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« on: June 07, 2010, 05:57:34 PM »

Hello,

Would someone explain to me - Does the Orthodox Church teach that God and Jesus are the same entity?

I'm confused by the doctrine of the Trinity as I've learned it from Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Thank you,
Benjamin
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2010, 06:10:50 PM »

Yes, Jesus Christ is God. He is also man. In His one Person, there are two natures, Divine and human.
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2010, 06:35:09 PM »

It depends what you mean by 'entity'. Not a very helpful term in my opinion.

The Father and Son (and the Holy Spirit also, for that matter) share the same Divine essence (which is to say, the very thing which defines the Divine as 'Divine'--in contradistinction to all that is 'not Divine'--and, consequently, the Divine qualities and attributes thereof). Nevertheless, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit subsist distinctly, and their respective distinct subsistences are what we term 'hypostases'. The traditional Trinitarian formula as confirmed at the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople 381 is: one essence, three hypostases.

It should also be borne in mind that, whilst subsisting distinctively, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit nevertheless share one and the same existence and so their respective distinct subsistences are therefore eternally inter-dependent and inseparable.

There is nothing like unto the Holy Trinity. Whilst particular examples in creation loosely demonstrate some of the fundamental principles of Trinitarian theology, no example of creation perfectly exhibits all those fundamental principles.
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2010, 06:43:29 PM »

Yes, Jesus Christ is God. He is also man. In His one Person, there are two natures, Divine and human.
Thank you for your reply.

I don't understand.. If the Father and the Son are a single entity then how could the incarnation happen? Was part of Jesus not on the earth?

Thank you.
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2010, 07:09:57 PM »

It depends what you mean by 'entity'. Not a very helpful term in my opinion.
Thank you for your reply.

Could you explain why you think it is not a helpful term for me to use? I could substitute the word "being". Are God and Jesus the same being? I don't know how else to ask the question.

Quote
The Father and Son (and the Holy Spirit also, for that matter) share the same Divine essence (which is to say, the very thing which defines the Divine as 'Divine'--in contradistinction to all that is 'not Divine'--and, consequently, the Divine qualities and attributes thereof). Nevertheless, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit subsist distinctly, and their respective distinct subsistences are what we term 'hypostases'. The traditional Trinitarian formula as confirmed at the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople 381 is: one essence, three hypostases.
It sounds like you are saying they are three distinct entities, or three distinct beings, who have the same nature, qualities, attributes, etc. Did I understand you correctly?

Quote
It should also be borne in mind that, whilst subsisting distinctively, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit nevertheless share one and the same existence and so their respective distinct subsistences are therefore eternally inter-dependent and inseparable.
What do you mean by saying they "subsist distinctively ... nevertheless share ... the same existence"? I thought subsist and exist meant the same thing, so it sounds like you are saying two opposing things.

Also what do you mean their "distinct subsistences are ... inseparable"? In what sense are they distinct and in what sense inseparable? Are they distinct beings? Distinct entities? Or are they a single inseparable being or entity?
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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2010, 10:08:49 PM »

You must study Aristotle before asking these trivial questions.  Wink

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/metaphysics/complete.html
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2010, 10:23:07 PM »

notme: the explanation of the Unity of God and Christ, summarized very well between Heorhij's (showing how Jesus is God) and EkhristosAnesti's (showing how the Trinity is One) posts, can be seemingly contradictory and quite confusing.  However, it is consistent with scripture & revelation through the Church.  We must therefore strive to understand it as it has been revealed, and chalk up the confusing parts to our limitations as creatures trying to understand the Uncreated One.
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2010, 11:23:55 PM »

You must study Aristotle before asking these trivial questions.  Wink

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/metaphysics/complete.html
What about music, astronomy, and geometry?
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2010, 11:32:05 PM »

Hello,

Would someone explain to me - Does the Orthodox Church teach that God and Jesus are the same entity?

I'm confused by the doctrine of the Trinity as I've learned it from Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Thank you,
Benjamin

Jesus is God, but He is not identical to God the Father. Yet, the fulness of the Divinity is in him—that is, he who has seen the Son have seen the Father, and the Holy Spirit is in Him.

May I ask what kind of a background you are inquiring from? Having a point of reference might help us answer your question.

If, in my own humbleness, I could offer any two relatively brief expositions of the Holy Trinity, I would recommend the Nicene Creed and the Gospel of John. It really has to do with the life of the Church more than anything else—i.e. it’s not just an abstract doctrine.

And of course, as Fr. George so importantly pointed out, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not meant to be a thorough explanation of God—it’s only as much information as we mortals need to understand, revealed through the Apostles.

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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2010, 11:56:22 PM »

notme: the explanation of the Unity of God and Christ, summarized very well between Heorhij's (showing how Jesus is God) and EkhristosAnesti's (showing how the Trinity is One) posts
I don't understand how the Orthodox church views Jesus as God, that is, in what sense he is God. Is the Orthodox view really that God and the Word were/are a single entity? If so, then what does that imply about the incarnation?

I also don't understand yet what has been said about being distinct and inseparable. In what sense are God and Christ distinct? Are they distinct beings? In what sense are God and Christ inseparable? Are they a single inseparable being or entity?
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« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2010, 12:17:52 AM »

notme: the explanation of the Unity of God and Christ, summarized very well between Heorhij's (showing how Jesus is God) and EkhristosAnesti's (showing how the Trinity is One) posts
I don't understand how the Orthodox church views Jesus as God, that is, in what sense he is God. Is the Orthodox view really that God and the Word were/are a single entity? If so, then what does that imply about the incarnation?

I also don't understand yet what has been said about being distinct and inseparable. In what sense are God and Christ distinct? Are they distinct beings? In what sense are God and Christ inseparable? Are they a single inseparable being or entity?

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Word of God, the Messenger (Angel) of God, the Will of the Father. The Father acts through the Son and in the Spirit. The Son is eternally begotten from the Divine Essence of the Father. The Father and the Son share fully in the same Divine Essence and Divine Nature. It is in this sense that we say the Son is equal to the Father.

So, the Son is Divine, and he is the very Image of the Father. Jesus is rightly called God. But Jesus is not God the Father.

The three Persons-Hypostases of the Holy Trinity are not simply three different “modes” of God. The three Persons exist distinctly eternally. Yet, you cannot separate them. You cannot have the Son without the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Please do not give up asking; I know it is a difficult doctrine.
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2010, 12:43:40 AM »

Jesus is God,
Growing up I always thought Jesus being God meant there is this one being called God and he has more than one personal mind: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Though I mostly thought of God as being the Father.

I guess it is because I always heard One God, Three Persons, One God, Three Persons, etc. This one God was always spoken of as a single person "He" instead of "They", "Him" instead of "Them".

So what do you mean when you say Jesus is God?

Quote
but He is not identical to God the Father.
Because they are not the same entity? Or because they are two distinct centers of personal consciousness in one divine being as I was told? In what way do you believe they are not identical?

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Yet, the fulness of the Divinity is in him—that is, he who has seen the Son have seen the Father, and the Holy Spirit is in Him.
Are they a single entity?

Quote
May I ask what kind of a background you are inquiring from? Having a point of reference might help us answer your question.
Of course. Thank you. Roman Catholic.

Quote
If, in my own humbleness, I could offer any two relatively brief expositions of the Holy Trinity, I would recommend the Nicene Creed and the Gospel of John. It really has to do with the life of the Church more than anything else—i.e. it’s not just an abstract doctrine.
In the Nicene Creed, didn't they introduce the homoousios word then? Did that mean that Jesus and the Father had the same nature? or did it mean that they were the same being/entity?

In the Gospel of John it says the Word both "was" and was "with God". Does the Orthodox church interpret John to have meant that Jesus "was God" and was "with God" in the same sense? Or in two different senses as reason would seem to require?

Quote
And of course, as Fr. George so importantly pointed out, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not meant to be a thorough explanation of God—it’s only as much information as we mortals need to understand, revealed through the Apostles.
I agree. Words and thoughts about someone always fall far short of actually seeing and knowing them. However, information doesn't inform at all if it contradicts itself. My questions here are inspired by a hope that the Orthodox view of God is not self-contradictory.
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« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2010, 08:53:50 AM »

The Father is not the Son.

Jesus is of the same nature and essence/substance with the Father, but a distinct person.

The opening verse of John's Gospel actually reads:

"In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and God was the Word".

In terms of divine essence, the Word and God are identical. In terms of personality, they are different.

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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2010, 09:58:02 AM »

Growing up I always thought Jesus being God meant there is this one being called God and he has more than one personal mind: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

I think it's not really "more than one personal MIND." It is more than one PERSON. We are used to the notion that one human being is equal to one person. Yet, if you think about it, this cannot be extrapolated to all beings: a stone is a "being" (physical body that can be characterized by such-and-such properties, "born" due to some chemical reactions, "existing," can "die" if, for example, I grind it into a powder) - but not a person. So, we can assume that just like in the physical world "being" does not necessarily equal "person," similarly, in the "beyond," in the non-physical realm there can be a lack of a strict correspondence between a Being and a Person. God is certainly one Being, and yet He is in three Persons.

Though I mostly thought of God as being the Father.

But there is one thing that "disabuses" us from this wrong notion. The Father is ALWAYS with His Son and His Holy Spirit. The Trinity is "inseparable" (Greek "ahoriston"), so that even though the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, and the Holy Spirit is not the Son and not the Father, we cannot think about one of the Three being, and another (or the two others) NOT being.

I guess it is because I always heard One God, Three Persons, One God, Three Persons, etc. This one God was always spoken of as a single person "He" instead of "They", "Him" instead of "Them".

Right, we do not say "they" to God, again, because there is one God; there aren't three different gods. The Father is God, being always with the Son and with the Holy Spirit, and the Son is God, being always with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is God, being always with the Father and the Son. Each of the Persons is fully God. All three Persons together is also God.

So what do you mean when you say Jesus is God?

As God, He shares the same characteristics with the Father and the Holy Spirit: He is uncreated; He is without beginning in time (the expression "begotten of the Father" does not mean "birth" in our human understanding of birth as an "event" that occurs at a certain timepoint); He is without limits, omnipresent, "simple" (Greek "aplus" - not consisting of any parts etc.), eternal, immutable (does not change), passionless. He is invisible, and completely beyond any physical, empirical "examination" or comprehension. No created thing penetrates into Him (He is "transcendent" or "completely OTHER" from the world), but He penetrates into all things. He cannot be limited to any spatial "coordinates," in that He is bigger than the whole imaginable universe, and yet in a smallest point of this universe He is in all His fullness.  

Now the DIFFERENCE between Him and the Father is in that the Father begets and the Son is begotten. The Father sends Him to the world, and the Son obeys His Father (not the other way around). The difference between the Son and the Holy Spirit is in that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father while the Son is begotten of the Father.

Also, we have to keep in mind that when we say Jesus Christ, we mean the INCARNATE God, or God and human being in One Person. As human being, Jesus Christ was created (formed from the flesh of the Most Holy Theotokos at a certain point of time), has a tangible material body, can be examined quite physically (John 20:27), and, generally, is exactly like each and every one of us, except, unlike us, without sin.

I believe the best thing for you (and all of us) to do when we want to sort out these dogmatic nuances is to open St. John of Damascus's book, titled "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (http://www.orthodox.net/fathers/exactidx.html).
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2010, 10:40:09 AM »

notme: the explanation of the Unity of God and Christ, summarized very well between Heorhij's (showing how Jesus is God) and EkhristosAnesti's (showing how the Trinity is One) posts
I don't understand how the Orthodox church views Jesus as God, that is, in what sense he is God. Is the Orthodox view really that God and the Word were/are a single entity? If so, then what does that imply about the incarnation?

I also don't understand yet what has been said about being distinct and inseparable. In what sense are God and Christ distinct? Are they distinct beings? In what sense are God and Christ inseparable? Are they a single inseparable being or entity?

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Word of God, the Messenger (Angel) of God, the Will of the Father. The Father acts through the Son and in the Spirit. The Son is eternally begotten from the Divine Essence of the Father.
What does "eternally begotten" mean? I don't understand what it means to modify the word "begotten" with the word "eternally". Does it mean he is still being begotten? Is that just an added rejection of Arianism or is it found in the New Testament?

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The Father and the Son share fully in the same Divine Essence and Divine Nature. It is in this sense that we say the Son is equal to the Father.
Do you mean there is a difference between essence and nature? As if essence were the spiritual substance of God? Either way, do you mean they share in this essence as a single entity/being? Or are they two entities who have the same nature, essence, etc.?

Quote
So, the Son is Divine, and he is the very Image of the Father. Jesus is rightly called God. But Jesus is not God the Father.
So Jesus is called God because he is just like the Father in nature and essence?

Quote
The three Persons-Hypostases of the Holy Trinity are not simply three different “modes” of God. The three Persons exist distinctly eternally. Yet, you cannot separate them. You cannot have the Son without the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Are they a single being?

Quote
Please do not give up asking; I know it is a difficult doctrine.
Thank you for the encouragement.
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« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2010, 10:54:08 AM »

The Father is not the Son.

Jesus is of the same nature and essence/substance with the Father, but a distinct person.
Yes. That's what I've heard my whole life. I'm curious whether the Orthodox church believes they are one single being or one single entity.

Quote
The opening verse of John's Gospel actually reads:

"In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and God was the Word".
That is interesting. Thank you for sharing that. So then the second verse would mean that God (who "was the Word") was with God (the Father I assume?). Is that how you understand it?

Quote
In terms of divine essence, the Word and God are identical. In terms of personality, they are different.
So they are one being with more than one personality or they are two personal beings of identical nature?
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« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2010, 12:18:43 PM »

notme:

There is 1 Jesus.  He is the Incarnate Son of God; fully Human, fully Divine.  His Divine Nature is that of the Son & Word of God, the Only-Begotten of the Father before all ages.  His Human Nature is that of His Incarnation of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary - full flesh and humanity without the stain of sin.  These Two Natures are united in One Hypostasis (His Person in the Trinity) without division, confusion, change, or separation.

So we can say that Jesus is God and Man, and only in Him is this not contradictory.  

As to how He is God: the Trinity is Three in One - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  There is One God, One Godhead, One Power.  There is the Father, Who Is beginningless, Who begets the Son from before all ages, and from Whom proceeds the Spirit.  There is the Son, Who is co-beginningless with the Father, Who was begotten from the Father before all ages.  There is the Spirit, Who is co-beginningless with the Father and the Son, Who proceeds from the Father.  The Father is not the Son or the Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father or the Son; yet the Three are One - Trinity One in Essence and inseparable.

It is confusing and yet not confusing; simple and complex.

Consider yourself: you are body and soul.  The soul and body work together in harmony, and constitute the one person that is you, and yet they can be spoken of separately.  We can choose to have body rule over soul, or soul rule over body, but the two must work together.  It is an imperfect example that points to the union of Man and Divinity in Jesus Christ.

Consider the miracle of St. Spyridon: a brick is made of clay, water, and "fire" (heat).  Each part is necessary for the formation of the whole, but within the brick they cannot be separated except through miraculous means (or destruction).  Within the brick the clay, water, and heat have been united, yet can be spoken of separately and have separate properties.  It is an imperfect example that points to the union of three in one in the Godhead.
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« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2010, 12:21:02 PM »

Growing up I always thought Jesus being God meant there is this one being called God and he has more than one personal mind: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
I think it's not really "more than one personal MIND." It is more than one PERSON. We are used to the notion that one human being is equal to one person. Yet, if you think about it, this cannot be extrapolated to all beings: a stone is a "being" (physical body that can be characterized by such-and-such properties, "born" due to some chemical reactions, "existing," can "die" if, for example, I grind it into a powder) - but not a person. So, we can assume that just like in the physical world "being" does not necessarily equal "person," similarly, in the "beyond," in the non-physical realm there can be a lack of a strict correspondence between a Being and a Person. God is certainly one Being, and yet He is in three Persons.
Yes. I didn't mean "being" or "entity" in an impersonal sense like the word "thing". I usually take the word being to imply a personal being and entity to not imply anything either way. What I meant to ask then is whether God is a personal and single being? A personal and single entity? It seems that you believe God is a single being or entity with more than one person. So you believe God is personal only in the sense that these three persons in God are personal?
Quote
Though I mostly thought of God as being the Father.
But there is one thing that "disabuses" us from this wrong notion. The Father is ALWAYS with His Son and His Holy Spirit. The Trinity is "inseparable" (Greek "ahoriston"), so that even though the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, and the Holy Spirit is not the Son and not the Father, we cannot think about one of the Three being, and another (or the two others) NOT being.
So do you think the Son of God was in heaven with the Father during Jesus' public ministry?
Quote
I guess it is because I always heard One God, Three Persons, One God, Three Persons, etc. This one God was always spoken of as a single person "He" instead of "They", "Him" instead of "Them".
Right, we do not say "they" to God, again, because there is one God; there aren't three different gods. The Father is God, being always with the Son and with the Holy Spirit, and the Son is God, being always with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is God, being always with the Father and the Son. Each of the Persons is fully God. All three Persons together is also God.
Each of the three persons is fully God. So there are three who are fully God. But when we refer to all three of them together we should not say "they" or "are" but rather "he" and "is"? Is this only to avoid sounding polytheistic?

I can memorize these modifications to the English language but it doesn't really inform me of anything because it seems to be an incoherent use of language. I mean no disrespect but is that all the doctrine of the trinity is? Linguistic rules for an irregular application of singularity and plurality to personal pronouns and "to be" verbs? I reminds me somewhat of "the square root of negative one" used in mathematics. Wouldn't it be more realistic just to say it really seems like there is more than one God but we don't think we should say there is more than one God?

I don't mean to be so critical of your usage of words. It's only because I would like to understand what the usage of words actually represents conceptually. If the words do not represent anything conceptually because they are linguistically or conceptually incoherent then the doctrine is not conceptual but only terminological. In which case, it is not a doctrine in the sense of knowledge but an uninformative modification of grammar.

That is what the Roman Catholic doctrine seemed to be. After learning a very little bit about the controversy of the "filioque" I thought perhaps the Orthodox church could have knowledge where the Roman church had only words. Again, I mean no disrespect to your way of speaking, I just want to understand.
Quote
So what do you mean when you say Jesus is God?
As God, He shares the same characteristics with the Father and the Holy Spirit: He is uncreated; He is without beginning in time (the expression "begotten of the Father" does not mean "birth" in our human understanding of birth as an "event" that occurs at a certain timepoint)
Then you mean something like an emanation?
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He is without limits, omnipresent, "simple" (Greek "aplus" - not consisting of any parts etc.), eternal, immutable (does not change),
Immutable by choice? What about the incarnation? Wasn't the Word made flesh?
Quote
passionless.
This is off topic but what do you mean? I think God must be gloriously and wonderfully passionate judging by the beauty of his creation. Maybe you only meant corrupt and selfish "passions" that cloud the reason? It sounded like you were saying "emotionless."
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He is invisible,
Also off topic but do you think God can see himself?
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and completely beyond any physical, empirical "examination" or comprehension. No created thing penetrates into Him (He is "transcendent" or "completely OTHER" from the world), but He penetrates into all things.
Not sure what you mean here about transcending and penetrating.
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He cannot be limited to any spatial "coordinates," in that He is bigger than the whole imaginable universe,
ok but then you say..
Quote
and yet in a smallest point of this universe He is in all His fullness.
What does that mean?
Quote
Now the DIFFERENCE between Him and the Father is in that the Father begets and the Son is begotten. The Father sends Him to the world, and the Son obeys His Father (not the other way around). The difference between the Son and the Holy Spirit is in that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father while the Son is begotten of the Father.
Ok. Though I'm still not clear on what "begotten" would mean in this context.
Quote
Also, we have to keep in mind that when we say Jesus Christ, we mean the INCARNATE God, or God and human being in One Person. As human being, Jesus Christ was created (formed from the flesh of the Most Holy Theotokos at a certain point of time), has a tangible material body, can be examined quite physically (John 20:27), and, generally, is exactly like each and every one of us, except, unlike us, without sin.
If the one person of Jesus includes a created human body and the tri-personal God includes the one person Jesus, then does the tri-personal God include the created body of Jesus?
Quote
I believe the best thing for you (and all of us) to do when we want to sort out these dogmatic nuances is to open St. John of Damascus's book, titled "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (http://www.orthodox.net/fathers/exactidx.html).
Thank you! I will look into it.
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« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2010, 12:25:07 PM »

What does "eternally begotten" mean? I don't understand what it means to modify the word "begotten" with the word "eternally". Does it mean he is still being begotten? Is that just an added rejection of Arianism or is it found in the New Testament?

Eternally begotten is a difficult concept, partially because we do not as a whole understand it.  The Son is begotten of the Father, which is why He is Son.  However, He is beginningless - that is, He has no origin in time.  So His begottenness is from before eternity.  This is easier to understand when we remember that God Is outside the realm of time and inside it - time is created by God.  God sees the entirety of Human existence, from The Beginning to the end, simultaneously, and yet because of His infinite love and compassion He chose to enter into Time through His condescension (self-limitation).

Do you mean there is a difference between essence and nature? As if essence were the spiritual substance of God? Either way, do you mean they share in this essence as a single entity/being? Or are they two entities who have the same nature, essence, etc.?

The Father, Son, and Spirit are of One Essence.  There is One Divinity, One Godhead, One Power.  But they are of different Hypostases.

So Jesus is called God because he is just like the Father in nature and essence?

Is of one essence with the Father.  One Godhead, One Divinity, One Power.  Three Hypostases (Persons), unconfused but undivided.

Are they a single being?

One Godhead, One Divinity, One God, One Power.

Thank you for the encouragement.

Prayer is the greatest tool in the search to understand God, because it allows us to "understand" Him in the Biblical sense - by experiencing Him, rather than trying to "wrap our heads around" Him.
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« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2010, 12:48:33 PM »

notme:

There is 1 Jesus.  He is the Incarnate Son of God; fully Human, fully Divine.  His Divine Nature is that of the Son & Word of God, the Only-Begotten of the Father before all ages.  His Human Nature is that of His Incarnation of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary - full flesh and humanity without the stain of sin.  These Two Natures are united in One Hypostasis (His Person in the Trinity) without division, confusion, change, or separation.
Does one's nature imply all of one's attributes or only all the attributes in a certain class? What is the difference between one's "hypostasis" and one's nature?

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So we can say that Jesus is God and Man, and only in Him is this not contradictory.
Why would it be contradictory? It seems fairly coherent... unless you asserted, for example, that he retained omnipotence while he was mortal.

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As to how He is God: the Trinity is Three in One - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  There is One God, One Godhead, One Power.  There is the Father, Who Is beginningless, Who begets the Son from before all ages, and from Whom proceeds the Spirit.
Does "from before all ages" mean he is still being begotten?

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There is the Son, Who is co-beginningless with the Father, Who was begotten from the Father before all ages.  There is the Spirit, Who is co-beginningless with the Father and the Son, Who proceeds from the Father.  The Father is not the Son or the Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father or the Son; yet the Three are One - Trinity One in Essence and inseparable.

It is confusing and yet not confusing; simple and complex.
Yes... I see and I don't Smiley

So, sorry it is hard for me to keep track of the different responses, though I certainly appreciate them all, but do you believe the three called God are a single being/entity?

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Consider yourself: you are body and soul.  The soul and body work together in harmony, and constitute the one person that is you, and yet they can be spoken of separately.  We can choose to have body rule over soul, or soul rule over body, but the two must work together.  It is an imperfect example that points to the union of Man and Divinity in Jesus Christ.
So the Word became the soul and receiving a body was called Jesus Christ?

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Consider the miracle of St. Spyridon: a brick is made of clay, water, and "fire" (heat).  Each part is necessary for the formation of the whole, but within the brick they cannot be separated except through miraculous means (or destruction).  Within the brick the clay, water, and heat have been united, yet can be spoken of separately and have separate properties.  It is an imperfect example that points to the union of three in one in the Godhead.
Does the water remain in the brick or does it evaporate? The heat certainly is no longer present after the brick has been made. Isn't it more like the heat causes the water and clay to interact and transforms the clay alone into a brick?
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« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2010, 01:27:38 PM »

What does "eternally begotten" mean? I don't understand what it means to modify the word "begotten" with the word "eternally". Does it mean he is still being begotten? Is that just an added rejection of Arianism or is it found in the New Testament?
Eternally begotten is a difficult concept, partially because we do not as a whole understand it.
Isn't it the nature of a concept to be understood? How can it be a concept if not conceptualized? Maybe "eternal" is one concept and "begotten" is another, and how one or the other is to be modified (EDIT: or "interpreted" may be a better word) so as not to create a contradiction, is not yet understood or conceptualized?

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The Son is begotten of the Father, which is why He is Son.  However, He is beginningless - that is, He has no origin in time.  So His begottenness is from before eternity.
It seems that the phrase "before eternity" is incoherent since "before" presupposes sequence and duration and "eternity" includes all sequence and duration. It would be like saying "darker than the lack of light." Darkness presupposes a lack of light and the lack of light includes all darkness.

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This is easier to understand when we remember that God Is outside the realm of time and inside it - time is created by God.
How can time have boundaries which one can be inside or outside? Also, isn't change impossible without time? How could the creation of time (a change) be possible before change itself was possible?

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God sees the entirety of Human existence, from The Beginning to the end, simultaneously, and yet because of His infinite love and compassion He chose to enter into Time through His condescension (self-limitation).
Why do you believe time is created and has boundaries?

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Do you mean there is a difference between essence and nature? As if essence were the spiritual substance of God? Either way, do you mean they share in this essence as a single entity/being? Or are they two entities who have the same nature, essence, etc.?
The Father, Son, and Spirit are of One Essence.  There is One Divinity, One Godhead, One Power.  But they are of different Hypostases.
Respectfully, I don't understand why you didn't directly answer the question - How many beings are they? What is the difference between, essence, nature, person, and hypostasis? Does "OF one essence" mean two beings who have the same essence? or does it mean one being with two persons? What does the word "of" imply about whether God and Christ are a single being?

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So Jesus is called God because he is just like the Father in nature and essence?
Is of one essence with the Father.  One Godhead, One Divinity, One Power.  Three Hypostases (Persons), unconfused but undivided.
Again, what does "of" imply regarding how many beings God and Christ are/is? It sounds like you are saying God and Jesus Christ are a single being. A single entity.

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Are they a single being?
One Godhead, One Divinity, One God, One Power.
So you mean "Yes. They are a single being." ?

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Thank you for the encouragement.
Prayer is the greatest tool in the search to understand God, because it allows us to "understand" Him in the Biblical sense - by experiencing Him, rather than trying to "wrap our heads around" Him.
Thank you.

There is a verse in St. Paul's letter to the Colossians that has encouraged me to persevere in my eagerness to understand the truth about the Father and the Son: "that their hearts may be comforted, being united in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding, to the full knowledge of the secret of the God and Father, and of the Christ" (worded slightly differently in different Bible versions of course)

Regardless of translation, this seems to connect a unity of love with understanding and knowledge of the Father and Christ. It reminds me of Jesus' prayer in the Gospel of St. John where he prayed that all his disciples would be one just as he and the Father are one.
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« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2010, 01:42:40 PM »

I am specifically limiting my responses in order to remain consistent with the writings of the Fathers and teaching of the Church.  I'll hopefully be able to answer your above questions a little later today.
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« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2010, 01:52:04 PM »

Wow, which is bigger Aristotle's Metaphysics or Damascene's Exposition?

Very interesting book so far. It would be very helpful and much appreciated if someone familiar with St. John's Exposition could summarize or quote any parts that may answer my question about whether Jesus and his Father are a single being/entity.

And if a single entity then did the Son remain in heaven with the Father during the incarnation?
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« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2010, 01:53:14 PM »

I am specifically limiting my responses in order to remain consistent with the writings of the Fathers and teaching of the Church.  I'll hopefully be able to answer your above questions a little later today.
Thank you.
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« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2010, 06:09:16 PM »

Hello,

Would someone explain to me - Does the Orthodox Church teach that God and Jesus are the same entity?

The Church teaches that Jesus is the Logos, Who is one of the three hypostases (individual subsistence) of the Trinity.
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« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2010, 06:12:36 PM »

If the Father and the Son are a single entity

This is dangerous language, I think, as "entity" could be used to speak of hypostases, of which there are three in the Godhead, or it could be used to speak of their oneness in substance.

Was part of Jesus not on the earth?

All of the Godhead came to be on the Earth in Jesus. "The fullness of the Godhead dwells within me". The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all present in Jesus. The difference is that the Son was the only one to take the humanity as His own, rather than just dwelling in it as the Father and the Holy Spirit did.
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« Reply #26 on: June 08, 2010, 06:14:41 PM »

Could you explain why you think it is not a helpful term for me to use? I could substitute the word "being". Are God and Jesus the same being? I don't know how else to ask the question.

Before that question is answered, you should explain what you mean by "God". Do you mean God the Father of Jesus who was begotten of Him?
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« Reply #27 on: June 08, 2010, 06:17:04 PM »

It sounds like you are saying they are three distinct entities, or three distinct beings, who have the same nature, qualities, attributes, etc. Did I understand you correctly?

That is close to what he was saying. However, in God, having the same nature, qualities, and attributes leads to a oneness in existence that it does not in humanity. In humans, when there are two hypostases, they are separate. In God, when there are two hypostases, they are everywhere and always interpenetrating each other, there is not separation in them. Thus, though they have individuation, this individuation does not lead to a distinction in existence in the way that it does with us.
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« Reply #28 on: June 08, 2010, 06:22:06 PM »

I don't understand how the Orthodox church views Jesus as God, that is, in what sense he is God.

Jesus, the Logos, is eternally begotten of the Father. The Father gives everything that is His to the Logos as His own. In the Logos having everything that is the Father's, in being always and everywhere with the Father, and in acting in perfect accord with the Father, in this sense He is God.
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« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2010, 06:28:45 PM »

What does "eternally begotten" mean? I don't understand what it means to modify the word "begotten" with the word "eternally".

It means that it is not temporal. It doesn't happen within a point in time like our lives do.

Does it mean he is still being begotten?

A major problem with the word "eternity" is that people identify it with "forever", i.e. an infinite number of points in time. "Still" implies such an understanding. However this is not what eternity really means. Eternity means completely outside of points of time, rather than encompassing an infinite number of them. As such, it would not be appropriate to say that He is "still being begotten", as it implies the understanding that He is being begotten within time.

Is that just an added rejection of Arianism or is it found in the New Testament?

It is used to reject Arianism. And it is not explicitly found in the New Testament. However, it is implied by what is found in the New Testament. Jesus is referred to as begotten of the Father in the New Testament. Logically speaking, it would be hard to imagine how the Father could beget something in any manner other than an eternal one.
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« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2010, 06:32:01 PM »

So do you think the Son of God was in heaven with the Father during Jesus' public ministry?

The Father, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit were all in Heaven during that time. There were also all on Earth in the Incarnation of the Logos.
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« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2010, 06:33:44 PM »

unless you asserted, for example, that he retained omnipotence while he was mortal.

That is what the Church teaches. The Incarnate Logos retained all divine and all human properties.
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« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2010, 06:35:23 PM »

So the Word became the soul and receiving a body was called Jesus Christ?

No, that's actually a heresy called Apollinarianism.

The Logos is divine. He cannot change into a human soul.

The Logos took on not only a human body, but also a human soul: everything that is naturally in humanity.
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« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2010, 07:18:46 PM »

notme,

I had a response in mind to your last reply to me, but given the nature and extent of the progression of this thread since my last response it might not be expedient to carry our particular exchange any further. Heorhij and FrGeorge seem to be able to express themselves on this matter with greater clarity than I could. If you would still like me to respond though, let me know, and I'd be happy to. I just don't want to respond unnecessarily, that's all.
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« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2010, 07:20:46 PM »

If you would still like me to respond though, let me know, and I'd be happy to. I just don't want to respond unnecessarily, that's all.

Since the message would still be consistent with what is here, maybe the difference in presentation will be of benefit to notme.  Do what you think is best.
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« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2010, 10:02:57 PM »

I will try to summarize as simply as possible the explanation of St. Gregory of Nyssa:

Man (i.e. humanity or mankind) is several persons (hypostases) that share one nature (the human nature) 

God (i.e. divinity or deity) is several persons (hypostases) that share one nature (the divine nature)

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« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2010, 11:43:07 PM »

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I don't mean to be so critical of your usage of words. It's only because I would like to understand what the usage of words actually represents conceptually. If the words do not represent anything conceptually because they are linguistically or conceptually incoherent then the doctrine is not conceptual but only terminological. In which case, it is not a doctrine in the sense of knowledge but an uninformative modification of grammar.

We are really beginning to sound like a whole bunch of abstract metaphysicists, so I thought I would throw in a couple words about what the doctrine of the Trinity actually means, from the standpoint of Christian life. It is actually so essential to Christian life that it has gotten this whole complex system of language wrapped around it to keep it utterly heresy-proof.

The meaning of the life of the Church is that we are going “to” the Father, and we are going to Him “through” the Son and “in” the Holy Spirit. This phraseology was actually common in ancient liturgical use, e.g. the Liturgy of St. Clement, which repeatedly says “to You, through Your Son, in Your Spirit” as a sort of doxology.

The purpose of the Incarnation was to bring us into communion with God—that is, to God the Father.

Since we can achieve this communion through the incarnate Christ, through participation in his death and resurrection, through his Body the Church, we say that we go to the Father “through” the Son.

Since the regenerate human nature is energized and deified in the Holy Spirit (the process that the Scriptures call “justification”), we say that we go to the Father through the Son “in” the Holy Spirit.

This is one traditional way of understanding the work of the Trinity in the life of the Church. See also Eph. 2:18.

Another practical meaning is that the Church is the image of the Holy Trinity: rather than being a bunch of separate individuals, it is many hypostases (persons) who share in one nature and one essence, united by the bond of love, so that although many persons, we are One Body.

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do you believe the three called God are a single being/entity?

Let me pose a similar question that will hopefully not make too many people laugh.

If a monster has two heads, is it one being because they share in one body, or two beings because it has two distinct heads?

I wouldn’t necessarily compare God to a three-headed monster, but perhaps the question is only answerable in relative terms.
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« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2010, 10:20:59 PM »


Hi deusveritasest,

It was easier for me to keep track of your replies by putting them all together in one post. It seems like the main topics are omnipresence, atemporality, and the hypostases, substistence, etc. Basically undefined terminology. Or maybe someone already defined them and I didn't understand or missed it.

It sounds like your view might be that the Father and the Son are two distinct beings who are both everywhere?

Hello,

Would someone explain to me - Does the Orthodox Church teach that God and Jesus are the same entity?
The Church teaches that Jesus is the Logos, Who is one of the three hypostases (individual subsistence) of the Trinity.
What is a subsistence? I thought subsist meant exist.

If the Father and the Son are a single entity
This is dangerous language, I think, as "entity" could be used to speak of hypostases, of which there are three in the Godhead, or it could be used to speak of their oneness in substance.
What is a hypostasis? What substance is God? And in what way are they “one” in substance?

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Was part of Jesus not on the earth?
All of the Godhead came to be on the Earth in Jesus. "The fullness of the Godhead dwells within me". The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all present in Jesus. The difference is that the Son was the only one to take the humanity as His own, rather than just dwelling in it as the Father and the Holy Spirit did.
If the Father was literally present in Jesus, why did Jesus say his Father was in heaven and had sent him from heaven to earth, and that he was returning to heaven to be with his Father?

Could you explain why you think it is not a helpful term for me to use? I could substitute the word "being". Are God and Jesus the same being? I don't know how else to ask the question.
Before that question is answered, you should explain what you mean by "God". Do you mean God the Father of Jesus who was begotten of Him?
Yes, I meant the Father. When I say God I generally mean the Father. Not that I object to calling Jesus God. I just think the Father is primarily called God.

It sounds like you are saying they are three distinct entities, or three distinct beings, who have the same nature, qualities, attributes, etc. Did I understand you correctly?
That is close to what he was saying. However, in God, having the same nature, qualities, and attributes leads to a oneness in existence that it does not in humanity. In humans, when there are two hypostases, they are separate. In God, when there are two hypostases, they are everywhere and always interpenetrating each other, there is not separation in them. Thus, though they have individuation, this individuation does not lead to a distinction in existence in the way that it does with us.
Ok, a divine hypostasis is everywhere therefore the multiple divine hypostases have “a oneness in existence.” I'm not sure what it means to be everywhere. If these divine hypostases were everywhere or immeasurably vast and were able to transcend each other, wouldn't they still be three distinct beings or entities?

I don't understand how the Orthodox church views Jesus as God, that is, in what sense he is God.
Jesus, the Logos, is eternally begotten of the Father. The Father gives everything that is His to the Logos as His own. In the Logos having everything that is the Father's, in being always and everywhere with the Father, and in acting in perfect accord with the Father, in this sense He is God.
I still don't understand what eternally begotten means. It makes me think of emanation. Is this “begetting” the primary reason Jesus is called God?

What does "eternally begotten" mean? I don't understand what it means to modify the word "begotten" with the word "eternally".
It means that it is not temporal. It doesn't happen within a point in time like our lives do.
It sounds like you are saying time has boundaries. What does “not temporal” mean? That doesn't seem possible or coherent to me.

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Does it mean he is still being begotten?
A major problem with the word "eternity" is that people identify it with "forever", i.e. an infinite number of points in time. "Still" implies such an understanding.
Basically. I meant “continually”. Eternally Begotten sounds exactly like Continually Begotten to me.

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However this is not what eternity really means. Eternity means completely outside of points of time, rather than encompassing an infinite number of them.
That sounds, to me, like a unique way of saying “nonexistent”.

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As such, it would not be appropriate to say that He is "still being begotten", as it implies the understanding that He is being begotten within time.
Temporal boundaries again. I'm really not sure that is a coherent concept. I'm not saying I disagree or intend to refute your beliefs. I just don't see how it can actually mean anything.

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Is that just an added rejection of Arianism or is it found in the New Testament?
It is used to reject Arianism. And it is not explicitly found in the New Testament. However, it is implied by what is found in the New Testament. Jesus is referred to as begotten of the Father in the New Testament. Logically speaking, it would be hard to imagine how the Father could beget something in any manner other than an eternal one.
In my understanding, there is no such thing as atemporality so everything God does must be in a different manner than what you call “eternal”. Is atemporality an official Orthodox Church doctrine? Is it necessary to hold to atemporality in order to say whether the Father and Jesus are the same being or not?

So do you think the Son of God was in heaven with the Father during Jesus' public ministry?
The Father, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit were all in Heaven during that time. There were also all on Earth in the Incarnation of the Logos.
You teach Jesus was in heaven at the same time he was on the earth? Do you believe Jesus had a human soul and spirit? I don't understand what this would mean.

unless you asserted, for example, that he retained omnipotence while he was mortal.
That is what the Church teaches. The Incarnate Logos retained all divine and all human properties.
The Church teaches that Jesus had limited and unlimited strength?

So the Word became the soul and receiving a body was called Jesus Christ?
No, that's actually a heresy called Apollinarianism.
I think I was misunderstanding the analogy anyway.

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The Logos is divine. He cannot change into a human soul.
Why not?

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The Logos took on not only a human body, but also a human soul: everything that is naturally in humanity.
What does it mean that he “took on” a human body, soul, etc.? You said he was in heaven and that his hypostasis was “everywhere”. It sounds like he took control of a human body and soul while remaining immeasurably vast or everywhere.
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« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2010, 10:36:19 PM »

(Sorry, long post.)

For the terms (from wikipedia):

Hypostasis ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypostasis_(philosophy) )

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Hellenic philosophy

For instance it was used by Aristotle and the Neoplatonists to speak of the objective reality of a thing, its inner reality (as opposed to outer form or illusion). In the Christian Scriptures this seems roughly its meaning at Hebrews 1:3. Allied to this was its use for "basis" or "foundation" and hence also "confidence," e.g., in Hebrews 3:14 and 11:1 and 2 Corinthians 9:4 and 11:17.

Early Christianity

In Early Christian writings it is used to denote "being" or "substantive reality" and is not always distinguished in meaning from ousia (essence); it was used in this way by Tatian and Origen, and also in the anathemas appended to the Nicene Creed of 325. See also: Hypostatic union, where the term is used to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity. The term has also been used and is still used in modern Greek (not just Koine Greek or common ancient Greek) to mean "existence" along with the Greek word hýparxis (ὕπαρξις) and tropos hypárxeos (τρόπος ὑπάρξεως), which is individual existence.

Ecumenical Councils

It was mainly under the influence of the Cappadocian Fathers that the terminology was clarified and standardized, so that the formula "Three Hypostases in one Ousia" came to be everywhere accepted as an epitome of the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This consensus, however, was not achieved without some confusion at first in the minds of Western theologians, who had translated hypo-stasis as "sub-stantia" (substance. See also Consubstantiality) and understood the Eastern Christians, when speaking of three "Hypostases" in the Godhead, to mean three "Substances," i.e. they suspected them of Tritheism. But, from the middle of the fourth century onwards the word came to be contrasted with ousia and used to mean "individual reality," especially in the Trinitarian and Christological contexts. The Christian view of the Trinity is often described as a view of one God existing in three distinct hypostases/personae/persons. It should be noted that the Latin "persona" is not the same as the English "person" but is a broader term that includes the meaning of the English "persona."

Ousia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ousia )

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Ousia (Οὐσία) is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of εἶναι (to be); it is analogous to the English participle being, and the Greek ontic. Ousia is often translated (sometimes incorrectly) to Latin as substantia and essentia, and to English as substance and essence; and (loosely) also as (contextually) the Latin word accident — [1] which conflicts with the denotation of symbebekós, given that Aristotle uses symbebekós in showing that inhuman things (objects) also are substantive.[2]

Philosophic and scientific use

The Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle used ousia in their ontologies; their denotations are the contemporary philosophic and theological usages. Aristotle used ousia in creating animal phyla in biology, ousia denoting that which is shared: essence, form, and nature, and hypostasis denoting that which is particular: an individual instance or thing.

Much later, Martin Heidegger said that the original meaning of the word ousia was lost in its translation to the Latin, and, subsequently, in its translation to modern languages. For him, ousia means Being, not substance, that is, not some thing or some being that "stood"(-stance) "under"(sub-). Moreover, he also uses the bi-nomial parousia-apousia, denoting presence-absence, and hypostasis denoting existence.

Theological significance

Origen, (d. 251) used ousia in defining God as one genus of ousia, while being three, distinct species of hypostasis: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Synods of Antioch condemned the word homoousios (same substance) because it originated in pagan Greek philosophy. The Paul of Samosata entry of the Catholic Encyclopedia says:

It must be regarded as certain that the council, which condemned Paul, rejected the term homoousios; but, naturally, only in a false sense, used by Paul; not, it seems, because he meant by it a unity of Hypostasis in the Trinity (so St. Hilary), but because he intended, by it, a common substance, out of which both Father and Son proceeded, or which it divided between them — so St. Basil and St. Athanasius; but the question is not clear. The objectors to the Nicene doctrine in the fourth century made copious use of this disapproval of the Nicene word by a famous council.[3]

The general agreed upon meaning of ousia in Eastern Christianity is all that subsist by itself and which has not its being in another.[4] In contrast to hypostasis which is used to mean reality or existence.[5]

In 325, the First Council of Nicaea condemned Arianism and formulated a creed, which stated that in the Godhead the Son was Homoousios (same in substance) of the Father. However, controversy did not stop and many Eastern clerics rejected the term because of its earlier condemnation in the usage of Paul of Samosata. Subsequent Emperors Constantius II and Valens supported Arianism and theologians came up with alternative wordings like Homoios (similar) homoiousios (similar in substance), or Anomoios (unsimilar). While the Homoios achieved the support of several councils and the Emperors, those of an opposing view were suppressed. The adherents of the Homoiousios eventually joined forces with the (mostly Western) adherents of the Homoousios and accepted the formulation of the Nicene creed.

Consubstantiality ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consubstantial )

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Consubstantiality is a term used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios. "Consubstantiality" describes the relationship among the Divine persons of the Christian Trinity and connotes that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are "of one being" in that the Son is "generated" ("born" or "begotten") "before all ages" or "eternally" of the Father's own being, from which the Spirit also eternally "proceeds."

History of term

Since the Latin language lacks a present active participle for the verb "to be," Tertullian and other Latin authors rendered the Greek noun "ousia"(being) as "substantia," and the Greek adjective "homoousios" (of the same being) as "consubstantialis." Unlike the Greek words, which are etymologically related to the Greek verb "to be" and connote one's own personal inherent character, "substantia," connotes matter as much as it connotes being.

The term is also used to describe the common humanity which is shared by all human persons. Thus, Jesus Christ is said to be consubstantial with the Father in his divinity and consubstantial with "us" in his humanity. This term was canonized by the Catholic Church in 325 at the council of Nicaea.

It has also been noted that this Greek term "homoousian" or "consubstantial", which Athanasius of Alexandria favored, and was ratified in the Nicene Council and Creed, was actually a term reported to also be used and favored by the Sabellians in their Christology. And it was a term that many followers of Athanasius were actually uneasy about. And the "Semi-Arians", in particular, objected to the word "homoousian". Their objection to this term was that it was considered to be un-Scriptural, suspicious, and "of a Sabellian tendency.[1] This was because Sabellius also considered the Father and the Son to be "one substance." Meaning that, to Sabellius, the Father and Son were "one essential Person." This notion, however, was also rejected at the Council of Nicaea, in favor of the Athanasian formulation and creed, of the Father and Son being distinct yet also co-equal, co-eternal, and con-substantial Persons.

Application

Some English-speaking translators and authors still prefer the words "substance" and "consubstantial" to describe the nature of the Christian God. For example, in the Church of England it is used to describe the relationship between the sacred elements and the body of Christ as distinct from the Roman Catholic transubstantial relationship.[citation needed] Unless the reader has knowledge of the history and special ecclesiastical meaning of these terms, their use might make problematical the understanding of the Christian God as transcendent, that is, being above matter rather than consisting of matter. Recent translations of the Nicene Creed into English reflect the preference of using "of the same being" rather than "consubstantial" to describe the relationship of the Son to the Father.

Prosopon ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopon )

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Prosopon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Prosopon (pronounced /ˈprɒsɵpɒn/[1] or /prɵˈsoʊpən/,[2] from Ancient Greek: πρόσωπον; plural: Ancient Greek: πρόσωπα - prosopa) is a technical term encountered in Greek theology. It is most often translated as "person", and as such is sometimes confused in translation with hypostasis, which is also translated as "person." Prosopon originally meant "face" or "mask" in Greek and derives from Greek theatre, in which actors on a stage wore masks to reveal their character and emotional state to the audience. Both prosopon and hypostasis played central roles in the development of theology about the Trinity and about Jesus Christ (Christology) in the debates of the fourth through seventh centuries.

The term is used for "the self-manifestation of an individual" that can be extended by means of other things. For example, a painter includes his brush within his own prosopon. (Grillmeier, 126)

Prosopon is the form in which hypostasis appears. Every nature and every hypostasis has its own proper prosopon: face or countenance. It gives expression to the reality of the nature with its powers and characteristics. (Grillmeier, 431)

Two distinct Antiochene Christologists, Theodore of Mopsuestia followed by Nestorius, a disciple of Theodore, supported the prosopic union of the two natures (prosopon) of Jesus Christ rather than the accepted hypostatic union.

Theodore of Mopsuestia maintained a vision of Christ that saw a prosopic union of the divine and human. This was a union where Jesus was only a man indissolubly united to God through the permanent indwelling of the Logos. (Grillmeir, 428-39) He believed the incarnation of Jesus represents an indwelling of the spirit of God that is separate from the indwelling that was experienced by the Old Testament prophets or New Testament apostles. Jesus was viewed as a human being who shared the divine sonship of the Logos; the Logos united himself to Jesus from the moment of Jesus' conception. After the resurrection, the human Jesus and the Logos reveal that they have always been one prosopon. This oneness of Jesus and the Logos is thus the prosopic union. (Norris , 25)

Theodore addresses the prosopic union in applying prosopon to Christ. He accounts for two expressions of Christ – human and divine. Yet, he does not mean Christ achieved a unity of the two expressions through the formation of a third prosopon, but that one prosopon is produced by the Logos giving his own countenance to the assured man. (Grillmeier, 432) He interprets the unity of God and man in Christ along the lines of the body-soul unity. Prosopon plays a special part in his interpretation of Christ. He rejected the Hypostasis concept – believing it to be a contradiction of Christ’s true nature. He espoused that, in Christ, both body and soul had to be assumed. Christ assumed a soul and by the grace of God, brought it to immutability and to a full dominion over the sufferings of the body. (Grillmeier, 424-27)

Nestorius furthered Theodore’s belief in the prosopic union as thus: "prosopon is the appearance of the ousia: the prosopon makes known the ousia." The two prosopa are united "In Christ… the one prosopon does not belong to a nature or hypostasis which arose through the natural union of Godhead and manhood, but to the unity of the two unconfused natures." (Grillmeier, 510)

Essence-Energies Distinction ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essence%E2%80%93Energies_distinction )

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The Energies of God are a central principle of theology in the Eastern Orthodox Church understood by the Fathers of the Church, and most famously formulated by Gregory Palamas, defending the hesychast practice, which involves the vision of a "Divine Light" against charges of heresy brought by Barlaam of Calabria.

Basic principles

The Essence of God

The concept of God's essence in Eastern Orthodox theology is called (ousia) and is distinct from his energies (energeia in Greek, actus in Latin) or activities in the world. The ousia of God is God as God is. It is the energies of God that enable us to experience something of the Divine. At first through sensory perception and then later intuitively or noetically. The essence, being, nature and substance (ousia) of God is taught in Eastern Christianity as uncreated and incomprehensible. God's ousia is defined as "that which finds no existence or subsistence in another or any other thing".[1] God's ousia is beyond all states of (nous) consciousness and unconsciousness, being and non-being (like being dead or anesthetized), beyond something and beyond nothing.[2][3] The God's ousia has not in necessity or subsistence needing or having dependence on anything other than itself. God's ousia as uncreated is therefore incomprehensible to created beings such as human beings. Therefore God in essence is superior to all forms of ontology (metaphysics).[1] The source, origin of God's ousia or incomprehensibliness is the Father hypostasis of the Trinity, One God in One Father.[4][5] The God's energies are "unbegotten" or "uncreated" just like the existences of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) both God's existences and energies are experience-able or comprehensible. God's ousia is uncreatediness, beyond existence, beyond no existence, God's hyper-being is not something comprehensible to created beings.[6] As St John Damascene states "all that we say positively of God manifests not his nature but the things about his nature."[7]

Distinction between created and uncreated

For the Eastern Orthodox, the distinction as the tradition and perspective behind this understanding, is that creation is the task of energy. If we deny the real distinction between essence and energy, we can not fix any very clear borderline between the procession of the divine persons (as existences and or realities of God) and the creation of the world: both the one and the other will be equally acts of the divine nature (strictly uncreated from uncreated). The being and the action(s) of God then would appear identical, leading to the teaching of Pantheism.[8] Eastern Orthodox theologians assert that Western Christianity treats God's ousia as energeia and dunamis (Aristotle's Actus et potentia) as part of the scholastic method in theology. Which allows God's incomprehensibility to become comprehensible, by not making a distinction between God's nature and manifestation of things about God's nature. As Aristotle and Pagan philosophy taught that God was the underlying substance, nature, being, essence (ousia) of all things (as the Monad in substance theory). Making the very thing that makes God, God (uncreated, incomprehensible) the same as God's created world and created beings. God's ousia then becomes detectable and experienced as a substance, essence, being or nature. Rather than God's hyper-being (ousia) as, infinite and never comprehensible to a finite mind or consciousness. Therefore Pagan philosophy via Metaphysical dialects sought to reconcile all of existence (ontology), with Mankind's reason or rational faculty culminating into deification called henosis. Where in Pagan henosis all of creation is absorbed into the Monad and then recycled back into created existence. Since in Pantheism there is nothing outside of creation or the cosmos, including God, since God is the cosmos in Pantheism. Or rather meaning no ontology outside of the cosmos (creation). Where as Orthodox Christianity strictly seeks soteriology as reconciliation (via synergeia) of man (creation, creatures) with God (the uncreated) called theosis. Mankind is not absorbed into the God's ousia or hypostases or energies in theosis. Ousia here is a general thing or generality, in this case ousia is the essence, nature, being, substance of the word God and concept of God. Various Orthodox theologians argue Western Christianity teaches that the essence of God can be experienced (man can have the same consciousness as God); they charge that Western Christianity's treatment is very much in line with the pagan speculative philosophical approach to the concept of God. Since no distinction is made between God's essence and his works, acts (i.e. the cosmos) that there is no distinction between God and the material or created world, cosmos. Gregory Palamas' distinction is denied in favor of pagan Philosopher Aristotle's Actus et potentia.[9] Uncreated as that which has no first cause and is not caused, in Eastern Orthodoxy therefore being the basis for understanding outside the realm of science. Atheism here being a denial of the uncreated. Pagan philosophical metaphysics being a dialectical attempt to rationalize the uncreated.[10]

Denial of separation is speculative theology and not empirical theology

See also: Catholic–Orthodox theological differences
The Catholic Church as a matter of dogma rejects the separation of God's incomprehesible essence from God's Activities or energies in creation.[11] Therefore making God his activities or energies, rather than saying God is in essence, being, nature and substance distinct from his activities. Just as Eastern Christians make the distinction between God in essence and God in hypostases. Here distinction does not reflect discord (duality) but rather is complementary. The denial of separation between God's essence, being, nature and substance and God's creation (from those activities) itself in Pagan philosophy is called Pantheism. In the denial of what God is in essence, being, nature, substance (ousia) from what God does via energies, acts, power, force (energeia and dunamis). This line of thought is the basis for the accusations of Pantheism. The concepts of energeia and dunamis are taken from various Pagan Hellenic Philosophers including Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus. This distinction here between Hellenistic philosophy and Eastern Christianity is that, from the perspective of Hellenistic pagan (folk) philosophy, God is a substance, essence, being or nature, comprehensible (immanent) which as a modalistic, linear sequential monad, or singularity that emanates, reality. In contrast, from the perspective of Eastern Christianity, God's ousia is apophatic and beyond all forms of finite expression and understanding. Here in Eastern Christianity God because of his ousia is beyond anything and all things comprehensible. God is beyond energeia and dunamis, God as infinite called the Father hypostasis has within his essence, being, nature, substance, of infinite, incomprehensibility and can not be defined or contained into any form of comprehension. Therefore undermining and also transcending metaphysics, God's ousia is not reconcilable to human reason or human rationale and as incomprehensible means God is strictly not one, God is not unity, God is beyond these concepts and is therefore in ousia not definable, experience-able, detectable. God manifests to man in experienceable (but non-confinable) ways as his existences or realities which include his energies (activities). Eastern Christians, believe that, at best, God is hyper-being in ousia. Orthodox theologians charge that, through the philosophical teachings of the West, this distinction is denied in Western Christianity. Western Christianity the East charges would not arrive at this teaching if Western theologians used theoria rather than speculative philosophy to validate their understanding of God.[12]

The Distinctions of God

The existences of God

God as infinite and hyper-being (as existent) is called the Father (hypostasis)[13] as origin of all things created and uncreated.[14] God's hands that created the finite or material world are the uncreated existences (hypostases) of God named the Son (God incarnate Jesus Christ) and God immaterial and in Spirit (called the Holy Spirit).[15] Since all of the existences of God as well as all things derive from the Father. What is uncreated as well as created also too, comes from God the Father (hypostasis).[16] The God as uncreated in ousia is infinite and is therefore beyond (not limited to) being or existence.[6] The ousia of God is uncreated and is a quality shared as common between the existences of God. This in Eastern Christianity is called hyper-being, above being (hyperousia).[17][18]

The realities of God

It is also taught that there are three distinct realities of God. There is the hypostases of God in existence; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Second there is the essence, nature, substance, being of God as ousia that confirms that each hypostasis of God is God, as only God is uncreated. God is uncreated as infinite, God is uncreated as logos, God is uncreated as immaterial Spirit, life, consciousness. There finally is God as the energies (uncreated and supernatural) activities of God in the created world as well as the created world itself i.e. love, beauty, faith, good, kindness, truth, humility and wisdom.[19]

Economy of God

With the Essence–Energies distinction the economy of God or oikonomian in Greek is established within Eastern Orthodox theology. This allows for one to speak of God in essence, being, nature, substance and also of God as his activities in the world. As one must not confuse the transcendential and unknowable essence, being, nature, substance of God with His activity in history.

In Eastern Christianity Hellenistic philosophical words or concepts are used, due to it being the common language of the Christians and Pagans at the time of Christianitys appearance, but the meanings and the concepts themselves are different. In Eastern Christianity God's energies can not be created or destroyed unlike in the West where some energies are created and others not. Energies here as immanence of God are the activities (noesis) of the human spirit (nous) that validate the existence of the uncreated in the world. They are unbegotten or uncreated, because they are an experience of something which comes from beyond existence. Orthodox theology holds that while humans can never know God's "Essence" and that direct experience of God would simply obliterate us (much as Moses could not survive seeing God's face), God's "Energies" can be directly experienced (as Moses could see God's back and live). The energies here being distinct from the existences or hypostasis[20], of the God in Trinity. The energies of God are not considered to be unique to a specific hypostasis of the Trinity. Instead, they are common to all three.

The presence of the energies is not to be taken as denial of the philosophical simplicity of God. Therefore, when speaking of God, it is acceptable within Eastern Orthodoxy to speak of his energies as God. These would include kataphatic or positive statements of God like the list of St Paul's energies of God. God being love, faith and hope and knowledge (see 1 Cor. 13:2 - 13:13).[21] As is also the case of Gregory of Palamas that God is grace and deifying illumination.[22]

In the life of the believer

The important theological and soteriological distinction remains that people experience God through his energies, not his essence. Traditionally, the energies have been experienced as light, such as the light of Mount Tabor that appeared at the Transfiguration (called photimos). The light that appeared to St Paul on the Road to Damascus. The light that appeared to the apostles in the book of Acts 2:3. Orthodox tradition likewise holds that this light may be seen during prayer (Hesychasm) by particularly devout individuals, such as the saints. In addition, it is considered to be eschatological in that it is also considered to be the "Light of the Age to Come" or the "Kingdom of Heaven" the reign of God, which is the Christ.
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« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2010, 10:37:54 PM »

notme,

I had a response in mind to your last reply to me, but given the nature and extent of the progression of this thread since my last response it might not be expedient to carry our particular exchange any further. Heorhij and FrGeorge seem to be able to express themselves on this matter with greater clarity than I could. If you would still like me to respond though, let me know, and I'd be happy to. I just don't want to respond unnecessarily, that's all.
I appreciate your input.

It seems like there is a lot of confusing terminology: Hypostases, Subsistence, Persons, Begotten, etc. It seems like it is not clear in Orthodox doctrine whether the Father and Son are the same being or not. Am I perceiving correctly? Maybe we can find the answer if I understand the terminology? Is that why people have brought up all these terms? Or maybe the terminology is not necessary? Either way is fine with me.

I'm sure you know better than I do what would be expedient at this point. Thank you.
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« Reply #40 on: June 09, 2010, 10:43:47 PM »

^ Just before you posted that, I provided most (I hope all) the useful definitions for this discussion.
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« Reply #41 on: June 09, 2010, 10:44:16 PM »

I will try to summarize as simply as possible the explanation of St. Gregory of Nyssa:

Man (i.e. humanity or mankind) is several persons (hypostases) that share one nature (the human nature) 

God (i.e. divinity or deity) is several persons (hypostases) that share one nature (the divine nature)
That seems simple and clear. So deity in that sense is like saying "Godkind". So, it sounds to me like Gregory believed the Father and Jesus are both divine but they are two distinct beings.
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« Reply #42 on: June 09, 2010, 10:46:01 PM »

^ Just before you posted that, I provided most (I hope all) the useful definitions for this discussion.
Thank you.
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« Reply #43 on: June 09, 2010, 10:48:39 PM »

^ Just before you posted that, I provided most (I hope all) the useful definitions for this discussion.
Thank you.

I'm sorry the post is so long, but I didn't want to short-change you with a "quickie" definition.
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« Reply #44 on: June 09, 2010, 10:57:26 PM »

It sounds like your view might be that the Father and the Son are two distinct beings who are both everywhere?

One of the problems with this discussion is that you keep wanting to know about the terms "being" and "entity", but no one seems to know exactly what you mean by them, and thus we are not capable of answering the questions that involve them. If you want to keep using them, and really want an answer about them, I think it will be necessary to succinctly define them.

What is a subsistence? I thought subsist meant exist.

"Subsistence" is really the best translation of the Greek "hypostasis" I have come by so far. Yes, it means something close to "existence". More exactly, however, it means the individual existence of a particular substance/nature. This means that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of the same existence, but they are three individual instances of it.

What is a hypostasis?

Beginning in the mid 4th century and since then, hypostasis has been used to essentially mean the individuated existence of a class of being.

What substance is God?

The substance of God could perhaps be called "divinity".

And in what way are they “one” in substance?

Like I said, everything that the Father is the Son also is, save that they have come into being in different manners. The Father has no origin and the Son is begotten from the Father. That everything the Father is the Son also is, save that they are two different instances of this one "isness", is what it means for them to one in substance.

If the Father was literally present in Jesus, why did Jesus say his Father was in heaven and had sent him from heaven to earth,

Because He condescended to take as His own an instance of humanity from Mary.

and that he was returning to heaven to be with his Father?

This is because His humanity was not yet in Heaven. He went to Heaven to be with His Father because He ascended in His circumscribed humanity.

Yes, I meant the Father. When I say God I generally mean the Father. Not that I object to calling Jesus God. I just think the Father is primarily called God.

Well, I can't fully answer your question yet because "being" has not yet been defined. I could answer it according to my understanding of the word, but that would be a hasty thing to do as you might not mean the same thing by it. However, given your clarification of what you mean by "God", Jesus was eternally begotten by God, and is in all things the same as Him with respect to divinity, save that He is another instance of the same divinity.

Ok, a divine hypostasis is everywhere therefore the multiple divine hypostases have “a oneness in existence.” I'm not sure what it means to be everywhere. If these divine hypostases were everywhere or immeasurably vast and were able to transcend each other, wouldn't they still be three distinct beings or entities?

How could things that were each everywhere with each other and each immeasurably vast in the same way be said to "transcend each other"?

I still don't understand what eternally begotten means. It makes me think of emanation. Is this “begetting” the primary reason Jesus is called God?

Yes, but not after the temporal manner of Man in which a child is one moment non-existent and the other moment conceived, but He is being begotten outside of time, such that the "this then that" form of human begetting cannot apply.

It sounds like you are saying time has boundaries. What does “not temporal” mean? That doesn't seem possible or coherent to me.

Time is segmented into various moments through which we pass. At one time we are in one moment. Then we leave that moment behind and enter into another; this process continuing over and over again. Eternity is not like that. It is not segmented and it is not made up of various moments or points of time that are each gradually passed through. It just is. God even points to this when he says "I Am Who I Am".

Basically. I meant “continually”. Eternally Begotten sounds exactly like Continually Begotten to me.

No, it means it is actually transcendent to the very process of passing from one moment to another.

That sounds, to me, like a unique way of saying “nonexistent”.

The Fathers have said that God is beyond existence, yes. However, regarding God as "non-existence" is to have a narrow minded view of reality by which temporality is the only dimension in which something can exist. The Christian Tradition has taught otherwise.

Temporal boundaries again. I'm really not sure that is a coherent concept. I'm not saying I disagree or intend to refute your beliefs. I just don't see how it can actually mean anything.

Well, it makes perfect sense to me. Something just being, not being here, then there, then the next place, or in one time, then another, then another.

In my understanding, there is no such thing as atemporality so everything God does must be in a different manner than what you call “eternal”. Is atemporality an official Orthodox Church doctrine? Is it necessary to hold to atemporality in order to say whether the Father and Jesus are the same being or not?

Well, I think you are in error in saying that there is no such thing as alternatives to temporality. That is essentially what "eternity" is understood to mean in our Tradition, as far as I understand. And yes, I think it is necessary to believe that in order to understand that the Father and Jesus are one God, because otherwise you get "there was a time when the Son was not", and the Son is rendered a creation.

You teach Jesus was in heaven at the same time he was on the earth?

Yes. Jesus was on Earth and in Heaven in His divinity and on Earth in His humanity.

Do you believe Jesus had a human soul and spirit?

Yes.

The Church teaches that Jesus had limited and unlimited strength?

Jesus had the capacity for unlimited strength because He was divine. He was limited in His strength only when He deigned to operate in such a manner through His humanity.

Why not?

Because God is impassible and immutable. He is always divine and cannot change into another thing. The only thing that can happen is a particular hypostasis takes on an instance of another class of being into Himself and subsist in it as His own without changing His divinity.

What does it mean that he “took on” a human body, soul, etc.?

It means that He came to possess and subsist in a human body and a human soul as we do.

You said he was in heaven and that his hypostasis was “everywhere”.

He is everywhere with respect to His divinity, including Heaven and Earth. He was on Earth with respect to His humanity. Then He ascended into Heaven with respect to His humanity. And then He came to present on Earth in a mystical manner in the Church through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

It sounds like he took control of a human body and soul while remaining immeasurably vast or everywhere.

No. He didn't possess a human. He became a human while remaining also God.
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Tags: Trinity Monotheism Persons 
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