Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What the divine nature is not ...

I am working on a longer "all my own work" post but time has escaped me, albeit for some pleasant reasons, including a lovely wedding at the weekend.

But why bark like a gruff dog when the tenor lead can sing beautifully?

Edward Feser has a mind stretching, let's remember Aquinas was outstanding post on the theology (lit: study of GOD) of Herbert McCabe here.


Father Ron said...

A very esoteric point here: Considering references in the O.T. to the possibility of God 'changing His mind'; do you think, Peter, that might have been an error on the part of the author(s) of Scripture? Or did God, having accomplished the creation, consider taking back the freedom God had given to the inhabitants of God's Creation?

Bryden Black said...

I first encountered McCabe via his book God Matters. Instinctively, I knew the double meaning of the title meant here was a man who enjoyed the conundrum of God-talk. I mean, Barth’s “veiled unveiling”, even as God speaks in Jesus Christ, prepares one for such things. But with McCabe the issue is ramped up a gear or too. And here was I immersed in probing the beauties of the Trinity, for goodness’ sake! Perhaps McCabe could help ...? He did.

“The question is: is there an unanswered question about the existence of the world?” And then: if that’s the case - and Peter has made it front and centre where it most naturally is, and so I needn’t - what of the corollary? “That God brings about all my free actions and that this does not make them any the less free.”

Ouch! That is surely a “difficult truth”! Yet it completely undercuts many of the assumptions which have plagued western theology for centuries, namely, there is a zero sum game between humans and God: more of God less of me, more of me less of God. But the One True God ain’t like that with us at all at all!!

Which finally leads to matters trinitarian. And here we’ve to integrate the impossible. It’s claimed by McCabe - and even endorsed by Nietzsche! - that love implies a unique form of equality between persons. Yet it should be already absolutely clear that there cannot be any equality between Creator and creature; it’s far more the case, given the sheer difference in their respective ‘kinds’ of ‘being’, that they are more akin to a master-slave relation. Yet, and here’s the crux of the Incarnation, in Jesus we encounter just this one whom the Father specifically loves. And then moreover, he shares that very love with us human critters. So that finally, this is not merely more information about ‘God’, a fuller kind of ‘God-talk’, but a true gift of love poured into our hearts (as St Paul would say - Rom 5:5, 8:15-16), a sharing of Life itself (1 Jn 1:1-4).

All of which - the Creator, Freedom, Love - leads to just this, to bring in one Stephen Neill as well (as mentioned in my LDL, as the springboard of it all): “That the doctrine of the Trinity is not so much about the nature of God as about the identity of a particular human being—that he was/is God; and concomitantly, Christology is not so much about the nature of Christ as about God—that God is free/able to become a human being. This dual comment reinforces the fact that trinitarian and christological concerns are the flip–side of each other” (p.15). And nowhere else in the history of religion do we encounter anything quite like this (even if there may be intimations of it elsewhere; yet even here, only it seems “after the fact” might we better recognize them). Just so, God matters ... veritably! And so, thanks Peter, Edward, and Herbert.