Augustine on an iPhone

Below you will find my notes from a lecture I attended at Hillsong College. I took them on my iPhone Notes app – a first for me, as I went in unprepared to be so engrossed that I’d want to take notes! (See previous post).

They appear here as I took them, unedited, typos, spellos, my own abbreviations (btw why is abbreviation such a long word?) So, for those of you who are interested, let’s see if you can make sense of my fingers and thumbs…

Dr Neil Ormerod - Lecturing on Augustine's De Trinitate

Hillsong College: Lecture
Augustine & De Trinitate – Dr Neil Ormerod (RC)
Rec Bernard Lonergan – Augustine
Grace – understood common sense wise or theoretically.
Lonergan suggests another realm – interiority: the object being our own operations. What does our questioning say about us? Understanding why & how we get to common sense or theoretical conclusions.

In De Trinitate book 8 Augustine begins to argue from the practical “you know what this is like… You can work this out”

What is A doing in De Trin?
bk 1-4: scriptural argument vs Arius & Arians ie whatever attributes are given to the Father is given to the son. Effectively Homoousios but using scriptural language: whatever is true of the F is true of the Son & the Spirit. A’s hermeneutic rule: what is the context of the scripture. Sometimes Jesus is talking about his humanity & others his divinity. He anticipates Chalcedon in developing a 2 nature Christology.
Also… The Father sends the Spirit (texts); Jesus sends the Spirit… so the Sp proceeds from the F & the Son.
With Arius the church had to use & understand his language to address the issues he was raising. These bks 1-4 have a limited impact, acknowledged by A himself, he indicates a shift at the end of bk 4, and bks 5-7 are not based on script arguments. He introduces 10 categories from Aristotle. This provides a theoretical framework for a philosophical argument. The Q now is ‘in the one God how can we make distinctions’ – substance, person, essence, accidence, location …  and esp Relation – this provides a distiction which does not impact upon the unity of the godhead. He takes issue with the Cappodocean fathers for not making proper distinction between categories.
The category of person is esp important. Persons are defined by their relationships, processions. Other things are attributes. These attributes pertain to the divine substance not individually to the person. BUT The term person is not an attribute of being. For there are 3 persons not one.

Aug did not really comment on ‘one substance’: homoousios’ substance refers to ‘under-standing’ ie the Father & the Son are of the same understanding. Tertullian confuses things stoically & empirically however as he uses ‘substance’ to mean ‘stuff’. Descartes similarly muddles things by defining substance as about what ‘stands under’.

In proceeding from the Father the spirit is different from the son. We say the father is the f of the son; and the son is the son of the father; The spirit is the spirit of the father but the father is not the father if the spirit. One is symmetrical the other is not. Aquinas in his Summa Theologica takes this further. But the Arian argument does not follow that because the father is not begotten as the son is begotten we cannot say that this is a non reln argument with respect to the father.
One script text in bk5-7 majored on, rel to common sense – theory: Jesus is the power of God & wisdom of God. These are attributes & in the realm of theory this does not make sense. He argues this is an appropriate way of speaking (an ‘appropriation’) so we need to recognise the general way scripture talks in certain places.
End of bk 7: reln between God & the creature; how is it that we might enter into the Trinitarian relationships. Robert Doran takes this up more recently.
{break 20 mins}
Bk 8 talking about a more inward realm (interiority). Like 5 finger exercises. Eg have you experienced this? Have you thought about that? Now he is coming from a faith seeking understanding. Eg. Given this doctrine, what are the ways we understand God as Trinity? Takes issue with tradtional ways because of their materialistic analogies, eg. Water, ice, steam; tree – root, branches, trunk.
Turns to human beings – made in His image. Lover, beloved, loving. Mind, knowledge, love. Understanding – conceive – concept. Understanding – speak – word (but internally not orally). AHA! moment because YOU understand. Like a judgment: we weigh up the options, we judge the possibilities. The interior word of God is the YES of judgement. Eg. Paul says in Jesus there is no yes and no, there is only Yes. So its scriptural basis is fd in Jn1 and in Paul. The Father’s ‘generation’ of the son is like a perfect concept. One speaking, the other spoken. Identity between the known and the knowing – the psychological response to the Arians. Speaker – Word.
Bk 10 – hard
Bk 11 – ex of analogies
Bk 12 – back to theology, scripture, the Cross. Transcendence – where we know & love God. Final section here is very prayerful & worshipful. Can we have an analogy that is based on my knowledge of God & my love of God: a realm of grace. Admits that you cannot do it, and comes back to his lover, beloved, loving analogy.

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2 responses to “Augustine on an iPhone

  1. Sam Rolland

    You know what? This is the first post of your blog that i dont fully understand but i guess it is normal as it is philosophie and philosophie In english!!! Anyway, i really enjoy reading you and i can’t wait to discover more about the différent places you’visited!! I also would Like to discover more about this rock island church in Guernsey… Need to plan a we there! Bye
    Sam

  2. Merci Sam – tres gentil!

    … and yes you and your family must visit the rock very soon!

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