Primary sources for my response to the Barth Blog Conference

June 16, 2008

Hello, long time no see. I’ve been really busy. But, my friend WTM has organized a theobloggers conference on Barth and Jüngel. In responding to one of the posts there I felt the need to cite some primary literature, so I have put the texts up here for reference.

The question at hand is whether the vestigia trinitatis are ever considered the grounds for the doctrine of the trinity. I argue that they are not.


Augustine De Trinitate, VI

Haec igitur omnia quae arte divina facta sunt et unitatem quamdam in se ostendunt et speciem et ordinem. Quidquid enim horum est et unum aliquid est, sicut sunt naturae corporum ingeniaque animarum, et aliqua specie formatur, sicut sunt figurae vel qualitates corporum ac doctrinae vel artes animarum, et ordinem aliquem petit aut tenet, sicut sunt pondera vel collocationes corporum atque amores aut delectationes animarum. Oportet igitur ut Creatorem per ea quae facta sunt intellecta conspicientes Trinitatem intellegamus, cuius in creatura quomodo dignum est apparet vestigium. In illa enim Trinitate summa origo est rerum omnium et perfectissima pulchritudo et beatissima delectatio. Itaque illa tria et a se invicem determinari videntur et in se infinita sunt. Sed hic in rebus corporeis non tantum est una quantum tres simul, et plus aliquid sunt duae quam una res; ceterum in summa Trinitate tantum est una quantum tres simul, nec plus aliquid sunt duae quam una, et in se infinita sunt. Ita et singula sunt in singulis, et omnia in singulis, et singula in omnibus, et omnia in omnibus, et unum omnia. Qui videt hoc vel ex parte, vel per speculum in aenigmate, gaudeat cognoscens Deum, et sicut Deum honoret et gratias agat; qui autem non videt, tendat per pietatem ad videndum, non per caecitatem ad calumniandum; quoniam unus est Deus, sed tamen Trinitas. Nec confuse accipiendum est, ex quo omnia, per quem omnia, in quem omnia; nec diis multis, sed: Ipsi gloria in saecula saeculorum. Amen. (link)

Therefore all these things which are made by divine skill, show in themselves a certain unity, and form, and order; for each of them is both some one thing, as are the several natures of bodies and dispositions of souls; and is fashioned in some form, as are the figures or qualities of bodies, and the various learning or skill of souls; and seeks or preserves a certain order, as are the several weights or combinations of bodies and the loves or delights of souls. When therefore we regard the Creator, who is understood by the things that are made we must needs understand the Trinity of whom there appear traces in the creature, as is fitting. For in that Trinity is the supreme source of all things, and the most perfect beauty, and the most blessed delight. Those three, therefore, both seem to be mutually determined to each other, and are in themselves infinite. But here in corporeal things, one thing alone is not as much as three together, and two are something more than one; but in that highest Trinity one is as much as the three together, nor are two anything more than one. And They are infinite in themselves. So both each are in each, and all in each, and each in all, and all in all, and all are one. Let him who sees this, whether in part, or through a glass and in an enigma, rejoice in knowing God; and let him honor Him as God, and give thanks; but let him who does not see it, strive to see it through piety, not to cavil at it through blindness. Since God is one, but yet is a Trinity. Neither are we to take the words, of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things, as used indiscriminately [i.e., to denote a unity without distinctions]; nor yet to denote many gods, for to Him, be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (link)

Peter Lombard, I Sent d. III, 1

Ecce ostensum est, qualiter in creaturis aliquatenus imago Trinitatis indicatur; non enim per creaturarum contemplationem sufficiens notitia Trinitatis potest haberi vel potuit sine doctrinae vel interioris inspirationis revelatione.  Unde illi antiqui philosophi quasi per umbram et de longinquo viderunt veritatem, deficientes in contuitu Trinitatis, ut magi Pharaonis in tertio signo.   Adiuvamur tamen in fide invisibilium per ea, quae facta sunt. (link)

Behold it has been shown, how among creatures to some extent the image of the Trinity is indicated; for through the contemplation of creatures a sufficient knowledge [notitia] of the Trinity cannot be had nor [vel] could it without the revelation of doctrine and/or of interior inspiration.Whence those ancient philosophers as if through a shadow and from afar saw the truth, deficient (as they were) in the constituition of the Trinity, like [ut] the magi of the Pharaoh at the third sign.  We, however, are helped to believe invisible things [in fide invisibilium] through those (things), which have been made. (translation ibid)

Thomas Aquinas, in I Sent d. III, q. 1, a. 4

Utrum philosophi naturali cognitione cognoverint Trinitatem ex creaturis?
. . .

Respondeo dicendum, quod per naturalem rationem non potest perveniri in cognitionem Trinitatis personarum; et ideo philosophi nihil de hoc sciverunt, nisi forte per revelationem vel auditum ab aliis. Et hujus ratio est, quia naturalis ratio non cognoscit Deum nisi ex creaturis. Omnia autem quae dicuntur de Deo per respectum ad creaturas, pertinent ad essentiam et non ad personas. Et ideo ex naturali ratione non venitur nisi in attributa divinae essentiae. Tamen personas, secundum appropriata eis, philosophi cognoscere potuerunt, cognoscentes potentiam, sapientiam, bonitatem. (link)

Whether by natural philosophy one could come to know the Trinity from creatures?

. . .

I respond that by natural reason one is not able to come to the knowledge of the persons of the trinity, and therefore the philosophers have written nothing about it, except perchance by revelation or hearing from another. And this is the reason for it, because natural reason does not know God except through creatures. Therefore all things that are said of by respect to creatures belong to the essence and not to the persons. And therefore by natural reason, one does not come except into the attributes of the divine essence. . . . (my rough translation)

Augustine on Scripture

September 13, 2007

I would not believe the holy Gospels if it were not for the authority of the Holy Catholic Church.

Roman Catholic apologists often use this statement of Augustine’s (can’t find the citation) to try to show the protestant doctrine of sola scriptura mistaken. While writing my previous post, I came across the following quote by Augustine, which I liked very much because it shows that Augustine cannot be unambiguously claimed for the Pope’s cause.

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Oops, I did it again. . .

September 13, 2007

And by ‘it’ I mean joined a conversation about the respective merits of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. I don’t know how I keep doing this, but in for the penny is in for the pound so . . .

My friend, colleague and erstwhile fellow-protestant Rob Porwoll hopes to catch the unsavvy Protestant believer by pointing out a logical inconsistency in the doctrine of sola Scriptura. I’m just going to post the first half of his piece, because I don’t think there is a good way to link it.

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More on Augustine’s Doctrine of Justification

March 25, 2007

Over at Pontifications there was a great article on Augustine’s doctrine of justification in comparison with Luther from sometime last year. The author is Dr. Phillip Cary who also has a book on Augustine with Oxford that looks very interesting.  Posted for your reading pleasure.

St. Augustine’s View of Justification

March 19, 2007

St. Augustine is claimed by protestants as a sort of proto-reformer to add a degree of legitimacy in their claim against the Roman magisterium and the council of Trent about justification and whether it comes sola fide.

But is that view really accurate?

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