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Author Topic: Transubstantation?  (Read 6760 times) Average Rating: 0
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Apotheoun
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« Reply #135 on: October 29, 2012, 08:47:55 PM »

However your mention of sexual ethics is very interesting, are you saying we are not as conservative as the Melkites are?
It is not so much about not being as "conservative" as Melkites (or as conservative as me, for that matter), it is simply that I reject the use of artificial contraception.  But I suppose I should also point out that I am not enamored of natural family planning either. 

I support the marital fast, but the meaning of the marital fast, and its proper purpose or end, is not about spacing births; instead, it is focused upon the growth of the married couple in the spiritual life through self-discipline and prayer, or to put it another way, its purpose is theosis, which is what all human activity should be directed toward.

I agree with your point but I am sympathetic to the Orthodox approach.  Not everyone can just fast right off the bat.  It's like asking an alcoholic to just stop drinking just like that, or a smoker to just stop smoking.  There is a goal and it should be worked on little by little.  I hope priests use ekonomia in the correct sense, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are those who just approves contraception left and right.  But the same can be found in the Catholic Church.  There are priests out there who would just come up with their own teaching right there and then to make the couple not feel slighted.
But everyone should be striving for that self-discipline, and oikonomia is not the norm, nor does it abrogate the canons and tradition of the Church, even though some people present it in that manner. 

I have no problem with a spiritual father, who - for the sake of the good of the married couple to whom he is giving spiritual guidance - applies oikonomia for a period of time so that the couple does not lose faith, but oikonomia is not a permission to sin in order to make things easier.  We all must take up our cross as Christ said.

Sorry if I didn't present it in the way you did.  But I agree with your point.  Like I said, there is a goal, and ekonomia should be something that helps them to get to that goal.  As with quitting smoking or recovering from alcoholism, it must be a gradual withdrawal.  Most people are incapable of just stopping.
Yes, I think we are in basic agreement, but I have seen things presented in such a way that oikonomia sounds like permission to sin.  I mean, I am a single man, and I certainly would not go to my spiritual father and ask for permission to fornicate because abstinence from sexual activity is difficult, and it would be easier for me to simply have sex.
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« Reply #136 on: October 29, 2012, 09:34:10 PM »

Good to see you posting again Wyatt. How have you been?
Thanks. I've been doing pretty well. How are you?
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« Reply #137 on: October 29, 2012, 09:35:00 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

However your mention of sexual ethics is very interesting, are you saying we are not as conservative as the Melkites are?
It is not so much about not being as "conservative" as Melkites (or as conservative as me, for that matter), it is simply that I reject the use of artificial contraception.  But I suppose I should also point out that I am not enamored of natural family planning either. 

I support the marital fast, but the meaning of the marital fast, and its proper purpose or end, is not about spacing births; instead, it is focused upon the growth of the married couple in the spiritual life through self-discipline and prayer, or to put it another way, its purpose is theosis, which is what all human activity should be directed toward.

I agree with your point but I am sympathetic to the Orthodox approach.  Not everyone can just fast right off the bat.  It's like asking an alcoholic to just stop drinking just like that, or a smoker to just stop smoking.  There is a goal and it should be worked on little by little.  I hope priests use ekonomia in the correct sense, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are those who just approves contraception left and right.  But the same can be found in the Catholic Church.  There are priests out there who would just come up with their own teaching right there and then to make the couple not feel slighted.
But everyone should be striving for that self-discipline, and oikonomia is not the norm, nor does it abrogate the canons and tradition of the Church, even though some people present it in that manner. 

I have no problem with a spiritual father, who - for the sake of the good of the married couple to whom he is giving spiritual guidance - applies oikonomia for a period of time so that the couple does not lose faith, but oikonomia is not a permission to sin in order to make things easier.  We all must take up our cross as Christ said.

Sorry if I didn't present it in the way you did.  But I agree with your point.  Like I said, there is a goal, and ekonomia should be something that helps them to get to that goal.  As with quitting smoking or recovering from alcoholism, it must be a gradual withdrawal.  Most people are incapable of just stopping.
Yes, I think we are in basic agreement, but I have seen things presented in such a way that oikonomia sounds like permission to sin.  I mean, I am a single man, and I certainly would not go to my spiritual father and ask for permission to fornicate because abstinence from sexual activity is difficult, and it would be easier for me to simply have sex.

We don't ask our Spiritual Fathers for permission, but absolution. True, in the Orthodox approach, our fathers are not dogmatic as to how to apply the Canons on an individual, case by case basis.  Our Fathers understand each individual person's struggles and where they are at according to spiritual maturity, and so they may appear more lenient in what they absolve in Confession from time to time from the outside.  Our fathers have this "leniency" not because they tolerate sin, but because we are more in tune with the the gradual process of spiritual healing.  The Latin approach from the Orthodox perspective, sometimes comes across as too legalistic.  To be sure, Orthodox and Catholic have identical goals and ideals, its our approach and delivery that is variable.

I think the difference between Transubstantiation as a Latin dogma and Metousiosis as an Orthodox doctrine is highly symbolic of this divide in approach between the two groups. We are not just saying the same thing in different ways, we are approaching the same thing through varying approaches.

stay blessed,
habte selassie

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« Reply #138 on: October 29, 2012, 09:45:32 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We don't ask our Spiritual Fathers for permission, but absolution. True, in the Orthodox approach, our fathers are not dogmatic as to how to apply the Canons on an individual, case by case basis.  Our Fathers understand each individual person's struggles and where they are at according to spiritual maturity, and so they may appear more lenient in what they absolve in Confession from time to time from the outside.  Our fathers have this "leniency" not because they tolerate sin, but because we are more in tune with the the gradual process of spiritual healing.  The Latin approach from the Orthodox perspective, sometimes comes across as too legalistic.  To be sure, Orthodox and Catholic have identical goals and ideals, its our approach and delivery that is variable.
I have no problem with a spiritual father giving guidance to a married couple, and even applying oikonomia in particular instances, but sometimes the way oikonomia has been presented on various internet fora is that it functions as a kind of permission to sin, rather than being - as it truly is - a temporary measure applied to help a couple grow in self-discipline. 

I think the difference between Transubstantiation as a Latin dogma and Metousiosis as an Orthodox doctrine is highly symbolic of this divide in approach between the two groups. We are not just saying the same thing in different ways, we are approaching the same thing through varying approaches.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
I do not think, and this is just my personal take on the issue, that describing how the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ is all that important.  What is important is that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Christ, and that the reception of communion conveys to us the grace of theosis.
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« Reply #139 on: October 29, 2012, 09:49:05 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!



We don't ask our Spiritual Fathers for permission, but absolution. True, in the Orthodox approach, our fathers are not dogmatic as to how to apply the Canons on an individual, case by case basis.  Our Fathers understand each individual person's struggles and where they are at according to spiritual maturity, and so they may appear more lenient in what they absolve in Confession from time to time from the outside.  Our fathers have this "leniency" not because they tolerate sin, but because we are more in tune with the the gradual process of spiritual healing.  The Latin approach from the Orthodox perspective, sometimes comes across as too legalistic.  To be sure, Orthodox and Catholic have identical goals and ideals, its our approach and delivery that is variable.
I have no problem with a spiritual father giving guidance to a married couple, and even applying oikonomia in particular instances, but sometimes the way oikonomia has been presented on various internet fora is that it like a permission to sin, rather than a means toward growth in self-discipline.  



The first rule of Orthodox is you don't trust internet interpretations of Orthodox.

The second rule of Orthodox is you don't trust internet interpretations of Orthodox.

As we always say, ask a priest (e.g. in person)

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #140 on: October 29, 2012, 09:54:49 PM »

I do not think, and this is just my personal take on the issue, that describing how the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ is all that important.  What is important is that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Christ, and that the reception of communion conveys to us the grace of theosis.
Transubstantiation does not deal with the "how," it deals with "what." What actually takes place is not that Christ's Body and Blood are united with the bread and wine, nor is His Body and Blood in, with, around, above, or below the bread and wine. The bread and wine are fully and completely transformed into His Body and Blood. Nowhere in that teaching is the "how" addressed. The "how" is quite simply a mystery. The most we can say is that the transformation takes place through the action of the Holy Spirit working through the man at the altar who has received Holy Orders. Understanding the "what" is very important though, because it distinguishes orthodox Eucharistic theology from all the nuances of Protestant heresies.
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« Reply #141 on: October 29, 2012, 09:58:50 PM »

I do not think, and this is just my personal take on the issue, that describing how the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ is all that important.  What is important is that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Christ, and that the reception of communion conveys to us the grace of theosis.
Transubstantiation does not deal with the "how," it deals with "what." What actually takes place is not that Christ's Body and Blood are united with the bread and wine, nor is His Body and Blood in, with, around, above, or below the bread and wine. The bread and wine are fully and completely transformed into His Body and Blood. Nowhere in that teaching is the "how" addressed. The "how" is quite simply a mystery. The most we can say is that the transformation takes place through the action of the Holy Spirit working through the man at the altar who has received Holy Orders. Understanding the "what" is very important though, because it distinguishes orthodox Eucharistic theology from all the nuances of Protestant heresies.
Describing "how" something happens and describing "what takes place" is the same thing.  You are trying to describe how the bread and wine consecrated during the anaphora become the Body and Blood of Christ, and that really is not something that one needs to know.

A man will not be divinized because he can describe how the mystery works; instead, he is divinized by receiving the Eucharist in faith.
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« Reply #142 on: October 29, 2012, 10:05:51 PM »

I do not think, and this is just my personal take on the issue, that describing how the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ is all that important.  What is important is that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Christ, and that the reception of communion conveys to us the grace of theosis.
Transubstantiation does not deal with the "how," it deals with "what." What actually takes place is not that Christ's Body and Blood are united with the bread and wine, nor is His Body and Blood in, with, around, above, or below the bread and wine. The bread and wine are fully and completely transformed into His Body and Blood. Nowhere in that teaching is the "how" addressed. The "how" is quite simply a mystery. The most we can say is that the transformation takes place through the action of the Holy Spirit working through the man at the altar who has received Holy Orders. Understanding the "what" is very important though, because it distinguishes orthodox Eucharistic theology from all the nuances of Protestant heresies.
"How" and "what takes place" mean the same thing.  You are trying to describe how the bread and wine consecrated during the anaphora become the Body and Blood of Christ, and that really is not something that one needs to know.
Not at all. They are entirely different. The answer to "how?" is "by the Holy Spirit." The answer to "what takes place?" is "the bread and wine are truly and fully transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ." They are no longer bread and wine. In the history of the Church, it has always become necessary to define things very precisely whenever teachings are challenged by heretics. This is exactly what the Catholic Church did when she described the teaching of the Real Presence using the term "transubstantiation." The idea of "Real Presence" became ambiguous when Protestants started inventing their own ideas about what exactly takes place at the altar. I'm sure if you ask many Lutherans today if they believe in the "Real Presence" they would say yes, but that does not mean they hold orthodox Eucharistic theology. In a similar way, I'm sure if someone asked Arius if he believed the Gospels he would have said yes. Didn't mean he wasn't a heretic.
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« Reply #143 on: October 29, 2012, 10:08:46 PM »

Transubstantiation does not explain the mechanism ofhow the change occurs beyond "by the Holy Spirit." What it does achieve is an unambiguous explanation of what occurs. This is a very important distinction!
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« Reply #144 on: October 29, 2012, 10:10:54 PM »

Transubstantiation does not explain the mechanism ofhow the change occurs beyond "by the Holy Spirit." What it does achieve is an unambiguous explanation of what occurs. This is a very important distinction!
Thank you. Glad someone gets it.  laugh
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« Reply #145 on: October 29, 2012, 10:15:52 PM »

Transubstantiation does not explain the mechanism ofhow the change occurs beyond "by the Holy Spirit." What it does achieve is an unambiguous explanation of what occurs. This is a very important distinction!
And there is no need to explain what occurs.  Describing the indescribable is pointless.  And subscribing to Aristotle's antiquated metaphysics is problematic.

That the Eucharist is Christ's Body and Blood is a truth of faith, but no one can ever prove that it is so linguistically or scientifically, so why try?
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« Reply #146 on: October 29, 2012, 10:17:51 PM »

Transubstantiation does not explain the mechanism ofhow the change occurs beyond "by the Holy Spirit." What it does achieve is an unambiguous explanation of what occurs. This is a very important distinction!
What is the substance of Christ's body and blood?  The whole Aristotelian framework of substance and accidents has been found vacuous, pointless, and irrelevant.  If I subscribed to Aristotle's antiquated metaphysics the term substance in connection with the Eucharist might have some value to me, but since I do not subscribe to his view of things it really is just an empty term.  So explain to me why an Orthodox Christian should use outmoded pagan philosophy to speak about a holy mystery of faith?
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« Reply #147 on: October 29, 2012, 10:32:54 PM »

Apotheoun, would you reject the Aristotelian language used by the Ecumenical Councils to define our Christology?
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« Reply #148 on: October 29, 2012, 10:34:14 PM »

Transubstantiation does not explain the mechanism ofhow the change occurs beyond "by the Holy Spirit." What it does achieve is an unambiguous explanation of what occurs. This is a very important distinction!
And there is no need to explain what occurs.
There was a need once Protestants began wrongly explaining what occurs, just as there was a need to use very specific terms to describe Christological and Trinitarian theology after Arianism began to increase in popularity. Simply saying things are mysteries of our faith that defy explanation is all well and good, but in the midst of heresy, precision becomes necessary.

Describing the indescribable is pointless.  And subscribing to Aristotle's antiquated metaphysics is problematic.
What takes place in the Eucharist is quite describable.

That the Eucharist is Christ's Body and Blood is a truth of faith, but no one can ever prove that it is so linguistically or scientifically, so why try?
Who's talking about proving? You cannot prove to anyone what the Eucharist is. That is where faith comes in. Proving and describing are two different things. I could thoroughly describe the Holy Trinity to someone, but I cannot prove the existence of the Holy Trinity to someone who doesn't believe. Transubstantiation isn't about proving scientifically. I am beginning to wonder if you are actually opposed to transubstantiation because I don't think you have a grasp on what it actually means.

What is the substance of Christ's body and blood?
Beats me. Who is asking? no...even better.........who is claiming to have an answer?

The whole Aristotelian framework of substance and accidents has been found vacuous, pointless, and irrelevant.
By whom?

If I subscribed to Aristotle's antiquated metaphysics the term substance in connection with the Eucharist might have some value to me, but since I do not subscribe to his view of things it really is just an empty term.
We are using terms used by Aristotle as tools to describe our faith. Nothing more.

So explain to me why an Orthodox Christian should use outmoded pagan philosophy to speak about a holy mystery of faith?
Who's saying they should? If "Real Presence" is good enough for them, whatever. We didn't have the luxury here in the West once Luther opened Pandora's box. "Real Presence" isn't as meaningful once various Protestant groups claim to profess it and yet nevertheless believe something quite different than orthodox Eucharistic theology.
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« Reply #149 on: October 29, 2012, 10:44:16 PM »

I wonder how the Orthodox Church would react if I was a member but I said I disagreed with the overly specific terms used for the Trinity? Hey...guys, sounds too scientific, legalistic, and unnecessarily philosophical to me. Can't we just agree that God is a mystery and leave it at that?
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« Reply #150 on: October 29, 2012, 10:51:52 PM »

I wonder how the Orthodox Church would react if I was a member but I said I disagreed with the overly specific terms used for the Trinity? Hey...guys, sounds too scientific, legalistic, and unnecessarily philosophical to me. Can't we just agree that God is a mystery and leave it at that?
Welcome to the rest of the laity. Cheesy

All joking aside, it really is a mystery and any attempts we try to construct using language for the Trinity are not sufficient. But an understanding of the Trinity may be important in how we define say, love, for example or the Incarnation.
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« Reply #151 on: October 29, 2012, 10:55:05 PM »

I wonder how the Orthodox Church would react if I was a member but I said I disagreed with the overly specific terms used for the Trinity? Hey...guys, sounds too scientific, legalistic, and unnecessarily philosophical to me. Can't we just agree that God is a mystery and leave it at that?

Simply not the same. Besides, you all believe all of that, too. Or don't you?

The definitions of the PRE-SCHISM Catholic Church (East and West) assert the deity of Christ in the face of heresy. Transubstantiation goes above and beyond this. I understand the need to affirm the Real Presence in the face of the Protestant heresy. However, essence/accidents language is not necessary to uphold belief in the Real Presence. It is one valid manner in which to discuss it, but it should not be dogma.

I can easily confess that the Eucharist is truly, physically the Body and Blood of Christ. Not merely in "spirit", nor is it a memorial, but when I partake of the Eucharist, I eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. I have not used your essence/accidents language. Would you anathematize me for this?
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« Reply #152 on: October 29, 2012, 11:01:59 PM »

The anathema doesn't apply to using other language. It applies to rejecting transubstantiation as a valid explanation. It's one thing to say "we could also put the same explanation in these words" and other to say "transubstantiation as an explanation is false." I'm perfectly capable of explaining Orthodox Christology in terms other than used by the Ecumenical Councils. It's when I reject the Councils' explanation of the Incarnation that I fall under their anathemas.
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« Reply #153 on: October 29, 2012, 11:03:24 PM »

Apotheoun, would you reject the Aristotelian language used by the Ecumenical Councils to define our Christology?
First of all, I do not believe that any of the Councils used Aristotelian metaphysics in their horoi.  Using a word is one thing, but even when the Fathers used Greek philosophical terms they gave them a new meaning, e.g., the terms ousia and hypostasis in Greek philosophy were synonyms, but the Cappadocians changed them so that they stood for two different things.  So I can say with certainty that I reject now, and always will reject, any "Christology" that embraces Aristotelian metaphysics.  But of course none of the Councils adopted Aristotelian metaphysics as a standard for Christian theology; in fact, the Synodikon of Orthodoxy condemns pagan Greek philosophy as a type of - and even as the mother of - heresy.
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« Reply #154 on: October 29, 2012, 11:04:46 PM »

I wonder how the Orthodox Church would react if I was a member but I said I disagreed with the overly specific terms used for the Trinity? Hey...guys, sounds too scientific, legalistic, and unnecessarily philosophical to me. Can't we just agree that God is a mystery and leave it at that?
I think you would make a good Orthodox Christian if you rejected the terms because they were being used as a kind of "philosophical metaphysic" that describes what God is, or even how God exists.
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« Reply #155 on: October 29, 2012, 11:05:56 PM »

I wonder how the Orthodox Church would react if I was a member but I said I disagreed with the overly specific terms used for the Trinity? Hey...guys, sounds too scientific, legalistic, and unnecessarily philosophical to me. Can't we just agree that God is a mystery and leave it at that?
Simply not the same. Besides, you all believe all of that, too. Or don't you?
Yes we do. I was speaking hypothetically.

The definitions of the PRE-SCHISM Catholic Church (East and West) assert the deity of Christ in the face of heresy. Transubstantiation goes above and beyond this. I understand the need to affirm the Real Presence in the face of the Protestant heresy. However, essence/accidents language is not necessary to uphold belief in the Real Presence. It is one valid manner in which to discuss it, but it should not be dogma.
It should be dogma whenever there are competing theologies, some of which also claim to be "Real Presence" theology.

I can easily confess that the Eucharist is truly, physically the Body and Blood of Christ. Not merely in "spirit", nor is it a memorial, but when I partake of the Eucharist, I eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. I have not used your essence/accidents language. Would you anathematize me for this?
Well I don't have the authority to anathematize anyone, but I doubt one would be anathematized for what you said above because you essentially professed what we mean by transubstantiation without using the words substance, accidents, or transubstantiation. I'm still confused about why those words are so taboo to the Eastern Orthodox. They just describe something you say you already believe in anyway, and they remove the ambiguity of "Real Presence" that existed after the Reformation. As I mentioned earlier, most Lutherans would probably say that their "Sacramental Union" doctrine is belief in the Real Presence too, even though it is heretical and not what Catholics or Orthodox mean by Real Presence.
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« Reply #156 on: October 29, 2012, 11:06:36 PM »

The Trinitarian terms used by the Cappadocians must always be seen as apophatic in nature, that is, they are never to be understood as defining or even as describing what God is or how He exists, because God is - to put it simply - beyond created human concepts and forms of human linguistic predication.
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« Reply #157 on: October 29, 2012, 11:13:56 PM »

Apotheoun, have you ever read St John of Damascus' Dialectica side-by-side with Porphyry's Isagoge? The Aristotelian philosophical tradition has never been as rigid a thing as you imagine, nor have the Fathers-- Certainly, the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils never rejected anything coming from Aristotle out-of-hand. The Neoplatonic reading of Aristotle was very much the basic assumption of the intellectual world they lived in.


Again, I'll say--- what could possibly be unacceptable about transubstantiation if we read the terms 'accidens' and 'substantia' as corresponding to 'ousia' and 'symbebekos' as defined by the Damascene?!
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« Reply #158 on: October 29, 2012, 11:14:35 PM »

I can easily confess that the Eucharist is truly, physically the Body and Blood of Christ. Not merely in "spirit", nor is it a memorial, but when I partake of the Eucharist, I eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. I have not used your essence/accidents language. Would you anathematize me for this?
And your statement represents the belief of the ancient Church, which should be sufficient to prove your orthodoxy.

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« Reply #159 on: October 29, 2012, 11:15:58 PM »

Apotheoun, have you ever read St John of Damascus' Dialectica side-by-side with Porphyry's Isagoge? The Aristotelian philosophical tradition has never been as rigid a thing as you imagine, nor have the fathers-- especially the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils, rejected anything coming from Aristotle out-of-hand.
Yes, and I have read it, but where in his texts on Christ does he use Aristotelian metaphysics?  I don't know of any place that he does that.  Instead, all St. John does is regurgitate what earlier Fathers said about Christ.

Again, I'll say--- what could possibly be unacceptable about transubstantiation if we read the terms 'accidens' and 'substantia' as corresponding to 'ousia' and 'symbebekos' as defined by the Damascene?!
And again I will say that there is simply no need to use Aristotle's outmoded metaphysics when affirming the truth that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ.  Moreover, why should I contradict Pope Gelasius, who said - point blank - that there is no substantial change in the elements, simply because a 16th century Roman Catholic council later said that there is a substantial change.

I think it is better to simply stick to the Apostolic Tradition and say that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ without creating fantastical theories or going into endless debates about how this can be so, or what happens to make it so.
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« Reply #160 on: October 29, 2012, 11:23:57 PM »

Again, I'll say--- what could possibly be unacceptable about transubstantiation if we read the terms 'accidens' and 'substantia' as corresponding to 'ousia' and 'symbebekos' as defined by the Damascene?!
Samn, as an Orthodox Christian, I am sure you are aware of the fact that the Fathers held that philosophy - not just pagan Greek philosophy, but any form of philosophy - applies only to this world, and that when we talk about God, because He is beyond created human reason, we cannot transcend the gap (diastema) between Him and us.  Perhaps you should read the "Life of Moses" by St. Gregory of Nyssa, because it would help to give you a better understanding of the place of philosophy in the life of a Christian, for what was it that St. Gregory said about Greek philosophy, ah yes, that it "is always in labor, but never gives birth."
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« Reply #161 on: October 29, 2012, 11:27:22 PM »

Again, I'll say--- what could possibly be unacceptable about transubstantiation if we read the terms 'accidens' and 'substantia' as corresponding to 'ousia' and 'symbebekos' as defined by the Damascene?!
Samn, as an Orthodox Christian, I am sure you are aware of the fact that the Fathers held that philosophy - not just pagan Greek philosophy, but any form of philosophy - applies only to this world, and that when we talk about God, He is beyond created human reason and - as a consequence - that we cannot transcend the gap (diastema) between Him and us.  Perhaps you should read the "Life of Moses" by St. Gregory of Nyssa, because it would help to give you a better understanding of the place of philosophy in the life of a Christian, because what was it that St. Gregory said about Greek philosophy, ah yes, that it "is always in labor, but never gives birth."

Human reason can explain God's energies as it interacts with us.  That is why there is an energies-essence distinction.  One is utterly knowable, the other is.
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« Reply #162 on: October 29, 2012, 11:34:39 PM »

Again, I'll say--- what could possibly be unacceptable about transubstantiation if we read the terms 'accidens' and 'substantia' as corresponding to 'ousia' and 'symbebekos' as defined by the Damascene?!
Samn, as an Orthodox Christian, I am sure you are aware of the fact that the Fathers held that philosophy - not just pagan Greek philosophy, but any form of philosophy - applies only to this world, and that when we talk about God, He is beyond created human reason and - as a consequence - that we cannot transcend the gap (diastema) between Him and us.  Perhaps you should read the "Life of Moses" by St. Gregory of Nyssa, because it would help to give you a better understanding of the place of philosophy in the life of a Christian, because what was it that St. Gregory said about Greek philosophy, ah yes, that it "is always in labor, but never gives birth."

Human reason can explain God's energies as it interacts with us.  That is why there is an energies-essence distinction.  One is utterly knowable, the other is.
Even in relation to God's energies one must be careful.  God's energies come down to us, and we can thus experience them, but in conveying our experience of God there is a necessary process of distanciation that occurs between the experience and the conceptualization of the experience, and then another distanciation between our conceptualization of the experience and our linguistic description of it.  In other words, our description of God's energies are not the same as God's energies themselves, because no created concept can convey that which is uncreated.  The most that our verbal expressions can do is give those to whom we speak an inkling of what our original experience entailed.  Now I believe that that is a valuable form of knowledge, but it certainly does not define the mystery experienced.  Do you remember what St. Hilary said about our attempts to speak of God?  How he said that: "The error of others compels us to err in daring to embody in human terms truths which ought to be hidden in the silent veneration of the heart."
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« Reply #163 on: October 29, 2012, 11:54:16 PM »

Quote
Yes, and I have read it, but where in his texts on Christ does he use Aristotelian metaphysics?  

Ok, so basically you neither understand what 'Aristotelian metaphysics' is, nor how the Fathers use it.

Let's take things back a bit and go to Chapter 4 of the Dialectica---


     Being is the common name for all things which are. It is divided into substance and accident. Substance is the principle of these two, because it has existence in itself and not in another. Accident, on the other hand, is that which cannot exist in itself but is found in the substance. For the substance is a subject, just as matter is of the things made out of it, whereas an accident is that which is found in the substance as in a subject. Copper, for example, and wax are substance; but shape, form and color are accidents. And a body is a substance; whereas color is an accident. For the body is certainly not in the color; rather, color is in the body. Nor is the soul in knowledge; rather, knowledge is in the soul. Nor are the copper and wax in the shape; rather, the shape is in the wax and the copper. Neither is the body said to belong to the color; rather, the color to the body. Nor does the wax belong to the shape; rather, the shape to the wax. What is more, the color and the knowledge and the shape are subject to change, whereas the body and the soul and the wax remain the same, because substance is not subject to change. Also, the substance and the matter of the body is just one thing, while there are many colors. Similarly, in the case of all other hings, the subject is substance, whereas that which is found in the substance as in a subject is accident.
     Now, substance is defined as follows: Substance is a thing which exists in itself and has no need of another for its existence. Accident, however, is that which cannot exist in itself, but has its existence in another. God, then, is substance, and so is every created thing. God, however, even though He is substance, is super-substantial. There are also substantial qualities about which we shall have something to say.


Chapter 13:

     An accident is that which may either be present or absent without destroying the subject. Again, it is that which can be or not be in the same thing. Thus, it is possible for a man to be white or not, and also for him to be tall, intelligent, flat-nosed or not. (For the presence of this does not save the species, becaust it does not belong to the definition of the species. Neither does its absence destroy the species. Thus, even though the Ethiopian is not white, this in no wise keeps him from being a man. And so, whether it is present or absent, it does not injure the subject substance-- for we have said that the substance is a subject and sort of matter for the accidents.)
     The accident is divided into two kinds: that which is commonly called a difference and that which is properly a difference. What is commonly called a difference is the seperable accident. For example, one person is seated and another standing. Now, by the standing up of the one who is seated and the sitting down of the one who is standing it is possible for the original difference between the two to be removed and replaced by another difference. And one is also said to differ from oneself by a separable accident, for one does differ from oneself by sitting down and standing, by being young and growing old, by being sick and getting well, and so forth. A difference in the proper sense is the inseparable accident. For example, a person is snub-nosed and it is impossible to separate his snub-nosedness from him, and similarly with his being grey-eyed and the like. Thus, it is by these inseparable accidents that one individual, that is, one substance, differs from another. However, one's own self never differs from oneself. Now, the accidents do not enter into the definition (of the nature), because it is possible for a man to be snub-nosed or not, and, just because a man does not have grey eyes, he remains no less a man.

Chapter 22:

Genus and accident have this in common: that they are predicated of several things. Distinguishing peculiarities of genus and accident are: that the genus is prior to the species in which the accidents subsist,whereas the accidents are posterior to the species; that the accident exists antecedently in the individuals and consequently in the species, whereas the contrary is true of the genus; and that the genera are predecated of the essence of a thing, whereas the accidents are predicated of its sort, or how the thing is.


Chapter 25:

Difference and accident have this in common:that they are both predicated of several things as to what sort they are, and that the difference and the inseparable accident are always present in the things of which they are predicated. One of the distinguishing peculiarities of difference and accident is that the differences contain and are not contained, while the accidents are contained. For, on the one hand, both contain the species, as being predicated of several species; but the difference is not contained, because the same species does not admit of contradictory differences. On the other hand, the accident is contained, for the reason that the same species and the same individual will admit of several accidents which may oftentimes even be contradictory. Other distinguishing peculiarities are:that the difference does not admit of more or less, whereas the accidents on the contrary do, and that contradictory differences may not be combined, whereas contradictory accidents may.





Now, compare all this to what is said about accidents in the Isagoge herehttp://www.ccel.org/ccel/pearse/morefathers/files/porphyry_isagogue_02_translation.htm

1. How is St John of Damascus not 'Aristotelian', within the trends of Aristotelian neo-Platonism as exemplified by Porphyry?

2. How is transubstantiation unacceptable, if we understand the technical terms in the way defined by the Damascene?


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« Reply #164 on: October 30, 2012, 12:00:01 AM »

That St. John wrote a book on philosophy is great, but that you think he accepted the idea that the terms he was using translated into theology is sad.  God is beyond being, and so talking about being in a philosophical text has absolutely nothing to do with God.  I guess living in the West makes even Orthodox more or less Western in their outlook.  Next thing I know you will be telling me that you - as an Orthodox Christian - believe in the analogy of being.  Wonders never cease.
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« Reply #165 on: October 30, 2012, 12:06:46 AM »

Apotheoun, so you also think that the philosophical term 'homoousios' has nothing to do with God?

The Damscene says, "God, then, is substance, and so is every created thing. God, however, even though He is substance, is super-substantial." He has a rather more nuanced understanding of God as hyperousios than you're trying to argue here....

Quote
God is beyond being, and so talking about being in a philosophical text has absolutely nothing to do with God. 

So you deny that St John wrote his Dialectica in order to explain the Councils' use of Aristotelian terminology to explain the Incarnation?

Furthermore, have you ever read anything from your own Melkite tradition? Start with Theodore Abu Qurra and Abdallah ibn al-Fadl... tell me how they were "more or less Western in their outlook".

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« Reply #166 on: October 30, 2012, 12:11:11 AM »

You seem to approach theology from a very Western perspective, because - yes - there are Fathers who say that God is essence (all the while never saying what essence is), and in fact they say that He is the essence (or better being) of all essences (beings), but they go on to say that He is also beyond essence (hyperousios), because He can even be said to be no essence.  What do they mean by this?  You seem to imply that He is an essence among essences, which is clearly false.  So perhaps rather than just quote St. John's philosophical collection, it might be helfpu if you explained - as you understand it - what he means by what He said,, because so far you appear to be able to quote texts, but you do not show that you understand them.  

I hold that what St. John is saying must be read in the light of what he says in other texts and what other Fathers say as well, and that especially important in this regard is what St. Gregory Palamas said, when he explained that "If God is being, man is not being, and if man is being, God is not being," but the way you seem to be talking about it implies an analogy of being that the Eastern Fathers (and even the pre-Augustinian Western Fathers) deny.  You seem to be implying an analogy of being, which the Fathers would reject.
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« Reply #167 on: October 30, 2012, 12:17:58 AM »

But back onto the original topic, why should I as an Eastern Christian want to use Aristotelian metaphysics when talking about the Eucharist?  I do not accept that metaphysical worldview as legitimate, and in fact I see it as rather retarded.
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« Reply #168 on: October 30, 2012, 12:20:19 AM »

The definitions of the PRE-SCHISM Catholic Church (East and West) assert the deity of Christ in the face of heresy. Transubstantiation goes above and beyond this. I understand the need to affirm the Real Presence in the face of the Protestant heresy. However, essence/accidents language is not necessary to uphold belief in the Real Presence. It is one valid manner in which to discuss it, but it should not be dogma.
It should be dogma whenever there are competing theologies, some of which also claim to be "Real Presence" theology.

Except that you accept what I said below, though it is not Transubstantiation.

I can easily confess that the Eucharist is truly, physically the Body and Blood of Christ. Not merely in "spirit", nor is it a memorial, but when I partake of the Eucharist, I eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. I have not used your essence/accidents language. Would you anathematize me for this?
Well I don't have the authority to anathematize anyone, but I doubt one would be anathematized for what you said above because you essentially professed what we mean by transubstantiation without using the words substance, accidents, or transubstantiation. I'm still confused about why those words are so taboo to the Eastern Orthodox. They just describe something you say you already believe in anyway, and they remove the ambiguity of "Real Presence" that existed after the Reformation. As I mentioned earlier, most Lutherans would probably say that their "Sacramental Union" doctrine is belief in the Real Presence too, even though it is heretical and not what Catholics or Orthodox mean by Real Presence.

I have not professed Transubstantiation in my above statement, and it is not something we dogmatically profess.

In my above statement, I did not address why the Eucharist "appears" as bread and wine...I did not even say that it ceases to be bread and wine, only that it is the Body and Blood of Christ. What I'm confessing isn't Transubstantiation, and yet you accept it as valid.


The anathema doesn't apply to using other language. It applies to rejecting transubstantiation as a valid explanation. It's one thing to say "we could also put the same explanation in these words" and other to say "transubstantiation as an explanation is false." I'm perfectly capable of explaining Orthodox Christology in terms other than used by the Ecumenical Councils. It's when I reject the Councils' explanation of the Incarnation that I fall under their anathemas.

The language certainly seems to deny what I've stated above:

Quote from: Council of Trent
Whosoever denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue" and anyone who "saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood - the species only of the bread and wine remaining - which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation, let him be anathema.
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« Reply #169 on: October 30, 2012, 12:20:58 AM »

Samn, since you accept the theory of "transubstantiation" please take the time to describe exactly what the "substance" of Christ's Body and Blood is.  If you cannot unpack the term and give it some kind of meaning, my next question would by, why should I want to use a vacuous term that cannot be helpful? When I can instead simply affirm that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ without getting into all of Aristotle's imaginative terminology.

There are two possible affirmations being talked about in this thread:  (1) that the Eucharist is the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ, and (2) that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ.  What does the former affirmation add that the latter affirmation lacks, other than the useless term "substance"?
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« Reply #170 on: October 30, 2012, 12:21:18 AM »

  Within the tradition of St John of Damascus, God's being hyperousios does not mean that He is completely beyond language, but rather that any language we use of Him is purely analogical. There is a distinction between saying that God is a substance among all other substances and saying that the language we use of substances applies analogically to God. It's basically impossible to read the councils without accepting that they're using the (broadly Aristotelian!) language that applies to subtances to God by way of analogy. I mean seriously, explain to me how 'homoousios' works without the possibility of any kind of analogy of being, even in the most limited sense!

To quote one of the great medieval Fathers of the Melkite tradition, who is too-little known in English, Abdallah ibn al-Fadl: "One who has studied the sciences has philosophized, and one who has philosophized has come to know God to a certain extent." There is nothing "Western" about this... it is simply the general Melkite tradition from Leontius up until today.....
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« Reply #171 on: October 30, 2012, 12:21:31 AM »

But back onto the original topic, why should I as an Eastern Christian want to use Aristotelian metaphysics when talking about the Eucharist?  I do not accept that metaphysical worldview as legitimate, and in fact I see it as rather retarded.
And yet, you want Latin Catholics to respect your Eastern traditions... wow.
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« Reply #172 on: October 30, 2012, 12:25:44 AM »

"Substance" in the sense of transubstantiation is the "what-it-is" (to ti esti). You do not have to comprehend fully the divinity (whatever that means!?) to be able to say that in the Eucharist the what-it-is changes from "bread and wine" to "the body and blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ". "Accident" here means "those qualities which do not change what-it-is". Thus, transubstantiation means, that the what-it-is changes from bread and wine to body and blood, while those qualities which do not determine the what-it-is do not change-- shape, texture, taste, nutritive value, etc.
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« Reply #173 on: October 30, 2012, 12:26:26 AM »

But back onto the original topic, why should I as an Eastern Christian want to use Aristotelian metaphysics when talking about the Eucharist?  I do not accept that metaphysical worldview as legitimate, and in fact I see it as rather retarded.
And yet, you want Latin Catholics to respect your Eastern traditions... wow.
Aristotle's metaphysics are discredited today, so it is retarded.  That the Western Church decided in the 16th century to dogmatize that metaphysical worldview is its own business, but I do think it would be better served by abandoning it in favor of the more ancient teaching.  Plus that has the added benefit of not anathematizing Pope St. Gelasius who explicitly rejects any kind of "substantive" change in the elements.
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« Reply #174 on: October 30, 2012, 12:30:19 AM »

"Substance" in the sense of transubstantiation is the "what-it-is" (to ti esti). You do not have to comprehend fully the divinity (whatever that means!?) to be able to say that in the Eucharist the what-it-is changes from "bread and wine" to "the body and blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ". "Accident" here means "those qualities which do not change what-it-is". Thus, transubstantiation means, that the what-it-is changes from bread and wine to body and blood, while those qualities which do not determine the what-it-is do not change-- shape, texture, taste, nutritive value, etc.
So the term cannot be defined at all, and is intended in an apophatic sense.  Then I see no reason to use the term in this case because the former manner of speaking about the Eucharist, which the Orthodox Churches have maintained for 2,000 years should be sufficient.  Or do the Orthodox reject that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ?  Now if they reject the Orthodox doctrine of the Eucharist one could argue that they may need additional terms added to the ancient affirmation of faith in the Eucharist, but since they do not, I see no reason for them to accept useless terms that say nothing of any value.
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« Reply #175 on: October 30, 2012, 12:31:42 AM »

But back onto the original topic, why should I as an Eastern Christian want to use Aristotelian metaphysics when talking about the Eucharist?  I do not accept that metaphysical worldview as legitimate, and in fact I see it as rather retarded.
And yet, you want Latin Catholics to respect your Eastern traditions... wow.
Aristotle's metaphysics are discredited today, so it is retarded.  That the Western Church decided in the 16th century to dogmatize that metaphysical worldview is its own business, but I do think it would be better served by abandoning it in favor of the more ancient teaching.  Plus that has the added benefit of not anathematizing Pope St. Gelasius who explicitly rejects any kind of "substantive" change in the elements.
Such a broad statment is impossible to address. It's like tryint to address the idea that science has disproven religion. Whatever the case, don't you think you can find a better way to disagree with your Latin brothers and sisters? I mean, I think it's silly for you to maintain communion with Rome, when you pretty much side with the Orthodox on every major issue. That doesn't mean I am going to call you "retarded." Such is offensive and uncalled for. Are you posting while intoxicated? I am not used to people being this abrasive on this forum unless they are drinking.  
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« Reply #176 on: October 30, 2012, 12:32:12 AM »

In the context of combatting Cyrill Lukaris' theology and Protestant missionary activity starting in the 16th century, yes, affirming transubstantiation has been necessary in Orthodox history.....
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« Reply #177 on: October 30, 2012, 12:33:32 AM »

Samn,

When I say that the Eucharist is the Body of Blood of Christ am I saying what the Eucharist is?

If so why do I need to affirm the additional word "substance" which you say concerns what the Eucharist is?

You seem to think that one must say something twice in order to really affirm a particular point.

So saying that the Eucharist is the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ is like saying that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ of the Body and Blood of Christ.  It is utterly unnecessary.

The Roman Church has dogmatized a point that really does not need to be dogmatize or even affirmed in normally discourse.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 12:34:32 AM by Apotheoun » Logged

"All that the Father has belongs likewise to the Son, except Causality."
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« Reply #178 on: October 30, 2012, 12:35:45 AM »

Both Lutherans and Orthodox/Catholics say that they believe that the Eucharist is the body and Blood of Christ, yet they're affirming substantially different things. So yes, sometimes more technical language is necessary.

It's analogous to the differences between Nestorians, Monophysites, and Orthodox in Christology-- all agree in some sense that Christ is both human and divine, but they believe this in radically different ways......
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« Reply #179 on: October 30, 2012, 12:35:49 AM »

In the context of combatting Cyrill Lukaris' theology and Protestant missionary activity starting in the 16th century, yes, affirming transubstantiation has been necessary in Orthodox history.....
I see no need to use a term to deny something that a man (a single man) said, when the man in question is long dead and has had ZERO impact on the Orthodox doctrine of the Eucharist.
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"All that the Father has belongs likewise to the Son, except Causality."
St. Gregory Nazianzen

"We should believe that divine grace is present in the icon of Christ and that it communicates sanctification to those who draw near with faith."
St. Theodore Studite
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