De Moor V:5: Emperichoresis

γ. The three Persons also agree in Ἐμπεριχωρήσει/ emperichoresis, or mutual Inexistence/Interpenetration, as the Fathers say. Again, Curcellæus carps at this expression, Quaternione Dissertationum adversus Maresium, DissertationI, § 69, as ἄγραφον/unwritten, ambiguous, and what is used to signify a thing that is nowhere taught in Scripture. At the same time, the Fathers in this manner only wished to express that most perfect Union of the Divine Persons among themselves; whereby, although they remain ever distinct, they are never separated from each other, but embrace one another in intimate union. Which matter, 1. spontaneously flows from the numeric Unity of the Essence common to the three Persons: 2. is supposed in the simultaneous knowledge of the Father and the Son, which the Lord inculcates, John 14:8, 9; on which passage see, if you please, ARNOLDI’S Refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ, page 318, § IX-XIII, ad Catechesem Racovianam de Cognitione Personæ Christi, chapter I, questions80, 81, pages 109, 110. And, 3. with respect to the thing signified, it is expressly taught in John 10:38; 14:10, 11, where it is said, ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ Πατρί, καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί ἐστι, I am in the Father, and the Father in me; likewise, ὁ Πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοὶ μένων, the Father that dwelleth in me.


It does not then follow that, because believers are said to be and to abide in God, John 17:21, 23; 1 John 3:24, hence there is also an ἐμπεριχώρησιν/emperichoresis of this sort is between them and God. The manner of the mystical Union of believers with God through the internal presence of the Spirit, who is the closest bond of their communion with God, differs much from the natural Union of the Divine Persons among themselves, with which the other union of believers with God is compared on account of slight analogy only: see MARESIUS’ Defensionem Fidei Catholicæ adversum Curcellæi Quaternionem, Dissertation I, section XI, § 38, numbers 17-29, pages 204, 208-212; BULL’S Defensionem Fidei Nicænæ, section IV, chapter IV, § 9-14, pages 284-290.


Moreover, our AUTHOR wishes ἐμπεριχώρησιν/emperichoresis to be distinguished from all Μεταγγισμῷ/Transmigration; those asserting which were called Metangismonites, “saying that the Son is in the Father in just the same way as a vessel is in another vessel, carnally supposing two bodies, as it were, in such a way that Son was in the Father, as a smaller vessel is in a larger,” which are the words of AUGUSTINE, de Hæresibus, chapter LVIII. The time and author of this heresy lies hidden, yet it appears to be referred to the Fourth Century by Danæus.


Now, this thesis concerning the Agreement of the Divine Persons in One Essence, Ἰσότητι/Equality, and Ἐμπεριχωρήσει/ emperichoresis, mutual Inexistence, is to be held against all the enemies, ancient and more recent, of the Deity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.



In particular, to be noted here is Maty, Pastor of the Walloon Church, who in the year 1729 published a new System of the Trinity, againt whom ARMAND DE LA CHAPELLE, Pastor of the Hague, set himself in opposition: because Maty was unwilling to repudiate it, he was deprived of his office and ecclesiastical communion by the Wallonic Synod.[1] This System is reviewed, together with the strictures against it, and the defense of the sentence of the Wallonic Synod, by the Reverend BONVOUST, Pastor at Utrecht,[2]in his French tractate, le Triomphe de la Verite et de la Paix, pages326 and following. The opinion of Maty is summarily reduced to this: He believes that the First Person of the Trinity, namely, the Father, alone has that unique nature, namely, the Divine. But he thinks that in the Persons of the Son and Spirit two natures are yielded, one Divine, the other finite of an intelligent Spirit. These two spiritual Essences the Father produced before the foundation of the world, and assumed into the communion of His divine Essence, and thence resulted the second and third Persons of the Son and the Holy Spirit.



Maty acknowledges that that hypothesis, in which he assigns to the Holy Spirit a finite nature, joined to the Divine Nature, is not formally contained in Sacred Scripture: nevertheless, he assumes the same as necessary for the explanation of passages that treat of the mystery of the Trinity.


Maty concedes that from this System it follows that two Natures met in Christ already before the Incarnation, one divine, the other created, which he calls Angelic.


But he does not know, whether in the Incarnation this Angelic Nature is the Soul of the Body of Christ; or, with the Nature remaining truly Angelic, there is in Christ after the Incarnation a threefold Nature, Divine, Angelic, and Human.


He believes that the second Person is called the Son of God, because He is begotten, not as God, but as a finite, intelligent Essence.


He does not know whether the eternal Generation of the Son, namely, by union of a finite, intelligent Being with the Person of the Father, is altogether without beginning, or it had a beginning, but before the Creation of the World. He does not judge it to be absurd, to establish a dependent Eternity; neither does he believe it to be a contradiction, to posit a finite Being that is eternal and without beginning. God is able, in his judgment, to give existence to creatures, which sort are these two finite, intelligent Essences, concerning which inquiry is now made, at a time that preceded the creation of the World: but he does not know whether this time is to be said to have a beginning or not.


He admits the terminations of the Generation of the Son and of the Procession of the Holy Spirit relatively, not to their divine Nature, but to the union of these finite and created, intelligent Essences with the divine Nature of the Father. But, what difference may thus lie between Generation and Procession, he does not know.


He conceives these three Persons to be equal in a certain sense, namely, with respect to the divine Nature common to the Three: but unequal in another sense, as far as the second and third Persons have finite and created intelligence, which makes them subordinate to the first and dependent upon the first. He also thinks that, with the twofold agreement with respect to the twofold Nature between the Son and the Holy Spirit not withstanding, a certain degree of eminence is able to be conceded to the Son above the Holy Spirit, which degree of eminence at the same time he does not know how to specify how great it is, and whether it be perpetual or temporary.


Now, how many errors this System involves, refuted or to be refuted by us in various places, anyone is easily able to discern.


[1]In 1730, Paul, pastor of the Walloon church at Montfoort was deprived and excommunicated for his aberrant views of the Trinity, expressed in an anonymous letter, Lettre d’un theologien a un autre theologien, sur le mystere de la Trinite. De la Chappelle (1676-1746), a Huguenot minister in The Hague, brought the charges. [2]Jean Louis Bonvoust (1681-1752) was pastor of the Walloon church at Utrecht from 1714 to 1751.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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