The present moment is the ongoing illumination of relationality. One’s subjective motivations largely depend upon the on-going conversation that is built between the past and the present. In this discourse, the past swings a tremendous weight. Most people have an aching desire for temporal constancy in identity and worldview, yet the outline of one’s past cannot change. Without a stable interpretation of the past, one can live only by the whims of emotion; skepticism about objective truth leaves no ground but pleasure on which to build a life. This fickle and fragile state infects much of the “post-modern” culture. At the same time, a particular memory of the past must not be idolized; the human person has very fallible recollections. It would be sub-human to ignore the contribution which one’s physical and emotional states have added to objective-value. Only one thing can ease this tension: God Incarnate. Only God’s “eternal now” in time can unite the past and present to a future. Only God’s human nature can perfectly marry existence with meaning, logic with love, truth with joy. The Catholic Church’s Tradition is this infallible memory and everlasting life of God in man because it is the literal Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.
St. Augustine and Karl Rahner
20th-Century theologian Karl Rahner, in his book The Trinity, argued against four tendencies in modern Western trinitarian-theology that he considers deficient. First, that the doctrine of the Trinity is not well integrated with other doctrines or with the life of faith. Secondly, that the unity of the godhead is emphasized at the expense of the three persons. Thirdly, that the divine actions are considered too inseparable. Finally, Rahner thought that more should be done to discover and learn from trinitarian themes outside of the New Testament and Catholic Tradition. Rahner seemed to put much of the blame for these inadequacies on the legacy of Augustine, a charge against which Drayton Benner thoroughly disagrees. Ultimately, what Rahner wants to propose is that “the ‘economic’ Trinity is the ‘immanent’ Trinity and the ‘immanent’ Trinity is the ‘economic’ Trinity.” “Rahner proposes a series of double aspects: origin and future, history and transcendence, offer and acceptance, and knowledge and love. Each of these double aspects characterizes human nature and, correspondingly, the nature of the divine self-communication.” The first half of the complementary aspects he calls ‘history’ and the second half he calls ‘Spirit.’ Thus, the Godhead and humanity share in a communion of unity and distinction in both the truth of history and the love of the Spirit. With certain reservations, Rahner finds his description of the economic Trinity to be in harmony with the Magisterial teaching on the immanent Trinity.
Benner used Augustine to critique Karl Rahner’s trinitarian theology in five specific facets. First, Augustine preserved a clear difference between the subordination of the historical Jesus (Jesus’ human nature) to God the Father and the equality of the eternal Son (Jesus’ divine nature) to God the Father that Rahner deletes. Benner thought this left Rahner defenseless against accusations of ‘subordinationism,’ the idea that hierarchy is more essential to the Trinity than equality. However, Rahner may have also been trying to point out the unnecessary astriction between obedience and equality, or between ‘mission’ and ‘generation,’ as argued by others elsewhere. Second, while Augustine saw the Son’s mission as necessitated by the Fall, Rahner believed the Incarnation to be the reason for creation. Again, there seems to be another way between these two positions, in which God created for the sake of the Incarnation, but ‘changed’ the Son’s historical manifestation to fit the needs of Fallen man. Third, Augustine approached God from both the economic and immanent perspectives, highlighting the difficulties of understanding in both. Rahner, contrarily, used the economic Trinity as his only angle of understanding either. In this respect, Benner may be correct. Taking the fourth and fifth criticisms together, Augustine protected God’s transcendence over creatures and His freedom as Creator. Conversely, Rahner almost completely collapsed theology into anthropology. On this point hinges the failure of contemporary pluralism. The temporal human person can only be saved through obedience to the revelation of the Incarnation, and not through self-knowledge alone.
The subtle complexity of Rahner’s theology rests on the doctrine of hypostatic-union which weds divinity and humanity in the historical Jesus. The ‘good news,’ or Gospel of Jesus Christ certainly includes the truth that “the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” In the sense that Christ’s mission is complete, in Himself, in the Virgin Mary, and in the eschaton, Rahner was correct to identify the immanent Trinity with the economic Trinity, divine nature and human nature. However, it seems unlikely that Rahner could ignore the difference between the future eschatological-man and the contemporary sinful-man, or else he would be guilty of the same admonition he launched against Western trinitarian-theology, that is, over emphasizing the unity of reality at the expense of “distinct manners of subsisting.” For now, the human person has no right or guarantee of communion with God. What he has is what the historical life of Christ has given him, and nothing more. Man can only follow Christ to the best of his ability with a firm hope of salvation. Herein lies the importance of the memory of Jesus for ushering human identity to its fulfillment in the Godhead. The transfiguration of human nature, freely offered by Christ, is mysteriously bound-up with the response of man to Jesus’s successive temporal proposals.
Karl Rahner’s description of the Trinity as a unity of history and Spirit is not very different from Augustine’s “oppositional pairs” in De Trinitate. Khaled Anatolios proposed that, in De Trinitate, Augustine explored the “sights of faith” and how they lead to “eschatological sight through Christ” by three stages of “oppositional pairs:” opposition, continuity-within-opposition, and christological mediation and fulfillment. “Jesus Christ is the mediator between all the pertinent oppositional pairs: faith in the ‘sight’ of his humanity leads to the eschatological ‘sight’ of the triune God. [Jesus] is the single object of both sets of the oppositional pairs and the way between one set and the other.” Simultaneously, defying Karl Rahner, the unlikeness between the historical mediations of the Trinity and the trinitarian being Itself are accentuated by the obvious chasm dividing human societies and Divine perichoresis. The Trinity described as “each in each and all in each and each in all and all in all and all are one” can hardly be used as a parallel description of the present human community. Nonetheless, this type of communion, with God and each other, is the destiny of humanity once perfected by Christ at the Second Coming.
In Augustine’s tri-part unity of the human person (memory, understanding, and will), memory served as the Christocentric faculty that unifies experience. The object of knowledge-economy and the object of love-eternity are the “one and the same” Christ, and thus, the economic and eternal Jesus are brought together by “remembering God.” Time and eternity, history and Spirit, are only synthesized by Jesus’ self-giving. In so far as one is in time, the paradoxical tension of seeking God by participating in God finds no other possible resolution except in the hypostatic-union of Christ’s human and divine natures. Seeking God alone does not assure union with Him, as might be suggested by a pluralistic worldview, nor does ostentatious ritualism prove a true “obedience of faith.” The importance of the co-equality of opposites is precisely the indispensability of both distinct elements.
St. Bonaventure and Liturgy
Bonaventure, in the 13th-Century, articulated the relationship between the economic and immanent Trinity in a similar way. He developed a concept of “the coincidence of opposites,” an idea which governed his whole theology. Ilia Delio said: “The doctrine of coincidentia oppositorum refers to the interpenetration, interdependence, and unification of opposites in which the coexistence of opposites is the basis of true unity.” The mysterious marriage of opposites underlies all of reality: God the Father holds together unbegottenness and fecundity, God the Son unites receptivity and generativity, God the Spirit is both the breath exhaled by God and the air inhaled by creation. Christ is the centering principle of the “Great Mystery,” mediating between Father and Spirit, as well as between the Trinity and creation. Theologically, if there are no opposites, there is no Christ and no Trinity because God is defined as the power of Love that transcends logical opposition. Thus, the Incarnation allows God to express His omnipotence precisely by achieving victory through humility. Likewise, the road to humanity’s deification must follow the same narrowing path of humble obedience.
In The Mind’s Road to God, Bonaventure reiterated the image of the Trinity in human psychology. “According to the order and origin and characteristic of these powers (the soul) leads into the Most Blessed Trinity Itself. For from memory there arises intelligence as its offspring, because we next understand, since the similitude, which is in the memory, results in the keeness of the intellect, which is nothing other than a word; from memory and intelligence is spirated love as the connection of both. These three, that is the generating mind, word, and love, are in the soul in regard to the memory, intelligence and the will, which are consubstantial, coeternal and coequal, circumcessing one another.” As God the Father is the memory or origin of the Trinity, Christ’s human nature becomes the memory and origin of eternal life in the world because His Mind and Body open the way back to the Father. To complete the picture, the Holy Spirit counsels all human action, intellect and will, back into the mission of the Son. The Holy Spirit, through the impetus of love for the Father and Son, is always glorifying God’s memory in the world. The Anamnesis, sacramental remembrance, of the Catholic Liturgy, which relives the life of Christ, outside of time while touching time, operates like a renewal of the hypostatic-union of Christ with the Trinity, always incorporating more and more of the human race into its spirating self-donation. The opposites of God and the Human-Christ, and the opposites of the Human-Christ and humanity, are united in a mystical union with the Person of Jesus as humanity grows in becoming Him. The key point is that the whole system of existing opposites must move together at the free-command of the Father, who authors the Story of Time and Eternity and tells it in Christ. “Outside” this story there is only the deterministic-rebellion of Hell.
The opposite of Catholic-Christianity, in so far as Christianity is a human institution (albeit, a living institution), is the institution of every other religion. In this sense, Christianity and other religions can also be seen as complementary, if this “complementarity” is understood as part of “the form of this world [that] is passing away.” Whereas, Christianity is the Body of Christ, however, it is always the principle and place of unity. Christianity, in its divine aspect, is what makes all opposites complementary. In Redemptoris Missio, John Paul II said: “Although participated forms of mediation of different kinds and degrees are not excluded [from communion with God], they acquire meaning and value only from Christ's own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his.” The danger of pluralism lies in the subtle shift from understanding world religions as complementary in a transient sense, to understanding them as complementary in an absolute sense, as man and woman are complementary. The locus of unity can only be Jesus Christ, which includes his Mind as expressed in Catholic Doctrine, and his Body as contained in the Catholic Liturgy.
Ilia Delio, O.S.F. implicitly rejected these two Catholic elements (doctrine and liturgy) as starting points for a unity in love, but she seems to error as Adam and Eve erred. Just as God’s command is the starting point of human dignity in Genesis, so God’s command is the starting point of the new creation in Christ. The disobedience of Genesis is repaired by the obedience of the Catholic Church. Eating from one tree that was restricted must be redeemed by eating from one tree that is now ordained. From the beginning, it is obedience that consecrates a right-relationship to God. As John Paul II said in his Theology of the Body, it is man’s “commandibility” that characterizes his dignity as an image of the Trinity. At the same time, the premise of hypostatic-union has the logical potential to eliminate any implication of inequality in obedience. One obeys a master and one obeys a lover, but the obedience is not the same in each case. Thus, Christ as the coincidence of opposites must be understood to include certain opposites that are temporary, like sin and slave-obedience, death and temporal-life, other religions and Catholic-Christianity. The Holy Spirit simply does not fail to lead anyone to the unification of opposites in the Catholic Liturgy, just as quarrelling lovers will never close the doors of communication. Some do not live long enough to follow Him all the way there; some have a further and more treacherous road to travel. Nevertheless, any degree of conscious renunciation of actual Catholic Tradition damages the soul and pulls-away from trinitarian deification.
Delio said: “If beauty is the order of love that flows from self-gift, then the beauty of Christ is in the diversity of religious ends.” However, if “diversity of religious ends” means that there is any true form of worship “outside-of” Jesus’s human-self-oblation to the Father (remembered in Catholic Liturgy), then this is precisely the dissolution of the command of Tradition (like the command of Genesis) that must be avoided. The eternity and mystery of the Trinity remains without rejecting or forgetting the form of Revelation which Christ gives. The “Great Mystery,” is not merely that God unites what otherwise would seem unavoidably relative and pluralistic, but rather that God can “live” totally inside of what appears finite and limited. Thus, the key to salvation is not only openness to God, but conformity to God. It is not enough just to believe and trust in God, for the word “God” can mean anything (from Satan to self) if not shaped by the identity God has established for Himself through the living memory of Christ. If one does not remember Jesus Christ, than one does not know or love God with much legitimacy. One cannot well claim to love a person he or she does not listen to, and His Word is already spoken.
Memory, then, is integral to the human person, it is the tool by which God explains the present and lights the future through the relationships of the past (in individual and collective history). There can be nothing in the future or eternity which contradicts Christ’s autobiography as it is being written in the Catholic Church in time, His living Mystical Body. The “coincidence of opposites” does indeed unite the religions of the world, but not through any substantial concession by the Christian Church. The Church, in its divinity, is the sacrament of unity, the “Great Mystery” of God’s marriage to humanity. Jesus’ eternal “nuptial-Body” cannot and will not change its “shape.” This is not a limitation on God; it is a limitation on the human intellect. The road to God grows narrower with time, not broader, as does every natural form of life – even though the defining of God by Jesus Christ neither contradicts His infinitude, nor opposes the everlasting-life of humanity. In this way (uniting infinite to finite) Christ is the “coincidence of opposites” and not in the pluralistic sense.
Christ brings together time and eternity through his memorial life, incarnate in Catholic Tradition; He cannot contradict his own memory by mediating through parallel faiths. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” The development of doctrine is not a widening cultural inclusiveness, so much as a recollection of details forgotten. Enculturation is the acknowledgment of practices that are already Christian by tracing them back to their roots in Christ. If a culture has not yet been transformed by the express proclamation of the Gospel, it must still be ontologically and eschatologically oriented to Christ and participation in His Body. “Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil and the happiness of man.” The human person has no access to the Trinity except as the bride and body of Jesus Christ. Christ is the center, the measure, and the obedience of God. “For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”
“Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man.” This quote from The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes ingeniously the multi-leveled paradox of the Incarnation. The liturgy is the highest form of prayer, the most intimate moment between the divine groom and the human bride. Subordinationism and Pluralism pervert the full reality of this union in two contradictory directions. Religious pluralism is an over-emphasis on the equality between the Immanent God and the Economic God, divinity and humanity, and can only be resolved by a right understanding of the Incarnation, that is, Christ as the memory of God in man and the world. Though this is only a psychological analogy, the experience it conveys is necessary to a proper relationship with God and with one’s self. It is the experience of discovering one’s self as a player in Christ’s story, the only story. Moreover, Christ is a Liturgy, a spatial-temporal memorial of God in the world, and participation in this Tradition is the only path to union with God’s Mind and Body for eternal life. Without this consummating act of mutual love, some good will always be missing from the religious experience, either intellectually (as in pluralism) or emotionally (as in subordinationism). Only Catholicism answers the needs of the whole human person: the intellect in infallible doctrine, the emotions in nuptial sacraments, and the will in loving obedience. God subsists in this Church, revealing God to man and man to himself at the same time, this day’s Light and Eden’s memory.
 Benner, Drayton C. "Augustine And Karl Rahner On The Relationship Between The Immanent Trinity And The Economic Trinity." International Journal Of Systematic Theology 9.1 (2007): 24-38. Religion and Philosophy Collection. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. 25.
 Ibid. 24-25.
 Ibid. 33.
 Ibid. 34. Rahner, the Trinity p.91-94
 Ibid. Rahner, the Trinity p.99
 Ibid. 35.
 Ibid. 36.
 See Holmes, Stephen R. "Trinitarian Missiology: Towards A Theology Of God As Missionary." International Journal Of Systematic Theology 8.1 (2006): 72-90. Religion and Philosophy Collection. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.
 Benner. 36-37.
 Ibid. 37.
 Stated by Athanasius in the 4th-Century. De Incarnatione Verbi Dei.
 Karl Rahner’s preferred term instead of ‘person.’ Benner. 35.
 Anatolios, Khaled. "Oppositional Pairs And Christological Synthesis: Rereading Augustine's De Trinitate." Theological Studies 68.2 (2007): 231-253. Religion and Philosophy Collection. Web. 27 Apr. 2013. 243-244.
 Ibid. 243.
 Ibid. 246.
 Ibid. 247-249.
 “He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity.” Lumen Gentium. 14.
 Delio, Ilia. "Religious Pluralism And The Coincidence Of Opposites." Theological Studies 70.4 (2009): 822-844. Religion and Philosophy Collection. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. 832.
 Ibid. 832.
 Ephesians 5:32.
 Bonaventurae, Opera Omnia S. Bonaventure, Saint, of Bagnoregio . “The Journey of the Mind into God.” Christian Classic Ethreal Library, Grand Rapids, MI. 2002-07-16. 3:5.
 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.’” John 14:6.
 Cf. Lumen Gentium. 8.
 1 Corinthians 7:31.
 Redemptoris Missio. 5.
 Delio. 843-844.
 Ibid. 840.
 Ephesians 5:32
 Matthew 7:14
 Lumen Gentium. 17.
 Colossians 1:16.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2564.