Do you think the Trinity is real?
The mystery of the most holy trinity
The Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity On Trinity Sunday, St. Liturgy its dramatic presentation of the revelation about the reality of God and our salvation: through the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit we arrive at the confession of the Most Holy Trinity. This is the culmination of our Christian faith, because through the Incarnation of the Son this innermost and greatest mystery of God was made known to man. Arnold Janssen is convinced that the deeper a person rests in Christ, the more clearly he sees Him as the second divine person, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit; because the view of the God-Man Jesus Christ opens the view of the Most Holy Trinity. In other words, one cannot confess the deity of Jesus Christ without believing in the Most Holy Trinity. This thoroughly fundamental insight into the Christian mystery of faith has at least been forgotten in the course of modernist, syncretistic ecumenism. Does this ecumenism simply speak of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, without mentioning the essential difference, because both today's Judaism and Islam are not just monotheistic, but also anti-Trinitarian religions! Modernist ecumenism, on the other hand, speaks of it as if there were no significant difference in the concept of God. It is pretended that all three religions believe in the one God in the same way, which is obviously wrong.
The Jews confess: Hear Israel, the Eternal, is our God, the Eternal is only (Deut 6: 4). The Muslims pray: Allahu akbar (4 times) (Allah is the greatest) aschhadu an la ilaha ha llah (2 times) (I testify that there is no god but Allah). One God in three persons Christian worship, on the other hand, usually begins with a formula that must appear to some Jews and Muslims as blasphemy: In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. To non-Christians, the Christian confession of the Triune God appears like the confession of three gods. That is why many scoff at Christians and claim that among Christians three equals one. As if our confession of the Most Holy Trinity were a violation of mathematics or mathematical logic. That is not true, of course, but the reproach gets to the heart of the matter: The revelation of the Most Holy Trinity is the revelation of an impenetrable mystery. Although we can refute objections to this secret of faith with our human understanding, we cannot positively point out the secret or even prove it for reasons of pure reason, as St. Thomas emphasizes: That God is one and threefold can only be grasped in faith and cannot be proven or proven in any way, although some non-compelling and, except for the believer, not very conclusive reasons can be provided for this (In Trin . 4).
For us Catholics three is indeed one, since the three divine persons are one God, because all three divine persons have the one divine being. It is to be feared that because of the so-called interdenominational ecumenism among the vast majority of Christians, the knowledge of the Triune God has at least been pushed into the background, as if this truth of faith were not so important. As if, as a Christian, one could basically pretend that we, the Jews, the Mohammedans and the Christians, worship one and the same God. The Muslims pray with us to one God, it says in Vatican II. A Forgotten Truth of Faith This deception was certainly heightened by the difficulty this mystery of faith presents us with. A priest is said to have climbed up to the pulpit on Trinity Sunday and said: The Trinity is a secret, so the sermon is canceled today. It is certainly quite right to say that many preachers fear Trinity Sunday because they do not know what to tell their people about this truth of faith. If the preachers shy away from this secret, what will happen to the believing people? In the meantime one has the impression anyway that not only the sermon on this Sunday in the church year has been canceled in many places, but also the whole faith with the sermon. The interreligious spectacle in Assisi under Karol Wojtyla, alias John Paul II, with its innumerable imitations is a telling and enduring proof of this. The knowledge of God given to us by the God-man Jesus Christ has largely been darkened again by modernist unbelief. The
most Christians have become new pagans. The supernatural belief in revelation That is why it is all the more necessary to shed some light on this mysterious darkness at least once again. Our divine teacher has told us often enough and emphatically enough that ultimately God can only be fully known through His coming into our world. In the old covenant, this truth is just a hunch, nothing more. For the Israelites their God was just one God. Yahweh was the only true God, whereas all other gods of the heathen were nothingnesses or demons. God had to inculcate this truth on His people again and again, because the danger of falling away from the many-gods beliefs of the heathen was enormous. In the new covenant, belief in the one God is expanded to include belief in the triune God. In St. Our divine Savior gives his apostles the command to baptize and commission: All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. So go and teach all peoples and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to keep all that I have commanded you. And see, I am with you every day until the end of the world (Mat 28, 18-20). The confession of the Triune God is at the center of all Christian faith and life. We Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Only by confessing this mystery will we be able to receive the grace of redemption into our souls and to become children of God. It has been since the Incarnation of the Second Divine Person
an immovable fact: only through belief in the Most Holy Trinity is belief in the one God put in the right light. Because we can never grasp this mystery with our limited human mind, the supernatural belief in revelation is our only guideline. St. Thomas Aquinas still remembers: Just as we know God imperfectly, we also call him imperfectly, like stammering, says Gregory. Only he himself, if I may say so, completely named himself by creating the word, being of the same nature as he (sentence comment: I d, 22, I, I). The true knowledge of God is a constant spiritual adventure. The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity shows our willingness to worship the true, the real God again and again and not to chase after some self-made structure that we then call God. Or to put it another way: The equation 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 remains a secret for us even after revelation, which we can grasp only in faith. In addition, St. Thomas Aquinas in his commentary on the Book of Sentences by Petrus Lombardus: I, wisdom, have poured out the rivers [Sir 24, 40]. I understand these currents as the flood of eternal coming forth, in which the Son from the Father and the Holy Spirit from both in inexpressible ways. These currents were once hidden and in a sense obscure, both in the parables of creation and in the riddles of the scriptures, so that few sages have believed the mystery of the Trinity. Then the Son of God came and poured out the enclosed rivers.
The coexistence of the three divine persons With the coming of the Eternal Son, the divine Word, into our human world the streams of the divine life that have been enclosed up to now were poured out. What had hitherto been hidden and unclear, both in the parables of creation and in the riddles of the scriptures, was suddenly revealed to all. Everyone can grasp this mystery in faith in Jesus Christ and make it their own. When Philip spontaneously said to Jesus: Lord, show us the Father! That's enough for us, replied the Lord: I've been with you that long, and you don't know me yet, Philip? Anyone who has seen me has seen the father. How can you say: show us the Father? Don't you think that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not say from myself; the Father who remains in me does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me. Otherwise believe at least for the sake of works (Jn 14: 8-11). Here our divine teacher addresses the secret of the divine persons being in one another. St. Athanasius explains: The Son is in the Father as far as one can recognize it, because the whole being of the Son is peculiar to the being of the Father, just as the splendor is from the light. But it is also the father in the son, because that which is proper to the father is also to the son, like the sun in shine, the understanding in words, the source in the river. For since the form and deity of the Father is the essence of the Son, it follows that the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son (Orat. 3 c. Arian. 3). For the coexistence of the third divine person, the Holy Spirit, in the Father and in the Son, St. Paul in first letter to the Corinthians: But we have
it was revealed to God through his Spirit. The spirit fathoms everything, even the depths of Godhead. Likewise, no one knows the divine except the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2, 10-11). The German dogmatist Heinrich deals with this intertwining of the divine persons, the so-called perichoresis, in the 4th volume of his dogmatics, 251. There is called It: Fathers and theologians declare the Trinitarian perichoresis to be particularly suitable for expressing both the essential unity and the personal difference of the divine persons in relation to the opposing heresies in the sharpest and most precise manner, since the mutual indwelling of the divine persons is both their personal difference and their numerical essential unity presupposes. If the persons are to really reside in one another, they must be really different from one another. Where there is no real difference, there can be no question of mutual indwelling. Where the difference is only an imaginary one, even if it is more well-founded in the matter, the mutual indwelling can only be an imaginary one. For the same reason there can be no talk of a mutual indwelling between beings and persons. We say, according to our human conception, that there are three persons in the divinity and that there is the divine being in each person; but we know that the deity of every person is the divine being itself and vice versa. It is quite different with the relationship of the divine Persons to one another. Because of the opposition of the relations, they are really different from one another and therefore they can also be real within one another. (P. 611 f.)
The Omnipresence of God and Perichoresis So that this truth of the coexistence of the divine persons becomes even more comprehensible for us, we follow JB Heinrich in his comparison with the way how the creatures in God, and how the essential properties and acts, as well as the relations and persons in divine beings are: The creatures are substantially different from God, and in this sense they are essentially outside God, opera Dei ad extra [works of God outwardly]. But they are also in God, and God is in them insofar as God is the creative cause of their natural as well as their supernatural being and working. As we have seen in the doctrine of divine properties, the necessary omnipresence of God in all things as well as free and special indwelling rests on this absolute causality of God. And that is precisely what is called in the true sense the presence of God in things and the being of things in God; whereby, of course, God must in no way be thought of as being spatial and subject to spatial relationships. The fact that the mutual indwelling of the divine persons has nothing in common with this immanence of the creatures in God by virtue of divine causality and the presence of God based on it requires no further explanation. But as far as the relationship of the essential properties and acts, as well as the relations and persons to the divine being or to God, is concerned, these are in God insofar as they are not different from the divine being, like the creatures, are something extra-divine. Perichoresis is something different from everything that has gone before. The divine persons are not, like the creatures, apart from God, but they are
in God because they are the divine being itself, absolutely identical with him; on the other hand, they are really different from one another through the opposition of the relations; and to that extent they can also be real in one another. Their coexistence, like the being of the creatures in God and God in the creatures, is not based on the causality that presupposes an essential difference and the omnipresence based on it, but on the consubstantiality; The relatively different persons are in one another because they are really different from one another through the opposition of the relation, but are really identical with the divine being. (P. 615 f.) The infinite, absolutely exalted God We see all the more clearly: By contemplating the whole great mystery of God, our praise of God also expands more and more to praise the Most Holy Trinity, who is in glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit has found its shortest and therefore most beautiful expression. Praising and adoring the Triune God we become more and more aware of the innermost mystery of God and penetrate into the mysterious Triune life of God. Our reflection on the Most Holy Trinity remains an exercise in humility before God and His aloof mystery throughout our lives. Above all, the confession of the Trinity of God directs our gaze away from us humans and our earthly wisdom towards the infinite fullness of divine being. All great theologians
felt it this way: Despite all efforts to gain knowledge, God always remains the absolutely sublime. Or as St. Augustine puts it: If you understand it, it is not God. With this the great theologian wants to say that no matter how much knowledge you have gained about God, it is still very, very little in comparison with the divine three-fold reality. Yes, it's just true, God is always infinitely more than our knowledge of Him! The revelation truth guaranteed by the holy Church It is therefore all the more important to adhere as closely as possible to the truths given by St. Church to keep evidenced truths. As we know through divine self-revelation, our knowledge of God moves back and forth between these two boundary lines: God is one in the highest and most truest way (commentary on sentences: Id, 24, I, I). And: Nothing stands in the way of opposing things being found in the One God, insofar as that opposing element is meant that results from the difference in [inner-divine] relationships (Summa contra Gentes 4, 14). It is wonderful how especially St. Liturgy knows exactly how to keep these two lines of demarcation in her prayer. Not least because of this it turns out to be a work of art of the Holy Spirit. In the preface of the Holy Trinity it is said, for example: It is in truth worthy and right, fair and salutary to thank you always and everywhere, holy lord, almighty
Father, Eternal God. With your only begotten Son and the Holy Spirit you are one God, one Lord: not as if you were only one person, you are rather one in three persons. Whatever we believe of your glory in response to your revelation, we believe the same, without any difference, also from your Son, the same from the Holy Spirit. And so, in praising the true and eternal God, we worship diversity in persons, unity in nature, equality in majesty. They praise the angels and archangels, the cherubim and seraphim, who do not stop shouting day after day as if from one mouth: Holy, holy, holy One thing is certain, we Catholics should not simply ignore this mystery. Rather, we should stand before the one God again and again in amazement, in order to worship Him full of admiration and reverence as Father and Son and Holy Spirit. In this way the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity will become a guide for us to praise God properly, through which we in turn become like God again. Or as St. Augustine puts it: God does not get bigger if you worship him. But you get bigger and happier when you serve him. We just have to talk to St. Church sing about this abysmal mystery, then it will seize us more and more. Let us, through a prayer of St.Gertrud join in: Praise the Most Holy Trinity, O nature of all beings, O life of all life, O penetrating splendor of eternal clarity, Most Holy Trinity, You gracious God, you eternal omnipotence and bliss, you never-ending source of mercy. Receive, O Most Holy Trinity, the praise of my mouth which the love of my heart has given me for the exaltation of Your glory
entered. Nobody can praise you worthily. So I offer you on my praise in union of the ineffable praise and those honors, which in your triune deity one person offers and shows the other. I place my poor heart as a little grain of incense in the golden censer of the noblest heart of Jesus Christ, in which the delicious incense of eternal love is ignited in your praise and rises to the throne of your majesty. And for all souls with all who stand before you, I would like to unite my voice and call out never ending: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, for he is worthy of praise and praise forever! Amen. Reflecting on the Most Holy Trinity Most modern people have lost a right understanding of faith and thus the knowledge of God because of the almost universally accepted philosophical agnosticism [which claims that we humans cannot recognize anything supersensible]. That is probably also the most important reason why today's western man in particular has largely become astray about the Christian faith. A person who is always in doubt can no longer take the truths of faith seriously. But how can such a person, for whom the very existence of God is more than questionable, be able to ponder the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity? Doesn't what has been said also apply to many so-called modern ones
Theologians whose statements on the Christian faith always seem like pure maddening? Isn't it mainly because of this that the beliefs of the vast majority of so-called Catholics have become a freestyle exercise in which everyone rhymes what they think is good and what they like best? Modernism is a belief according to one's own taste! In view of this confusion, the right reflection on the Most Holy Trinity, formed from the Catholic faith, can show us how it should actually be or what constitutes true, Catholic theology. In the following, we are reproducing a text that is over 150 years old and we urge you, the reader, to read it again and carefully. In doing so, pay particular attention to how much the author tries to make it clear that one can only learn about mysteries of faith on the basis of the information given by St. Church and her infallible teaching office can speak correctly secured texts or findings. You will then perceive how carefully and carefully and precisely a real theologian must proceed when he discovers a secret of faith in the sense of our St. Mother, the Church, wants to explain. Whoever does not adhere to this basic rule, which is the case with most modern theologians, will certainly go astray. On the doctrine of the Trinity Nowhere is there more danger to err, nowhere sought with more effort, nowhere found with more fruit than in the doctrine of the trinity of persons in the one divine being, this is how the doctrine of the Church, who penetrated the depths of philosophy and theology, once said by Hippo (Aug. de Trin. I.3.). A word drawn from this very experience;
a word of modesty, clearly in his consciousness after his deep research; a word to which the legend lends its garb by placing an angel at the side of the saint who wants to exhaust the sea with his shell. And history, the great teacher, has testified too much to the truth of this sentence. You have all erred who did not heed the above word of the Doctor of the Church correctly; they have all been wrong when, however honestly, they started from a conceptual and logical standpoint in order to establish secrets; They were all wrong if they did not put the church concept of teaching, as it became more and more clearly fixed over time and precisely through the cause of errors, and only then pursued the relationship with their philosophical systems: not as if anything could ever be theologically wrong what is philosophically true; but because there are spheres of knowledge, secrets in which reason is denied initiative, in which the eternal light of revelation must precede our rational activity and illuminate it. As noted, history bears witness to this: the logical point of view, abstractly and rigidly held, gave rise to heresy in its two great halves, one of which denies the real difference between the three divine Persons, the other violates the simplicity of the divine being. Rigidly and abstractly, it was speculation that created a Sabellianism [This is the false teaching going back to Sabellius, which claims that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are only three different modes or aspects of God, as opposed to a trinitarian view of three different persons in the deity.] and produced an Arianism; Clinging to abstractly logical forms led Abelard astray; and the Greeks, too, hardly had to rely on anything other than to lean on them when asked about the outcome of the spirit. It is certainly a high proof of the rationality of the doctrine of the Trinity and a bad prejudice against the rationality of an abstract deism that almost all systems of the
Non-ecclesiastical philosophy, not excluding idealistic and pantheistic and even materialistic, must recognize the necessity of a trinitarian life process in its absolute; but it is no less a high proof of the over-rationality of our dogma that at least where it wanted to be constructed one-sidedly on a philosophical basis, the ecclesiastical concept of doctrine and thus the truth was more or less altered [modified, changed]. The doctrine of the Trinity is just a question of life, namely a question of the divine life: and even if the divine life in the creature creates an image for itself, God's ways are not our ways; and as certain as the logical and speculative laws in the divine development of life must not be denied, for they are eternal in God; they are never the basis of divine life development and divine life can never be explained from them. Schelling recently convinced us again sufficiently, not the negative philosopher who starts from the absolute being as pure indifference, but the positive philosopher who recognizes the absolute as spirit, as willing spirit, as an existing God who himself is through a process of mediation eternally created and gives birth in itself. (Schelling, Philosophy of Revelation. Stuttgart and Augsburg. Cotta, 1858) With promising words he assures that he will shed light on positive Christianity through his philosopheme [results of philosophical research or teaching]. He lets his potencies play. The doctrine of power becomes for him the speculative means of which he promises (I. 327) that it contains not only the key to mythology, but also that doctrine on which Christianity as a whole has developed, and therefore Christianity itself. A very promising one Means, but how did it work? May everyone, after having worked his way through those lectures on the philosophy of revelation, after having played the theory of power, the use of which Hegel once felt, to one who felt incapable of doing so
Attributed to thinking, looked at it, gave himself the answer as to whether a light did indeed come into the inner darkness of the mystery, whether our creed was rather misunderstood and misinterpreted. Accordingly, those who really take the ecclesiastical standpoint should have learned caution before embarking on an a priori construction of a mystery doctrine; They should first delve deeply into the ecclesiastical doctrinal sum, which is to be found in scripture, fathers and schools; you should always keep an eye on these as delimiting lineaments [outlines] in order to avoid any seemingly insignificant skipping, bearing in mind the word one heal. Fulgentius an Trasmundum: Tum inquisitio veritatis desiderato non frustratur effectu, cum rectis ad veri cognitionem lineis innititur. (lib. I. c. 3.). [The search for the truth will not deceive the desired success if it adheres to the correct guidelines for the knowledge of the truth.] In our opinion, this truth, which is sufficiently attested by the nature of the thing and experience, has not been heeded enough by the excellently minded Author of a small and often beautiful and deserving work: The philosophical meaning of the idea of the Trinity. (Dr. Ludger Suing, The Philosophical Meaning of the Trinity Idea, Paderborn 1858. Printed and published by Ferd. Schöningh.) It appeared a long time ago; we only come back to it because it has lasting value to have a truth of faith made safe from any misinterpretation and precisely because of this in a clearer light. The text is divided into two parts: the first discusses the philosophical meaning of the Trinity idea with regard to the foundation of a concrete knowledge of God; the second part the same with regard to the explanation and foundation of a finite world; we will only consider the first part in the present. The writing can also be viewed formally from a double side: first from the
philosophical side: and because of his philosophical thinking, which is used to a strict approach, because of the strict implementation of a basic idea, namely that a concrete knowledge of God can only be gained through the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, because of his honest, if not entirely successful, striving To do justice to faith and science, recognition does not fail, as has also been done in part by criticism in the historically political papers. (Hist.- Pol. Blätter, Vol. XLII. S. 672) But it must also be viewed from the theological side: there are many doubts, which we are allowed to put down in this journal. We shall cite individual sentences in which the ecclesiastical concept of honor was formulated; The author with whom we are concerned has nowhere directly denied it; on the contrary, he occasionally allows such a doctrine to flow into it, which grants satisfaction; but the whole content of his speculation will hardly get past the landmarks of these theorems without shifting them. It is something else to deny a sentence directly; something else, to set up a theory that ultimately leads to the denial of the proposition. I. No composite in God: for everything composite is created; and put together everything created. In God there [is] no composition, thus also that of indeterminacy and determinateness of being. Christian philosophy does not place at the top of its speculation a potentiality, an indefinite being, but God as a pure act in which there is no potentiality at all. Because, says Thomas, so that the great chain of movement that is once present is possible, so that it receives an impulse for movement, which is always an elevation from potentiality to act, a primus motor is necessary which was never potentiality, which is a pure act of life (Summa I q. II. art. 3 n. 1.) Schelling in the works cited above grossly missed this sentence in that, in order to deal with the in
the schools of philosophy always recurring longing to get behind being, to satisfy the concrete being in general and also God's being, from what can be through what is pure to what is for self, through a real process, through the tension of just mentioned potencies. There is an echo of this in our author: with him, the ascent of indefinite being to the definite is not subject to a real process, and we can think of this relationship cum bona pace [with good reason] as a purely logical one; but even this contradicts the pure concept of God. Sentences such as the following always remain alien to us: It lies in the concept of being to think of it as developing from its indefinite, undeveloped state into a definite state, and the question now arises, therefore, of the nature of this development. It is probably not a real development; for it is added: indefinite being must be thought of in direct unity with determined being; but this logical relationship is also alien to us. Or: the absolute being, in that it generates its absolute determinateness from itself (!), Is first person. To begin with indeterminate being, even if only logically, is at least an unjustified prejudice borrowed from idealistic schools, a prejudice that is even more dangerous and, as can be seen in the cited passages, has its basis in it that one thinks of being as a general, God and creature generic, while the being of creature in relation to divine being is an analogous being, because it is created, while the being of creature and God's being are therefore never under a general concept can be summarized. Not only theology but also philosophy, if it does not want to move the milestones of revelation, must in the doctrine of God with the ??? [Being] not with the ??????? [Being] begin. Well you have to somehow go to the ??? To reach [beings] of the doctrine of God, you must indeed ascend to him on the levels of creature being;
but you can never do that on the level of an abstract concept. It is not logical abstraction formulas, but physical and metaphysical forms of life that lead to him. Secondly, let us be allowed to express our concern about the concept of personality, though not so almost about the concept as about its application to the divine personality. We all know that this concept is one of the most difficult and really fundamental in theology, which has its meaning apologetically in relation to pantheism, but also thetically [assertively, dogmatically] in the treatises of the Trinity and Incarnation; but perhaps we are not all equally convinced that the ordinary concepts of personality, as they are often common in the schools of philosophy, are quite arbitrary, and that here too philosophy emerges from the darkness of the mysteries can and must enrich. In this conviction, we have not yet seen a more thorough perception of personality than that given by Petavius on the basis of many patriarchal positions: Personality does not first give indeterminate being the determinacy, does not first give the being the appearance, the content its form, the interior its exterior ; for that means confusing personality with existence: personality realizes itself in a certain way of existence, which consists precisely in the fact that a singular, therefore already certain, thus already appeared (spiritual) substance exists for itself and completely: that it therefore exists neither inherent in a subject as an accident, nor can it be regarded as a part which forms a whole with another. (Petarius, de Trinitate lib. IV. C. 8. n. 8), however, when we hear our author, spirituality and personality seem to him to be identical concepts; at least we find no distinguishing feature: the absolute possesses its being and life in absolute unity and determinacy; it is therefore absolutely spiritual, absolutely personal. For in definiteness to possess one's being, everyone is existing
Substance inherent; to possess the same thing in unity, every spirit; so what adds personality to the spirit? Nothing at all? Then there is one person in God and two in Christ. Indeed, even the determinateness in which the essence of existence is based is identical to personality for him: for how could one understand the sentence quoted above in any other way: Absolute being, in that it produces its absolute determinateness out of itself, is first person. And yet there is another formal reason that makes being a determinate, another that makes it personal. But the concept of personality brings him into even more serious disproportions. If the fathers, especially St. Thomas, apply this concept to life in God, do not hide from yourself the difficulty which consists in transferring it from creature to absolute being; but they are in agreement that those idioms which are the basis for personality in God are relations. So St. Thomas (I. qu. 30. Art. 1.): Persona significat in divinis relationem ut rem subsistentem in divinis. [The name person in God denotes a relation as something existing for itself within the divine nature]. St. Anselmus (Lib. De proc. Spir. Sancti.): Pluritas relationem sequitur, et unitas ibi est, ubi non obviat aliqua relationis oppositio. [The plural follows from the relation, and where there is unity there is no opposition of the relation. ] So Boetius (Lib. De Trinitate): Substantia continet unitatem; relatio multiplicat trinitatem: atque ideo sola singillatim proferuntur atque separatim, quae relationis sunt. [In the being there is the unity, the relation multiplied to the trinity. And therefore only that which belongs to the relaition is in each case own and for itself.] So Augustine (Tract. In Joan. 39): Hoc solo numerum insinuant, quod ad invicem sunt, non quod ad se sunt. [Only that makes the number what they are given to one another, not what they are in themselves. ] And the Council Xl. from Toledo: Quod enim Pater est, non ad se, sed ad Filium est; et quod Filius est, non ad se, sed ad Patrem est. Similiter et Spiritus Sanctus non ad se
sed ad patrem et Filium relative refertur. [For what the father is he is not in relation to himself, but in relation to the son. And what the son is, he is not to himself, but to the father. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is not traced back to himself, but to his relationship with the Father and the Son. ] The persons in God thus have the character of relations; But there are no relationships that are merely abstractly logical, but they are real in the highest sense, because they have their basis in the double starting point, the generatio and the spiratio; it is not accidental relations that are added to the divine being, but rather the divine being itself: Una quaedam res, says the Lateran Council under Innocent III, est incomprehensibilis quidem et inaestimabilis, quae veraciter est Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus, tres simul personae et singulatim quaelibet earumdem [There is a supreme Reality, an incomprehensible and inexpressible one that is truly Father and Son and Holy Spirit; three persons and one each of them]. Finally, what we particularly ask to be noted are relations, but not those by which the being relates to the person, or the person to the being, but relations through which one person relates to the other on the basis of a real outcome which distinguishes one person from the other. Pater non ad se, sed ad Filium est. The father is father, not because the being relates to his appearance, but because the father relates to the son. But if we consider the relationship that our author establishes, it takes place within the being; and the persons stand loosely, without connection, as opposed to those which one being gives them, while besides the unity of the being they are bound by another bond, the vinculum originis. Let us hear him speak: In the fact that absolute being passes from eternity from its indeterminate being-in-itself to absolute determinateness, it possesses itself in its own
original life activity as first person; in that this absolute determinateness refers back to the absolute being, of which it is the absolute determinateness and the pure act and which is absolutely determined in it, in that it possesses itself and therefore also its being, the absolute being is a second person; Since absolute being differs in its transition from indeterminacy to determinateness, it is precisely through this difference that it is the living unity of itself and possesses itself as such in a third person. Quod enim Pater est, non ad se, sed ad Filium est. [For what the father is, he (is) not to himself, but to the son.] The sentence is antithetical to the quoted. Against tritheism, which simply united the three divine persons into a collective unity, the sentence is not used: Essentia divina non generat nec generatur; sed Pater generat et Filius generatur. [The divine being does not beget and is not begotten; but the Father begets and the Son is begotten.] But we are really tempted to hold the same sentence up to our author for a different purpose: What do you call to beget? Bring out its certainty. But this is a moment that takes place within the divine being as such, and you can really say: Essentia generat. But we come to a third and last concern, what the author probably felt himself, in that he here and there lodges custody against the same; but so certain it is that the consequence to be discussed by us was not directly wanted by the author, but so certain it seems to emerge from the principles that guide him in the development of the Trinitarian life process. III. A real distinction between the three divine Persons is believed and known by the Church. Alius Pater, alius Filius, alius Spiritus Sanctus [Another is the Father, another is the Son, another is the Holy Spirit]. They are distinguished on the basis of the personal idioms [peculiarities, peculiarities] by which they both
related to one another as opposed to one another. So the old axiom of the school: Omnia, quae de Deo dicuntur, communiter et sine ulla differentia praedicari de omnibus personis, ubi non obstat relationis oppositio unless there is a contradiction in relation]; However, to come back to it once more as a main factor, these relations by which the persons are distinguished do not exist within the essence insofar as we think of it as differentiated from the persons, so that the relation could be understood as the relation of the essence to the appearance, the content to the form, the interior to the exterior; but these relations, which distinguish the persons, exist between the persons themselves and are called: witnessing, being created, being breathed. The unity of the divine being is not endangered by the multiplicity of persons, the Church further teaches: For there is no other difference between the one being and the person than that we ourselves because of our weakness on the one hand and the fullness of divine life on the other just think. Maximus Martyr stated this precisely in his dialogue against the Anomäer [false teachers who appeared in connection with Arianism and asserted that father and son were essentially different, but were the same in will with regard to action in salvation history]: Ipsa hypostasis est etiam immortalitas : neque solum immortalitas, verum etiam incorruptilitas et justitia et sanctificatio et redemptio et dominatio et virtus. Neque enim Deus compositione ista dicitur: sed secundum diversas considerationes. [The substance itself is also immortality; and not only immortality, also immortality, righteousness, holiness, redemption, dominion and power. And all of this is stated by God not in terms of composition, but in terms of different points of view. ] Yes, not only the unity, but also not the simplicity of the divine being is established through the trinity of persons
disturbed. For it could only either be disturbed by the fact that the three persons formed a composite of the divine being among themselves, or that the person formed a composite with the divine being. Both is not the case; The former is not: for it is a completely erroneous view to think of the divine being as arising from the three persons; but the divine being as such is already perfect and perfect in the Father: and the Father does not give birth out of poverty, but out of the fullness of his being. The three divine persons form a plurality, but never a combination. Even the divine being does not form a composition with persons; for whatever one may understand the personality in relation to the essence, just as little as the above text shows, essence and personal idiom form [gr. idioma: peculiarity, particularity] a real composition, as essence and attribute. Just as the divine being is omnipotence, so it is also father, son and spirit (cf. Petavius de Deo Uno lib. II. Cap. 3 and 4). This is the ecclesiastical doctrinal concept of the real difference between the three divine persons; they are fixed norms. And even if, as with all mysteries, the insight into the inner basis of these truths has not been given to us, yes, we say even more, it must not be given to us even now, the church's teaching authority is there to help us through their word gives the external evidence of the sentences; It is therefore fixed norms against which the genuineness of any research on Trinitarian life must be tested. Has our author's research proven to be genuinely tested against these standards? We hear! Why is God initially two-person? Now, if being is a spiritual being, then of course the reference back of the spiritual determinateness to its spiritual being is to be thought of as a spiritual relation, so the spiritual determinateness possesses and determines itself just as much as it is mentally determined and possessed by the spiritual being. So God has a double self-determination: He not only determines his being and life from indefiniteness to absolute determinateness, and is so, there he
as a spiritual being, it is spiritually determined and possessed, personally and originally personally, but this its absolute spiritual determination is self-sufficient and self-determining precisely because of its absolute unity and perfection, it possesses and determines itself just as much as it does from the divine being determined and possessed. The absolute determinateness of the divine being is therefore just as personal in its relation to its being as the divine being is personal in its relation to its determinateness, and indeed this personal being of the absolute determinateness of the divine being is to be thought of as a second personality, because it is is only produced (!) by the fact that absolute being in its original activity determines itself from indeterminacy to determinateness and thus to original personality. The process of thinking in the third person is not dissimilar. As anyone can easily imagine, and as already noted above, it is far from us to suspect the author, as if he were not teaching the triune personality of God: on the contrary. There are clear passages in the book in which he expresses this. There are individual reasons for the fact that the speculative document is not sufficient to establish a true, real distinction in the sense of the Church. Above all, witnessing and exhaling are the two real processions in God, which establish the three persons in God. And only he will teach the tri-personality in the sense of the Church who does not flatten the terms for these two processions, but uses them in such a way that their essential concept remains saved. We know what an effort Thomas takes (I. qu. 27, a. 2.), whose speculative discussions on the doctrine of the Trinity are certainly not the last, to show that the concept of procreation after deducting all imperfections which he has in the adheres to creaturely being, must be predicted [stated] not merely symbolically, but truthfully by God. And even if the name of the third person is not as indicative of their outcome as in the case of the second (I. qu. 36. a. 1.), one must be careful,
also to flatten this outcome, which one imagines to be that of love (I. qu. 27. a. 3.). But in the above concept of procreation, which is lost in a completely abstract one, how would the essential element of the same be preserved? Where does one speak of the exit of the Holy Spirit as love? Also consider what has already been partially mentioned above, but what is too important to be ignored here, the real distinction is only possible if it is an opposition between the people. For this, however, the relationships of our author, which are essential relationships, are not sufficient. Relationships of essence that take place between indeterminate being and definite being, between essence and appearance, which, in so far as they are thought to be distinctive, form father and son, which, in so far as they are thought of as unifying, form the spirit. Finally, in the divine being, which is absolutely simple and absolutely identical, content and form, essence and appearance, internal and external can be distinguished as merely logical. In such a being there exists between the two relationships, one of which is called as follows: Being determines itself to its appearance and knows itself to be one with it; the other like this: the appearance relates back to its being and knows itself to be one with it; Is there really, we ask, in an absolutely identical being, that there is a real difference between these two experiences? Just as the relations are merely logical and not real, so also the distinction between them is merely logical and not real. But perhaps the concept of absolute life, which belongs to divine being, brings it to the point that that which, according to its nature, would be differentiated only logically, is suddenly real differentiated. This is an instance, the importance of which we feel for the author. But I am looking for some moment in the concept of the absolute which should turn the logical distinction into a real one, and even among the moments under which the author imagines absoluteness I cannot find any which so cleverly puts the glove
could turn around. The absolute cancels every limitation, every successive: Since the absolute being is in an absolute determinateness for itself what it is in itself, since it is not restricted, determines itself in the momentary succession, since thus its determinateness is not only limited, momentary is, then in the unity of these two sides it can only be grasped absolutely, in complete perfection and in no way limited and momentary. The absolute gives being unchangeable perfection: if in the finite spirit the different sides of the personality are only limited, always dwindling moments of the personality, in the absolute spirit those different sides of the personality are in unchangeable perfection, i.e. with the full character of the absolute personality, thus to be regarded as three real absolute persons in whom one and the same absolute being knows and possesses itself as differentiated according to its three different sides. It is in the absoluteness, as aptly remarked in the last text, that the reason why the appearance of the divine being does not take place in dwindling acts, of which one is not the other, but unfolds in absolute personalities; but that these persons are really different, and are differentiated as real as the church wants it, as Father, Son and Spirit, for this we find no sufficient moment in the concept of absoluteness. IV. This conception of the doctrine of the Trinity, the shortcomings of which we have discussed in the foregoing, alienates us all the more since, after the introduction, which discusses the author's philosophical standpoint, we would have expected a completely different presentation. We do not agree with the same; for as deeply as we are convinced that philosophy has its directional points in the truths of revelation, these themselves, as revealed and supra-rational, must not enter the sphere of philosophical research as such, much less as starting points for the same
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