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Grace is not God's unmerited favor...


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#41 Anna Stickles

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 05:04 PM

Mary, You have linked the Lost Fragments of St Ireneaus. For the correct chapter in Against Heresies please follow this link

St Maximos and St Gregory Palamas do speak, for example, of our becoming uncreated, which is a bold way indeed to describe our participation in the divine energies of God (though perhaps no more bolder than St Athanasius' declaration "God became Man so that men might become God"); but of course they immediately have to qualify themselves: becoming uncreated does not mean that we cease to be creatures; our essential nature is not annihilated by our communion with our Creator in his divine energies.

This I think is something we all agree upon and if I have not qualified myself enough I appologize. If you read the link I give you can see also how St Ireneaus qualifies this .

How many of the Fathers were willing to attribute to deified man the divine attributes of infinity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence?

I am not doing atributing any “omni’s” to man either. Admittedly as you say language is awkward, and no doubt my use of it is not very good. As I was thinking about this maybe it is better to simply say that God is, and is the source of: existence, might and power, wisdom and knowledge. And maybe also we can say that He is and is the source of presence (I have not heard this specific language unlike with the other attributes , but certainly we can say that God is the source of awareness and personhood which maybe is what we mean by presence?)

As for the language of Scripture certain Eph 1:18-23 is pretty bold

"18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the aints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.


The question that I see is whether human nature is limited or unlimited in it's potential to recieve and manifest the God-head in its fullness. In other words is the limiting factor our individual capacity and will as person's or is human nature itself limited because of it's createdness. St Ireneaus is you read the link I provide says that the limit exists not as potential, but due to the fact that we are infantile and unaccustomed to and unpracticed in the things of God. Ie it is man's will not how God created man that is the limiting factor.

Edited by Anna Stickles, 21 April 2012 - 06:03 PM.


#42 Mary Lanser

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:16 PM

Mary, You have linked the Lost Fragments of St Ireneaus. For the correct chapter in Against Heresies please follow this link


Went back over my earlier steps till I saw what I'd done to "miss" this. Thanks!

Here is what I found in the actual chapter that makes me think it is more than just our will that keeps us from, as you say, "receiving and manifesting the Godhead in its fullness." I think we can go as far as our createdness allows us. I think we can achieve the perfection of divinized creatures, as long as that perfection is not conceptualized as something static. It seems to me that also that we will never reach a divine perfection precisely because we are immortal but not eternal, having no beginning and no end.

3. With God there are simultaneously exhibited power, wisdom, and goodness. His power and goodness [appear] in this, that of His own will He called into being and fashioned things having no previous existence; His wisdom [is shown] in His having made created things parts of one harmonious and consistent whole; and those things which, through His super-eminent kindness, receive growth and a long period of existence, do reflect the glory of the uncreated One, of that God who bestows what is good ungrudgingly. For from the very fact of these things having been created, [it follows] that they are not uncreated; but by their continuing in being throughout a long course of ages, they shall receive a faculty of the Uncreated, through the gratuitous bestowal of eternal existence upon them by God. And thus in all things God has the pre-eminence, who alone is uncreated, the first of all things, and the primary cause of the existence of all, while all other things remain under God’s subjection. But being in subjection to God is continuance in immortality, and immortality is the glory of the uncreated One. By this arrangement, therefore, and these harmonies, and a sequence of this nature, man, a created and organized being, is rendered after the image and likeness of the uncreated God,—the Father planning everything well and giving His commands, the Son carrying these into execution 522 and performing the work of creating, and the Spirit nourishing and increasing [what is made], but man making progress day by day, and ascending towards the perfect, that is, approximating to the uncreated One. For the Uncreated is perfect, that is, God.

#43 Father David Moser

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 10:43 PM

Quick question, Father Aidan, and not a trick question either: How do you understand the Indwelling Trinity and what place does the Indwelling have in your spiritual life? XB!! M.


Mary,

I think that there is a severe difficulty with your question as asked. The Trinity does not "indwell", but rather we are filled with (indwelt, if you will) the third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The whole Trinity does not "indwell" any more than the whole Trinity became incarnate. The Church in the person of the Apostles, and of the Holy Fathers, has always been very particular about not confusing the persons of the Trinity or conflating their unique actions (which is one of the reasons why the filioque clause is unacceptable to Orthodox Christianity - it conflates the Father and the Son) and it is therefore important that we also do not conflate the actions of the Persons of the Holy Trinity.

I don't know that this really impacts this discussion, however, it is a very important distinction that must be kept unconfused.

Fr David Moser

#44 Mary Lanser

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 12:25 AM

Mary,

I think that there is a severe difficulty with your question as asked. The Trinity does not "indwell", but rather we are filled with (indwelt, if you will) the third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The whole Trinity does not "indwell" any more than the whole Trinity became incarnate. The Church in the person of the Apostles, and of the Holy Fathers, has always been very particular about not confusing the persons of the Trinity or conflating their unique actions (which is one of the reasons why the filioque clause is unacceptable to Orthodox Christianity - it conflates the Father and the Son) and it is therefore important that we also do not conflate the actions of the Persons of the Holy Trinity.

I don't know that this really impacts this discussion, however, it is a very important distinction that must be kept unconfused.

Fr David Moser


St. Cyril of Alexandria had no difficulty in speaking of union with the Indwelling Trinity. I don't have time to track down more at the moment and I certainly do not wish to be the only contra-position to your note here. So if it comes down to it, I will withdraw my question to Father Aidan rather than argue.

Mary

PS: Just a quick reference to Bishop Kallistos Ware who does not seem to have much difficulty referencing the "...mutual indwelling of the persons of the Trinity...":

http://www.fatherale...othy_ware_2.htm

"1. The Image of the Holy Trinity. Just as each man is made according to the image of the Trinitarian God, so the Church as a whole is an icon of God the Trinity, reproducing on earth the mystery of unity in diversity. In the Trinity the three are one God, yet each is fully personal; in the Church a multitude of human persons are united in one, yet each preserves his personal diversity unimpaired. The mutual indwelling of the persons of the Trinity is paralleled by the coinherence of the members of the Church. In the Church there is no conflict between freedom and authority; in the Church there is unity, but no totalitarianism. When Orthodox apply the word ‘Catholic’ to the Church, they have in mind (among other things) this living miracle of the unity of many persons in one."

#45 Mary Lanser

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 02:00 AM

PPS: I should probably note here, since Father made reference to the filioque, that the Catholic Church speaks of both the Indwelling Trinity and the Indwelling Spirit. We should remember that it is a patristic habit to call Jesus by "the Spirit" and the Holy Spirit by "the Spirit of Christ"...so there's no real Trinitarian conflict here in terms of thinking about being filled with the living God.

Also I do recognize that Bishop Ware is not speaking of the Trinity, indwelling in mankind, but of the coherence and interpenetration of the Persons of the Trinity. That however does have direct impact on how we can conceptualize our promised union with the Godhead...in that Jesus tells us that He and the Father will come and dwell within us.

For someone who says she does not want to argue, I am having difficulty keeping my mind off the topic.

XB!!
BB!!

M.

#46 Mary Lanser

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

PPPS: I am going to add one more step to this that may advance the discussion at some point. I had thought of it yesterday but was not sure how to present it and not at all sure if it were not some idiosyncratic idea that had no basis in history or theology. It is actually a very simple point, and today I was given a manuscript, just an hour or so ago, that allows me to ask the simple question and make the simple suggestion below, with confidence, as a means of furthering the ideas placed here already:

Are you, Father David, considering the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the Person of the Holy Spirit indwelling or are you thinking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the grace of the Holy Spirit, and not the third person of the Trinity?

If you are speaking of the Person of the Holy Spirit indwelling then we not only may but must speak of the Trinity as well.

But if you are speaking of the graces of the Holy Spirit indwelling then there is no need to reference the Trinity, but it is then not clear, in terms of the holy fathers of the patristic era, that this is the ONLY Orthodox approach to the theology of the indwelling, for I can now see that St. Cyril of Alexandria, mentioned above, quite clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells personally in us, thereby accommodating reference to both the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the Indwelling of the Trinity.

Christ is Risen!

M.

#47 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 04:05 PM

The 14th chapter of the Gospel of John is, as everyone on this forum knows, particularly illuminating on the topic of the indwelling Trinity. On the one hand, as Fr David notes, it is the special work and mission of the Spirit to indwell the faithful, yet the Spirit cannot be separated from the Father and the Son: "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will lobe him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (14:23). Consider St Cyril of Alexandria's comment on this verse:

When He saw that the disciple did not quite understand, He goes back again to what He said at first, and teaches clearly that He will not manifest Himself to His own, according to the conception he had formed in his mind, but that the manner of His manifestation will be special to His disciples, and not that common to the rest of mankind. For the vulgar, and those, for instance, who have just escaped from the deceitfulness of idols and have been called to the knowledge of the Living God, rest their faith on bare and unquestioned axioms, merely having learnt to know that there is no idol in the world, and that the Living God is One only; while they who have their minds illumined by every virtue and are already in a state to fitly apprehend Divine and hidden mysteries, will receive the torch of the Spirit, and will behold with the eyes of the soul the Lord Himself, Who has taken up His abode in them. The knowledge therefore that the Saints possess is not common to the rest, but is in a manner special and distinct and widely diverse. Christ then benefits us by every kind of word and way. For, first of all, anyone that loves Him is very broadly distinguished from the rest, showing as it seems to me, and as I justly apprehend, that it has not been given to all men to receive the power of His grace, but only to those in whom the glory of intimate connexion with Him may be seen indwelling through their keeping His commandments.

Then in what way He will declare Himself and how He will take up His abode in them He goes on to declare. For My Father will love him, He says. For any man who has honoured by his obedience to the Son the Father from Whom He springs, will reap His love as the fruit of his conduct. Then He clearly shows what will be the issue thereof and what profit such a man will gain when He says, I and the Father will come unto him and make Our abode with him. For when our Saviour Christ dwells in us by the Holy Spirit, surely there too will be also His Father; for the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of the Father Himself also, and the inspired Paul at one time speaks of the Spirit as belonging to the Father, and at another as belonging to the Son: not by way of logical contradiction, but rather saying what is true of either, for it is so in fact. He says then to some: He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you. Then again, And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Do you see that the same Spirit is of the Father and the Son? When then the Only-begotten dwells in your hearts, the Father is not far from you: for the Son hath in Himself the Father, being of one substance with Him, and is Himself by nature in the Father.


Do we not have here what St John of Damascus would later describe as perichoresis, the mutual indwelling of the three persons of the Trinity?

#48 Anna Stickles

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 10:18 PM

I think that both Fr David and Fr Aidan are correct. The indwelling is mutual, and while there is one will of the Godhead, yet the activities of the Persons in respect to us are usually specified as being distinct.

For example from St Athanasius, in talking about how the Son was involved in creation he moves on to discuss the Spirit's role.

"But if the Son is Creator like the Father, then he is not a creature, And if he is not one of the created things because all things are created through Him, it is clear that the Spirit is also not a creature. For it is written about him in Psalm 103: " You take back your Spirit, they die and they return to dust; you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth (vs29-30) Seeing that this ahs been written, it is clear that the Spirit is not a creature but is involved in the act of creating. The Father creates all things through the Word in the Spirit. For where the Word is, there is also the Spirit, and the things created through the Word have their strength to exist through the Spirit from the Word.. Thus it is written in Psalm 32: "By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the Spirit of his mouth all their power (vs 6).


and a little later

"When we participate in the Spirit we have the grace of the Word and, in the Word, the love of the Father. Just as there is one grace of the Trinity, so too is the Trinity indivisible. One can see this in the case of Mary... For when the angle Gabriel was sent to announce that the Word would descend upon her, he said The Holy Spirit shall come upon you. He was very much aware that the Spirit was in the Word. Then he immediately added: And the Power of the Most High will overshadow you. For Christ is the Power and the Wisdom of God. In addition when the Spirit comes to us, the Son and the Father will also come and make their home in us. (Jn 14:23) For the Trinity is indivisible, and there is one divinity of the Trinity, and there is one God over all, and through all, and in all (Eph 4:6) This is the faith of the Catholic Church."


And a wonderful passage by Didymus the blind,

"At the end of the second epistle he wrote to the Corinthians, Paul said: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all." This passage clearly shows that there is a single reception of the Trinity, since whoever receives the grace of Christ has it as much by the Father's administering as by the Holy Spirit's bestowing. ...Therefore since there is a single grace of the Father and the Son perfected by the activity of the Holy Spirit demonstrates that the Trinity is of one substance."


and just to note here that the reception of grace is the reception of the Trinity. It is not as if grace is an activity or a power of the Trinity, but rather is the Trinity itself in it's diverse activities. He makes this even more clear elsewhere but I have probably already quoted enough for one post.

and

"Therefore since whoever has communion with the Holy Spirit immediately has communion with both the Father and the Son, whenever anyone has the love of the Father, he has it as a gift from the Son through the Holy Spirit. In addition, whenever anyone is a participant of the grace of Jesus Christ, he has the same grace as a gift from the Father through the Holy Spirit."



These quotes are all taken from Works on the Spirit, vol 43 of the Popular Patristic Series by SVS press

and of course there is the beautiful statement already quoted above by St Ireneaus which includes our part also

the Father planning everything well and giving His commands, the Son carrying these into execution 522 and performing the work of creating, and the Spirit nourishing and increasing [what is made], but man making progress day by day, and ascending towards the perfect, that is, approximating to the uncreated One. For the Uncreated is perfect, that is, God.



#49 Mary Lanser

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 12:47 AM

Couple of comments while waiting for others to comment:

1)Re: Anna's first paragraph above: Not only one will but one divine nature.

2) With respect to Persons of the Trinity: It seems to me that the Persons of the Trinity are not defined by their activities [though we need ultimately to be concerned with this language of function]. Rather they are principally defined by the characteristics of Unbegotten, Begotten, and Spirated.

Christ is Risen!

M.

PS: Dear Anna, Father Aidan and I go back a number of years as Internet correspondents and friends. I told Father, today, that you are in much closer proximity to me, so I'd like to be the one to introduce the two of you!!

#50 Mary Lanser

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 06:09 PM

PS: For those who might be confused by my comment to Father and Anna, I was not thinking to introduce them for the first time. I was simply making the three-way connection...

M.

#51 Mary Lanser

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:22 PM

Mary,

I think that there is a severe difficulty with your question as asked. The Trinity does not "indwell", but rather we are filled with (indwelt, if you will) the third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The whole Trinity does not "indwell" any more than the whole Trinity became incarnate. The Church in the person of the Apostles, and of the Holy Fathers, has always been very particular about not confusing the persons of the Trinity or conflating their unique actions (which is one of the reasons why the filioque clause is unacceptable to Orthodox Christianity - it conflates the Father and the Son) and it is therefore important that we also do not conflate the actions of the Persons of the Holy Trinity.

I don't know that this really impacts this discussion, however, it is a very important distinction that must be kept unconfused.

Fr David Moser


Dear Father David,

Your post raises a question that I think long thoughts on periodically. If we could set the question of filioque aside for a moment: what you have said here is important, I believe, with respect to how we view essence and energies and grace.

We speak easily and commonly of the grace of Christ, His role in the acts of creation, His peace, His condescension as the Incarnate one come among us for our redemption, His actions in our personal salvation through the sacraments, His animation of our souls etc.

We speak, again easily, of the graces of the Holy Spirit, of His fruits and His gifts and His counsels, and His animation of our souls and His renewal of the face of the earth, etc.

We speak of the Father, not so much in terms of grace, per se, but in terms of His glory, His boundless love for us, and His oversight of all that is good and holy. The Father is very real to me personally. When I returned to the Catholic Church after years of sinful living in the world the only Person of the Trinity to whom I could manage to address my concerns and my sorrow was the Father. It took me a long time to turn my attention to the Son and Holy Spirit, as I was brutally out of practice. It was through the oversight of the Father, the trust that I had in Him as Abba, that I was drawn to allow myself to be re-animated spiritually by the Son and the Holy Spirit, in any way that could be construed as real.

So it seems common to me to speak of the individual and respective actions of the Persons of the Holy Trinity through the language of grace, with this or that action in time as a grace.

But it seems to me that it is not quite appropriate to personalize the energies in the same way. Metropolitan John Z. notes in one of his lectures that energies are not hypostatic. Is this the general Orthodox approach to energies: that they are not hypostatic?

There's more I think and God knows I am fumbling around here, but maybe this can get things started? I hope it is all right to continue in this thread this way.

Mary

#52 Anna Stickles

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:25 PM

If we talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as wisdom, peace, etc rather then simply the actions of the same it seems to me that these gifts could be talked about both as energies and as grace. The grace of the Holy Spirit or the energy of the Holy Spirit seem to me to be interchangeable ways of speaking about the same thing, but certainly these are always operating in a personal way. Can we divide God's will and awareness from His energies or His actions?

But I'm not sure if this really answers your question about the relationship between energies and hypostasis. Fr David will probably answer when he has time.

Had kind of a duh moment while running my daughter up to karate class and thought I would add it. Love is always personal. Certainly to experience love as something impersonal would make it something less then love. And yet we know that love is an energy - ie it is something that can be communicated, experienced, participated in.

But maybe in context the Metropolitan's statement would make sense. Very often there is no understanding what a person says without first understanding the question or thought they are answering.

Edited by Anna Stickles, 24 April 2012 - 11:00 PM.
additions


#53 Mary Lanser

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 02:12 AM

Had kind of a duh moment while running my daughter up to karate class and thought I would add it. Love is always personal. Certainly to experience love as something impersonal would make it something less then love. And yet we know that love is an energy - ie it is something that can be communicated, experienced, participated in.

But maybe in context the Metropolitan's statement would make sense. Very often there is no understanding what a person says without first understanding the question or thought they are answering.


Sorry to be abrupt but I want to keep it as unambiguous as possible:

Are you saying that according the Orthodox teaching of essence and energies we have:

1) Divine love [an energy] the comes from the Father explicitly

2) Divine love [an energy] that comes from the Son explicitly

3) Divine love [an energy] that comes from the Holy Spirit explicitly

#54 Mary Lanser

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 02:25 AM

Follows the quote from Metropolitan John Zizioulas. Sorry it took me a while to re-locate the exact passage:

http://www.oodegr.co...tiki1/D1b.htm#4


Thus, the person –the hypostasis- denotes an identity, a being, which, albeit unable to exist on its own, cannot be perceived on its own, yet at the same time cannot be found elsewhere. While it cannot exist on its own, at the same time, it cannot be found elsewhere, except in its self. In other words, its self is so unique, so unprecedented, so much itself, that nobody else can be what it is. The Father cannot be the Son, or the Spirit. The Son cannot be the Father, or the Spirit. The terms: ‘Father’, ‘Son’ and ‘Spirit’ denote different hypostases or persons; they are so unique and unprecedented, that the paradox and most significant thing about them is that they cannot be found in those entities with which they have no association: they simply do not exist. Because, if the Father is not in a relationship with the Son, He ceases to exist. And even so, He still is not the Son.

That is the person, i.e., it is the identity that is born of a relationship - of a communion with another entity - which results in non-communing, entities, in the sense that the one entity cannot be found within the other; neither can it be found, if not in any association with the other, because if that relationship is interrupted, then the existence of that person is also interrupted. So, if the person or the hypostasis is neither an essence nor an energy, then it must not be self-subsistent either; in other words, one cannot refer to the person singly, without relating it to something else, nor refer to it as an energy, in the sense that it can be found inside something else.

For example, the energy of God. Let’s examine one of His energies: His power. His power as an energy can be found in all three Persons, and it is indeed found in all three Persons. It can also be found outside of God; it can act outside of God. This is called an ‘event’, i.e., that which we can also find outside of the essence (which essence possesses the energy), while the essence is distinguished from the energy, in that we cannot find it outside of the essence. We cannot find God’s essence inside creation. We can however find God’s energy inside creation. The energy is that which can be communed, even outside the essence. The essence cannot be communed; it denotes self-subsistence; it cannot be categorized outside itself, because it will cease to be the essence of that being.



#55 Anna Stickles

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

I'm sorry Mary I am having a hard time trying to figure out where the Met is coming from.

#56 Anna Stickles

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 03:51 PM

Sorry to be abrupt but I want to keep it as unambiguous as possible:

Are you saying that according the Orthodox teaching of essence and energies we have:

1) Divine love [an energy] the comes from the Father explicitly

2) Divine love [an energy] that comes from the Son explicitly

3) Divine love [an energy] that comes from the Holy Spirit explicitly


No, "The Lord our God the Lord is one" is the most basic Jewish declaration of God's being and I can't think that the Christian understanding of God as three persons changes this. Divine love belongs to the Trinity. But I am out of my depth to try understand this any further.

I was merely saying that Divine Love is indeed an energy but also that it is personal not impersonal.

#57 Mary Lanser

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:05 PM

No, "The Lord our God the Lord is one" is the most basic Jewish declaration of God's being and I can't think that the Christian understanding of God as three persons changes this. Divine love belongs to the Trinity. But I am out of my depth to try understand this any further.

I was merely saying that Divine Love is indeed an energy but also that it is personal not impersonal.


But then we are not using "personal" as in Persons of the Trinity, right? Divine love comes ultimately from the divine nature which is, of course as you say, shared among all three Persons.

From my understanding, what makes grace, any grace personal is the fact that it is directed toward each one of us individually. It is that individual attention that God pays to each one of us, by name, that is unique and worth mention.

M.

#58 Mary Lanser

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:08 PM

I'm sorry Mary I am having a hard time trying to figure out where the Met is coming from.


Then, to be safe, we should wait till someone else makes note of what he is saying.

M.

#59 Mary Lanser

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 01:58 AM

No, "The Lord our God the Lord is one" is the most basic Jewish declaration of God's being and I can't think that the Christian understanding of God as three persons changes this. Divine love belongs to the Trinity. But I am out of my depth to try understand this any further.


Metropolitan John's quote addresses this actually...where he speaks of divine power as an example.

Also what he says about the Persons not existing outside of the relationship with one another, or independently one from the other is a teaching from St. Gregory so I am going to look for it and see what I can find.

Sometimes it helps me to "see" the Trinity in constant motion so that one can never "hold" the Trinity in mind in such a way that there is One, one moment, and Three the next.

Rather: Trinity is One and Three in eternally present instantaneous motion.

Once I get that wonder in my line of sight, I quit worrying about it <Grin>.

XB!!

M.

#60 Owen Jones

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:22 PM

Orthdooxy views salvation as a synergy. I think the problem arises with Augustine who sees salvation as a specific miraculous act by God on a person regardless of and in spite of that person's free will, thoughts, actions, predispositions, etc. Fr. John Romanides is very good at explaining this. I'll try to dig up a quote and post it.




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