Analogia Spiritus - "Eternity in our hearts"
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date01/05/2020
Gorsuch, Gregory Scott
The fundamental structure of reality as inherently relational is not foreign to the Christian Scriptures, or early Christian tradition, as evident in the emergence of the theological relational dynamic of perichoresis. We find a precursor to this view of reality in the Gospel of St. John, where Jesus prays that "they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us" (17:21). In an attempt to describe the relational structure and unity of the Trinity, John Damascene and other Church fathers employed the concept of perichoresis to signify the mutual interanimation and dynamic reciprocity of the divine persons. I shall argue that the unity expressed in this relation is an irreducible relational dynamic that simultaneously affirms both the individuality and mutuality of persons. Furthermore, this dynamic is the force that constitutes and sustains all Creation and, a fortiori, human beings themselves. In addition, I suggest that the fundamental drive within the world and humans is to relate perichoretically (love). In so doing, I address an omission in the literature, noted by Colin Gunton, that humans, created imago Dei, have never seriously been considered perichoretic in nature. This thesis attempts to redress this gap in the literature by arguing that humans are in "perichoretic reciprocity," that is, they stand in relation to one another in terms of perichoresis. As such, perichoresis represents an irreducible relational dynamic that maintains the person's distinctive identity in relationship while at the same time constituting them qua persons from within the living formative matrix of the relational unity itself. To help develop this understanding I turn to Søren Kierkegaard, for whom this mutuality becomes a positive third term that intensifies the polarities. That Power that constitutes relationship is He who is 'before all things, and in Whom all things hold together' (Col 1 : 17). By formulating the dynamic of relationship this way, I challenge the conventionally understood dual structure of relationality, 'subject-object', and posit instead an alternative tripartite consideration of subject-relationship-subject. By positing this tripartite relational structure, I am positioned to draw upon the logic of spirit developed in recent Trinitarian theologies and explore the fundamental dynamic within perichoresis--analogia spiritus-the non-reflexive transformational dynamic facilitating personal holistic change and meaning from with the living dynamic of the relationship. In essence, I am proposing to draw upon developmental and social constructivist theory, and related human sciences in order to understand human being as differentiated unity; this in turn opens to the possibility of relational dynamics active in human as spirit that can be analogically correlated to God's reciprocal trinitarian and Eternal activity as Spirit. This thesis considers the dynamic of perichoresis in the following ways: 1. In the construction of meaning. Using a hermeneutical approach, I inquire into the holistic nature of theological knowledge and method, contrasting Nancey Murphy's theological use of I. Lakatos' s philosophy of science with social construction theorists Kenneth Gergen and John Shotter, who draw from M. Bakhtin. Based on this contrast I propose a methodology that rejects the conceptual and experiential bifurcation found in Murphy, and suggest instead an irreducible holistic criterion of fullness of life. 2. In persons. This section proposes that emotions be viewed as dynamic unified complexities that are ultimately inseparable from knowledge and experience-an attribute of person as spirit. 3. As persons in dialogical relations. The social theory of Alistair Mcfadyen and his dialogical consideration of openness and closure is correlated with Kierkegaard's understanding of person as infinite and finite, and with his prohibition against their material synthesis. 4. As persons. I consider the theory of James Loder who, using Jean Piaget and Kierkegaard, presents a evelopmentalist perspective of humans as perichoretic, a relationship unto itself which becomes a differentiated unity constituted out of the positively created third term of relationship. 5. In Trinitarian dynamics. I correlate Jurgen Moltmann' s understanding of Trinity and God's Spirit to the dynamic of human spirit. 6. In the perichoresis of time and Eternity. In this penultimate section, I consider divine 'immanence' and 'transcendence' in light of the perichoresis of time and Eternity, and its potential reciprocity within human relational dynamics. Using established categories of human relationality, I consider how human relations might participate through analogia spiritus in God's preeminent process 'before all things'. In conclusion, this research suggests further development in the direction of a relational ontology in which truth, meaning and 'being' are located neither 'out there' (realism), nor 'in here' (idealism), but always within the constituting third term of the immediate relational occurrence itself. If indeed all humans are fundamentally constituted as such, this ultimately presents analogically the possibility of common ground between the Church and culture-the desire to relate perichoreticaly, love.