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Author Topic: Will and the Causation of Hypostases in the Trinity  (Read 954 times) Average Rating: 0
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William
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« on: August 11, 2011, 06:38:45 PM »

Howdy,

Is the Generation of the Son and the Procession of the Holy Spirit an act of will by God the Father? Or is it just something that automatically happens because it is intrinsic to the Paternal hypostasis? Or is it both?
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2011, 06:48:23 PM »

There is a far amount of debate about this issue, actually, so if you really want an answer I think you're going to have to settle with lacking a consistent collective one.
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2011, 06:52:12 PM »

This is actually a very good question...
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2011, 06:53:48 PM »

Would the latter make the LORD a little more dependant on His nature?
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William
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2011, 08:07:09 PM »

Would the latter make the LORD a little more dependant on His nature?
I'm not exactly sure how one could not be dependent on their own nature. That seems to me to go against what a nature is. It couldn't possibly be your nature if you were independent of it, as a nature is, by definition, that which is intrinsic and inherit to something. You cannot be independent of that which is intrinsic.
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2011, 08:17:58 PM »

So are you interested in mere theological opinions here?
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William
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2011, 08:19:45 PM »

So are you interested in mere theological opinions here?
Yes.
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2011, 09:32:30 PM »

OK. I would say that to generate other subjects out of love is the natural will of the Father. His nature leads Him to desire to do so and as a consequence of the experience of this desire He chooses (no, not in a deliberative, uncertain, "gnomic" way) to eternally Beget the Son and Breathe the Spirit. So it is an act of will, but it is nonetheless an act of natural will, and an eternal act. In this sense I think it could be said that it is intrinsic to the Father to desire this and do this, but I don't know that "automatically" is good language; it seems to imply that it is not voluntary.
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2011, 09:42:43 PM »

Would the latter make the LORD a little more dependant on His nature?
I'm not exactly sure how one could not be dependent on their own nature. That seems to me to go against what a nature is. It couldn't possibly be your nature if you were independent of it, as a nature is, by definition, that which is intrinsic and inherit to something. You cannot be independent of that which is intrinsic.

First off, love the question you asked.

Secondly, is it appropriate to say that God actually has a nature, or do we use this term to help ourselves in trying to understand (what we can about) God? If it's the former, then wouldn't God be limited since He would have to act according to a composite part of Himself? If the latter, then couldn't we say that the act of progression and generation is willfully done?

May the Lord have mercy upon me if I offend Him for what I am about to say, but...

One key teaching about the Trinity is that we see an act of love within the Trinity. This act of love extends to us in creation. But love exists within the Trinity and not just any kind of love, but sacrificial love (I've seen this from Orthodox thinkers such as Richard Swinburne and others). From what I've read and from my understanding of the Trinity, the begetting of the Word and the procession of the Spirit is the Father sharing His glory and honor with two others, which is an act of love.

Of course, the above doesn't really answer the question in my opinion, but maybe it will for you.
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2011, 09:57:59 PM »

OK. I would say that to generate other subjects out of love is the natural will of the Father. His nature leads Him to desire to do so and as a consequence of the experience of this desire He chooses (no, not in a deliberative, uncertain, "gnomic" way) to eternally Beget the Son and Breathe the Spirit. So it is an act of will, but it is nonetheless an act of natural will, and an eternal act. In this sense I think it could be said that it is intrinsic to the Father to desire this and do this, but I don't know that "automatically" is good language; it seems to imply that it is not voluntary.
That makes sense.

You mentioned that there's debate on this. Are there really those who hold that the Father's causation of the other hypostases is either involuntary or extrinsic to His nature? Who? I can't imagine any Church father saying the former. The latter seems more plausible, but not by much.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2011, 09:59:14 PM by William » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2011, 10:03:39 PM »

OK. I would say that to generate other subjects out of love is the natural will of the Father. His nature leads Him to desire to do so and as a consequence of the experience of this desire He chooses (no, not in a deliberative, uncertain, "gnomic" way) to eternally Beget the Son and Breathe the Spirit. So it is an act of will, but it is nonetheless an act of natural will, and an eternal act. In this sense I think it could be said that it is intrinsic to the Father to desire this and do this, but I don't know that "automatically" is good language; it seems to imply that it is not voluntary.
That makes sense.

You mentioned that there's debate on this. Are there really those who hold that the Father's causation of the other hypostases is either involuntary or extrinsic to His nature? Who? I can't imagine any Church father saying the former. The latter seems more plausible, but not by much.

Most people who take issue with what I have said gravitate towards greater emphasis on the intrinsic nature of the Trinity. They take issue with some of the ideas I used such as "choice", "voluntary", "act", "willful", and "consequence". I think there are basically two parties that debate each other, one that is willing to admit that the eternal relationships are a matter of action, will, and choice, and those who are not. I really have no idea how the Church Fathers figure into this debate; like I said it's one that isn't covered in Tradition a great deal and is mostly a matter of theological opinion.
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2011, 10:04:47 PM »

Secondly, is it appropriate to say that God actually has a nature, or do we use this term to help ourselves in trying to understand (what we can about) God? If it's the former, then wouldn't God be limited since He would have to act according to a composite part of Himself? If the latter, then couldn't we say that the act of progression and generation is willfully done?

I think that if we can't in some sense speak about general truths about the nature of God then essentially revelation as a whole must be thrown out the window.
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2011, 10:14:56 PM »

Secondly, is it appropriate to say that God actually has a nature, or do we use this term to help ourselves in trying to understand (what we can about) God? If it's the former, then wouldn't God be limited since He would have to act according to a composite part of Himself? If the latter, then couldn't we say that the act of progression and generation is willfully done?

I think that if we can't in some sense speak about general truths about the nature of God then essentially revelation as a whole must be thrown out the window.

What I meant was can we say that God has a nature like we have a nature? I'm currently too lazy to get up and look through my library, but I remember reading a passage from St. John of Damascus as well as St. John Chrysostom speaking of how God is beyond a nature, that when we say He has a "nature" it's like referring to the "hands" of God.

Regardless, let me say that I found your explanation (the post before my own) to be superb and impressive. It said what I was attempting to say, only I spewed verbal garbage. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2011, 04:45:26 PM »

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« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2011, 08:20:39 PM »

This is a great question.  A couple of thoughts immediately come to mind.

1) The Fathers are united in the claim that the world is a mutual act of trinitarian will.  The world might never have been.  So however we understand the trinitarian processions, they need to be clearly distinguished from the act of creation. 

2) The question, as posed, may well be unanswerable, it seems to presuppose that the Father could be the Father apart from the Son.  But the Father and the Son are constituted by their mutual relations and are thus inseparable.   How is it possible for us to conceive the possibility of the Father without his Son? 

3) On the other hand, it seems wrong to say that the begetting of the Son is an involuntary act of the Father.  It does not sound right to attribute necessity to God, as if he is captive to his nature.  Met John Zizioulas argues that the First Council of Constantinople altered the original creed of Nicaea, which stated that the the Son is begotten of the substance of the Father, precisely to avoid any intimation of necessity in the Trinitarian relations (see his book Lectures in Christian Dogmatics, chap. 2).   
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« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2011, 07:39:18 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

This is actually a very good question...
Agreed, if I would take a guess from interpreting several coinciding fathers opinions about tangent issues, I would say that the Father, Son , Holy Spirit exist as One by Nature, not will, generation, or procession.  Generation and procession are I believe in the context of "how" less than "why" or "what" and "will" I would say is definitely not the cause and further "will" is philosophically a "why" question.  Surely Will is a part of it, as the Father must in some way Will the existence of the Trinity in order for the Trinity to exist, for all things including His self-existing Self exist according to the Will of God. However, we can't say the the Son and Holy Spirit ONLY exist by a willful act of the Father, because this negates their Co-Equality and further naturally subjugates the Son and Holy Spirit under the Father.

Quote
One key teaching about the Trinity is that we see an act of love within the Trinity.
So true, the Trinity reflects both the Love and relationship of God even within Himself. 

Quote
2) The question, as posed, may well be unanswerable, it seems to presuppose that the Father could be the Father apart from the Son.  But the Father and the Son are constituted by their mutual relations and are thus inseparable.   How is it possible for us to conceive the possibility of the Father without his Son? 

I think this answers the question from the OP

stay blessed,
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« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2011, 09:08:46 PM »

Howdy,

Is the Generation of the Son and the Procession of the Holy Spirit an act of will by God the Father? Or is it just something that automatically happens because it is intrinsic to the Paternal hypostasis? Or is it both?
The divine will is not a faculty of the divine Persons: the Father does not have a will seperate from the Son or the Spirit.

On the one hand it happens automatically because it is intrinsic to the Paternal hypostasis (one is not a Father untill one begets a son/daughter), on the other hand it does not happen automatically, but because it is the nature of the Father to pour out in love begetting the Son.
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