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Author Topic: Do Catholics Really Believe Grace is Created?  (Read 5526 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: April 23, 2009, 10:52:27 AM »

The "essence/energies" distinction appears to be nothing more than a distinction between what God is and what He does; but over most levels it is a distinction that doesn't have to be made.
The Apostles make this distinction between the Divine Nature/Ousia/Substance and the Divine Energies:
St. Paul says:
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse," (Romans 1:20)

If His Power is Eternal, it is uncreated and is therefore God Himself, yet His Eternal Power is distinct from His Godhead.

And how else can St John say that "God is Love" if the Divine Love is not (a)Uncreated and (b)distinct from the Divine Nature?

The problem is, Keble, that we Orthodox have to say several things at once to convey what we mean:
1) Grace is God
2) God is Transcendent in His Nature and no created thing will ever come close to the Divine Nature.
3) Grace (which is God) is immediate and permeates everything.

If we just say (1) and (3) without (2), we contradict the notion of the Transcendence of God. The only way to explain it is that Grace is God but not His Divine Nature.

George, does one have to say that the essence/energies distinction is a true ontological distinction, or can we say that it is merely a distinction of relations, God relating to himself vs. God relating to creation?
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« Reply #46 on: April 23, 2009, 12:10:29 PM »

The "essence/energies" distinction appears to be nothing more than a distinction between what God is and what He does; but over most levels it is a distinction that doesn't have to be made.
The Apostles make this distinction between the Divine Nature/Ousia/Substance and the Divine Energies:
St. Paul says:
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse," (Romans 1:20)

If His Power is Eternal, it is uncreated and is therefore God Himself, yet His Eternal Power is distinct from His Godhead.

And how else can St John say that "God is Love" if the Divine Love is not (a)Uncreated and (b)distinct from the Divine Nature?

The problem is, Keble, that we Orthodox have to say several things at once to convey what we mean:
1) Grace is God
2) God is Transcendent in His Nature and no created thing will ever come close to the Divine Nature.
3) Grace (which is God) is immediate and permeates everything.

If we just say (1) and (3) without (2), we contradict the notion of the Transcendence of God. The only way to explain it is that Grace is God but not His Divine Nature.

George, does one have to say that the essence/energies distinction is a true ontological distinction, or can we say that it is merely a distinction of relations, God relating to himself vs. God relating to creation?
I don't know how we can make such a distinction based on relating within and without the Trinity, since the Love the Father has for His Son is the same Love with which He Loves us.
The reality is, even the non-Orthodox Christians make distinctions within God. They distinguish between the Divine Nature (or "Godhead") which is God and the tri-Hyposates (Persons) of the Trinity, each of Whom is also God. The Hypostases are not the Divine Nature, yet both the Divine Nature and the Hypostases are God. The Orthodox make a third distinction- the Divine Energies which are also God. The Divine Energies are not "impersonal" since they emanate from the Hypostases of the The Trinity, yet they do not have their own Personhood. Thus, the Divine Energies are distinct from the Hypostases. To the Orthodox mind, the reality of Theosis makes this distinction unavoidable. If the Persons of the Trinity are merely "relationships" internal to the Divine Nature, then there is no real distinction in God, and Divine Revelation is either the Revelation of the Divine Nature or the revelation of created analogous symbols and the Divine Energies must either be the Divine Essence (Which is Transcendent and therefore this would be impossible)  or created signs- in which case, Theosis is not a real participation in the Divine. But in Christ, we meet God face-to-face so that there is real participation by Man in the Divine. The only way we can see this happening is if the Divine Energies are (a) God and (b) distinct from the Divine Nature. The distinction between the Divine Nature and the Divine Energies is, to the Orthodox mind, the only way we can reconcile the fact that we can meet God face-to-face yet no man can see the Face of God and live. The former occurs in the Divine Energies while the latter is impossible in the case of the Divine Nature. The distinction between them, therefore, is a real distinction.
On the subject of the ontology of the Divine Energies and how they relate to the Hypostases/Persons of the Tinity, there is a good discussion by Professor Megas L. Farandos of the University of Athens here:
http://www.oodegr.com/english/theos/energeies/energeies1.htm
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« Reply #47 on: April 23, 2009, 12:20:02 PM »

The "essence/energies" distinction appears to be nothing more than a distinction between what God is and what He does; but over most levels it is a distinction that doesn't have to be made.
The Apostles make this distinction between the Divine Nature/Ousia/Substance and the Divine Energies:
St. Paul says:
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse," (Romans 1:20)

If His Power is Eternal, it is uncreated and is therefore God Himself, yet His Eternal Power is distinct from His Godhead.

And how else can St John say that "God is Love" if the Divine Love is not (a)Uncreated and (b)distinct from the Divine Nature?

The problem is, Keble, that we Orthodox have to say several things at once to convey what we mean:
1) Grace is God
2) God is Transcendent in His Nature and no created thing will ever come close to the Divine Nature.
3) Grace (which is God) is immediate and permeates everything.

If we just say (1) and (3) without (2), we contradict the notion of the Transcendence of God. The only way to explain it is that Grace is God but not His Divine Nature.

George, does one have to say that the essence/energies distinction is a true ontological distinction, or can we say that it is merely a distinction of relations, God relating to himself vs. God relating to creation?
I don't know how we can make such a distinction based on relating within and without the Trinity, since the Love the Father has for His Son is the same Love with which He Loves us.
The reality is, even the non-Orthodox Christians make distinctions within God. They distinguish between the Divine Nature (or "Godhead") which is God and the tri-Hyposates (Persons) of the Trinity, each of Whom is also God. The Hypostases are not the Divine Nature, yet both the Divine Nature and the Hypostases are God. The Orthodox make a third distinction- the Divine Energies which are also God. The Divine Energies are not "impersonal" since they emanate from the Hypostases of the The Trinity, yet they do not have their own Personhood. Thus, the Divine Energies are distinct from the Hypostases. To the Orthodox mind, the reality of Theosis makes this distinction unavoidable. If the Persons of the Trinity are merely "relationships" internal to the Divine Nature, then there is no real distinction in God, and Divine Revelation is either the Revelation of the Divine Nature or the revelation of created analogous symbols and the Divine Energies must either be the Divine Essence (Which is Transcendent and therefore this would be impossible)  or created signs- in which case, Theosis is not a real participation in the Divine. But in Christ, we meet God face-to-face so that there is real participation by Man in the Divine. The only way we can see this happening is if the Divine Energies are (a) God and (b) distinct from the Divine Nature. The distinction between the Divine Nature and the Divine Energies is, to the Orthodox mind, the only way we can reconcile the fact that we can meet God face-to-face yet no man can see the Face of God and live. The former occurs in the Divine Energies while the latter is impossible in the case of the Divine Nature. The distinction between them, therefore, is a real distinction.
On the subject of the ontology of the Divine Energies and how they relate to the Hypostases/Persons of the Tinity, there is a good discussion by Professor Megas L. Farandos of the University of Athens here:
http://www.oodegr.com/english/theos/energeies/energeies1.htm
Thanks  George. In Western Catholic theology, its not necessarily the essence/energies distinction that makes us capale of coming face to face with God, even though its naturally impossible to see him face to face. The reason we can see God face to face in heaven is that God elevates us to a higher status by the gift of Grace. Grace, God's life in us, makes us capable of seeing God face to face in heaven because it makes us a new creation.
I guess the apprehension I have with the way I see the essence/energies distinction  discussed in EO circles, is that it appears to be a non-personalized aspect of God that some how emanates from him. Because we only know God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I am not sure how we can see something in God that not is hypostasized (wrong word?). It almost seems like this description almost creates a fourth member of the Trinity by distinguishing it from the divine persons. I am not trying to be obnoxious here at all. I am just trying to reconcile the Patristic teaching that God is simple and is tri-personal, with the essence/energies distinction. I'll will definitely spend some time reading the article you have posted above.
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« Reply #48 on: April 23, 2009, 12:28:11 PM »

The "essence/energies" distinction appears to be nothing more than a distinction between what God is and what He does; but over most levels it is a distinction that doesn't have to be made.
The Apostles make this distinction between the Divine Nature/Ousia/Substance and the Divine Energies:
St. Paul says:
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse," (Romans 1:20)

If His Power is Eternal, it is uncreated and is therefore God Himself, yet His Eternal Power is distinct from His Godhead.

And how else can St John say that "God is Love" if the Divine Love is not (a)Uncreated and (b)distinct from the Divine Nature?

The problem is, Keble, that we Orthodox have to say several things at once to convey what we mean:
1) Grace is God
2) God is Transcendent in His Nature and no created thing will ever come close to the Divine Nature.
3) Grace (which is God) is immediate and permeates everything.

If we just say (1) and (3) without (2), we contradict the notion of the Transcendence of God. The only way to explain it is that Grace is God but not His Divine Nature.

George, does one have to say that the essence/energies distinction is a true ontological distinction, or can we say that it is merely a distinction of relations, God relating to himself vs. God relating to creation?
I don't know how we can make such a distinction based on relating within and without the Trinity, since the Love the Father has for His Son is the same Love with which He Loves us.
The reality is, even the non-Orthodox Christians make distinctions within God. They distinguish between the Divine Nature (or "Godhead") which is God and the tri-Hyposates (Persons) of the Trinity, each of Whom is also God. The Hypostases are not the Divine Nature, yet both the Divine Nature and the Hypostases are God. The Orthodox make a third distinction- the Divine Energies which are also God. The Divine Energies are not "impersonal" since they emanate from the Hypostases of the The Trinity, yet they do not have their own Personhood. Thus, the Divine Energies are distinct from the Hypostases. To the Orthodox mind, the reality of Theosis makes this distinction unavoidable. If the Persons of the Trinity are merely "relationships" internal to the Divine Nature, then there is no real distinction in God, and Divine Revelation is either the Revelation of the Divine Nature or the revelation of created analogous symbols and the Divine Energies must either be the Divine Essence (Which is Transcendent and therefore this would be impossible)  or created signs- in which case, Theosis is not a real participation in the Divine. But in Christ, we meet God face-to-face so that there is real participation by Man in the Divine. The only way we can see this happening is if the Divine Energies are (a) God and (b) distinct from the Divine Nature. The distinction between the Divine Nature and the Divine Energies is, to the Orthodox mind, the only way we can reconcile the fact that we can meet God face-to-face yet no man can see the Face of God and live. The former occurs in the Divine Energies while the latter is impossible in the case of the Divine Nature. The distinction between them, therefore, is a real distinction.
On the subject of the ontology of the Divine Energies and how they relate to the Hypostases/Persons of the Tinity, there is a good discussion by Professor Megas L. Farandos of the University of Athens here:
http://www.oodegr.com/english/theos/energeies/energeies1.htm
Thanks  George. In Western Catholic theology, its not necessarily the essence/energies distinction that makes us capale of coming face to face with God, even though its naturally impossible to see him face to face. The reason we can see God face to face in heaven is that God elevates us to a higher status by the gift of Grace. Grace, God's life in us, makes us capable of seeing God face to face in heaven because it makes us a new creation.
I guess the apprehension I have with the way I see the essence/energies distinction  discussed in EO circles, is that it appears to be a non-personalized aspect of God that some how emanates from him. Because we only know God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I am not sure how we can see something in God that not is hypostasized (wrong word?). It almost seems like this description almost creates a fourth member of the Trinity by distinguishing it from the divine persons. I am not trying to be obnoxious here at all. I am just trying to reconcile the Patristic teaching that God is simple and is tri-personal, with the essence/energies distinction. I'll will definitely spend some time reading the article you have posted above.
Is the Divine Nature or "Godhead" Uncreated? Is the Godhead therefore God? Does the Godhead have its own hypostasis separate to the Trinity?
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« Reply #49 on: April 23, 2009, 12:31:28 PM »

George,
Here is one of the things that I am trying to reconcile with the eloquent description of the essence/energies distinction that you have provided above.
Irenaeus
"Far removed is the Father of all from those things which operate among men, the affections and passions. He is simple, not composed of parts, without structure, altogether like and equal to himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason . . . all light, all fountain of every good, and this is the manner in which the religious and the pious are accustomed to speak of God" (Against Heresies 2:13:3 [A.D. 189]).

Clement of Alexandria
"No one can rightly express him wholly. For on account of his greatness he is ranked as the All, and is the Father of the universe. Nor are any parts to be predicated of him. For the One is indivisible; wherefore also it is infinite, not considered with reference to inscrutability, but with reference to its being without dimensions, and not having a limit. And therefore it is without form" (Miscellanies 5:12 [A.D. 208]).

Didymus the Blind
"God is simple and of an incomposite and spiritual nature, having neither ears nor organs of speech. A solitary essence and illimitable, he is composed of no numbers and parts" (The Holy Spirit 35 [A.D. 362]).


Ambrose of Milan
"God is of a simple nature, not conjoined nor composite. Nothing can be added to him. He has in his nature only what is divine, filling up everything, never himself confused with anything, penetrating everything, never himself being penetrated, everywhere complete, and present at the same time in heaven, on earth, and in the farthest reaches of the sea, incomprehensible to the sight" (The Faith 1:16:106 [A.D. 379]).

Gregory of Nysa
"But there is neither nor ever shall be such a dogma in the Church of God that would prove the simple and incomposite [God] to be not only manifold and variegated, but even constructed from opposites. The simplicity of the dogmas of the truth proposes God as he is" (Against Eunomius 1:1:222 [A.D. 382]).

John Crysostom
 For God is simple and non-composite and without shape; but they all saw different shapes" (Against the Anomoians 1:5 [A.D. 386]).

Cyril of Alexandria
"The nature of the Godhead, which is simple and not composite, is never to be divided into two" (Treasury of the Holy Trinity 11 [A.D. 424]).


Thank you for your patience in this discussion.
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« Reply #50 on: April 23, 2009, 12:32:42 PM »


Is the Divine Nature or "Godhead" Uncreated? Is the Godhead therefore God? Does the Godhead have its own hypostasis separate to the Trinity?
It is my understanding that the Godhead exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, fully present in each. If I am incorrect, please do correct me. Thank you again for answering my questions.
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« Reply #51 on: April 23, 2009, 12:41:37 PM »


Is the Divine Nature or "Godhead" Uncreated? Is the Godhead therefore God? Does the Godhead have its own hypostasis separate to the Trinity?
It is my understanding that the Godhead exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, fully present in each. If I am incorrect, please do correct me. Thank you again for answering my questions.
If the Godhead is fully present in each Person of the Trinity, it is Something distinct from the Personhood of the Trinity. Would you agree? If the answer is "no", then there is no real distinction between the Persons of the Trinity and they are merely "Symbols". If the answer is "yes", this does not mean the Godhead is divisible from the Persons, merely distinct from them (in the same way that each Person is distinct from the Other). But this distinction between the Godhead and the Persons does not mean that the Godhead has it's own Personhood. In the same way, the Divine Energies are distinct (yet indivisible from) the Divine Nature and the Persons/hypostases of the Trinity, yet they do not posses their own Personhood/hypostasis.
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« Reply #52 on: April 23, 2009, 12:46:56 PM »


Is the Divine Nature or "Godhead" Uncreated? Is the Godhead therefore God? Does the Godhead have its own hypostasis separate to the Trinity?
It is my understanding that the Godhead exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, fully present in each. If I am incorrect, please do correct me. Thank you again for answering my questions.
If the Godhead is fully present in each Person of the Trinity, it is Something distinct from the Personhood of the Trinity. Would you agree? If the answer is "no", then there is no real distinction between the Persons of the Trinity and they are merely "Symbols". If the answer is "yes", this does not mean the Godhead is divisible from the Persons, merely distinct from them (in the same way that each Person is distinct from the Other). But this distinction between the Godhead and the Persons does not mean that the Godhead has it's own Personhood. In the same way, the Divine Energies are distinct (yet indivisible from) the Divine Nature and the Persons/hypostases of the Trinity, yet they do not posses their own Personhood/hypostasis.
Ok. I'm going to spend some time thinking about this. Thanks for the food for thought.
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« Reply #53 on: April 23, 2009, 12:54:37 PM »

I wonder if we use term "essence" differently in the East and in the West. In the west, when we say essence, we mean a being's quiddity, what it is.
What does essence mean in the east?
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« Reply #54 on: April 23, 2009, 02:25:11 PM »

I wonder if we use term "essence" differently in the East and in the West. In the west, when we say essence, we mean a being's quiddity, what it is.
What does essence mean in the east?

It's the same.
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« Reply #55 on: April 23, 2009, 02:29:07 PM »

I wonder if we use term "essence" differently in the East and in the West. In the west, when we say essence, we mean a being's quiddity, what it is.
What does essence mean in the east?

It's the same.
Then that is a problem for my understading of this essence/energies distinction. If the essence is the "what" which is God in this case, and the energies are distinct from the "what" then how can the energies be God?
I can see how the three person's can be disctinct from one another and still be God, because they are "One in essence, and undivided". However, the energies are not of this essence as the persons are.
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« Reply #56 on: April 23, 2009, 02:31:02 PM »


Is the Divine Nature or "Godhead" Uncreated? Is the Godhead therefore God? Does the Godhead have its own hypostasis separate to the Trinity?
It is my understanding that the Godhead exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, fully present in each. If I am incorrect, please do correct me. Thank you again for answering my questions.
If the Godhead is fully present in each Person of the Trinity, it is Something distinct from the Personhood of the Trinity. Would you agree? If the answer is "no", then there is no real distinction between the Persons of the Trinity and they are merely "Symbols". If the answer is "yes", this does not mean the Godhead is divisible from the Persons, merely distinct from them (in the same way that each Person is distinct from the Other). But this distinction between the Godhead and the Persons does not mean that the Godhead has it's own Personhood. In the same way, the Divine Energies are distinct (yet indivisible from) the Divine Nature and the Persons/hypostases of the Trinity, yet they do not posses their own Personhood/hypostasis.
Can God have this distinction and still be purely simple as the Fathers taught? I'm really thinking hard about this now. Can it be both?
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« Reply #57 on: April 23, 2009, 02:56:09 PM »

Then that is a problem for my understading of this essence/energies distinction. If the essence is the "what" which is God in this case, and the energies are distinct from the "what" then how can the energies be God?
I can see how the three person's can be disctinct from one another and still be God, because they are "One in essence, and undivided". However, the energies are not of this essence as the persons are.

I am human. That is my nature and my essence. My actions partake of my nature. If I smile, it is necessarily a *human* smile. However while the action possesses the same nature as my essence, that smile is *not* my essence. It is my action, my 'energy'.

Now, because my nature, my essence, and my energy are all creaturely things, one could argue (depending on one's philosophical predispotions) that while any particular action I take is 'human', it is so in a certain limited, contingent, or partial manner as compared to my essence. The Divine Nature, on the other hand, is not a created thing. The Divine Nature is infinite, unbounded and unlimited. There is no contingency in the Divine Nature. So God's 'smile' is a Divine smile. And anything that is by Nature Divine cannot be limited or contingent in any way. So if God's 'smile' (i.e., action/energy) partakes of His Divine Nature, then that energy must be recognized as partaking of it fully--or in other words, God's Energies are fully Divine just as His Essence is.

(see also my post on apophatic theology. You and I are infants playing with chewtoys compared to saints like the Cappadocian Fathers in contemplating these things. And the Cappadocian Fathers are infants playing with chewtoys compared to the reality itself.)
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« Reply #58 on: April 23, 2009, 03:20:39 PM »

Can God have this distinction and still be purely simple as the Fathers taught? I'm really thinking hard about this now. Can it be both?

The Fathers did not teach that God is purely simple. That was a Hellenistic philosophical precept that they grappled with and finally had to reject as its strict application leads directly to either Arianism or Modalism. To the extent that the Fathers kept the precept around, it was only through the application of apophatic theology--the Mystery of the Trinity is 1=3 and there is no way to ever make that make sense with human logic(in fact, all the Trinitarian heresies pretty much come down to trying to find a way to explain it via logic.). It is true that God is 1 (simple). It is also true that God is 3 (not simple). God transcends all human conceptions of number and simplicity--which is a simple statement in its own sense but a very different sense than Aristotelians and Platonists meant when they said that God is simple.
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« Reply #59 on: April 23, 2009, 03:24:01 PM »

The Divine Nature is infinite, unbounded and unlimited.
Which is another reason why I have trouble with the essence/energies distinction being ontological. If God's essence is infinite, then it is ulimited. If God's energies are infinite, then are unlimted. BUT God's energies are limted by not being his essence, and his essence is limited by not being his energies. This seems to be a contradiction in the theology of an ontological distinction between essence and energies. Can you help me through this one?
(see also my post on apophatic theology. You and I are infants playing with chewtoys compared to saints like the Cappadocian Fathers in contemplating these things. And the Cappadocian Fathers are infants playing with chewtoys compared to the reality itself.)
I agree but there were also brillian theologians who never discussed the essence/energies distinction. In fact, some of them might have even opposed the idea. But again, I am not sure.
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« Reply #60 on: April 23, 2009, 03:26:17 PM »


The Fathers did not teach that God is purely simple.
Ummm. I don't think that's accurate. Read reply # 49 on this thread.
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« Reply #61 on: April 23, 2009, 05:09:55 PM »

The "essence/energies" distinction appears to be nothing more than a distinction between what God is and what He does; but over most levels it is a distinction that doesn't have to be made.
The Apostles make this distinction between the Divine Nature/Ousia/Substance and the Divine Energies:
St. Paul says:
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse," (Romans 1:20)

Let's try for some more idiomatic, modern English, in this case from the NRSV: "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made." While one could certainly see some sort of a distinction being made in passing, it's just that: in passing. The point of the sentence is something else entirely.

Quote
And how else can St John say that "God is Love" if the Divine Love is not (a)Uncreated and (b)distinct from the Divine Nature?

Well, if I may turn up my modernity to full power, I think it is questionable to assert that love is not part of the divine nature. One could, after all, take a different tack: that it is the nature of love in the Godhead that is manifested in the grace of God's acts. To take some other predicates: omnipresence adheres to the Godhead rather to His actions, because He does not do everything that is "possible" (leaving aside that he is perfectly constrained/free in His will). But omnipresence adheres to His acts and not to the Godhead, because omnipresence states that He could/would withdraw His presence if/when He willed. But then consider that since He is omnipresent, He does not so will, and to that degree it adheres to His nature.

The problem I'm having, see, is that the perfect union of the divine will and divine acts tends to imply that attributes of one are attributes of the other. If the divine acts manifest love, then the divine will must also encompass love. The alternative is

(And to skip ahead: it is incorrect, or at least badly phrased, to say that the Divine Nature is "infinite, unbounded, and unlimited." As phrased, this is not significantly different from saying that God has no character. But He does, as scripture teaches at great length; and He makes particular acts (e.g., choosing Abram). Indeed, this is one of the crucial revelations of Judaeo-Christian religion: that God is universal and yet particular. His will can, in some senses, be treated as a self-constraint. The thing is, that He does not act inconsistently with His will is not really a limitation.)

I still don't see the emphasis on "uncreated", either. Again, God does not have created actions; the phrase doesn't make sense.

Which leads me back to the another point: I still don't see the position which is being argued against. The only two distinguishable positions, once we take the "grace as a substance" heresy out of the picture, seem to be that either (a) love is in the divine nature, or (b) it is not. It seems to me that you are saying that Orthodoxy asserts (b), which leads to the unpalatable conclusion that there is nothing in the divine nature which gives rise to God's loving acts. To me it would seem more natural to say that there is is something in that nature which gives rise to those acts, and then to also call that something "love". But I don't see any other position which anyone is actually expressing.
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« Reply #62 on: April 23, 2009, 05:34:25 PM »

George, I have been thinking. Maybe this is the wrong question but are you saying that God's energies are God but not a person?
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« Reply #63 on: April 23, 2009, 07:04:33 PM »

Which is another reason why I have trouble with the essence/energies distinction being ontological. If God's essence is infinite, then it is ulimited. If God's energies are infinite, then are unlimted. BUT God's energies are limted by not being his essence, and his essence is limited by not being his energies. This seems to be a contradiction in the theology of an ontological distinction between essence and energies. Can you help me through this one?

Stripped of specifics, the logical proposition you are suggesting is that 'If x is not y, then y forms a limit to x' (or alternatively 'then *not* forms a limit to x'). But if that were true then I could fill in your logic: "God's essence is not created and therefore is limited by not being created." But that proposition is not true. The fact that x is not y does not mean that x is limited. It only means that x is not y--which is one-half of the basic argument that the Orthodox are making, God's Essence and His Energy are not the same thing. Even human logic and mathematics incorporates the ability to speak of and deal with multiple infinities, and you and I both agree that God transcends any ability of the human mind to define Him. That is, the heart of apophatic theology is that even the word 'not' is only provisionally true when we try to apply it to God who transcends our grammar.

In truth, I don't really understand why you see this semantic distinction as any different in nature from the one made with the Godhead. The Son is not the Spirit, they are distinct Persons, but one Nature. The Son is fully Divine, fully Unlimited, fully Absolute; the Spirit is fully Divine, fully Unlimited, fully Absolute. And the fullness of either is not limited by the simple fact that the Spirit is not the Son or vice versa.  In the same way, the actions of the Son (or the Spirit or the Godhead) are fully Divine, but not the Son (or the Spirit or the Godhead) Himself.

Quote
I agree but there were also brillian theologians who never discussed the essence/energies distinction. In fact, some of them might have even opposed the idea. But again, I am not sure.

I don't know of any that opposed it (of course, I'm limiting myself to Orthodox theologians) but I could certainly point to those who never discussed it as it's a fine distinction that wasn't relevant to the things they were addressing. I'm not sure what you were getting at with this observation? I was merely trying to say that there is a level to this, as with Trinitarian discussion which *should not make sense*, which should clearly transcend our own definitions. And that if you think you have fully grasped it, then that's probably the best indication there is that you've actually missed the point.
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« Reply #64 on: April 23, 2009, 10:58:33 PM »


Stripped of specifics, the logical proposition you are suggesting is that 'If x is not y, then y forms a limit to x' (or alternatively 'then *not* forms a limit to x'). But if that were true then I could fill in your logic: "God's essence is not created and therefore is limited by not being created." But that proposition is not true.
Quote
I would have to disagree with this as God is the fullness of being and created being is only being participation. It is limited, yet God's being is not.
I don't know of any that opposed it (of course, I'm limiting myself to Orthodox theologians) but I could certainly point to those who never discussed it as it's a fine distinction that wasn't relevant to the things they were addressing.
Well, I was thinking of people like Thomas Aquinas, (who btw, knows everything.  Wink )
I'm not sure what you were getting at with this observation? I was merely trying to say that there is a level to this, as with Trinitarian discussion which *should not make sense*, which should clearly transcend our own definitions. And that if you think you have fully grasped it, then that's probably the best indication there is that you've actually missed the point.
so it if doesn't make sense, then that is the theology I should adopt?
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« Reply #65 on: April 24, 2009, 12:04:50 AM »

Let's try for some more idiomatic, modern English, in this case from the NRSV: "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made." While one could certainly see some sort of a distinction being made in passing, it's just that: in passing. The point of the sentence is something else entirely.
Really? I would have said the distinction between the Eternal Power and Divine Nature of God are even clearer in this version than in the KJV.
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« Reply #66 on: April 24, 2009, 09:51:20 AM »

Let's try for some more idiomatic, modern English, in this case from the NRSV: "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made." While one could certainly see some sort of a distinction being made in passing, it's just that: in passing. The point of the sentence is something else entirely.
Really? I would have said the distinction between the Eternal Power and Divine Nature of God are even clearer in this version than in the KJV.

George, while I certainly appreciate you strong Orthodox apologetics, It think that it might be possible to read more into this verse than is actually there. Catholic themselves often talk about the different attributes of God, for example, his love, mercy, justice, etc. etc. etc. But we do not really believe that they are different attributes becaue we believe that God is simple. We believe that its all one and the same thing in God. Yet, we still talk about them as distinct. Why? Because from our limited human perspective that is the best we can do. But we know from the perspective of the mystery of God, he is beyond all such distinction, as all is one in him. It could be quite possible that this verse is making such human distinctions without actually implying and ontological distinction in God. This reasoning is why I can accept the idea of the essence/energies distinction as one of relation or as a distinction from man's point of view. But I just don't see how it can work as a true ontological distincition without it being an internally inconsistant doctrine (see the reasons that I have noted in my previous posts).

Cyril of Alexandria

"The nature of the Godhead, which is simple and not composite, is never to be divided into two" (Treasury of the Holy Trinity 11 [A.D. 424]).

Perhaps I will never quite understand how the essence/energies distinction can be squared with God's simplicity. Who knows.
However, thank you again for you time and answers.
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« Reply #67 on: April 24, 2009, 10:44:27 AM »

Thomas Aquinas' aruguement for the simplicity of God:
Secondly, becasue every composite is posterior to its component parts, and is dependent on them; but God is the first being as shown above. Thirdly, because every compositie has a cause, for things in themeselves different cannot unite unless something causes thme to unite. But God is uncaused as shown above, since He is the efficient first cause. Fourthly, because in every composite there must be potentiality and actuality; but this does not apply to God; for either on eof the parts actuates another, or at least all the parts are potential to the whole. Fithly, because nothing composite can be predicated of any single one of it's parts. And this is evident in a whole made up of dissimilar parts; for no part of a man i sa man, nor any of the parts of the foot, a foot. But in wholes made up of similar parts, although something which is predicated of the whole may be predicated of the part (as a part of the air is air, adn a part of water is water), nevertheless certain things are predicable of the whole which cannot be predicated of any of the parts; for instance , if the whole volume of water is two cubits, no part of it can be two cubits.  Thus in every composite there is something with is not itself. But, even if this could be said of whaever  has a form, viz. that it has something which  is not itself, as in a white object there is is something that does not belong to the essence of white; nevertheless in the form itself, there is nothing besides iteslef. And so, since God is absolute form, or rather, absolute being, He can be in no way composite. Hilary implies this arguement, when he says (De Trin. vii): God, who is strength, is not made up of things that are weak; nor is He who is light, composed of things that are dim.
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« Reply #68 on: April 24, 2009, 09:57:35 PM »

Let's try for some more idiomatic, modern English, in this case from the NRSV: "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made." While one could certainly see some sort of a distinction being made in passing, it's just that: in passing. The point of the sentence is something else entirely.
Really? I would have said the distinction between the Eternal Power and Divine Nature of God are even clearer in this version than in the KJV.

I would question as to whether a passing reference to two entities rather than one constitutes any emphasis on the importance of the distinction between them. And yet again: the mainstream western issue isn't whether is there is any distinction, but rather (a) whether anyone disagrees, and (b) that some of what is being said under the aegis of making this distinction aren't correct.
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