Sunday, 3 May 2015

Michael Camacho: Human 'Being From' and 'Being With' in Light of Trinitarian Relations

In de trin. 5.5.6, Augustine states that, in regards to God, while nothing can be predicated secundum accidens, not all can be said secundum substantiam. There is a third category that, in light of the Christian mysteries, is predicable of the divine: the category of relation. The Father is called Father, not in se, but in relation to the Son. The Son exists only as Son of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the ineffable communion of Father and Son. ‘Being from’ here indicates, then, not a lesser or more imperfect form of being, but a distinct form of perfection that has its telos in communion or ‘being from’. “There is here no subordination in being given and no domination in the giver, but a concordia between [the two]” (de trin. 15.19.36).
Does this relational logic of the divine shed light on human being? While Augustine does not develop an analogy of persons-in-relation, his understanding of human selfhood nonetheless bears a strongly relational dimension. Firstly, in relation to God, man’s being is marked by receiving or being-from. Man thus images God, not statically, but only in turning toward God. Secondly, human beings are by nature destined toward communion. Pride constitutes the root of sin insofar as it divides the self from others, turning the self back upon itself. In the communion of the Church, by contrast, the Holy Spirit, the living unity of Father and Son, is poured into the hearts of believers so as to make them one.

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