Ethics and the Third Person -- procession and the overarching system

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, Chapter 37, can be found here.]

[This entry begins Chapter 38, "Inferring the Third Person of God".]

If we cannot perceive something of the principles of God's interPersonal love (the love between Father and Son that grounds all reality), then we will be working at dangerous inefficiency against reality. I think it would be inconsistent with God's love and justice for Him to prevent us from perceiving this (although we might ourselves choose to turn away from it--a topic I will be discussing later). It is not a mere fact about God that we need here, but a real relationship to Him, as person (you and I, individually and corporately) to Person (God--Who Himself is a substantial interPersonal unity).

Unfortunately, an argument I made some time ago may be returning here to nix me. I insisted, back when I was discussing your and my relationship to God and Nature, that you and I needed a common overarching system--specifically, you and I need such a system in order to relate to each other. This requirement happens to be rather nicely fulfilled by an impersonal reactive Nature. (This was not, however, my argument for the created and intrinsically reactive characteristics of Nature, though. I had argued for those conclusions already, before arguing that you and I need a common overarching system in order to relate personally with each other.)

But if an overarching system of commonality really is necessary for interpersonal relation, then it would also apply to any proposed relationship you or I have with God, as people to Person.

So: does God, as a Person, also require a common overarching system for interacting with us?

If so, this might be a serious contradiction: I have denounced many times as nonsense the proposal that the Independent Fact, including as God if theism is true, would at His most basic level be 'inside' an overarching system. On the other hand, if God doesn't require an overarching system to interact with us, then I may be endangering my earlier argument concerning the necessity of God's non-equivalence to Nature. If I avoid the question by stating that God would not have a personal relationship with us, then I not only void my attempt at establishing a practical doctrine concerning true objective ethics (they might still exist between God and God, but would not concern us); I also risk introducing an inconsistency in God's love and justice, neither of which can be set aside.

Altogether, it's a serious problem, although an obscure one! But examining it does lead to a very interesting conclusion, I think.

If God ever happened to Incarnate or otherwise manifest Himself within Nature (a topic I will be returning to in the final Section), then certainly Nature would serve the purpose of being a common overarching system; but also the limitations of Nature would intervene, especially insofar as God Incarnate would be a specially distinct type of manifestation: the Incarnate God, by being manifested in that way, would be in one place (in that way), and not another, or perhaps could be in numerous discreet places. Yet the Incarnated God (as such) could not be everywhere within a Nature, all at once, as God Himself; or else Nature would be reverted to the status of God and we would be annihilated via absorption into the Absolute, which would negate any loving purpose to our creation in the first place. So, Nature would fit the bill as a proper overarching system in terms of God's Incarnation, even though otherwise ontologically subordinate to God. But due to the special limitations involved, I am not talking about Incarnation theories right now.

I am talking instead about personal contact of a somewhat different sort: the type of contact almost any theist insists that God either always has with every created person, or at least could have with a person, without God being Incarnated. I mean our contact with God as 'pure spirit'.

In that case, Nature cannot be the overarching system, for then it would be including God. This would be fine for an Incarnation, except I am not talking about that type of contact. An Incarnation would be a special case, a special self-abdication on God's part.

But I am considering God's usual mode of operation with respect to us; and Nature will not quite do as a mediant system for that. The question should be, rather: if persons do need an overarching system within which to communicate to each other as persons, what sort of overarching system normally encompasses God?

There are two answers. The first is that no system encompasses God; the consequent conclusion would be that therefore no personal communication between us as Person-to-person can follow. This would be another way of saying that on these terms such contact would be self-inconsistent, and God cannot be self-inconsistent. However, if I have argued correctly that some kind of personal contact with God must be taking place within us (otherwise there would be a violation of God's love, and perhaps also of His justice), then I think we should look at the second answer, for the first will not fit. It wouldn't fit even if we allowed for the existence of created supernatural mediators (existing in a reality supernatural to our own field of Nature, yet in contact with our system), for they would only put the question one stage further back for no gain: how did they manage to communicate personally with God? If there is some principle that would allow them to do this, I think we would be prudent to at least check to see whether we would fit under the same principle.

As it happens, I don't think I need to posit mediators to answer this question--although mediators could make contact with us for other purposes, perhaps. (I am not arguing against the existence of derivative mediators per se, whether “angels” or “demiurges” or other subordinate deities; only that their existence would not solve this problem.)

The second answer is to remember (if I am believing this correctly) that God is, Himself, a self-existent system: He is, at least, a self-begetting entity Who is a Person and thus (by being 'self-begetting') is at least Two Persons in Unity. Or, put another way, the answer to the question "What system encompasses God" is: God Self-Begetting and God Self-Begotten, as the Independent Fact of all reality, is Himself the encompassing system. Whether we consider the Father or the Son, all things are in Him (including all created things, “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible”, even if there are many so-called gods and lords) and through Him and for Him, and by Him all things continue holding together.

So: can God, the basic self-existent foundation of reality, serve as the overarching system for interacting with us? I think this must be true, if He chooses to relate to us as Person to person; and I think it would be self-inconsistent of God not to relate to us in some fashion as Person to person.

But for this to happen, somehow it must also be true that at the level of God’s own fundamental reality as God, God must exist personally in a way that God is somehow encompassed by God. A Person of God would have to exist distinct from (but not substantially separate from) the Persons of God Self-Begetting and God Self-Begotten.

This would involve a second discovered distinction in God's eternal--that is, time-transcending--action. God, in personally interacting, as a Person, with all created persons everywhere, distinctly proceeds as God from God the (overarching) Foundation, just as God the Begotten personally distinct from God the Begettor; yet at the same time this Inter-acter will still be God, fully God, in the same way that the Son is in Unity with the Father as the one single Independent Fact of all reality.

I am, in short, deducing the existence of the Third Person of God--and now the Unity has reached a Trinity!

[Next up: an introduction to the 3rd Person of God]


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