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Bulgakov. Triunity Category: Theosis Meyendorff. Triunity

God. Trinity. Triunity
In the works of Fr. Thomas Hopko

The «One God» of the Trinitarian theology

Fr. Thomas Hopko:
“ … the one God, in Whom we believe, strictly speaking, is not the Holy Trinity. The one God is God the Father.”

Now here we have to see a very important point for Trinitarian theology. And that is in the Bible, in the Scriptures, and then, therefore, in the Creeds — and particularly in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, which became the creedal statement for ancient Christianity and remains the baptismal, liturgical creed for the Eastern Orthodox Churches and most Christian Churches for this very day, as it was formulated and put together and received from the first two Ecumenical Councils (Nicaea in 325 and Constantinople in 381) — that [is] in this Creed and as it is proclaimed in liturgical prayers — and certainly in the Liturgical Prayer, the Anaphora (which is a word that means «raising up» or «offering up», which is a technical term for the Eucharistic prayer, the Eucharistic canon, where the bread and wine, the prosphora, are first elevated and offered to God as we lift up our hearts and have our hearts on high when we remember the saving activity of Christ at the Holy Eucharist service) — in the Bible, in the creeds, and in the Liturgy, it's very important, really critically important, to note and to affirm and to remember, that the one God, in Whom we believe, strictly speaking, is not the Holy Trinity. The one God is God the Father. That in the Bible, the one God is the Father of Jesus Christ. He is God Who sends His only-begotten Son into the world. And Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And then, of course, in a parallel manner, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. That the Holy Spirit being the Spirit of God, is therefore also the Spirit of Christ, the Messiah, because the Christ is the Son of God, upon Whom God the Father sends and affirms His Holy Spirit. I think this is very important, because there are wrong understandings of the Holy Trinity.

Three instances of divine life in a perfect and total unity

Fr. Thomas Hopko:
“ … the other terrible error … is where people say: there is «one God Who is the Holy Trinity», there is «He Who Is the Trinity»”
“ … we Orthodox Christians … can never say: there is «one God Who is the Holy Trinity». There is «one God Who is the Father».”
“ … Those three Whos are called … three Persons or three Hypostases … three instances of divine life in a perfect and total unity.”

On the other hand, there is another terrible error, and the other terrible error, usually called Modalism in technical theological terminology, is where people say: there is «one God Who is the Holy Trinity», there is «He Who Is the Trinity». And we Orthodox Christians, following scripture, and the creedal statements, and the liturgical prayers, can never say: there is «one God Who is the Holy Trinity». There is «one God Who is the Father». And this one God Who is the Father has with Him eternally, Whom He begets timelessly before all ages, His only-begotten Son — Who is also His Logos, His Word, and also His Chokhmah, His Sophia, His Wisdom, also His Eikona, His Ikon, His Image. But this Wisdom and Word and Image and Ikon of God is divine with the very same divinity as God, the One True and Living God, because «He is Who He is», and His is another Who from the Father. There are three Whos. There is He Who is the Father, He Who is the Son, and He Who is the Holy Spirit. Those three Whos are called the three Persons or three Hypostases. Probably the term «hypostases» is a better term, because it means three instances of divine life in a perfect and total unity. But it is important to remember that the one God is the Father of Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God. As the Nicene Creed said, “He is God from God, true God from true God”. Here the Christians would say and insist that the one God and Father, from all eternity, has with Him His Son.

30 I and my Father are one.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name (τὸ ὄνομα) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος):

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
1 Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος

14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM (אֶֽהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶֽהְיֶה): and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM (אֶֽהְיֶה) hath sent me unto you.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God (Ἀναβαίνω πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου καὶ πατέρα ὑμῶν καὶ θεόν μου καὶ θεὸν ὑμῶν).

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God (ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου).

Creed

 

Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed

1. I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
2. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

1. Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεόν, Πατέρα, Παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων.
2. Καὶ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων· φῶς ἐκ φωτός, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί, δι οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο.
8. Καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, τὸ κύριον, τὸ ζωοποιόν, τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, τὸ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συμπροσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον, τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν.

 

Athanasian Creed

 

15. … the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God.
16. … they are not three Gods; but one God.
24. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another.
25. … the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped.

3. And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence.
5. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost.
15. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God.
16. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord.
18. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord.
24. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another.
25. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped.

Incorrect equation of the trihypostatic I with God the Father

Impersonalistic thought tends to equate the Divine Absolute Subject, the triune trihypostatic I, with God the Father. To a certain degree this veils the impersonalistic conception of Divinity.

John of Damascus, too, is not averse to making such an equation.

But this is incorrect.

Impersonalistic thought tends to equate the Divine Absolute Subject, the triune trihypostatic I, with God the Father. To a certain degree this veils the impersonalistic conception of Divinity. John of Damascus, too, is not averse to making such an equation, as is attested, in particular, by the following statement: "Of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit we speak not as of three Gods but rather as of one God, the Holy Trinity, since the Son and the Holy Spirit are referred to one Cause, but, despite Sabellius' opinion, are not combined and do not merge" (Precise Exposition of the Orthodox Faith I.8). This identification of "Divinity" with the Father is even more evident in John's further affirmation: "When we look at Divinity, the first cause, the monarchy, the unity and identity of Divinity … we then imagine one. But when we consider what Divinity consists in, or more precisely what Divinity is and what proceeds from it, what exists eternally from the first cause with equal glory and without separation, i.e., when we consider the hypostases of the Son and the Spirit, we then get three" (I.8).

Despite all the imprecision of these definitions, one can nevertheless conclude that, in a certain sense, St. John of Damascus follows Origen in conceiving the Father as the Neoplatonic One, as proto-divinity, proto-will, proto-hypostasis (and not only as the First hypostasis). But this is incorrect. God, as the triune trihypostatic Subject, as the Absolute Person, is not the Father as one of the three hypostases, even if the First (and on this pathway it is impossible to avoid Origenistic subordinationism); rather, He is the tri-une subject in which three are one and one is three.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Comforter
VIII. The Trinitarian and Pneumatological
Doctrine of St. John of Damascus

Совершенное Божество и совершенное человечество

Ереси либо отрицают соединение совершенного Божества с совершенным человечеством либо искажают смысл этого соединения, не усматривая в нем полного и существенного сочетания совершенного Божества с совершенным человечеством.

Обращаясь ко всему человеку, а не к отвлеченному уму, и ко всему человечеству, а не к уединенным избранникам, церковное христианство заявляет свою способность жить и действовать во всемирной истории. … Все языческое общество по почину государственной власти подчиняется христианству, подчиняются христианству и языческие воззрения. … Обе враждебные христианству силы, и религиозное умозрение Востока, и гражданственность, взятая с Запада, действуют теперь более изнутри, и тем опаснее их действие.

В области религиозных верований теперь уже не отрицают Христа как Сына Божия и вместе сына человеческого (как это делали прежние еретики), не отвергают в нем соединения божественного и человеческого элементов, а только искажают смысл этого соединения, не усматривая в нем полного и существенного сочетания совершенного Божества с совершенным человечеством. Так, первая и самая знаменитая из этих новых ересей — арианская — понимает Богочеловека как нечто среднее или промежуточное между той и другой природой; Христос здесь есть нечто меньшее, чем Бог, и нечто большее, чем человек, не совсем Бог и не совсем человек; совершенное же Божество остается недоступным и непостижимым, и человек не может получить истинного обожения. Вместо воссоединения во Христе Творца с творением является некое неопределенное и странное между ними сближение. Это сближение настолько несовершенно, что даже первенец всея твари, Христос, согласно арианскому учению, не имеет настоящего познания о верховном Боге, не знает Его так, как Он есть, тогда как, по православному учению, совершенный человек, будучи внутренно сообразен совершенному Божеству как его подлинный образ, имеет о нем и полное познание.

Когда церковь, после великих смут, причиненных этою ересью и ее разветвлениями, решительно отвергла арианского полубога и окончательно формулировала (на двух первых Вселенских соборах) догмат единосущия божественных ипостасей, является Несторий, — не отрицающий этого единосущия, не отрицающий совершенного божества в Логосе, не отвергающий и совершенной человечности Иисуса, но не допускающий между ними полного внутреннего и непрерывного совпадения, а признающий только некоторое пребывание Логоса в Иисусе, как в своем жилище или храме. Утверждая, что в Иудее родился только человек, на которого впоследствии снизошел Бог — Слово, Несторий отрицал человеческое рождение Бога (т. е. от человеческой матери) и в силу этого отвергал и Богородицу. Осужденное в храме Эфесской Богоматери нечестие скоро обернулось в другую, противуположную, по-видимому, но в сущности однозначащую форму. Если Несторий допускал только внешнее, неполное соединение божества с человечеством, то Евтихий и его последователи, монофизиты, утверждали соединение настолько полное, что человечество всецело превращается в Божество. Но такое соединение, в котором совершенно исчезает одно из соединяемых, не есть уже соединение, а поглощение. Таким образом, обе ереси, при видимой своей противоположности (одна разделяет, другая сливает), сходятся в своем единственном результате — в отрицании истинного богочеловеческого сочетания, в котором сохраняется сила обоих соединяющихся элементов при полноте их внутренней связи.

Владимир Сергеевич Соловьев
Великий спор и христианская политика

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