Eternal Revising: The Fifth Ecumenical Council and Apokatastasis

It is, I know, a curious thing—to spend three days before and on Christmas revising my world famous (some might say infamous) article on the Fifth Ecumenical Council. But you need to understand: I’ve been working on this darn thing since May 2015! I have tried to read everything available in English that addresses the topic of Origenism, apokatastasis, and the Fifth Council; and if I find something that I deem important to the article’s thesis, I have to sit down and revise it. And so it happened on the 23rd. I came across a 19th century discussion of Fifth Council and the anti-Origenist anathemas. I initially thought that adding a new footnote would suffice. Wrong!

Once I start the process of revision, I can always think of ways to strengthen the arguments or improve the writing, etc., etc. And so on Christmas afternoon I found myself still working on my article, which now exceeds 17,000 words!

If you’re wondering why I have not submitted “Did the Fifth Ecumenical Council Condemn Universal Salvation?” for publication in an academic journal, I did actually make a couple of inquiries a while back, but was told that because it was already published online it would not be a candidate for journal publication. Just as well. I’m a blogger, dammit, not a historian!

Of all the articles I have written for Eclectic Orthodoxy, I am perhaps proudest of this piece. There’s nothing else like it on the web. When the question of universal salvation is raised, folks always invoke Constantinople II. Even serious theologians think that the council bishops addressed and dogmatically resolved the question. But as I have attempted to show, the evidence strongly suggests otherwise. Origen may have been named a heretic in canon 11, but that does not prove that the bishops specifically intended to condemn all formulations of universal salvation. According to the synodical minutes, that topic didn’t even come up in the conversations.

Do do take a second look at the article and pass it on to your friends. I’ve added over a thousand words. I hope you will find them worthwhile.

Did the Fifth Ecumenical Council Condemn Universal Salvation?

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26 Responses to Eternal Revising: The Fifth Ecumenical Council and Apokatastasis

  1. Ed H. says:

    Father Kimel,
    I have read through this article several times over the years. If I had one wish, it would be that you create hyperlinks back and forth between the footnotes and their location in the text. The article is so long now (great!), that it takes a long time to go down and look at a footnote and then back up before continuing to read.
    If you want an example, the Wikipedia articles now have the footnotes in the text as hyperlinks that take the reader directly to the note below. In the note itself, there is a carat link that will pop you back up to the location of the footnote in the text.
    Thank you for your work and your website.

    Like

    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Hi, Ed. Thanks for your suggestion. I have tried in the past with other articles to create footnote hyperlinks between footnote, but have had no luck with them. Unfortunately my WordPress HTML editor does not create footnotes, so I have to create each one individually. The whole process is quite tedious, as you can imagine. Years ago I petitioned WordPress to add a footnote function to the editor, but I guess the answer was no. And as far as in-text hyperlinks, I’m confident WordPress will never make that happen. All of which adds up to, Sorry, Ed.

      Of course, if someone out there in HTML-land wants to edit my article and create footnote hyperlinks, I’d be happy to email them the HTML version of the article. 🙂

      Like

    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Ed, I am now in conversation with Jess Lederman about self-publishing this essay. Stay tuned!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tom says:

        That would be awesome. You could always publish additional updates. And if you publish it with footnotes (each page’s notes at the bottom of that page) and not endnotes, that would make the notes immediately accessible to readers. Nice.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ed H. says:

    Nathan Jacobs is publishing what look to be formal articles over on Substack using footnotes:
    https://nathanajacobs.substack.com/

    Like

  3. Ave Maria says:

    Hello. I am a Catholic who just read Dr. Hart’s *That All Shall Be Saved*. The idea of universalism attracts me greatly, as the most joyous and the best possible outcome, but in the end, I will remain faithful to the teaching and the magisterium of the Catholic Church, however painful that might be. That’s why I’m currently exploring whether the Church has infallibly taught that any rational person (demons included) is eternally damned.

    There are two possible instances of this to my knowledge thus far. The first is a confession of faith in the fourth Lateran council, which I won’t ask you about, since you, as an Orthodox Christian, don’t recognise it as ecumenical. The second reference, however, might be more interesting to you. The 9th anathema of emperor Justinian at Constantinople II states:

    “If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (apokatastasis) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema.”

    [This is the source of this anathema.](https://biblehub.com/library/schaff/the_seven_ecumenical_councils/the_anathematisms_of_the_emperor.htm) I hope that it is not spurious. I would like to hear how you would reconcile this anathema (if it is authentic) with your view on salvation.

    In the final analysis, mine and Dr. Hart’s views are currently in tension on two points:

    1. The *knowledge* of all being saved. If the Church’s teaching does not oppose it, I would affirm apokatastasis as something which we can *hope*, but not as a certainty, as I think it is a part of the dignity of a creature’s free will to make decisions which have eternal consequences. God is a bridegroom who proposes to the soul; and, however tragic this might sound, if the soul’s love be free and true, the soul is able to reject His love.

    2. The salvation of demons. If we overlook these two points, Dr. Hart’s view is essential von Balthasar’s “hopeful universalism”, which the Church permits, as far as I’m aware, and which is currently my position. (A bishop whom I respect very much, bishop Barron, holds to this view, and I take this as a guarantee of its orthodoxy.)

    Thank you for your thoughts. May God bless you and may you have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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    • Alura says:

      The canon you cited is from the local synod of Constantinople (543), not Constantinople II (553).

      Liked by 2 people

    • Counter-Rebel says:

      “but in the end, I will remain faithful to the teaching and the magisterium of the Catholic Church, however painful that might be.”
      So in the end, you don’t care about the truth. You’ll believe an evil teaching just because Rome tells you to. As DBH said, this is epistemological nihilism disguised as piety. Use your brain. Wouldn’t God want us to use our mind?

      “[I]f the soul’s love be free and true, the soul is able to reject His love.” Not forever. I addressed this argument in the comments here: https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2021/12/07/how-can-a-good-god-permit-eternal-damnation-thomism-and-the-problem-of-hell/#comments . And a quote from Robert Fortuin: “I would not want to be married to someone who is willing to have others pay the ultimate and eternal price for his bliss. No, thank you very much!”

      Finally, what’s wrong with demons going to heaven? I think it’s beautiful that Satan will one day be St. Lucifer. Just like us, the demons sinned out of ignorance and/or weakness.

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      • Ave Maria says:

        “So in the end, you don’t care about the truth.”

        I do, but I also say with Job: “See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.” (Job 40:4). I guess my foundational disposition differs from Dr. Hart’s on this point: He would be willing to discard authority if it conflicted with his intellect, but I am willing to discard my intellect if it conflicts with the authority of the Church which Christ has founded, because I am aware of its fragility and capacity for error. In order for me to potentially abandon Catholic teaching, it would have to be manifestly evil, such as Calvin’s claim that there are babies in Hell is. But Dr. Hart’s arguments didn’t completely convince me, hence the Catholic teaching on Hell is a far cry from being manifestly evil, in my opinion.

        “I would not want to be married to someone who is willing to have others pay the ultimate and eternal price for his bliss. No, thank you very much!”

        I don’t see how this is similar to my position. No one is enjoying Heaven at the expense of someone else’s damnation. Some free creatures decided to love God and others to hate Him. It’s a choice each individual has to make and God is not to blame if they choose wrongly. Furthermore, I am motivated by broadly existentialist philosophy to think that the glory of free creatures is that they can ultimately accept or ultimately reject God’s love. Isn’t that what love is? A gamble, a surrender to the Other, at the mercy of the Other?

        I think the problem with your argument is that you treat God as a creature among other creatures. But He is not that; He is Goodness as such, therefore rejecting Him would be rejecting Goodness as such. Such a rejecting would therefore logically necessarily entail a miserable existence of self-hatred and self-destruction, which Hell is. The point I’m making is that damnation is not the result of a rejection of an arbitrary offer by an arbitrary creature among other creatures, hence its necessarily bleak content.

        Needless to say, I disagree significantly with Dr. Hart’s metaphysics of free will, hence the above is based on my own, which is broadly libertarian.

        “Finally, what’s wrong with demons going to heaven? I think it’s beautiful that Satan will one day be St. Lucifer.”

        I agree. It’s not that I wouldn’t want the demons to be saved. I just have a feeling that the possibility of their salvation is even more opposed by the magisterium than the salvation of all humans.

        Like

        • Counter-Rebel says:

          The Job quote means nothing. You *bought* the idea that the Catholic Church has authority.

          “I am willing to discard my intellect if it conflicts with the authority of the Church which Christ has founded” Your intellect is the thing that decided the Roman Church is *the* Church in the first place. You literally can’t escape your intellect.

          “the Church which Christ has founded,” If a putative Church teaches something evil, then it’s not the Church He founded.

          “it would have to be manifestly evil” It is manifestly evil that God would allow people to suffer in hell forever when free choices are arbitrary and unpredictable (you don’t know the choice until it appears, and there is nothing you can do to ensure the right one appears), and all sins are the result of ignorance or weakness.

          “No one is enjoying Heaven at the expense of someone else’s damnation.” Yes, they are. You’d be willing to let the entire rest of creation go to hell just so you can go to heaven. It’s the epitome of self-righteousness. You went to heaven cuz you were better. A good choice suddenly popped into your head, whereas a bad choice popped into theirs.

          “the glory of free creatures is that they can ultimately accept or ultimately reject God’s love.” How glorious that someone could be tortured forever because of an unpredictable choice made in ignorance or weakness! This is sick.

          “Isn’t that what love is? A gamble, a surrender to the Other, at the mercy of the Other?” No, that’s rape. I wouldn’t consent to being born if there were even a 0.000001% of going to hell. True love would guarantee the happiness of the beloved.

          “I think the problem with your argument is that you treat God as a creature among other creatures.” No, it’s infernalists who do that. You act like the ability to choose between good and evil is the end-all be-all of freedom when it’s just a temporary aspect of free will. The truest form of freedom is an inability to choose evil.

          The doctrine of hell gave me intense clinical depression and anxiety when I was a Catholic. It almost drove me to suicide. But you Catholics don’t care. Mental illness is par for the course for you. I don’t understand how anyone can believe that at any second, they might commit mortal sin and be tortured forever…and not develop severe mental health issues. It’s a sign that you’re either don’t really believe it, or you’re so self-righteous you think it’s super improbable you’ll fall.

          “I just have a feeling that the possibility of their salvation is even more opposed by the magisterium than the salvation of all humans.” Why do you care what the magisterium says? You should care what Love says.

          Fr. Kimel: “Catholics believe that God will not permit his Church to assert falsehoods as de fide truths.” And they (a) have no justification for this (b) have justification that is infinitely weaker than the obvious truth that a loving God would not allow eternal torment. So it’s irrational either way.

          Like

          • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

            Counter-Rebel, Eclectic Orthodoxy is a (fairly) ecumenical place. We are not going to turn this thread into an anti-Catholic polemic. Understood? I thought my previous comment would be heard as a gentle correction. Please hear this comment as a firm correction. Thank you.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ave Maria says:

            “Your intellect is the thing that decided the Roman Church is *the* Church in the first place. You literally can’t escape your intellect.”

            I agree. My response, however, would be that it is easier for a human intellect to discern which Church is the one founded by Christ and therefore “the Pillar of Truth” than to accurately assess arguments about the unimaginable final state of a soul, as “no eye has seen and no ear heard”.

            “when free choices are arbitrary and unpredictable (you don’t know the choice until it appears, and there is nothing you can do to ensure the right one appears), and all sins are the result of ignorance or weakness.”

            This is a very strong claim. I think that the topic of free will is one of the most sublime and difficult ones, and should be analysed with the utmost care. I also feel that Dr. Hart should have given the libertarian account more attention in his book.

            “You’d be willing to let the entire rest of creation go to hell just so you can go to heaven.”

            As I have said, I don’t see how me going to Heaven is at the expense of someone else going to Hell. It isn’t like there’s a limited number of seats in the Beatific vision. Furthermore, I am currently thinking about Dr. Hart’s argument regarding persons (i.e., to surrender even one person to eternal torment would annihilate our relationship with those persons who loved the damned person, reducing us to impersonal entities); I think there are responses to this, such as the happiness of God and the saints consisting of loving the damned; therefore, their relationship to them is preserved, though it is one-sided.

            “I wouldn’t consent to being born if there were even a 0.000001% of going to hell.”

            I think that you are presenting a logically impossible scenario here. Not even God can do the logically impossible, and asking an inexistent creature for permission to bring it into existence is logically impossible. So, are you arguing that if the possibility of damnation is real for all rational creatures, God would do best to create no rational creature?

            “The truest form of freedom is an inability to choose evil.”

            Again, I disagree with this, because I disagree with Dr. Hart’s conception of free will. Furthermore, I sense a deep equivocation of “freedom” in this instance. I can talk about freedom in two respects, which should absolutely not be equated: freedom as the power of deliberation and freedom as maximally flourishing and realizing one’s own potential for goodness. Taking this into consideration, we can say that both the saved and the damned are supremely free in Heaven and in Hell according to the first definition, and that the saints are supremely free according to the second definition also, whereas the damned are supremely unfree according to the second definition.

            “The doctrine of hell gave me intense clinical depression and anxiety when I was a Catholic. It almost drove me to suicide.”

            I am very sorry to hear that. I will pray for you.

            “I don’t understand how anyone can believe that at any second, they might commit mortal sin and be tortured forever”

            I think that mortal sin is not so easy to commit. If I can speak from experience, I know that I am a sorry sinner, but I have great confidence in God’s love, I have burning hope, verging on (but not being equal to) certainty, not only for myself, but for all sinners. Strangely, seeing the moral corruption around me has strengthened my hope in God’s saving love: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.” I often say: “Lord, what a mess are we in. But what a wonderful mess it is! I have confidence that you will save all these people.”

            “Why do you care what the magisterium says? You should care what Love says.”

            Love descended on mount Sinai and spoke to Moses. Love established the magisterium of the Catholic Church, and its words are truth.

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          • Ave Maria says:

            Also, I will be writing some of my thoughts (and somewhat playing the “devil’s” advocate) about Dr. Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved over at r/CatholicPhilosophy. You are welcome to join me there. Perhaps that would be a better place to discuss the many many subtle topic which influence our discussion, such as the metaphysics of free will, God’s intention for creation etc.

            P.S. The first in this series of posts, God’s justice can’t be retributive, is already available.

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          • Calvin says:

            “So, are you arguing that if the possibility of damnation is real for all rational creatures, God would do best to create no rational creature?”

            I’m not the man you’re speaking with, but that seems the only reasonable solution. God can’t benefit from creation, so if there’s even the slightest chance of it spawning infinite evil then the only moral thing to do would be nothing.

            Also, Father, would you please consider allowing me to comment normally again?

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        • Phil McCarthy says:

          Ave Maria, two things that may be of interest. This book by Italian, and I think Catholic (?) theologian, Iliaria Ramelli, who is an acknowledged expert on the partistics. https://www.bookdepository.com/A-Larger-Hope—Volume-1/9781610978842. And this response by Hart to criticisms of his book. It’s a treasure, but will not help if you feel you must reject Christian Universalism regardless 🙂 https://www.abc.net.au/religion/david-bentley-hart-obscenity-of-belief-in-eternal-hell/13356388?fbclid=IwAR0mEcj-HXrc9XdHtwCI-Up65bLKyrZ118VY7H2yuc1qYQrfIPXv0GGefag

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      • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

        “So in the end, you don’t care about the truth.”

        Counter-Rebel, that’s an unfair accusation. Catholics believe that God will not permit his Church to assert falsehoods as de fide truths. So if you want to persuade a Catholic that universalism is true, you need to take another route.

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  4. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Ave Maria, please do read my essay on the Fifth Ecumenical Council, in which I address the specific canon or anathema you cite. The crucial point is that this canon, along with the other eight, was promulgated by the Emperor Justinian and thus only enjoys imperial authority; and given that the Roman Empire no longer exists, it doesn’t have any authority at all.

    Nevertheless, there is plenty of second millennium Roman Catholic magisterial tradition that constrains the Catholic from espousing universal salvation. If you check under the Book Reviews category, you will find several reviews written by Catholic theologians. You may find them helpful. I suggest you begin with Justin Coyle’s review and then followup with the reviews by Ty Monroe, Taylor Nutter, and Richard Benier. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Ave Maria, Roman Catholics have a particularly difficult time assessing the arguments advanced by Hart in That All Shall Be Saved. They understandably begin with the presumption that the arguments must be flawed. If they are not, then it would seem that the dogmatic infallibility of the Magisterium is called into question. All I can suggest is for you to temporarily bracket your commitment to the doctrine of eternal damnation, and really attend to the arguments advanced by Hart and others on behalf of the greater hope. Catholics have nothing to fear from the truth of the gospel.

      I bid you a very Merry Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can see the logic in moving into the Eastern Rite Catholic Church as I’m getting the sense a lot of Catholics who fully embrace Hart’s claims have done. From everything I can tell from searching around a bit online, it does look like the only councils that are absolutely binding on them would be the first seven, just like us Eastern Orthodox.

        But, as with most things regarding Eastern Rite Catholicism, I really don’t know for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          I know a number of Eastern Catholics who might say that, yet I believe (though I may be wrong) that the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches would disagree with that position.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Ave Maria says:

          As far as I know, all of the infallible teachings of the Catholic Church are binding on the Universal Church (= the whole Catholic Church), which includes Eastern Catholic sui juris churches.

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          • When dealing with tricky subjects like this, it is important to properly define and use terms. The term Catholic is not a synonym for Universal; the word Catholic means ‘on the whole, according to the whole, in general’. Thus, the term Catholic is related by analogy (anologia entis) to the transcendence of God. I suspect from your previous posts you used the term “Catholic Church” as shorthand for the Roman Catholic Church. I’m not sure what you mean by “Eastern Catholic”; in general usage it refers to the twenty-three Eastern Christian sui iuris (autonomous) particular churches of the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope in Rome. I’m not sure what that has to do with a discussion that is primarily (though not exclusively) focused on Eastern Orthodoxy. Having read the posts leading up to this, I will say the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, section 1033-1037, states several times that hell is eternal. Thus, it seems the logic of Balthasar’s “hopeful universalism” is in apparent conflict with Roman Catholic dogma. I haven’t read Balthasar’s book; life is too short to read everything. I assume he addressed that topic satisfactorily.

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          • brian says:

            Ave Maria:

            I am responding to your earlier comments upthread. There was no reply button evident, so I am posting under your most recent contribution. I am not particularly interested in engaging in dialectical debate. It has limited efficacy and there is a certain psychology that is drawn to apologetics that I don’t think actually fosters wisdom or charity. (I don’t at all imply this is the case with you, only that I find this sort of thing distasteful because of the kind of readership it often attracts and the level of discussion that frequently follows.) Also, I have limited energy and must prudentially decide where to invest it. I think poetry and fiction more likely to persuade heart and soul. Nonetheless, your intelligent comments with which I ultimately disagree deserve some response. I shall not take them in the order you presented them, but in order of a particular theo-logic.

            “Love descended on mount Sinai and spoke to Moses. Love established the magisterium of the Catholic Church, and its words are truth.”

            I personally do not grant that apokatastasis is outside the realm of possibility for Catholics. Balthasar was heavily criticized for even entertaining the possibility, but he evidently felt one could do so and remain within the pale of orthodoxy. I suspect Merton and quite probably John Paul II were indeed amenable to universal salvation. Regardless, if one does not concede the possibility – and the majority of Catholics reject it outright, then this becomes no real dialogic, but simple refutation of known error. And that’s fine if that’s where you are at, but then one is largely just “talking past one another,” which I find slightly disingenuous.

            “Not even God can do the logically impossible, and asking an inexistent creature for permission to bring it into existence is logically impossible. So, are you arguing that if the possibility of damnation is real for all rational creatures, God would do best to create no rational creature?”

            I think this is intended as a rhetorical question. I don’t concede at all that it is self-evidently clear that one must answer in the negative. Part of Hart’s argument (and it’s been made before, you know) follows out the logic implied by the convergence of Triune aseity and creatio ex nihilo. The infinite plenitude of Triune Life means that there is no lack, no unactualized potency in God. Thus, unlike the divinity of Process theology or certain construals of Hegel whereby God requires the Creation in order to realize Divine Perfection, God is eternally flourishing, harmonious perfected Love. This is no solitary Aristotelian Divinity that persists separate from loving relation. Nothing of lack motivates Creation so the Christian God uniquely is responsible for Creation insofar as there is no “space” to posit radical compulsion to create. (In fact, there are nuanced, more complex ways to negotiate this issue, but that would take us too far away from the pith of the matter.) Now, what does creation from nothing add? Unlike the Platonic demiurge that must make do with the constraints of preexistent material with the taint of finitude that limits possible perfection, the Triune God is not compelled to assume material conditions that are irremediable as necessary cost. The freedom of God is such that God need not create if the price is a hazard of the beloved to an eternal doom.

            One may, of course, ascribe such hesitation to human psychology and then dogmatically identify God with a Divinity that is both Good and already implicated in just such a venture. Then, I aver one is tangled in an insoluble conundrum that is “solved” by special pleading and dogmatic affirmations that evade reason, logic, and lucid thought. While it is certainly correct to affirm that the analogy of being reaches to unimaginable heights and that the apophatic element in theology precisely respects God’s “ever greater” as Przywara was keen to preserve, none of that properly allows one to assert a Goodness in God that flat contradicts what finite human knowing can establish through participation in the intelligible universe. In short, our limited understanding of the Good is not rendered otiose or obsolete no matter how dogmatically pressed. To refuse genuine purchase on the meaning of Good because of theological commitments is a subtle and rather terrible kind of nihilism. And so, I believe Hart’s argument remains valid. A truly Good God would not create a universe where a single creature was potentially condemned to a life of unending horror, no matter how one wishes to entertain that state as self-chosen.

            “I think that the topic of free will is one of the most sublime and difficult ones, and should be analysed with the utmost care. I also feel that Dr. Hart should have given the libertarian account more attention in his book.”

            Yes, well, my understanding is the publisher offered Hart just so much space and prolonged discussion of libertarian freedom would have required a lengthy appendix, no? The contentious issue of libertarian freedom does, however, remain an underlying prejudice that often obfuscates an understanding of Hart’s argument. Take a look at Thomas Pfau’s Minding the Modern for a rather thorough investigation of the roots of modern libertarian concepts.

            “I can talk about freedom in two respects, which should absolutely not be equated: freedom as the power of deliberation and freedom as maximally flourishing and realizing one’s own potential for goodness. Taking this into consideration, we can say that both the saved and the damned are supremely free in Heaven and in Hell according to the first definition, and that the saints are supremely free according to the second definition also, whereas the damned are supremely unfree according to the second definition.”

            It seems to me that your freedom in two respects largely recapitulates the distinction Maximus the Confessor draws between “gnomic” and “natural freedom.” Gnomic freedom is the preamble to fully flourishing “metaphysical freedom.” The deliberations of unperfected intellect allow for error, distortion, and the manifold delusions and sins that follow. The question is whether one should think human freedom as ultimately permitting the kind of radical bifurcation you posit with an eternal perdurance of some rational agents locked into the second “supremely unfree” state. The only way you make that work is to assent to Dante’s vision where the damned are finally lacking the Good of the Intellect for what makes any choice rational is that will is drawn by the Good. The Good is the horizon that permits all the deliberated choices of finite being in time to be intelligible in the first place. All those choices are established as meaningful, genuine choices by an ontological desire for the Good that precedes and makes possible any psychological, historical decision. Hence, the argument that hell is one of “the doors locked and bolted from the inside” requires either a relegation of the damned to an intrinsic madness or the option of identification of a lesser, libertarian freedom shorn of the teleology of the Good, an “indifferent spontaneity” as somehow a licit condition. I don’t think that is rationally defensible, nor is it a coherent picture of Creation as fundamentally sourced in Agapeic love. At least, I do not grant that the libertarian definition of liberty is genuine liberty, and only a Deist mechanic might be satisfied with a result that accepted a certain amount of entropic loss as the cost of its design parameters.

            There is much more that could be said, but probably this is too prolix already. I will add this, however. First, I think the theological thinking that dominates Catholic circles is subtly infected with nominalist individualism. Now, I actually grant what Caitlin Smith Gilson proposes, that there is an anticipation of unique singularity potentially in nominalist feeling, though the metaphysics is flawed and unfixable left to itself. Regardless, as Maritain and the personalists noted, the modern individual is not the same as person. And yes, let us assume as everyone in fact does, that eschatological flourishing transcends our concepts and imaginative capacities; this does not resolve to an ignorance that lacks any revelatory anticipation or analogical grasp. I think Triune life is the archetype of all Personhood. Whatever eschatological conclusion of our temporal beginnings, it does not imply that individualism is ever the right conception of person with which to engage theological and prayerful contemplation of ultimate realities. And if TriUne perichoretic joy is the ultimate realization of the person, then Hart is certainly correct that the relations that indeed make possible any establishment of psychic awareness, the language with which we think, the existential circumstances in which we begin to encounter and know the Good, all that is not properly conceived as utterly adventitious and discardable as part of our unique identity.

            The singularity of incommunicable person is an inflection point that is nonetheless a relation to the Whole. (And so, the salvation of any person implies the salvation of the whole or one falls into incoherence.) I assert the infernalist position frequently embraced by Catholics as necessary dogmatic truth is in fact a theological opinion that need not be identified with magisterial certitude. Further, it is a position that locates salvation at the level of nominalist individual, a metaphysical conception alien to the gospel and without true biblical warrant. Lastly, and with little more than bare assertion: Christ is the seed of all Creation. Every thing that enters this earth bears his image. Theophany is not extrinsic to the cosmos, and Christ’s face shines out at us in every person, however torn by sin, in every creature, however humble or disregarded. William Desmond speaks of the passio essendi, the gift of being that allows for all our consequent striving. The “secondary worlds” of culture that we build in time are always already a work that does not start from nothing, but from the gift of prime, the giving that there might be anything at all. This is not a one time event like the Big Bang of the cosmologists, but a never ending gift. Now, Balthasar’s assertion was that this giving has its most kenotic image in the descent into Hell, that Holy Saturday shows that the passio essendi is not anything like a Deist origin where the dominoes are lined up and left to the choices of nominalist natures. Rather, the Father is always generating the Son and the Son is always preparing and nurturing the logio of Creation, and the Spirit shall consummate all in the wedding feast where the gnashing of teeth is penultimate to everlasting joy.

            Liked by 5 people

      • Robert Fortuin says:

        don’t threaten me with love young man

        Liked by 1 person

        • Logan(mercifullayman) says:

          Brian, would love to get an email somehow for you. I finished Schindler, but have some intriguing issues with respect to his final summation on Schelling/Hegel. Thank you for the above commentary…..It’s splendid.

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  5. There are a lot of things we are taught that are not true. Like saying St. Anthony was the first monk, or that Christian monasticism didn’t begin until the 4th century. The fact is that the Jews practiced monasticism. Sacred Scripture tells us of a number of prophets who were monastics — Elijah, Elisha, and the school of the prophets come to mind. Then we have the Essenes, who were a monastic community. The Prologue of Ohrid records a number of early monastics, particularly women monastics. Here are several examples of monastics from the period prior to the Edict of Milan (313 AD).
    1. The Venerable Mother Syncletica (c. 270 – 350 AD)
    2. The Holy Martyrs Julian and Basilissa (died c. 313 AD) Julian had 10,000 monks and Basilissa had 1000 nuns.
    3. Holy Martyr Edesius (died c. 306 AD) Died for his defense of Christian nuns.
    4. The Venerable Isidora, Fool-for-Christ (died c. 365 AD)
    5. The Venerable Martyrs Archelais, Thecla, and Susanna (died c. 293 AD) They lived in an unknown monastery near Rome.
    6. The Venerable Martyr Febronia, (died c. 310 AD) She lived in a convent with fifty fellow ascetics.
    7. The Venerable Martyr Parasceva, (died in the 2nd century AD) She was tonsured a nun and eventually beheaded for her missionary zeal.

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