What is the Ordo Theologiae?

“The mystery of the incarnation of the Lord is the key to all the arcane symbolism and typology in the Scriptures, and in addition gives us knowledge of created things, both visible and intelligible. He who apprehends the mystery of the cross and the burial apprehends the inward essences of created things, while he who is initiated into the inexpressible power of the resurrection apprehends the purpose for which God first established everything.”

— St. Maximus the Confessor, First Century on Theology: 66, The Philokalia: the Complete Text compiled by St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, Vol. 2, trans. GEH Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, p. 127

16 Responses to What is the Ordo Theologiae?

  1. photios says:

    When we say Chris is a man we are referring to the commonality in which Christ shares with other men and every man that He is consubstantial with. When we say Christ is this man, we are referring to the enhypostatization of human nature as it is given shape and existence by a Person, which is the divine Logos. Does this help?

    Human nature doesn’t have any kind of existence apart from and prior to a Person.

  2. The html wasn’t quite so clear on one point there as I had hoped. It should be “Why is saying Christ is a man different from saying He is this man?” (With the emphasis on the article.)

  3. I haven’t read either of those, I found Basil’s letter here and “On Not Three Gods” here are these good translations?

    I’ll read through those when I get a chance.

    But I still have some questions:

    One shouldn’t refer to Christ as this man, because the referent is a Who, and that Who is the Logos. So more correctly you would say Christ is this God, Who has this human nature and is a man.

    Why is saying Christ is a man different from saying He is this man?

    If you were to tell me “The Word is a man” and I asked “which man” wouldn’t you point to the Mother of God icon (or the Crucifixion icon or the Resurrection icon) and say “this man.”?

    Maybe though it would be better to say “The Word is man?” And the correct question then is “where” and the answer “here” pointing at the icon.

    Or even “We worship God” “which God?” “This God.”

    (Though it would seem that when distinguishing God from the other claimants to that title we would point to the icon and say “no, this God” if we were confronted by someone who worshiped humanity we would point to the icon and say “no, this man.”)

  4. Darlene says:

    Perhaps I am being simplistic but is there anything wrong with referring to Christ as the God-man? Or, I may be missing your point altogether.

    Darlene

  5. photios says:

    It does refer to the nature, it’s just that THAT aspect of his human nature, i.e. his body, is given particularization in and only through His person to be individuated from other persons with a body.

    So if I were to point out this man, that man, and another man and their activities, I’m really talking about one man or one human nature. Man is not a person, but Matthew N. Petersen is.

    Have you ever read On Not Three Gods or Basil’s Letter 38?

    One shouldn’t refer to Christ as this man, because the referent is a Who, and that Who is the Logos. So more correctly you would say Christ is this God, Who has this human nature and is a man.

    To say ‘this man’ as your point of departure for analysis means you view the ‘presentation’ or prosopon of the union **as most real**, which is to say Nestorianism. Not that you are one, or that you want to say this, but that’s the impact of saying *this* man and addressing it in *this* way.

    On another side, ‘this’ man can also have an accidental connotation as well, for example a racial referent: Christ was a Hebrew and not a German.

  6. The problem arises in the perichoresis. You’re trying to go from nature to nature without first going through the hypostasis in your order of thinking. ‘Man’ is a general category, or a *what*. So don’t start with the prosopon or presentation of what you think of as a human person, i.e. *this man.*

    Thanks for the quick answer. I think I understand the point you are making, and agree, but I also think it isn’t quite to my point. (Though I probably have been unclear.)

    My question concerns the fact that Christ is this man. (Or Christ is a man.) What does “this” refer to. Here it cannot refer to the nature, because the nature is general not specific. But it cannot refer to a human person either. On the other hand, it doesn’t quite seem right to say that it refers to the Second Person of the Trinity (though perhaps it does and I’m just confused).

  7. photios says:

    The problem arises in the perichoresis. You’re trying to go from nature to nature without first going through the hypostasis in your order of thinking. ‘Man’ is a general category, or a *what*. So don’t start with the prosopon or presentation of what you think of as a human person, i.e. *this man.* Our doctrine treats that the transference of categories goes through the person or hypostasis first, the Who. So first ask yourself Who it is you are speaking of? What is He doing? and then what is He that He can do such things?

    When the Fathers talk of the human-ness of Christ they say it in terms of Christ according to His human nature or the divine person according to His human nature, etc.

    It take some time to change your thinking and where you will start, but you do highlight a unique fact: a certain order is important to avoid the implications of a heretical position.

  8. I have a question about Christology for you guys.

    Christ is not a human person, but he is this man–i.e. I am not Christ, but the Son of the Theotokos is. How do you say that technically. Every time I try I end up saying something like “the individual human who is Christ” or “the human person who is Christ” both of which I know are heretical. But how do you talk about the individual man Christ (even saying this I’m not sure I’m saying it quite correctly)? Or where could I look to learn such terms?

  9. Darlene says:

    Just thought I’d let those of you at Energetic Procession know that I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now. I enjoy the depths to which you plunge in seeking to understand our Blessed Triune God.

    My background is that of Protestant Evangelicalism, having spent most of that time within the Reformed tradition (5 point Calvinist) However, I attended a Wesleyan College and have retained some of Wesley’s thought on entire sanctification. I believe he was in agreement with some of the aspects of theosis.

    Anyway, I appreciate many of the articles you write on Calvinism and its flaws. Having lived within that tradition, I understand the problems in how such a model plays out in “real” life situations. I have come to realize that all the models within Protestantism fall short since they are diconnected from the Ancient Church. Thus it is that I am increasingly drawn to Orthodoxy.

    Our understanding of the Incarnation, Resurrection, and Ascension effects our understanding of the gospel of Christ and how that gospel is presented and lived out in ordinary life. From all that I am learning, I am discovering that Orthodoxy seems most connected to a true understanding of living the gospel on a daily basis. I hope that one day I will be chrismated in the Ancient Church.

    In Christ’s Immeasurable Love,

    Darlene

  10. Jay Dyer says:

    Awesome. I had this as my facebook quote for a year. I love this.

  11. Avertedd says:

    Я извиняюсь, что немного не в тему, а что такое RSS? и ка на него подписаться?

  12. Yudikris says:

    Great quotation from St. Maximus!
    Thanks for this article!

    Yudhie

  13. photios says:

    I think it is very much both. To make our piety and spiritual practice not the same as our theologizing in answering and addressing theological questions creates a kind of internal schism in ourselves. Of course, that is exactly what I think Roman Catholicism has done with the filioque. Largely (! emphasis largely) their liturgical expression of the faith (minus the interpolated Creed) and piety is a whole lot better than what becomes their formal doctrinal expression of that faith. One seems very trinitartian and the other becomes quite UNtrinitarian.

    It’s interesting you posted this because I was thinking of the same distinction as I stepped away that the lesser must serve that greater contemplation of those that are purifying the heart (enter John Romanides). The correct expression of the faith follows from the right experience of God, and they should always be together.

    Thank you always for that reminder.

  14. Fr. Maximus says:

    This leads into something I have been thinking about lately: the two types of theology. One being the experience of God, theology proper; the other being our expression of it. The latter is accessible to all, but the former only to those who have been purified of the passions and illumined by the holy Spirit. Your purpose in posting this quote (an absolute gem)was, I imagine, in the service of the latter, since even a person who is not a saint(I am not saying you aren’t!) can express and use theology in a proper Orthodox fashion if he uses the proper method and presuppositions. I think, though, that St. Maximus was really writing this for those of the former category, who are trying to experience this in their lives. But the lesser must follow the greater, and if this citation holds true for the spiritual life it must also hold true for those who use the writings of the Fathers as a basis for exposing heresy.

    I think likewise that St. Maximus implies this distinction in his writings, and that he allows for two types of contemplation of the logoi: θεωρία properly speaking of the logoi, which belongs to the purified; and a lesser contemplation accessible to those who are not. This distinction would parallel the two types of theology.

  15. photios says:

    Unfortunate yes, and I agree with you. But it doesn’t detract from what I wish to highlight about how we are to theologize. Theologizing starts in a certain order, as you of course, my Father and friend, know. 😉

  16. Fr. Maximus says:

    It is unfortunate that the translators chose to render λόγοι by “inner essences” rather than “inner principles” since the λὁγοι are not essences at all, but the principles and meanings behind essences. Essences are created, while the λὁγοι are not. This imprecision caused me great confusion for some time, until I read the Greek.

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