views updated May 29 2018


Appropriation is a more or less spontaneous way of thinking and speaking about the Triune God relative to creatures. In appropriation some divine characteristic, activity, or effect that belongs equally to all three Persons is thought and spoken of as belonging to one of the three. This manner of thinking and speaking is not merely an invention of men but is sanctioned by God Himself, who inspired the writers of the New Testament in their use of appropriation, and who providentially safeguards the creeds and liturgy of the Church in their use of appropriation. By means of appropriation God reveals to men the otherwise unknowable depths of the divine being and life and the truly distinct characters of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who live it.

Scripture, Creeds, Liturgy. St. Paul offers an example of appropriation in the New Testament. He sometimes speaks of God (and by God, Paul generally means the Father) dwelling in the Christian community: " in him [the Lord] you too are being built together into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit" (Eph 2.22). Another time he says the Holy Spirit dwells in the community: "Or do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" (1 Cor 6.19). It should be noted that "you" in this passage is, in the Greek, plural, referring to the Corinthian community. Thus the divine presence in the Christian community is appropriated in one instance to the Father, in another to the Holy Spirit; yet one knows that wherever one of the Divine Persons is present, the other two must also be present as well.

The early creeds also use appropriation. One professes belief, for example, in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth , in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, etc. Thus creative power and activity are attributed to the Father and the effects of unifying Christian love, forgiveness of sins, resurrection, eternal lifein a word, sanctificationare attributed to the Holy Spirit.

A similar manner of expression is found in the liturgy, where prayers are usually addressed to the Father, who is considered as having the power to grant man's request, through the Son (though the mediation of the Son in virtue of His human nature is not appropriation, but truly the unique possession of the Word incarnate), and in the Holy Spirit, who is conceived as the source of the love that binds Christians together with one another and with Christ and God in the liturgical assembly.

Theology of Appropriation. In the Scriptures the Father is associated with creation and power (Mt 3.9; Acts 4.24). Thus one begins to see the Father more clearly as the source of all and realizes more what is implied in His fatherhood within the Trinity, e.g., His being without a principle. The Son is viewed as the Word of God through whom God creates (Jn 1.3; Col 1.1517); He gives meaning, order, and intelligibility to chaos. Hence the Son is associated with wisdom, and is understood to proceed from the Father by a generation akin to the generation of an idea in knowing. The Holy Spirit is given to Christians as a gift to sanctify, to aid, to comfort them (Rom 5.5; 2 Cor 1.22; Jn 14.26; 16.13); thus one is led to understand His position in the Trinity as the bond of love between Father and Son.

The basis for attribution usually is a similarity between a divine perfection, action, or effect and a characteristic proper to one of the Persons. Something in the Person Himself calls for the appropriation. The appropriations fall into a pattern with certain things seen usually in relation to one Person, as, for example, goodness, peace, joy to the Holy Spirit. There should be a mutual clarification between the quality, action, or effect appropriated and the Divine Person. Gradually one discovers in these relationships what God wishes to tell man about Himself, not so much with regard to His absolute nature as in His Trinitarian beingthe character of the Persons involved and their intra-Trinitarian dialogue.

The divine nature, however, is one and possessed completely by all three Persons, so that what is not relatively opposed in the Trinity is really something belonging to all three Persons (see trinity, holy; person, divine). Because divine power, divine wisdom, divine love, mercy, etc. are associated with one Person, it does not mean that they belong exclusively to that Person. Divine power, for example, is connected with the Father, but not only the Father is powerful. The various divine qualities and activities do not cease to be essential and common by the fact of appropriation. All of God's external works proceed from divine omnipotence under the direction of His wisdom inspired by love, and are actions of the Trinity as a whole, not of this or that Person. Although Sacred Scripture does associate creation with the Father, wisdom with the Son, sanctification with the Holy Spirit, nevertheless, as exercises of the divine power these activities and their effects have their effective source in all three Divine Persons functioning through the one power and the one activity.

This does not mean that appropriation is useless or a mere playing with words. It is one of the ways for God to reveal His inner self and the uniqueness of Persons. Furthermore, there is a basis in the Trinity itself for appropriation, in the proper characteristics of each Person; that is, creation is associated with the Father as generator of the Word; the unity of the soul with God and of Christians with one another is associated with the Holy Spirit as bond of unity. That which is common to all, at least as one conceives it, has a greater likeness to what is proper to one Person than to what is proper to another.

Insofar as any one of the Divine Persons can be considered from several aspects, a number of things may be appropriated to Him. For example, depending on the aspect considered, eternity, power, or unity may be seen in relationship to the Father; or wisdom, beauty, or truth to the Son; or goodness, love, or joy to the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, one and the same divine quality or action might be associated with different Persons depending on the aspect of the Person or quality considered. The revelation of the mysteries of Godx to men might be connected with the Son as the Word of God and with the Holy Spirit as manifesting or communicating goodness or aiding men (Heb 1.14; Jn 16.1214).

See Also: trinity, holy, articles on.

Bibliography: a. chollet, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350) 1.2:170817. m. schmaus, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 1:77375. i. m. dalmau, Sacrae theologiae summa, ed. fathers of the society of jesus, professors of the theological faculties in spain, 4 v. (Madrid), v.2 (3d ed. 1958) 2.1:54453.

[j. b. endres]


views updated May 29 2018


The designation by the government or an individual of the use to which a fund of money is to be applied. The selection and setting apart of privately owned land by the government for public use, such as a military reservation or public building. The diversion of water flowing on public domain from its natural course by means of a canal or ditch for a private beneficial use of the appropriator.

An appropriation bill is a proposal placed before the legislative branch of the government by one or a group of its members to earmark a particular portion of general revenue or treasury funds for use for a governmental objective. Federal appropriation bills can originate only in the House of Representatives as mandated by Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution. Once an appropriation law is enacted, a definite amount of money is set aside so that public officials can pay incurred or anticipated expenditures. When a law authorizes funds to be used for a particular purpose, it is known as a specific appropriation.

The appropriation of money by an individual occurs within the context of a debtor-creditor relationship. If a creditor is owed two separate debts by the same debtor who makes a payment without specifying the debt to which it is to be applied, the creditor can appropriate the payment to either debt.

Appropriation also refers to the physical taking and occupation of property by the government or its actual, substantial interference with the owner's right to use the land according to personal wishes by virtue of the government's power of eminent domain.

This right of an individual to use water that belongs to the public is embodied in the prior appropriation doctrine applied in arid western states where water supplies are not available in sufficient quantity to all who might need them. An individual landowner who first diverts water for personal benefit is entitled to its continued use as long as there is a reasonable need and the water is actually used.


Federal Budget; Water Rights.


views updated May 23 2018

ap·pro·pri·a·tion / əˌprōprēˈāshən/ • n. 1. the action of taking something for one's own use, typically without the owner's permission: the appropriation of parish funds. ∎  often derog. the artistic practice or technique of reworking images from well-known paintings, photographs, etc., in one's own work.2. a sum of money or total of assets devoted to a special purpose.