Did C. S. Lewis contradict himself on Monarchy?

Lewis’s beautiful (and unassailable) remarks on Monarchy are liturgical in nature and point to the fact that proper veneration is essential to man’s nature (Sutton 1985).

Monarchy can easily be debunked; but watch the faces, mark well the accents of the debunkers. These are men whose tap-root in Eden has been cut; whom no rumor of the polyphony, the dance can reach — men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honor a king they honor millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead; even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison. (1)

Beautiful, wise words and in need of no commentary.   Democrats–and under that label I include  theonomists, Ron Paul fans, the American Media Elite, Baptists–immediately point to another Lewis quote,

I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of man…mankind is so fallen that no one man can be trusted with unchecked power.

Here is the difficulty with the latter quote:  Lewis affirmed both in the same essay (“Equality,” February 11, 1944).   Assuming he isn’t just stupid enough to contradict himself within a few paragraphs, we must assume that Lewis did not think monarchy and at least some form of democratic government to be mutually exclusive.

The better apologists of monarchy realize that forms of social democracy are not incompatible with monarchy.   One of the difficulties moderns have with monarchy is they read later absolutist doctrines back into earlier monarchical systems.  As a result, they think that all monarchs are necessarily as evil as Edward I of Bravheart (which itself was a stereotype, however superior the movie is).

But as Fr. Raphael has noted, even the more absolutist Tsarist system was never supremely absolutist.  Absolute rule was an impossibility, for there were many mediating institutions between the peasant and the monarch:  the church, guild, and village.  As Johnson noted elsewhere (2004) it was Western liberalism that sought to remove the institutions that protected the common man from the raw power of the State:

Liberalism did one thing (and it was not elevating the “dignity of the individual”); it destroyed the intermediate institutions, the varied local foci of authority that preserved communal freedom in the complex of informal groups who emanated their own specific brand of authority in their own particular sphere of competence. Freedom is never abstract, it is always freedom to do something specific or to be free of some specific irritant. The oligarchy, Russian or otherwise, therefore, demands standardization and conformity because the strictness of contract law and exchange cannot admit of groups of traditional yet still informal and ad hoc groupings (however enshrined by tradition) that characterize traditional societies

In fact, our conclusion is this: any healthy monarchical system must also be radically  socially democratic on the levels where democracy truly helps the people:  village and guild.

NOTES

(1) This quotation is from Lewis’s essay, not Sutton’s.  The reference to Sutton concerned his essay on the liturgical nature of man.

Works Cited:

Johnson, Matthew.  The Third Rome:  Orthodoxy, Tsarism, and Holy Russia.  New York:  The Foundation for Economic Liberty, 2004.

Lewis, C. S.  “Equality” Present Concerns.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987.

Sutton, Ray.   “The Saturday Night Church and the Liturgical Nature of Man” Christianity and Civilization  (4) 1985.

Questions for Medieval Protestants

When I realized the traditional Federal Calvinist position could not be salvaged, I began to look for alternatives that would not take me to Rome or Mother Russia.  Rome could not work because I could not square my mind with all of the perceived contradictions in Roman history and papalism, as ably evidenced by Robert Letham.  (Ultimately, I would begin to move towards Orthodoxy–to start the journey.  Incidentally, the late Jaroslav Pelikan’s bishop told him to wait ten years before he left Lutheranism for Mother Russia).

Federal Calvinists will probably point out–and rightly so–that I came through the Reformed faith reading the fringe elements, and in that cauldron I was cooked. That’s true.  I live(d) in close vicinity to Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church and was able to buy all kinds of historical and theological literature from 30% to 70% off (which reminds me, I need to go there today and buy Bruce’s book on the canon for $10).  Not surprisingly, they also had all the Canon Press materials and Rushdoony books.  I read all of what they had.   The Gnostics at Puritanboard.com were rebuking me and urging me to read “Berkhof” and Calvin instead.   Well, I read through Berkhof’s systematic and through Calvin at least twice. 

One of the books I read was Wilson and Jones’ Angels in the Architecture.  I was stunned by the beauty of the writing.  It made me want to become a Norse warrior and sail the frozen seas (they had a chapter on Beowulf), a dream I still have.  The book advertised itself as “A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth.”  Of course, that’s sheer nonsense since it has nothing in common with “medievalism.” 

Notwithstanding, it set the agenda.  I asked the question, “If such medievalism is so beautiful, why must we hate it theologically?”  Indeed, the owner of the SocietasChristianas blog had me asking similar questions.  If Church History is really God’s story of saving his people, are we justified in positing a break from the Apostles/Nicea until the Reformation?

The Medieval Protestants–I do not really know how to define these guys, even I I was one back in the day–want to posit some form of Protestantism’s continuity between today and the early and medieval church.   To their credit, they actually try.  Most Federal Calvinists say that the Reformation was the recovery of Calvinism, but aside from that assertion, they don’t argue anything.  So, my questions:

How do Medieval Protestants maintain the continuity between today and the practices of the early and Medieval Church? 

As Schaff admits, the early church engaged in liturgical practices–that in many cases would become more explicit in the medieval Church–that are out of bounds with any form of Protestantism.   Therefore, what is your link of continuity?   If you say you are connected–presumably organically, if I may reference Nevin–to the early church, yet you reject practices they considered essential, how are you then connected?

Do you have any friends?

I am not being snarky with that question.   If you are honest, you will realize that your theological worldview–I know that term is useless now, but I can’t think of a better one; I’ll use weltanschang instead–is out of bounds with the leading Calvinism today.  If you think it is in bounds, spend a semester at RTS instead.   On the other hand, the above question already noticed your discrepancies with more historical and traditional forms of Chrisitanity.   So where are you?  Of course, not having any theological or ecclesiological friends isn’t a slam against whether your theology is right or worng, but if this is the fullness of the faith, and there are only a few of you, well…

What is the Apostolic Deposit?

St Jude says the faith was once delivered to all the saints.   This is the heart of the post.   We all agree that the apostolic deposit cannot be lost.  That is where you are strongest, actually (ironically, that part of your blog also got me facing Orthodoxy).   This means that doctrines and practices from the early church should be visible today.   That’s easy to prove, regardless of whether one is Reformed, Orthodox, or Catholic.   Fair enough.  It also means the practices should be visible throughout church history.    Therefore, we should see from A.D. 100 to 1517:

  • A specifically Protestant canon.
  • A rejection of venerating Mary and the Saints.
  • Church rulership by elders defined in such a way to preclude apostolic succession and bishops.
  • Sola fide

Those are just a few.  If we don’t see those, then how do we say that these Protestant distinctives are part of the apostolic deposit?

 

 

Christ and the Decree

Part of this post is a book review of Muller’s Christ and the Decree.  The other part is a critique of Calvinist Christology.

Richard Muller’s work begins on a promising note:  he refuses to view election in any way apart from the Person of Christ, specifically regarding the role of the mediator.   Part of the difficulty in this review is noting what is Muller’s own view and what is John Calvin’s.    Assuming Muller wants to identify his position with Calvin’s, I will use “Muller” and “Calvin/Calvin’s contemporaries” interchangeably.   One of the so-called caricatures of Reformed theology is that it posits an angry Father making an arbitrary decision on who gets to go to hell and to heaven.   Muller reconstructs Calvin’s work to show that Calvin spoke of election in the context of Christology; therefore, election and the saving work of Christ can never be separated.  By the end of the review one will see how successful Muller was.

This review will examine the historical development of Reformed perspectives on predestination as they relate to a specifically Reformed approach to Christology.   The reviewer intends to offer a critical evaluation at the end of the review, documenting shortcomings in Reformed Christology.   Until then it is the reviewer’s intent to use a fairly appreciative tone and highlight some very important arguments Calvinists have made on this topic.  Also, whether or not the doctrine of unconditional election is true or false is independent of Muller’s historical thesis.   If election is false, that in no way validates whether Muller’s reconstruction of these Reformers is true or false.

Muller begins his book with a review and reconstruction of Calvin’s Christology.  There are some difficulties in evaluating Muller’s line of argument on Calvin.   When Muller speaks of the “church fathers,” it is not always clear to whom he is referring.   Sometimes by “fathers” he means simply Augustine.    Occasionally he will contrast Calvin and Augustine with “the Eastern Fathers,” but then he arbitrarily divides “the Eastern Fathers” from “Hilary of Poitiers,” who did his most formative work in the East.

As to the Christology itself, Calvin distinguishes the Person of the Son from the Son as God, which leads to the Reformed doctrine of aseity and autotheos (Muller 29).  Much of the book will hinge on the connections between aseity, autotheos, and extra calvinisticum. This leads to Calvin’s important doctrine of mediation, which is framed according to the Son’s two natures.   Muller claims that Calvin’s Christology is a historical Christology that focuses on the covenant-keeping God who acts in history to save man.   Muller claims this is a genuine innovation.  In fact, it is the covenant-keeping Christology that sets Calvin apart from the Eastern and Chalcedonian Christology (33).  Presumably, the East is more interested in a Divine Person who assumes a human nature to himself, whereas Calvin is more interested in the mediator who acts in history to save his people.  (By the end of the review one will see if this claim can be substantiated.)

The rest of Muller’s book tracing the development from Peter Martyr Vermigli to William Perkins documents how these writers viewed election “in Christ.”   There is no such thing as a nude Deos absconditus who makes deals “behind the back” of the Son.   Starting with Vermigli, we see an emphasis on grace as mediated (57), putting a Reformed slant on a very Roman Catholic doctrine and structure (showing how much a child of Rome Protestantism truly is). One side-note related to this, and important for Muller’s thesis, is that election is mediated by Christ while reprobation is im-mediate (80).   In other words, Christ actively saves the elect while no person actively damns the reprobate.   Obviously, Muller is putting a very infralapsarian spin on the matter.

Criticisms of Calvin’s Christology

It is curious that Muller thinks Calvin’s Christology is robustly historical, while the Eastern Christology is more concerned with abstract speculations.  Is it true that the East does not focus on the “historical dimension” of Christology?    In his landmark study on Cyril of Alexandria, John McGuckin notes concerning the Alexandrian tradition, “It began its consideration of all theology in terms of the narrative of the eternal Lord’s acts of salvation towards his people” (McGuckin, 176, emphasis added).   Elsewhere Brian Daley notes, commenting on the pre-Nicene and Nicene theological method, that the Fathers did speak of the work of Christ in a historical manner, “he [Eusebius of Caesarea] distinguishes such language from the narrative of what God has done in history through Jesus, the plan that he calls ‘the economy’” (Daley 42, emphasis added).   One could object that McGuckin and Daley are offering reconstructions of older Christologies in newer terminologies.   Fair enough, though if that is true then Muller is doing the same thing with Calvin.
Joseph P. Farrell writes concerning what he calls “First Europe” (Eastern and Western Patristic Orthodoxy), that the God they speak of is this God who does these things for His people.   Concerning St Ambrose Farrell writes, “For him, the ultimate reference in this passage is to God the Son, Christ in his Incarnation.  This fact gives the context an historical specificity” (Farrell 3-4, emphasis author’s).  Therefore, one must conclude that Muller’s assertion that the Fathers were not concerned with the historical dimension of Christology is simply false.

The Problems of Triadology and Christology are Inter-connected

One of the more common complaints against Calvinist Christology is the specifically Nestorian structure it takes.   In other words, Reformed Christology has a tendency to speak of the separate natures of Christ as ultimately (and logically and temporally) prior to the Person of the Son.    The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter eight, paragraph six, speaks of the Person of the Son as both “divine and human.” It says this because it sees the two natures constituting the Person, rather than simply the divine person assuming a human nature.

Calvin gives this specifically Antiochene Christology a more rigid structure.   Starting with Calvin we see the office of mediator replacing, if only in emphasis but likely exceeding that, the Person of the Son.  In other words, as Muller hints, “Office has replaced person” (180-181).  This is not accidental.  If the extra-calvinisticum be true, if there is the divine nature still outside of the Person of the Son, then there has to be, for Muller, priority on the office of the Mediator.  But more importantly, this goes back to the Reformed emphasis on the finite non capax infiniti:  the finiti cannot contain the infinite.

The most Nestorian moment in Reformed Christology is the idea that the two natures constitute the Person.    This is seen specifically in the Westminster Confession of Faith, but also in the Reformed Scholastics.  Peter Martyr Vermigli says “Christ is constituted out of both natures” (Muller 59).   Theodore Beza calls Christ a medius, a mean between the two natures (92).   Ursinus will go even further and assert that the Logos is not the whole Person of the Mediator (102).   Interestingly, although Muller does not draw this out, we see here a connection between the doctrine of autotheos—the Son as fully God in and of himself—a Nestorian structure of the hypostasis, and the extra-Calvinisticum.  Anglican John Milbank summarizes this admirably by noting that Calvin’s Christology “…has a somewhat Antiochean dynamic interaction between the divine and human natures of Christ, as if this were some kind of schizophrenic interplayof different persons” (Milbank 33).

With the heavy emphasis on the extra-Calvinisticum and the doctrine of autotheos, it is questionable if Reformed Christology can remain faithful to Nicea.  Nicea said Christ was “God of God,” emphasizing that Christ does derive his divinity from the Father.  In fact, it is precisely this that the Niceans meant by “God.”  God was ho theos kai pater tou Iesou Christou.   We call upon God as Father, not as simplicity itself.  The doctrine of the extra-Calvinisticum falls prey to the same problems that St Gregory of Nazianzus noted of earlier, problematic doctrines of the Trinity:  it lacks a personal principle of unity.   True, the Reformers do want to confess that the Son is of the Father, but they immediately confess that he is also God of himself.    At best this is very confusing.  Somewhat worse, and more likely, it is simply contradictory, at worst…

St Gregory notes, and his argument is worth quoting in full,

“The three most ancient opinions concerning God are anarchia, polyarchia, and monarchia.   The first two are the sport of the children of Hellas, and may they continue to be so.  For anarchy is a thing without order, and the rule of many [polyarchia ] is factios, and thus disorderly, and thus anarchia.  For both of these tend to the same thing, namely disorder; and this to dissolution, for disorder is the first step to dissolution.
But monarchia is what we hold in order…” (Gregory of Nazianzus 301).

One would think Gregory is simply discussing different political systems.  While that is in the background, and Gregory’s presentation of sacerdotal monarchy is certainly to be preferred, he is primarily talking about the doctrine of God.  It is true that he defines monarchia as the Holy Trinity in one sense, but in another Gregory is simply restating the traditional view that the Father is the monarchia of the Son and Spirit.

Finally, given the doctrine of autotheos, one is reminded of the often standard confusion of person and nature.   Given Calvin’s construal of the Son of God per his autotheotic divinity and the Son of God the Father, it is often difficult to know concerning which “Son” Calvin is speaking.  The charges of Nestorianism are not groundless.

On a side note, Muller does admit that Calvinism has a Scotist and nominalist structure:  God’s will is prior to his goodness (89).

Conclusion

The problems in Reformed Christology notwithstanding, Muller’s book deserves high praise.   He has done yeoman’s work synthesizing a large amount of material, the nature of which is prohibitive to the average layman.   On the other hand, many will have trouble with Muller’s turgid prose.   There are a few problems, however.   In the background of the book is the recent “Calvin vs. the Calvinist Debates,” which posits that the later Reformed scholastics warped Calvin’s pure message.   I am not competent to discuss the ins and outs of the debate, nor is it relevant to the current review.  Muller wants to posit a clear continuum between Calvin and the scholastics, and he makes a convincing case.  On the other hand, every time he comes across contrary material which seems to posit election within the arbitrary decrees of God, Muller simply brushes it aside, often with no more than a few words of argument, if that much.

Secondly, while Muller highlights the interconnections between various Reformed loci, and he rightly places the Reformers in their Anselmic and Augustinian contexts, he does not seem to be aware of some the main implications of an Augustinian ontology.   Augustine was famous for saying that God is his attributes. He writes, “The Godhead is absolutely simple essence, and therefore to be is then the same as to be wise” (Augustine 106).   Therefore, if God’s attributes = his essence, and his essence is immutable, then an attribute such as “will” is also immutable. Consider the argument, understanding “simplicity” to be a great “=” sign.  If A = B, and B = C, then A =D.    Further, per this Augustinian gloss, then one must come to the conclusion that “to foreknow = to predestine.”   If foreknow then equals predestine, and God foreknew the damned to reprobation, then given Augustinian simplicity one must conclude that God also predestined the damned to hell.  This forces a reevaluation of the earlier claim that election is mediate while reprobation is immediate.
Future Reformed historical theologians need to come to grips with a number of questions:   given Augustinian simplicity entails the filioque, and given that Reformed Christological and soteriological distinctives stem from said simplicity, how then does the filioque impact Reformed soteriology.    I do not fault Muller for not dealing with these questions.  The scope of his work is simple (no pun intended) enough.   Further, it is to his credit that he notes the connections between simplicity, extra-calvinisticum, and autotheos.  It remains to future Reformed historians to face the challenges to Augustinian simplicity.

Works Cited

Augustine.  “On the Trinity.”  Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (First Series).  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing Co., 1994.

Daley, Brian.  Gregory of Nazianzus.  New York: Routledge, 2006.

Farrell, Joseph P.  God, History and Dialectic: The Theological Foundations of the Two Europes, no publisher, 1995.

Gregory of Nazianzus.  “The Five Theological Orations.”  Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Volume 7. (Second Series).  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing Co., 1994.

McGuckin, John.  Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy.  Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004.

Milbank, John.   “Alternative Protestantism.”  Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Traditon. eds. Smith, James K. A. and Olthuis, James H.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Muller, Richard.  Christ and the Decree:   Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology from Calvin to Perkins.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Academic, 1986 [2008].

Critiquing Van Til’s Triadology

Critiquing Van Til’s Triadology

Cornelius Van Til (CVT) was notorious for saying the “Trinity is one person and three persons.”  The Clarkian school attacked him for logical inconsistency.  I think CVT was wrong, but I don’t think he was violating the laws of logic.   Van Til admitted to using “person” in a different sense, which avoids the charge of contradiction.    But was Van Til correct?  In reviewing CVT I will look at John Frame’s Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought.   Frame offers the most charitable and thoughtful reading of Van Til on this point and is much clearer than Van Til could ever be.

Here is the offending passage,

It is sometimes asserted that we can prove to men that we are not asserting anything that they ought to consider irrational, inasmuch as we say that God is one in essence and three in person.  We therefore claim that we have not asserted unity and trinity of exactly the same thing.  Yet this is not the whole truth of the matter.   We do assert that God, that is, the whole Godhed, is one person” (CVT, Introduction to Systematic Theology, 222).

Following this passage on page 66 Frame has a couple of paragraphs extolling sola scriptura and the need to call the Creeds to further biblical truth.   Frame is doing this because CVT’s quote is at odds with the Westminster Confession and the Athanasian Creed.

Frame/CVT continue on a helpful note acknowledging that each of the persons of the Godhead fully posses the divine nature (67).  Frame asks the pertinent question:  is God’s “being” personal or impersonal?  Frame argues that if God’s nature is impersonal, it risks being an abstraction.

“Van Til’s answer,” as Frame notes, “is that God is absolute personality” (68).  It is important to keep in mind that by God CVT (and Frame) do not mean what Nicea and the Cappadocians meant by God—the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whom we communion by the Spirit—but the “being” of God.  (This is very important for the following discussion).

Frame goes on, “It cannot be overlooked that Scripture speaks regularly about God acting personally…” (68).

One must respond, however, that natures do not act.  Persons act.   Even if we say that the nature is personal, if we posit the principle that natures act—which is what Frame is arguing here—and we apply that principle to Christ, then we have two acting subjects in Christ, which is Nestorianism.

Frame argues that when one person of the Trinity acts, all are acting.  Yes, but they aren’t acting in the same way.  The Spirit didn’t become incarnate, etc…

Frame urges caution in treating Van Til for “this is a mystery beyond our comprehension” and we won’t be able to exhaust God’s essence.   That’s true, but CVT painted himself into a corner.   If he is saying that God’s nature is a person, then a host of heresies entail.[i]  If he means something else by “person” other than what the Church has always confessed, then he is unnecessarily confusing the issue, and it’s best he not say anything at all.


[i] St John of Damascus said all heresies err on the same point:  they say person and nature are identical.

Thinking out loud, dispensationalism

Pre-trib rapture of the church (2nd Coming)

Start of the millennium (3rd Coming)

given the apostasy at the end of the millennium–per the dispie system–is Jesus present in Jerusalem during the apostasy? (further, how can there be sin and death in the eschatological presence of Christ?)   If so, big problems entail.  If not, does he come again to throw Satan into the fire (this posits the fourth return of Christ)?

Hopeful Imagination: Prophetic Voices in Exile

Brueggemann, Walter.  Hopeful Imagination:  Prophetic Voices in Exile.  Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1986.

Brueggemann’s Biblical Methodology 

One can appreciate the way Brueggemann reads the Bible.    For all of Evangelicalism’s rejection of Plato and its (rightful, if not always self-understood) suspicion of Hellenism, Evangelicals are thoroughly Platonic when it comes to thinking about the Biblical text.  Evangelicals see the Old Testament as one seamless unity in which all texts[i] have equal applicatory power to the life of the believer.   Brueggemann shows how untenable that view is.   While sensitive to the fact this is God’s word, these texts reveal a highly dynamic sitz em leben.  Not only do many texts of the Old Testament—moral and civil texts at that—not easily apply to today’s life, they didn’t even apply to the life of the “Old Testament” believer in many cases.[ii]

His Thesis

Brueggemann’s thesis is helpfully summarized in the final pages of the book:  Jeremiah urged “grief” in order for newness to come out of brokenness, a brokenness caused by idolatry.   Ezekiel posited God’s holiness as the only ground of hope, for only God’s holiness remains “undeconstructed.”   2nd Isaiah points the way back from exile with new community, new hope, and both by way of a “new memory” (131-133).[iii]

Brueggemann argues that 587 B.C. is a break in Israel’s prophetic history (2).  After the Babylonian exile, the Prophets had Israel’s text—or better her “collective memory”—in a different way.  For example, it would not have done any good to preach the covenant promises of Deuteronomy 28-30 to the captive community without radically altering the way they are applied.   Therefore, the prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel—had to draw upon new applications of Israel’s older memories.  The older stories still work, but they have to work in a new way.

An Hegelian on Crack?

There are some difficulties with Brueggemann’s project.    Brueggemann sets forth the prophet as the critic of the Bourgeois.  The prophet calls against the moral and theological compromise in the power circles.   That is good and there is no problem with that.   It appears, though, that there must always be a prophet who is critiquing a system that is always corrupt and is calling forth a new system which, too, will soon become corrupt.

It is not fair to critique an argument simply based on the implications of how some will apply the argument—and I largely agree with what Brueggemann is saying.  However, it would have been interesting to see how he develops the same true insights in a new setting.  In other words, it would have been helpful for him to “imagine” a more normative, yet morally just setting in which these prophetic insights could play.

Conclusion

Unlike other academic, Brueggemann writes with a rare passion for the “church” (leave that word undefined for the moment).  He rightfully points out the liberal compromise (prostitution) with modernity and the conservative compromise with the status quo.  He calls attention to our idols:  sexual myopia, technology, and power.   Following the early critics of modernity, he sees economics, justice, and sex as interconnected.[iv]  Unfortunately, while Brueggemann is interacting with the text at all times, he is rarely doing exegesis.  He is giving the reader excellent applications of certain texts, but is not always interpreting the text.


[i] Or depending on one’s perspective in the Theonomy debate, all texts under a certain subset of “the law” (e.g., moral, ceremonial, civil).

[ii] Greg Bahnsen pointed out the same thing, something that I repeatedly point out to theonomists and constitutionalists when they use 1 Samuel 8 against the idea of monarchy.

[iii] While it remains outside the focus of Brueggemann’s project, N. T. Wright’s “return from exile” theology is a helpful supplement to Brueggemann’s correct insights.

[iv] For a conservative analysis of the above triad, see E. Michael Jones’ works.

Calling Upon God as *Father*

These are notes from Fr. John Behr’s essay in Orthodox Readings of Augustine

Should the term “God” be applied to each Person singly, or to the Trinity together (159)?

The tradition affirmed that the one God is Father (161).  Christ is the Son and power and wisdom of God.   The monarchy of the Trinity is the monarchy of the one God as Father, the Father of an eternally present Son, consubstantial with him, and the Spirit who proceeds from him, apart from whom he cannot be addressed (162).

Behr goes on,

The usual Greek idiom is to speak of ho theos kai pater (the God and Father), the Son of God or the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  In each case the referent for the term “God” is clear: the one of whom Jesus is the Son and Word, as fully divine as the Father so that he can also be called upon as God (163).

To speak of the “triune God” sounds modalist.

While “Augustine vs. the East’ paradigms aren’t helpful, one must grant that there are differences in speaking about God.   “It is rather the difference between starting from God as Father, and beginning with the Father, Son, and Spirit who are each, and together, one God” (163).