Hello, I have a total of 11 Discussion Boards I need completed by Thursday, February 25 (48 hours). Each Discussion Board...
I have a total of 11 Discussion Boards I need completed by Thursday, February 25 (48 hours). Each Discussion Board should be between 2 or 2.5 paragraphs! I'm willing to pay up to $5 USD per paragraph for a total of $90- $110 total for all Discussion Boards! The assignments are really opinionated versus that of a research paper.
Here are the assignments:
Discussion Board #1:
Topic: Introduction, the Trinity, One God and Divine Revelation, World Religions
What is the Holy Trinity? Christian churchgoers hear the words of Christ proclaimed: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matthew 28:29-20) Scripture refers regularly to God as Father (Mt. 5:58)., as Son (Heb. 1:1-3), and Spirit (Rom. 5:50). Yet Scripture also tells us that God is One: (Deut. 6:4). In these passages, God is telling us about Who He is. We will learn over the semester what Catholic tradition, and other Christians, have believed about the mystery of the Trinity--and its implications for our life of faith and life in society.
One thing that tells us about the difference of the Christian God, is that He upholds a world that has a history. Time moves forward in a line, headed for a final consummation where He comes again, raises the dead, and ushers in an eternal kingdom. We'll look into key Christian themes such as original sin and our redemption in Christ, and the Biblical evidence for the Trinity, over the next few weeks. Here, I want to distinguish the Christian One God clearly from other religious portraits. This will help us in studying what it means for One God to also be Three.
What particularly interested you, or maybe seems in need of further explanation or clarification, in this week's material?
Discussion Board #2:
Topic: Monotheism; the Jewish Bible; Divine Fatherhood, Word, Wisdom, and Spirit
What strikes me most about Judaism is that it claims to be God acting in history. This religion is specifically not local, and it is very particular. The Lord God chooses a man, to leave his home and beget a nation, which will be the witness of the Lord's ways to the rest of humanity. The Lord God reveals Himself to humanity, and calls out a chosen people as His bride and witness. The idea is that all of humanity can know who He is. He is His Word that He reveals to Moses on Mount Sinai. This is a religion of Divine self-disclosure.
Also, the Scriptures show that the One God acts and is manifest in ways that seem like distinct persons. God watches Israel like a Father and is husband to Israel as a bride (but He does NOT have a 'consort goddess,' He is the One God). He makes Israel a family through a series of covenants by which the two bind themselves to each other irrevocably. In the words of my colleague Scott Hahn, the Lord gives Israel kinship by covenant. The Book of Hosea indicates that the Lord loves his bride Israel with surpassing intimacy.
God is also Wisdom, an understanding more profound than we can fully grasp, yet we are invited to dine at her table (Proverbs 9). Wisdom is a gift, something we receive, something that brings life and happiness. God's Wisdom is herself the food that sustains. God is also a Spirit, a creative, sustaining, and redemptive power. Wisdom is a gift to which all of humanity is invited; His special work with the Jews is an invitation to all (Sir. 24). All of these realities point to God's intimate closeness to Israel, and His desire for all of humanity to know His ways.
What stands out to you about the Jews' ideas of God's oneness, and their ideas of God's personified Word, Wisdom, and Spirit?
Discussion Board #3
Topic: New Testament, Early Church, First Councils
This week's lecture covers a wide range of material. We introduced Christianity, in the coming of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Church. Then we looked at how early Christians grappled a mystery that the Jewish Messiah and revealed to them: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God, the I AM of Moses, but yet three clearly distinct realities at the same time. Several things stand out to me.
First, Jesus Christ reveals not only who God is, but a radically changed way of looking at life in this world. God is now Immanuel, God with us in an intimate new way. Because the Divine Christ atones for our sins in His priestly self-sacrifice on the Cross, we are forgiven our sins and made righteous. We can be dwelling places of God. And our life together in this world is transformed. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, as the Jews had taught. But now God is with us in an intimate new way to make that possible. The Church is His Body, His Bride, and Christians are member of this living Body.
Second, Jesus Christ opens up hope of eternal Heaven. The Jews had taught of a Resurrection of the Dead at the end of history, and some sort of glorious new life. Now, Jesus Christ's Resurrection from the dead in glory, having atoned for our sins, is the sign of our own Resurrection at the end of time. We will be resurrected in glory and dwell in eternal union with God and each other in the eternal Wedding Feast (Rev. 21). Christ's Resurrection is the shape of things to come for us.
Third, as we have seen, Christ reveals that God is also Three while He is One. What our lecture today shows is the difficulty early Christians had to achieving some understanding of this mystery. They confessed faith in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in worship (liturgy), and proclaimed Him such in Scripture. But they had to work through a number of problems in coming to some understanding of what they believed. Early thought drew from analogies from nature--source and river, root and branch. But these analogies suggested 'subordination'--that Son and Spirit might be less than the Father in some way.
Others looked at how Father, Son and Spirit act in God's work of creation--"economic" Trinitarianism. Some emphasized the "monarchy" of the Father, to make sure they didn't lose God's oneness. But this suggested 'subordination,' too. In time, as Christians thought longer, some lost sight of the intimately near God in their pursuit of understanding. Arians suggested that Christ was the first creation, a lesser God-like being. Some suggested that 'monarchy' meant that Father, Son and Spirit were just 'modes' of One God. Others thought that Threeness meant that there were really three Gods.
But other Christians responded by turning to philosophy to help tell some truth about what exceeded their understanding. The Son and the Spirit are One in being, of the same nature as the Father. But they are also like to the Father, really distinct. They are three hypostases--modes of being that subsist distinctly, as persons. So Scripture's teaching that there is really one God, and there are really Three in the one God, could be preserved. The First Council of Constantinople in 381 issues this teaching, and the "Trinitarian Controversy" was ended. And the stage was set for further developments.
What interests you, or is tough to understand, or what questions do you have about the New Testament portrait, or early Church developments regarding the Trinity?
Discussion Board #4
Topic: Saint Augustine: The Trinitarian Image of God in the Human Mind
Saint Augustine marks a turning point in Christian reflection on the Triune God. Augustine is the first major Christian thinker to sit down with the Scriptures, and ponder in a very systematic way through the central mystery of the Faith. Augustine was a diocesan bishop. Sure, he would have had scribes to help him write his books. But he also had the responsibilities that come with being a shepherd of souls. Augustine wasn't a university professor. He didn't have a chair at a think tank. He pondered the mystery of the Trinity right in the middle of a very full life of pastoral ministry.
I didn't assign you to read On The Trinity because it's way too long for our course. But the book reads something like a journal or diary. Augustine is a pilgrim, pursuing the Divine Beloved. His work is full of the Christian sense that God is present, even though He's transcendent. As a priest, Augustine celebrated Mass. He regularly consecrated the Eucharist. One section that stands out a lot to me is his discussion of happiness in Book XIII. All human beings want to be happy. We can only be happy if we are alive. Christian faith, Augustine says, promises us the hope in faith that we can live forever. That's the only way we can be truly happy. We must be alive, and have the hope of living forever. God revealed to us in love that He created us, that He redeems us in Christ, and promises us an eternal share in His Triune Life.
And, in a happy and fateful decision, Augustine says that God painted portraits of His Triune Being in the world around us. Most prominently, in our minds. The human being's highest quality, says Augustine, is our reason. By it we love and will, and we have relationships. Our minds are, in his view, most fully what reflects the Image of God in us. And the fact that we can know, remember, and will--while our mind remains the one same substance it is--gives us an analogy to help us understand something of the Triune God revealed in Scripture.
The Father is God as unbegotten. Our mind remembering is at rest on what it knows. God as Son is God as begotten, God as Wisdom and Word. When we understand, we exercise wisdom, and have a word formed in our mind. God as willing His existence, and as gift, is God as Holy Spirit. When we will, we act, as God eternally is willing His existence and is the gift of Father and Son.
Western Christianity would pursue the path of analogy, and even more carefully systematic reflection upon the mysteries of the Trinity. The Eastern part of Christianity--that centered on Byzantium and the eastern half of the Roman Empire that would become the Byzantine Empire--had a different temperament. They, too, would reflect on Scriptures. But they were less confident than the West, that the created order could tell us much about the Divine Mysteries. We'll see in an upcoming period how this difference would help lead to the first major split in Christendom.
Assignment:What makes sense, or stands out to you, about Augustine's approach?
Discussion Board #5
Topic: The Early Middle Ages: St. Anselm and Richard of St. Victor
This week we start considering thought in Christianity's second Millennium. Between 1000-1200 AD, Christianity had been the official religion of Western Europe for centuries. First of the later Roman Empire, then after Rome's fall in 476 AD, the looser Holy Roman Empire that arose over the next several centuries in its place. The Church was what offered a great deal of social stability, especially in the first few centuries after Rome's fall. Great monasteries such as Canterbury arose, and great monastery-cities like Cluny had not only monks but large lay populations working the land around the monastery.
At this time, Christian thinkers began to ponder the mysteries of their Triune God in an even more systematic way. This new way of thinking was called scholasticism. They carefully applied the rules of logic, the same rules you all learned in MID 100 Logic and Critical Thinking. They reasoned through Biblical text, consulted the tradition, and prayed earnestly. They reasoned their way through the mysteries, as spouses contemplating their beloved, as friends considering a friend, as children considering their Divine parent.
Saint Anselm of Canterbury and Richard of Saint Victor are two such thinkers. Saint Anselm ponders the Trinity as it arises from considering the Father and the Son. There's lots of material, but as you read through it, you'll see that it is simply many small steps that produce a reasoned portrait. Saint Anselm saw theology as faith seeking understanding. How can one God exist as three Persons? Doesn't that cause plurality of being? Like Augustine, Anselm uses analogies from the created order. But you'll notice that he brings in the idea of relation. Maybe the fact that their names signify relations might be helpful.
Richard of St. Victor produced one of the most influential portraits of Western History. The notion of Person, a Scriptural idea given that word by Church Councils, suggests that oneness would not be enough for a God who has revealed to us that He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The love of persons is fruitful in new life. The love of Divine Persons is a Person, and two is not enough. Richard argues that perfection of personal love in Divinity requires three Persons in the one Being.
Assignment: What makes sense or doesn't make sense, in their discussions? What stands out to you?
Discussion Board #6
Topic: The Filioque Controversy and the Early Middle Ages
The Filioque controversy--whether we can know the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son--can seem abstract and irrelevant to us today. What difference does it make? Yet this controversy was at a major cause of the split of Christendom into two halves. I think the sensibilities of East and West have a big role. The result of this difference is seen in part, in how each proceeded in history.
If something about the Holy Spirit's procession has to do with the Father-Son relation, that suggests something like what we would call generativity or procreation in the natural order. If we can learn something about God's revealed inner life by observing different kinds of fruitfulness in the created order--our thought being expressed in memory, understanding, and willing, or lover, beloved, and love, that suggests that *our* thinking and making participates in something about God. It also tells us that we can develop deeper doctrinal understanding from Scripture. And the idea that the Pope can add new language, and say that we simply unpacked something that was implicitly there, suggests the head of the Church is more than honorary. He has a real power to teach that is universal, by the authority of Christ.
But if we can only know that the Father's monarchy is the source of the Spirit's existence, there isn't the idea of what I would call 'shared productivity.' There isn't the idea that the generation or making in the natural order can tell us something about God's inner life. We also shouldn't expect to get too many clues from Scripture beyond what it explicitly says. There is a greater sense that we should be content with mystery, perhaps less of a sensibility that we are to pursue a strong unity in the Church and go out and build in this world. Remember that the Eastern Platonic worldview sees the physical order as literally less real than the world of forms--and therefore, too much pursuit of clarity and understanding could perhaps be pride.
Regarding the early Middle Ages, thinkers at that time in the West are beginning to apply logic more rigorously to Scripture. This makes it difficult for some of them to preserve God's genuine threeness along with His oneness. We will see next week how St. Thomas Aquinas reconciles and shows the harmony of God's oneness and threeness.
Assignment:What makes sense to your, or doesn't, in this week's lecture? What stands out?
Discussion Board #7
Topic: Thomas Aquinas: Procession, Relations, and Characteristics in God
What stands out to me about this week's letter is how Thomas Aquinas shows that God is one and Three in a way that genuinely accounts for both. God is one. God is three. And there is no conflict. In addition, Aquinas shows how we could not know that God is a Trinity without Divine revelation. There are not "necessary reasons" for the Trinity. We would not know that God is both one and three unless He had revealed Himself to us.
Greek philosophy could tell us that God is an eternal Logos, an eternal word of reason. But it could not tell us that God eternally begets a Word that is a Person. Philosophy could also tell us that God acts in the world--Aristotle speaks of God as Umoved Mover. Others talked of a Demiurge, a God-made lesser power that acted to cause. But Christianity tells us that God's Spirit, His active, creating and renewing power, is a Person as well.
Taking the revealed truth that God is Father, Son, and Spirit, Aquinas tells us that there are two processions in God--generation, the coming-forth of the Divine Word. Love is the coming-forth of love. There are four real relations we can determine from Scripture: Fatherhood, the source of the Word's generation; Sonship, the relation of that which is eternally generated or begotten; Spiration, the relation of being the source of proceeding of Love; and Procession, the relation of what proceeds, Love.
From these four relations, we can see that there are three Persons--Father, Son, and Spirit. Thomas kind of derives their reality and their Personhood by contrast. They are very much real as Three persons, yet they are utterly one in Being. There are not Three Gods. There is one God, one in being, in Three Persons.
And like Augustine before him, Aquinas offers some insight into God's processions and why the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, while utterly preserving the eternal monarchy of the Father (without monarchianism in the ancient sense). Aquinas's thought suggests that part of our being children of God, is to achieve some little understanding of His inner life, and our world, by contemplation of God's Word and the creation in light of God's Word.
Assignment: What about Aquinas's thought makes sense, or does not, to you? What stands out to you?
Discussion Board #8
Topic: Bonaventure: Divine Fecundity and Emanation
For the Week 11 Lecture, we consider the final great thinker of the Middle Ages: St. Thomas Aquinas'ss Franciscan contemporary St. Bonaventure. A first thing that's important to note about this week's reading is that Bonaventure, like Aquinas, has read the Scriptures and the tradition extensively. Although I did not include lots of Scriptural citations, Bonaventure has in mind the texts we considered in the first few weeks of the course. What he is doing is reasoning carefully through the texts of Scripture, and considering the arguments of other Christians, as well as drawing from philosophy.
Bonaventure takes a different approach from Aquinas. Aquinas was very concerned not to consider God's Fatherhood in "positive" terms, because he was afraid that approach would involve a weaker view of Divine unity. Aquinas framed the existence and mystery of the Trinity in strictly relational terms. By doing so, Aquinas preserves a strong view of God's unity as well as Trinity. God's Fatherhood is simply God as unbegotten. But Bonaventure saw God's Fatherhood as fecund or fertile, by analogy from human fertility.
Bonaventure also is bringing a different general view of the world beyond the physical, of metaphysics. For Bonaventure, all things in the world emanate from God, and return to him. This view is derived, as I explain in the lecture introduction, from the early-AD era Greek philosopher Plotinus and his successor Dionysius (Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite). Aquinas, too drew upon emanation to help talk about God. But Bonaventure does in a much stronger way that represents a different sensibility. For Bonaventure, a strong view of emanation and return does not mean that God doesn't create freely. It simply says that God's goodness is so great, that not only is he necessarily eternally fecund in the generation of the Word and the spiration of the Spirit, that nothing else would happen. He sees this view as perfectly in keeping with God's freedom.
Aquinas, who also discusses the creation as something that emanates from God and returns to Him, only uses that notion in a limited way. Aquinas worried that describing God's Fatherhood in terms of fertility, and such a strong idea of his overflowing goodness in creation, would compromise God's freedom and unity. By describing God's Fatherhood only relationally, Aquinas believes that he preserves the Bible and tradition's strong view of God's Oneness better. Bonaventure sees God's fertility as a kind of 'necessary reason' that God is Triune, whereas Aquinas would say that this view might suggest that the Trinity is not something we know only by revelation.
These distinctions may seem abstract to us. But for these great Christians, holy people who loved God and lived a life of love and community in God's service, how we understand God's revelation affects how we look at the world. Aquinas's view leads to a stronger view of human freedom, and of the dignity of the natural order as informed by the Logos, than does Bonaventure. Bonaventure's view seems to suggest that things happen more necessarily or not freely, and suggests that human freedom is more compromised by original sin, and that the line between revelation and reason is less distinct than it is for Aquinas.
Finally, the last part of the lecture looks ahead to the following centuries. Not a lot happens in the theology of the Trinity for many centuries, because the Trinity is not an object of controversy during the Reformation. We'll discuss the transition to modernity and postmodernity, and look at its effects on the theology of the Trinity, in the subsequent lecture.
Assignment:What interests you, or makes sense or doesn't make sense, in this week's lecture?
Discussion Board #9
Topic: Reformation, Theology of Salvation, and the Trinity
This week's lecture discusses a period when the theology of the Trinity was largely not controversial, and did not undergo major developments. Most of the West accepted the Augustinian tradition as it had been developed by Anselm and Richard of St. Vicgtor, and then either Aquinas or Bonaventure. Western, Northern, and Central Europe--Catholic Christianity--had pondered the mystery, and had Biblical-theological syntheses from varying approaches. Each saw itself, and was largely accepted by the others, as developments from Scripture and Tradition,
So when Europe lost confidence in the cosmological vision of the world in the late Middle Ages, and the Church-state relationship became closer and more corrupt, other parts of the Christian faith would bear the immediate brunt of the loss of confidence. King Henry VIII in 1530's England, Martin Luther in 1520's Germany, and John Calvin in 1530's in the Low Countries, all had other issues in mind when they led splits from the Catholic Church. The relationship of the Bible to the Church; the role of Sacraments in our redemption, deification, and salvation; the relationship of the Church to the state, and very importantly, how Jesus Christ's merits are applied to the sinner, were the main theological issues.
The very important issue of corruption and apparent misuse of sacraments (sale of indulgences) also helped reduce the confidence of many Europeans in the Catholic vision that dated to Christ's time and had been profoundly deepened and developed in understanding since then. But none of these questions are actually about the Trinity. So why are we discussing them?
I would submit that Protestant theology has an important and very unintended implication for theology of the Trinity. Simply put, Protestant thinkers say that our salvation consists not of being renewed in our being ("infused righteousness") but rather God looking at us differently because of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross ("imputed righteousness). Man is, as Martin Luther said, simultaneously just and sinner. Man is what Lutheran thought called a snow-covered dung heap--still "totally depraved" in sin, but redeemed because God looks at us differently.
If God looks at us differently, by implication that mean that God changes. Catholicism (and Eastern Orthodoxy) say that Baptism into Christ, and faith, change us in our being. The change is in us, not in God. The idea that God looks at us differently seems to violate a Biblical truth taught by Abraham and Moses: God is one and thus immutable (does not change). If God changes, does that not suggest that he remains the One God while being Three? How can we say that God's one eternal ousia is in three unchanging, eternal persons, when God actually changes?
The tension this view introduces will play out later. In week 13, we'll look at some subsequent developments in the 18th to 20th Centuries with further implications for Christian theology of the One God and the Trinity.
Assignment: What in this week's lecture interests you, or does or does not make sense?
Discussion Board #10
Topic: Reformation and Enlightenment
This week covers a period of history that saw lots of change at all levels of society. Europe was changing from a largely agrarian and craft society to a mercantile and trade society that still had lots of agriculture. Unfortunately, as parts of Europe split off, there were terrible wars that in part had to do with different views of what Christianity is. By the late 1600's, both elites and the ordinary people of Europe wanted religious tolerance and an end to conflict.
The developments of the period after the Reformation, called the Enlightenment, helped make the Trinity seem more abstract. European elites began to decide that Divine revelation was something private, that people's claims that God revealed Himself were subjective. Religion thus becomes seen as a private matter. Most people still think that religion is vital for one's personal life, and for a healthy society. Specifically, elites began to believe that while reason could know objective truth about things in this world, it could not arrive at objective truth about God. If reason couldn't arrive at truth about God, how could we believe that God's revelation is objective? How could we believe that we really were fallen in sin, and really needed redemption? How do we talk about the Trinity in this new historical context?
After the Enlightenment, Europe began transitioning from the rule of monarchies and nobilities to democracy, and in some cases violent socialist / communist revolutions. After the Enlightenment ended, the elites doubted whether God existed, and whether there could be knowable doctrine. Maybe "Divine revelation" was our vague sense of needing God and being dependent upon him. Maybe God developed and grew through our history and actions. Or worse, maybe God is a fiction made up by the wealthy to convince the middle class and working poor to accept their conditions--an "opiate of the people."
In the 20th Century, World War I helped destroy people's sense that reason could know all things. So Some conservative Protestants said, we just believe God's Word because He said it. Or, worse, God's Word is simply his instructions on how to live, and any supernatural elements had been made up by the apostles, and had to be "demythologized."
Fortunately, God was still at work in the new, increasingly subjectivistic world. He would call thinkers and churches, to combine new and old. Maybe we could still look at the world as a cosmos, where God the Logos disclosed Himself. But the hunger for personal self-transcendence, the need for God, was still there in a new age of science and technology. Maybe we could bring these strands of thought together to talk about Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity.
Assignment:What stood out to you in this week's lecture? What did or did not make sense?
Discussion Board #11
Topic: Ressourcement Human Self-Transcendence, and the Trinity in the Postmodern World
This week's lecture brings us through the last 60 years or so, to the end of our course. Here we see some ways that early postmodern theology--from the 1940's on--articulated the mystery of the Trinity for the new postmodern world. God seemed distant after the carnage of World War II and the Holocaust. New hopes were dawning worldwide as nations that had been colonies asserted their desire to govern themselves, and the European colonial powers let them go.
Hans Urs von Balthasar and Karl Rahner raised some questions about how to believe in the Trinity in a world that was beginning to believe that not only faith was subjective, but reason as well. By the mid-twentieth century, the suspicion of truth as a tool of the powerful, first spoken by Marx and Engels in Communism in the 19th Century, had joined with the new existentialist belief that there was no God, the world was meaningless, and our passions and are pain, and hopefully some sort of human connection, are all we have.
The Second Vatican Council brought together the new and old. In the Constitutions Dei Verbum and Gaudium et spes, the Council agreed that human beings hunger for self-transcendence, and for communion with other human beings. These subjective wants are good. We are right to hunger for justice in the world, and thirst for friendship with God. The Council tells us that God is still with us to fill our "God-shaped hole." He has reached out to us in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gives us access to the Father by the Holy Spirit. By His Cross, death, and resurrection, He redeems us from original and personal sin, and makes us partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4). That is, He gives us the Divine indwelling, and communion in God's Triune perichoretic life. God is communion in His Triune Being. To be made in God's image, and to be redeemed, is to be in communion with God, in His Church. We are made too, for Triune-informed communion with other human beings.
Pope Benedict XVI makes a profound application of of this Trinitarian theology of communion. Christians are supposed to live in society with the idea that communion with others, including how we treat them in our moral life in our dealings in society, is God's good will for humanity. So we are to put others and their needs above ourselves, both in our personal lives, and in how we structure our economy. Benedict says that societies should aim for what he calls an "economy of communion." What form that will take will differ from place to place. He is not endorsing any particular economic system. He is offering a principle, reflective of the inner Trinitarian life of God, that is to inform our life here on earth--and offer a sign of our hope of Heaven.
Assignment:What stands out in this week's lecture? What does or does not make sense to you?
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