The Glory of the Physical

“While Gregory [of Nyssa]is regularly described by scholars as a “Platonist’, in fact he contrasts the inherent certainty of sense knowledge with the inherent uncertainty of abstract knowledge (or in Gregory’s terms, knowledge of sensibles verses knowledge of intelligibles). Sense knowledge is clear and certain; knowledge by intellect alone is neither. This positive evaluation of the world of sensibles leads Gregory to see creation as a trustworthy sign of its Creator; indeed, one striking feature of Gregory’s theology is the confidence with which he believes that the evidence of creation bears out his theology. This confidence depends on Gregory’s theological shift from the one Creator reasoning to the one God reasoning I have outlined, but in Gregory’s case this shift is supported by his definite sense of the veracity and the virtue of material creation.”

Michel Barnes, Dunamis in Gregory of Nyssa’s Trinitarian Theology, 254.

5 Responses to The Glory of the Physical

  1. The Scylding says:

    Oblique;y related to this post is a post I wrote yesterday, to be found at http://scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com/2007/11/good-dirt.html .

  2. T says:

    One thing that has struck me from the couple times going to prayer services at the local OCA parish here in Denver is that while the icons, incense, ceremony and candles point to their ultimate reality (or forms, if you wish) and thus may appear Platonic, they are in fact more celebratory of our created order. While the Presbyterian church I go to has absolutely no pictures and very plain walls. It’s as if high reformed folk are more platonic than the Orthodox. Plus, I think the most artistic thing you’ll get at any Presbyterian (pca or pcusa) church is a banner with a felt dove on it or a piece of felt in the shape of the Word on a table.

  3. If everything was brought into being from non-being by God, then to understand the true nature of a thing is to know the thought that pre-existed within the Logos before creation, and although God and creation are distinct, Paul nevertheless asserts that somehow everything that exists has its being “within” God, who “gives and “is” the “life” of everything that is and ever will be. What are the implications of this assertion and what relation (if any) does it have to panentheism?

    I am particularly interested in Paul’s understanding of human history & divine providence:

    “FROM ONE MAN he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and HE DETERMINED the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

    Paul believes that historically all men descend from one man and that God orders history so that individuals within *every* society in each age are given the opportunity to establish a (some kind of) relationship with Him. I have found these ideas incredibly fascinating!

  4. What all can we can learn about Creator-creature relations from the following passage?

    “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” [Acts 17:24-30]

  5. Elliot B says:

    A. Nesteruk, in *Light from the East* (on Orthodoxy and science), sheds some good light on this train of thought, going through a number of major issues in big science to show how each one ends up at an antinomy (Kantian style) which can only be “resolved” by seeing the tension itself as a divinely mandated pointer towards the diaphora in all creation. The universe, in other words, points to God not only because it is coherent, but also because it is incoherent (in se); as these two premises clash antinomically, they point even deeper to the very nature of Nature as diaphoric (split) between realities manifest to dianoia and the logoi, rooted in God, known by the nous by grace.

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