-God entity (substantially different from God), and so that entity substantially becomes God once more and not not-God.

A derivatively existent not-God person, then, can only cease to exist ontologically, if supernaturalistic theism is true, by the re-ascension (analogically speaking) of the material of the spirit (whatever it may mean to say that a spirit has material existence) into substantial deity by the choice of God to cease His self-sacrifice in regard to that person."

What surprised and interested me is that this seems to me to be akin to what I have envisioned happening at the end of the ages, wherein God becomes all in all! (Though perhaps poor translation may have something to do with a misunderstanding of the phrase “all in all”, or “all and in all”, as some translations would have it.)

Although it does seem to me that in being filled with Christ, our goal is to decrease as he increases, to the point at which there is virtually no distinction between us and Christ (He being the head and us being the body of Christ.)
So is our ultimate goal as believers to become annihilated in this sense after all? To ultimately cease to be individuals altogether and be formed into one corporate body of Christ?

These are very interesting trains of thought and I can see the connection Melki draws with God ultimately being ‘All in All’ but I do have a problem with the ultimate aim being the complete losing of one’s individual identity in this process.

If the ultimate aim is to become ‘Christ-clones’ what is the point of this veil of tears with all of our individuality and struggle if in the final solution all of that experience and variety melts away. Personally I can’t imagine what is appealing about an existence where individuals don’t spark off each other in new and exciting ways (I expect you guys won’t see it like that and I am interested to know what you think as you peer through your glasses darkly :smiley: ).

What do you think our individual personalities will add to the being(s) that will ultimately exist that couldn’t have been achieved by missing out the sin and redemption phase?

The distinction is that in scriptural eschatology, persons do not cease to exist. When God is altogether in all, the persons though ‘deified’ in a lesser sense (as the EOx like to stress) still exist as distinct and derivative persons.

The annihilation of which I was speaking is the kind of re-ascendence taught by some varieties of pantheism, though, which consider ‘creation’ to be some kind of ‘fall’ in itself that has to be repaired by the cessation of personal existence. (And then, denying that there is in fact some kind of substantial difference between final reality and apparent reality, they conclude in various ways that apparent reality is only an illusion.)

There would have been no point to God creating distinctly personal derivative persons if the individual person-ness did not continue. Even in the Trinity, which is a substantial singularity, the persons are distinctly personal.

However, we don’t exist now as independent “individuals”; though in rebellion we tend to seek just that kind of “individuality”. Our distinct person-ness is already (and always has been) dependent on union with God, both immediately and through natural mediation. Ontologically, we’re going to be in union with God one way or another. The question is whether we will finally be in full personal cooperation with God (and with each other, too!), echoing in our derivative way the unity of the Persons in the singular Deity (especially the subordination of the Son)–or not.

Addendum: reassured Jeff? :slight_smile: I wasn’t talking about the cessation of personal existence as derivative persons distinct from the persons of God. (That would be like modalism, notably. :mrgreen: )

I would be horrified for the ones I love to cease to exist as persons. (Especially the one whom I love the most under God. :slight_smile: )

This has more than a little connection to universalism, too, btw; as well as to what is happening when we sin.

(If I may take small commercial break for a moment: anyone who has a copy of my novel Cry of Justice can read a… mmm… colorful illustrative example of these principles :mrgreen: :laughing: :smiley: , in Chapter 51, “Almost Perfect”, pp 267-272. Especially the last two pages.)

Ah, Ok. when you explain it that way it does sound different than what I had in mind. I didn’t mean to say that we cease to exist, then poof back into existence changed or entirely lose our distinct derivative ‘person-ness’, but more that our (Adamic) “self” is “annihilated” to the extent that we no longer self-identify as anything other than a part (say, a hand) of the body of Christ. We would have a unique personality and role, but our identity is in something entirely other than what we would perhaps now consider “self”. Sort of like a spiritual Borg collective. :laughing:

Yes Jason - thank you :smiley:

Resistance is futile…

Hi Jason. I’d like your thoughts on this post (by someone else) that I’ll reproduce here on the identity of Jesus. I thought I’d post this here, as it seems perhaps a bit more metaphysical in slant than scriptural. Thanks!

"Jesus IS no different from us, has never been. “The first born among many brethren” “As I (Christ) am so are you in this world” “Greater things than these (Jesus’s works) shall you do” “I go to My God and Your God, My Father and Your Father”

As for Jesus the MAN being God. Numbers puts it like this, God is NOT A MAN that he should lie, NOR the SON OF MAN that he should REPENT. Also, Jesus was tempted AND it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to be tempted. God knows all things, yet Jesus doesn’t.

So Jesus the man is not God, for the WORD of God is TRUTH, which was MANIFESTED in JESUS. As the WORD of God is now manifested IN US. (Christ IN US)

Jesus said, “Why are you calling me (Jesus) GOOD? There is NONE that is good save the FATHER that is in HEAVEN”

Jesus had a separate will as we do. “Not my will God but yours be done”

I think there is overwhelming evidence to state that Jesus is the SON OF GOD, manifesting God to the world, and not that JESUS IS GOD.

“God was IN Jesus reconciling the world to himself” - The scripture does not state, that God is or was Jesus.

God cannot DIE. Jesus died. God cannot SIN. Jesus took upon himself, SIN.

Jesus is a literal SYMBOL of HUMANITY in our RISEN STATE. There is ONLY ONE SPIRIT, ONE BODY.

If the TWO BECOME ONE, then we are ONE, there is no seperating us, I have the name of Christ, I am the body of Christ, I am given the Mind of Christ = Christ in ME the HOPE OF GLORY - It is no longer I that lives, but CHRIST.

I see JESUS as the first born among the DEAD. The first born among many brethren.

The entire creation is not waiting for one man Jesus to return, but the MANIFESTATION of the SONS OF GOD, who are the RISEN CHRIST (body).

That’s my take at least. :slight_smile:"

The point he seems to be making here is that Jesus (the physical, human part of Jesus Christ) is only human, but the indwelling presence of God (the Word, Christ) was actually God and is divine. Might this account for the confusion between the trinitarian statement that Jesus was fully God and fully man and the typical non-trinitarian assertion that he was only a man? This may also solve the problem of whether or not Jesus (as God) can die. If the scripture asserts that God can’t die, then only the physical, totally human part of Jesus Christ died, but the spirit of God within him did not, as this was truly God.
Is this making any sense? If I’m on the right track, then it would seem that the trinitarian vs. non-trinitarian view becomes mainly a matter of semantics; that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully Man, as the trinitarians are fond of asserting, but only in the sense that Jesus (the human man) was fully man and the “Christ” part was fully God.

It seems to me that this is perhaps the simplest solution to the apparent contradictions in scripture over the identity of Jesus Christ. I also wonder if culturally, those I AM statements that Jesus made were either made by the Spirit of God (bearing witness of himself) indwelling the man, Jesus, as the Father’s mouthpiece and/ or made on behalf of God by Jesus as God’s perfect representation/ representative. Sort of like the eldest son of a household being able to speak for the father of the family as if he was the father, or like the authority given Joseph in Egypt (Joseph being a type of Jesus as Son), where he could speak for the king as if he was the king.

Anyway, what do you think? :ugeek:

There’s a lot of material to cover here; much of which has in fact already been covered in previous entries (either here or in the scrip-crit thread).

It’ll take me some time to work up a reply; and I have a lot of ‘work’ work to do in the next few days. It’ll probably be Saturday or Sunday, at the earliest, before I can write back.

This kind of critic is making an appeal to this effect: some kind of adoptionism works just as well (or better even) than ortho-trin’s two-natures doctrine, both in theological coherency (i.e. metaphysically) and in incorporating scriptural testimony.

The short answer from the scriptural side of things, is that the scope of the testimony is much wider than represented in this particular presentation. (I’ll say something about that, too, along the way.)

The short answer from the metaphysical side of things, is that adoptionism isn’t impossible. But it has some serious logical corollaries, including for soteriology, which its own proponents may not want to accept. I’ll talk about that, too.

Ok. I’ll look back through both threads and see what you’ve written that seems to pertain to the topic. I’ve read through the scrip-crit thread once, but I may need to visit it again.

Whew! Finally where I can start addressing particular pieces of that post, Mel!

First, links back to topics brought up by your respondent already discussed here and/or in the script-crit thread.

“The first born among many brethren” – This is discussed in the script-crit thread here and here. It is also discussed here in the meta-crit thread; and here, too from an unusual but very important direction.

“I go to My God and Your God, My Father and Your Father” – Addressed in principle here, here, and here so far in the script-crit thread. In the meta-crit thread I have discussed it already here.

“Also, Jesus was tempted AND it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to be tempted.” – briefly mentioned here in the script-crit thread, with more detail here in the meta-crit thread.

Jesus said, “Why are you calling me (Jesus) GOOD? There is NONE that is good save the FATHER that is in HEAVEN” – no text says “except the Father that is in Heaven” for that incident. (Much less with emphasis on those non-existent words. :wink: ) Otherwise, this has been discussed already in the script-crit thread here.

“God cannot DIE. Jesus died.” – discussed in various places; mostly in the meta-crit thread here and here with followups here, here and here. I also note here in the script-crit thread, where someone with the unique divine name of YHWH tastes death for all persons.

This doesn’t count portions of your own remarks, Mel, that I would point back to prior comments; I thought it would be better to address those in discussion as I go along.

Next, though, I’ll be posting up comments on portions from your respondent that I don’t think I’ve covered specifically in either thread yet.

I’m looking forward to the remarks regarding this poster’s line of thought. I think I know where you might be headed with it, and I think that the conclusion I’m likely to come to, strange as this may sound, is that you’re both right in a way.

Let me say here for the record that I do believe that Jesus Christ was in every practical sense (literally speaking), God (In him, the fulness of Godhood dwells). I just prefer using biblical terms for that, and so I reject the trinitarian label and some of the semantics (wording) without necessarily rejecting the process of reasoning behind it, if that makes any sense. I think true trinitarianism (sans label) is a valid way to understand the nature of God as being multiple and yet One. Even the word Elohim in Hebrew suggests a multiplicity. In fact, I would much rather refer to the multiple nature of the one God with the word Elohim, than Trinity.

I think I’ve fairly well exhausted the crits I’ve read and passed on to you with respect to the identity of Jesus Christ, so I’d like to hear what you have to say on the component that is less frequently addressed; that is, the identity of the Holy Spirit of God. It is clear to me that the Holy Spirit is, in some sense, part of God.
Is there sufficient scriptural evidence to be able to say with confidence that the Holy Spirit is a third actual person that completes trinity? Also, how do the seven spirits of God figure into this equation, and are they seven individual spirits, or are they all encompassed within the Holy Spirit?

Hi Jason,

JeffA once asked me a question that I thought I had answered–and I’d be interested not only in your answer, but in your thoughts on mine.

The Father is a “person” (hypostais), and He’s said to be the fountain of existence (even in the Trinity.)

What I suggested here is that “there is some static, timeless, impersonal aspect to God ( His substance, or subconscious…)”

Is there room for such thoughts in Orthodox Trinitarian Theology?

Is it possible to answer Jeffa’s question without going where I did?

This is more than an Academic question to me right now–I’m questioning everything I thought I believed, and I don’t have the faith I once thought I did.

Plese help me.

For readers following along, Michael set up two threads (with quite a bit of discussion in them, though not from me as of yet):

Could God Be Both Personal And Impersonal?

Essential Qualities of Personhood

Both threads have had so much discussion and debate in them already (all of which I thought was worth reading), that I’m a little fuzzy on where and how to talk about my own thoughts on the topic!

It might be best if I just picked back up with starting Section Two of my Sword to the Heart metaphysics series (the current index page of which can be found in my signature) and go forward from there; since I cover some key elements of the metaphysical side of that discussion in Secs Two and Three.

Meanwhile, I’m sorry I got distracted and never got around to discussing topics from your respondent not already mentioned, Mel. But I’ll be covering various metaphysical topics as I go in the SttH series, so that may be of some relevant help. (Scriptural issues are actually more complicated, though still worth discussing of course. Unsure when I’ll ever get around to it.)

I’d be interested in that Jason.

Thank you.

I also would be interested in hearing you on that, Jason.