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Twenty Nine
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« on: November 01, 2013, 08:12:21 AM »

Historically (rightly or wrongly), the Trinity in the West has been understood to be Three Persons who share One Essence and the Persons can be understood to be relations to each other. In the East, the stress has been on the Three Persons, where the Father is the cause of the Son and the Holy Spirit - the Three Persons are a communion.

Why has the East been hesitant to use the term relations when this could very well be understood as reciprocal communion/otherness?
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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2013, 08:13:58 AM »

Historically (rightly or wrongly), the Trinity in the West has been understood to be Three Persons who share One Essence and the Persons can be understood to be relations to each other. In the East, the stress has been on the Three Persons, where the Father is the cause of the Son and the Holy Spirit - the Three Persons are a communion.

Who told you that? It's nonsense.
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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2013, 08:41:37 AM »

Historically (rightly or wrongly), the Trinity in the West has been understood to be Three Persons who share One Essence and the Persons can be understood to be relations to each other. In the East, the stress has been on the Three Persons, where the Father is the cause of the Son and the Holy Spirit - the Three Persons are a communion.

Why has the East been hesitant to use the term relations when this could very well be understood as reciprocal communion/otherness?

In the East the Trinitarian thelogy and understanding are related to the Father's monarchy.

When we talk of the Triune God, the Western Church envisions the following:

God=Father-Son-Holy Spirit

In the East, however:

                  Son
God=Father
                  Holy Spirit
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2013, 08:54:45 AM »

tomayto . . . tomahto
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2013, 08:58:24 AM »

tomayto . . . tomahto

Not so simple as the Filioque problem arose from the Western understanding of the Triune God.  Roll Eyes

http://www.oodegr.com/english/dogmatiki1/D2d.htm
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2013, 09:35:06 AM »

It is a rather flawed view to say that The Holy Trinity is God and that each Person is God and relates to the other two in a rather polytheistic way.

Actually, The Father is God and He has a Son and a Spirit and He is worshiped together with Them and They with Him. Together they are worshiped as One, they are Divinity -- in this sense, yes, The Holy Trinity is God, but we first need to understand clearly the type of relation that is among Them which also affects the way we relate to Them. We are sons/daugthers of The Father through The Son and in The Holy Spirit. We are co-heirs with The Son.
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2013, 09:43:02 AM »

In the East the Trinitarian thelogy and understanding are related to the Father's monarchy.[/quote]

Agreed, but it is not necessarily a dictated otherness. But my question is why is the term relations at odds with communion.
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2013, 09:46:06 AM »

^ I do not think it is that simple that the West usese and relation and the East does not.
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2013, 10:02:48 AM »

Agreed, but it is not necessarily a dictated otherness. But my question is why is the term relations at odds with communion.

Only you are saying it is, and Iconodule is right: it's nonsense.  Both East and West are describing the persons of the Trinity in terms of relations, it's the precise relations on which we sometimes disagree (e.g., Filioque).   

What do "communion", "relation", and "dictated otherness" mean to you that you see relation and communion as concepts alien to each other? 

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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2013, 10:32:48 AM »

"…and the Latin, Augustinian approach to God as a simple essence, within which a Trinity of persons can be understood only in terms of internal relations." - Byzantine Theology, pg 61 by John Meyendorff.

My point is that I don't see relation and communion as concepts alien to each other. It seems to me that Meyendorff is making a distinction between the understanding of relations in the West and personalism in the East.
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2013, 11:07:49 AM »

"…and the Latin, Augustinian approach to God as a simple essence, within which a Trinity of persons can be understood only in terms of internal relations." - Byzantine Theology, pg 61 by John Meyendorff.

My point is that I don't see relation and communion as concepts alien to each other. It seems to me that Meyendorff is making a distinction between the understanding of relations in the West and personalism in the East.

I could be wrong, because I neither have the book (and therefore no context) or remember enough of it from my one and only attempt over ten years ago, but I don't think it's a distinction between "relations" and "personalism". 

I think what he's talking about is the Western tendency (whether it's accurate or a stereotype, I can't say for sure) to identify the "unity" of the three persons in their common essence (i.e., divinity).  "God" is one because this essence is one.  How, then, do you reconcile the "threeness" that is fundamental to the Christian faith?  The three persons are divine because they possess this essence, and this "relates" them to each other.  We distinguish one from the others by these relations, but the three are one because of the unity of the essence:

Quote
For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
you (i.e., the Father) are one God, one Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance.


Roman Missal, Preface of the Holy Trinity

The Church, however, identifies the source of the unity of the three persons in a person--the Father--and not in their common essence (divinity).  The Father is unoriginate, he eternally begets the Son, and he eternally "breathes forth" the Spirit proceeding from him.  They are co-essential (they share the same essence), and there never was a time when the Son or the Holy Spirit did not exist, but it is the person of the Father which is the principle of unity.  The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but God (ὁ Θεός) is the Father.   
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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2013, 11:57:11 AM »

Mor -
I certainly agree with what you wrote.

Quote
The three persons are divine because they possess this essence, and this "relates" them to each other.

I think this is what I am looking for. Is this what the West really believes? This implies that there can be an essence/ousia without hypostasis. Whereas, in the East "Divinity" is Unbegotten Divinity, Begotten Divinity and Proceeding Divinity. One is inconceivable without the other Two. In other words, the Divine essence is Personal Trinity - not three persons who share the same "blue shirt" (i.e. divinity).
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2013, 12:05:11 PM »

Whereas, in the East "Divinity" is Unbegotten Divinity, Begotten Divinity and Proceeding Divinity. One is inconceivable without the other Two. In other words, the Divine essence is Personal Trinity - not three persons who share the same "blue shirt" (i.e. divinity).


Really?  I wouldn't have put it that way.
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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2013, 01:04:48 PM »

Somewhere in Gregory Nazianzus orations, he states that the only thing we can say about Begotten and Proceeding is that the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, etc. What can we say Divinity is other than that it is uncreated Being (true being), that it is Father (Unbegotten), Son (Begotten) and Holy Spirit (Proceeding) and that the source/cause of Divinity is the Father?

Divinity is not essence that can be conceived of apart from hypostasis – an “essence in the nude”. Divinity is Unbegotten, Begotten, Proceeding. Three hypostases as one, undivided Being. One Person cannot be conceived without reference to the other Two. The Father cannot be conceived of without His Son or His Holy Spirit.

There are not three centers of consciousness, there are not three Gods. Just one God – Unbegotten, Begotten, Proceeding – in unity because the Persons/Hypostases are community.
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« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2013, 01:38:12 PM »

Somewhere in Gregory Nazianzus orations, he states that the only thing we can say about Begotten and Proceeding is that the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, etc. What can we say Divinity is other than that it is uncreated Being (true being), that it is Father (Unbegotten), Son (Begotten) and Holy Spirit (Proceeding) and that the source/cause of Divinity is the Father?

Divinity is not essence that can be conceived of apart from hypostasis – an “essence in the nude”. Divinity is Unbegotten, Begotten, Proceeding. Three hypostases as one, undivided Being. One Person cannot be conceived without reference to the other Two. The Father cannot be conceived of without His Son or His Holy Spirit.

There are not three centers of consciousness, there are not three Gods. Just one God – Unbegotten, Begotten, Proceeding – in unity because the Persons/Hypostases are community.


I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to theology proper (Trinitarian, Christological), so I'll happily defer to experts if I'm wrong--but they should be experts, or else we're all doomed. 

It sounds to me like you are conflating essence with hypostasis when arguing that "divinity" is "unbegotten divinity", "begotten divinity", and "proceeding divinity".  To me, that's three essences, and then it's difficult to make sense of the Creed.  We confess that Christ is of one essence with the Father.  If Christ's shared essence with the Father is "unbegotten divinity", then how is Christ begotten?  If, however, it is "begotten divinity", how is the Father not also begotten (and by whom?)? 

Like nature, essence is something that we can only "see" in a hypostasis.  But essence and nature are not themselves hypostases.  The Father has everything the Son has except begottenness, the Son has everything the Father has except begetting and proceeding, etc.  Those "acts" are proper to persons, not to essences.       
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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2013, 02:19:11 PM »

Somewhere in Gregory Nazianzus orations, he states that the only thing we can say about Begotten and Proceeding is that the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, etc. What can we say Divinity is other than that it is uncreated Being (true being), that it is Father (Unbegotten), Son (Begotten) and Holy Spirit (Proceeding) and that the source/cause of Divinity is the Father?

Divinity is not essence that can be conceived of apart from hypostasis – an “essence in the nude”. Divinity is Unbegotten, Begotten, Proceeding. Three hypostases as one, undivided Being. One Person cannot be conceived without reference to the other Two. The Father cannot be conceived of without His Son or His Holy Spirit.

There are not three centers of consciousness, there are not three Gods. Just one God – Unbegotten, Begotten, Proceeding – in unity because the Persons/Hypostases are community.


I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to theology proper (Trinitarian, Christological), so I'll happily defer to experts if I'm wrong--but they should be experts, or else we're all doomed. 

It sounds to me like you are conflating essence with hypostasis when arguing that "divinity" is "unbegotten divinity", "begotten divinity", and "proceeding divinity".  To me, that's three essences, and then it's difficult to make sense of the Creed.  We confess that Christ is of one essence with the Father.  If Christ's shared essence with the Father is "unbegotten divinity", then how is Christ begotten?  If, however, it is "begotten divinity", how is the Father not also begotten (and by whom?)? 

Like nature, essence is something that we can only "see" in a hypostasis.  But essence and nature are not themselves hypostases.  The Father has everything the Son has except begottenness, the Son has everything the Father has except begetting and proceeding, etc.  Those "acts" are proper to persons, not to essences.       

Just adding my own understanding. Maybe Twenty Nine was trying to say that The Holy Trinity is of one being, to say it in this way. This is a rather different concept than those of hypostases and nature which both are true. To be of one being means to function as literal parts of one another. In order for Divinity to be complete there needs to be a Will (The Father) a Logos/Word (The Son) and a Spirit (The Holy Spirit). The three aspects are divided among three hypostasis, but they are actually part of one indivisible whole.
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« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2013, 02:23:21 PM »

But do we ever speak of the Father as "Will"? 

I think we're in deep waters with our own ideas about what swimming is. 
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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2013, 03:04:20 PM »

The Father is "Will" (but this is not a proper name like Father) in the sense that He, as the source/cause of Divinity, "wills" communion with His Son and His Holy Spirit.

Quote
Just adding my own understanding. Maybe Twenty Nine was trying to say that The Holy Trinity is of one being, to say it in this way. This is a rather different concept than those of hypostases and nature which both are true.

Yes, One Being. I am trying to stress that we cannot think of the Being/Ousia of God without/independently of the Three Hypostases. And, at the same time, we cannot think of the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit independent of the Other Two.

Quote
To be of one being means to function as literal parts of one another.

No, never "part" of one another.

Quote
The three aspects are divided among three hypostasis, but they are actually part of one indivisible whole.


No. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not of an indivisible whole. Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the whole.
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« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2013, 01:32:12 AM »

The Father is "Will" (but this is not a proper name like Father) in the sense that He, as the source/cause of Divinity, "wills" communion with His Son and His Holy Spirit.

Quote
Just adding my own understanding. Maybe Twenty Nine was trying to say that The Holy Trinity is of one being, to say it in this way. This is a rather different concept than those of hypostases and nature which both are true.

Yes, One Being. I am trying to stress that we cannot think of the Being/Ousia of God without/independently of the Three Hypostases. And, at the same time, we cannot think of the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit independent of the Other Two.

Quote
To be of one being means to function as literal parts of one another.

No, never "part" of one another.

Quote
The three aspects are divided among three hypostasis, but they are actually part of one indivisible whole.


No. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not of an indivisible whole. Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the whole.

I did not use "of one being" in the same sense as essence/ousia. Of one being (as I've used it) has to do with the way in which They function as One. The Father lives through The Son and The Holy Spirit, and They through Him and one another. In other words, The Father is not His Logos nor His Spirit and He needs them in order to be complete, and They need Him and each other. This does not mean that any of Them is insufficient in order to be a hypostasis, just that the hypostases add up to form a whole, or the whole if you wish.
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« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2013, 07:23:34 AM »

Orthodox Christians believe in a single God who is both three and one (triune): Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, "one in essence and undivided". The Holy Trinity is three "unconfused" and distinct divine persons (hypostases), who share one divine essence (ousia)—uncreated, immaterial and eternal. The Father is the eternal source of the Godhead, from Whom the Son is begotten eternally and also from Whom the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally. The essence of God being that which is beyond human comprehension and cannot be defined and/or approached by human understanding.
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« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2013, 05:05:59 PM »

This thread demonstrates why many so-called theologians wind up in heresy.
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« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2013, 05:13:22 PM »

A couple posts back, #17, says
Quote
the Father is will.
I just had a question about that:  Granted the Trinity acts as one will, but would it be safe to say that the Son and Holy Spirit also have wills (scratching my head)?
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« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2013, 01:59:19 AM »

Orthodox Christians believe in a single God who is both three and one (triune): Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, "one in essence and undivided". The Holy Trinity is three "unconfused" and distinct divine persons (hypostases), who share one divine essence (ousia)—uncreated, immaterial and eternal. The Father is the eternal source of the Godhead, from Whom the Son is begotten eternally and also from Whom the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally. The essence of God being that which is beyond human comprehension and cannot be defined and/or approached by human understanding.

Personally, I have a problem with the essence of God being beyond human comprehension. His "essence" is unknowable, but if you say that it is beyond comprehension, then it means that man is not capable of fully understanding God (theosis) or that God is incapable of communicating certain ideas (not all-powerful).

God is Love, that's His "essence". In other words, He is not something, not an objective essence, but pure subjectivity and all-immaterial. That's why the term essence/nature refers not to what God is, but to who He is, of a different kind than humans and angels. So, God is unknowable according to an objective essence (He is Love, a subjective essence) because He doesn't even have one, He is all-immaterial, but He is fully knowable as love through His energies.
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« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2013, 02:40:14 AM »

This thread demonstrates why many so-called theologians wind up in heresy.

Or, why The Church and the world is insanity in general. Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2013, 02:50:30 AM »

Personally, I have a problem with the essence of God being beyond human comprehension.

That's quite a problem.

Quote
His "essence" is unknowable, but if you say that it is beyond comprehension, then it means that man is not capable of fully understanding God (theosis) or that God is incapable of communicating certain ideas (not all-powerful).

From the posts above, I'm not sure you are using these terms in the same way as the Orthodox Church, and that seems to be the case here as well.  For instance, I've never come across a definition of theosis that involved "fully understanding" God.  How do you define "understanding"? 

Also, you claim that God's essential unknowability would denigrate his omnipotence, without considering that this incapacity is due to the finite nature of the creatures he created: can the human intellect comprehend the infinite God without itself being infinite?  That's not God's problem, unless you want to blame God for not having made us infinite. 

Quote
God is Love, that's His "essence". In other words, He is not something, not an objective essence, but pure subjectivity and all-immaterial. That's why the term essence/nature refers not to what God is, but to who He is, of a different kind than humans and angels. So, God is unknowable according to an objective essence (He is Love, a subjective essence) because He doesn't even have one, He is all-immaterial, but He is fully knowable as love through His energies.

Um, what?
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« Reply #25 on: November 04, 2013, 03:15:43 AM »

Personally, I have a problem with the essence of God being beyond human comprehension.

That's quite a problem.

Quote
His "essence" is unknowable, but if you say that it is beyond comprehension, then it means that man is not capable of fully understanding God (theosis) or that God is incapable of communicating certain ideas (not all-powerful).

From the posts above, I'm not sure you are using these terms in the same way as the Orthodox Church, and that seems to be the case here as well.  For instance, I've never come across a definition of theosis that involved "fully understanding" God.  How do you define "understanding"? 

Also, you claim that God's essential unknowability would denigrate his omnipotence, without considering that this incapacity is due to the finite nature of the creatures he created: can the human intellect comprehend the infinite God without itself being infinite?  That's not God's problem, unless you want to blame God for not having made us infinite. 

Quote
God is Love, that's His "essence". In other words, He is not something, not an objective essence, but pure subjectivity and all-immaterial. That's why the term essence/nature refers not to what God is, but to who He is, of a different kind than humans and angels. So, God is unknowable according to an objective essence (He is Love, a subjective essence) because He doesn't even have one, He is all-immaterial, but He is fully knowable as love through His energies.

Um, what?

The Church teaching about theosis is that man is in the image and likeness of God and can become exactly like Him through His Grace, not through himself. In other words, man is infinite in potential.

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« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2013, 05:54:32 AM »

In the East, the stress has been on the Three Persons, where the Father is the cause of the Son and the Holy Spirit - the Three Persons are a communion.


That sounds more like Polytheism to me.
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« Reply #27 on: November 04, 2013, 05:58:58 AM »

Whereas, in the East "Divinity" is Unbegotten Divinity, Begotten Divinity and Proceeding Divinity. One is inconceivable without the other Two. In other words, the Divine essence is Personal Trinity - not three persons who share the same "blue shirt" (i.e. divinity).


Really?  I wouldn't have put it that way.

How then?
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Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #28 on: November 04, 2013, 10:49:33 AM »

The Church teaching about theosis is that man is in the image and likeness of God and can become exactly like Him through His Grace, not through himself. In other words, man is infinite in potential.

But man's infinite potentiality is not due to any natural infinity in man; by nature, man is finite because man is created.  Through cooperation with God's infinite grace, man can progress from glory to glory, but that's God's initiative and God's work which man responds to.

If I'm understanding your words and Orthodox theology correctly, you seem to be conflating a few things to bad effect.   
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Apolytikion, Tone 1, by Antonis

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« Reply #29 on: November 04, 2013, 12:21:38 PM »

The Church teaching about theosis is that man is in the image and likeness of God and can become exactly like Him through His Grace, not through himself. In other words, man is infinite in potential.

But man's infinite potentiality is not due to any natural infinity in man; by nature, man is finite because man is created.  Through cooperation with God's infinite grace, man can progress from glory to glory, but that's God's initiative and God's work which man responds to.

If I'm understanding your words and Orthodox theology correctly, you seem to be conflating a few things to bad effect.    

Yes, it is due to something in man, otherwise you are saying that there is something wrong with man's nature and it is not truly in the very image and likeness of God. That man can accomplish his full potential only through God, through synergy, would be a different matter, but man's potential is his own. That is how God is glorified through man.
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Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #30 on: November 04, 2013, 12:38:31 PM »

Yes, it is due to something in man, otherwise you are saying that there is something wrong with man's nature and it is not truly in the very image and likeness of God. That man can accomplish his full potential only through God, through synergy, would be a different matter, but man's potential is his own. That is how God is glorified through man.

While man's potential is certainly his own, it is finite as he is finite; it is not a requirement of his having been created in God's image and likeness that man, too, be infinite.  Scripture affirms that apart from Christ man can do nothing, but man can do all things in Christ who strengthens him.  Any "infinite potential" in man results from man's cooperation with divine grace.  Apart from that, how can it be infinite unless man is not actually a creature but is somehow uncreated?       
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Apolytikion, Tone 1, by Antonis

An eloquent crafter of divine posts
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« Reply #31 on: November 04, 2013, 12:55:33 PM »

Yes, it is due to something in man, otherwise you are saying that there is something wrong with man's nature and it is not truly in the very image and likeness of God. That man can accomplish his full potential only through God, through synergy, would be a different matter, but man's potential is his own. That is how God is glorified through man.

While man's potential is certainly his own, it is finite as he is finite; it is not a requirement of his having been created in God's image and likeness that man, too, be infinite.  Scripture affirms that apart from Christ man can do nothing, but man can do all things in Christ who strengthens him.  Any "infinite potential" in man results from man's cooperation with divine grace.  Apart from that, how can it be infinite unless man is not actually a creature but is somehow uncreated?        

No, if grace alone can accomplish that in man then man somehow joins with grace to become something other than himself. It is a capacity that is within him to be infinite, but becomes actualized through God. That's what having an image of God means; to be like Him. The likeness is achieved through participation in Him.
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Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #32 on: November 04, 2013, 01:35:46 PM »

No, if grace alone can accomplish that in man then man somehow joins with grace to become something other than himself. It is a capacity that is within him to be infinite, but becomes actualized through God. That's what having an image of God means; to be like Him. The likeness is achieved through participation in Him.

I'm going to hope that you and I basically agree and are talking past each other for some reason, because otherwise my head hurts. 
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Apolytikion, Tone 1, by Antonis

An eloquent crafter of divine posts
And an inheritor of the line of the Baptist
A righteous son of India
And a new apostle to the internet
O Holy Mor Ephrem,
Intercede for us, that our forum may be saved.


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« Reply #33 on: November 04, 2013, 01:42:57 PM »

No, if grace alone can accomplish that in man then man somehow joins with grace to become something other than himself. It is a capacity that is within him to be infinite, but becomes actualized through God. That's what having an image of God means; to be like Him. The likeness is achieved through participation in Him.

I'm going to hope that you and I basically agree and are talking past each other for some reason, because otherwise my head hurts. 

Mine too. I am fine not arguing about this. I am sure of it myself, and you're not going to agree...
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