Science in Christian Perspective
10205 Folk Street
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From: Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 39 (December 1987): 190-197
Paul Arveson is a Research Physicist in the Ship Acoustics Department at the Naval Ship Research and Development Center, Bethesda, MD. He has a B.S. in Physics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1966) and has done postgraduate study in the Philosophy of Science at the University Of Maryland. He has been an officer in the Washington-Baltimore Section of the ASA for several years and is a founding member of the C.S. Lewis Institute, a Washington-based lay institute of theology and the professions.
Is there a model of social group relations taught in Scripture and appropriate as a model for social groups in general? This paper suggests that there is such a model, based on the complementary or "dialogical" relations of unity, diversity, and equality found in two Christian doctrines: the Trinity and the Church. The relational structure in these doctrines is applied here to an analysis of social group relations; however, it is clear that there are many other possible applications of this general relational structure. The analysis reveals both ideal, and a variety of less-than -ideal, group relationships.
Biblical thinking is relational, as Dr. James Houston and many other theologians have emphasized.1 This means that the Bible focuses on personal relationships, not on isolated individuals or impersonal programs. The Bible says a great deal about the relationships of God to man, Creator to creature, and Redeemer to redeemed. Ancient Greek thought focused on the composition of things, that is, the essential substances or elements of which they are made. Hebrew and Christian thought seeks instead to know how we are to relate properly to God, others, and the world. The Greeks assumed the stance of an objective, autonomous external observer "seeing" the world to arrive at a world " view": an understanding. We should seek, rather, how to stand under our Creator as creatures immersed in the life-world of all other creatures (also made in the image of God), not detached but passionately involved in personal commitments to what we believe-but cannot "objectively" know-to be true and real.2
What follows is a model of relationships that I have abstracted from biblical doctrine and teaching. I offer this not merely as an academic exercise but as my attempt to help organize our thoughts on the subject of group structure, and to centralize them around a model drawn primarily from the Bible rather than elsewhere.
There is a special form of logic that applies to biblical relationships: a two-dimensional form of logic in which two different concepts complement each other to form a more complete whole, a well-balanced definition of doctrine. Often Christian doctrines appear to be in opposition, when they are taught in isolation from other doctrines. Seen as a whole, they are not contradictory but constitute a multi-dimensional unity. This complementary logic is widely called "dialogic"; I described its structure more fully in a previous article.3 The application of dialogic to Christian doctrine is not a new or original idea. It is a well-known approach among many writers to reconcile so-called "paradoxes" of biblical teaching.4 In the earlier article, I also suggested that a third dimension of structure could be added to make a triplet of mutually complementary ideas which together would more fully describe basic Christian doctrines. In what follows, I suggest how one doctrine may be described in such a way; namely, the Trinity.
The Trinity doctrine is historically the first case of a complementary reconciliation of Christian teachings. By the fouth century, many heretical spinoffs of Christology had been generated, and the Church fathers who gathered at Nicaea in 325 A.D. had to wrestle with Apollinarianism, Nestorianism and other alternatives. The creed thev hammered out made it explicit that Christianity teaches that God is one substance existing in three persons. This basic formula has remained the distinction of orthodox faith ever since. The Nicene Creed states in part:
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. and of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made....
And we belive in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified. . . . 5
The Reformers reaffirmed the
Trinity as a doctrine taught in Scripture. They formulated
confessions that elaborated on the Trinity, such as the Westminster Confession of 1647. Following are some
relevant portions of this confession:
In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance. and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin: being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
The Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity, proceeding from the Father and the Son, of the same substance and equal in power and glory, is, together with the Father and the Son, to be believed in, loved, obeyed, and worshiped throughout all ages.6
In these orthodox Catholic and Protestant affirmations of the Trinity, three kinds of relational terms are evident: 1.) Unity (U): Consanguinity, relatedness, sharing in the same substance or essence, oneness; 2.) Diversity (D): Difference, variety, contrast, distinction, dissimilarity, individuality; 3.) Equality (E): Parity, co-importance, equivalence, commonality, mutuality, impartiality, equally essential to the whole, interdependence, fairness. In the Trinity all three of these relational terms are operating simultaneously and eternally as one relationship.
The Nicene Council and subsequent councils of the Church, in affirming all three of these relations in the Godhead through a synthesis of all the relevent scriptures, thereby offered an inspired answer to the nagging "one and many problem" of Greek philosophy. This is in my estimation one of the most important intellectual achievements in history (made possible only through God's revelation of Himself in Scripture).
Of course there is nothing new here to those who are acquainted with Church history. But I have quoted these confessions at length to establish the historical roots of what I will subsequently call the UDE relationship. In its most general form, the UDE relationship can be expressed as follows: A plurality of members form one whole composed of diverse kinds of individuals, all sharing equally in their importance to the whole. This is one relationship, not three. Notice that the UDE relationship is itself structured in UDE form: the three terms are all necessary to comprise a complete relationship, they are all different, and they are all equally important to the whole. The UDE relationship is thus self-consistent and self-defining. It describes its own structure; I believe this is a unique property of this relationship. The thesis of this paper is that the UDE relationship is evident in the Creator Himself, His word, and all of His works. Furthermore, that such a relationship -- given appropriate terminology -- is the normative model for social relationships among persons made in His image, from families to nations.
The Body Relationship
The Trinity is not the only Christian doctrine in which the UDE relationship is evident. A more biblically explicit example is in the description of the Church/body relationship given by Paul in I Coriiithians 12 and elsewhere. In this familiar passage, Paul in verses 4-8 establishes the basis for unity in the Church: all share in the same Spirit, Lord, and God. The one purpose is the "common good." But diversity is also acknowledged-there are "varieties of gifts" apportioned individually as the Spirit wills (v. 11). In verses 12-26 Paul makes the analogy to the physical body. He shows that it is absolutely necessary for there to be diversity among the members of the body, yet there is still only one body. He rejects the notion of conformity: that all the members should be the same.
The Trinity doctrine is historically the first case of a complementary reconciliation of Christian teachings.
He rejects the notion of independence of the members, which denies the unity of the body. He also affirms the essential equality or co-importance of all the parts. God even provides a compensation so that the greater honor is given to the "inferior" part, "that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." I take this passage to be the crux of biblical social philosophy. It also suggests an advanced natural philosophy. Only within the last 30 years have biologists begun to realize the profound interrelationships existing in the body-relationships that are now termed "organic unity."
At the lowest level, the human body (or any higher plant or animal) is composed not of continuous matter but of discrete cells. Each cell is a self-contained unit which generates its own energy and is capable of self-reproduction. Yet there are many kinds of cells of diverse types, all cooperating to carry out some needed function. Recently, biologists demonstrated the amazing fact that each cell contains the genetic information sufficient to replicate not only its own kind of cell, but the entire body! Here it is true that all are in one and one is in all.
The UDE relationship is evident in the Creator Himself, His word, and all of His works.
In I Corinthians 12, Paul was apparently describing the physical body on the level of its organs. Each organ is indispensable to the normal functioning of the body: "When one member suffers, all suffer together." Pain in one part is experienced globally. We now know that coordination among the different organs is maintained by various "chemical transmitters" that provide stability by "regulatory feedback. " These mechanisms insure that 'there is no discord or division in a healthy body or any of its organs. There is an autonomic nervous system that operates constantly and automatically, but there is also a central nervous system that operates dependently at the command of the brain, to organize the entire body toward one common overall purpose (gather food, flee danger, find a mate, et cetera).
For humans made in God's image, that purpose should be to "glorify God in your body" (I Cor. 6:20). Paul's exhortation, elaborated in Ephesians 4, is for our physical bodies to gather together and organize themselves into spiritual bodies: churches. On the highest level, there is one global body, which is the Body of Christ: " . . . speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love." There is a form of "organic unity" on everv level of our existence in God's world. It is amazing that this familiar Bible teaching has been "discovered" by scientists only recently. In 1869 Ernst Haeckel coined the term "ecology" (from the Greek word for "household") to describe the study of relationships among living things and their environment.7Application to Social Relationships in General
Our physical bodies function quite well automatically (at least when we are healthy), and our organs carry out their functions without any conscious effort or attention. This is as their Creator intended. Unfortunately our social structures don't function nearly so automatically. Healthy bodies are common, but smoothly-functioning and productive groups of people are rare indeed. Why? Because, as all Christians are aware, the Fall affected all our relationships-with God, with impersonal creatures, with other persons, and with ourselves. All these relationships are now flawed, We now live in the world of the "flesh," whose works include "enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissention, party spirit, envy" (Gal. 5:20).
However, as Christians, we have been given the capacity for regenerating all our relationships. We do not need to suffer the judgments of the Fall fatalistically, since God has given us His Spirit as a Motivator and his word as our guidebook. The Bible has a great deal to say about social relationships. Unfortunately, even in a group composed of godly Christians who are humbly committed to a common mission, there still remains the practical question of how they are to constitute their group's structure. What is the biblical norm for groups in general? What are the consequences if that norm is not followed?Relational Analysis of the Biblical Norm
As I have suggested above, the ideal or "normative" group relationship has the UDE structure, as described in I Corinthians 12 and elsewhere. There are many other passages that could be selected to show the importance of each aspect of the UDE relationship in social groups. For example:
John 17:20-23 - "... that they may be one even as we are one."
Philippians 2:1-5 - "Be in full accord and of one mind"
I Peter 3:8-"Have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the other brethren"
Psalm 133:1-"How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity."
Ephesians 4:13--until we all attain to the unity of the faith..."
I Peter 4: 10-11 -"as stewards of God's
Romans 12:3-6-"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us..."
Ephesians 4:7-12-"But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift"
I Corinthians 7:17-"Let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned him, and in which God has called him"
Romans 14:1-7-"Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind"
II Corinthians 8:14-"as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality" (This passage describes a kind of "leaning over backwards" to compensate for economic injustices-what is now called "affirmative action"-in order to maintain equality.)
Galatians 3:28-"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus"
I Corinthians 11:11-12-"In the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor man of woman"
Based on these passages from Scripture, an abstract description can be derived of the kind of relationship that is biblically normative. The language used depends on the kind of group; the description below is appropriate for a local church or institutional group. Similar descriptions could be made of smaller groups (such as families) or larger groups (such as nations).
There is a form of "organic unity" on every level of our existence in God's world.
1. The normative group has unity: its members are of full accord and one mind; they have unity of spirit, sympathy, mutual love and concern; they bear one another's burdens as well as their own; they have tender hearts and humble minds to maintain their unity at the expense of individuality, in case disagreements arise.
2. This group also encourages diversity: each person knows what his gifts are and exercises them freely and with confidence; there is no favoritism, no discrimination, no priviledged class, no special honor granted or received-but every one is honored. Of course some gifts, such a administrative leadership and teaching, have high visibility and thus tend to carry more honor and priority. But there is appropriate compensation so that extra honor is given to the less visibly gifted. (This is what electrical engineers call "negative feedback.") All the members are accepted and their gifts are put to good use in bard work. There is therefore no cause for envy or jealousy or rivalry. Members know their own strengths and weaknesses, and bold themselves and others in high esteem. If the work is appropriate to one's gift, it is enjoyable as well as productive. "Happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves." (Rom. 14:22).
3. The normative group practices equality. All share equally in Christ, in honor, and in the functioning of the Body. Perhaps equality is not the best word here, but there does not appear to be a good English word to express the relationship of co-importance, mutuality and interdependence that is the emphasis in the scripture passages. "Coeval" is better, but unfamiliar. Paul used the word isotes (fairness, equality) in 11 Corinthians 8:14. 1 will retain "equality" in spite of its ambiguity, because this term will allow more general applicability of the UDE model.
I believe this UDE relationship - full biblical community - is not just an abstract ideal but a goal that can be approached in practice.
I believe this UDE group relationship -- full biblical community -- is not just an abstract ideal but a goal that can be approached in practice. God doesn't exhort us to do what is impossible.
Subnormal Group Relationships
The failure of a group to achieve the normal UDE structure in its relationships may be caused in many ways, but the result is predictable in terms of relational nalysis: one or more of the three UDE terms is denied or diminished, resulting in a simpler, more impoverished structure. Table 1 describes seven possible subnormal structures with appropriate names for each. (Note: The order in the table does not imply any kind of developmental change in group structure with time. Groups may change in any way between these forms. The table is meant only to suggest the eight possible forms that may exist in groups. Also it should be clear that these structures are a matter of degree, depending on the relative emphasis of U, D, and E.)
Following is a further description of the noncommunity group structures in Table 1:
Hierarchy is the most common institutional relationship. This relationship is the wide avenue travelled by government, kingdoms, caste systems, aristocracies, and authoritarian religious "bodies" such as the Roman Catholic Church. They are based on the idea that " someone needs to take charge," like the Israelites who demanded a king. Such a relationship tends to be stable because "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer." That is, the spread between higher and lower ranks tends to become wider over time: a "concentration of power." Hierarchies have a "chain of command" that maintains strong unity of purpose and action, and its specialization of labor results in a high efficiency in carrying out orders. Hence, all military and police organizations are hierarchical.
The weakness of hierarchies is their denial of the principle of equality. Tyranny and oppression are the rule.
The weakness of hierarchies is their denial of the principle of equality. Tyranny and oppression are the rule. Even in a hierarchy with good leadership, the leadership potential and gifts of the lower-level people are not fully utilized, so progress is slow and morale is often poor.
A Conformity results from the suppression of existing diversity in a group of individuals. This situation occurs in some cults, police states, corporations, and mass movements, and to a lesser extent in many other kinds of working groups. Generally one person, with his special beliefs, values, and lifestyle becomes the norm for the entire group. In some cases, it is not a person but a system of rules or traditions that is the norm. In either case the value and importance of freedom is reduced. There is no consideration of alternatives. The conformity is maintained not by rank or power, but by fear of nonconformity. peer pressure, and the inability to compete as a minority. Equality is assured by the conformitv of even-one to a single norm, and unity is maintained by their' self-imposed cohesiveness.
A conformist group is inherently uncreative and unresponsive, prosaic and serious.
The weakness of a conformist system is due to its sameness, its lack of needed diversity. There may be little specialization; evervone is expected to do the same things irrespective of individual gifts and abilities (or lack of them). Thus, the whole group is in practice specialized according to the artificially-imposed standards of its leader or prototype. A conformist group is inherently uncreative and unresponsive, prosaic and serious. Like any over-specialized species, it is very vulnerable to any change in environment. If the leader leaves or dies, the group usually loses much of its influence. jealousy and rebellion are constant sources of competition, so such a system tends to be unstable and transforms into another structure. Many "personality cults" follow this pattern.
Basic Types of Group Relationships
A Plurality means more than just a loose-knit collection of people. It is a group in which different people may all have equal power and whose special gifts are recognized, but the individuals are not united in purpose and action. Such a structure is quite common in our democratic ("pluralistic") societies. The supreme advantage of such a structure is that is promotes fair dealing and peaceful coexistence among people who have diverse opinions. They may "agree to disagree." Pluralism offers plenty of individual freedom of expression, which must be tolerated by those who disagree.
Pluralities are found especially among volunteer-based groups, where there is little real working organizational unity, where "everyone has a right to his or her opinions," where there is no common authority or means of enforcing a "party line." In a pluralistic group, although there may be freedom, morale, and good will, there is a lack of effective action. Creative ideas may abound, but accomplishments are few. This is a "disorganized" or "fuzzy" group. There is no "central nervous system" to provide decisive command and control; no clear and continuous channels of communication to insure coordinated actions of the various members. There may not even be a "leader" at all. Decision-making is a tedious, clumsy, tiresome process (as evidenced in the U.S. Congress, for example). The structure of a pluralistic group does not provide any clear way in which differences of opinion may be resolved. Compromises are sometimes achieved, but no one is ever compelled to change an opinion for the sake of group unity. Hence a pluralistic group may be stable, but it is not consistent in its policies or steadfast in its actions.
A pluralistic group may be stable, but it is not consistent in its policies or steadfast in its actions.
The next three types of relationships are those in which there is significant negation of two of the three UDE principles. Such rejection serves to exaggerate the remaining principle to an extreme degree. Such exaggerations cause pathological situations in the functioning of groups.
Monism, in terms of social structures, is mob rule in which the separate existence of individuals (not to mention their distinctions) are subsumed by the over-riding single-minded action of the group. An extreme form of unity is upheld in the mob. The action of mobs in riots is predictable and has been extensively studied by East European governments. The purpose of a mob is easy to thwart, because it actions are simple, overt, and inflexible in the face of situational changes. Thus the monistic group relationship and its underlying objective are transient and ineffectual.
Relativism -- a relationship based entirely on diversity -- means that "everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes." In such a group, there is no common ground; not even a shared disagreement. There may be much independent activity, but no ability to combine forces and focus on a single problem: no cooperation. No one "belongs" to the group or takes sides in a dispute. This was the situation with the world's nations after Babel. Relativism limits the effectiveness of international justice among nations and ecumenical movements among denominations. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned each one to his own way." There may be plenty of freedom and tolerance, but it doesn't mean much, because no one trusts anyone else -- no one can organize, so no worthy goals can be achieved.
Dualism, in this context, is the consequence of a division or power-struggle in the leadership of an organization in which everyone is compelled to take a stand on one side or the other. The group is, as we properly say, "polarized." At this stage it is still one group, however, because some operational structure exists, but there is a crisis in leadership in which the purposes and actions of the group are going in two different directions at once. This situation is unstable, of course, and eventually results in division of the group (secession, schism, or divorce). Alternatively, each faction may attempt to "swallow up" the other in a hostile takeover. It seems that the closer the two sides were before a split, the more they hate each other afterwards-as, for example, in the case of religious schisms over what to outside observers may appear to be unessential points of doctrine. This process seems to be happening currently in the Iran/Iraq war between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims. A third manifestation of dualism is a kind of seesaw or pendulum cycle back and forth between the two poles of policy, where the group as a whole never reaches a state of equilibrium or compromise between the two positions. In each of these three manifestations, equality of power in the two sides works to prevent the development of unity.
Anarchy-the last item in Table 1-means simply the absence of any group. The group has dispersed or become so alienated that there is no communication, and thus no relationship, of any kind between individuals. Every issue, every person is irrelevant. It differs from relativism in that there is no obligation to tolerate diversity. This is a much stronger sense of "anarchy" than civil anarchy (which might sill contain cohesive groups led by "war lords"). Civil anarchy is anarchy on the national level. This tragic state of affairs is equivalent to total war, in which there are no bonds of trust or respect, and thus danger is all around.
By encouraging the weakest principle, the structure of the group can perhaps be changed to make it approach more nearly to the ideal form.
Now, according to this analysis, the entire range of structural possibilities for groups has been described. If this analysis is correct, it predicts that most functioning groups will be found to fit into one of the first three types (Hierarchy, Conformity, or Plurality), By studying the beliefs and behavior of a particular group with respect to the three principles or sub-relationships (U, D, and E), it may be possible to identify the weakest of the three. Then, by encouraging the weakest principle, the structure of the group can perhaps be changed to make it approach more nearly to the ideal form: "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13).
the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Mystical Body of Christ,
and everything in the universe is richer and more complex than the
UDE relationship can describe in words.
I hope that this analysis of group structure is useful in two ways: as a descriptive model that may help to clarify complex isues, and as a prescriptive model that suggests a goal -- a normative structure -- to which people in a group can aspire through increased communication, innovative management-labor interaction, a written constitution, salary adjustments, or whatever means are appropriate to the group.
We live in a world whose complexity creates confusion, so some simplifications can be helpful, All abstractions are in some sense erroneous. But the payoff is in their power to organize large amounts of material, as a scientific theory can be expressed in a mathematical formula. Historically, Western thought has preferred abstraction to doing nothing.
The real issue here is whether the UDE model is a good abstraction or a bad one. Certainly there have been abuses; false analogies to the Trinity abound. It seems as though any three things have been linked to the Trinity at one time or another. Nevertheless, I believe the UDE abstraction is valid in several respects: a.) it is relational, not three essences; b.) it is self-consistent; c.) its application to the Church is essentially biblical; and, d.) like the Church councils that composed the Creeds, it does not presume to seek a higher level of integration of the three relationships, but makes them all final and absolute. Obviously the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Mystical Body of Christ, and everything in the universe is richer and more complex than the UDE relationship can be described in words. But the motive of language is to make life more intelligible, while trying to preserve some of its essential truths.
Now the reader may be prepared to accept my confession: I am not a sociologist, nor am I especially knowledgable in the subject of social groups. I have used the topic of social groups as an illustration to clarify the meaning of the abstract UDE relationship, and to show that it is a biblically-based model.
For many years I have wondered, "is there a link between the abstract relations in Christian doctrine and the structure of the world?" If the question is taken as seeking a "real," ontological link, it may be seen as an unwarranted intrusion of Greek metaphysics into theology.9 But if the question is merely to seek commonality among a variety of theological and metaphysical concepts, then perhaps the question is a fair one and comes within the realm of conventional logic and linguistics. I accept this limitation of scope on the inquiry.
The UDE model of relationships is very general, and I have found it useful in describing structures in physics, personhood, system theory, et cetera. Asa linguistic or didactic too], it has been helpful to me in clarifying ideas. It may have more profound implications also. In the future, God willing, I plan to investigate the dialogical structure of other Christian doctrines in an attempt to discover more general underlying structures.
1James M. Houston, I Believe in the Creator. Eerdmans, 1980.
2This terminology owes much to Houston's Calvinistic emphasis on God's sovereignty. It also implies the epistemology of Michael Polanyi, as in his book Personal Knowledge. University of Chicago Press, 1958.
3Paul T. Arveson, "Dialogic: A Systems Approach to Understanding." journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 30, 2 (June 1978).
4The examination of the concept of complementarity in this journal began with the article "The Relevance of the Quantum Principle of Complementarity to Apparent Basic Paradoxes in Christian Theology" by Richard Bube, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 8 (19-56); Dr. Bube's first article in the journal. Recently Dr. John Haas has written two assessments of complementarity (the "classical" complementarity of Niels Bohr and the "logical" complementarity of D.M. McKay) in journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 35, 3 & 4 (Sept. and Dec. 1983).
5The Nicene Creed, in The Book of Confessions of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 2nd ed., 1970.6The Westminster Confession of Faith, ibid.
7Nee also Michael Polanyi, "Life's Irreducible Structure." journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 22, 4 (Dec. 1970).
8A similar emphasis on relations is given in H. Newton Maloney, "I+ I = Organization. " Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 30, 1 (Mar. 1978). Maloney's article places great emphasis on the unity term in organization.
"For a philosophy that places primary focus on relation (rather than God) as the fundamental reality, see Harold H. Oliver, A Relational Metaphysic. Martinus Nijhoff, 1981.