In his contribution to Rethinking Trinitarian Theology: Disputed Questions And Contemporary Issues in Trinitarian Theology, Emmanuel Durand offers an Augustinian treatment of the role of the Spirit in the Father-Son relation: Generation is not merely a “mechanical” operation of divine essence or of the Father, but an expression of love. Love must accompany “ever father worthy of the name,” and thus “One could say that this love is ‘concomitant’ to generation.”
“Connected to the very act of generation that eternally places the Son as the Beloved of the Father, the Spirit proceeds as precisely this love of the Father for the Son. Without being the principle of the Son in any way, the Holy Spirit is nevertheless eternally present in the very ‘place’ of his eternal birth . . . as the paternal Love that eternally ‘hypostates’ itself in its reposing on the Son. The Son is himself fully Son in the very fact that He returns this same Love to the Father in eternal thanksgiving. This returning of a received, filial Love to its paternal Source achieves the Trinitarian cycle of eternal life.” This we find “a first form of Trinitarian reciprocity” in “the return of Love given to the Father by the Son.”
As Durand points out, this mode of specifying the Father’s hypostasis avoids the problems of a merely apophatic discussion of the Father as “ungenerated”: “The hypostasis of the Father can be negatively characterized, as He who has no origin, or positively, by his acts and relations. If one takes the perichoresis of the three divine Persons into account, it is not relevant to begin by situating the Father independently from his relation to the Son and his relation to the Spirit in a negative manner. We should adopt, even for the Father, a relative concept of Person, in conformity with the Thomistic doctrine of the Trinitarian Person understood as subsisting relation” (184-5).
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 5:48 am
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