Gordon Clark’s Paradoxical View of the Trinity

Some years ago I wrote a short article defending some of Van Til’s remarks on the Trinity and offering some criticisms of Gordon Clark’s view of the Trinity. In that article I noted a point of disagreement with Steve Hays. Whereas Steve had argued that Clark’s view reduces to modalism, I argued that his position is clearly a form of social trinitarianism (which I’ve contended elsewhere is not a form of monotheism and is thus unacceptable as an interpretation of orthodox trinitarian doctrine).

Well, after re-reading some of Clark’s writings on this issue, I’ve changed my mind. I’m happy to report that I no longer disagree with Steve. But that’s not to say I’ve abandoned my earlier conclusion. Rather, I now think we were both right (which is a much more agreeable position to take).

How can this be? It all depends on which passages in Clark’s writings you focus. On the one hand, if you focus on the passages where he expounds his definition of ‘person’, you’re led to the conclusion that his view reduces to modalism. On the other hand, if you focus on those passages where he tries to explain what unifies the persons of the Trinity, you’re led to the conclusion that he’s a social trinitarian.

Generally speaking, there are two basic approaches to developing a model for the Trinity. (By ‘model’ I mean a way of interpreting the claim that there is “one God who exists in three persons”.) The first approach is to start with the idea of one God (monotheism) and then try to explain how this one God could exist as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The second approach is to start with the idea of three divine persons and then try to explain how these three can be considered one God, i.e., how trinitarianism can be considered monotheistic. (These two approaches are sometimes labeled the ‘Western’ and ‘Eastern’ approaches, respectively, although I suspect that terminology owes more to pedagogical utility than to historical accuracy.)

Interestingly, one finds both approaches in Clark’s writings on the Trinity. In his book The Incarnation he attempts to give an account of the plurality within the Godhead by arguing that what distinguishes the three persons is just the different first-person indexical propositions that constitute them. (Recall that Clark defined a person as “a composite [or complex] of propositions” — and in the case of divine persons, those propositions are all truths.) Examples of these differentiating propositions, according to Clark, would be “I was incarnated” and “I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho” (both of which belong uniquely to the Son). But as Steve pointed out, these propositions are contingent truths that concern the different economic roles of the divine persons, in which case the persons would be only contingently distinct. This, of course, is the hallmark of modalism: the relations between the persons of the Trinity are nothing more than contingent economic relations. Steve’s analysis was spot on.

But that’s not the end of the story. In his article ‘The Trinity’ Clark tries to give an account of the unity within the Godhead by appealing to Platonic realism about essences: the oneness of the Trinity consists in the fact that the three persons have one divine essence in common. On this view, the unity of the Godhead is a merely generic unity. But as I observed in my earlier article, this is the hallmark of social trinitarian models, and such models are wide open to the charge of tritheism. (More sophisticated versions of social trinitarianism attempt to deflect this objection by arguing that the persons are unified in further respects, e.g., they are necessarily united in love and in purpose, but Clark makes no such attempt.)

So it seems that Clark’s treatment of the doctrine of the Trinity is doubly deficient and doubly heterodox (at least in its implications). His account of the plurality within the Godhead leads to modalism. His account of the unity within the Godhead leads to social trinitarianism at best (and tritheism at worst).

But here’s the crowning irony: since modalist models and social trinitarian models are logically incompatible, Clark’s overall view of the Trinity (based on all his writings taken together) appears to be logically inconsistent. In other words, Clark’s view of the Trinity is paradoxical. This is rather unfortunate for one who so vehemently repudiated paradoxes in Christian theology! Perhaps Clark had more in common with Van Til than his followers care to concede.

I want to make clear that I’m not trying to argue that Clark was a heretic or anything of the sort. I don’t think that at all. It’s important to distinguish between those whose views appear to have unorthodox implications (implications which they themselves would repudiate) and those who knowingly promote unorthodox views that cause division in the church. I find much of Clark’s theology and philosophy to be problematic, but I’ve benefited from reading his books and I still consider him to be one of the Good Guys. And unlike some of his followers, I won’t dismiss him as an irrationalist simply because he advocates a paradoxical theology.

16 Responses to Gordon Clark’s Paradoxical View of the Trinity

  1. voxveritatis

    James,

    I appreciate your post, and think that you make some good points. I consider myself a “modified Clarkian,” though I would agree with you that Clark’s formulation on these (and other) issues is problematic (hence the “modified” part). However, consider the following:

    With respect to Clark’s accounting of unity within the Godhead, you argue that his approach can lead to tritheism, because it is a generic unity. As you argued in the Triablogue article, the fact that Peter, James, and John all participate equally in manhood does not make them a unified being. However, I think that Clark’s position can be delivered from this difficulty if a difference is made between the nature, abstractly considered, and specific actual instances of the nature. Peter, James, and John may equally share in manhood, abstractly considered, but they each participate only in one instance of manhood. Peter participates in his instance of manhood (that is, his human essence/nature) only, he does not participate in James’ or John’s. In the same way James participates in his instance of manhood only, not in Peter’s or John’s.

    Applying this to the Godhead, one can say that there is only one divine nature, abstractly considered, but also only one actual instance of this divine nature. And this one actual instance is shared by three persons. This removes the danger of tritheism, since having three separate gods (like three separate men) would require three separate instances of the divine nature. But this is not the case – there is only one instance, and thus only one God, who is tri-personal.

    Furthermore, diversity in the Godhead can be accounted for in a non-modalistic (or non-contingent) fashion if the divine essence itself is ontologically considered to have three centers of consciousness within it. With respect to the human nature, we can consider it ontologically to have one center of consciousness. A specific instance of the human nature specifies a specific person to fill that center of consciousness, and such a person can be described and/or differentiated from other persons by his personal attributes and propositions. Of course, such a person is also ontologically distinct from other persons, because his center of consciousness is ontologically separate from those of other persons (given that he possesses a different instance of the human nature from other persons). Likewise, it seems to me that the non-modalistic diversity within the Godhead can be accounted for if the divine nature ontologically contains three separate centers of consciousness. The persons filling these centers of consciousness can be differentiated according to their thoughts/personal attributes/propositions, but they are also ontologically distinct (occupying ontologically separate centers of consciousness within the one instance of the divine nature). Moreover, the fundamental proposition distinguishing the persons is that of personal identity: “I am the Father,” “I am the Son,” and “I am the Holy Spirit,” and not necessarily anything economical. Thus, there is both unity and diversity in the Godhead – more than simply a generic unity (it is ontological), but also more than simply a potentially-modalistic diversity (for it is also ontological).

    Would this not solve the problems inherent in Clark’s position? This might not have been Clark’s exact position, but I don’t think that it is that far off from what he wrote. Perhaps the biggest difference is an allowance of something metaphysical to define a person, beyond simply “a complex of propositions.”

    Any thoughts?

    For His Glory and His Kingdom,
    Vox

  2. stephennhays

    “Moreover, the fundamental proposition distinguishing the persons is that of personal identity: ‘I am the Father,’ ‘I am the Son,’ and ‘I am the Holy Spirit,’ and not necessarily anything economical.”

    i) Indexical propositions can’t function as individuating principles. Given different persons, then you can say they entertain different indexical propositions. However, that fails to explain why they are different persons in the first place. So this has it backwards: They wouldn’t be different persons because they entertain different indexical propositions; rather, they’d entertain different indexical propositions because they are different persons.

    ii)Put another way, this is tautological. Yes, the Father, and the Father alone, entertains the proposition: “I’m the Father.” But that’s a disguised description masquerading as an explanation. That doesn’t account for his unique identity. Rather, that presupposes his unique identity.

    iii) Likewise, we can’t treat propositions as constituents of personhood, for propositions are thoughts, not thinkers.

  3. stephennhays

    “Applying this to the Godhead, one can say that there is only one divine nature, abstractly considered, but also only one actual instance of this divine nature. And this one actual instance is shared by three persons.”

    If you’re going to use an abstract/concrete, exemplar/instance paradigm, then you’d have the following correspondence: The divine nature is to the abstract exemplar as the divine persons are to the concrete exemplifications. Put another way, each divine person would be a property instance of an abstract/exemplary nature.

    I don’t see that this gives you numerical unity. Moreover, it treats the divine nature as an abstract universal whose subsistence is prior to the persons who participate in that nature.

  4. Steve,

    Thank you for your remarks. I’ll try to respond in turn:

    “They wouldn’t be different persons because they entertain different indexical propositions; rather, they’d entertain different indexical propositions because they are different persons.”

    I don’t necessarily disagree with this. Perhaps I wrote unclearly, but I’m not saying that the propositions of self-identity provide the basis for ontological individuality, but that they are the fundamental basis for our distinguishing between the persons in the Godhead with respect to what they think about themselves.

    Furthermore, as a side note, I don’t see why identity cannot be both extensional and intensional. Consider that God knows all of the persons ever to exist. Each of these persons can be mapped to unique integers (that is to say that the set of all persons is countable). If God were to do this, each person of the Trinity would certainly know which number represents His person, and each number could be mapped to a unique name. Thus, extensionally, the proposition “I am the Father” is sufficient to serve as an absolute statement of identity, in distinguishing between persons. It seems to me that “accounting for unique identity” would require an intensional description of the person, and as for what it means to be “the Father,” I would agree that something more than an indexical proposition is required.

    “That doesn’t account for his unique identity. Rather, that presupposes his unique identity.”

    How do you define identity here?

    “iii) Likewise, we can’t treat propositions as constituents of personhood, for propositions are thoughts, not thinkers.”

    How exactly do you define personhood? It seems to me that there is a difference between personhood, abstractly considered (that is, having the faculties of thought, volition, affection, etc.), and a “personality” (though that probably isn’t the best term for it) – a description of how those personal faculties are expressed (i.e. the various thoughts one thinks, the things one wills, etc.). In distinguishing between persons, I was referring to the second sense, and I don’t see how it is not appropriate not to talk about propositions in such a case.

    “If you’re going to use an abstract/concrete, exemplar/instance paradigm, then you’d have the following correspondence: The divine nature is to the abstract exemplar as the divine persons are to the concrete exemplifications.”

    Why is this the case? I don’t see what this correspondence has to do with my position, or why it follows from it.

    “Put another way, each divine person would be a property instance of an abstract/exemplary nature. ”

    What exactly do you mean by “property instance”? I’m not saying that each person is an instance of the divine nature, but that the divine nature itself, as possessed by the Godhead, is the one and only instance of the divine nature, abstractly considered (just as the human nature possessed by each human person is an instance of the human nature, abstractly considered – whether or not the abstract nature actually exists or is simply an intellectual artifact for the purposes of human understanding is not the issue here (though I would be inclined toward the latter in this context)). Furthermore, my theory is that the divine nature, considered in abstract, specifies three centers of consciousness to be filled/possessed by the three persons, whereas the human nature, by contrast, when considered in abstract, specifies one center of consciousness to be filled/possessed by one person (and by further contrast, the nature of an inanimate object, such as a rock, considered in abstract, specifies that there are no centers of consciousness to be filled/possessed by any person, the erroneous notions of animism notwithstanding). This then forms the ground for ontological unity (with respect to nature and being) and diversity (with respect to person and center of consciousness).

    “I don’t see that this gives you numerical unity.”

    Numerical unity in what sense? God is one being, who is tri-personal. The unity consists in that there is only one instance of the divine nature, and thus only one being that has it. The three persons are united in the possession of this one nature.

    “Moreover, it treats the divine nature as an abstract universal whose subsistence is prior to the persons who participate in that nature”

    Why is this the case? In what sense is the subsistence prior? God is. He exists eternally. There is no priority of the essence over the persons, or of the persons over the essence. My theory does not entail any precedence of the nature to the persons in the Godhead. We need be careful to distinguish between logical priority, in the human understanding of a thing, and ontological priority, in the actual subsistence of a thing. If my theory makes the divine nature prior to the persons, it could only possibly be in the first sense, not the second. And given that, I’m not sure that it’s true in the first sense, either.

  5. cranmer1959

    Thanks for an interesting discussion. I do a blog over at http://www.reasonablechristian.blogspot.com

    I recently had a run in with Sean Gerety at the God’s Hammer blog over Clark’s view of the incarnation. I was unaware that his view of the trinity was problematic as well, although I did notice that his “definition” of “person” as a “complex of thoughts and propositions” did sound modalistic since it “de-personalizes” the persons of the divine nature. And this is precisely the problem with Clark’s view of the incarnation. He complains about the human nature being something impersonal that is tacked on to the divine nature as an after thought. But he fails to acknowledge that his view is as “impersonal” as the view he falsely attributes to the orthodox creeds and confessions since all of them maintain that both natures, divine and human, are personal because they are unified in the one Person, Jesus Christ.

  6. Vox, I just wanted to say that I found your entire explanation quite satisfactory, particularly the following sections:

    “God is one being, who is tri-personal. The unity consists in that there is only one instance of the divine nature, and thus only one being that has it. The three persons are united in the possession of this one nature.”

    “The persons filling these centers of consciousness can be differentiated according to their thoughts/personal attributes/propositions, but they are also ontologically distinct (occupying ontologically separate centers of consciousness within the one instance of the divine nature).”

    Roger

  7. Roger,

    Thank you for the kind regards.

    God Bless

  8. You said, in the Triabologue article “If the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit consists in nothing more than their common participation in godhood (understood as an abstract essence or nature) then why should they be considered ‘one God’ any than more than Peter, James, and John (who all participate equally in manhood) should be considered ‘one man’?”

    1. I think it should be noted that the revealed world of Theological propositions that make up the defintion of “godhood” in Clark’s system cannot be paralleled with the “manhood of peter james and John.” In Clark’s book on the Atonement, If I can remember its page 117 Clark shows that godhood and manhood cannot be paralelled for this reason: Many men participate in a certain nature and are yet called three men, yet the three Persons of the Trinity participate in a certain nature and they are only one God. Yet, the three men have three wills, but the Trinity has one will. Therefore, the metaphysical dilema is equivocation.

    2.

  9. The last post was for James. I hit the “submit comment” button on accident.

    2.
    Do you believe that there is one will in the Trinity? (Monergism, One determining will )

    If yes

    Do you believe that there are two wills in Christ (per, 6th
    Council)?

    If yes

    Do you believe in the One person view of the Incarnation per hypostatic union?

    If yes

    Does this not posit two wills in the Second Person and therefore two wills in the Trinity and therefore eliminate the possibility of monergism and therefore, Reformed faith carte blanche?

    If yes, would you be willing to believe Clark’s view as a solution?

  10. cranmer1959

    There are not two wills in the Godhead, there are three Persons with one Divine Will.

    To say that humanity became divine is impossible since the creature can never become literally divine.

    This is why the incarnation is called a “hypostatic union” The Logos does not become human, which your question implies. Rather the human nature is united with the second Person of the Godhead in the hypostatic union. The divine nature and the human nature are perfectly united in one Person, Jesus Christ. The Person of Christ is both the Logos and Jesus at the same time. Jesus is fully human and therefore has a human will. At the same time, the person of Christ has a divine will and is the Logos.

    Clark’s conception is wrong because he approaches the problem from above and the human nature is therefore separated from deity. Clark’s view is Nestorian, meaning that Christ is merely a man with some loose connection to the LOGOS but is not really the LOGOS at all. Clark’s solution solves the “apparent” problem by sacrificing Christ’s deity. In other words, for Clark, Jesus is a man and the LOGOS is God. There are two persons and they are not fully united at all.

    Clark has a solution to the paradox but the expense or cost of his solution is that Christ is merely a man with a special connection to the LOGOS and nothing more. Like all heretics, Clark denies the full and absolute deity of Christ. In the end he is no better than the Arian or the Modalist or the Kenoticist or the Pentecostal/Charismatic–all of which deny the 100% full deity of Christ in one way or another.

    Clark’s “apparent” solution, as the church councils have already ruled, sacrifices too much in the direction of Christ’s humanity and sacrifices His deity.

    The God I worship is Jesus Christ. For Clark to say that would be to worship a mere creature rather than the Creator.

    For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:16-20 ESV)

    In the end, despite all the good he did, Clark died a heretic who denied that Jesus is LORD and God.

    waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:13 ESV)
    Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1 ESV)
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3 ESV)
    No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:18 ESV)

  11. Charlie this is Drake. I go by Olivianus on wordpress.

    The last time, you demanded a demonstration from the ecu councils that the human nature was deified. You were not satisfied with a John D quote so here is a quote from the 6th council:

    “The Definition of Faith.
    (Found in the Acts, Session XVIII., L. and C., Concilia, Tom. VI., col. 1019.)

    “For as his most holy and immaculate animated flesh was not destroyed because it was deified but continued in its own state and nature, so also his human will, although deified, was not suppressed, but was rather preserved according to the saying of Gregory Theologus: “His will [i.e., the Saviour’s] is not contrary to God but altogether deified.””

    “To say that humanity became divine is impossible since the creature can never become literally divine. ”

    That is only true if you hold to the Western view of God. The Eastern view can do that just fine (Essence and Energies distinction yet the energies are still God) which is why your view of Christology commits you to the Eastern Church. This is what hypostatizing something means. You make it a real singular metaphysical reality. I am not Eastern Orthodox, but you have to give it to them they are consistent in their use of the word hypostatic. Their version of the union is a union of divine energies.

    “Indeed, in Christ, His two natures-so precisely defined at Chalcedon as both “inseperable” and “unconfused” – remain distinct. Therefore, deification or communion between divinity and humanity does not imply a confusion of essences or natures. It remains nevertheless real communion between the Uncreated and His creature, and real deification- not by essence, but by energy.”

    Gregory Palamas, The Triads, ed. John Meyendorf pg. 19

    (Strangely this exact position is forbidden at Ephesus 431 Canon 7 and at Constantinople 553 Canon 4 which demonstrates the inconsistency of the entire anchoretic system they constructed, though Palamas may be using energy in a different sense.)

    “Clark’s view is Nestorian, meaning that Christ is merely a man with some loose connection to the LOGOS but is not really the LOGOS at all. ”

    First, Clark died before he finished the book so your accusation is speculation. Second, The Bazaar of Heracleides goes into detail about this and Nestorius eats Cyril’s lunch. He shows that a metaphysical union (which is what hypostatizing something means, as much as Charlie doesn’t want it to mean that) is the whole problem to begin with and you cannot even have an incarnation with a metaphysical union. In a devastating argument Nestorius refutes Sophrinius and shows him that Aaron’s rod becoming a snake and the water of the Nile becoming blood is an example of something metaphyscially becoming something else. Those who take John 1:14 to be metaphysical do not believe in an incarnation, they believe in a metamorphosis. But Charlie never read this book because like a good sheep he believed what he was told. In reference to the claim that “Christ is merely a man with some loose connection to the LOGOS but is not really the LOGOS at all”:
    Charlie shows again that he didn’t really study Clark’s book because Clark didn’t get a chance to write his conclusion. He died first. Charlie is speculating for his own purposes we will leave to him. And the fact he says that Clark died a heretic gives me the desire to pray imprecations on Charlie until he repents of his slander and by the way Charlie if you keep it up I will be contacting your Church about your slander.

    In reference to the nature of the union. Nestorius’ view of the Eternal Sonship of the 2nd Person is the only view I am aware of that maintains an incarnation. Don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t say the Sonship view was the best view among others. The only position I know is Nestorius’ view. The Sonship of the Second Person of the Trinity is the same Sonship as the human nature of Christ. The Second Person of the Trinity is begotten of the Father a natural Son. His Sonship is not based on mercy or grace but is natural. The human nature is conceived with the same Sonship as the Second Person of the Trinity. So it is not a union of essence or a metaphysical hypostatical union for these are not incarnations but a metamorphosis. The union is a union of Eternal Sonship. Robins, who I have the highest respect for as a scripturalist brother, spoke much about the mind being filled with all the propositions of the Second person in a human capacity. This is good but it does not answer the fundamental issue. How can the two be considered as one “he” yet be distinct persons. Nestorius says Sonship. Two minds(persons) one Son. Is this position ackowledged in the 7 Anchoretic councils? No. They don’t even touch it. In the notes section of the Cosimo Classics version of Vol 14, ed. Philip Schaff and by Henry Wallace 2007 pg 216 he records Netsorius as saying, “If anyone maintains that the Word, who is from the begining has become the high priest and apostle of our confession, and has offered himself for us, and, and does not rather say that it is the work of Emmanuel to be an apostle; and if any one in such a manner divides the sacrifice between him who united [the Word] and him who was united [the manhood] refering to a common sonship, that is, not giving to God that which is God’s and to man that which is man’s; let him be anathema.”

    But oh! Charlie will say he believed this unity started at Jesus’ baptism as the adoptionists say.

    pg 215
    Nestorius
    “If anyone says that the form of a servant is of like nature with the Holy Ghost and not rather that it owes its union with the Word which has existed SINCE THE CONCEPTION”

    The sheepish and imperious Christians through the ages, in part by not having the Bazzar of Heracledies, part by Cyril’s abominable bribe to get Nestorius condemned and part by neglect missed one of the biggest debates in the history of the Church. What did the ecu councils say Nestorius said,

    Constantinople 553 canon 12: Speaking of Theodore of Mopsuestia [Who was indeed an adoptionist and betrayed Nestorius with his departures and heresies] who said that Christ

    “was Baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and obtained by this baptism the grace of the Holy Spirit and became worthy of Sonship.” pg 315

    yet Nestorius explicitly denies this. How many people have caught this huge blunder in Church history,

    1. Martin Luther in his On the Authroity of Churches and Councils pages 120-150 primarily 130. (edited by C.B Smythe, London, 1847)

    2. AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology
    “The Nestorian heresy, charged upon Nestorius, a Syrian by birth, and bishop of Constantinople, during the fifth century, by his enemy Cyril, the arrogant bishop of Alexandria. Cyril obtained a judgment against Nestorius in the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, to the effect that he separated the two natures of Christ so far as to teach the coexistence in him of two distinct persons, a God and a man, intimately united. But it is now, however, judged most probable by Protestant historians that Nestorius was personally a brave defender of the true faith, and that the misrepresentations of his enemies were founded only upon his uncompromising opposition to the dangerous habit then prominently introduced of calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God, because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ.” (Outlines of Theology, Chapter 20, Question 15, 3rd Answer)

    3. Francis Turriten Institutes Vol 2, Section 13.7.4

    “Now although there are not wanting those who can proclim the former [Nestroius] orthodox because he indeed distinguished natures in Christ, but did not seperate them but proclaim the latter [Cyril] a heretic”

    4. On the puritanboard a rather lengthy discussion takes this up. I agree with the words of John Bugay
    City Reformed PCA, Pittsburgh, PA
    “But to look at the details, it is clear that Cyril’s anathemas did not touch what Nestorius taught. That’s a clear instance of bearing false witness. And we’ve seen the outcome of it (though it’s largely been forgotten). The schism of the fifth century was numerically a larger schism than the east/west split of 1054.”
    http://www.puritanboard.com/f18/nestorius-council-ephesus-53817/

    And of course Charlie is going to use his typical equivocation and say that, this is because Nestorius believed in One Person while Clark believes in two, suppressing the fact that Clark uses person like Nestorius uses nature yet the philosophy is the same.

    Charlie: “Clark has a solution to the paradox but the expense or cost of his solution is that Christ is merely a man with a special connection to the LOGOS and nothing more. Like all heretics, Clark denies the full and absolute deity of Christ. In the end he is no better than the Arian or the Modalist or the Kenoticist or the Pentecostal/Charismatic–all of which deny the 100% full deity of Christ in one way or another.”
    Thou shalt not bear false witness.
    You know about 10% of the issues Charlie. Why should we care what the 7 Anchoretic Councils say? They forbid marriage all over the place, i.e., Chalcedon 451 canon 15 and16. This lines up with the apostasy in 1 Tim 4. Their decisions at Ephesus were the product of a bribe by Cyril as is admitted even by the Eastern Church. They surpressed Nestorius and condemned an adoptionist theology that he clearly denied and called it by his name. This system produced the nation of Islam and the papacy. Isn’t it past time we saw the fruit of this anchoretic foolishness and kicked it to the curb? Clark has provided for us a complete philosophy that makes the system of the anchoretics look like it was written in crayon.

  12. As an anticipation of what Charlie might say on council 6:

    The anchoretics who wrote this stuff do not mean the same thing westerers mean by not confused and without seperation. I don’t think he understands the essence and energies distinction behind their words. When they say inseprable that means seperate from the essence of God not the energies. He is in union with the divine energies of the God head, yet the energies are still God, the uncreated light. And the energies are also a part of their idea of simplicity. I would suggest Gregory Palamas, The Triads ed. Meyendorf and Synergy in Christ According to Saint Maximus the Confessor by Daniel Jones.

    So my argument is, they can call Christ deified and seperate from the essence of God but in order to believe that you have to take the essence and energies distinction which obliterates the reformation and western theology in general. Essence and Energies is the basis of their doctrine of theosis.

  13. cranmer1959

    Drake Shelton, your lack of theological training makes any discussion of theology with you difficult. The Eastern Orthodox doctrine of deification is essentially the same as our doctrine of “sanctification.” Therefore to confuse the two natures of Christ is the heresy of the monophysite position. In this error the human nature is absorbed by the divine nature and thus Jesus was not fully human, which is why the church rejected that view.

    It seems to me that you have allowed your discussions with the Eastern Orthodox to confuse you even more. My advice is to study the Reformed position until you actually get to know it before you start dabbling in Eastern Orthodoxy.

    It is irritating when people hide behind avatars. Why not just use your real name and be fully accountable for what you post?

    Sincerely,

    Charlie

  14. Charlie,
    theosid isn’t even in the universe as reformed sanctification. First the east lumps just, sanct , and glorification into one thing. Second theosis is participating in the uncreated energy of God. Reformed believes that God is simple. He is not composed of such parts and the essence and energies distictiom is straight from aristotle. In this sense the energies are God. And so 2 pet 1:4 is metaphysical for th eo but only a participating in qualities for the reformed. See Calvin on this passage.

  15. I am typing on my itouch please forgive my rough format and spelling.

    Drake

  16. “(Recall that Clark defined a person as “a composite [or complex] of propositions” — and in the case of divine persons, those propositions are all truths.) Examples of these differentiating propositions, according to Clark, would be “I was incarnated” and “I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho” (both of which belong uniquely to the Son). But as Steve pointed out, these propositions are contingent truths that concern the different economic roles of the divine persons, in which case the persons would be only contingently distinct.”

    This is good, but not neccessarily a problem for Clark’s method as a whole. The solution is too easy. The Son thinks, “I am begotten of the Father’s essence”, The Spirt, “I spirate or proceed from the father”, and the Father, “I am unoriginate.”