What Ireneaus Thought Philosophy Was Good For

“The tension between Hellenistic and Judeo-Christian conceptions of the relation between divine immanence and transcendence is apparent in the theology of the Apologists but finds a certain resolution in Ireneaus, who uses philosophical terms and  categories while virgoriously reinstating the biblical emphasis on divine greatness as conceived in terms of God’s involvement in the world.”

Kahled Anatolios, Athanasius: The Coherence of His Thought, p. 7

17 Responses to What Ireneaus Thought Philosophy Was Good For

  1. Matt says:


    I don’t get it. If you really believe that Orthodoxy is the true faith why would you make a stand over liturgical preference (I assume you believe that the East and West are of equal dignity)? Being in communion with the Episcopal Church seems like the least acceptable option these days. Are you part of a continuing communion? Are you under African bishops? I am often an optimist, but if you think the Episcopal Church is returning to orthodoxy anytime soon then you make me look like a hardened cynic in comparison 🙂

  2. Death Bredon says:


    I stand corrected. I should have said plausible and practical.

    The ROCOR revival of Sarum IS plausible. But practical? Maybe, maybe not. After so many centuries of “pruned-Sarum” (which is what the 1549 BCP is after all) its hard for the masses to go back to what was legitimately pruned. Hence, I doubt ROCOR will have any more success than AWRV. IMHO, It seem that Orthodox is intentionally trying to fail in reaching out to orthodox-catholic Anglicans. Just use the 1549 BCP straight — its full Orthodox!


  3. “Someone like my sister is never going to do that.”

    Neither is my sister… or my mom, and maybe not even my girlfriend (although I try not to think about that last one and the implications it has for our future).

    The funny thing is that at first, the missionary and evangelistic arm of the Antiochian Archdiocese in this country *WAS* the Western Rite Vicariate. It wasn’t until the “Evangelical Orthodox” experiment and the recent mass reception of converts into the Byzantine Rite of the Antiochian Church that the archdiocese even had a seperate department of missions and evangelism apart from the WRV. At least this is what I’ve been told.


  4. Personally, I think if Orthodoxy is going to get it together in evangelism and liturgical rite, those Churches that are setting up missions and local churches in the West should have something set aside specifically for the Western Rite or just give up the whole multicultural stuff and just have one main [Western] liturgical rite and make the other rites the minority. Right now, for all practical purposes, if one wants to become Orthodox, one must become Byzantine. Orthodoxy has not done its job, across the board, in evaluating western liturgical practice, especially in the first millenium up until the time of St. Photios. Let the West be the West.

    I love Greek culture and fit right in with that ethnic expression, but that’s only because I’ve been studying them for so long. Most of my friends and family would feel alienated at times at my church. Most people that are converting to Orthodoxy are like me, they’ve gone through intense study to find out it’s the real deal. Someone like my sister is never going to do that.

  5. “Orthodoxy offer no plausible English or Anglo-American Use”

    Death Bredon,

    Technically this is not true. They may not offer such in the U.S., but St. Petroc’s Monastery under the spiritual care of Bishop Hilarion (ROCOR) in either New Zealand or Tasmania uses just such a liturgy. The only two “uses” allowed by ROCOR are a corrected Roman Use that Christminster monastery in Rhode Island uses and the Sarum/English use of St. Petroc’s (and its surrounding mission parishes). This should not be confused with the vagante/weirdo “sarum” liturgies out their in use by pseudodox groups. This is a fully legitimate and canonical Western Rite endorsed by some- not all, unfortunately- of the bishops in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

  6. Death Bredon says:

    Presonally, I believe that Acquinas was trying to baptize Aristotle within the dogmatic Augustinian framework he was stuck with, because he could sense that the West would cotton to Aristotle baptized or otherwise. And, I think history has proven him out — the West will endorse (1) modern rationalism, (2) occassionally a curmudgeon goes for classical rationalism, and (3) even fewer are Christian Thomists.

    Given that , in the West, Christian Thomism (being less conving and relatively unpersausive) has been eclipsed by nonChristian classical rationalists and overwhelmed by modern rationalisms, perhaps the Western Church should have followed Judaism, Isalm, and Eastern Christianity in supressing at least content and substance of the ideas of Classiscal philosophy. Indeed, Justinian shut down the Academy, Islam supressed Avecina, and Judaism Momanides — all in favor of their respective empirically revealed and to varying degrees nonrtional (mysterious) faiths.

  7. acolyte says:

    Michael Liccone,

    If Aquinas did what Ireneaus did, philosophy would no longer be the handmaiden to theology. Ireneaus empties out the philosophical content of the terms, Aquinas doesn’t. As Gilson rightly noted, the concept of being for Aquinas and Augustine more properly is “pagan.”

  8. Funny, that post. If you substitute ‘Aquinas’ for ‘Irenaeus’ in the above quotation, you get what I think St. Thomas did vis-à-vis Aristotle and the Muslims who were influenced by him.

  9. I like that, Perry. If you substitute the ‘Aquinas’ for ‘Irenaeus’ in the above quotation, you get a description of what I believe St. Thomas did vis-à-vis Aristotle and the Muslim commentators.


  10. Death Bredon says:

    Because, unlike the prodigal son, who forfeited his familial patrimony, I am staying with my household (however tenuously, the Anglican Continuum) and striving to witness to the Apostolic Faith of our Fathers (they are rightly our Fathers too). See my website.

    I don’t pretend to be having much sucess, but right now, Orthodoxy offers no plausible English or Anglo-American Usage — the AWRV is a only an Anglo-Romish Usage suitable for a tiny minority of my countrymen. So, Orthodoxy must not regard my position as irredeemable, else Orthodoxy is dropping the ball big time. In short, I claim the tacit approval of the Church to stand for the consensus patri within my God-given cultrual idiom.

  11. acolyte says:


    Speaking of falling scales, uhm, why are you Anglican?

  12. Death Bredon says:

    The scales begin to fall from Jack’s eyes . . . .

  13. Jack says:

    I don’t always agree with you, but I also see Hegel falling out of St. Augustine. Seems like a very “natural” progression. Assuming that this is right, and it may well not be, the hyper-polemical statements by some Orthodox regarding the filioque don’t look quite so hyper.

  14. Death,

    And now you see how Hegel came up with his dialectical and progressional view of understanding historical facts.


  15. Death Bredon says:

    And this is where the Latin Scholastics missed the boat. Rather than restating Christin content in Aristotle’s language and conceptual categories, they attempted to show a harmony between the content of human reason and divine revelation.

  16. Travis says:

    That’s a good quote that puts the subject into the proper perspective.

    (PS – Not to be too nit-picky, as I’m sure everyone knows what is meant by “divne,” but the word is missing an “i” from the citation.)

  17. What this means, is that Irenaeus has the freedom to use philosophical terms and categories while transubstantiating their philosophical content with the content of the bible. The Gnostics did the exact opposite, which is why it is the old enemy anew. They would take old Christian terms and then give them new meaning from Hellenistic philosophy. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit become reified attributes of some other Supreme Being.

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