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deusveritasest
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« on: August 11, 2009, 06:55:41 PM »

The beatific vision. Thomas Aquinas taught that we can perceive the divine essence in Heaven. Gregory Palamas taught that we could not and could only perceive the divine energies. Is this not a highly important difference? Does this not establish a different understanding in the very nature of the Godhead?
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2009, 07:44:27 PM »

The beatific vision. Thomas Aquinas taught that we can perceive the divine essence in Heaven. Gregory Palamas taught that we could not and could only perceive the divine energies. Is this not a highly important difference? Does this not establish a different understanding in the very nature of the Godhead?
Oh, it's been discussed:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14474.0.html
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2009, 08:08:47 PM »

"Oh, it's been discussed"

I'm sure it has rarely been discussed. My point is in listing of differences between EO and RC, it is rarely listed. Often times people aren't even aware of it. And this doesn't make sense to me, as to me it appears to be one of the gravest differences.
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2009, 11:23:31 PM »

The beatific vision. Thomas Aquinas taught that we can perceive the divine essence in Heaven. Gregory Palamas taught that we could not and could only perceive the divine energies. Is this not a highly important difference? Does this not establish a different understanding in the very nature of the Godhead?
Does Aquinas distinguish God's essence from God's energies?
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2009, 02:20:50 AM »

Two reason why I think this matter tends to be overlooked. 

1) It's a rather abstract issue to understand;

2) St. Gregory Palamas' prevailing argument was post schism.
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2009, 02:35:37 AM »

"Does Aquinas distinguish God's essence from God's energies?"

In a certain way. He identifies action as an inherent part of the nature of the Trinity. As to grace, "the light of glory", and things of this sort, however, he identifies them as created and not actually a part of who God is. So he does distinguish between those things which Palamas identifies as the Energies of God and the Essence of God, though he does not come to the same understanding of the nature of these things. So yes, he does identify the Essence of God as we think of it as being perceptible.
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2009, 02:48:42 AM »

I dug this up earlier. About a decade before Constantinople took up the cause of Palamas.

Quote
We receive much light in our attempt to grasp the nature of the beatific vision from the Constitution of Benedict XII promulgated on 27 January 1336. He did this at the request of the University of Paris. The occasion of this request was the claim of Pope John XXII in a sermon on All Saints Day entitled, Mementote operum patrum vestrorum, that the souls of the just before the coming of Christ were resting in the bosom of Abraham; after the resurrection and ascension of Christ they enjoy the vision of Christ's glorified humanity and rest until the day of judgment under the altar of which John speaks in the Apocalypse [6:9]. After the day of judgment Jesus Christ will take them to heaven, raising them to the vision of the divinity itself. "By under the altar" John XXII meant that until the final judgment they were under the protection and consolation of the humanity of Christ.

Wikipedia had this comment: "The point is important to Catholics, since if the dead are not in the presence of God, then the whole idea of prayers to the saints would seem to be undermined. John XXII continued this argument for a time in sermons while he was pope, although he never taught this in official documents. He eventually backed down from his position."

John XII was virulently opposed by Thomists, and denounced as a heretic. Benedict XII issued this famous decree:

Quote
After the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ [the just] will see, and do see the divine essence in a vision that is intuitive, and also facial, no mediating creature offering itself in the manner of an object seen; but the divine essence showing itself to them immediately, nakedly, clearly and openly, and so seeing they enjoy the divine essence; and also, from such vision and enjoyment, the souls of those who have already passed on are truly blessed and have eternal life and peace and also the souls of those who will afterwards pass on will see the same divine essence and enjoy it before the general judgment.

There's some interesting stuff here:

Long Google Books link

« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 02:57:29 AM by John Larocque » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2009, 03:21:15 AM »

I confess that this disctinction is over my head. At face value it seems like a case of semantical hair splitting, and yet I know it is important.

Am I correct in describing this issue as conected to the difference in Western (RC/Scholastic) and Eastern (OO/EO) epistemololgy, i.e. the catophatic vs. apophatic approach to theology proper?

I do know that Orthodoxy has been accused of accentuating God's transcendence to the point of unknowability, and we accuse Scholasticism as reducing the Infinite to the limitations of the finite mind. 

Am I correct?

As far as this statement by Benedict XVI, I do not find anything wrong with it. But I am not theologically astute enough to find the error in it. Can anyone point out what's wrong with this statement, if anything?

"After the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ [the just] will see, and do see the divine essence in a vision that is intuitive, and also facial, no mediating creature offering itself in the manner of an object seen; but the divine essence showing itself to them immediately, nakedly, clearly and openly, and so seeing they enjoy the divine essence; and also, from such vision and enjoyment, the souls of those who have already passed on are truly blessed and have eternal life and peace and also the souls of those who will afterwards pass on will see the same divine essence and enjoy it before the general judgment."

Please help me understand this issue better. (The simpler the better please. Smiley)

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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2009, 09:30:01 AM »

I'll readily admit this isn't something I thought of a lot before.

I scanned this earlier yesterday. Bishop Hilarion presented non-official Orthodox teaching from St. Isaac the Syrian at a "Divine Mercy" conference. To wit, that God's mercy is so great, that with prayers for the dead, that it is possible to pray them out of Gehenna. He said that Isaac's teaching on Gehenna is similar to the Catholic teaching of purgatory (temporary punishment). He actually corrected and elaborated on the point on this blog.

http://eirenikon.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/bishop-hilarion-gods-mercy-is-immeasurable/
http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/14/144.aspx#2

Quote
As you will see, I clearly state: “The teaching on universal salvation, which is so explicitly preached by Isaac the Syrian, has never been approved by the Orthodox Church. On the contrary, Origenist idea of the apokatastasis ton panton (restoration of all), which has certain resemblance with this teaching, was condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council”.

Then I try to explain the difference between St Isaac and Origen: “However, we would not completely identify Isaac’s idea of the universal salvation with Origenist ‘restoration of all’. In Origen, universal restoration is not the end of the world, but a passing phase from one created world to another, which will come into existence after the present world has come to its end. This idea is alien to Christian tradition and unknown to Isaac. The latter is more dependent on other ancient writers, notably Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodore of Tarsus, who also developed the idea of universal salvation, yet in a way different from Origen’s. On the other hand, it would not be fair to say that Isaac simply borrowed the ideas of his predecessors and inserted them into his own writings. Isaac’s eschatological optimism and his belief in universal salvation are ultimate outcomes of his personal theological vision, whose central idea is that of God as love. Around this idea the whole of his theological system is shaped”.

Although I do not recall thinking about this a great deal years ago, that passage about how the Beatific vision must come AFTER the Final Judgment, and that we all wait in Abraham's Bosom (the condemned teaching of John XXII, which prompted Benedict XII's anti-Palamas statement) is DEFINITELY something I've come across before. It seems that it was kind of lost in the shuffle in between Aquinas/Benedict XII versus Palamas but I think is important to the history of the controversy.
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2009, 09:45:03 AM »

Although I do not recall thinking about this a great deal years ago, that passage about how the Beatific vision must come AFTER the Final Judgment, and that we all wait in Abraham's Bosom (the condemned teaching of John XXII, which prompted Benedict XII's anti-Palamas statement) is DEFINITELY something I've come across before. It seems that it was kind of lost in the shuffle in between Aquinas/Benedict XII versus Palamas but I think is important to the history of the controversy.

Please see this speech from the Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna, Russian Orthodox Church's Representative for the EU  (now Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk and head of the Department of External Church Relations.

"The Descent of Christ into Hades in Eastern and Western Theological Traditions"

A lecture delivered at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Minneapolis, USA,
on 5 November  2002

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/5.aspx
[For full article]

Extract:
__________________________________________
The descent of Christ into Hades is one of the most mysterious, enigmatic
and inexplicable events in New Testament history. In today's Christian
world, this event is understood differently. Liberal Western theology
rejects altogether any possibility for speaking of the descent of Christ
into Hades literally, arguing that the scriptural texts on this theme should
be understood metaphorically. The traditional Catholic doctrine insists that
after His death on the cross Christ descended to hell only to deliver the
Old Testament righteous from it. A similar understanding is quite widespread
among Orthodox Christians.

On the other hand, the New Testament speaks of the preaching of Christ in
hell as addressed to the unrepentant sinners: 'For Christ also died for sins
once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to
God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which
he went and preached to the spirit in prison, who formerly did not obey,
when God's patience waited.

However, many Church Fathers and liturgical texts of the Orthodox Church
repeatedly underline that having descended to hell, Christ opened the way to
salvation for all people, not only the Old Testament righteous. The descent
of Christ into Hades is perceived as an event of cosmic significance
involving all people without exception. They also speak about the victory of
Christ over death, the full devastation of hell and that after the descent
of Christ into Hades there was nobody left there except for the devil and
demons
.


-oOo-

Bishop Hilarion was also guest speaker at the Divine Mercy Congress last year where his speech was so greatly appreciated that the applause could not be stopped.  This is all the more remarkable because it was also applauded by Cardinal Schornberg and yet by Catholic lights the speech contained some notable heresy!!

http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3132

The [Divine Mercy] Congress Catches Fire!
Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Christ the Conqueror of Hell
Russian Orthodox Bishop: God's Mercy is immeasurable love of the Father
By Dan Valenti (Apr 6, 2008)

-----------------------------------------------------------
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2009, 10:00:15 AM »

This DOES give me some thing to think about. In the Apostle's Creed there's the line, "he descended into hell," which I always thought was Hades but here Hilarion is clearly saying, "no, Christ emptied Gehenna!"

http://64.33.81.65/ancient/apostles.htm

The greek appears to be: " κατελθόντα εις τα κατώτατα"

katwtata is used here in Ezekiel 31:18, which corresponds to Sheol?
http://www.spcm.org/english/Modern_Greek/B26C031.htm

"when I cast it down to Sheol with those who go down to the Pit"
[ "when I was bringing him down into Hades with those who descend into a hole" = NETS ]

Anyway this is something definitely to think about. I scanned material on Divine Mercy yesterday and will be looking for more material on Isaac the Syrian now.
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2009, 10:36:21 AM »

As far as this statement by Benedict XVI....
That should be Benedict XII, not Benedict XVI (the current Pope).
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2009, 10:44:01 AM »

The greek appears to be: " κατελθόντα εις τα κατώτατα"

FYI: κατώτατα is just an adjective, not a proper noun (like Hades or Sheol), meaning "lowest." In this case, probably "lowest areas" -- a reference to Eph 4:9.
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2009, 10:49:26 AM »

I'll readily admit this isn't something I thought of a lot before.

I scanned this earlier yesterday. Bishop Hilarion presented non-official Orthodox teaching from St. Isaac the Syrian at a "Divine Mercy" conference. To wit, that God's mercy is so great, that with prayers for the dead, that it is possible to pray them out of Gehenna.

I had a different interpretation of Bishop Hilarion's presentation of St. Isaac the Syrian's eschatology. I interpreted the eschatology to mean that prayers for the dead is something we humans do for those in Hades/Sheol, before the Final Judgement. After the Final Judgement, those in Paradise enjoy God's presence, while those in Gehenna suffer in God's presence. But those in Paradise do not "pray out" those in Gehenna -- Gehenna is abolished (after some undetermined time period) purely as a result of God's Grace, not as a result of prayers from those in Paradise.
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