Saturday, December 12, 2009

Το Τριαδικό δόγμα & το κήρυγμα του Ιησού και των αποστόλων του

(v) It was never the intention of the original witnesses to Christ in the New Testament to set before us an intellectual problem—that of the Three Divine Persons—and then to tell us silently to worship this mystery of the "Three-in-One". There is no trace of such an idea in the New Testament. This "mysterium logicum", the fact that God is Three and yet One, lies wholly outside the message of the Bible. It is a mystery which the Church places before the faithful in her theology, by which she hampers and hinders their faith with a heteronomy which is in harmony, it is true, with a false claim to authority, but which has no connexion with the message of Jesus and His Apostles. No Apostle would have dreamt of thinking that there are the Three Divine Persons, whose mutual relations and paradoxical unity are beyond our understanding. No "mys-Urium logicum", no intellectual paradox, no antinomy of Trinity and Unity, has any place in their testimony, but only the "mysteriutn majestaiis et cariialis": namely, that the Lord God for our sakes became man and endured the Cross. The mystery of the Trinity, proclaimed by the Church, and enshrined in her Liturgy, from the fifth or sixth century onwards, is a pseudo-mystery, which sprang out of an aberration of theological thought from the lines laid down in the Bible, and not from the Biblical doctrine itself. At the beginning of this chapter we said that the doctrine of the Trinity was a theological doctrine formulated in order to protect and preserve the centre of the Biblical message, but it was never meant to be the kerygma itself. In so far as the Church has made it part of its kerygma, it has given a false direction to faith. This was what the Reformers meant when they warned people against indulging in Trinitarian speculations, and urged them to return to the simplicity of the Bible. Hoc est Christum cognosccre, bcne-ficia ejus cognoscere. Thought of this kind is in harmony with the history of salvation; it is loyal to the centre of Christian thought, and does not attempt to turn the background of this centre into the religious foreground.
(vi) This view, however, means that we must give tip the endeavour to construct a doctrine of the relation between the "Trinitarian Persons". As soon as we try to do this—an effort which reason is ever urging us to make, we step out of the Biblical line of "saving history" and place the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit "side by side". The terms used in the Athanasian Creed, and from this source incorporated into the traditional doctrine of the Trinity taught by the Church, tluna substantia, ires personae", must sound strange to us from the outset. What room is there for the idea of "substantia" in Christian theology? Indeed, it represents that intellectual aberration which substitutes speculative and impersonal thinking for the line of thought controlled by revelation; thus "God" now becomes a neutral "ens", "the Absolute", instead of God who is "Lord" of heaven and earth. The idea of "substantia" of the Athanasian Creed helped to foster the unfortunate speculative aberrations of mediaeval theology.
But even the idea of "Three Persons" is to be regarded with misgiving. It is indeed impossible to understand it otherwise than in a tri-theistic sense, however hard we may try to guard against this interpretation. To analyse the truth of revelation, that the Lord God reveals Himself to us as the Father through the κύριος χριστός, the Son, as a "tri-unity" of "persons" is a temptation for the intellect, to which we ought not to give way, but which we ought to resist—just as we ought to resist the temptation to infer that the eternal divine election implies an equally eternal divine rejection.1 We have the Father through the Son, in the Son; but we do not have the Father alongside of the Son, and the Son alongside of the Father. We have the Son through the Spirit, in the Spirit; but we ought not to have the Spirit alongside of the Son, and the Son alongside of the Spirit. This rightful attitude of reverent silence before the mystery of God is not served by inventing, by the use of concepts of this kind, a "mysterium logicum", but rather by renouncing the attempt to penetrate into a sphere which is too for us. and in which our thinking can only lead to dangerous illusions.

Brunner Emil, Dogmatics I The Christian doctrine of God, 1949(The Lutterworth Press)/2002(James Clirke & Co., Cambridge), pp 225-227.

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