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Question: What are the Eastern Orthodox Churches views on the of the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas?
Don't like his work - 8 (30.8%)
Don't like his work - 18 (69.2%)
Total Voters: 26

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The Wolf
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« on: April 07, 2006, 09:55:45 AM »

What are the Eastern Orthodox Churches and members views on the of the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas?
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2006, 10:07:52 AM »

I think the question is misleading.  Some of us "like" his work in that it was a fascinating synthesis, remarkable scholarship for the time, etc.  But do we think all of it is Orthodox? No.  Which raises a further question: what is "it"?  Maybe some of his teachings are compatible with Orthodoxy and some aren't.

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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2006, 10:15:45 AM »

Ok Big question then.
What are some of the things he gets right?
And what are some of the things he gets wrong?

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/
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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2006, 11:15:34 AM »

I've never read an entire book by him, so all I know is bits and pieces. I appreciate his Catena Aurea: A Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers. I attended a lecture by Peter Kreeft a couple years ago in which he mentioned things like apophaticism in Aquinas, which was something I had never heard before, since most Orthodox see him as a rationalist. Other than that, I never really searched any further into his thought, 1) since I hadn't become Catholic, and 2) to be frank, Augustinian theology never much appealed to me.
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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2006, 11:29:30 AM »

I used to be quite the Aquinas buff and was an avid student of the Latin language.

Having said that, I haven't read Aquinas in a really long time but I always enjoy it when I do especially when reading the Summa in its original language.  I appreciate the time, history, and intrigue involved during that period in history and think Aquinas and his works are valuable from a historical and even comparative theological perspective.  I don't think the Orthodox have an official perspective on Aquinas and his works per se; however, you have to realize that scholastic theology is directly in conflict with the tenants of hesychism and apophatic theology.

I won't go into the details as they are numerous, but any cursory glance at St. Gregory Palamas and Aquinas will reveal what may be the same and what is most definitely different.
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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2006, 12:16:43 PM »

Praise be to Jesus Christ!

Though St Thomas was an Augustinian (like all latin theologians were at the time) he made significant departures from the Augustinian tradition. He was a freethinker of the highest rank: apart from using Aristotle, he also used the Greek Fathers to a good extent, quoting them like no other theologian was in the habit of doing. The biggest merit of St Thomas was his use (shall I say dependence?) on Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite. This of course is the most significant (influencial) mystical theologian for the undivided Church (though most of all for the Greeks). St Thomas quoted the Areopagite almost as much as Augustine and Aristotle (not sure about the actual stats, but thats what it seemed to me, though Aristotle of course ranks the highest); and the over all plan of the Summa Theologica is based on the Areopagite: the cosmic One, departure from the One, and return to the One.

St Thomas has startling insight into human nature, psychological principles, and nature in general. This is what made him such a popular theologian for the western church; for according to the latins, theology is the application of natural understanding to revelation, and thus its character is to expound the deposit of faith with reason. Though St Thomas used reason to a high degree (and was too quick to make fine distinctions in my opinion) he was no rationalist. He was a philosophical theologian; but he was also a mystic. The supernatural intuition that comes from infused wisdom guided his reason. This is lacking in the other scholastic theologians.

When St Thomas was almost about to finish his Summa he had a vision before the crucifix and Our Lord spoke to him: "You have spoken well of me." Several accounts say that he levitated above the ground when this happened. After this event, a companion asked him if he was going to finish the Summa, but he responded: "It is all straw." He could no longer express in words what he had been raised to the heights of divine contemplation to see. A few months later he died. The best work that demonstrates St Thomas as a mystical theologian is "Christian Perfection and Contemplation According to Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint John of the Cross" by Fr Garrigou-Lagrange. John of the Cross based his mysticism on the foundation of Thomism.

My favorite aspect of St Thomas was his APOPHATICISM. Over and over again he wrote that God is unknowable. Though of course he also believed, as a philosophical theologian, that we can know a lot about God through the senses, the chief of which is the intellect. The reason that we do not here much about his apophaticism is that the method of his theological investigation was cataphatic. Though apophaticism did not function much in his method, he talked about it a lot, and asserted that contemplation in divine darkness is superior to cataphaticism. His maxim was: "The greatest knowledge of God is to know that he exceeds our knowledge." Nevertheless we should use our reason as far as possible.

This is the balance of St Thomas. Some people just look at his excessive Aristotelian technicalities and write him off as a rationalist. This however is a great injustice. Under the robes of that scholastic master was a mystic and a man of astounding spiritual depth. An excellent little treatment of St Thomas is in "Mysticism and Prophecy: The Dominican Tradition." It discusses his apophaticism at length and gets to the essence (underneath the aristotelianism) of the guiding principles in his theological work.

The BEST book EVER is "The Ground of Union : Deification in Aquinas and Palamas." This is a scholarly work of the highest order. I could not read it all because it was just too long. St Thomas wrote a lot about deification, even at the expense of being ridiculed; though he often described it as participation in the being of God through love. St Palamas on the other hand was able to be more explicit through making the essence-energies distinction. But the author comes to the conclusion that the difference between Palamas and Aquinas has been exaggerated on this point; and that there is an essential union between them despite different terminological-methodological paradigms.  

St Thomas did jump start (though it was present before him) the scholastic revolution in the western church. The blame should however be put on the later scholastics who misused his Aristotelianism to undermine the Patristic (both Augustinian and Greek) heritage; as I have showed above, St Thomas did not mean to do this, he just tried to expound it with human reason. If the Orthodox want to complain that he took reason too far (something that I believe to an extent) then the Orthodox would have to discredit the scholasticism that almost dominated their own church for several centuries; but of course, with the revivial of Palamism as of late, Orthodox theologians have done this.

Now all this being said, to the discredit of St Thomas, he was against anti-Latin Greeks, and wrote a book or two against them. He affirmed the filioque and papal absolutism. A man of his own era I guess; but a profound one at that.

Grace and Peace,

Paul
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2006, 01:17:14 PM »

Thanks for that reply romuald  Kiss
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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2006, 07:25:57 PM »

Scholasticism is not the way of Orthodoxy
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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2006, 01:00:56 AM »

romuald
that was a most excellent reply and a model for posting here at OC.net
thank you!

Would that the "straw" at the end of my life amount to half as much as St. TA

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« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2006, 01:41:23 AM »

Is this a matter of a Catholic asking a question. Another answering, and then being thanked by the first Catholic? I didn't think that this was a Catholic apologetics web-site.
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« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2006, 02:10:05 AM »

St Thomas and St Bonaventure are the only two scholastic theologians that I have read that have been beneficial to me. What attracts me to them is their intuitive depth. Their intellect did not function apart from their heart. I find this lacking in Anselm, Scotus et al. Now there is a lot in the Latin tradition -- be it Augustinianism or Thomism or whatever -- that I cannot accept. I tried to go back to the Latin tradition after a spiritual crisis. But it did not work and I ended up burned. Like I could not grapple with how Neo-scholastic theologians proved moral laws from nature. But some aspects in St Thomas have been beneficial in this regard: such as his notion that natural law is bound up with eternal law, and apart from the eternal law, it does not exist. I have also been liberated from the roman conception of exterior sin. St Thomas emphasized that sin is in the will alone. But I think he was rather inconsistent at points in the application of his principles. I can see where certain elements, if taken in too literal a manner, can lead straight into the high romanism of later Thomists, who ignored his use of Scripture and the Fathers, but exalted his use of reason to the extreme. It is good to be liberated from static (scholastic) conception of things into a relational (biblical-patristic) one. This solves so much. Praise be to Jesus Christ!

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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2006, 02:39:48 AM »

St Thomas and St Bonaventure are the only two scholastic theologians that I have read that have been beneficial to me. What attracts me to them is their intuitive depth. Their intellect did not function apart from their heart. I find this lacking in Anselm, Scotus et al. Now there is a lot in the Latin tradition -- be it Augustinianism or Thomism or whatever -- that I cannot accept. I tried to go back to the Latin tradition after a spiritual crisis. But it did not work and I ended up burned. Like I could not grapple with how Neo-scholastic theologians proved moral laws from nature. But some aspects in St Thomas have been beneficial in this regard: such as his notion that natural law is bound up with eternal law, and apart from the eternal law, it does not exist. I have also been liberated from the roman conception of exterior sin. St Thomas emphasized that sin is in the will alone. But I think he was rather inconsistent at points in the application of his principles. I can see where certain elements, if taken in too literal a manner, can lead straight into the high romanism of later Thomists, who ignored his use of Scripture and the Fathers, but exalted his use of reason to the extreme. It is good to be liberated from static conception of man into a relational one. Praise be to Jesus Christ!

PaulRomuald
Scholasticism is not the way of Orthodoxy

" Scholasticism is held accountable for much of the tragic situation created in the West with respect to faith and faith issues."
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/hierotheos_difference.aspx
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« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2006, 03:14:49 AM »

Scholasticism is not the way of Orthodoxy

Would you like to expaned on that as at present it doesn't mean much to me.
Thanks
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« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2006, 03:15:40 AM »

Is this a matter of a Catholic asking a question. Another answering, and then being thanked by the first Catholic? I didn't think that this was a Catholic apologetics web-site.

Do you have an answer yourself then?
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« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2006, 03:17:42 AM »

Scholasticism is not the way of Orthodoxy

" Scholasticism is held accountable for much of the tragic situation created in the West with respect to faith and faith issues."
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/hierotheos_difference.aspx

In what way?
What tragic issues?
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2006, 03:22:30 AM »

Do you have an answer yourself then?
I do, but it seems I shouldn't post an answer as I'm not Catholic  Undecided
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« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2006, 03:24:22 AM »

In what way?
What tragic issues?
You're more than welcome to read the article I linked. Which says
"Scholastic theology reached its culminating point in the person of Thomas Aquinas, a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. He claimed that Christian truths are divided into natural and supernatural. Natural truths can be proven philosophically, like the truth of the Existence of God. Supernatural truths - such as the Triune God, the incarnation of the Logos, the resurrection of the bodies - cannot be proven philosophically, yet they cannot be disproven. Scholasticism linked theology very closely with philosophy, even more so with metaphysics. As a result, faith was altered and scholastic theology itself fell into complete disrepute when the "idol" of the West - metaphysics - collapsed. Scholasticism is held accountable for much of the tragic situation created in the West with respect to faith and faith issues.

The Holy Fathers teach that natural and metaphysical categories do not exist but speak rather of the created and uncreated. Never did the Holy Fathers accept Aristotle's metaphysics. However, it is not my intent to expound further on this. Theologians of the West during the Middle Ages considered scholastic theology to be a further development of the teaching of the Holy Fathers, and from this point on, there begins the teaching of the Franks that scholastic theology is superior to that of the Holy Fathers. Consequently, Scholastics, who are occupied with reason, consider themselves superior to the Holy Fathers of the Church. They also believe that human knowledge, an offspring of reason, is loftier than Revelation and experience."
(Ibid.)

Speculation by Catholics has lead to a number of erros such as the Infalibility of the Pope.
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« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2006, 03:28:34 AM »

I do, but it seems I shouldn't post an answer as I'm not Catholic  Undecided

Well done then. Why don't you have a go.
Either you have something to say or you don't!
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« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2006, 03:38:05 AM »

Quote
You're more than welcome to read the article I linked. Which says
"Scholastic theology reached its culminating point in the person of Thomas Aquinas, a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. He claimed that Christian truths are divided into natural and supernatural. Natural truths can be proven philosophically, like the truth of the Existence of God. Supernatural truths - such as the Triune God, the incarnation of the Logos, the resurrection of the bodies - cannot be proven philosophically, yet they cannot be disproven. Scholasticism linked theology very closely with philosophy, even more so with metaphysics. As a result, faith was altered and scholastic theology itself fell into complete disrepute when the "idol" of the West - metaphysics - collapsed. Scholasticism is held accountable for much of the tragic situation created in the West with respect to faith and faith issues.

I did look at the article and didn’t see much value in it.
Metaphysics never collapsed industrial societies just ignore it as inconvenient.
Again, what tragic faith issue effect the west that doesn’t effect the east?
Are you saying Eastern Europe is in good shape?
Is the situation in Eastern Europe thanks to the orthodox churches?


Quote
The Holy Fathers teach that natural and metaphysical categories do not exist but speak rather of the created and uncreated. Never did the Holy Fathers accept Aristotle's metaphysics. However, it is not my intent to expound further on this. Theologians of the West during the Middle Ages considered scholastic theology to be a further development of the teaching of the Holy Fathers, and from this point on, there begins the teaching of the Franks that scholastic theology is superior to that of the Holy Fathers. Consequently, Scholastics, who are occupied with reason, consider themselves superior to the Holy Fathers of the Church. They also believe that human knowledge, an offspring of reason, is loftier than Revelation and experience."
(Ibid.)

I don’t see much reason to accept that assessment. Do you have evidence to support such claims?

Quote
Speculation by Catholics has lead to a number of erros such as the Infalibility of the Pope.

So that’s it then the Pope’s infallibility is the some of the “errors” cause by scholasticism?
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« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2006, 04:14:31 AM »

Well done then. Why don't you have a do.
Either you have something to say or you don't!
I already have. This is an Orthodox forum where someone's come here to advertise Catholic approaches to understanding God.
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« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2006, 04:16:57 AM »

I did look at the article and didn’t see much value in it.
Metaphysics never collapsed industrial societies just ignore it as inconvenient.
Again, what tragic faith issue effect the west that doesn’t effect the east?
Are you saying Eastern Europe is in good shape?
Is the situation in Eastern Europe thanks to the orthodox churches?
You seem to think that the approach the Church has taken has an affect on Eastern European standing.
I don’t see much reason to accept that assessment. Do you have evidence to support such claims?

So that’s it then the Pope’s infallibility is the some of the “errors” cause by scholasticism?
You didn't ask for 'all'. You asked that I state an example, and I have. But then you don't see 'much value'.

It doesn't matter anyway. That's besides the point. This isn't about 'comparing the values of the different approaches' but that the Orthodox approach is different.

you want to continue with your attempt to make this a Catholic apologist's thread.
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« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2006, 06:45:47 AM »

Is this not a discussion forum? Huh

Alternatively, is it for one question and a few dogmatically answers? Lips Sealed

Your sources suggest that the Orthodox churches don't like using reason and intellect and that is what is wrong with the Catholic Church.
However, it seems to me that, in the first millennium the Orthodox Churches did have a rational developmental approach to doctrine. It had to, as it was doctrine was not all there at the start.
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« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2006, 07:22:11 AM »

The only reasons that I am a Christian, from being a radical atheist, are the scholastic theological philosophers such as Saint Thomas Aquinas.
If there were no reason to Christianity, I would have no more reason to believe it that to believe in Father Christmas or fairies etc.
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« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2006, 08:23:31 AM »

Is this not a discussion forum? Huh
Cute. It's not a Catholic Apologetics forum. And I've answered your questions anyway... see above re: faulty Catholic thinking brought on by Scholasticism. But you didn't like the answer, you didn't address it, but tried to change the terms from "Name something that Catholics do that's faulty (as caused by scholasticism)" to "Name them all"
You've still not addressed that point.
Your sources suggest that the Orthodox churches don't like using reason and intellect and that is what is wrong with the Catholic Church.
As Spock is said to have quipped - Logic dictates that logic has no place here. Smiley

One can reason that God is beyond reason therefore the limits of reason in understanding God are limited.

Likewise, I don't have to understand how God 'spoke' (in Genesis 1), but know that He did. I don't have to understand about how He created, to know that He did. You're free to speculate all you want.

Further to that, Catholicism is about rationalising further and further away from the original teachings of Christianity.
You start by changing what it means to be saved to one that's legalistic (God needs to be 'satisfied') to, well if God needs to be satisfied, he must have had some special gift in advance of salvation given to Mary (Immaculate Conception).

However, it seems to me that, in the first millennium the Orthodox Churches did have a rational developmental approach to doctrine.
Do you have any sources?
It had to, as it was doctrine was not all there at the start.
All the fullness of Christ's teachings were given at Pentecost
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« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2006, 08:26:36 AM »

The only reasons that I am a Christian, from being a radical atheist, are the scholastic theological philosophers such as Saint Thomas Aquinas.
If there were no reason to Christianity, I would have no more reason to believe it that to believe in Father Christmas or fairies etc.

Oh yea of little faith

Matthew 18:3
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
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« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2006, 10:10:58 AM »

All the fullness of Christ's teachings were given at Pentecost


Why then was there a need for Church councils, and works of Church fathers hundreds of years after that then?
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« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2006, 10:13:20 AM »

Oh yea of little faith

Matthew 18:3
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Muslims, Hindu, sikhs, Pagans, New Agers etc all have plenty of Faith. But how are we to choose what we have faith in?
The use of reason would seem to be usful here or do you disagree?
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« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2006, 10:17:24 AM »

The only reasons that I am a Christian, from being a radical atheist, are the scholastic theological philosophers such as Saint Thomas Aquinas.
If there were no reason to Christianity, I would have no more reason to believe it that to believe in Father Christmas or fairies etc.


Wow, is that the only reason?! You didn't have anyone around you who set a Christian example? Someone you had interesting debates with when you were an atheist? You wouldn't say anything like that at all?
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« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2006, 10:27:35 AM »

Wow, is that the only reason?! You didn't have anyone around you who set a Christian example? Someone you had interesting debates with when you were an atheist? You wouldn't say anything like that at all?

NO!
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« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2006, 11:20:07 AM »

Quote
Do you have any sources?

I'm sure there were many times that Orthodoxy got too heady for it's own good (when judged by it's own standards), but if you want a specific instance, any good book that details the events leading up to the Hesychastic controversy of the 15th century should be interesting reading; scholasticism was quite popular among the intelligensia of Constantinople at the time.


EDIT -- fixed a typo, said Heschastic rather than Hesychastic.
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« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2006, 12:33:00 PM »

Lets calm down fellows. Here are some observations.

Quote
"Scholastic theology reached its culminating point in the person of Thomas Aquinas."

This is too ignorant to merit attention. Scholastic theology/philosophy reached its culminating point in the nominalists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Take William of Ockham for instance. St Thomas has been elevated by the Romans because of his balance.

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"He claimed that Christian truths are divided into natural and supernatural. ... The Holy Fathers teach that natural and metaphysical categories do not exist but speak rather of the created and uncreated."

What is the difference between natural-supernatural and created-uncreated? Granted there is no such thing as pure nature like later theologians would believe; and granted "supernatural" is a new term with the scholastics. But in the beginning it had about the same meaning. Latin scholastic theologians had to invent a lot of new terms since, before them, the Latins were not as sophisticated as the Greeks who, with their advanced metaphysical speculations, borrowed from neo-Platonic philosophers.

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"Never did the Holy Fathers accept Aristotle's metaphysics."

Though some accepted Plotinus' to a great degree. Besides, St Thomas did not accept Aristotle full scale, but disagreed with him on a lot of things, while making full use of his categories and laws of causation. BTW: St Maximus used Aristotle much in the same manner as St Thomas did.

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"Scholasticism is held accountable for much of the tragic situation created in the West with respect to faith and faith issues."

St Thomas began the Aristotelian revolution in the western church. But he is not responsible for its breakdown several centuries later. What Thomas tried to do was demonstrate that reason does not contradict faith. Some at that time believed that it did. So St Thomas sought to reconcile the two. This must be considered.

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"They also believe that human knowledge, an offspring of reason, is loftier than Revelation and experience."

A few philosophers of the middle ages believed this in practice. But not so with the scholastic theologians who the Roman church recognizes as guides. In fact that above sentence contradicts St Thomas to the tee. Read the first post I wrote.

Lol, all this being said, I find most of the scholastics to be more of an impediment to faith than an aid. Things got so involved in minute disputes. Most of which were impossible to prove through reason. Indeed scholasticism is the cause for the fall of the Roman church, and perhaps the western world in general. But do not impute this to the one man St Thomas. At least Orthodox propagandists have gotten smart enough to shift the "problem man" from Augustine to someone at a much later time who embodies more of the Roman sentiment. It is time, however, to be more sophisticated, to use more discretion in our scholarship.

Grace and Peace,

PaulRomuald
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« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2006, 12:40:50 PM »

romuald Thanks once again.
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« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2006, 03:39:29 PM »

I do not know much about St. Thomas Aquinas but I do know that the Orthodox Theologians used reason only as a linguistic tool to express what they ineffably experienced through divine revelation.

Quote from Elder Paisios:

Theology is the word of God, which is apprehended by pure, humble and spiritually regenerated souls, and not the beautiful words of the mind, which are crafted with literary art and expressed by the legal or worldly spirit. . . .

Theology that is taught like a science usually examines things historically and, consequently, things are understood externally. Since patristic ascesis and inner experience are absent, this kind of theology is full of uncertainty and questions. For with the mind one cannot grasp the Divine Energies if he does not first practice ascesis and live the Divine Energies, that the Grace of God might be energized within him.

Whoever thinks that he can come to know the mysteries of God through external scientific theory, resembles the fool who wants to see Paradise through a telescope.

Those who struggle patristically become empirical theologians through the visitation of the Grace of the Holy Spirit. All those who have an external education, in addition to the internal enlightenment of the soul, may describe the divine mysteries and interpret them correctly, as did many Holy Fathers.

If, however, one does not become spiritually related to the Holy Fathers and wants to take up translating or writing, he will wrong both the Holy Fathers and himself, as well as the people, with his spiritual cloudiness.

Neither is it right for someone to theologize using someone else's theology, because he will resemble an impotent man who adopts others' children, presents them as his own and pretends to be the father of a large family. The Holy Fathers took the divine word or personal experiences from their hearts: the result of spiritual battles against evil and the fire of temptations, which they confessed humbly, or, out of love, wrote down in order to help us. . . .

Those who are grateful towards God for everything and constantly attend to themselves humbly and look after God's creatures and creation with kindness, theologize and thus become the most faithful theologians, even if illiterate. They are like the illiterate shepherds who observe the weather in the countryside, day and night, and become good meteorologists.
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« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2006, 05:24:22 PM »

I like the quote. Some people are like those "illiterate shepherds" who "predict the whether on their own." St Thomas defines this as the gift of infused knowledge and wisdom. The Seven Gifts of the Spirit indwell the souls of all the just. As such, book learning is not needed. However, we are not angels, and so we need to feed our sensible intellect with knowledge. This is for two reasons. For one, some people are endowed with a good deal of reason, and if he does not cultivate knowledge of truth, his reason is bound to be a stumbling block, for it will demand answers of him when false doctrine comes around; while less active minds would not be as persuaded with error. Second, learning is a virtue in itself: Just like we learn a lot about natural subjects, how much more should we learn about God, who is our last end. Take St Maximos, St John of Damascus, etc who aquired this virtue. The Gifts of the Spirit complement the Aquired Virtues; and are not meant to replace them. We come to knowledge of God through creation as St Paul tells us; then we are born aloft in contemplation through the Spirit. Both are real knowledge of God. But the latter is superior to the former in an infinite degree since it is the communication of God himself. Though contemplation makes use of our natural faculties, I do agree that these faculties will become more and more simplified, and hence more and more surpassed, as the soul grows in grace, that is, in the infusion of the Spirit, including the Gifts of knowledge and wisdom. Praise be to Jesus Christ!

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« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2006, 05:57:15 PM »

I perceive, romuald, that you really know your stuff.
Once again many thanks.
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« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2006, 06:07:52 PM »

Why then was there a need for Church councils, and works of Church fathers hundreds of years after that then?
For defining what is already known. Which Church Council do you believe added to doctrine?

I'm half-way through "St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy : Its History, Theology, and Texts" by John Anthony McGuckin. The author notes that when Cyril argues for truth against the Nestorians he looks back on what has always been taught.
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« Reply #36 on: April 09, 2006, 06:10:15 PM »

Muslims, Hindu, sikhs, Pagans, New Agers etc all have plenty of Faith. But how are we to choose what we have faith in?
I would never have expected you not to have realised that we're talking within the framework of Christianity; or else I'd simply have retorted in like fashion re: the fact that Moslems, etc all speculate too.
The use of reason would seem to be usful here or do you disagree?
As pointed out, reason has its limits. And I know from debate that when you start at point "X" you may end up reasoning your way to point "Y" which may otherwise be unreasonable.
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« Reply #37 on: April 09, 2006, 06:11:05 PM »

The only reasons that I am a Christian, from being a radical atheist, are the scholastic theological philosophers such as Saint Thomas Aquinas.
If there were no reason to Christianity, I would have no more reason to believe it that to believe in Father Christmas or fairies etc.


Must man understand everything? must man attempt to answer every quesiton in existance? for every quesiton answered, 3 more new questions will appear. If there is a God, you need not understand things from a scientific point. Mixing God and Science is very dangerous, the peices either fit together PERFECTLY or they do not fit at all. Science cannot explain everything, although it wishes to explain.
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« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2006, 06:11:40 PM »

For defining what is already know?
So not know explicitly then.
Therefore developed.
Just like the Catholic church.  Wink
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« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2006, 06:14:10 PM »

Must man understand everything? must man attempt to answer every quesiton in existance? for every quesiton answered, 3 more new questions will appear. If there is a God, you need not understand things from a scientific point. Mixing God and Science is very dangerous, the peices either fit together PERFECTLY or they do not fit at all. Science cannot explain everything, although it wishes to explain.

Who said anything about science?
I don't need to know everything, but I do need to know some things, for these I need to use reason.
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« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2006, 06:16:33 PM »

I would never have expected you not to have realised that we're talking within the framework of Christianity; or else I'd simply have retorted in like fashion re: the fact that Moslems, etc all speculate too.As pointed out, reason has its limits. And I know from debate that when you start at point "X" you may end up reasoning your way to point "Y" which may otherwise be unreasonable.

You still need reason to see truth from error, to be able to understand various positions and make a determination between them.
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« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2006, 06:52:41 PM »

You still need reason to see truth from error, to be able to understand various positions and make a determination between them.
This is where we disagree. How we come to the knowledge of truth:

Quote:

In addition to everything that has been said, let me also say that you must guard your mind, that is, the activity of the mind, and your heart. You know that every essential activity has a natural relation with the essence and power that activates it. Naturally, it returns to it, is united to it, and finds rest in it. For this reason, you too, must do this because you have liberated the activity of your mind and all of the external things of the world by guarding your senses and your imagination, as we have already noted. Now it is necessary to return this activity to your own essence and power, that is, to return your mind to your heart, which is the organ (and the center) of the essence and power of the mind, and thus to review spiritually the whole of the inner man. This return of the mind in the beginner is usually done, as the holy Fathers teach, with the bending of the head so that the chin is touching the chest. This spiritual meditation is referred to by St. Dionysios Areopagites, who mentions three forms: the direct, the spiral, and finally the circular, which alone is certain and without deception. It is referred to as the circular meditation because as the periphery of the circle returns to itself and is united, so also in this circular movement the mind returns to itself and becomes one. St. Dionysios noted: "The movement of the soul is circular; leaving the externals, it enters into itself and unites its spiritual powers in a circular movement that provides a gift of truth." St. Basil also noted: "A mind that is not distracted towards the externals, nor is scattered by the senses to the world, returns to itself and through itself rises to the understanding of God." St. Gregory Palamas has noted that it is possible for deception to enter direct and spiral meditations, but not into the circular meditation. Direct meditation is the activity of the mind based on external perceptions that raise the mind to a simple intellectual activity. Spiral meditation occurs when the mind is illumined by divine knowledge, not entirely spiritually and apophatically, but rather intellectually and cataphatically, combining direct and some circular meditation. Therefore, those who love to meditate without deception must occupy themselves more with the circular meditation of the mind, which is accomplished by the return of the mind to the heart and the spiritual prayer of the heart. The more this prayer is difficult and painful the more fruitful it becomes because it is free of deception. This is the most important, the most sublime activity of the mind. This sublime meditation, this prayer of the heart, unites the mind with God; it purifies, illumines, and perfects the mind much more than all the algebra, all the physical and metaphysical and all the other sciences of secular philosophy. This prayer of the heart makes man spiritual and a seer of God, but those other intellectual disciplines make him only a natural man. "The unspiritual (natural) man does not receive gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him" (1 Cor 2:14).

And,

The mind was thus created pure and simple without predetermined shapes so that its image may have similitude to its Creator Who is invisible. 'So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him" (Gen. 1:27). This way the mind can be united with the divine Archetype. Thus the whole struggle of secular and worldly philosophers is to fashion their minds with different ideas and imaginary knowledge of natural and human things. This is after all the whole power of secular philosophy. On the contrary, the whole struggle and effort and goal of virtuous and spiritual persons is how to erase from their minds every shape and image and thought that has been impressed upon it and to make it (again) simple and pure and unimpressed by anything external, so that through such simplicity it may be united with God and restored to its original condition.

(Quoted from: St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, Handbook of Spiritual Counsel)
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« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2006, 07:26:55 PM »

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"Must man understand everything? must man attempt to answer every quesiton in existance? for every quesiton answered, 3 more new questions will appear."

Out of love St Thomas did not mention the names of his theological opponents. But in fact one of the main reasons for his work was to correct erring theologians. In his time people were using the dialectic method that Anselm used. Some of these grammarians made fine distinctions which were beginning to cause obstacles to faith. The task of St Thomas was to effect a purification of their difficulties through Aristotelianism. It does not do much good to tell someone: "Just shut up and believe." The influx of learning made intellectuals see things through different lenses than before. In short, the questions were posed before St Thomas stepped foot on the seen; and he attempted to answer them through the best means of his times, which in the realm of human knowledge (which is what theology is: human knowledge about God; unless you claim to be God) was Aristotle. Today this would be the equivalent of, say, existentialism, which numerous Orthodox theologians have used to speak to modern man, to expound revelation on his own terms. Likewise Thomas met the dialectitions at their own game. He did not ask questions just for the sake of it; but to guard the truth agaisnt those who do not use reason according to faith. Now later on scholasticism did become a muddle of useless questionings. But this is not St Thomas.

Quote
"Mixing God and Science is very dangerous, the peices either fit together PERFECTLY or they do not fit at all. Science cannot explain everything, although it wishes to explain."

St Thomas would say no, it is not dangerous, because God speaks to us in creation (which includes our intellect, ie use of reason) and in apostolic tradition; since God cannot contradict himself, both fit together in perfection. For St Thomas faith comes first. It is based on apostolic tradition. Upon this tradition faith seeks understanding. This is exposition. Thus it is not science in the strict sense because it is based on revealed text (scripture and fathers) and the guidance of the church. This is the Roman teaching. It is science in a mere sense that biblical or canonical exegesis is a science. There is no danger in this. When St Thomas was confronted with two opposing truths, he tried to investigate how both could be brought together, but oftentimes he confessed that he could not, and left it at that. Reason was subordinated to faith.

PaulRomuald
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« Reply #43 on: April 09, 2006, 08:27:32 PM »

For defining what is already know?
So not know explicitly then.
Therefore developed.
Just like the Catholic church.
That's not true. To re-express what is always known is not to develop doctrine like in Catholicism... where for instance Papal Infalibility was never taught as dogma until defined as dogma at Vatican I

Whereas the debate over Nestorianism, one simply had never expressed all the teachings in 'dogmatic form', but had always taught them. That is a different matter.

If a group always believe that killing is wrong and they teach this from generation to generation, but then finally some one person decides that they want to argue against it, that group may express in a 'dogmatic statement' "Killing is wrong, it always has been". That is not to 'develop dogma' in the cute way you are suggesting it.

You've not answered my question either, regarding councils (see above). Honest dialogue consists of answering other peoples questions, even if it's to say "I don't know"
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« Reply #44 on: April 09, 2006, 08:32:27 PM »

You still need reason to see truth from error, to be able to understand various positions and make a determination between them.
You're turning this into a 'reason' -v- 'faith' dichotomy. I have continually expressed that one can reason the limits of reason... and then go by faith. That is, I've not 'discarded' reason, but I accept it's limitations. For scholasticism, there is no such limitations, and that leads you into error. And further, Christ taught His Apostles what was true. He didn't also posit the works of Satan so that they might sort out for themselves which was true and which was false.

The Apostles didn't try to look at the various alternative positions at all. And, as I've also noted, that's not what happened in the debate with Nestor. Cyril didn't need to look at Nestor's point of view to determine some truth mid-way. Cyril taught the truth, as it had always been taught. His expressions of that truth were new, but what he taught had always been taught - you ignoring me saying that (as I've mentioned it before) doesn't help.
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