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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

OK so there is no translation then.  You just threw Miserere under the bus.  ;)

He's a big boy and can handle it, I know ;)

No way to define any of it.   I am fine with that it should be left there.

I am with Wittgenstein and Theresa of Avila on that one.  "Mystery" is fine with me since the only way we know if these old guys get it right is by personal revelation which I maintain is largely non-verbal.  Not always but usually.

But trying to dice and slice and parse the meaning of "substance" and "essence" is just a waste of time especially when they mean virtually nothing in today's world

I have no problem with a faithful Catholic contemplating/adoring the Eucharist and receiving personal revelations of unity with Christ - that's wonderful, and perhaps one of the most beautiful types of experiences possible to humanity.

But if he is arguing transubstantiation the way Aquinas might, I draw the line.

Christianity could all be one if we stopped quibbling about words that no one understands anyway.

It's God and us.  Period, end of story.  One on one.  The different stories help some folks but then the literalism hurts the unity.  It's getting tough out there, and we aren't gonna get closer by arguing about words

And I agree I contribute to the problem.

Well yeah, it's the parsing and dicing that's problematic for the Christian East, for me too.  I do lean East, as you know very well.  Not to put word's in Miserere's mouth, but I know Catholics who are fine with Aquinas and who also realize what Aquinas himself realized in the end - that everything we try to say about God using language is all dross.  If it helps you to grasp ineffable things, great.  The moment you begin to mistake the words used for the thing being described, you've turned it into an idol  That in a nutshell is the Eastern critique of scholasticism. 

I do think that the Roman Church is coming out of the scholastic straightjacket to a degree.  Miserere may not see it as a straightjacket.  I really don't either, so long as the caveat above is kept in mind.  I'll bet most Roman Catholic's who read this stuff will also agree that all of this is just human words that cannot, in principle, break through to the Reality.  Like you said, the Catholic mystics seem to get this - seeking like a zen monk to cut through linguistic contingency to a direct experience of the divine.  Eastern theology is based on the same approach.  Forget the philosophizing.  God cannot be described with language.  If you want to describe God, you must go through each term one by one, getting rid of each in turn, since none can describe God.  This is the East's aphophatic theology.  In the end you end up with a void, the Great Silence, or in the words of a medieval Catholic monk, the Cloud of Unknowing.  Plato, Aquinas, Aristotle, substances, yadda yadda. It's part of the Catholic Tradition, no doubt, all fun and interesting, but you don't have embrace any of it to be a faithful Catholic, Roman or otherwise. At least I don't think so.  Miserere will correct me if I'm wrong.  Maybe denying the precise words in the dogmatic formulation of transubstantiation will still get you in trouble with your Roman priest.  I'm not sure.  You sure don't have to embrace any of it to be an Eastern Catholic in communion with Rome or an Orthodox Christian.  It seems to be just a Latin thing, for the most part.  

Edited by Spammer
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1 hour ago, Spammer said:

Plato, Aquinas, Aristotle, substances, yadda yadda. It's part of the Catholic Tradition, no doubt, all fun and interesting, but you don't have embrace any of it to be a faithful Catholic, Roman or otherwise. At least I don't think so.

That would surprise me.  My understanding is that sacred tradition is one of the three pillars of Catholic authority.  Remove that leg and it all becomes unstable.

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11 minutes ago, pogi said:

That would surprise me.  My understanding is that sacred tradition is one of the three pillars of Catholic authority.  Remove that leg and it all becomes unstable.

I don’t mean they’re actually part of sacred tradition. Rather, it’s traditional among Western Creedal Christians to discuss that stuff. I didn’t say what I meant very well.

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2 hours ago, Spammer said:

  E.g., the dogness inherent in every dog is the substance/form/universal contained in every particular dog.  So, after the transformation the substance/form/universal of bread and wine are changed into the substance/form/universal of God, while the particulars (accidents) remain the same.  The language of both Plato and Aristotle is used (in the West only!) to explain the transformation, but it's definitely not the case that what Christians really mean by the substance of the Eucharist is exactly what Plato or Aristotle meant.  It's philosophical language used in an attempt to explain something ineffable that no language can describe.  Whatever the Eucharistic substance or the divine substance is (they're the same thing, actually - the Body of Christ, God Himself, so open your mouth and receive your Lord), it most definitely is not believed that the divine substance is what either Plato or Aristotle think substance is.  Creedal Christians hijack their terminology and make it serve a different end.  

"Dogness"?

How are there universals inside of dogs?

How are they contained?

Isn't that just a word to describe the way Dogs act? Isn't it about behaviors?

Who's to say there even is a Divine Substance, ?

When you are a member of a family do partake of the same substance? What kind of substance is it is it a fatty substance? ;)

I'm just making the point that if it's ineffable leave it ineffable. It simply doesn't work today. :)

 The analogy we use is that God is like a family that is one in love and purpose.

It's just an analogy but it sure makes a lot more sense than calling it a substance.

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17 minutes ago, pogi said:

That would surprise me.  My understanding is that sacred tradition is one of the three pillars of Catholic authority.  Remove that leg and it all becomes unstable.

Yeah. I don't do well with  yada yada.

The strength of our church I think is the better explanation. That is exactly what is meant by Revelation for the latter days.

I believe the bottom line is that it's all ineffable and really not describable as it truly is. But we sure come up with better analogies than substance.

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9 minutes ago, Spammer said:

I don’t mean they’re actually part of sacred tradition. Rather, it’s traditional among Western Creedal Christians to discuss that stuff. I didn’t say what I meant very well.

Ok.  I always thought the creeds were considered part of the sacred Catholic tradition.  If not, can you help me understand what constitutes sacred tradition?

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, pogi said:

Ok.  I always thought the creeds were considered part of the sacred Catholic tradition.  If not, can you help me understand what constitutes sacred tradition?

I’m not talking about the creeds. They’re absolutely part of sacred tradition. I’m talking about Plato, Aristotle, all that talk about substances using Greek philosophical terms.

Edited by Spammer

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10 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Yeah. I don't do well with  yada yada.

The strength of our church I think is the better explanation. That is exactly what is meant by Revelation for the latter days.

I believe the bottom line is that it's all ineffable and really not describable as it truly is. But we sure come up with better analogies than substance.

Really? You have better analogies than substance for something that’s neither material nor in time or space?  I’d love to hear them.

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7 minutes ago, Spammer said:

I’m not talking about the creeds. They’re absolutely part of sacred tradition. I’m talking about Plato, Aristotle, all that talk about substances using Greek philosophical terms.

Pardon my ignorance then, I thought terms such as “substance” were verbiage in the creeds.  I guess it is “essence”, I didn’t know there was a difference.

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2 minutes ago, pogi said:

Pardon my ignorance then, I thought terms such as “substance” were verbiage in the creeds.  I guess it is “essence”, I didn’t know there was a difference.

‘Ousia’ Is in the Creed, translated variously as substance, nature or essence. It really means what makes God God. Pick your term to describe it, so long as you preserve God’s oneness and threeness.

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1 minute ago, Spammer said:

‘Ousia’ Is in the Creed, translated variously as substance, nature or essence. It really means what makes God God. Pick your term to describe it, so long as you preserve God’s oneness and threeness.

I guess I am a little confused then. I thought you said Catholics don’t have to accept “substances” to be a faithful Catholic, but if “ousia” means “substance” and we can’t ditch the idea of “ousia”, then what verbiage/ideas are you suggesting Catholics can ditch and still be Catholic?  Isn’t it all part of the creeds?

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, pogi said:

I guess I am a little confused then. I thought you said Catholics don’t have to accept “substances” to be a faithful Catholic, but if “ousia” means “substance” and we can’t ditch the idea of “ousia”, then what verbiage/ideas are you suggesting Catholics can ditch and still be Catholic?  Isn’t it all part of the creeds?

 Ousia, substance, nature, or essence are just words. They come and go. “Consubstantial with the Father, “Of one essence with the Father.”  Both are about what it means for Jesus to be God without dividing God into two. The words come and go, different terms in different languages. Substance is just a word used in some English translations of the Creed to translate Ousia to describe the divine nature. The word used in whatever language doesn’t really matter. It’s the underlying idea that counts and that’s part of sacred tradition. Whatever terminology you use, substance, essence, or ‘God-stuff,’ there is only one. Jesus is that one. So is the Father and so is the Holy Spirit.

Edited by Spammer

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2 minutes ago, Spammer said:

 Ousia, substance, nature, or essence are just words. They come and go. “Consubstantial with the Father, “Of one essence with the Father.”  Both are about what it means for Jesus to be God without dividing God into two. The words come and go, different terms in different languages. Substance is just a word used in the Creed to describe the divine nature.

Right, but I still am unclear as to what you are suggesting is not critical to Catholic Faith.  You seem to be saying that the words are not important but the creeds are, but what are the creeds if not words?

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5 hours ago, Spammer said:

Yes, Plato has substances.  I never said otherwise. So, what exactly do you think Creedal Christianity borrowed from Plato?  It's neither Plato's concept of the divine substance nor his ex materia creation (Plato's divine substance was not personal and separate from the cosmos, like in Creedal Christianity, nor was he into ex nihilo).  Are you saying it's the mere use of the term 'substance' in Creedal Christianity?

I never said anything was borrowed.

I said that there was that influence from Plato, influence of Greek philosophical style of thinking, and moves to refute/deal with some ideas.   The mere concept of substance / ex nihilio shows these influences / dealing with.  The influence is especially highlighting when you're having discussions with folks that don't strongly come from that background (such as LDS Christians).  

5 hours ago, Spammer said:

I think I understand what you're saying better.  You're saying that understanding what Creedal Christianity means by God requires some understanding of Plato.  Ok.  I can agree with that

bingo.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, pogi said:

Right, but I still am unclear as to what you are suggesting is not critical to Catholic Faith.  You seem to be saying that the words are not important but the creeds are, but what are the creeds if not words?

The underlying idea I described is critical. Homoousia was selected to describe that idea, but the word itself could have been replaced if there was another more suitable term than Ousia that better described the idea of ‘God stuff.’  The same goes for substance, essence, or nature. The idea is central, not the word used to represent it. Plato’s substance concept is definitely not part of the Creed and what the Creed means by substance, nature, ousia, or God stuff did not come from Plato or Aristotle, even though the same Greek word ousia might be employed across the sources. That’s probably the source of confusion. Ousia in the Creed does not mean the same thing as divine ousia in Greek philosophy. In the former, the divine substance is one, immaterial and personal. That understanding is assumed a priori by any Christian who reads  or recites the words ousia or substance in the Creed. That includes the church fathers who selected the term for use in the Creed. 

Edited by Spammer

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Posted (edited)

It’s been said that the Catholic Church baptized Greek philosophy. That’s a good way to view it. Same words, different meanings. The Church also baptized pagan festivals, like the Saxon spring festival honoring Oestre. It became Easter. Same festival, new Christian meaning: Pascha in Saxon clothes.

Edited by Spammer
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Spammer said:

Really? You have better analogies than substance for something that’s neither material nor in time or space?  I’d love to hear them.

Nope.

"Love" kind of works though.

Ours analogies are in time and space.  That's the whole problem- eternal does not have to be transcendent in a process world.

That's the genius of throwing out those categories and being pure materialists

And we are materialists.  There is no such thing as "immaterial".   Transcendence and immanence cannot be combined, it's one or the other.

God may not be limited by our logic but our descriptions - if we want them to be "logical" - must be limited by logic.

You want to go "mystery" all the way?

Then there's literally nothing to talk about.   But the law of contradiction rules in explanations if one wants them to make sense

We literally cannot speak of some THING that is neither material nor in space in time.  That is literally called NO-THING because no things are immaterial and outside of space - time

IF you are going to say something at least don't contradict language itself.  No-thing "exists" if it doesn't exist in space and time.  Go ahead and try to define existence so it fits with something immaterial and outside of space and time.

That's why no proofs for God's "existence" work.  He is beyond language.   Remember the boy on the beach trying to fill his hole in the sand with the ocean?   Best wishes on the effort.

That which cannot be said clearly is best left unspoken.

https://www.quora.com/Where-is-this-story-of-St-Augustine-from

Quote

This legend was well-known in the Middle Ages, but has no grounding in anything that Augustine himself wrote or preached. 
 
The scene is the seashore, where there is a small pool, a little boy with a seashell, and a sandy beach on which   St. Augustine , clad in his episcopal robes, is walking, pondering with  difficulty the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. “Father, Son, Holy  Spirit; three in one!” he muttered, shaking his head.
As  he approached the little boy who was running back and forth between the  sea and the pool with a seashell of water, Augustine craned his neck  and asked him: “Son, what are you doing?”
“Can’t you see?” said the boy. “I’m emptying the sea into this pool!”
“Son,  you can’t do that!” Augustine countered. “I will sooner empty the sea  into this pool than you will manage to get the mystery of the Most Holy  Trinity into your head!”
Upon  saying that, the boy, who was an angel according to legend, quickly  disappeared, leaving Augustine alone with the mystery of the Most Holy  Trinity.

From a 15th century book of saints’ lives by Jacobus de Voragine, The Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend).

 

Edited by mfbukowski

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I don't feel like Spammer threw me under the bus. I'm not going to get into the arguments tonight, but I will say that while Catholicism obviously and heartily embraces scholasticism, it is critical to remember that the (god-)father of scholasticism, Aquinas, said that all his words were just straw as compared to the actual experience of Divinity. That's where I'm at -- my connection to the Divine isn't through philosophy, but through experience, and that is completely acceptable in Catholicism. I lean heavily towards mysticism and thus spend lots of time at monasteries. I believe the Divine and the experience of the Divine are ineffable -- at least my experiences have been. But we are human and we use what words we can. Some go to philosophy to try to describe it. St. John of the Cross, the mystical Doctor of the Church, expressed his mystical experiences through poetry. That's more my angle. I do have an undergraduate degree in philosophy (double-majored with English) but that's not my go-to for the Divine.

Don't misread this as a critique of scholasticism or as a disavowal of Catholic philosophy and doctrine. Not at all. One of the beauties of Catholicism is that there are many many spiritual paths contained within it. I lean towards the mystical rather than the philosophical.

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10 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Transcendence and immanence cannot be combined, it's one or the other.

You don't have to be such a dualist :P Most mystical spiritual traditions end up being non-dualistic, leaving the boundaries of words and categories behind. My experience with God allows me to firmly believe that He is both transcendent and immanent.

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1 hour ago, Spammer said:

It’s been said that the Catholic Church baptized Greek philosophy. That’s a good way to view it. Same words, different meanings. The Church also baptized pagan festivals, like the Saxon spring festival honoring Oestre. It became Easter. Same festival, new Christian meaning: Pascha in Saxon clothes.

And we still have bunnies and eggs instead of images of Christ.

So much for new meanings for old words.  Trump now means "nice guy".  ;)

Now we all get to vote for the nice guy!

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12 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

But the law of contradiction rules in explanations if one wants them to make sense

Unless one wishes to recognize that the contradictions in language are perhaps just in language.

Do you need to read some Taoist literature my friend? ;) 

Or, to borrow from the LDS theodicy of necessary contradiction, there is no good with evil, right? No front without back, no day without night. In transcendence, the law of contradiction is one of the first things to go.

Again, this is based on my personal experience with the Divine. The self melts away in His presence and assumed boundaries and contradictions no longer make sense.

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4 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

And we still have bunnies and eggs instead of images of Christ.

While this is true in the secular sense, my experiences of Catholic Holy Week show a very heavy focus on Christ and not very many bunnies and eggs :) 

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2 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

You don't have to be such a dualist :P Most mystical spiritual traditions end up being non-dualistic, leaving the boundaries of words and categories behind. My experience with God allows me to firmly believe that He is both transcendent and immanent.

Works for me as long as you say to leave words out of it!

There are no words to contain God and so why even try?   Hey you are talking to a true mystic here- I just don't like to preach contradiction because it only unlocks the door for guys like Hitchens to ridicule, and accomplishes nothing else.

Even H admits to an inner "daemon" of conscience that tells him what is right- but mentioning that he is and is not at the same time (an equivalent to transcendent and immanent in my book) doesn't COMMUNICATE.

I could say that I believe both that God exists and doesn't exist depending on how we look at it.  I could argue both sides all day long and make a convincing case for either position.

But I would still pray as continually as I know how, and know I have a companion "out there" guiding and directing me.   Is that "existence" when I cannot see him?   Is it even a PERSON?  In what sense is that feeling inside me a PERSON even if I perceive it as a person?   Is it a psychological state to make me never feel alone?  

It's all the arguments on both sides we see here daily!

So in my opinion, stick with words that make sense to communicate to people.

Or if you really want to confuse people call Him "immanent" and "transcendent" at the same time and that one "substance" is the way three persons can be one.  To me that says nothing.  It doesn't make sense.  It does not give me a reason to believe in it all, it is an obstacle.  I was Catholic and felt VERY close to God- perhaps more than I have as an adult.  But I never had "spiritual experiences" that I knew were based in a personal God until I was LDS.   It works for me at least partially because it "makes sense".   I spent years studying Aquinas et al and all it did was push me farther from God until I reached atheism.  All that mumbo-jumbo was just that to me and nothing more.  It seemed like one excuse on top of another to put together words that were self-contradictory.

I don't care honestly- to me one makes sense and the other does not.  I do not doubt for one second the "validity" of your position as the mystic I am.   I am totally convinced you can get as close or closer to God believing your sentences than any LDS person can.  Or some LDS people may get closer than you.  

Finally through study of the philosophy of language I realized the limits of language and what causes all this confusion.  So really it was philosophy that left my logical brain open for understanding religious experience.

It's not the sentences- it's the heart.

But communication is a biggie.  :)

Ain't nobody gonna believe you if they can't understand the words.  Unless they are ready to leave them behind that is.

 

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3 hours ago, pogi said:

Ok.  I always thought the creeds were considered part of the sacred Catholic tradition.  If not, can you help me understand what constitutes sacred tradition?

We are not Christian supposedly because we do not accept the Nicene Creed statement that the Son is "one substance" with the Father.

Accept it?   I don't even know what that means and no one seems able to explain it.  ;)

 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Spammer said:

‘Ousia’ Is in the Creed, translated variously as substance, nature or essence. It really means what makes God God. Pick your term to describe it, so long as you preserve God’s oneness and threeness.

How about the scriptural statement "God is love"?

Three persons unified by love and the purpose of "raising the kids"- to help us reach immortality and eternal life works for me.

So yes they are three and yes they are one in "love".   Just like perfect parents who are always consistent and you can't go ask Mom after dad says no.  :)

If we get to pick our term that is what I pick.  It is called the Social Trinity.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_trinitarianism

Edited by mfbukowski
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