Hi again Allen,
I am most happy to read Edgar's most recent posts on his blog concerning St.
Justin Martyr and Athenagoras of Athens, because what Edgar has to say
here provides extremely clear examples of the kinds of AMBIGUITIES which he
HABITUALLY uses as the primary basis for his frequent EQUIVOCATIONS. "Less
divine"? Well, in WHAT SENSE, precisely? Edgar doesn't tell us. Though what
he is trying to imply (hiding behind what other people have written, as is his
'style' - which serves his purposes quite well, in that when juxtaposing two or
more authors with each other, one can easily create the appearance that they are
using the same terms in PRECISELY the same 'sense' as eachother) is quite
obviously, that St. Justin taught that the Son was 'subordinate' to the Father
as respects ESSENSE, when, in fact, St. Justin not only taught no such thing,
but EXPLICITLY stated in his writings that the Son is INSEPARABLE from the
ESSENCE of the Father; and in the same context spoke of the Son as being 'numerically distinct' from the Father:
Jason shows his tendency to be a dogmatist and also demonstrates that he is not capable of sticking to the subject matter of a thread. No worries, for I am getting used to it. He is playing a game that is as old as Jesus. Whatever I say (as long as it does not comport with his "orthodox" worldview) is wrong. If I quote Trinitarians I am relying on other people or misrepresenting them. If I quote the pre-Nicenes, I am twisting their words. Whatever! It is actually Weinandy who uses the phrasing "less divine." In what sense he uses the wording, we are not told. But in the same work, Weinandy speaks of the "subordinationism" of Justin Martyr. I assume that he is employing that term in its standard technical manner. If Jason fails to understand what Weinandy means by "subordinationism," maybe Jason would like to ask Weinandy. As for me, I am familiar with what such words mean in this discourse context. Subordinationism generally does refer to creaturehood concerning its referent or to inferiority vis-a-vis essence. That Justin Martyr speaks of the Son being "numerically distinct" from the Father does not prove that he believed the Son is hOMOOUSION with the Father. That proposition "The Son is consubstantial with the Father" does not logically follow from the proposition "The Son is numerically distinct from the Father." Additionally, it did not escape my notice that Jason had nothing to say about Justin's words in 1 Apology 6.1-2. That text clearly implies that Justin possibly adhered to a form of subordinationism. There are other texts at my disposal whenever Jason is ready to discuss the primary literature produced by the Martyr.
his meaning, once again, as is READILY discerned from the CONTEXT, being that the Son is PERSONALLY distinct, BUT MOST DEFINITELY NOT 'essentially' distinct
from the Father.
Assertions do not cut it in this game. Where is the evidence that supports your asseverations?
Again, we read:
"In touch with the creation"? Well, of course! (Col. 1:15-20
with Eph. 1:3-14; also Rev. 3:14 and Prov. 8:22-31 LXX with Gen. 1:1-5 and John
1:1-5) But hardly in the same sense in which Foster is attempting to imply!
For, the doctrine of the distinction between the "internal Logos' and the
'uttered Logos' which Athenagoras explicitly held to (as Foster's quotation of
him demonstrates) is implicitly - but nonetheless CLEARLY - contained in St.
Justin's writings. (And Eastern Christian theology, to this day, STILL has a
'place' for these concepts, as it, differentiates just as clearly as Athenagoras
did, between the Trinity in Its 'Essence' and the Trinity in that which
'surrounds' Its Essence, namely the Divine 'Energies'/'Operations'.) And, to
use a modern day analogy borrowed from science, which corresponds very closely
to what the Fathers were trying to convey via usage of the 'science' of their
times, one can think in terms of what physicists have to say concerning the
'initial singularity' at which the universe begins. It is INCLUDED within
space-time as a 'boundary' or a 'limit' to space-time, yet in such a manner as
to form neither any actual spatial nor actual temporal PART of it.
If memory serves me correctly, Weinandy articulates the view that Justin's doctrine of the Son or Logos places God's Son in touch with the created order. What Weinandy means, for those not versed in church history or historical scholarship, is that Justin views the Son as the intermediary or mediator of creation. Like Philo, Justin appears to believe (in some sense) that while God the Father cannot be in touch with creation, the Logos or Son can be. See Dialogus cum Tryphone 127. Justin believes that the Father absolutely transcends the created order and necessarily mediates creation through the Son. As for Athenagoras' remarks concerning the internal/external Logos and the comments on the "initial singularity," I know these subjects all too well. I fail to see their relevance, however, with respect to the present discussion.
Trinitarian 'in utero'? 'Precursor' to trinitarianism? What is that supposed to MEAN? EITHER Athenagoras held to the homoousion OR he did not. (Law of excluded middle) If the homousion, then Athenagoras was DEFINITELY trinitarian by anybody's standards EXCEPT that of Foster's EXTREME view of what 'authentic'
trinitatianism consists in, based upon his preferred radical interpretation of
the 'Athanasian' Creed (which, BTW, doesn't even use the term homoousios! - What could be a surer sign than this that it does not originate from the 'Athanasian' tradition?!). If, against the homousion, then surely not in any sense a 'precursor' representing 'trinitarianism' 'in utero'; but RATHER - if anything - an implicit ARIAN! The wonderful thing about 'ambiguity' is that Foster can have it both ways - he can have his cake and eat it too! On the one hand, he can trace the alleged 'development' of 'trinitarianism'; while on the other hand, he can avoid being honest in admitting that the ante-Nicenes were ACTUALLY 'trinitarians'. He can attribute the 'subordinationism' of the ante-Nicenes to the 'influence' of Hellenistic philosophy WHEN this 'subordinationism' allegedly LEADS to 'trinitarianism', while at the same time denying this attribution, WHEN - in his opinion - the very same ante-Nicenes were simply following biblical 'revelation' (or, RATHER, Foster's heretical interpretation of that 'revelation'.) And, of course, here's the clincher: The more PRECISE in their usage of language the Fathers become - and thus, the less susceptible they become to being ABUSED for the purpose of 'supporting' Foster's interpretation of ISOLATED statements in their writings,
all the more this becomes taken by Foster as positive evidence of their
'Hellenization' - the impact of the conflicts first with Gnosticism and
Sabellianism, and then later with Arianism (all of which 'systems' were clearly
PAGAN to the core) being regarded, to all appearances, as a 'negligible' factor
to take into consideration when considering WHY it is that the Fathers 'slowly
BUT SURELY' become more and more precise in their manners of expression as
regards the Trinity and the Incarnation, as far as Foster is concerned!
I do not see what is so difficult to understand about Trinitarianism in utero. First, I do not believe that Athenagoras adhered to the belief that the Son or Holy Spirit is consubstantial with the Father. But what "in utero" means can be discerned by reading R.M. Grant's book Gods and the One God. In the context of discussing Theophilus and other pre-Nicenes, he observes that one does not find a doctrine of the Trinity in these early writers, but what we have rather than a doctrine of God's triunity as such are "materials" for the Trinity doctrine. Grant defines the Trinity doctrine as a doctrine "that tries to explain the relation of three Persons to the one God" which is not what we evidently find in the early pre-Nicenes (See Gods and the One God, p. 156).
To make sure that Jason does not misunderstand my point again, I want to make it clear that I have not said Athenagoras was "against" the hOMOOUSION formula: he simply did not affirm anything like it. Nor have I referred to Athenagoras as an "implicit Arian." These categories are just more fictions attributed to me by Jason. Jason seems to have a hard time understanding that just because the materials for Trinitarianism exist in a certain writer does not mean that the writer is Trinitarian simpliciter or Trinitarian in the proper sense of the term. It is really quite simple: when the Fathers make statements that are completely incompatible with the basic claims of Trinitarianism (e.g. the Son is omnipotent, omniscient, fully God), then it is fair to conclude that they adhered to a form of subordinationism. As R.P.C. Hanson noted:
"With the exception of Athanasius virtually every theologian, East and West, accepted some form of subordinationism at least up to the year 355" (The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988, p. xix.).