Author Topic: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?  (Read 3605 times)

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Offline Andreas

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Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« on: June 05, 2004, 01:49:16 AM »
If the person you believe is the great theologian is not on the list. Just post their name. :)
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Offline Linus7

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Re:Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2004, 03:53:10 PM »
St. Maximus the Confessor
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Offline Anastasios

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Re:Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2004, 04:03:03 PM »
St Ireneaus of Lyons.
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Offline Mercurius

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Re:Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2004, 04:19:42 PM »
Hard to beat St.Athanasius, really.

Offline TomS

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Re:Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2004, 04:31:41 PM »
But....you left off Billy Graham?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re:Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2004, 09:22:21 PM »
How does one define a theologian?  I've always been attracted to the writings of Saint Ephrem more than any other Father, but while the others listed above (to my knowledge) wrote "prose", he wrote "poetry".  Does the method of teaching a particular Father utilised matter in this poll and in general?
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Re:Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2004, 09:41:04 PM »
Speaking of Saint Ephrem, today is his feast day in the Roman Catholic Church.
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Online Justin Kissel

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2012, 01:44:24 PM »
Greatest theologian: St. Maximos the Confessor
Best theologian: St. Gregory of Nazianzus
Worst theologian: St. Augustine
Smartest theologian: St. Augustine
Most overrated theologian: St. Athanasius
Most unhelpful theologian: St. Vincent of Lerins
Boringest theologian: St. John of Damascus

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re:Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2012, 02:57:16 PM »
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 02:57:32 PM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2012, 04:47:32 PM »
St. Isaac of Syria, hands down.
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Offline mike

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2012, 04:48:25 PM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2012, 04:49:45 PM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Now you're getting it!  ;D

Offline KBN1

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2012, 04:51:56 PM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Ha.  That reminds me that I need to renew my subscription to Monkabee Magazine.

Offline Alpo

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2012, 04:58:52 PM »
Greatest theologian: St. Maximos the Confessor
Best theologian: St. Gregory of Nazianzus<
Worst theologian: St. Augustine
Smartest theologian: St. Augustine

Care to explain briefly reasons for these nominations?
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 04:59:21 PM by Alpo »

Online Justin Kissel

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2012, 05:31:50 PM »
Greatest theologian: St. Maximos the Confessor
Best theologian: St. Gregory of Nazianzus<
Worst theologian: St. Augustine
Smartest theologian: St. Augustine

Care to explain briefly reasons for these nominations?

Well, first let me say that I approach the topic fairly casually. I doubt many of us have studied the various theologians through the ages enough to really be able to give even a half-educated guess as to who the "greatest theologian" is. I'm pretty sure not many of us have read most of the works of the theologians who might be possible choices, let alone studied them and the larger context in which they wrote. Heck, I would wager that most people haven't even read all the works of the theologian they claim to be the greatest. So in the end these threads are more like "Who's your favorite saint?" type things. Which I think is great, and these kinds of conversations have been going on since ancient times.

But as for the ones I chose (the ones you quoted, anyway), I chose St. Maximus as the greatest because I think, from what little I've read of/about him, that he took what had been said by the Fathers before him, and elevated things a bit. Leaving Origen out of the picture, he seems to be the closest thing we have to a theological mind the caliber of St. Augustine. I chose St. Gregory the "best" because he's my favorite, and "my favorite theologian" didn't sound as level-headed and objective.  ;) After all, we're keeping up the pretence that this is somewhat serious, right?

St. Augustine was the worst theologian because of some of the mistakes he made, most of which I know nothing about. He was also the smartest from what I can tell. These things generally go together... smart people think they make fewer mistakes, but it's often the opposite: they make more mistakes, if they are truly smart, because their mind is so fertile with thought, so creative, that it goes spinning in 20 different directions. And at least some of those spins are going to end up going down the wrong path. Also, when I say that St. Augustine was the worst I am taking into account how influential he was... as with Origen, what his followers did with his theology does play a part in his reputation.  Let me also say though that pretty much any time St. Augustine is criticized on this forum I defend him, and I do not by any means wish to attack him on this thread.

Of course this gets back to the original point. How much of the theologians so far mentioned in this thread have I read? In most cases not a whole lot. That I can't read Greek/Latin/etc. doesn't help.

Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2012, 05:53:12 PM »
I cannot say if he is the greatest (I am not a theologian) but Father Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory is the one that the most readable, challenging (in a good way) and uplifting of them all.

Offline minasoliman

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2012, 07:44:28 PM »

Most overrated infallible theologian: St. Athanasius

;)
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Offline akimori makoto

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2012, 08:59:58 PM »
St John, the Evangelist and Theologian.
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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2012, 09:01:19 PM »

Most overrated infallible theologian: St. Athanasius

;)

So you guys also think Popes are infallible?  :o

Offline minasoliman

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2012, 09:08:02 PM »

Most overrated infallible theologian: St. Athanasius

;)

So you guys also think Popes are infallible?  :o
hahahaha!
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Offline witega

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2012, 09:30:14 PM »

Most overrated infallible theologian: St. Athanasius

;)

So you guys also think Popes are infallible?  :o

Anyone, even the Pope, is infallible when speaking the truth. (-Bp. Tikhon of LA, paraphrased from memory).
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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2012, 09:35:26 PM »
Anyone, even the Pope, is infallible when speaking the truth. (-Bp. Tikhon of LA, paraphrased from memory).

I suppose that depends on how you define the term infallible, though I don't think it much matters as a theological idea anyway 8)

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2012, 10:18:25 PM »

Most overrated infallible theologian: St. Athanasius

;)

So you guys also think Popes are infallible?  :o

Anyone, even the Pope, is infallible when speaking the truth. (-Bp. Tikhon of LA, paraphrased from memory).

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Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2012, 10:44:45 AM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Was he a cave dwelling, pole sitting recluse?

Seriously, this question reminds me of George W. Bush's answer in the 2000 presidential debates as to his favorite philosopher. His answer was Jesus.

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2012, 10:45:53 AM »
Anyone, even the Pope, is infallible when speaking the truth. (-Bp. Tikhon of LA, paraphrased from memory).

I suppose that depends on how you define the term infallible, though I don't think it much matters as a theological idea anyway 8)

How could 'truth' be in error? I seem to recall a President who got in trouble trying to overdefine the term 'is'.

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2012, 10:57:37 AM »
Anyone, even the Pope, is infallible when speaking the truth. (-Bp. Tikhon of LA, paraphrased from memory).

I suppose that depends on how you define the term infallible, though I don't think it much matters as a theological idea anyway 8)

How could 'truth' be in error? I seem to recall a President who got in trouble trying to overdefine the term 'is'.

If you are defining infallibility according a moment to moment examination of the truthfulness of what is being said, then I would agree with witega. Someone can speak the truth and thus speak infallibly in that moment. However, if you are speaking more generally of the person, and claiming that they are "incapable of error" or some such thing then I would disagree. They are most certainly still capable of error, even if they spoke the truth. That they didn't err in that moment isn't due to some innate gift given to them (even if sitting on a fancy throne), some mystical inability to make an error. So with this second definition only things like the theanthropic body of Christ, not individual humans, could be said to be infallible (though I have issues with that as well)
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 10:58:20 AM by Asteriktos »

Offline KBN1

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2012, 11:26:45 AM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Was he a cave dwelling, pole sitting recluse?

Seriously, this question reminds me of George W. Bush's answer in the 2000 presidential debates as to his favorite philosopher. His answer was Jesus.

He lives in a single-wide mobile home and drinks cheap vodka.

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2012, 11:29:09 AM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Was he a cave dwelling, pole sitting recluse?

Seriously, this question reminds me of George W. Bush's answer in the 2000 presidential debates as to his favorite philosopher. His answer was Jesus.

He lives in a single-wide mobile home and drinks cheap vodka.

Are you confusing him with that Hyperdox fellow?

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2012, 11:37:48 AM »
Anyone, even the Pope, is infallible when speaking the truth. (-Bp. Tikhon of LA, paraphrased from memory).

I suppose that depends on how you define the term infallible, though I don't think it much matters as a theological idea anyway 8)

How could 'truth' be in error? I seem to recall a President who got in trouble trying to overdefine the term 'is'.

If you are defining infallibility according a moment to moment examination of the truthfulness of what is being said, then I would agree with witega. Someone can speak the truth and thus speak infallibly in that moment. However, if you are speaking more generally of the person, and claiming that they are "incapable of error" or some such thing then I would disagree. They are most certainly still capable of error, even if they spoke the truth. That they didn't err in that moment isn't due to some innate gift given to them (even if sitting on a fancy throne), some mystical inability to make an error. So with this second definition only things like the theanthropic body of Christ, not individual humans, could be said to be infallible (though I have issues with that as well)

I think that the word 'infallible' is a hot-button word for those of us Christians not in union with the Pope of Rome. (Actually it is a 'hot-button' term for many Roman Catholics as well and a term which the Church of Rome still has great difficulty in providing a consistent, rational explanation of what it means in relation to the 'ex cathedra' pronouncements of any one Pope. Topic for another day...)

I would agree that no one, even the most illustrious of the Doctors and teachers of the Church could be said to be 'infallible' in all matters regarding the Faith upon which he may have opined in life.(Frankly, some of St. John Chrysostom's writings  regarding Jews come to mind as an example.) However, their teachings which serve the basis for the Glorification of any of the great Doctors and teachers of the Faith are inerrant- and  they represent a part of the infallible (i.e. without error) body of collective teachings of our Church. (In other words, not all of the teachings of any particular Saint are necessarily 'correct.' It is hard to get one's hands around this concept, I have been trying for years..... St. Augustine of Hippo and the his role in the Eastern hagiography is but another example.)

Offline orthonorm

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #29 on: March 28, 2012, 11:39:13 AM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Was he a cave dwelling, pole sitting recluse?

Seriously, this question reminds me of George W. Bush's answer in the 2000 presidential debates as to his favorite philosopher. His answer was Jesus.

He lives in a single-wide mobile home and drinks cheap vodka.

I love this language phenomenon.

Once you had trailers and double-wides.
Double-wides became so popular that the previously normative word for a non double-wide trailer had to gain a modifier.

I remember when there were tacos.

Then tacos and soft tacos.

Now, soft tacos and hard / crispy / crunchy tacos, if you can find the latter.


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Offline KBN1

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2012, 12:01:52 PM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Was he a cave dwelling, pole sitting recluse?

Seriously, this question reminds me of George W. Bush's answer in the 2000 presidential debates as to his favorite philosopher. His answer was Jesus.

He lives in a single-wide mobile home and drinks cheap vodka.

Are you confusing him with that Hyperdox fellow?

Nope.

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #31 on: March 28, 2012, 03:48:49 PM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Was he a cave dwelling, pole sitting recluse?

Seriously, this question reminds me of George W. Bush's answer in the 2000 presidential debates as to his favorite philosopher. His answer was Jesus.

He lives in a single-wide mobile home and drinks cheap vodka.

Are you confusing him with that Hyperdox fellow?

www.orthograph.me/

Try there.

Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2012, 04:02:09 PM »
Curmudgeophan the Recluse


Was he a cave dwelling, pole sitting recluse?

Seriously, this question reminds me of George W. Bush's answer in the 2000 presidential debates as to his favorite philosopher. His answer was Jesus.

He lives in a single-wide mobile home and drinks cheap vodka.

Are you confusing him with that Hyperdox fellow?

www.orthograph.me/

Try there.

I do believe I've met the man behind that; he's fairly nice.
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #33 on: March 28, 2012, 10:09:28 PM »
Anyone, even the Pope, is infallible when speaking the truth. (-Bp. Tikhon of LA, paraphrased from memory).

I suppose that depends on how you define the term infallible, though I don't think it much matters as a theological idea anyway 8)

How could 'truth' be in error? I seem to recall a President who got in trouble trying to overdefine the term 'is'.

If you are defining infallibility according a moment to moment examination of the truthfulness of what is being said, then I would agree with witega. Someone can speak the truth and thus speak infallibly in that moment. However, if you are speaking more generally of the person, and claiming that they are "incapable of error" or some such thing then I would disagree. They are most certainly still capable of error, even if they spoke the truth. That they didn't err in that moment isn't due to some innate gift given to them (even if sitting on a fancy throne), some mystical inability to make an error. So with this second definition only things like the theanthropic body of Christ, not individual humans, could be said to be infallible (though I have issues with that as well)

My choice of the word stems from the fact that his writings seem to stand at such high regard, practically almost no one questions his theology.  His writings alone seem to suffice at any given issue if found in them.  In fact, almost like the Bible if you think about it.  We also say that the authors of the Bible might have not been infallible in ALL things, but certainly their writings kept in the Bible are infallible.

And plus, I did say "most" infallible...so I'm implying there are degrees of infallibility ;)
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 10:11:13 PM by minasoliman »
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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #34 on: March 28, 2012, 10:10:18 PM »
Most Influental: St. Athanasius, he developed Theosis and the foundation of the Trinity, hard to beat that.
Most Overrated: St. John Chrysostom, he gave good sermons and had a good message, but wasn't much of a theologian as far as I know.
Most Intelligent: St. Augustine; truly a man of wit and academic intelligence; however, despite his intelligence, he did still make way too many screw-ups. Although, it is fair to say that he corrected many of his former errors later in life in his 'Retractions' book.
Worst: Arius or Thomas Aquinas, do I even need to mention why?
Greatest All-Around: St. Gregory the Theologian, his works touched upon almost every topic in a fair and reasonable way.
...Or it's just possible he's a mouthy young man on an internet forum.
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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #35 on: March 28, 2012, 10:36:49 PM »
Worst: Arius or Thomas Aquinas, do I even need to mention why?

Yeah

I'm going to need this.

Offline Ioannis Climacus

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #36 on: March 29, 2012, 12:53:28 AM »
Properly understood, a theologian is someone who has seen the uncreated energies of God. Who among these is the greatest? I honestly have no clue. But as far as whose writings I have benefited from the most, it would be a tie between St. John Climacus and Elder Joseph the Hesychast.
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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #37 on: March 29, 2012, 01:04:24 AM »
The greatest? What do we mean by greatest? Do we mean most influential? Then St. Augustine, as he is the primary influence on the West...yet he was off on quite a few things. Do we mean the most accurate?

I guess I'll just take it subjectively. I would make the argument that St. John of Damascus stands as the greatest because he put in writing what had been handed down to that point. Rather than relying on himself, he pointed to the theologians who came before him. In many ways, his writings are so full of content that I don't think one should be able to go into any type of ministry without first having read his works (hyperbole intended).

But then there are Sts. Athanasius, Basil the Great, and so many others.
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Offline KBN1

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #38 on: March 29, 2012, 01:31:07 AM »
Worst: Arius or Thomas Aquinas, do I even need to mention why?

Yeah

I'm curious as well.

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #39 on: March 29, 2012, 04:00:02 PM »
Worst: Arius or Thomas Aquinas, do I even need to mention why?

Yeah

I'm curious as well.

He tried to reduce God into a lousy deistic entity that could be entirely interpreted by the mere human mind even though God is much bigger than that and there are many things about him we will never be able to understand with our minds. Thomas Aquinas did not worship God but worshipped a philosophical idol of God inside of his mind.
...Or it's just possible he's a mouthy young man on an internet forum.
In the infinite wisdom of God, James can be all three.

Offline Alpo

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #40 on: March 29, 2012, 04:25:07 PM »
I'm tempted to answer St. Augus...errr...Fr. Seraphim Rose since I learned my basic attitude towars theology and theologians from him. I don't really know or care what he wrote about Creationism or Toll Houses or other controversial topics but I like his simplicity.

Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #41 on: March 29, 2012, 04:37:04 PM »
Worst: Arius or Thomas Aquinas, do I even need to mention why?

Yeah

I'm curious as well.

He tried to reduce God into a lousy deistic entity that could be entirely interpreted by the mere human mind even though God is much bigger than that and there are many things about him we will never be able to understand with our minds. Thomas Aquinas did not worship God but worshipped a philosophical idol of God inside of his mind.

Quite the judgmental young man we are.  Thomas Aquinas quit writing his treatise after seeing the uncreated light.
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Offline Alpo

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #42 on: March 29, 2012, 04:40:45 PM »
Quite the judgmental young man we are.  Thomas Aquinas quit writing his treatise after seeing the uncreated light.

While I agree about that being judgemental how can you know it was the Uncreated Light? He certainly had some sort of religious experience but what makes you think it was the Uncreated Light in the Orthodox sense?

Online Justin Kissel

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #43 on: March 29, 2012, 04:44:00 PM »
I would make the argument that St. John of Damascus stands as the greatest because he put in writing what had been handed down to that point.

I called him boring, but I will admit that I do like some of the passages found in the Exact Exposition..., such as what he says about materality in book one, or the Scriptures in book four. Good times.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 04:44:17 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline Gorazd

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Re: Greatest Theologian in your opinion?
« Reply #44 on: March 29, 2012, 04:48:32 PM »
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