Sunday 9 April 2023

Heavenly Parents and the dyadic/ one-creator God - an update

As I have often written, but not recently, I believe that God is dyadic - consisting of a Heavenly Father and Mother, a man and woman who are (in some sense) incarnate and not spirits. 

This is the Mormon understanding, and reading about Mormon theology was where I first came across it. 

I am not trying to persuade other people that I am right; but I shall here consider why I personally believe this, and what it is that I believe. 

In the first place it is due to what might be termed intuition; in the sense that when I first encountered this idea, my heart seemed to jump and warm; as if I was discovering something true, good and with great possibilities of more-good. 

There was an immediate and positive sense... not so much that this was true, but that I wanted this to be true - this came before my conviction that it was true.  

Following this I read more about Mormon theology, and realized that the dyadic, man-woman nature of our Heavenly parents was just part of an entire metaphysical understanding of creation (including procreation - the creation of beings including people) as something dynamic, interactive, developing, evolutionary, open-ended, and expanding. 

In other words, that creation itself was creative (and therefore creation was not, as I had previously assumed, a done-thing, a closed accomplishment, a finished totality - once-and-for-always.) 

I then began to explore the implications of these ideas for myself; using concepts I got from William Arkle (and his reflections on God's motivations for creation); and Owen Barfield, including Barfield's accounts of the 'polar' philosophy of ST Coleridge

I was also building on a longer-term fascination with 'animism' - with the (apparently innate and spontaneous) tendency to regard the world (the universe) as consisting primarily of beings - all of whom were alive, purposive, conscious - albeit in different ways, at different scales and timescales etc.

The motivation for creation, and why God should have created this kind of creation, was something I had found difficult to grasp (none of the usual explanations made much sense to me). But when I conceptualized God as the loving dyad of a man and woman, then it seemed obvious why such a combination would have wanted to create - including others who might eventually become like themselves.   

Furthermore, it did not seem possible that creation had arisen from any state of oneness of self-sufficiency, since this would make creation arbitrary; nor could creation arise from a tendency towards differentiation, because that would lead to meaningless-purposeless chaos. 

There must (I felt) have been some kind of original 'polarity' - in abstract and physics-like terminology, there would need to be at-least two different kinds of 'force', the interaction of which would be creation. Coleridge (also Barfield and Arkle) saw this in terms of a 'masculine'-tendency for expansion and differentiation; and a 'feminine'-tendency for one-ness and integration.  

But in terms of my (non-abstract) preferred metaphysics of beings and animistic assumptions; 'masculine' and 'feminine' simplifies to just a primordial man and a primordial woman; this would mean two complementary, unlike-but-of-the-same-kind, beings; the love of whom would lead to a desire for creation.  

(In the same kind of way that - in this mortal life - love of man and woman usually leads to a desire for procreation.)

At some point I validated this understanding by means of meditative prayer; by refining and asking a simple question, feeling that this question had 'got-through', and receiving a clear inner response.  

In summary; the above account is something-like the sequence by which I desired, concluded, became-convinced-by, the metaphysical assumption of God as Heavenly parents; by some such mixture of feelings, reasoning, and 'feedback'. 

All this happened a good while ago (about a decade); since when I have been interpreting things on the basis of this framework, and it seems to 'work', so far.

What the real-life, this world, implications are; include a reinforcement of the idea that the family is (and ought to be) the primary social structure; on earth as it is in Heaven; and a clarification of the nature of creation - starting with the primary creation by Heavenly parents and also including the secondary creation of beings (such as men and women) within primary creation. 

This metaphysics has further helped me understand both why and how love is the primary value of Christianity; i.e. because love made possible creation in the first place, and is the proper basis of 'coordinating' the subcreative activities of all the beings of creation.  

And it helped me understand how creation can be open-ended and expansile, without degenerating into chaos; because it is love that makes the difference.

Also, it helped me to understand the nature of evil; and how evil is related either to the incapacity for love or its rejection. Without love, the innate creativity of individual beings is going to be selfish and hostile to that of other beings: non-loving attitudes, thinking, and actions by beings, will tend to destroy the harmony of creation.  

I don't talk much about this understanding, and I often use the generic term 'God'; because it is difficult to explain briefly and clearly that the dyadic God of our Heavenly parents serves as a single and 'coherently unified' source of creation

But God is two, not one, because only a dyad can create, and creation must-be dyadic. 

And the dyadic just-is the one-ness of God the primal creator.  

Note added: It may be said, correctly, that the above does not depend on the Bible; but then neither does the metaphysics of orthodox-classical theology depend on scripture. We can find resonances and consistencies within the Bible - but assumptions such as: strict monotheism - creation ex nihilo (from nothing) by a God outside of creation and Time, the Athanasian Creed descriptions of the Trinity, God's omnipotence and omniscience, original sin... These are ideas that would not be derived-from a reading of scripture - the most that can be said is that someone who already ideas can find Biblical references that can be interpreted as consistent-with these assumptions. They are (apparently) products of philosophically sophisticated theologians who brought these ideas to Christianity from earlier and mostly pagan (Greek and Roman) sources. Also, these kinds of metaphysical assumption are theistic - to do with a personal god - but not specifically Christian. The salvific work of Jesus Christ (principally: making possible resurrected life everlasting in Heaven) was done within already-existing creation, and Christianity is not therefore an explanation of creation-as-such.   


My name is Matt said...

This passage in Genesis makes more sense, to me, in the context of Heavenly Father & Mother.

Gen 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humans in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Humans come in two versions: male & female. So the dyadic nature lines up in the context of spiritual influencing the material, and vice versa.

Gorgias said...

Dr. Charlton,

I am something of a student of Valentin Tomberg, and have heard somewhat similar theology from him in his works. Asking as a Catholic, if you don’t mind elaborating--what are your thoughts on the Blessed Virgin?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

This passage in Genesis makes more sense, to me, in the context of Heavenly Father & Mother.

Does the original text translate as "humans" in the plural subjective, or "man" in the singular subjective?

It is interesting that man was created from the dust of the Earth, but woman was created from the flesh of man.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AG - I have come to regard detailed attention to the Old Testament (in particular) as an deep and apparently-endless rabbit hole; at the bottom of which lies only what we put there.

In other words, we will Not find answers in the Bible - only at best suggestions, which we must do our best to validate or refute by intuition; always taking personal responsibility for our conclusions and convictions, rather than claiming we are 'just following orders'.

Evan Pangburn said...

I asked some Mormon missionaries about Heavenly Mother, and why she is seldom brought up, and their answer was (and I paraphrase) that Heavenly Father doesn't want her name denigrated like his often is.

Ilo said...

What do you think of Tomberg's idea of a corresponding feminine triad: Mother (Earth), Daughter (Sophia - incarnated in Mary, like the Logos-Son incarnated in Jesus), and Holy Soul - that complement the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

I had the experience you had of warmth and deep knowing when I first encountered, so I am convinced it is true.

Ilo said...

with regards to the Old Testament, I think we must read it as a careful breeding program to create the perfect human beings (Mary and Jesus) to accomplish the Incarnation and Redemption. Nothing more. 'It is finished'.

But because of this, it contains very original ideas: specifically about Creation being purposeful, and not some automatic emanation. All the other traditions (with maybe China as an exception) eventually devolved into some kind of mechanical explanation for the world, which of course makes it either worthless, illusory or evil.

My name is Matt said...

Does the original text translate as "humans" in the plural subjective, or "man" in the singular subjective?
@AG, I do not know.

My name is Matt said...

I have come to regard detailed attention to the Old Testament (in particular) as an deep and apparently-endless rabbit hole; at the bottom of which lies only what we put there.

I agree with this, which is why I have tried to move away from thinking about things through the lens of scripture. But this passage is often there in my thoughts and the connection between your post and the quoted passage rung me like a bell for some reason.

Ilo said...

In the Hebrew original, Man (which is 'Adam') is singular and masculine. However, Image is Masculine and Likeness is Feminine, and I think it is significant given the discussion.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Evan - This is an interesting overview of Mormon teachings on the subject of Heavenly Mother:

@llo - I find Tomberg to be an interesting and inspired writer (I've read/own several of his books, and looked at some essays about him) - but I have very different assumptions and conclusions!

Luke said...

I think from orthodox Christian theology each person of the Trinity is dyadic, but in orthodox Christian practice this understanding is not thought about or lived that well, is frequently forgot or downplayed.

We know God is dyadic from the image of God statements in Genesis, and that Jesus is begotten is because the Father is dyadic in a similar way to where Genesis says at one point that man and woman were collectively called Adam. That is Father is the name of the dyad in the same way that man and woman were collectively called Adam, and in the same way today culturally a woman takes her husband's name, even when a wife used to be called 'Mrs Thomas Jones' say. That is how God the Father is in some sense dyadic and containing the divine mother in His very nature, and God the Son is begotten just like the image of God - a human marriage - begets a child.

What I haven't got a clear idea of, from an orthodox Christian reading, is is the female parent in each Divine Person an adopted/grafted-into-God creation or does the female part of the dyadic Divine Person exist in the realm of, like the male, as pure spirit (according to an orthodox reading)?

It seems to me that like Christ has a wife - the Church, like the Holy Ghost has a spouse - the Church, the Father has a wife (maybe the Church?). And it seems to me that in Genesis before the Fall, Edenic Creation with humanity and Adam as it's head was meant to be a wife of God, which is where the Church comes in later to redeem the Fall and lost wife humanity.

But I'm not sure on whether the dyadic female parent as in the example of Church and Edenic Creation, and the creation of Eve, is actually something both of and separate from the dyadic male, and needing an adoptive/grafting mechanism in order to be one, or is the female God spirit not just to do with the material creation and is spirit in Herself like the male-dyadic-God-spirit.

Much like the Church and Her children, Christians, are the body-wife of Christ-God yet in a way aren't Christ the person. They are divinised not divine. Is the divine mother similarly always divinised Edenic Creation and/or Church and never acts as a standalone divine spirit?

I think the correct answer is maybe that according to orthdox Christianity each divine Person is both purely 'male' father God spirit, and a dyadic father named marriage of male and female at the same time. Out of the longing for communion of the male God spirit for a mate like Himself, female creation and Eden and humanity and Church are formed, and these have the potential to be dyadic by being adopted/grafted/married to the male God spirit and become divinised and truly one with the 'male' God spirit, and fruitful in begetting spiritual children of adopted children of God.

So I think in orthodox Christianity the weight falls on the side that material creation, being a physically condensed form arising from the substance of the Father God, is the dyadic mother especially when the divine mother is married/divinised/one with the that Edenic humanity with Adam as Her head was the divine mother, and now the Church is the divine mother and truly inseparable from the Son of God.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Luke - When concepts are abstract, then there is a great deal of wriggle-room; such that something can be and not-be at the same time, or be two-things at the same time. This was a useful way of resolving religious disputes (as with the Christology and Trinity disputes in the early centuries of Christianity), because both sides can interpret the same statement in different ways. But there is a price to pay: which includes that the faith is based-on an un-understandable mystery.

Orthodox/ mainstream Christian definitions of the nature of Christ and the (Athanasian) Trinity have always seemed incoherent to many people (I have a theory that this was a cause of the clearer and unambiguous assertion of one undivided God; and of Jesus as a man - a prophet, not divine - which were more obviously rational and comprehensible than the Christian formulations).

As I explained in another post recently, I have an almost irresistible need to get the fundamentals simple enough to be clear to me - which means eschewing paradox and mystery. Despite the efforts of my early post-conversion years, I could not honestly hold to the orthodox conceptualizations.

The strange thing is that the Bible itself is (t seems to me) quite clear and coherent on these matters - especially if the Fourth Gospel is acknowledged as primary. The difficulties were (apparently) gratuitously imported by theologians who insisted on explaining Christianity using pre-Christian philosophy - leading to chronic (I would say insoluble - short of introducing weird and incomprehensible conceptualizations of Time etc, or sacrificing the goodness of God) difficulties in explaining the presence of evil in the world, and the possibility of free will.

Someone said...

To be a man or a woman means to have a form. Form cannot precede God as the creator of everything, so he must be formless in the first place. Also, these dyadic beings must have a common nature, sameness, in order to interact with each other, and this sameness must be primary in relation to their difference. This sameness is the origin of everything.

Lucas said...

Well since there's another commenter going by Luke I'll switch to the long form of my name.

This helps me out quite a bit, as I kept glossing over the implication of God being a dyad in your writing. I'm not settled on the Holy Spirit being Christ but one of my difficulties was that I didn't think it was right to get rid of the Trinity. However, if the Creator God is a dyad then you can still have a Trinity with Christ.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Someone - No, wrong form of argument.

Every metaphysical system must assume some thing as being Just There to begin with. You have chosen differently, that's the nature of metaphysical discussion.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucas - You *can* still have a Trinity, if you regard that as necessary or true.