Love (`Caritas') as the essence of the Trinity

Posted Mar 17, 2013 by kym Jones in General Hits: 2,660

 

Part 6 in a series of articles on the 'Little horn' of Daniel 8, and the Leopard-like beast of Revelation 13.

In former articles I have mentioned that the `lifting up ' of tamid paganism into the early Church (Dn. 8: 11) was accomplished when Augustine attempted a synthesis of `Eros' with `Agape'; thus resulting in `Caritas', which translates to `charity' and `lovingkindness'. This idea that `God is Caritas' resulted from a Hegelian dialective - in which the assertion by the Greek philosophers that `God is Eros' is both complimented and completed by the apostolic assertion that `God is Agape'; which is its antithesis, and directly contradicts the former. The assertion that  God is totally Eros and Agape, and reaches out to us as the auspices of `Caritas' is clearly made in Pope Benedict XVI's `First Encyclical Letter':

`Did Christianity really destroy eros? Let us take a look at the pre- Christian world. The Greeks—not unlike other cultures—considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a “divine madness” which tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness. All other powers in heaven and on earth thus appear secondary: “Omnia vincit amor” says Virgil in the Bucolics—love conquers all—and he adds: “et nos cedamus amori”—let us, too, yield to love. In the religions, this attitude found expression in fertility cults, part of which was the “sacred” prostitution which flourished in many temples. Eros was thus celebrated as divine power, as fellowship with the Divine . . . . The divine power that Aristotle at the height of Greek philosophy sought to grasp through reflection, is indeed for every being an object of desire and of love —and as the object of love this divinity moves the world - but in itself it lacks nothing and does not love: it is solely the object of love. The one God in whom Israel believes, on the other hand, loves with a personal love. His love, moreover, is an elective love: among all the nations he chooses Israel and loves her—but he does so precisely with a view to healing the whole human race. God loves, and his love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape  . . . . “If you see charity, you see the Trinity”, wrote Saint Augustine . . . . For the Church, charity [`caritas'] is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being' (Benedictine XVI - `Deus Caritas Est', 1.4.6, 2.19.25.)

The `lifting up' of tamid paganism into the early Church resulted in the `abomination of desolation', with its system of priests, prelates, indulgences and sacraments of the Church initially derived from the Hellenistic conception of the `natural immortality of the soul' forming the basis of all epistemology which is relevant to the formation of the Trinity, and Catholic doctrine which then proceeds from the Greek conception of the ontology of the Godhead which is found in the overtly Platonic terms `ousia', `hypostases' and `substantia'; which describe the economical function of the Trinity.

While in the K.J.V, the Biblical usage of `Godhead' in Colossians 2: 9 translates to deity, and `the state of being God, Godhead', the Catholic idea of `Godhead' has evolved far beyond this, to the point that the Trinity is regarded as the  essence of God - and the terms `Father, Son and Holy Spirit' are the means by which the economical function of the ontology is expressed to us. Please note the following statement by Richard Rice, one of our own theologians:

"the Trinity is not derived from God's essence; the Trinity is God's essence.' (Richard Rice, "Wolfhart Pannenberg's Crowning Achievement: A Review of His Systematic Theology,"  Andrews University Seminary Studies 37, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 59. )

As `God is love' (1 John  4: 8), then the essence of God is seen by Trinitarian theologians as subsisting within the framework of the Trinity as love - which Augustine postulated as `Caritas'. Moreover, the focus upon the Trinity as the essence of God has, over millennia, evolved into the view that `Caritas' sums up the law and the prophets, is God's eternal rest in which the Father and Son repose in mutual love of the Spirit, and the Holy Spirit, `who is caritas, restores our likeness to God':

`Caritas sums up the law and prophets (I.49); it is God's eternal rest in which Father and Son repose in mutual love of the Spirit, into which all rational souls enter . . . . The happiness of rational creatures consists in adhering to God through the soul's three powers of memory, intellect, and will, that constitute the image of the Trinity. Adam's selfishness (cupidatas) corrupted this image and brought humanity into its present state of `unlikeness' (I.9-12). Salvation, beginning with the new commandment and the inpouring of the Holy Spirit who is caritas, restores our likeness to God.' (`Friendship: Interpreting Christian Love', L. Carmichael, 2004, p. 75.)

Thus, over millennia the essence of the Godhead (or, if you like - the essence of the Trinity, for modern theologians regard the terms `Godhead' and `Trinity' as mutually exclusive) has come to be viewed as `caritas', and it is upon `caritas' that St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo built his theology - and that of the Catholic Church in the fourth and fifth centuries . However, Augustine could not do this unless he first had a pre-existing doctrinal framework which allowed for his synthesis of `Eros' with `Agape' - and the key to that framework, which eventually resulted in the Catholic perception of the economical function of the Godhead and conveys to us the patristic Fathers conception of salvation; lay squarely within the Hellenistic doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul, and hence the corresponding deification of man:

`The key to early Christian anthropology is the idea of deification, of being made like God. This theme of theosis, the deification of the human as God's redemptive plan for a fallen race, initiated through God's becoming human, is dominant among the church fathers . . . . This theme . . . describes the father's common view about the divinely intended goal of human being . . . Justin Martyr, for instance, reads Psalm 82 in this light to argue that `all men are deemed worthy of becoming "gods", and having power to become sons of the Highest', which is what Christ offers to human beings  . . . . Especially eastern theologians, such as Clement of Alexandria, interpret theosis as the Christian fulfilment of Plato's ecstatic model of the soul's progress towards divinity in assimilating to the forms by means of knowledge through rational inquiry . . . . This idea may sound strange to our modern ears, but early theologians, both Eastern and Western, were enamoured with the notion that God's descent into human nature allows the human ascent to the divine. So when Athanasius summarizes the orthodox teaching on the incarnation in the fourth century, he can draw on a long-standing tradition of interpreting Christian salvation as the restoration to the image of God, the image as it had been perfected in the God-man Jesus: `He indeed assumed humanity that we might become God. He manifested himself by means of a body in order that we might perceive the mind of the unseen Father. He endured shame that we might inherit immortality.' (`Humanism and Religion: A Call for the Renewal of Western Culture', J. Zimmerman, pp. 66, 67.)

While it is important to note that the early church fathers believed that it is only in death that we become deified, for reason that the soul has been purified by the good deeds done in this life;  the patristic view of deification was very much derived from Plato, who believed that `Eros' is beauty itself, and `through contact with beauty itself, the human being becomes immortal and produces true virtue':

`Eros or Love is pictured in [Plato's] Symposium as "a great god," holding an intermediate place between the divine and mortal. The term "Eros" . . . . is, in general, "the desire of generation in the beautiful, both with relation to the body and the soul." . . . . Moreover, since Eros is the desire that good be forever present with us, it must of necessity be also the desire for immortality . . . . Through contact with beauty itself, the human being becomes immortal and produces true virtue. ' (`History of Philosophy Volume 1: Greece and Rome', F. Copleston, 2003, p. 200.)

The very real desire for immortality led the patristic fathers into pursuing an ego-centric religion, in which the doing of `good works' and the imitation of and participation in the beautiful and sinless life of Christ purified the immortal soul and prepared it for deification,  at which the patristic term `the assimilation of God' was achieved by transforming the Platonic idea of subordinating the passions to reason, so that the perfect humanity of God might be achieved by imitating the perfect humanity of Christ, and thus partaking of it. Thus, according to Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - c. 215):

`Clement claims that true philosophy and true gnosis are the results of deification already at work in the Christian. The goal of this participation is assimilation to God, which, on account of God's love for humanity, should result in the pursuit of the personal but also for the common good. Right reasoning and self-control . . . . are always ethical and benefit society as a whole.'  (`Humanism and Religion: A Call for the Renewal of Western Culture', J. Zimmerman, p. 70.)

But as the Greek idea of perfection (or love) was `Eros', and `Eros' was conveyed through the immortal soul perceiving its own perfection, so also did these Hellenistic conceptions of love and the migration of the soul begin to filter down into apostate Christianity shortly after the birth of the apostolic Church.  The third century  theologian Origen Adamantius  (c. 185 A.D - c. 254 A.D) succeeded Clement of Alexandria as the dean of the Catechetical School in Alexandria, which was the principal source of the allegorization of the Scriptures, the effect of which has not been diminished, as it can be seen in the `new' translations of the Bible in relatively modern times. Origen had an encyclopaedic memory and together with the Greek philosopher Plotinus (205 - 270 A.D) was a student of Ammonius Saccas, who `was a Christian who adopted with such dexterity the doctrines of the pagan philosophy, as to appear a Christian to the Christians, and a pagan to the pagans.'  1

Such was the pedigree of Origen, for his Platonic roots so constrained him to believe that `God is Eros', that when  Ignatius Theophorous  was about to be martyred for his faith and exclaimed `My Eros is crucified' - Origen applied the crucifixion of `Eros' to an expression of the love which Christ has for us, as demonstrated at Calvary. However, the general consensus is that this statement  has been misappropriated, for Ignatius was referring to his sinful nature (`Eros') which was about to be crucified in death, so that it would no longer tempt him to sin. This is fair analyses, as tradition has it that when Ignatius was a baby, Christ held him in his arms and it is for this reason that he referred to himself as `theophorous', as it means `god-bearer'.  Therefore it is difficult to see how Ignatius - who probably knew some of the apostles  and  John, `the beloved disciple' of Jesus - could equate `Eros' with `Agape', when he knew perfectly well that `Agape' referred to the unconditional love of his Saviour, and `Eros' referred to the sinful `I', or `old man' of sin.  Origen must have known this,  for he was patently aware of the disciples referring to the love of Christ as `Agape' - but misapplied Ignatius' statement an attempt to justify his position:  

`Nor do I think one could be blamed if one were to call God Eros, just as John called him 'Agape'. And besides that one of the saints named Ignatius said of Christ, 'But my eros has been crucified.' (`Eros unveiled: Plato and the God of love', C. Osborne, 1996, p. 73, fn. 44; `ComCt, 71-2.)

Origen did this simply because he wanted to synthesize Platonic philosophy with Scripture:

`This is a curious comment, for Ignatius, who did at times show an almost mystical devotion to Jesus, in this passage is not referring to Christ, but his own sensual nature, and is taking up Paul's words that `they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof'. Origen however had his own purposes. He wanted to interpret the sensual language of the Song of Songs as a mystical allegory of the relation between Christ the Bridegroom, and his Church. More specifically, he wanted to leave room for the integration of his own Platonic philosophy with the language of scripture. He was followed in this by Pseudo-Dionysius [who lived in the late 5th or early 6th century], who discussed the propriety of Eros as a name of God at some length, and it passed from there into the language of mystical piety.' (`Moral Values in the Ancient World', J. Ferguson, 1959, p. 101.)

Thus with Origen we see the first rather crude attempt at synthesizing the Greek philosophical conception of love with Scripture.  This was not completed until nearly two centuries later, when Augustine realized that `Eros' is incompatible with Scripture, synthesized `Eros' with `Agape', and called it `Caritas'. However, the Greek perception of this differed radically from that of the apostles, for in the Greek mind God is immutable in both ontology and economic function, for if God were to change in any way whatsoever, then this would amount to a changing from perfection to imperfection and God could no longer be God! This idea of classical theism, which finds its expression in the Greek philosophical conception of the metaphysical attributes of God, entered the Christian Church at a very early stage of its development, and has heavily influenced the formation of western civilization:

'Classical theism, which sought to employ philosophical concepts in elucidating the biblical version of God, presented a picture of God that often stood at variance with the biblical witness. God's perfection was envisaged in terms of his total unchangeability (immutabilitas), his invulnerability to suffering (impassabilitas), his completeness (actus purus), and his possession of all possible values (ens realissmum). This depiction of God was commonplace among the church fathers and the doctors of the medieval church, including Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas. It was also reflected in Reformation and post-Reformation orthodoxy as well as the idealistic philosophy of Descartes and Leibnez (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) . . . . Scripture itself is very firm on the abiding reality and utter transcendence of the living God, but whether this kind of vision can be reconciled with the Greek view of immutability is another matter . . . . In Malachi we read, "I the Lord do not change, therefore you, O sons of Jacob are not consumed" (3:6). The Epistle of James strikes a similar note: "Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (1:17) . . . . The Malachi text is indeed speaking of God's unchangeability, but the meaning is that God "reacts in accordance with what he has promised; that is, he is faithful. This does not imply remoteness or detachment, but rather the most radical involvement in history. " Similarly, the citation from James does not support the Greek conception of a God "who cannot react, is not involved with his creation, knows no repentance and cannot change his intentions." The biblical view is that God is true to himself and unchangeably faithful to his people, not that he is incapable of being affected by the sufferings of his people.'  (`God the Almighty: Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Love', D. Bloesch, 2005, pp. 91, 92.)

The Greeks believed that perfection consisted of God subsisting in an eternal moment of the contemplation of Himself, and that perfect love is reflexive - as the immortal soul was believed to have originated in God, then the soul is a dim reflection of the perfect love which God has for himself - for the Greeks equated perfect love (or `Eros')  with perfection. This perfection of God, or `heavenly eros', as Plato called it, was also equated with morality; for the Greeks  believed that the  just and virtuous man who did that which was morally right was prompted to do so by the reflexive action of the soul `remembering' the perfection of its original existence in the One. However, they also believed that the gods could only receive those who were like themselves, who were `good' by nature, for otherwise the gods would receive imperfection into the heavenly realm, as this statement by Epicurius demonstrates:

` . . . for the gods, ever familiar with their own virtues, receive men like themselves, and reject as alien all that are not of this character.' (`Moral Values in the Ancient World', p. 227, fn 1, D.L.S 124.)  

Therefore it was up to us to haul ourselves up by the bootstraps, so that we might find a place in our original divine home! Thus for the Greeks, religion was that of self-acquisition, for a moral man was regarded as one who `took care of his soul' by the doing of good for others.  Not because it was the right thing to do - this was merely a secondary consideration, for the `taking care of the soul' by the doing of `good works' assured him that he would be deified at death. These elements of Greek philosophy were commonly believed in the early Church, and St. Augustine was no exception, for it is to Augustine that the western world, both Catholic and Protestant, has turned to in deciphering Scripture; particularly on the aspect of `original sin'

`The most influential Christian Platonist was Saint Augustine (354 - 430). Augustine read Plotinus's Enneads as well as works by Porphry, and the Catholic theologian's debt to Platonic metaphysics is made clear in Book VIII of The City of God. Here, Augustine devotes more than a dozen chapters to a discussion of Greek, Pythagorean, Socratic and Platonic philosophy, concluding that Platonic philosophy comes nearest to the Christian faith. At one point, Augustine proposes that Plato, while in Egypt, became familiar with Hebraic scripture and incorporated into the Timaeus ideas from Genesis about the creation of the world.' (`Vermeer and Plato: Painting the Ideal', R. Huerta, 2005, p. 20.)

Before becoming a Platonist, Augustine was a Manichean, which was a synthesis of all religions which were then known:

` . . .  we have, finally, in Augustine's doctrine of sin a strong Manichean and Gnostic element; for Augustine never wholly surmounted Manichaeism ' (`History of Dogma, Vol.5', A. Harnack, p. 102.)

Augustine's Manichaeism most likely led him to synthesize `Eros' with `Agape', as the synthesization of various modalities was already practised by him as a matter of course. Why should his approach to Christianity be any different? For the practice was already ingrained in him. Augustine also believed in the deification of the soul, and it is this key which unlocks the idea that `caritas' is seen as the essence of the Trinity, for as we have already seen, Pope Benedict quoted Augustine when he said  “If you see charity, you see the Trinity”.  

`As Norman Russel points out, theosis in the sense that Athanasius understood it, as the deification of the human being and as restitution to original humanity, is clearly present in Augustine, who preaches in a recently recovered sermon that God not only wishes to make us alive but even to deify us. Augustine silences any objections to this idea by saying that '[if] God can become man, then surely He can deify mortals.'(`Humanism and Religion: A Call for the Renewal of Western Culture', J. Zimmerman, 2012, p. 66, fn. `The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, Russel, p. 331.) 

Augustine was so enamoured with the many schools of Platonic philosophy, that he wrote:

`After many centuries and much contention, a philosophy has finally been evolved which in my opinion entirely true. It is not limited to this world, it reveals another, the intelligible world'. (Augustine, `Contra Academicos', III, xix, 42. )

He previously states in this same document that he regarded Plotinus as another Plato:

`The utterance of Plato, the most pure and bright in all philosophy, scattering the clouds of error, has shone forth most of all in Plotinus who has been deemed so like his master one might think them contemporaries if the length of time between them did not compel us to say that in Plotinus Plato lived again.' (ibid., III, xviii, 41.)

In order to rightly understand Augustine, one must first understand Plotinus, for it is Plotinus who most influenced Augustine's theology, and led to Augustine's understanding of the economical function of the Trinity:

`Plotinus' doctrine of the One influenced Augustine's formulation of the concept of `the Godhead,' which for him is the principle of the unity of God. For Augustine, the idea of `God' did not directly mean Father, Son and the Holy Spirit; rather it meant the notion of the Godhead or essence (Augustine, De Trinitae, 1:8:15).' (`The Doctrine of God in African Christian Thought: The Holy Trinity' J. Henry Owino Kombo, 2007, p. 83.)  

Augustine's notion of the Trinity being the essence of the `Godhead'  is further explained in the following passage as `completely simple and without multiplicity':

`For Augustine, Godhead or essence is completely simple and without multiplicity. As the highest principle, Augustine also emphasizes the `One' that is described by him as Godhead or essence . . . . Once Augustine had accepted substantia  -  the grammatical term underlying or lying below - and, thus, the theological term Godhead as the beginning point of the Trinitarian debate, he laid a foundation firmly rooted in neo-Platonic reasoning. Augustinian theologians would use this foundation to argue that God is his essence and, in the process, fail to give due prominence to the persons of the Trinity.' (Ibid., pp. 83, 84.)

Thus we come full circle to the essence of the Godhead being the Trinity, and in essence the Trinity is the One God at its simplest without multiplicity, in very much the same vein as Plato considered the `Godhead' - and as Richard Rice has observed at the beginning of this document; for the modalism of Trinitarianism not only confuses the identities of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but melts their differing characteristics into mere expressions of the One God - which is not far removed from the Greek conception  of each god `emanating' from the other. But just as Augustine's theology focussed upon the Love of God; so also did Plotinus, and it is from Plotinus that Augustine's doctrine of love originates:

`He is worthy to be loved, and is Love [Eros] as well, that is Love of himself, inasmuch as he is beautiful only from himself and of himself.' (`Enneads', 6,9,15.)

As love (Eros) was depicted by Plotinus is an integral part of the immortal soul, it was not such a very hard matter for Augustine to use the same intellectual disciplines which Plotinus used, which then enabled Augustine to depict `Caritas' as the very same thing, for just as Eros was depicted as dwelling in the image of the soul in Platonic philosophy, so also did `Caritas' come to be depicted as the very same thing in Augustine's theology, for he believed that  the soul is the image of God because it reflects the Trinity', and `loving the good' reflects the Trinity to us:

`For Augustine, the exercise of the will in the life of virtue teaches us to love the good. Loving the good entails not only right desire, but the intellectual virtues of wisdom, knowledge and prudence. According to Augustine, the soul is the image of God because it reflects the Trinity.' (`Augustine and Politics As longing in the World', J. Von Heyking, p. 1888.)

As Augustine's theology focussed upon love, for `God is love' (1 John 4:8), it may be asserted that at a deeper level`caritas' is the substantia of Augustine's theology, for  Augustine ` . . . represented the Holy Ghost as the love and fellowship between the Father and Son, as the bond which unites the two, and which unites believers with God'. 2 Hence `caritas' came to be seen as the "uncreated grace" which is infused into us, and it is by this `uncreated grace' that we are saved:

`In Augustines' spirituality there are two emphases: interiority and "image". The former was learned from Plotinus, who taught him to journey from the exterior world to the interior world of the soul, and then to the superior world of the divine (conf. 7.10.16: 9.10.23). That the human soul is made to the image of the triune God was learned from Genesis (1: 26). That world of the divine took on new meaning when Augustine realized that into the baptized soul the Holy Spirit enters with his gift of caritas, thus making the soul a dwelling of the Trinity (Rom. 5:5). This presence of the Trinity within the human soul has since been called "uncreated grace".' (`Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia.', A. Fitzgerald, J. Cavadini, 1999, p. 814.)

Logically, as `caritas' is in Augustine's view the `natural' love which God has for us, and our souls dimly reflect this love, then for Augustine `Eros' equates to works, `Agape' equates to faith, and a synthesis of the two equates to "uncreated grace" - salvation. Thus, the Catholic conception of `love', or caritas, can only be extracted from the framework of the Trinity; for it is through the Trinity that Augustine perceived the synthesis of Eros with Agape, for in the Trinity Augustine saw in the ontology of God a reflection of the love which He has for us; for man was created in the image of the Trinity, and according to Augustine, the immortal soul  was made in the image of the Trinity, and is thus an image, or reflection of it:

`If the rational soul is made to be the image of God in the sense that it can make use of reason and intellect to understand and consider God, then the image of God was in the soul from the beginning of its existence.' (Augustine, `De Trin. xiv, 4.)

This idea that the rational soul is made in the image of God is purely Platonic, for the Greeks believed that the `first principle' was the pantheist One, or all-encompassing mind, the second was a `second mind' of intellect (nous), and the third was the soul (psyche), which roughly equates to the Trinitarian Father, Son and Holy Spirit; who became known as the Three Persons of the Godhead, instead of the three Intellectual Principles of Neo-Platonism:

`The theological dogma that the soul is the image of not only God but the Holy Trinity has special implications for the epistemological principle that the soul is the faithful mirror for the reflection of the transcendent divine nature. St. Augustine's interpretation of this dogma limits the mirroring function of the soul to its noblest part, that is, the intellect and its three functions. But Dante's interpretation extends the mirroring function to the other parts of the soul, namely the irascible and the concupiscible [sexual desire], thereby making the entire soul a complex mirror reflecting the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, individually and collectively.' (`The Divine Comedy and the Encyclopediea of Arts and Sciences', G. Di Scipio, A. Gicaglione, p. 216.)     

Indeed, in relation to the `Three Persons' of the Trinitarian formula, the Greek word persona, which means person, doesn't refer to a person at all, but instead:  

` "Person" is actually a translation of the Greek word persona, which refers to the mask an actor would wear in the theatre. So, in the case of the Trinity, one God in three persons is compatible to one actor playing three different roles, wearing a different mask, a different personae to play each role.' (`Sermons on the Second Readings: Series II, Cycle A , J. Brittain, D. Bales, S. Albertin, 2007,  p. 276.)

This brings us to another point - if the immortal soul is an `image' of the Trinity, then the only way by which love can be properly understood is by comprehending the Trinity, which is man's True, or Ideal Self:

`This Triune personal being of God is the original image according to which and for which man has been created. This Trinity is the basis of both facts: first, that man, like God, is person, and, secondly, that he is person in quite a different way from the way in which God is Person.  God, the Primal Word, is creative, self-existent, and self-sufficing love; man had been created by God as a reflexive love, that is, a love whose content is outside itself . . . Only in the love of God can man be loving, and therefore be himself. The fact that the love of God is the content of his being is the point at which he resembles God. In this, he is the reflection of God.' (`Man in Revolt: A Christian Anthropology', E. Brunner, O. Wyon, 2002, p. 219.)

Augustine's theology of love, as expressed by the Trinity, reflects this thought, for:

`Augustine looked at the world around him and saw examples of the Trinity everywhere. One well-known example went like this: love. Even Jesus said that we are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. We say, "I love myself." "I" is the subject of love, the lover. "Myself" is the object of love, the beloved. And "love" is the action of the lover for the beloved. It is all one activity with three distinct parts: the lover, the beloved, and love.' (`Sermons on the Second Readings: Series II, Cycle A', J. Brittain, D. Bales, S. Albertin, 2007, p. 276.)

Of course, focussing upon `Caritas' in this way can ultimately descend into the mystical-ecstatic experience which was so sought after by the Greeks, and as a case in point, is found in the depiction of the Holy Spirit as `Caritas', who, according to the Nicene Creed is depicted as:

` . . . the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets'.  (Nicene Creed, First Council of Constantinople, 381 A.D.)  

But just as the doctrine of three co-eternal, co-existent and con-substantial Three Persons in One is incomprehensible, so also is the notion that Eros and Agape should find their fulfilment in `Caritas'. But this is precisely what is affirmed in Pope Benedict's `First Encyclical Letter', as he sets out in no uncertain terms that Catholic faith is built upon the conception that Eros and Agape are fulfilled in `Caritas':

`In philosophical and theological debate, these distinctions [of love] have often been radicalized to the point of establishing a clear antithesis between them: descending, oblative love—agape—would be typically Christian, while on the other hand ascending, possessive or covetous love —eros—would be typical of non-Christian, and particularly Greek culture. Were this antithesis to be taken to extremes, the essence of Christianity would be detached from the vital relations fundamental to human existence, and would become a world apart, admirable perhaps, but decisively cut off from the complex fabric of human life. Yet eros and agape—ascending love and descending love—can never be completely separated. The more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized. Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the other. The element of agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature.' (`God is Love - "Deus Caritas Est" ', 1:7.)

This `proper unity in the one reality of love' is the synthesis of `Eros' with `Agape' which Augustine first attempted in the fourth century, and is called`Caritas'. Thus, in Catholicism, it is `Caritas' that `is the true nature of love in general'. Pope Benedict reaffirms this by stating that:

`God loves, and his love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also agape.' (ibid., 1.9.)

Pope Benedict is constrained to say this, as `Caritas' is a synthesis of these two antithetical forms of love - for `Caritas' mirrors Plato's conception of `Eros' as the character of God, and hence is the platform upon which the Hellenistic doctrine of the immortal soul is based. As Christianity become Hellenized in the second, third and fourth centuries, so also did this conception of `Eros' as the character of God become the foundation of Gnostic Christianity. Under Augustine `Eros' underwent a dramatic transformation when he synthesised it with `Agape', at which it then became called `Caritas' and became the foundation of Catholic faith and `Caritas' eventually came to be seen as the essence, or character of God - for the divinization of man still squarely remains within this doctrine via the conduit of the belief in the natural immortality, and hence divine origin of the soul. Thus `Caritas' might be regarded as a more sophisticated form of `Eros' than that which Plato believed - for it has been diluted by `Agape'. However, if one is to attempt to synthesise `Agape' with `Eros' - only `Eros' can remain, for `Agape' (or unconditional love) ceases to be `Agape'; for it is instead transformed into `Eros' (self-seeking love). Thus `love' in the form of `Caritas' has come to be seen as the essence of the Trinity - and the Godhead. 

Eventually the doctrine of the divinization of man, compassed with the notion that the essence of God is `caritas' led to the Eucharist, and the idea that taking part in the sacraments of the Church is the means by which man sets foot on the path of divinization:

`In Alexandria, salvation was "divinization," wherein the divine Logos communicated to the human "flesh" the qualities of divinity: impassibility and immortality. It was essential in this conception, for instance, that in the Eucharist the bread received by the faithful be truly "the body of Christ" transformed by the divine and divinizing Logos. In this way the eucharistic bread was a "vivifying seed," an antidote against corruption.' (`The Christianity Reader', M. Gerhart, F. Udoh, 2007, p. 223.)

Once this is comprehended,  one begins to see that when the Papacy states that there is no other Church whereby one may be saved, she quite honestly believes this, for it is in the Eucharist that man achieves salvation, by participating in the divine life of `"the body of Christ". However, any idea that the doctrine of the Trinity has its basis in Scripture is clearly refuted by Bishop Hosius of Cordova (c. 257 - 359), who was one of the chief advisers to Emperor Constantine when he presided over the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., when the doctrine of the Trinity was first formulated.  Hosius bore a letter from Constantine to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria and Arius, his deacon, asking that they cease disturbing the peace of the Church. When this failed, at the bidding of Constantine he convened that council. He is recorded as saying:

`We believe the doctrine of a Triune God, because we have received it from tradition, though not mentioned at all in Scripture.' (Conf. Cath. fid. Christi, cap. 27.)

It stands to reason that if the Trinity has no basis in Scripture, then Augustine's perception that the essence of God is `caritas' also fall to the ground - for this attempt to synthesise `Agape' with `Eros' ultimately fails, as all Hegelian dialective eventually does, for when `Agape' is adulterated with `Eros', then only `Eros' can remain - albeit as a wolf in lambs clothing.  

In summary, we see that the `lifting up' of tamid paganism into Papal Rome came at the bequest of Greek philosophy, for it is principally  through the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle that Rome has conceived of the metaphysical attributes of God, and in particular - the love of God; which she deems to be `Caritas'. Thus apocalyptic Scripture is absolutely correct when it depicts the `scarlet woman' riding astride a beast which is `like unto a leopard', for the basis of her philosophies, and from which the Trinity and all her doctrines are derived, are of Greece and depict the character of God as `Eros'.

 The next article will focus upon the `little horn' of Daniel 8, and why Papal Rome is described in the original Hebrew as `a horn from littleness'; for just as Rome's philosophies originated in Greece, so also is this little horn-power of Daniel chapter 8 depicted as rising up in Greece, among `four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven' (Dn. 8: 8).  This is of course in complete variance with the `little horn' of Dn. ch. 7, which depicts the Papacy as rising from the ashes of Imperial Rome. Why is she depicted in Dn. ch. 7 as arising from Imperial Rome, yet in Dn. ch. 8 as arising from Greece? Perhaps you already know the answer. 

Notes:

1 (Mosheim, `Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 1,' 1825, p. 170.) 

2 (Phillip Schaff, `History of the Christian Church', Vol. 3, p. 686.)