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Throughout the history of Christianity, theologians have employed a wide range of approaches in attempts to explain its central mysteries. One of the foremost among these mysteries is its doctrine of the Trinity—a view of the divine nature that is, among all other monotheistic religions, unique to Christianity itself. One recent treatment, for example, can be found in The God of Evolution wherein Denis Edwards investigates what we can come to know more fully about the Trinity by looking upwards from the point of evolutionary change, from as basic and fundamental a perspective as the molecular.1 He views the biological world as ‘interconnected and interrelated on all levels’2 and reflecting in its own way the ‘Persons-in Relation’3 type of being that is the Christian God. This serves as his point of departure for gaining further insights into the aspects of the inner life of the Trinity (perichoresis). Charles Kingsley's quote that ‘whereas it was “once thought God made all things, now we know something even more wonderful, he made all things make themselves”’4 is very apropos in appreciating the significance of Edward's project. The self-creation of creation imitates in an even more marvelous way than previously thought the various creative activities of the Trinity.

This paper takes the opposite extreme as its direction of focus, that of the transcendental qualities of being. If the molecular and cellular level that is of primary concern to Edwards can with justification be described as the or very close to the most irreducible and basic level of material reality whose evolution can be used as reflections of the immanent relations of the Trinity, could not the same be done with the transcendentals, especially being, truth, goodness, those concepts characterized as the most abstract and universal notions that the human mind has delineated so as to organize the vast range of experiences in a more deeply understandable way?

For Bernard Lonergan, being is the final all-inclusive and most unrestricted notion that the human mind is capable of conceiving.5 With its transcendental qualities, truth and goodness, being is the totality that constitutes, in the words of William Temple, ‘the embrace of all relevant reality in a comprehensive unity.’6 Can we find at the two extremes, from molecules on one end to transcendentals at the other, the basis for a deeper understanding of how the realms of the physical and the intellectual reflect in their own ways the perichoresis of the Trinity? Ultimately can we possibly connect them in what Stanislav Grof calls the ‘zone of middle dimensions,’7 the stage wherein the human historical, ethical, and religious drama plays out?

Association of the Trinity with philosophical and intellectual properties and processes has been proposed from the early history of Christianity as a viable means by which to conceive the interrelationship of the Triune Persons. In the gospel of John, for instance, Jesus is characterized as the divine Logos, the Word or Principle of the universe, pre-existent from all eternity. This concept became central in the ensuing speculative theology which came to characterize Trinitarian discourse for at least the next fourteen hundred years. According to this line of philosophical thought, the Logos was the first act of self-consciousness and of divestiture of transcendence by God who was in essence beyond all being, rationality, and conceptuality. This Logos was termed a hypostasis of the transcendent God and was recognized as ‘divine mind’ (nous) or ‘divine world reason.’ In De Trinitate Augustine of Hippo suggests several models based on the human mind by which to exemplify the unity-in-diversity which is essential to understanding God as Trinity.8 Coupling the doctrine of the Trinity with anthropology, Augustine reasoned that if human persons are created in the image of God, the mystery of the Trinity could be further understood by uncovering traces of the Trinity in human personality.

While the parameters of the discussion on transcendentals will be kept within the frames of the western conceptual development of these notions, it is not only the western mind that has developed theoretical schema in an attempt to understand them more deeply. In the Hindu tradition, a full fifty such qualities are listed,9 although closer examination of these descriptions, unless taken metaphorically, more often than not appear to refer to beings that are physical and not spiritual. The point to be stressed however is not any quibbling over which understanding more aptly described the nature of the Godhead, Hindu thought or Christian,10 but rather that other systems besides the Christian religion and Greek philosophy have developed insights into the transcendental nature of reality's highest order of thought and being. The important role they potentially play in human understanding is, from a trans-cultural perspective, easier to appreciate.

THE TRINITY: HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT

  1. Top of page
  2. THE TRINITY: HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT
  3. THE TRANSCENDENTALS: HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT
  4. TRANSCENDENTALS APPROPRIATED TO THE TRINITY

The doctrine of the Trinity is a condensation of the central Christian affirmations about God, grounded in the religious experience of the first communities of Christians.11 As regards vestiges of it in the Old Testament, some commentators deny any suggestion of foreshadowing; others claim Trinitarian revelation is ‘adumbrated’, and still others that the doctrine is implicitly present in the unity of Word and Spirit.12 Moreover, varied opinions exist on its explicit presence as a doctrinal formulation even in the New Testament. While scholars variously claim that the doctrine is explicitly revealed, proven, or at least clearly contained, most only find elemental Trinitarianism in the New Testament.13 Furthermore, it has been asserted that the gospels are ‘permeated with the thought, now latent, now manifest, of the three Divine persons,’14 there is no specific use of the term ‘trinity’ in the New Testament. The first known use of the word trias was by Theophilus of Antioch circa 180 in reference to the ‘trinity of God, His Word and His Wisdom.’15 The term trinitas was utilized by Tertullian and Origen in the third century and its first creedal use was by Gregory Thaumaturgus in the work Ekethistes pisteos circa 265 CE.16 Nevertheless, despite the lack of such specific terminology the religious testimony of Christianity as recorded in the New Testament clearly witnesses that God revealed Godself to Christians significantly more than as the Creator and Judge revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures.

In the New Testament the person of Jesus is revealed as Christ and Lord, who lived among human beings and was present in their midst as the Resurrected One. The Holy Spirit was experienced as the power of new life and miraculous potency of the Kingdom of God.17 However, because of their distinctive belief in monotheism, rooted in the Jewish history of faith, the early Christian community struggled with the question of reconciling the oneness of God which they professed with the threefold nature of their religious experience. In the first two centuries different answers stood in juxtaposition, conditioned by the experience of the person of Jesus Christ, by the formulation of the gospels, and by the influence of Neoplatonic philosophy. While the gospel of Mark (widely considered to be the oldest of the extant gospels18– Matthew and Luke ‘depend on common Marcan material’19), for example, indicates an understanding of Jesus' sonship as that of adoption, accomplished through baptism and the descent of the Spirit, the prologue to the gospel of John proclaims a pre-existent divinity of person sharing equal efficacy. Moreover the personal figures of Jesus the Christ and the Father whom he revealed were further differentiated from the ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit which Jesus sent as his gift to his disciples to be their advocate and guide. Given what the early church believed about the relationship of the Word-made-flesh, the Father, and the Spirit, one can appreciate Macquarrie's point that

(t)he Christian [community] could not go along with a stark monotheism in which God is utterly transcendent and sovereign, and still less with a pantheism in which God is entirely and universally immanent; [it] could not embrace a monism in which all differences are swallowed up in the eternal unity of God, but still less a pluralism like that of the world of polytheism with its ‘many gods and many lords.20

What some considered had been intimated in the Jewish scriptures became explicit through the revelations made by Jesus Christ. The basic revealed monotheism that had served as humanity's religious womb was to give birth to the ‘grace [that] is the self-revelation of God unto man.’21

Beginning with the response of the Council of Nicea in 325 CE to Arianism, Trinitarian terminology was given a more refined ‘technical precision’, especially as regards ‘consubstantiality’.22 This technical terminology would not go unchallenged in later centuries due to its appropriation of such Hellenic philosophical concepts as homoousios (‘of one substance’) and hypostasis. The latter term developed from prosopon, which was poorly distinguished from ousia (and thus the Latin substantia). It came into Latin as personae or substantia and was commonly translated—somewhat erroneously—as ‘person’. These later eventualities notwithstanding, the major contribution of the Western or Latin formulation of Trinitarian theology and metaphysics was the work initiated by Augustine of Hippo and further developed and systematized in the medieval period by Thomas Aquinas.23 Augustine's approach to formulating a theology of the Trinity of God took its point of departure from the unity of the Divine nature as prior to the distinction of personalities.24 To Augustine, the term Deus referred to the Trinity as a whole, not simply to the Father. In taking this perspective, Augustine proposed to safeguard the unity of God in opposition to tritheism and to insure the equality of Persons against the tendency toward subordinationism. In particular, the Son and the Spirit, in conformity to their divine origin and function, have a specific mission, a ‘going forth’ and acquisition of new relations to creatures. The mission of the Son is the incarnation, in which he assumes human nature. The incarnation is ordered to the redemption of humanity and the reconciliation not only of God to humanity, but of humans to one another as well. The mission of the Sprit is sanctification, wherein the Spirit is sent as the gift of receptivity to the self-communication of God.25

The cumulative insights of Trinitarian theology over the first four hundred years were eventually formulized in the Athanasian Creed (circa 500 CE) which proclaimed the Trinitarian mystery as that of ‘una substantia, tres personae.’ With the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, it became a generally accepted creedal formation based on authority and reason. This authority was grounded in the fundamental biblical revelation of one God in threefold self-communication as Father, Son, and Spirit, and informed by theological proposals from early church theologians, especially Augustine, as discussed in part above.

THE TRANSCENDENTALS: HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT

  1. Top of page
  2. THE TRINITY: HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT
  3. THE TRANSCENDENTALS: HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT
  4. TRANSCENDENTALS APPROPRIATED TO THE TRINITY

A: Ancient Period

While intimations of the transcendental concepts existed prior to Athens' Golden Age, it was Plato who raised their importance as philosophical issues requiring further development through comments made in several of the dialogues. In Lysis, for instance, Plato asserts that ‘the good … is beautiful’26 and writes much in the same vein in the Symposium27 and the Greater Hippias.28 In Phaedrus29 a close affinity is made between being and truth. A common thread that runs through the dialogues is the attempt to explain more fully what Socrates avers is one of his (and Plato's) fundamental philosophical assumptions ‘the existence of absolute beauty and goodness and magnitude and all the rest’30 and whether they are capable or ‘incapable of any blending or participation in one another.’31 Plato is, in these sections, certainly attempting to identify notions that Aristotle would later say are proper to what he named first philosophy (metaphysics) and which the Stagirite characterized as ‘concerned with the universal characteristics which belong to the system of knowable reality as such, and the principles of its organization in their full universality.’32 (emphasis added) Granted, neither thinker ever employed the term transcendentals to refer to such notions and the concepts denoted by that word become more developed in the Middle Ages, ‘based on hints in Aristotle.’33 It is on this highest level of abstraction that the mind treats of things such as being, truth, goodness, beauty, unity, etc., in an absolute sense ‘ideas unperceived by sense, and apprehended only by the mind’ and that of the highest of the three kinds of beings/natures which Plato distinguishes in the Timaeus as those that are ‘uncreated and indestructible.’34

Plato was very sensitive to both the value as well as the dangers lurking in any concept formation and no one after him could ignore his cautions and still do philosophy (and the same would apply to theology) in a responsible manner. As to the dangers, he notes in a conversation with Theatetus that giving birth to new ideas is more painful than childbirth but that ‘my art has power to bring on these pangs or to allay them.’35 The aroused pangs are the result of the human mind venturing into a realm of thought that it is not by nature first and foremost made to deal with. Aristotle tells us that humanity's natural area of knowledge is with the essences or natures of material things. Understanding why this is the case is easy enough. ‘(T)he human intellect is at the lowest level in the scale of spirits.’36 The history of thought clearly shows the myriad wrong turns taken by theories that are the result of the trial and error process with which humans are saddled. Were the natural world as source of immediate need fulfillments for maintaining life not humanity's first focus, the human race would likely not have survived. But as Maritain notes,

It is fitting that for an intelligence that makes use of senses there corresponds, as naturally proportionate, object-essences immersed in the sensible. That is why the scholastics said that the essences of corporeal things are the connatural object of our power of intellection.37

Even after survival has been adequately secured and a developing culture takes root, to push forward into mathematics and metaphysics is to strain the natural tendencies imposed on a mind that requires perceptions from the physical world as the sine-qua-non of all knowledge and finds it difficult to think in abstract ideas without an accompanying sensory image, no matter how inadequate a representation it might be of the concept. But the thrust of any intellect, even one limited as is the human, is not bound to knowledge of material being alone, but open to being-as-such and when concepts are intuited or discerned these, as Plato put it, allay the pangs by offering a means to more deeply and fully understand the issue under consideration and to resolve the wonder which initiated the investigation.

B. High Medieval Period: Aquinas

One of the prepossessing questions of the middle ages focused on arguments concerning the existence and nature of God. Since God is defined as the supreme or ultimate being, such investigations served as an impetus for a fuller development of understanding about being and whatever properties that could be immediately associated with it. These can be considered in two sets, first as more immediately appropriable to each person in the Trinity and second as reflecting the immanency of the relations of the persons to each other. The first set is being, truth, and goodness. It is upon this set that this paper is focused. The second which comprises among others unity, and beauty will not be considered as a result of the constraints of this paper, although a more thorough examination of their relation to the Trinity would be needed to complete more fully the study.

A comparison of the indices in two of St. Thomas' major works (Summa Theologica and De Veritate) with the Hamilton edition of The Complete Dialogues of Plato indicates a marked difference in the references listed under the term being. In Plato they constitute less than half a column; beautiful and beauty contain more references than being and existence. Good/goodness is two and a quarter columns long and true/truth almost a full one. Only unity has fewer entries than does being. In the Summa theologica and Truth there is less disproportion among the entries under being and its qualities as the focus intelligibilis of Thomistic thought is oriented towards esse not essentiae. Maritain notes, ‘What distinguishes authentic Thomism … is precisely the primacy which (it) accords to existence and to the intuition of existential being.’38

For Aquinas, being (esse) is the most basic of all intuitions. It is the mind's reflection on reality at its most abstract and irreducible. Reichman quotes Aquinas on the matter:

‘Hence it is clear that when I speak of esse, what I refer to is the actuality of all acts, and consequently the perfection of all perfection’ [Reichman adds] Thus for Thomas esse, while wholly internal to the existing singular thing, is the actuality of everything within the being without at the same time contributing in any way to the manner in which that being exists.39

The notion is not itself capable of being assimilated into any higher genus concept. Being comprises all that is or can be, all that is actual or possible.40 This is evident in the fact that Aquinas suggests that the concept of being inspires the pre-eminent name of God. In the Summa Theologica, when the question is posed as to God's most proper name, Thomas contends that ‘He who is'—that is, Being itself—'is most properly applied to God, for three reasons.’

First, because of its signification. For it does not signify form, but simply existence itself. Hence since the existence of God is His essence itself, which can be said of no other (3, 4), it is clear that among other names this one specially denominates God, for everything is denominated by its form. Secondly, on account of its universality. For all other names are either less universal, or, if convertible with it, add something above it at least in idea; hence in a certain way they inform and determine it … Thirdly, from its consignification, for it signifies present existence; and this above all properly applies to God, whose existence knows not past or future, as Augustine says (De Trini. V).41

For Aquinas, being and any of its transcendental qualities are predicated analogically to anything that did, does, will or could exist (even though it may never come to exist in actuality), but the degree of predication is not identical or equal in all cases. Being when predicated of actual or possible existences is done in varying degrees of proper proportionality,42 whereas Plato seemed to employ them either as metaphors or according to the analogy of attribution. Predication according to proper proportionality signifies that the perfection (being or its qualities) is formally and intrinsically realized in each analogate according to a proportion of similarity (e.g. life as found in plants, brutes and men).

Another difference between Plato's and Aquinas' understanding of how the terms relate to each other also requires treatment. In the dialogue bearing his name, Parmenides holds ‘the one always has being, and being always has unity’ but then comes to a conclusion that ‘hence, any part always proves to be two and can never be one’ (i.e. a unity). Parmenides is employing the terms as one would red, tall, strong, and so on, that is, as qualities which can co-exist or not within a single subject. Aquinas does not agree with this any more so than would his primary philosophic mentor Aristotle:

A property is a predicate which does not indicate the essence of a thing, but yet belongs to that thing alone, and is predicated convertibly to it. Thus, it is a property of man to be capable of learning grammar, for if A be a man, then he is capable of learning grammar, and if he is capable of learning grammar, he is a man.43

Natural properties have the following characteristics: (a) they express an attribute not expressed by the original concept of the being or essence; (b) the attribute is something real and not simply imagined; (c) the attribute flows from the essence of the reality; and (4) this property/attribute is somehow distinct from what was first known or encountered. Awareness of this property enriches the understanding of that which was originally known because we understand more fully the range of activities of the thing than was inferable from the original. Now when properties are predicated of natural objects, it is understood that they are not equated with the nature of the thing as they may or may not be actually present but only potentially present, yet this does not diminish the essence of the thing. A transcendental property on the other hand, would have to express something whose extensions are equal to the other properties associated with it. To say otherwise would put one into the same intellectual quandary that Parmenides found himself and to which Plato was not able to find a solution. They did not understand that notions such as truth, goodness, unity, being, or beauty were predicates that necessarily and immediately flow from being-qua-being and are, in the human mind, only logically distinct from it. For Aquinas, they are concepts which are co-extensive with being and that while they add something to our fuller understanding of being they add nothing to being itself. In De Veritate Aquinas writes:

… some things are said to be added over and above being in so far as they express a mode of being which the term being does not itself express. This occurs in two ways … the second way so that the mode expressed is a mode consequent to every being in general.44

The transcendental relation between being and truth can serve as an example. Reflection shows that the structural nature of truth necessarily implies two factors; intellect (the knower) and being (the knowable). This relationship can be looked upon either from the relationship of the knower to the known or vice-versa. The first relationship is called logical or formal truth and it is a property of the intellectual power. The second constitutes a relationship of conformity of the known (being) to the intellect (knower). The knowability of a thing is an ontological property in so far as by virtue of its existing, it is capable of being known.

For Aquinas truth resides in the intellect because the term of cognition is found in the knower. ‘Cognition is according as the thing known is in the knower … and thus … the terminus of cognition, which is the true, is in the intellect itself.’45 The intellect is said to possess truth only in so far as it is aware of its conformity with the object

(W)hen it judges that a thing corresponds to the form which it apprehends about the thing. … Therefore, properly speaking, truth is found in the intellect composing and dividing (judgment act) and not in the sense, nor in the intellect knowing what a thing is (i.e., in an act of simple apprehension).46

Truth, then, is the knowability of being, or put another way, being appropriable to the intellect. In Aquinas' words, ‘True expresses the correspondence of being to the knowing power, for all knowing is produced by assimilation of the knower to the thing known, so that assimilation is said to be the cause of knowledge.’47 As a hierarchy of being exists as is evident from the different sorts of realities found in the cosmos, the more perfect the being, the higher will be its knowability as well as its other transcendental qualities as Aquinas notes that the Philosopher himself had observed.48 It is relatively easy to go from an appreciation of how being and truth correlate to understanding how the same relationship exists between being and goodness, which can be defined as the desirability of being or being as it appeals to the appetites, whether sensory or intellectual. The human soul has both knowing and appetite powers. ‘Good expresses the correspondence of being to the appetitive power, for, and as we note in the Ethics, the good is that which all desire.’49

Since truth as well as goodness follow on the being of a thing, corresponding to it in some way or other, either according to intellectual assimilation or appetitive inclination, it seems to follow that, taken in some absolute or ideal sense they enjoy, that they are co-terminus to one another, being neither greater nor less in comparison to each other when they are taken or understood as concepts on the ultimate level of abstraction.50 In a relative sense however, the observation of Aristotle that goodness or truth may be absent in certain situations, but never being, (for even evil or untruth must be found in something that is) holds.51 For this reason Aristotle makes being the primary one among all these notions. To this must be appended, however, Augustine and Aquinas' insight that the vicious forms of the transcendentals result from an absence or privation of the degree of being that should properly be there, given the nature of the thing or action. Yet Aristotle and Aquinas seem of one mind as to the primacy of being with respect to the other transcendentals.

TRANSCENDENTALS APPROPRIATED TO THE TRINITY

  1. Top of page
  2. THE TRINITY: HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT
  3. THE TRANSCENDENTALS: HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT
  4. TRANSCENDENTALS APPROPRIATED TO THE TRINITY

A. Being

That being is most appropriable to the Father is evident from the fact that where being‘is not’, so to speak, neither are the transcendental qualities that follow on it or to the degree that being is not, the transcendental qualities are diminished accordingly. There is an inherent creativeness, then, to our understanding of the notion that is not present, or at least as evidently present, in the other properties. God, as Father, is prior causally (though not temporarily) to the knowledge of himself since that which exists is knowable, and God, as supreme existence, is supremely knowable. Such a perspective is consistent not only with the insight of Aquinas concerning the most proper name for God, but also with the Eastern or Greek theoretical foundation of Trinitarian theology. The principle or all-encompassing term for God, Theos, was applied principally to the Father as the source and origin of the intradivine relations. The Father is considered the Arche or the source of the other Persons of the Trinity. The Son proceeds from the Father by eternal generation and the Spirit proceeded from the Father through the Son (ex Patre per Filium) as the ‘breath of the Son.’ Furthermore, the primacy of the Father coincides with Augustine's conception of the psychological analogy of the Trinity noted above. According to Augustine, ‘When [the mind] is turned to itself by thought, there arises a trinity, in which now at length we can discern also a word; since it is formed from thought itself, will uniting both. Here, then, we may recognize, more than we have hitherto done, the image of which we were in search.’52 In this analogy, God is and knows Godself. For Augustine, this perception of God's being and knowing is analogous to the intellectual property of memory:

The beholding of the mind is something pertaining to its nature, and is recalled to that nature when it conceives of itself, not as if by moving through space, but by an incorporeal conversion … Like one who is skilled in many branches of learning: the things which he knows are contained in his memory, but nothing thereof is in the sight of his mind except that of which he is conceiving; while all the rest is stored up in a kind of secret knowledge, which is called memory.53

Karl Rahner proposes a similar insight in his work The Trinity:

the degree of ‘having being’ manifest itself in the degree in which the appropriate thing which is, is able to turn back on itself, that is, in the degree in which it is possible for it to be reflected in itself, to be illumined by itself, and in this sense to be present to itself.54

B: Truth

What is present to itself is the knowledge that God has of Himself. The truth that the divine intellect has of itself is so complete and so perfect as to virtually duplicate itself as an existent as well. In Augustine's model, God's thought is distinct from Godself, and, therefore, engenders an image which is living, subsistent, and interior—an image of God in spirit and in truth.55Truth, then, is most fittingly attributable to the Son. John's Gospel begins: ‘When all things began, the Word [logos] already was. The Word dwelt with God, and what God was, the Word was.’ (John 1:1) As noted earlier in this paper, the term logos, which is translated as word, has a more extensive connotation in the Greek original than in its translated English counterpart such as thought, reason, idea, and so on, terms that the human mind is easily given to associate with truth. Clearly Jesus attributes the notion to himself in saying ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’(John 14:6) Never before had anyone spoken of a logos existing in God in such a fashion as did John. Neither in the natural theology of the Greeks, in which they described the birth of the gods and of the world, nor in the thoughts of Philo (a Jewish theologian and contemporary of Jesus Christ) do we find a doctrine of God as ‘living’ to the extent of expressing himself in an eternal Word, one that is taken to be a Person. St. John's boldness, then, lay in his application to the Son of God and the teaching that the Old Testament writers gave on the subject of the ‘word of God.’ But there it was no more than a divine act. Now the Evangelist tells us that it is the Son of God incarnate for our salvation. Here again, St. John's theological intuition is equaled by that of St. Paul who identified the wisdom and image of God with the Person of Christ himself.56 This New Testament correlation between the Logos and the transcendental of truth echoes in the work of Augustine, ‘When the mind, then, beholds itself in conception, it understands and cognizes itself; it begets, therefore, its own understanding and cognition.’57

However, Augustine notes that memory and understanding of themselves are insufficient without will, which issues forth in love.

Therefore the knowledge and science of many things are contained in two of these three, memory and understanding; but will must be present, that we may enjoy or use them. For we enjoy things known, in which things themselves the will finds delight for their own sake, and so reposes.58

C: Goodness

Hence, to the Holy Spirit, goodness and what follows on the awareness of the good, namely love, is the property that is most fittingly attributable to the third person of the Trinity. It is out of the knowledge that the Father has of the Son that the love between them is spirated. Unlike human knowledge and love (even knowledge and love of self) which are always imperfect, always less as intellectual phenomena than their respective objects, the divine forms of these activities are so perfect and so complete as to engender a hypostasis. The Father generates the Son and this, in turn, creates the procession of the Spirit which is the love which God has for Himself. Hence, the Son proceeds from the Father as Truth, the term of the Divine Intellect, and the Spirit proceeds as the Good or Love, the term of the Divine Will.59 And yet these Three are not separately three, but One-in another – One God.

The self-thinking-thought (self-knowing-known) which Aristotle was to see darkly through pagan philosophy becomes a more clearly revealed ‘self-loving love’ as well, and constitutes a relationship wherein creation and the sharing of the goods of creation with its Creator becomes more understandable. There is contained within this expanded awareness of God, given through revelation, more than a set of theoretical notions that serves to satisfy curiosity about the inner life of the divinity and how that three-fold oneness is reflected in other areas of creation, human psychology and human thought. It also should set an example of the ideal that human communities are inspired to strive for in the moral and political spheres of life, perichoresis– a term identifying the inner life of the Trinity as community rather than the more commonly accepted notion (even among many Christians) of a removed and solitary God as supreme being, the creator and ruler of the universe, and, secondly, that of theosis60– making the human as divine as possible. The solitary, removed God is more easily given to interpretations of the stern lawgiver who will brook no excuses and extend no sympathy to the least of sinners. Such a view is not in keeping with the words of Jesus in John 15:15 ‘I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master's business; I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.’ It is within the friendship that Jesus revealed that we find what is usual to friends about each other, a more intimate knowledge of their inner being. We are called to communion with a relational deity that places mutual love and service to others above all else, and that is aimed at our sharing in the joys of unity with God and with each other that result from living in accord with the inner dynamism of the divine life itself.

Footnotes
  1. 1. Denis Edwards, The God of Evolution: A Trinitarian Theology (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1999), pp. 6–7.

  2. 2. Ibid., p. 24.

  3. 3. Ibid., p. 27.

  4. 4. Quoted in Jeffrey Rowell, Kenneth Stevenson, and Rowan Williams, Love's Redeeming Work (Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 376.

  5. 5. Bernard F. Lonergan, Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (New York, NY: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1957), pp. 350–1.

  6. 6. Quoted in John Macquarrie, ‘Temple on Transcendence and Immanence,’ Stubborn Theological Questions (London, GB: SCM Press, 2003), p. 29.

  7. 7. Stanislav Grof, Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy (Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1985), p. 52.

  8. 8. Augustine of Hippo, ‘De Trinitate’ [‘On the Trinity’], New Advent; available from http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/130114.htm (accessed 17 August 2006).

  9. 9. Swami Srila Prabhupada, Nectar of Devotion (Chapter 21); Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta; available from http://www.harekrsna.com/philosophy/radhakrsna/krsna/qualities.htm (accessed May 1, 2006)

  10. 10. See Raimundo Panikkar, The Trinity and the Religious Experience of Man (New York, NY: Orbis Books, 1973), pp. 9–41.

  11. 11. ‘Christianity: The Holy Trinity,’ Encyclopedia Britannica Online; available from http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/printable/1/0,5722.00html (Accessed on August 18, 2006).

  12. 12. John McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, (Milwaukee WI: Bruce, 1965), p. 900.

  13. 13. Edmund J. Fortman, The Triune God: A Historical Study of the Doctrine of the Trinity (Philadelphia PA: Westminster, 1972), p. 290.

  14. 14. Felix Klein, The Doctrine of the Trinity, trans. Daniel Sullivan (New York, NY: Kennedy, 1940), p. 54.

  15. 15. Ibid.

  16. 16. G. H. Joyce, ‘The Blessed Trinity’, New Advent; available from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm (Accessed on May 1, 2006).

  17. 17. Klein, pp. 50–127.

  18. 18. Raymond F. Collins, Introduction to the New Testament (Garden City, NY: Image/Doubleday & Co., Inc.), pp. xxi, 46, 50–51.

  19. 19. Herman Hendrickx, The Resurrection Narratives of the Synoptic Gospels (London: Geoffrey Chapman 1984), p. 1.

  20. 20. John Macquarrie, Principles of Christian Theology (London: SCM Press, 1977), p. 191.

  21. 21. Karl Rahner, Hearers of the Word, trans. Michael Richards (New York, NY: Herder and Herder, 1969), p. 73.

  22. 22. Claude Welch, In This Name: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology (New York, NY: Scribner's, 1952), p. 104.

  23. 23. R. R. Franks, The Doctrine of the Trinity (London: Duckworth, 1953), pp. 133–4.

  24. 24. This is in contrast with the Eastern or Greek Orthodox approach which focuses first on the three Divine Persons as logically prior to the unity of nature. Furthermore, personality is used here in a metaphysical sense rather than a psychological sense. Metaphysical personality is defined as a mode of being a self-existent, intellectual substance, as opposed to psychological personality which is an empirical self with a particular historicity. See Welch, p. 110.

  25. 25. Welch, pp. 117–8.

  26. 26. Plato, ‘Lysis’, 216d, as found in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, eds. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961). All references to Plato's works will be from this publication.

  27. 27. Plato, ‘Symposium’, 201c–204e.

  28. 28. Plato, ‘Greater Hyppias’, 296e.

  29. 29. Plato, ‘Phaedrus’, 248c-e.

  30. 30. Plato, ‘Phaedo’, 100b.

  31. 31. Plato, ‘Sophist’, 251d.

  32. 32. A. E. Taylor, Aristotle (New York, NY: Dover Publications, 1955), p. 18.

  33. 33. W. D. Ross, Aristotle (5th Ed) (London, GB: Metahuen and Co., Ltd. 1949), p. 154.

  34. 34. Plato, ‘Timaeus’, 51e.

  35. 35. Plato, ‘Theatetus’, 151 b.

  36. 36. Jacques Maritain, The Degrees of Knowledge, trans. Gerald B. Phelan (New York, NY: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1957), p. 84.

  37. 37. Ibid., p. 203.

  38. 38. Ibid., p. 12.

  39. 39. James Reichman, SJ, ‘Scotus and Haecceitas, Aquinas and Esse’, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 80: no. 1 (Winter 2006) p. 64.

  40. 40. Aristotle, ‘Metaphysics’, 988b, as found in The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard Peter Mc Keon (New York, NY: Modern Library (Reprint), 2001). All references to Aristotle's works will be from this publication.

  41. 41. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (ST) I:13; New Advent, accessed from http://www.newadvent.org/summa/101311.htm (Accessed 17 August 2006).

  42. 42. Thomas Aquinas, ‘Truth’ (‘De veritate’), 2, a. 11, trans. Robert W. Mulligan, SJ (Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Co., 1952), p. 112. See also Karl Rahner, Hearers of the Word, trans. Michael Richards (New York, NY: Herder and Herder, 1969), pp. 45–52.

  43. 43. Aristotle, ‘Topics’, I. 5. 102a.

  44. 44. Aquinas, ‘Truth’, Q1. a. 1

  45. 45. Aquinas, ST, I. 16a. 1; available from http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1016.htm (Accessed 12 December 2008).

  46. 46. Ibid.

  47. 47. Aquinas, ‘Truth’, 1. a. 1.

  48. 48. Ibid., 1. A. 2 and Aristotle, ‘Metaphysics’, A.1. 993b.

  49. 49. Ibid., 1. a.1.

  50. 50. Aquinas, The Trinity and the Unicity of the Intellect, trans. Rose Emmanuella Brennan (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1946), p. 135

  51. 51. Ross, pp. 17–18.

  52. 52. Augustine, ‘On the Trinity’, New Advent; available from http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/130114.htm (Accessed January 16, 2007).

  53. 53. Ibid.

  54. 54. Karl Rahner, The Trinity, trans. Joseph O. Doncell (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), p. 41.

  55. 55. Welch, p. 117.

  56. 56. Bernard Piault, ‘What is the Trinity?’ The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Vol. 17 (New York, NY: Hawthorn Books, 1959), p. 69.

  57. 57. Augustine, ‘On the Trinity’.

  58. 58. Ibid.

  59. 59. Richard Downey, The Blessed Trinity (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1930), p. 126.

  60. 60. Catherine Mowry La Cugna, God for Us: The Trinity in Christian Life (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), p. 284.