I read this on a a web site and the bolded part really disturbs me. Is it accurate? The bolded part really disturbs me. What is he talking about? What is acutally said in Palamas' letter? Are the energies of God inferior to his essence?
I do not claim to have fully understood St. Gregory Palamas. But, although it is no doubt true that Palamas, in his debate with Barlaam, says that God is simple in essence and not composite, Palamas also says, in his third letter to Akindynos, that the divine ousia is a superior deity and the divine energies an inferior deity, an inferior deity which he elsewhere describes as being less than the ousia to an infinitely infinite degree. Such statements, and others like them, caused many Christians in his own day and afterwards to wonder how true to the ancient deposit of Christian faith Gregory Palamas actually was. Frankly, that is a living question for me, and that is why I raise these issues on my blog.
Where is this "third letter to Akindynos"?
Book review by Aristeides Papadakis, in Speculum, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Oct., 1985), pp. 932-934
GREGORY AKINDYNOS, Letters of Gregory Akindynos, ed. and trans. Angela Constantinides Hero. (Corpus Historiae Byzantinae, 21.) Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1983. Pp. liii, 465. $50.
....Quite simply, Akindynos refused to endorse Palamas's fundamental distinction between God's uncreated but accessible grace and his superessential essence, which is not only unknowable but also "beyond unknowing." Indeed, Akindynos became convinced, beginning in 1341, that this distinction of energies and essence destroyed the unity and simplicity of God's nature. "And the very same thing, but to an extreme degree, is also characteristic of the present God-inflicted madness, which divides the one and infinite and indivisible and simple and invisible divinity of the inexpressible Trinity into a sundry multitude of divinities, mutually unequal and dissimilar, introducing at least two unequal gods and two divinities, not to say an innumerable multitude, his whole and complete profanity; for if 'there is one God because there is one divinity,' according to the holy Fathers, if there are many unequal divinities, there are also, no doubt, many gods, unequal and most unlike one another" (letter 20). It was primarily over this crucial issue that he finally broke with Palamas. As a result, a large portion of his subsequent epistolary production was devoted to his unrelenting attempts to persuade his correspondents of the dangers of Palamism, which he mistakenly (but maliciously all the same) labeled as "polytheism" and "Messalianism" (letters 10, 15, 42, 52, 62, 70). As noted above, Akindynos was not without theological conviction. Even so, his theology was, to an unusual degree, little more than an appeal to antiquity - a "theology of repetition." As such, it was incapable of dealing with the Greek patristic reservoir in a living and creative way. Hero's edition now offers convincing documentary authority of Akindynos's major failing. It contrasts sharply with Palamas's own vision of the reality of the Christian experience and with what fourteenth-century Orthodox monastic spirituality was about....