Tag Archives: Trinity

Dogmatic Theology 1.25: Orthodox Critique of the Filioque

Today we treat the FILIOQUE. This is a Latin term that appears on the Latin form of the Creed. In context, it refers to the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father “and from the Son.” Filioque means “and from the Son.”

This is a dogma for Catholics. However, it is greatly disputed by the Orthodox. We can distinguish two basic schools of thought among the Orthodox, a “strict” and a “moderate” school. We will focus on the “strict” school, its basic doctrines, and its basic arguments. In a subsequent podcast, we will treat the Catholic dogma and arguments for it, responding to the strict Orthodox position, noting also where even the “moderate” school diverges from Catholic faith.

Dogmatic Theology 1.23: Relations in the Trinity

We now treat an important technical aspect of Trinitarian thought: Relations!

The Scriptures call the “First Person” Father and the “Second Person” Son. Father and Son are relational terms. Each term points us to another. Father points us to son, just as “master” points us to “servant.”

God is one in essence, but there are three really distinct relations in God. The only basis for distinction in God is relation. This is dogma. Let’s work to understand the theological guts behind this dogma.

Dogmatic Theology 1.20: How the Spirit Comes from Father and Son

This is the second of two treatments of the so-called “psychological analogy” for the Trinity. The term is of course ridiculous. It may have been invented by critics. At any rate, the analogy itself is amazing. It is a true theological achievement of the highest order. It is grounded esp. in Augustine and Aquinas, and furthered by Lonergan in the 20th century. (Lonergan is good on many things, and also of doubtful judgment on other matters, esp. after 1965.)

We have two ways of understanding a theological matter by analogy. One kind of analogy is metaphorical. This is good and beautiful, immediately accessible and easier to understand. It also has less explanatory power and also implies falsehoods. In short, you have to keep hemming in the metaphor so it does not lead you astray. To do this, you need other metaphors. Thus, counterbalancing metaphors help you get a bigger picture, each being somewhat true and somewhat false.

By contrast, there is a “proper analogy.” A proper analogy is simply true. It has no falsehood about it (of course, when rightly understood). Thus, everything implied in the analogy is also true. It is an achievement of theology as a science.

Aquinas presents this Augustinian analogy for the Trinity as a proper analogy. I believe he is correct.

This is very rewarding, although it is quite a journey.

Dogmatic Theology 1.19: How the Son Comes from the Father

Today, we seek to understand what we believe. We believe the Son is co-equal with the Father, because he has the divine nature. We believe the Son is co-eternal with the Father, ever from the Father. But how to understand something so lofty?

We have patristic images or metaphors for this. These are beautiful and more easily accessible. We also have a great achievement of dogmatic or speculative theology. This is so beautiful, though difficult. Let us begin the journey of the mind to God by following Augustine and Aquinas on this great labor. Bonaventure and scores of other great saints also took this journey.

Article on Kasper’s and Ratzinger’s Trinitarian Theologies

I have posted a PDF of my Nova et Vetera article on the Social Analogy for the Trinity, or rather for the “I-Thou” argument for the Trinity. It appears on my Academia Web page.

The first page of the article I paste below:

Nova et Vetera, English Edition, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2017): 113–159

The “I-Thou” Argument for the Trinity:Wherefore Art Thou?
Christopher J. Malloy
The following thesis typifies a recent current of thought in Trinitarian theology: “The living God can . . . be thought of only as Father and Son, while a non-trinitarian, purely monotheisticGod would in fact have to be declared dead.Such an opinion, it would seem, would have struck twentieth-century Jewish thinker Martin Buber as false. After all, the central message of the Shema is “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut 6:4, RSV). Buber did not read this prayer as Trinitarian, but he did have “monotheistic” faith in the living God. Were he alive, Buber might register surprise that the author of the thesis is a major proponent of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, Walter Cardinal Kasper. Further, Kasper argues to the thesis by way of a reformulation of Buber’s own claim: “An I without a Thou is unthinkable.” Did Buber simply fail to grasp the universality of his own insight and so apply it to the God beyond the firmament?Or did Kasper overreach?Kasper presents an iteration of what I call the “I-Thou” argument for the Trinity. The argument is almost always attended by the so-called “Social Analogy,” according to which God is contemplated through the iconic similitude of a community of human persons…. 

New Article on the Trinity, touching on Kasper and Ratzinger

My latest article was just published. It is entitled, <<The “I-Thou” Argument for the Trinity: Wherefore Art Thou?>>

It was published in Nova et Vetera (English Edition) 15 (2017): 113–159

Abstract of Article: Recent Trinitarian theology, though rich and fruitful in many ways, often suffers from a lack of scientific theological precision. A notable example is the inclination of recent thinkers, such as Kasper and Ratzinger, to describe the Trinitarian faith in such a way as to imply that God cannot be rightly conceived except as Trinitarian. As they imply, if we know that God is a person or an “I,” we must know that he is Trinitarian. Correlatively, little attention has been paid to the divine unity, and much less attention to the content of the preambles of the faith, the truth of which is discernible by natural reason. The implications for inter-religious dialogue remain unconsidered, yet they are disastrous, since, on this line of reasoning, all faith commitments except the Trinitarian faith commitment must be false, and since the rational conclusion to a being that is intelligent, personal, and one must be false. This line of thought rises to the distinction of persons at the expense of the excellence of the divine nature. The current essay seeks to expound the pith of this recent line of thought and to evaluate it critically, suggesting a major reconfiguration of the noble insights that inform the problematic outcome.

The argument that undergirds the recent approach to theology is what I call the “I-Thou” argument for the Trinity. Roughly, it runs thus. God is an “I,” but he is not a bachelor. Since he is not a bachelor, he has a “Thou.” This thou cannot be limited or finite or created. Therefore, God is an I in relation to another divine I. Eventually, this argument works in another divine person and stops there. I call this logic “Evel Knievel” logic:

You can read the Introduction on the following page of the website ACADEMIA.