David Bentley Hart Responds to the Neo-Neo-Chalcedonians

Dear Al,

It seems to come as a shock to some that I am not a partisan of the school of thought you have dubbed “NC” (for Neo-Chalcedonianism). And yet, as it happens, I most definitely am not. It would be a fairly exhausting exercise—and one for which I do not have the time just now—to explain what dif­ferentiates their views from mine. Some of the remarks I left in the com­ments boxes for Ty Monroe’s review of You Are Gods explain some of the principal issues. I will also be making the full text of an address that I delivered at a Bulgakov conference a year ago on my Substack page, which should make var­ious matters a little clearer. Then, too, Jordan Wood has sent me a message saying that he thinks our positions are not as far apart as I believe, and that he intends to write something to demonstrate as much. And—alternatively or com­ple­mentarily—we may record a conver­sa­tion sometime after his book on St Maximus the Confessor, The Whole Mystery of Christ, comes out. So, in time, everything will no doubt creep out into the sunlight.

The reason I am writing you now is to shed light on one matter. I did not follow the Twitter exchanges that ensued after my recent interview with Henry Wallis; but a few friends—helpfully or mischievously—sent me screenshots of some of them. What I saw in these was, as is the natural course of things on social media, a great exchange of assertions and counter-assertions, liberally interlarded with speculations about what I must or must not mean by the things I have said, and why. I might make a number of observations on the debates, but I think it better to confine myself to one conspicuous misunderstanding that became evident in a number of the tweets and twitterings I saw: to wit, the traditional doctrine of divine impassibility.

Before I get to that, though, I would urge you to alter your nomenclature. Calling my position “Vedantic Christian Theology (or “VCT”) is a rather massive red herring, because all I am advocating in these exchanges is traditional Neoplatonic Christianity. Moreover, the Young Turks of the Boston College School (to use my name for them) should not be called “Neo-Chalcedonians,” but rather “Neo-Neo-Chalcedonians,” because what they advocate is a particular interpretation of the Neo-Chalcedonian synthesis that could not have come into being until after the 18th century. I propose another set of designations altogether, however. Rather than “VCT” for my position, I recommend “LCCT”: “Logically Coherent Christian Theology.” For the Young Turks I recommend “ThM”: “Theogonic  Mythology.” I cannot see how anyone could object to that.

I jest, of course (sort of).

Anyway, back to the issue of divine impassibility. And, before anything else, I think it good to elucidate what we mean by both agency and patiency—energeia and pathos, act and passion—in causal terms.

There is, to begin with, an old Aristotelian principle that seems to me quite obviously true: that in any finite causal relation, change occurs in the effect, not in the cause itself. But, of course, in the realm of the finite, agent and patient functions are impossible to confine each to a single pole of any causal relationship. When two finite substances are involved in a causal relation, each undergoes some change, because each is limited and lacking in some property the other can supply, and so each functions as both a cause and an effect in that relation. Ice melts upon a burning coal but also cools the coal; and neither can affect the other without also being affected in turn. Here, then, we see that the strict distinction between action and passion is chiefly a convention of thought, isolating a distinction conceptually that is impossible to identify in fact. Reciprocal causality is of the nature of finite relations; which means that every finite passion is also already an action and vice-versa. This is the condition of becoming in its true ambiguity. A passion is as much an act of the patient as of the agent, and a causal action is as much a passion of the agent. But this also means that, for finite beings, whatever knowledge is acquired by an affect is limited to the mode of the affect; we can know nothing more about, say, suffering than our patient capacity allows, even though that knowledge is acquired as the concomitant of a prior agency. God, however, is infinite act; he can know in a way not limited by any mode of reception. As pure act, he knows in pure, creative, limitless agency.

In theological matters, I am not at all reluctant to rely on explicitly metaphysical considerations in forming my judgments, for any number of reasons: I believe that God as Logos reveals himself to the rational intellect and will in all of creation, that the gift of revelation must be received in modes appropriate to the creature (including the capacity for metaphysical speculation), that in the creature’s reception of revelation the ordo cognoscendi is the inverse of the ordo essendi and therefore must start from the most natural movements of human reason, and so on. So, confessedly, it is as much a philosophical as a theological claim to say (as I want to do) that the terms “impassibility” and “divine” are in fact logically convertible with one another. There can be no other referent of the predicate “impassible” than the infinite God; there can be no God who is not that one who is, as the fullness of all being, impassible. There is not out there, among the ensemble of beings, a single discrete being who is God, who may or may not possess the attribute of impassibility. Rather, like any number of other predicates—infinity, eternity, simplicity, immutability—the term “impassibility” is merely one of the necessary entailments of the very concept of God as the transcendent source of all reality. To me, therefore, the notion of divine passibility occupies the same logical space as the idea of a square circle or of a married bachelor or of an intelligent and morally sane supporter of Donald Trump. And far, indeed, from constituting some kind of paradox, the statement that the God who became human in Christ is eternally impassible is a necessary affirmation of logic.

Of course, to make sense of that affirmation one must be absolutely clear what the traditional language of impassibility means. It certainly does not mean—as presumably we all know—that there is some capacity or aptitude that God lacks, some kind of experience that is beyond his ken; it is not a negative predicate, nor is it a statement about God’s ability to have knowledge of pain or pleasure or joy or sorrow. Of course God knows all such things; he knows not only the suffering or joy of Christ, but my suffering and joy as well. He is omniscient. He knows our passions infinitely better than we know them ourselves. Nor is the truth that God is impassible a claim regarding experience in any sense we might normally imagine. It is simply a modal statement regarding how God knows. In classical terms, the term pathos or passio is not necessarily allied to experience at all; it merely indicates the modification of one thing by another, and describes the relation between agent and patient forces or substances within any instance of finite change. It certainly has little or nothing to do with anything like the consciousness of phenomenal qualia—such as the twinge of discomfort I may feel in an my wrist when I hold it at an odd angle—inasmuch as consciousness as such was not even a topic of philosophical reflection in antiquity or the Middle Ages. A rock can be the subject of a pathos, because it is a finite and mutable reality, and therefore possesses potentialities that can be actualized by adventitious agencies. It can be heated by the sun, for instance. And the heat of the sun in its turn, in being cooled by its absorption into that rock, undergoes a pathos of its own. The question is not what God knows (he knows everything), but the manner of that knowledge—whether, that is, he becomes acquainted with realities that are somehow beyond him, and that therefore must communicate themselves to him by way of an extrinsic qualification of his “substance” that would actualize a hitherto unrealized potency. This would entail, after all, that God is a finite being among beings, in whom possibility exceeds actuality.  It would also mean that he is not omniscient, for whatever he knows in the form of a passion he can know in only a limited way, because any knowledge gained from the subjective perspective of a patient substance can be known only under the aspect of the pathos it induces, as a subjective impression rather than a direct cognizance of the objective reality of the thing in itself. Impassibility is not a privation of the capacity for passions; rather, acquaintance through passion is a privation of the act of knowledge. But God has, as the schoolmen would say, no real relations; he does not relate to things in the manner of one thing that can be qualified by other things, but is the fullness of reality in whose perfection all finite things have their being. His is a scientia matutina, never a scientia vespertina. For him, the fullness of reality from whom everything receives both essence and existence, knowledge is entirely active. Even in becoming human, he did so through the creative act of assuming to himself—and thereby reducing himself to—a finite nature, and thus expressing the infinite treasures of his knowledge in the poverty of the experiences of flesh and blood. Nothing is thus added to the divine nature. The infinite does not admit of addition.

All of which is only to say that God, if the concept of God has any content at all, is not a limited substance, standing outside other such substances, and that his particular spiritual intentions (acts of will and knowledge, that is) towards finite things involve no physical processes and no modifications of his substance from without. And if those intentions tell us who God is, it is precisely because they have to do not with any act of God determining himself, but only with an eternal act of self-expression. More important, they would certainly add nothing new in the order of real being to God, since the “subtracted” reality of finite things is always already embraced within the infinitely fuller reality of divine being.

Anyway, my best to you and to the Theogonic Mythology faction. Kiss them on the heads for me.

Cordially,
David

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28 Responses to David Bentley Hart Responds to the Neo-Neo-Chalcedonians

  1. Pingback: David Bentley Hart’s Questions about Jordan Wood’s Christology – Jesus and the Ancient Paths

  2. knudgeknudge says:

    It’s almost tempting to write ‘to twit’ in place of ‘to wit.’

    Like

  3. Calvin says:

    DBH,

    If you’re reading this, I’ve been wanting to ask you something. I’ve never been able to get onboard with apophatic theology because a question has always nagged at me that I have never seen answered in a way that seems satisfactory. If all our knowledge of God is still infinitely removed from his essence as it is, then how do we know that human qualities that we attribute to him (such as “love”) do not in his case mean the exact opposite of what they mean in us? An infinite remove opens the space for a total reversal, at least as I see it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • DBH says:

      As a rule, the apophatic and cataphatic are supposed to correct and qualify one another. Neither is adequate in itself; it is the dialectic between them that yields wisdom. The general term for the median of that dynamism is analogy.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Calvin says:

        But… once the premises of apophatic are acknowledged as being true, what right have you to do any cataphatic? God may as well be Azathoth for all you or anyone else knows or can know. Where then do derive remit to start making cataphatic theological claims?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Karl says:

          Calvin, this is an issue that has bothered me with the online Palamas brigade in their flame wars with online Thomists, who loudly aver that God’s essence is forever unknowable. If that’s the case, then you could be dealing with Cthulhu or whatever. Avoid online flame wars is the answer, I suppose.

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        • DBH says:

          Apophatic claims are, if used properly, claims of degree, not kind. They should not be taken as meaning God is unknowable; only that the reality of what one knows is infinitely greater than your capacity to know it. You are falling into the trap of thinking this is a matter of propositional correctness. It is literally a matter of apo-phasis: what cannot be SAID. If you are a parent, you love your children with an intensity to which words are inadequate. Your gnosis exceeds epistemic categories. But you know. You can express it in part, cataphatically. But the reality is immeasurably greater.

          Liked by 7 people

          • Calvin says:

            “Apophatic claims are, if used properly, claims of degree, not kind.”

            That sounds pretty different from what I’ve heard, but I suppose it does make sense. So, just to be sure, your position is that what God’s essence consists of is fundamentally knowable, but the magnitude of it is beyond anything we are yet able to grasp?

            Liked by 2 people

          • DBH says:

            Yes, as otherwise even God could not know himself. The issue is how we are admitted to that knowledge, and the answer of Gregory and Maximus–epektasis, ever-moving rest–seems to me as good an image as we can muster. Remember, Maximus clearly says that apophasis leads past language and concepts to a yet more intimate knowing, a gnosis in which one rushes into the direct embrace of God and understands in an ineffable immediacy.

            Ignore the Palamites, and the Thomists too.

            Liked by 4 people

          • Calvin says:

            “Yes, as otherwise even God could not know himself.”

            That’s an interesting thought. Are you relying on the idea of the Logos, that the reason which fills the cosmos, our share of which constitutes our own reason and hence is itself bound up in the divine? Do you mind elaborating a bit on it?

            Liked by 1 person

          • DBH says:

            There seems no need to elaborate. You’ve said it already.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Caspar says:

          Did you read Bulgakov’s Unfading Light, by any chance?

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    • Matthew Porter-Valbracht says:

      The whole point of the essence-energies distinction, at least as I understand it, is not that we can’t know the essence of God but that we can know the energies of God, which are not separate from His essence, but merely distinct. So we can know that God is love by the fact that He loves us, and we can experience this love.

      What this says to me is not that we can never know God, but that we can never know God objectively, the only way we can know God is as a relationship.

      Liked by 1 person

      • DBH says:

        Actually, the meaning of the distinction is whatever one chooses to make of it; and most modern Palamites make it into an insurmountable barricade between creation and the divine essence. Yes, they see the energies as revealing something. But their logic is twisted. Either the energies really disclose the essence–in which case the distinction is nothing but the obvious insight that any reality is real in acting–or they do not, in which case talk of the distinction is just so much blather.

        Liked by 3 people

        • TJF says:

          I remember first reading about the essence energies distinction in Lossky’s Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church and it seemed like so much handwringing and bending over backwards for no apparent reason other than to be different the western Christians. I do like the image of sun rays coming from the sun but as you say it isn’t nearly as profound as it sounds and doesn’t purport what they propose.

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  4. I am going to be recklessly bold here and make a suggestion toward where I see a real potential resolution for this dispute, call it a hypothesis perhaps. It is offered, rough as it may seem, as a legitimate perspective of what might very well be happening in a debate that I am now seeing as basically an irreducible inevitability the further I get into You Are Gods, and where I hope the debate might go if it goes as I hope it will. I will get to that shortly, but I first want to offer a brief observation as a reader of both Hart and Wood.

    Namely, observation itself is the observation I am offering here. What I am seeing in the debate is something that appears eerily similar to the observation problem in physics. The example of whether light modally seems to be a particle or a wave is determined by how it is observed comes to mind. It’s almost as if there are two modal logics of light itself that I think is illustrative of the point I am trying to make. The point is, if the paradigmatic approach to this problem is in a kind of metaphysical Newtonianism there may truly be no way to reconcile the positions of Hart and Wood et.al. However a more relativized and to be crude, Einsteinian metaphysic might be in order because it is quite possible that both parties are functionally correct, assuming there are areas where either approach might be sharpened in further debate. If this observation of an observation is correct, then both parties are to be commended for how far their speculative work has pushed the metaphysical envelope. What this development represents to me, a middle manager whose professional life very much mimics the sitcom The Office except significantly less funny (so take what I say with all the professional seriousness you feel like such an observation merits), is an exciting way to see the kind of relativity in metaphysical logic I spoke of above and it is a vista opened in this debate, in the very least for me.

    So my hypothesis is that there are two modal logics at play here that are being determined by the vantage points of the observer, whether Hart or Wood et. al. are deriving their observations depending on whether they are employing an essential logic or a hypostatic logic. Essential logic likely must reduce to a monism if it is a valid logic at all, and likewise hyostatic logic is going to likely reduce to an irreducible relativity of relations if it is to be a Christian metaphysical logic of hypostases at all. I do not think there is any need for a Hegelian synthesis here so much as a kind of coincidence of the logics themselves. This is because of the absolute identity of the essential and hypostatic modes of Being that are themselves the expression of the fullness of Being, both as Being is, as well as Being as Being is expressed. If my hypothesis is true the bold speculative projects, at least in their best intuitions (which could well account for the bulk of the work generated by all involved) of Hart and Wood especially obtain as highly prescient, and perhaps even inevitable outworking of the logics and astute theological and metaphysical reasoning they employ. And, they may in fact largely coincide with each other and might perhaps mutually interpret and further unfold each other.

    Where I would like to see the debate go is to Bulgakov, because I do believe it is his singular genius that has opened up the pathway toward a relativity of the two logics I am speaking of, and might just vindicate my hypothesis here. While I am not going to take the time to dig the references out of LoG and Sophia, he does at times refer to Sophia as non-hypostatic to defend himself of charges of positing a Qaternity. While I am sensitive to why he does this, it is most certainly the wrong way to absolve himself of the charge given his own logic. While Sophia as the Divine Essence is not a Hypostasis and thus composing a Quaternity, which cannot be a Christian theological commitment; Sophia is nonetheless hypostatic (or perhaps better hypostatically receptive or perhaps superhypostatic) and must be expressed or actualized hypostatically in the Divine Act in and through the Divine Hypostases comprising the Trinity. In a similar fashion, hypostatic logic is always going to entail the Divine Essence as actualized in the Tri-hypostatic Trinitarian Act, which necessarily entails Simplicity and Impassibility (which Hart is right to guard jealously as all monists ought) even as hypostatic logic in any truly Christian schema can only be reduced to the irreducible perichoretic relations inherent to the Trinity that names Sophia as the very Life of the Living Trinity, the superhypostatic matrix that is the Divine Essence that is at once One and the Oneness of all.

    And this might be overly indulgent of my perverse sense of aesthetics, but I see, in the sheer provocative power of terms like Vedantic Christianity to ruffle all the right feathers, great value. Neo Neo-Chalcedonianism as a devious self-admission that an infinite regression and commensurate progressive unfolding of Neo-Chalcedonianism are implicit to the system, because Neo-Chalcedonian thought when done well can only ever be new. Such terms are sticky. Young Turks, for instance, is as delightfully irreverent as it is appropriate and valuable as playful shorthand for some of the most exciting speculative theology many who are following the debate like rotund preteens with our faces pressed up against the candy store window with all the requisite slobbering have had the chance to consider in recent memory. And lastly, I’ll add that a Vedantic Christianity that is to be properly both might favor Vishisadvaita over Advaita, but that’s just a wild speculation given my own perhaps misguided inclination toward a dialectical monism, in my ceasless quest to square the circle in the face of apparent contradiction and incoherence. All to say, I for one think there’s an interesting opportunity to use these logics to interpret each other in such a way that is both monistic and relative without doing violence to the substance of either position.

    Liked by 2 people

    • DBH says:

      Thanks, Jedidiah.

      But, of course, if you go to Bulgakov then you’ve already given me the upper hand in this debate. So I’m not sure that will smooth all ruffled feathers. And, of course, my contention is that the NNC position is possible only through a defective metaphysics of hypostasis, one that severs the concept’s later developments from their foundation, thus producing a vacuous category that does all the work by doing nothing as such.

      I really don’t think our positions are reconcilable. I don’t really want them to be, because I would not be drawn to a Christianity of the sort the NNC faction embraces. But reconciliation isn’t necessary. This isn’t warfare, after all; and there are much more problematic forms of Christianity out there (I here refrain from mentioning Thomists and Palamites and Calvinists…).

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks David, I will remain optimistic on this front (perhaps against all evidence to the contrary), and perhaps that’s just a matter of personal temperament more than anything of metaphysical substance.

        I am much more sympathetic to NNC than you are here, but I do think that a lot more attention needs to be given to Bulgakov in their project as it matures, and that your criticisms are in need of more fully developed answers. My honest assessment is that one can never have too much of a Bulgakovian influence in their theological system because of how much his Sophiology has opened up heretofore unseen theological horizons. Any cogent contemporary theological school has to contend with his theology.

        I think that the reef I am seeing is a competing set of univocal logics with respect to hypostasis and essence, when my intuition leads me to believe that each must recapitulate and explicate the other. Which is to say, if it is valid that there are indeed two logics at play here, they must coincide even if they remain distinct. Perhaps that’s the wrong intuition, but it’s definitely at the foreground of my thinking as a reader of yours and Jordan’s.

        Liked by 2 people

        • DBH says:

          Well, I hear optimism is good for cardiac health, so I encourage you to keep it up. I remain very skeptical. My sympathy for their project is measurable mostly in negative magnitudes. But Wood is right that Maximus means what he says when he speaks of creation as God’s incarnation. (We can discuss what he reads into or out of this truth at some other time, once his book has had some time to make an impact.)

          Liked by 2 people

      • David, I don’t feel qualified to comment on much of this debate, but I am very puzzled by your description of “hypostasis” (in the sense in which the “NNC faction” use it) as a “vacuous category.” Whatever other problems there may be with their position, it seems clear that Jordan Wood, for instance, explicitly denies that “hypostasis” understood as “person” is a category, a concept, a principle etc. Instead, the word refers always and only to a concrete, individual person. One crucial point, as I understand it, is the claim that the concrete, individual person is not a particular instance of a more universal nature. Similarly, I don’t understand how it could be “vacuous” given that it refers to the full positive reality of you, Jordan Wood, Fr. Kimel etc.

        Liked by 1 person

        • DBH says:

          That’s what I mean by a vacuous concept. It does all the work he wants it to do by being a singular event instantiating nothing, with absolutely no conceptual content other than “it happened that…”. Somehow that explains away the paradox of two “incompatible” natures. That is precisely my definition of a magical “category.” Elsewhere I have likened it to Deleuze’s ever punctiliar univocity of being—a univocity of “person,” an equivocity of “persons.” You have isolated precisely what I find absurd in this way of thinking.

          Liked by 1 person

          • So, if I may ask you to expand on your response a little, how do you understand whatever it is that distinguishes two concrete persons from one another?

            The only ways of doing so that occur to me, apart from the NNC approach at issue, is either in terms of sheer numerical distinction (two persons are only distinct because they are “two” instances of one “human nature”) or, more generally, in terms of “matter,” or else—which seems more promising to me—in terms of some group of properties (one person is short, speaks Greek, has a snub nose…, another is tall, speaks English, plays the piano…).

            The former seems completely inadequate to me, since you would then be distinguishing two persons as if they were two bare, logical units, as it were, and it seems implausible to me that to suggest that the difference between, say, you and Jordan as persons amounts to nothing more than that your are two instances of humanity.

            The latter is more plausible, and certainly less abstract, but even here there seem to me to be problems.

            The first is that the attempting to reach the person through the properties alone is akin to believing that the whole (here not just the organic whole, but the person) is constructed out of the parts. I don’t see how the properties by themselves add up to a unified whole not just of consciousness in some more primitive sense (say, mere sentience), but of distinctively rational, spiritual, personal consciousness.

            The second is that the properties are not purely particular, but always also implicitly universal (as Aristotle puts it “this individual a which the grammarian investigates is an a”), and there are, or could be, other individuals with more or less the same properties, either taken individually, or as a group. Indeed, given the elusiveness of “prime matter” it is very hard to pin down any ultimate “particularity.” So, if the “person” is merely a sum of properties, that would seem to involve the claim that individual persons differ solely in terms of being different combinations of universal natures.

            Now, perhaps my view is idiosyncratic, and involves problems I have not anticipated, but it seems to me that one cannot even speak of there being concrete persons in a robust sense if they are not in some sense unique and irreplaceable, which to me also implies that they cannot be merely instances of a universal nature.

            Liked by 1 person

          • DBH says:

            That may be intrinsically worth debating, but it is totally irrelevant to the problem in Jordan’s use of the term hypostasis or person. You are confusing issues. Uniqueness is obviously to be predicated of every person as this person. That still in no way explains how the invocation of hypostasis, without insisting upon its meaning as also the subsistence of a particular nature, can magically (sorry—dynamically) do what even God cannot do:reconcile incompatibles. I don’t know why this is difficult to follow. It is a non-explanation, a purely rhetorical “something happens.” It simply does not work. It’s empty assertion masquerading as an explanation.

            Liked by 2 people

          • MR says:

            “How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?” Kant asked himself. And what did his answer essentially amount to? By means of a faculty.

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  5. jordandanielwood says:

    Since David loves Bulgakov, and since David also thinks it totally unprecedented that anyone at all would think the Incarnation presents, at least in some fairly intuitive sense, the problem of reconciling opposites, let’s hear some of what Bulgakov has to say:

    “The Chalcedonian dogma does not touch upon the mode of the union of the two natures, but from this dogma there indisputably follows the fact of the *unity of the life* of Christ in two natures, but with one hypostasis living in both of them. How should one understand this composite life in relation to the participation of the two natures? In and of itself, *this duality of the natures of one life presents unprecedented difficulties for thought*, since the life of the natural world *does not know such a duality* [maybe Bulgakov should have known that any rational person can see that there is absolutely nothing remarkable here at all, that these two are not at all irreconcilable, that the very notion that there’s a problem here and that one needs to search for some “magical” resolution is born of some foolish idealism, etc etc]. But the main difficulty here is that these two natures belong to different domains of being: divine and creaturely [Why is this so difficult, Sergius?]. How can they be harmonized [Does he not know that there is no dissonance here at all? Why seek reconciliation, harmony, of opposites?]. How can they act together and interact? How can the fire of Divinity engulf, without consuming, the ‘burning bush’ of creaturely being, and how can this creaturely being ascend to a condition where it is harmonized with the life of the divine nature? Do we not have an incompatibility here that makes this very inquiry illusory, an exercise in myth-making similar to the numerous pagan myths concerning the descent of gods to earth and their union with mortals? After the dogma of the two natures in one hypostasis was established, the center of gravity of Christology, the core of its problematic, was found precisely here, in the problem of divine-human life as it is revealed to us in the Gospels.” (LOG 207)

    Bulgakov at least admits what David pretends isn’t an issue at all: that post-Chalcedon, Christology actually *did* have to face the precise “mode of union” in the Incarnation, and that this was because it actually *does* appear to be a prima facie absurdity how these two “different domains” are one in Christ’s single life, the one subject of the Gospels. The very attempt to get back to a “sophianic ground” in order to explain a “primordial identity in foundation and content” is predicated exactly on the admission of antinomy. If the Neo-Chalcedonian developments around enhypostatos yield a “magical concept” in their attempt to work out the mode of union of natural (i.e. abstractly grasped) irreconcilables, “the principle of sophianicity” or the “analogical interval” or the “mode of not-God always already in God” are just as magical. Best, I think, to cease with the pretension that only one side admits antinomies play a rather crucial role in Christology, and get on with parsing out the details of the various speculative views, their potential rapprochements, their divergences, the character of these divergences, etc. And, despite David’s consistent misrepresentation of my (unpublished) view, which has in fact oscillated from one extreme (I make hypostasis as such do all the work for abstract reconciliation) to the other (I positively a “catastrophic uniqueness to Christ’s hypostasis”), I happen to think there’s much more interesting work to be done to span these apparently “infinite” divides. After all, analogy is, David once conceded, “a placeholder.” Well then, shall we see what–or better, whose–place it holds?

    Liked by 1 person

    • DBH says:

      And yes, Bulgakov states the burning question well—a question I most definitely never suggested was unprecedented. It’s the answer he proposes that makes a difference.

      If it helps, my disagreement with you is also a disagreement with some of the original versions of neo-Chalcedonian formulae.

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  6. DBH says:

    Jordan

    Thanks for so clumsily and petulantly misrepresenting my words. We now have reasons for complaining against one another.

    Did you not notice that in my last comment I accepted your claim that Jesus was possessed of a human person, and that the union of hypostasis is at once a human and divine hypostasis, while acknowledging that my reasoning works backwards from yours? There is a reason why you are willing to speak of God becoming God and I am not. That is simply a reality of what separates our positions.

    Calm down. I have not misrepresented you at all, but I have probably stated your position in such a simplistic form that it might as well be a misrepresentation.

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  7. DBH says:

    Oh, yes…

    The term “analogical interval” is hardly a “magical” formula. It is a simple logical term that any monotheist should find unproblematic. It means only that God is the source of both the essence and the existence of creatures. As he is the whole of creature’s being, there is a likeness and ontological continuity between God and creatures; as God is the infinite fullness of absolute being and creatures merely dynamically contingent beings, there is a qualitative difference between them. This simultaneous likeness and difference is an interval of analogy. Not a difficult or, for that matter, contestable concept.

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