Drew Johnson (I don’t know if this is the same Drew who posted regardingChemnitz or not) who is a convert from Orthodoxy to Catholicism responded to some comments I made over at Pontifications (comment 57). Since Fr. Kimel has shut down the comments I am taking the opportunity to respond to his comments here.
While it may be true that Newman’s theory of development of doctrine is consistent, Orthodox will simply deny the truth of the premises necessary to imply that it is cogent. The dogmas and practices that you will cite as supporting data, the Orthodox by and large will deny and argue that they do fit Vincent’s canon.
And no, the East did not follow Origen. This is to say that Origen was widely influential but the latter does not imply the former. Origen’s influence, sincere as he personally was, was t he root of most of the major Christological controversies and later Augustine’s’ predestinarianism. Arius is therefore a more consistent follower of Origen than Athanasius, and much the same can be said for Eunomius over against Gregory of Nyssa.
I knew my question concerning the body of Christ would be mystifying for you given the Latin concept of the “mystical body of Christ” as something different from the genuine resurrected body of Christ. That is why I asked the question. I also clarified the difference between an attribution and a quality and I note that you seem confused by that distinction. I’d recommend plugging in the respective notions to the theology of theosis and see how they pop out.
If you think that my denial that theology is a science governed by dialectic is contrary to the thought of John of Damascus, then you need to give some support rather than drop a name as I have read the text in question. Perhaps I am mentally ill or stupid or perhaps what you claim regarding St. John isn’t as simple and straightforward as you think. I like to think it is the latter. Moreover, St. John’s arguments against the Iconoclasts depend on a non-scientific or dialectical understanding of matter, image, and other relevant concepts. If St. John thought theology were a science, he would have been an Iconoclast. The use of philosophical terms does not imply a use of the philosophical concepts associated with them. Plotinus uses lots of key terms from Aristotle, but Plotinus is no Aristotelian. Athanasius uses terms from the Sabellians, but he is no Sabellian. If theology were governed by the principles of reason, then God would be being. But God is not being and so theology is not governed by the principles of reason, for the simple reason that dialectic when applied as a governing principle to either Triadology or Christology will always yield a heterodox result. Athens is quite far from Jerusalem.
As to Protestants and development I beg to differ. Protestant reading of the patristic material on any major doctrine follows the same basic principles of the Catholic notion of development, that what was implicit becomes explicit later on with the use of new terms driven by dialectic. Moreover, key Protestant distinctives are justified no only on exegetical grounds but dialectical principles. Sola Fide is not explicit in the text but “implied” and later “drawn out” by the Reformers. Such is the way that standard and major Protestant writers argued. Protestants accept only the theses that any development is in principle explicitly revisable rather than a complete “abrogation” which is why they like to claim Augustine as well as Aquinas and Anselm.If as you say that Palamas was not a development, a finding of implicit conceptual content via dialectic which results in the giving of new meanings to old terms, then you don’t know what development was, then it is obvious that you know not what development is, let alone what Palamas taught. First Palamas doesn’t take himself to developing anything. That category is imposed on him as a way of explaining the difference between his view and that of the Latins. Second, I don’t know what specifically Palamas is supposed to have adduced by way of dialectical development. The essence/energies distinction perhaps? That is in Ireneaus all the way up through Maximus the Confessor. And he certainly didn’t say anything more about the divinization about the body than you can find in the NT, let alone the Fathers.
Because homoousias doesn’t have any conceptual content, the problem of the various factions arose out of an attempt by some of them to instill it with specific philosophical content. This in turn led to new heresies, which is why the Arian position keeps morphing as the controversy continued. It also arose out of an attempt on the part of the Nicenes to find a consistent terminology because there simply was no adequate philosophical content for theological terms. The wine of theology burst the skins of philosophy. Greek philosophy simply doesn’t have a distinction, or at least not an adequate one between person and nature, which was necessary to speak of the Christian God.
As to Augustine’s inability to free himself from specific pagan metaphysical beliefs, you are quite right that you must be reading a different Augustine, for in the texts you cite (the Confessions especially) the theses you mention are held on the basis of faith and not reason. The eternity of the world and the cosmic soul are continuously maintained by Augustine as truths of reason that he cannot dismiss. This is why Aquinas never dismisses them on the basis of reason. In order for Augustine’s synthesis to be successful he has to show how truths of reason and truths of revelation do not conflict, but he is self confessedly never able to do so with these and other pagan metaphysical theses. So you simply confuse the categories of reason and revelation in Augustine. There are plenty of Catholic Augustinian scholars who acknowledge this-Gilson, Burke, Brown, et al. Where do you think I learned it from?
Daniel (aka Photios) isn’t affirming that evil is a substance but rather affirming that humanity considered by itself apart from the addition of grace is good. To say that original sin is constituted by the mere lack of grace would imply that human nature is of itself and intrinsically evil, which is false. So my comments do in fact clarify the position it is just that you can’t seem to notice the looming Manicheanism or aren’t familiar with the medieval debates about the dialectic of nature and grace. This is standard fair.
Hence the difference between a mere absence and a defect is simple. Vision is merely absent from a rock, but it is deficiency in humans. Grace may be lacking in humanity qua human but it doesn’t of itself imply a defect. The absence of grace when considering humanity absolutely does not imply deficiency, let we think that nature is evil. I think you need to take Augustine’s works contra the Manicheans and Julian the Pelagian more seriously.