Chapter Six: By Any Other Name


By Any Other NameMany scholars have seen Richard’s final chapter as an unnecessary addendum to the argument, since it seems to depart somewhat from the rigorous methodology in all that preceded it.

For in this closing section Richard has no choice but to submit to authority, since we cannot know- apart from revelation- what to call these incommunicable existences in the one divine substance.

However, rather than departing from his methodology, it seems rather that Richard consummates everything that has come before. For if the whole point of knowing God is that we may love God, then the reason becomes all too clear:

One does not love an incommunicable existence. Rather, one loves a person, and every person has one thing in common: a name.

The final chapter thus takes what faith has revealed regarding the names of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and examines how each name is appropriately applied to the personal property of the person whom it names. Richard of St. Victor is convinced that since the existence of each person is not distinct from his temporal mission, in the economy of the Trinity one may discover corollaries to the distinctions which furnish the ground of each person’s existence.

In the final analysis, the doctrine of the Trinity is as practical as it is theological, for our experience and reason- as oriented to reality which is at base grounded in the divine being- lead us into this mystery, and ultimately into the greatest love of all, that which is just what God is in his inexpressible wonder.

To know is to love, and the slightest glimpses which form the pinnacle of our theology are merely a foretaste of the joy that awaits the one that will someday see God face to face, where knowing is no longer distinguished from loving, and where the light of God’s overflowing love illuminates all in the blaze of its glory.

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