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Author Topic: Do Catholics Really Believe Grace is Created?  (Read 5361 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 19, 2009, 11:49:42 PM »

The following discussion started here:  Is there grace outside the Orthodox Church?  - PeterTheAleut


^ Just to clarify, Catholics also believe that grace is God as well, not just an object.

That's interesting but instead of clarifying as you intended I think you have just muddied the waters.    I thought that Catholics see prevenient grace, actual grace and the other types of grace as created, in other words definitely NOT God who of course was not created.
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2009, 01:00:02 AM »

^ Just to clarify, Catholics also believe that grace is God as well, not just an object.

That's interesting but instead of clarifying as you intended I think you have just muddied the waters.    I thought that Catholics see prevenient grace, actual grace and the other types of grace as created, in other words definitely NOT God who of course was not created.
Maybe, Father, if you want to discuss this subject with Papist you should follow Papist's advice and encourage him to start another thread on this. Wink
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2009, 01:05:42 AM »

Christ is Risen!

^ Just to clarify, Catholics also believe that grace is God as well, not just an object.

That's interesting but instead of clarifying as you intended I think you have just muddied the waters.    I thought that Catholics see prevenient grace, actual grace and the other types of grace as created, in other words definitely NOT God who of course was not created.
Maybe, Father, if you want to discuss this subject with Papist you should follow Papist's advice and encourage him to start another thread on this. Wink

Thank you for the suggestion, Peter, but I don't want to discuss this subject with Papist.  I wanted to remind him that we have been round the mulberry bushes a few times already on this topic on another forum.   Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2009, 01:09:06 AM »

Congratulations.
Another thread derailed. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2009, 01:15:31 AM »

Christ is Risen!

Congratulations.
Another thread derailed. Roll Eyes

Not at all.  I have clearly stated that I do not wish to pursue with Papist the Catholic teaching on grace and I am sure that Papist did not introduce the topic with the intention of derailing the thread.

Also, if you look at message #6 you will see that I have referenced two messages which connect with the OP's question.
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2009, 01:20:31 AM »

I have clearly stated ......I do not wish ..... I have referenced

Sorry. didn't realize the thread is about you.
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2009, 01:23:00 AM »

Christ is Risen!

I have clearly stated ......I do not wish ..... I have referenced

Sorry. didn't realize the thread is about you.


I don't believe it is, George,  but you are continuing to take the thread away from the OP's questions.
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2009, 01:25:33 AM »

Sorry. didn't realize the thread is about you.

Saucy!
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2009, 02:20:38 AM »

Thank you Peter (the Faith Issues section moderator) for splitting this thread off from where it was derailing another thread (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20814.0.html) and moving it here because it is an issue I have wondered about.
To my understanding (which may be wrong) the Roman Catholic Church teaches the existence of both created and Uncreated Grace, and identifies the latter with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Is this a correct understanding?
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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2009, 02:58:31 AM »

Christus Resurrexit!

The "rediscovery" of uncreated grace in the West commenced in the late 1930s and the 1940s with the writings of the eminent Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, a Jesuit theologian who died about 20 years ago.  He moved Catholicism away from its scholastic approach and closer to the patristic approach of earlier centuries. Rahner was the most noteworthy and influential Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th century. His theology and his approach to theology had a decisive effect on the Second Vatican Council.

However as far as I am aware his ideas on uncreated grace remain a matter of opinion within theological circles and have not been proclaimed as official Roman Catholic doctrine.

I invite correction from the forum's Catholics where I am wrong.

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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2009, 10:07:45 AM »

Thank you Peter (the Faith Issues section moderator) for splitting this thread off from where it was derailing another thread (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20814.0.html) and moving it here because it is an issue I have wondered about.
To my understanding (which may be wrong) the Roman Catholic Church teaches the existence of both created and Uncreated Grace, and identifies the latter with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Is this a correct understanding?
From the Catholic Perspective: We define sanctifying Grace as God's life in us and we can refer to this as both created or uncreated grace. It is uncreated grace if we focus on the fact that it is God's life, his very self (his energies in Eastern termonology) . We can call it created grace when we focus on the "in us" part. The state of God's grace being within us is a created state. We did not always exist and thus God's life could not be in us until we were created. Thus we have the Catholic Concept of the State of Grace.
Recap: the substance of Grace is uncreated; it is God himself. However, the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us.
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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2009, 10:25:51 AM »

From the Catholic Perspective: We define sanctifying Grace as God's life in us and we can refer to this as both created or uncreated grace. It is uncreated grace if we focus on the fact that it is God's life, his very self (his energies in Eastern termonology) . We can call it created grace when we focus on the "in us" part. The state of God's grace being within us is a created state. We did not always exist and thus God's life could not be in us until we were created. Thus we have the Catholic Concept of the State of Grace.
Recap: the substance of Grace is uncreated; it is God himself. However, the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us.

Would you please show us where the above is defined Catholic dogma?

Some people would say it is at odds with the Summa Theologica...

"For God is in all things by His essence, power and presence, according to His one common mode, as the cause existing in the effects which participate in His goodness. Above and beyond this common mode, however, there is one special mode belonging to the rational nature wherein God is said to be present as the object known is in the knower, and the beloved in the lover. And since the rational creature by its operation of knowledge and love attains to God Himself, according to this special mode God is said not only to exist in the rational creature but also to dwell therein as in His own temple. So no other effect can be put down as the reason why the divine person is in the rational creature in a new mode, except sanctifying grace. Hence, the divine person is sent, and proceeds temporally only according to sanctifying grace."
(ST I Q.43 a.3)

"By the gift of sanctifying grace the rational creature is perfected so that it can freely use not only the created gift itself, but enjoy also the divine person Himself; and so the invisible mission takes place according to the gift of sanctifying grace; and yet the divine person Himself is given." ((ST I Q.43 a.3)

"Sanctifying grace disposes the soul to possess the divine person; and this is signified when it is said that the Holy Ghost is given according to the gift of grace. Nevertheless the gift itself of grace is from the Holy Ghost; which is meant by the words, "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost."" (ST I Q.43 a.3 ad 2)

There appears not to be identification of God and sanctifying grace. Instead Aquinas appears to see sanctifying grace as the means and the vehicle by which God is able to be present in a person.

I realise that people will point out that Aquinas' teaching is not worth straw since it has not been officially promulgated by the Popes, but on the other hand neither has what you are saying above, to the best of my knowledge.   That is why references are so important.


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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2009, 11:09:24 AM »

From the Catholic Perspective: We define sanctifying Grace as God's life in us and we can refer to this as both created or uncreated grace. It is uncreated grace if we focus on the fact that it is God's life, his very self (his energies in Eastern termonology) . We can call it created grace when we focus on the "in us" part. The state of God's grace being within us is a created state. We did not always exist and thus God's life could not be in us until we were created. Thus we have the Catholic Concept of the State of Grace.
Recap: the substance of Grace is uncreated; it is God himself. However, the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us.

Would you please show us where the above is defined Catholic dogma?

Some people would say it is at odds with the Summa Theologica...

"For God is in all things by His essence, power and presence, according to His one common mode, as the cause existing in the effects which participate in His goodness. Above and beyond this common mode, however, there is one special mode belonging to the rational nature wherein God is said to be present as the object known is in the knower, and the beloved in the lover. And since the rational creature by its operation of knowledge and love attains to God Himself, according to this special mode God is said not only to exist in the rational creature but also to dwell therein as in His own temple. So no other effect can be put down as the reason why the divine person is in the rational creature in a new mode, except sanctifying grace. Hence, the divine person is sent, and proceeds temporally only according to sanctifying grace."
(ST I Q.43 a.3)

"By the gift of sanctifying grace the rational creature is perfected so that it can freely use not only the created gift itself, but enjoy also the divine person Himself; and so the invisible mission takes place according to the gift of sanctifying grace; and yet the divine person Himself is given." ((ST I Q.43 a.3)

"Sanctifying grace disposes the soul to possess the divine person; and this is signified when it is said that the Holy Ghost is given according to the gift of grace. Nevertheless the gift itself of grace is from the Holy Ghost; which is meant by the words, "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost."" (ST I Q.43 a.3 ad 2)

There appears not to be identification of God and sanctifying grace. Instead Aquinas appears to see sanctifying grace as the means and the vehicle by which God is able to be present in a person.

I realise that people will point out that Aquinas' teaching is not worth straw since it has not been officially promulgated by the Popes, but on the other hand neither has what you are saying above, to the best of my knowledge.   That is why references are so important.



No, i don't think Aquinas' teaching is worth straw. He is the universal doctor and we should not stray from his teaching expect for very very very good reasons. During study hall i will explain to you why you interpretation of Aquinas not very good at all.
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2009, 12:21:38 PM »

Father Ambrose, I do fear entering into this topic with you for one major reason. As I have stated before, a conversation with you is often a trip down the rabbit hole. I am going to start this conversation assuming that you are going to converse in charity "believing all things" as the scriptures state and not assuming the worst of the Catholic Church. However, if you stray from this attitude and begin to try "scoring points" with a warped view of Catholic theology, building up straw men all around your self, then I am out.
Some people would say it is at odds with the Summa Theologica...
"For God is in all things by His essence, power and presence, according to His one common mode, as the cause existing in the effects which participate in His goodness. Above and beyond this common mode, however, there is one special mode belonging to the rational nature wherein God is said to be present as the object known is in the knower, and the beloved in the lover. And since the rational creature by its operation of knowledge and love attains to God Himself, according to this special mode God is said not only to exist in the rational creature but also to dwell therein as in His own temple. So no other effect can be put down as the reason why the divine person is in the rational creature in a new mode, except sanctifying grace. Hence, the divine person is sent, and proceeds temporally only according to sanctifying grace." (ST I Q.43 a.3)

OK, so through the gift of sanctifying grace, the divine person comes to dwell in the rational creature. The divine person is uncreated so this is the uncreated aspect of grace.
"By the gift of sanctifying grace the rational creature is perfected so that it can freely use not only the created gift itself, but enjoy also the divine person Himself; and so the invisible mission takes place according to the gift of sanctifying grace; and yet the divine person Himself is given." ((ST I Q.43 a.3)

Seems to support what I am talking about. The divine person who comes to live in us in Sanctifying grace is divine, uncreated. The gift of that state of him being in us is a created gift because the state of his being in us could not exist until we were created. Thus the State of Grace is created while the person and substance is not.
"Sanctifying grace disposes the soul to possess the divine person; and this is signified when it is said that the Holy Ghost is given according to the gift of grace. Nevertheless the gift itself of grace is from the Holy Ghost; which is meant by the words, "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost." (ST I Q.43 a.3 ad 2)

Yup, the gift itself is given by the Holy Ghost. I agree.
There appears not to be identification of God and sanctifying grace. Instead Aquinas appears to see sanctifying grace as the means and the vehicle by which God is able to be present in a person.

Semantics. The gift or state of God being in us is a created state. The person who is in us is uncreated. Balitimore Catechism defintion of Sanctifying Grace: God's life (uncreated) in us (created). This is oneo f those areas where I absolutely believe that the EO Church and the Catholic Church believe the same thing but use different termonology.
I realise that people will point out that Aquinas' teaching is not worth straw since it has not been officially promulgated by the Popes, but on the other hand neither has what you are saying above, to the best of my knowledge.   That is why references are so important.

I would never call the teachings of the Universal Doctor of the Church "not worth straw". Popes have told us that to deviate from the teachings of Thomas is very dangerous. I agree because his Summas are very reliable summaries of the teachings of the Fathers from a western persepctive. I would not deviate from his teachings except for a very very very very good reason, such as in the specific cases where the Church judges him to be wrong (The only one I can think of off hand is his understanding of the sanctification of the Blessed Virgin Mary). No, I am a Thomist through and through just as many of you Palamites.
Consequently, the day before my father had his break down, he and my mother had purches the Summa Theologiae for me as an early birthday present. Very generous of them indeed. I have been delving into it every free moment that I have.
Anyway, back on topic, I suggest for reading to all of us (myself included) a book called The Ground of Union. Its about the similarities between Aquinas and Palamas on deification.


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« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2009, 12:23:46 PM »

Quote
God's grace being within us is a created state. We did not always exist and thus God's life could not be in us until we were created. Thus we have the Catholic Concept of the State of Grace.
Recap: the substance of Grace is uncreated; it is God himself. However, the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us.

I disagree with the ideas that I italicized. We are creatures (like you imply, we are created). However, to focus on our state and interactions with God (Grace working or "being" in us) as a way to define what "kind" of Grace us in us as creatures is theologically presumptuous. That is not the wayto define it, i.e. our condition. We have to start with God, Who always existed. What defines how Grace works (or is in us) in us is not whether we are created or not, but whether or not Grace (God's energies) are created or uncreated. It is the teaching of the Orthodox Church that God's divine energies are uncreated and the interaction or growth or process (Theosis) or those energies at work in us transform our created energies into uncreated energies. We do not become uncreated at the level of essence, (our being; meaning this does not change the reality that we were created) but at the level of energies.

A key distiction is this: you call the grace in us "created", and say that that "created Grace "comes from" God.
It is the opposite of the Orthodox Faith. The created grace (or energies) in us are not from God, but in us. They are created because we are created, but also because we are not deified, we are not divinized and we suffer the separation of God because of Ancestral Sin, the Sin of Adam. When Christ was Incarnate and suffered Crucifixion, died, was buried and resurrected (CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!) he bridged the gap between God and man. As St. Athanasius says following St. Irenaeus, "Christ become man so that we could become God". This, through Theosis, and the striving to overcome the passions allows man to dispose himself to virtue which opens up the soul to receive the uncreated energies of God, when and how God pleases to work in that man.        
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« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2009, 12:27:58 PM »

Quote
God's grace being within us is a created state. We did not always exist and thus God's life could not be in us until we were created. Thus we have the Catholic Concept of the State of Grace.
Recap: the substance of Grace is uncreated; it is God himself. However, the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us.

I disagree with the ideas that I italicized. We are creatures (like you imply, we are created). However, to focus on our state and interactions with God (Grace working or "being" in us) as a way to define what "kind" of Grace us in us as creatures is theologically presumptuous. That is not the wayto define it, i.e. our condition. We have to start with God, Who always existed. What defines how Grace works (or is in us) in us is not whether we are created or not, but whether or not Grace (God's energies) are created or uncreated. It is the teaching of the Orthodox Church that God's divine energies are uncreated and the interaction or growth or process (Theosis) or those energies at work in us transform our created energies into uncreated energies. We do not become uncreated at the level of essence, (our being; meaning this does not change the reality that we were created) but at the level of energies.

A key distiction is this: you call the grace in us "created", and say that that "created Grace "comes from" God.
It is the opposite of the Orthodox Faith. The created grace (or energies) in us are not from God, but in us. They are created because we are created, but also because we are not deified, we are not divinized and we suffer the separation of God because of Ancestral Sin, the Sin of Adam. When Christ was Incarnate and suffered Crucifixion, died, was buried and resurrected (CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!) he bridged the gap between God and man. As St. Athanasius says following St. Irenaeus, "Christ become man so that we could become God". This, through Theosis, and the striving to overcome the passions allows man to dispose himself to virtue which opens up the soul to receive the uncreated energies of God, when and how God pleases to work in that man.        
I think you are missing the point. I agree. The energies of God are uncreated. I am not denying that even for a second. God is NOT created. And when he is in us he remains uncreated. I am only saying the state of Grace, (the state of God being in us) not God himself, is a created state because I cannot be in that state until I exist. To believe otherwise would be a logical inconsistant.
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« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2009, 12:32:20 PM »

I think that the problem here is that the word Grace is being used in two different ways.
Eastern Usage of the term Grace: God's energies.
If that is how we use the term, then absolutely, I would be forced to agree that Grace is uncreated.

Western Usage the term Grace: The state of God being in us.
This would have to be created because the state of God being in us is a created state. Notice here the emphasis on the state being created while God himself is not.

I prefer the Eastern usage and the term Uncreated Grace much more because it is much less prone to confussion but I have no problem with the western one in that it does not deny the truth that the Eastern usage teaches us: God is uncreated and literally comes to live in us and deify us.
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« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2009, 12:54:20 PM »

I am reading carefully your response and I understand what your point it about the "state" of Grace in us being created. I believe that with the semi-scholastic, thomistic theology of the Church of Rome that it would be logically inconsistent to call the state of grace in us uncreated. However, I disagree with that theological explanation. I cannot be reconciled adequately with the Orthodox understanding on this point unless it is abandoned. This is because an Orthodox Christian would say that even the "state" of energies being in us is uncreated because the uncreated energies being in us is itself an uncreated grace. It's not semantics. If the "Grace" (or divine energies) that come from God are uncreated, then the act of God acting in us (i.e. the "state") is also uncreated because the act is initiated by God. The Grace to receive the Grace of God is itself a Grace from God and God's Grace is uncreated.
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« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2009, 01:35:02 PM »

I am reading carefully your response and I understand what your point it about the "state" of Grace in us being created. I believe that with the semi-scholastic, thomistic theology of the Church of Rome that it would be logically inconsistent to call the state of grace in us uncreated. However, I disagree with that theological explanation. I cannot be reconciled adequately with the Orthodox understanding on this point unless it is abandoned. This is because an Orthodox Christian would say that even the "state" of energies being in us is uncreated because the uncreated energies being in us is itself an uncreated grace. It's not semantics. If the "Grace" (or divine energies) that come from God are uncreated, then the act of God acting in us (i.e. the "state") is also uncreated because the act is initiated by God. The Grace to receive the Grace of God is itself a Grace from God and God's Grace is uncreated.
Interesting. I see what you are saying. I  would say that from that perspective it would be appropriate to refer to the state as uncreated as well. Again, I don't think it wrong to refer to the state as either uncreated or created because we are using the term in different ways. You are saying that the state is uncreated because it is an act initiated by God who is uncreated. Am I correct in assuming that you believe that even the "state" is God's energies?
I would still maintain that it would be appropriate to also call the state created because the state of my being in God's grace did not exist at one point. Then I was created, then baptized, then the state of me being in God's grace did exist. To come from non-existence towards existence requires an act of creation on God's part, thus the state could be referred to as created.
I think this is alot like Augustine's dicussion in Confessions where he talks about whether we are in God or God is in us. Both statements are correct, when approached from different perspectives and both gaurd a sacred and important truth.
That being said, I prefer the Eastern usage and understanding better but I think they both basically profess the same thing: God almighty, the uncreated one, enters into us and transforms us, even deifying us.
Can you provide some EO sources concerning the "State" of being in God's grace being uncreated?
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« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2009, 02:23:00 PM »

The following discussion started here:  Is there grace outside the Orthodox Church?  - PeterTheAleut


^ Just to clarify, Catholics also believe that grace is God as well, not just an object.

That's interesting but instead of clarifying as you intended I think you have just muddied the waters.    I thought that Catholics see prevenient grace, actual grace and the other types of grace as created, in other words definitely NOT God who of course was not created.
I was referring to sanctifying grace.
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« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2009, 10:36:36 PM »


The Roman Catholic concept of Sanctifying Grace is most closely related to the Eastern Orthodox concept of Theosis, a process of personal purification and deification initiated by God so that we can acquire a genuine union with Him by actively internalizing our personal relationship with Him, and thus more fully participate in His Divine Nature. In this way, we become united with God by grace in the Person of Christ through total participation in Jesus Christ. This is a gradual process by which a person is transformed and united so completely with God that he or she essentially becomes by God's Grace what God is by His Divine Nature.



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« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2009, 11:15:38 PM »

Quote
Interesting. I see what you are saying. I  would say that from that perspective it would be appropriate to refer to the state as uncreated as well. Again, I don't think it wrong to refer to the state as either uncreated or created because we are using the term in different ways. You are saying that the state is uncreated because it is an act initiated by God who is uncreated. Am I correct in assuming that you believe that even the "state" is God's energies?


You have understood my point correctly (I highlighted it in our text). However, as an Orthodox Christian, I don't really use the phrase "state of grace". I use Theosis, Deification, Divine essence and Divine energies. I was using your terms to explain an more Orthodox understanding.

Quote
I would still maintain that it would be appropriate to also call the state created because the state of my being in God's grace did not exist at one point. Then I was created, then baptized, then the state of me being in God's grace did exist. To come from non-existence towards existence requires an act of creation on God's part, thus the state could be referred to as created.

My point on this is that what we do does not change God's Work or action in creation. God does not change His mind to counter-act our transgressions. The "state" or "reality of being" in the God's Grace is not this thing or another. It seems almost along the line of Origen's understanding of the fall (i.e. that man fell from perfection to imperfection). The idea that we are born without Grace, then we are in Grace, therefore the state of being in the Grace of God is a created state places too much emphasis on what we do or do not do. We are never without the Grace of God, even in Hell. It is God's Grace that keeps each and everyone of us in continual existence. St Maximus takes this even further when he explains our lot as created beings (man). He teaches, in the tradition of the Fathers that all of us will have ever-being (none of us will cease to exist). Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection is the reassurance of our Salvation. And truly, in this way, all will be saved. However, not all will have well-being (that is, not all will be in Heaven with God). Some will have ill-being (that will be in Hell). So, we see here, by the very fact that mankind will have ever being shows that it does not matter whether we initiate. Rather, God already initiated the Divine Plan of Salvation of man, even before man was created.   

I
Quote
think this is alot like Augustine's dicussion in Confessions where he talks about whether we are in God or God is in us. Both statements are correct, when approached from different perspectives and both gaurd a sacred and important truth.
That being said, I prefer the Eastern usage and understanding better but I think they both basically profess the same thing: God almighty, the uncreated one, enters into us and transforms us, even deifying us.
Can you provide some EO sources concerning the "State" of being in God's grace being uncreated?

I am a wretched sinner with a impoverished view and understanding of the Divine Realities of God. Forgive me if I have caused any confusion. I am interested in many discussions and I hope my input was helpful and not antagonistic. One more apt and able in Theology might provide some sound teachings for you here on this board. Otherwise, I would highly recommend contacting Reader Patrick Barnes, webmaster of orthodoxinfo.com. He would undoubtly be able to help you further.
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2009, 12:23:02 AM »

The following discussion started here:  Is there grace outside the Orthodox Church?  - PeterTheAleut


^ Just to clarify, Catholics also believe that grace is God as well, not just an object.

That's interesting but instead of clarifying as you intended I think you have just muddied the waters.    I thought that Catholics see prevenient grace, actual grace and the other types of grace as created, in other words definitely NOT God who of course was not created.
I was referring to sanctifying grace.

You did not say that.  See your first message.

If grace is God, how can it be both created and uncreated?   How can God be both?

How do you reconcile your personal opinions with what has been given from Thomas Aquinas in Message  #13?

Where would we go looking for the official Roman Catholic teaching?

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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2009, 12:29:49 AM »

No, i don't think Aquinas' teaching is worth straw. He is the universal doctor and we should not stray from his teaching expect for very very very good reasons. During study hall i will explain to you why you interpretation of Aquinas not very good at all.

If sanctifying grace = uncreated grace, why is Karl Rahner credited with "discovering" this in the 1930s and 1940s?  Will you explain to me in study hall just what it was which he discovered and how it differs from previous Catholic doctrine?  Will you explain to me if his teaching, which as far as I know is still simply theological opinion, became official Catholic doctrine?   

Will you bring along the Encyclicals and Apostolic Constitutions which have proclaimed it so?  I think that we need to hear the official voice of Peter.
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« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2009, 12:49:21 AM »

No, i don't think Aquinas' teaching is worth straw. He is the universal doctor and we should not stray from his teaching expect for very very very good reasons. During study hall i will explain to you why you interpretation of Aquinas not very good at all.

If sanctifying grace = uncreated grace, why is Karl Rahner credited with "discovering" this in the 1930s and 1940s?  Will you explain to me in study hall just what it was which he discovered and how it differs from previous Catholic doctrine?  Will you explain to me if his teaching, which as far as I know is still simply theological opinion, became official Catholic doctrine?   

Will you bring along the Encyclicals and Apostolic Constitutions which have proclaimed it so?  I think that we need to hear the official voice of Peter.

The Balitmore Catechism calls sanctifying grace, "God's life in us". Its clear that God's life is uncreated so then it is uncreated grace. The "in us" part is created because I am created. This is all very clear to me from the definition. I am not sure how you are missing this, unless of course you just don't want to see it. Again, I think we are just using all the termonology in different ways. I suggest you pick up the book "The Ground of Union" and give it a fair read.
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« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2009, 12:53:18 AM »

Quote
Interesting. I see what you are saying. I  would say that from that perspective it would be appropriate to refer to the state as uncreated as well. Again, I don't think it wrong to refer to the state as either uncreated or created because we are using the term in different ways. You are saying that the state is uncreated because it is an act initiated by God who is uncreated. Am I correct in assuming that you believe that even the "state" is God's energies?


You have understood my point correctly (I highlighted it in our text). However, as an Orthodox Christian, I don't really use the phrase "state of grace". I use Theosis, Deification, Divine essence and Divine energies. I was using your terms to explain an more Orthodox understanding.

Quote
I would still maintain that it would be appropriate to also call the state created because the state of my being in God's grace did not exist at one point. Then I was created, then baptized, then the state of me being in God's grace did exist. To come from non-existence towards existence requires an act of creation on God's part, thus the state could be referred to as created.

My point on this is that what we do does not change God's Work or action in creation. God does not change His mind to counter-act our transgressions. The "state" or "reality of being" in the God's Grace is not this thing or another. It seems almost along the line of Origen's understanding of the fall (i.e. that man fell from perfection to imperfection). The idea that we are born without Grace, then we are in Grace, therefore the state of being in the Grace of God is a created state places too much emphasis on what we do or do not do. We are never without the Grace of God, even in Hell. It is God's Grace that keeps each and everyone of us in continual existence. St Maximus takes this even further when he explains our lot as created beings (man). He teaches, in the tradition of the Fathers that all of us will have ever-being (none of us will cease to exist). Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection is the reassurance of our Salvation. And truly, in this way, all will be saved. However, not all will have well-being (that is, not all will be in Heaven with God). Some will have ill-being (that will be in Hell). So, we see here, by the very fact that mankind will have ever being shows that it does not matter whether we initiate. Rather, God already initiated the Divine Plan of Salvation of man, even before man was created.   

I
Quote
think this is alot like Augustine's dicussion in Confessions where he talks about whether we are in God or God is in us. Both statements are correct, when approached from different perspectives and both gaurd a sacred and important truth.
That being said, I prefer the Eastern usage and understanding better but I think they both basically profess the same thing: God almighty, the uncreated one, enters into us and transforms us, even deifying us.
Can you provide some EO sources concerning the "State" of being in God's grace being uncreated?

I am a wretched sinner with a impoverished view and understanding of the Divine Realities of God. Forgive me if I have caused any confusion. I am interested in many discussions and I hope my input was helpful and not antagonistic. One more apt and able in Theology might provide some sound teachings for you here on this board. Otherwise, I would highly recommend contacting Reader Patrick Barnes, webmaster of orthodoxinfo.com. He would undoubtly be able to help you further.
This is all very helpful and I think that you did a fantastic job explaining your point of view (which I assume is the EO point of view). My only concern is that there seems to be a lack of understanding of the difference between God's grace that is present in all things holding all things together, and God's grace invited into our souls for the purpose of deification. This state did not always exist. So I think it fair, to call it created from one persepctive, in that the state itself was not always there. But its also fair to call it uncreated in that it comes from the uncreated God himself, in fact, the substance of that Grace is God himself. I am more and more convinced that we have the same view but use different words in different ways, coming at the mystery from different perspectives.
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« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2009, 01:12:12 AM »

I suggest you pick up the book "The Ground of Union" and give it a fair read.

No thanks.  When did Williams write her book?  About 10 years ago.  It was hailed as unique, ground-breaking, a watershed.   Well for a traditionalist such as myself any theological work which is hailed with such adjectives is under immediate suspicion.  It is part of the re-invention of Roman Catholicism, part of the pretense that doctrine which they have reviled (and they have certainly reviled the concept of theosis, etc., just read Fr Adrian Fortescue and the Catholic Encyclopedia) has always been an integral part of Roman Catholic teaching.

It is for these reasons that I do not like these discussions with Catholics.  They offer nothing solid but just the varying opinions of in-vogue theologians.  What was unknown by the theologians of last century is presented in this century as if it were always Catholic teaching, and probably in the next century it will have passed out of the consciousness of the theologians and been forgotten again.   It is for this reason that I say:  please give us the official papal teachings.
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« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2009, 02:45:17 AM »

Thank you Peter (the Faith Issues section moderator) for splitting this thread off from where it was derailing another thread (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20814.0.html) and moving it here because it is an issue I have wondered about.
To my understanding (which may be wrong) the Roman Catholic Church teaches the existence of both created and Uncreated Grace, and identifies the latter with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Is this a correct understanding?
From the Catholic Perspective: We define sanctifying Grace as God's life in us and we can refer to this as both created or uncreated grace. It is uncreated grace if we focus on the fact that it is God's life, his very self (his energies in Eastern termonology) . We can call it created grace when we focus on the "in us" part. The state of God's grace being within us is a created state. We did not always exist and thus God's life could not be in us until we were created. Thus we have the Catholic Concept of the State of Grace.
Recap: the substance of Grace is uncreated; it is God himself. However, the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us.
Thanks Papist.
A couple of further questions:
1) Is Uncreated Grace identified with the Holy Spirit in Roman Catholic teaching? and
2)When you say: "the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us", does this mean that the First-Created, pre-lapsian humans were not in the state of grace before the fall? This would differ with Orthodox theology I think. Theosis is actually our natural state and what we were created for in the Orthodox mind.
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« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2009, 03:04:51 AM »

2)When you say: "the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us", does this mean that the First-Created, pre-lapsian humans were not in the state of grace before the fall? This would differ with Orthodox theology I think. Theosis is actually our natural state and what we were created for in the Orthodox mind.

My understanding (from a Slav background) is that the possibility of theosis is a unique gift which Christ brought to humanity.  It was not part of our original condition in the Garden.   What Christ has made possible for us exceeds what was originally intended for Adam and Eve and for our race.  In other words, Baptism does not achieve a "return to the Garden."  It offers something far greater, the possibility of theosis.
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« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2009, 03:08:08 AM »

My understanding (from a Slav background) is that the possibility of theosis is a unique gift which Christ brought to humanity.  It was not part of our original condition in the Garden.   What Christ has made possible for us exceeds what was originally intended for Adam and Eve and for our race.  In other words, Baptism does not achieve a "return to the Garden."  It offers something far greater, the possibility of theosis.

St. John Damascene says:
"Man, however, being endowed with reason and free will, received the power of continuous union with God through his own choice, if indeed he should abide in goodness, that is in obedience to his Maker. Since, however, he transgressed the command of his Creator and became liable to death and corruption, the Creator and Maker of our race, because of His bowels of compassion, took on our likeness, becoming man in all things but without sin, and was united to our nature. For since He bestowed on us His own image and His own spirit and we did not keep them safe, He took Himself a share in our poor and weak nature, in order that He might cleanse us and make us incorruptible, and establish us once more as partakers of His divinity."
[The Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter 13 (from translation in Schaff's Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series)]
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« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2009, 03:31:55 AM »

St. John Damascene says:
"Man, however, being endowed with reason and free will, received the power of continuous union with God through his own choice, if indeed he should abide in goodness, that is in obedience to his Maker. Since, however, he transgressed the command of his Creator and became liable to death and corruption, the Creator and Maker of our race, because of His bowels of compassion, took on our likeness, becoming man in all things but without sin, and was united to our nature. For since He bestowed on us His own image and His own spirit and we did not keep them safe, He took Himself a share in our poor and weak nature, in order that He might cleanse us and make us incorruptible, and establish us once more as partakers of His divinity."
[The Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter 13 (from translation in Schaff's Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series)]

Indeed there's nothing that St John of Damascus can't answer!  Grin
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« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2009, 09:40:16 AM »

2)When you say: "the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us", does this mean that the First-Created, pre-lapsian humans were not in the state of grace before the fall? This would differ with Orthodox theology I think. Theosis is actually our natural state and what we were created for in the Orthodox mind.

My understanding (from a Slav background) is that the possibility of theosis is a unique gift which Christ brought to humanity.  It was not part of our original condition in the Garden.   What Christ has made possible for us exceeds what was originally intended for Adam and Eve and for our race.  In other words, Baptism does not achieve a "return to the Garden."  It offers something far greater, the possibility of theosis.

This is from Orthodoxwiki and may not be rerliable,  It is unfortunate that the author does not reference the Holy Fathers:

"For many fathers, theosis goes beyond simply restoring people to their state before the Fall of Adam and Eve, teaching that because Christ united the human and divine natures in his person, it is now possible for someone to experience closer fellowship with God than Adam and Eve initially experienced in the Garden of Eden, and that people can become more like God than Adam and Eve were at that time. Some Orthodox theologians go so far as to say that Jesus would have become incarnate for this reason alone, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned. "

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Theosis

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« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2009, 10:05:32 AM »

Thanks Papist.
A couple of further questions:
1) Is Uncreated Grace identified with the Holy Spirit in Roman Catholic teaching? and
You know, this is a very interesting question because I have been told that we should not identify Grace with the Holy Spirit only because its God's life in us. I have understood that to mean that the entire life given Trinity dwells in us, not just one hypostasis. Feel free to correct me if there is something wrong with my Trinitarian theology here. I'm gonna check the Summa on this later during study hall.
2)When you say: "the state of God's life being within us is a created state because we did not always exist to have God in us", does this mean that the First-Created, pre-lapsian humans were not in the state of grace before the fall? This would differ with Orthodox theology I think. Theosis is actually our natural state and what we were created for in the Orthodox mind.
I would have to say that Catholics would agree with the Orthodox on this point. Man did in fact have sanctifying grace in him before the fall. Something I often state on this matter: It is not natural for man to be without supernatural grace.
However, this does not change the fact that the state of being in God's sanctifying/deifying grace, that status did not exist until God created beings to be in that state.
Thanks for asking great questions and I will read more about question one later today.
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« Reply #33 on: April 21, 2009, 10:07:47 AM »

My understanding (from a Slav background) is that the possibility of theosis is a unique gift which Christ brought to humanity.  It was not part of our original condition in the Garden.   What Christ has made possible for us exceeds what was originally intended for Adam and Eve and for our race.  In other words, Baptism does not achieve a "return to the Garden."  It offers something far greater, the possibility of theosis.

St. John Damascene says:
"Man, however, being endowed with reason and free will, received the power of continuous union with God through his own choice, if indeed he should abide in goodness, that is in obedience to his Maker. Since, however, he transgressed the command of his Creator and became liable to death and corruption, the Creator and Maker of our race, because of His bowels of compassion, took on our likeness, becoming man in all things but without sin, and was united to our nature. For since He bestowed on us His own image and His own spirit and we did not keep them safe, He took Himself a share in our poor and weak nature, in order that He might cleanse us and make us incorruptible, and establish us once more as partakers of His divinity."
[The Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter 13 (from translation in Schaff's Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series)]
I am going to have to start reading the works of St. John. This passage is great!
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« Reply #34 on: April 21, 2009, 10:57:12 AM »

Also George, does the EO church identify uncreated grace with the Holy Spirit? Thanks.
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« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2009, 12:39:02 PM »

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

 "Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it." (CCC 2023)

If Sanctifying Grace is the gift of God's life to us, then from this persepctive it must be uncreated because it is God's life.

"The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism." (CCC 1999)

Again, if Sanctifying Grace is the gift of God's life, then it must be uncreated.

George,
It seemse here that there is a difference though between Sanctifying Grace and Holy Spirit because it is the Holy spirit who infuses the gift. This at least has always been my understanding and the position put forth by the Catechism.

Everyone:
I think we are running into another problem here in the Catechism and the Summa. What I see is that the term Sanctifying Grace is used in two different ways. At times it is used to refer to the uncreated gift of God's life. At other times it seems to be used to refer to the gift of making the soul suitable for God/God's life to dwell in us. Certainly, the gift of God's life is uncreated. However, the preparation of the soul for God's life, that might be considered created.
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« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2009, 11:34:10 PM »

Man's state and grace prior to the fall.

As I move into senility I find that some topics which I studied in my youth are not so easily recollectable in my mind.  This includes those topics which have not been kept fresh by the need to discuss them in catechumen studies with new converts.   So I have gone right back several decades to my theological notes and what I was taught as a young monk in Yugoslavia.   Our major sources were Greek theologians,  Rhosse, Androutsos, Dyobouniotes, Mesolara...

________________________

In the order of the creation of spiritual beings, man follows the angels, the bodiless beings, of whom some fell by disobedience and became evil spirits.  Man was created "with all the physical and spiritual endowments necessary for the fulfillment of the end for which God had foreordained him.' (Androutsos)  This is the teaching of both the Fathers and the Holy Scripture.

The words "let us make man in our own image, after our likeness" have always been taken to summarise man's endowment of faculties, powers, and character....."

Rhosse: "image" applies to the endowment of man's nature with reason and free will, both as resident faculties and as functioning energies.

"likeness" expresses the desire and impulse  and tendency (spoudi) rightly to develop his innate powers to become like God and achieve, as much as lay in him, actual perfection.

Androutsos: the original state of man is one of perfect harmony in a three-fold relationship - towards himself, towards nature, and towards God.  The state of unfallen man was not a complete and perfect thing for it was only potential.  It was oriented towards progress in human perfection and not towards deification which was a potential not given to man prior to the advent of the God-man and the union in him  of the human and divine natures.

Mesolara: The original state of man was one of potential perfection of body and soul, which could be made actual by the free cooperation man's will with the will and grace of God. towards the realisation of the end for which he was designed.  God's grace and cooperation with man was contingent of man's response, and were forfeited through the fall.  So man's perfection was not realised until the coming of the Perfect Man.
---
Pages and pages more but it is time-consuming to type them out - I am a two finger typist.

---------------------------
Sanctifying grace, etc.     While Roman Catholics divide grace into a large number of categories, sanctifying, habitual, prevenient, co-operating, etc., these categories are not known in Orthodox thought,  Adopting RC terminology often makes it difficult to explain and argue for the Orthodox teaching since the use of an RC vocabulary forces, to some extent, the adoption of a Roman Catholic approach.
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« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2009, 04:53:50 AM »

Also George, does the EO church identify uncreated grace with the Holy Spirit? Thanks.
No, Grace for us is the Divine Energies which emanate from the Holy Trinity (not just the Spirit).
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« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2009, 10:02:34 AM »

Man's state and grace prior to the fall.

As I move into senility I find that some topics which I studied in my youth are not so easily recollectable in my mind.  This includes those topics which have not been kept fresh by the need to discuss them in catechumen studies with new converts.   So I have gone right back several decades to my theological notes and what I was taught as a young monk in Yugoslavia.   Our major sources were Greek theologians,  Rhosse, Androutsos, Dyobouniotes, Mesolara...
Father bless:

Thank you for sharing these notes. They are now part of my files.   Smiley
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« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2009, 11:48:26 AM »

Also George, does the EO church identify uncreated grace with the Holy Spirit? Thanks.
No, Grace for us is the Divine Energies which emanate from the Holy Trinity (not just the Spirit).
Ok. I think that the idea that Sanctifying Grace is God's life in us can be reconciled with that. I'll agree with you that Grace is the Divine Energies (i.e. God himself).
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« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2009, 12:28:00 PM »

I have to confess that my problem all along in this kind of discussion is that it's not clear to me what uncreated energies are supposed to be being distinguished from. Using "energies" in English is already a problem because as far as I can tell the theological significance is at odds with the normal meaning. But when we get to "created energies" (the possibility of which is implied by the distinction) things seem to me to break down badly when forced into ordinary language, because creating is (as I understand it) an energy itself. But "created creating" comes across as gibberish.

I am loathe to accept the concept of an energy unless I can fit things into it; and as best as I understand it, the kind of things I can fit into the concept do not accept "created" or "uncreated" as predicates. Therefore I cannot identify a Western position that this is supposed to be in response to. Now, there is clearly a tendency to understand grace as a substance; but saying "uncreated energies" invites that misunderstanding, because energy is a substance.
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« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2009, 09:33:42 PM »

I have to confess that my problem all along in this kind of discussion is that it's not clear to me what uncreated energies are supposed to be being distinguished from. Using "energies" in English is already a problem because as far as I can tell the theological significance is at odds with the normal meaning. But when we get to "created energies" (the possibility of which is implied by the distinction) things seem to me to break down badly when forced into ordinary language, because creating is (as I understand it) an energy itself. But "created creating" comes across as gibberish.

I am loathe to accept the concept of an energy unless I can fit things into it; and as best as I understand it, the kind of things I can fit into the concept do not accept "created" or "uncreated" as predicates. Therefore I cannot identify a Western position that this is supposed to be in response to. Now, there is clearly a tendency to understand grace as a substance; but saying "uncreated energies" invites that misunderstanding, because energy is a substance.


I sometimes find it helpful to think of "Energies" as "Divine Operations". For example, consider the the Divine Operation of God's Love. God's Love is not an "emotion" of the Divine Nature, but a Power Which has an influence on Creation as well as being a Power within the Holy Trinity (The Father Loves the Son and the Spirit, the Spirit Loves the Father and the Son etc.). There was not a time when God's Love did not exist, therefore, God's Love is Uncreated, and anything Uncreated is God, therefore the Apostle St. John is able to say quite truthfully that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8 ).
Grace, from an Orthodox perspective, is the Uncreated Energies (Operations) of God which, when They encounter created objects, produce and effect the way fire causes iron to glow when they encounter one another. The effect (i.e., the glowing) is created, but the fire (Grace) which caused the effect is Uncreated.
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« Reply #42 on: April 23, 2009, 12:56:03 AM »

I have to confess that my problem all along in this kind of discussion is that it's not clear to me what uncreated energies are supposed to be being distinguished from. Using "energies" in English is already a problem because as far as I can tell the theological significance is at odds with the normal meaning. But when we get to "created energies" (the possibility of which is implied by the distinction) things seem to me to break down badly when forced into ordinary language, because creating is (as I understand it) an energy itself. But "created creating" comes across as gibberish.

I am loathe to accept the concept of an energy unless I can fit things into it; and as best as I understand it, the kind of things I can fit into the concept do not accept "created" or "uncreated" as predicates. Therefore I cannot identify a Western position that this is supposed to be in response to. Now, there is clearly a tendency to understand grace as a substance; but saying "uncreated energies" invites that misunderstanding, because energy is a substance.


I sometimes find it helpful to think of "Energies" as "Divine Operations". For example, consider the the Divine Operation of God's Love. God's Love is not an "emotion" of the Divine Nature, but a Power Which has an influence on Creation as well as being a Power within the Holy Trinity (The Father Loves the Son and the Spirit, the Spirit Loves the Father and the Son etc.). There was not a time when God's Love did not exist, therefore, God's Love is Uncreated, and anything Uncreated is God, therefore the Apostle St. John is able to say quite truthfully that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8 ).
Grace, from an Orthodox perspective, is the Uncreated Energies (Operations) of God which, when They encounter created objects, produce and effect the way fire causes iron to glow when they encounter one another. The effect (i.e., the glowing) is created, but the fire (Grace) which caused the effect is Uncreated.
I think that I can agree with this and still not transgress the teachings of my Church. At least this is my understanding on grace, though I don't really use the essence/energies terminology (although I believe that it can be reconciled with my Church as well).
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« Reply #43 on: April 23, 2009, 10:16:06 AM »

I sometimes find it helpful to think of "Energies" as "Divine Operations". For example, consider the the Divine Operation of God's Love. God's Love is not an "emotion" of the Divine Nature, but a Power Which has an influence on Creation as well as being a Power within the Holy Trinity (The Father Loves the Son and the Spirit, the Spirit Loves the Father and the Son etc.).

This is walking out into an area of theodicy into which I for one am loathe to venture. Scripture testifies at length that God does have emotions-- at least, if you take the text at face value, it does. It make sense to postulate that there is no the distinction between impulse and action in God that there is in humans, and I think that this would be supported in the West in those places where there was any interest in such questions. The part that makes me dubious is that this is founded in human notions about the perfection of God. But again, the more basic part isn't something that I could find thoughtful objection to. Indeed, modern Anglican theologians would urge something of the same viewpoint; the idea is more or less that which the mainstream of western theology has been saying for at least half a century. I cannot comment on how compatible this is with Thomist scholasticism, but then again I don't care that much.

We're still stuck, though, on that word "uncreated", because (as you say) God doesn't Himself have any created anythings. What is created (we have from doctrine) is not God. My objection is not therefore with the idea, but the terminology. The commitment to a set of very misleading words in English is something that really has to end. 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. Likewise, we still seem to have this implied category of "God's created actions", which is doubly nonsensical. And last, the classic error was the tendency to reify grace into a substance; this language tends to amplify the problem not diminish it, because "energies", as I said before, does tend to sound like a substance.

So (putting on my cap and hood) I think the general Western answer would be, "we mostly agree with what you are trying to say, but you need to find a less misleading way of saying it."
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« Reply #44 on: April 23, 2009, 10:33:14 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.
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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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