Eclectic Orthodoxy

Just how personal are the divine persons? We know that when the Eastern Church sought an appropriate vocabulary by which to distinguish the Father, Son, and Spirit from the divine substance, it finally settled on the impersonal word hypostasis, which might be appropriately translated as “subsistence” (see “The Search for Hypostasis“). Over the past century or two, though, the term has taken on a personalist connotation in presentations of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The divine hypostases have become something akin to individual agents, even centers of consciousness. Hypostases have become persons. Some theologians have objected to this development—most famously Karl Barth and Karl Rahner; less famously, John Behr, Stephen Holmes, Karen Kilby, Nicholas Lash, Andrew Louth—but others have enthusiastically embraced it, with qualifications—most famously, John Zizioulas, Dumitru Staniloae, Vladimir Lossky, Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and the social Trinitarians of the analytic school. The question…

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