The Historiographical ‘tradition’ of the Second Europe

If we were faced with the unlikely proposition of having to destroy completely either the works of Augustine or the works of all the other Fathers and Writers, I have little doubt that all the others would have to be sacrificed. Augustine must remain. Of all the Fathers it is Augustine who is the most erudite, who has the most remarkable theological insights, and who is effectively most prolific (William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers (Collegeville: Liturgical, 1979), Vol. 3, p. 1).

“[Augustine is] a philosophical and theological genius of the first order, dominating, like a pyramid, antiquity and the succeeding ages. Compared with the great philosophers of past centuries and modern times, he is the equal of them all; among theologians he is undeniably the first, and such has been his influence that none of the Fathers, Scholastics, or Reformers has surpassed it.” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, p.997, New York: Charles Scribner and Company, 1867)

69 Responses to The Historiographical ‘tradition’ of the Second Europe

  1. photios says:

    This parish:

    http://www.hotca.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=100:st-maximos-parish&catid=49:videos&Itemid=105

    Now, if they were all done that way. You talk about hard work and craftsmanship. That is simply amazing.

    And I believe Fr. Maximus means Holy Ascension Monastery if I’m not mistaken: http://www.ascensionmonastery.org/

    Photios

  2. What parish and monastery are we talking about? I’d search for “Fr. Maximus” but think that’s a little broad for Google.

  3. Fr. Maximus says:

    No, but his parish is only a couple hours from our monastery and there is a lot of concourse to and from, especially since I am doing the iconography in the church. I did serve there this Pascha, because my father fell sick with kidney stones (he’s better now.)

    It is a really nice parish – although maybe I am a little biased 🙂

  4. photios says:

    Do you pastor there along with your Father ?

  5. Fr. Maximus says:

    Very few. There are some bricks and cement blocks used as a core for the stone alignment, and some cups and platters for antidoron and such, but basically everything is hand crafted. The stone are cut with traditional tools, the locks and metal parts are wrought iron from a local blacksmith, and the rugs are from Persia and Afghanistan.

    The reporter won an award for the broadcast.

  6. photios says:

    Yes, Yes, which reminds me! How many interchangeable parts did your Father integrate into his Church?? The one with very unique stones. That was a very good representation by the news caste as well.

  7. Fr. Maximus says:

    Hmmm… interesting how this ties in with industrialization and mass production: The loss of artisans to the concept of interchangeable parts (echoes of William Morris.)

  8. photios says:

    Fr. Maximus,

    It’s basically analogous to the same problems of a ‘corporate person’ except it is applicable to business management rather than law. If you remember in GHD, the concept of a ‘corporate person’ comes out of how theology affects law in the middle ages. The essence of the thing is defined (or rather confused) with what should be absolutely unique. In this sense, ‘player’ which is supposed to be the individual person and absolutely unique is lost and succumbs to that of the ‘team.’ Player is not valued for his individualaity, but rather the ‘team’ is given priority. Player is a ‘function’ of the team. Player in this view, is not a person, but a special attribute of the team.

    You’ll see this discussed more in the second version of GHD.

    Photios

  9. Fr. Maximus says:

    Photios,

    Could you elaborate on “team player?”

  10. photios says:

    “Regardless of who does or does not deserve to be the “representative theologian” (if any one person really warrants such an astounding designation), much–maybe most–theology is produced absent any consideration of that question.”

    Why should we recognize the modern trend in theology that is not conscious of ‘representative theologians’ as being an Orthodox one? Christianity is a relgion that is handed on and taught. Such an enterprise as stated, I cannot recognize as Orthodox. The Church is one that has Ecumenical Teachers. Specifically the one’s I listed for certain and others.

    It’s almost as if we need to not have any kind of discriminate and dogmatic attitude when approaching these texts so that we can “discover” what is the faith. This has been my experience in academia and I think it is a false one.

    Photios

  11. photios says:

    Here’s two perfect examples:

    Law: you have the idea of a “corporate person.”

    Modern Business Management: you have the idea of a “team player.”

    These ideas are impossible without Augustine and the filioque before them, and those ideas are garnished from the entrenched ‘Augustinian’ thinking of the West without necessarily a conscious drawing from the writings of Augustine.

  12. Gabriel,

    First, as important as Aquinas was and is, Aquinas like Scotus or Albert or Anselm is an Augustinian. Molinism for example isn’t some non-Augustinian model and neither is Ockhamism for that matter. They are all primarily attempting to gloss Augustine. They are not prmarily attempting to gloss Basil, Cyril or Maximus.

    What is in print may do what you speak of regarding correcting the way Augustine was viewed for a long time. But old habits die hard and the correction only has purchase for those writers currently working who buy it. Many don’t seem to have spent their intellectual cash at that store. My own experience is anecdotal to be sure, but the prejudice seems quite entrenched nonetheless.

    A demonstration I suppose could be had in a number of ways, not the least of which would be to look at how the faith is taught or how pervasive the corrective readings have become or how pervasive old problems entailed by Augustine’s defects are and how strongly they persist. Here I am only making a suggestion, but in my experience, even people who don’t have their AOS in Augustine or the Scholastics still seem shocked or befuddled or both when some view that is not Augustinian is articulated as acceptable and/or from the East. Most times, I just have gotten the “tilt” look. Sometimes you do get lucky and the light goes on or you run into someone who actually reads the journals or monographs not written by their academic buddies.

    As for Bulgakov in particularly, it seems pretty clear to me that his sophiaology is as I stated previously indebted to Idealism of the likes of say Jacob Bohme, which ironically found its way into the English theological tradition in the writings of William Law. It doesn’t take a whole lot of brains to see that people like Bulgakov, Florensky or Solviev (Newman too) drank from the Idealist well and such distinctives as a universal feminine spirit driving history through a dialectical process are outside of Christian teaching. I don’t think I need a formal condemnation to know that such views are heterodox, while such a condemnation may seal the deal. So when writers such as Milbank wish to mine Bulgakov’s Sophiaology to recreate Christianity as a Gnostic myth and in order to do so, condemn Palamas since the latter’s teaching on the deification of the body and the pluralityof the energies isn’t compatible with the former sophiaological view, I get a bit excited.

  13. Jay Dyer says:

    It was a long, hard road removing Augustine from the pedastal I had him on.

  14. Photios,

    It seems to me–and I am speaking without having read anything directly pertaining to “the historiographical tradition of the Second Europe”–that Augustine’s “elevation” (as you call it) makes sense to the extent that it is able to capture a far wider consensus of Catholics, Anglicans, and various Protestants than any Eastern Father whose works had, arguably, only a limited direct impact on the theological trajectory of the West. I wonder: Would a Catholic 100-150 years ago have ascribed such a status to Augustine? Would they not have rather pointed to Thomas Aquinas as the great synthesizer who established the “true” consensus patrum? This would never fly today, of course; not simply because of the state of historical research, but also because you’re not going to get many Protestants of any stripe falling over themselves to laud an “obviously Roman” Saint.

    What I am curious about is your statement that “[the statements] were in the minds of just about every Western [C]hristian up to at least the 20th century.” But now, in light of a solid century or more of Patristic research, critical editions of every major Father and heretic we have scraps of papyri for, and enough monographs to have slaughtered a large forest, do you still contend that is the over thinking or are you proposing that despite what we–broadly speaking, “Western” and “Eastern” Christians–“know” about the scope of the Fathers’ writings and the fact Augustine surely failed to express a true conensus patrum in his works, this “ethos” in the West has not abated? Which, if that’s true, I would take as you saying there is an external acknowledgment of the complexity of the issue by all thoughtful and informed persons, but an underlying prejudice/suspicion/feeling that at the end of the day, Augustine and Augustine alone is “where it’s at.” But how does one fully demonstrate this? Is it not more likely that most scholars and learned churchmen, even those who claim to be broadly interested in Patristics and what the Fathers had to say, are still embedded deeply in their own respective traditions, traditions which no one will deny were given theological contour by Augustine’s writings, and that accounts for his “primacy of place” (in spite of the evidence to the contrary)? Maybe these two possibilities–which may not be the only possibilities–are not wholly mutually exclusive, though unless I am misreading you, one certainly appears to be far more insidious than the other.

    The other thought that came to mind–and I apologize for mentioning Bulgakov again–is that on the whole, who does or does not represent the consensus patrum is a nonissue in the (post)modern theological (I hesitate to write “intellectual”) context. Regardless of who does or does not deserve to be the “representative theologian” (if any one person really warrants such an astounding designation), much–maybe most–theology is produced absent any consideration of that question. Bulgakov’s writings do not exhibit any concern with harnassing a consensus so he has a leg to stand on; in fact, he appears to historicize the thought of the Fathers and defers heavily to the language of “cultures” and “contexts” to explain (or explain away) their thinking. This doesn’t strike me as much different from most theological ventures today. If that’s the case, there seems to be a deeper problem here and one which would draw closer to a satisfactory resolution if Augustine truly was heralded, in all circles, as a great Father to be followed closely and rarely (if ever) deviated from.

  15. photios says:

    With that last post by Fr. Maximus, I’d like to close off discussion about Sophianism. If you wish to say more about it, please do so over email.
    These things are also documented VERY well in Dr. Payne’s dissertation that I noted above called ‘Political Hesychasm.’

    I’d like to bring back the discussion regarding the historiographical tradition of the Second Europe of elevating Augustine to the status of the consensus patrum. One poster noted, that these were not “authoritative” statements of the respective bodies. My argument is that they don’t have to be “official” statements as they are a part of the ethos of what became Western Christianity. They were in the minds of just about every Western christian up to at least the 20th century.

  16. Sea of Sin says:

    It think it a mistake to put Jordanville in with Bulgakov. But perhaps I am misunderstanding you.

  17. Fr. Maximus says:

    Gabriel,

    I am sure that Bulgakov said many things that were perfectly orthodox, but so have all heretics. The point is whether sophianism per se is orthodox. As far as Florensky goes, ROCOR never glorified him and explicitly denied that he was a New Martyr.

    Bulgakov was not exiled from Russia by the MP, but by the Soviet government. No doubt they did not know what specifically he was going to say; but everyone knew that he was a liberal and free-thinker and that he wasn’t going to get along with the likes of Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky. It was a pretty safe bet on the part of the soviet government that the intellectuals they expelled were going to teach and publish articles (that’s what intellectuals do)with views that would stir up controversy.

    This is what we learned at Jordanville; perhaps now they are rewriting history to reflect the current reality.

  18. photios says:

    Gabriel,
    Your analogy is poor. Gregory’s view of the apokastasis flows from the Orthodox view of the Incarnation, but it is a conclusionary view. Plus, *I* don’t think Gregory of Nyssa taught an apokatastasis according to *person*. 1. St. Maximus didn’t think he did. 2. Some of Gregory’s statements have been interpolated by Origenists, see Fr. Michael Askoul’s work on Gregory of Nyssa. Very good work. 3. St. Maximus teaches the apokatastasis according to *nature*.

    Having said that, what is there left of Bulgakov’s theology after Sophianism? That just IS his theology.

    Photios

  19. I may be opening up an unnecessary can of worms here, but does one have to be a “Sophianist” to accept Bulgakov’s theology on the whole? (The loose analogy here would be to ask, Does one have to adhere to apokatastasis to accept St. Gregory of Nyssa’s theology?) And, from there, what is one to think of a “Sophianist” like, say, Fr. (St.) Pavel Florensky? Does his martyrdom eradicate his potential theological errors or are his errors of less force than Bulgakov’s–in other words, less essentially bound up with the whole of his theology?

    As for Bulgakov’s jurisdictional journey, I did forget that from 1935-36, ROCOR and the Western Europe Church were reunited.

    As for the reasons behind the MP’s expulsion of Bulgakov, it seems to me that there is more evidence that his outspoken opposition to the Soviets and Marxist dogma had a lot more to do with his exile than some grand conspiracy to infect the Russian Church Abroad. Some of Bulgakov’s most controversial writings weren’t produced until after he was “safely” in Paris; it seems a stretch to think the Soviets could have projected the whole of his thinking in advance and then counted on him to disseminate it and undermine the Church.

  20. I would imagine that man had been receiving communion in ROCOR churches for some time without anyone knowing he was a sophianist. I would imagine much the same thing could have continued happening when he began attending an OCA church.

    Weren’t there additional ‘complexities’ between ROCOR and Evlogy (and Platon, for that matter)? I seem to remember something about Hitler and other political activities that were as important to many in ROCOR at that time as the Faith. Of course, it was a messy, nasty time and I’m sure most everyone wishes they could take back at least some of the things their own side did (or didn’t do).

  21. Fr. Maximus says:

    Gabriel,

    Let me clarify myself a little (and actually I had no idea your remark was directed towards me). Since I consider the Moscow Patriarchate to be a pseudo-Church founded by Stalin for the deception of believers, I do not consider any of its decisions to possess any authority. I included the decision of the MP for two reasons: 1. to show that it was not just the conservative extremists of ROCOR who thought sophianism was a heresy, and 2. to emphasize the unacceptability of sophianism for those people who do accept the authority of the Moscow Patriachate.

    A little history might be germane here:

    At that time (1935) Bulgakov was a priest of ROCOR. A few years earlier the Bolsheviks had deliberately sent out of Russia the most liberal intellectual clergy and professors in an attempt to destabilize the Church Abroad, which was the regime’s most vocal enemy outside of Russia. These intellectuals established St. Sergius seminary in Paris and succeeded at promoting various heresies and discord. Rather than accept the Synod’s condemnation of sophianism, Met. Eulogy and the French clergy broke away and joined the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which as a result of the activities of Meletios Metaxakis and others, was promoting a series of liberal and novel theologies. It is no wonder that sophianism found a comfortable home there.

    As an aside, my father, who was a priest in ROCOR, once had a fellow start coming to church who revealed himself to be a Sophianist. My father asked his bishop, Bishop Laurus, what to do about him, and Bp. Laurus told him not to give him communion. The man left and joined the OCA.

  22. photios says:

    Gabriel,
    Since this blog has posters from New Calendar and Traditionalist bodies posting in it, perhaps Fr. Maximus was just iterating that regardless of which body one is in communion with, it was condemned in both bodies? Perhaps he was just trying to represent history as clear as possible on that question for the readers?

    Knowing Fr. Maximus’ articles elsewhere and posts here, I do not believe he was quoting the MP as to rely on an “authoritative” statement.

    Photios

  23. Perry and Photios,

    Exactly my point. It makes sense to me that tradtionalist priests of traditionalist jurisdictions would avail themselves–consistently across the board–of ROCOR’s entire history of statements, decrees, letters, etc. It makes less sense to me that it would also be ok to cherry pick through the “Sergianist” Moscow Patriarchate for those statements which align with their respective position, but of course discard what doesn’t “jive.” If one is trying to get an “ecumenical” sense of what the Russian Church was thinking at that time about Bulgakov’s work, he should have also included the statements made from Bulgakov’s own jurisdiction in Western Europe.

    This is a side matter, really. I probably should not have brought it up in this context, but it is something of a pet peeve to see Orthodox rely on “authoritative” statements from bodies they’re willing to ignore when it doesn’t fit their needs. In this context, most of the MP’s statements and behavior for 70 years didn’t.

  24. Gabriel Sanchez,
    I’m not really sure what you’re really trying say and who your critique is directed towards. If it is directed towards Fr. Maximus’ post from ROCA and the MP, I’m not sure it really touches it, since he is afterall a traditionalist priest of a traditionalist jurisdiction. He rejects ecumenism as he rejects sophiology and Bulgakov.
    Photios

  25. Oh, man, that’s scary!

  26. Gabriel,

    How ever true the charge of special pleading may be, the Sophiaology stuff is just as problematic as the the feminine world spirit of Solviev and has its home in German Idealism, rather than the Fathers.

  27. I never cease to be amazed at how often contemporary Orthodox Christians will avail themselves of statements which came out of the MP under the Soviets or ROCOR prior to the 2007 reunification when it fits their purposes, but have no problem setting to the side those decrees which don’t conform with their worldview (e.g., ROCOR’s Anathema Against Ecumenism, MP’s grant of autocephaly to the OCA, etc.). There are, of course, those who are consistent in such things and praise be. But they’re few and far between.

  28. photios says:

    I think the issue is what “canonical” body is CLEAR on what the Orthodox Church teaches. I think I’ve made my eccesiastical position here clear. The truth lies with those who maintained traditional doctrine without exception. Ecclesastical bodies and clergy, for example Ware, who are playing around with compromised views or worse with the question of Christology and the agreed upon statements with the Severists, cannot by dint of their own theological position be considered truly Orthodox.

  29. Sea of Sin says:

    Fr. Maximus,

    Wow! I was not aware of this, thank you.

  30. Fr. Maximus says:

    Sea of Sin et al.

    Both Bulgakov and sophianism have indeed been condemned by the Church.

    1) A Decision of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad of the 17/30 October 1935 concerning the new teaching of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov on Sophia, the Wisdom of God.

    The first three points of this Decision state:

    “i) To recognize the teaching of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov on Sophia the Wisdom of God as heretical.

    ii) To inform Metropolitan Yevlogy of this Decision of the Council and to request that he admonish Archpriest Bulgakov with the intention of prompting him to publicly renounce his heretical teaching concerning Sophia and to make a report about the consequences of such admonition to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

    iii) In the event that Archpriest Bulgakov does not repent, the present Decision of the Council which condemns the heresy of Sophianism is to be made known to all Autocephalous Churches.”

    2) A decree of Moscow Patriarchate dated 24 August, 1935, No.93.

    In this document the following is said: “By our decision of 24 August, 1935, No.93 it was determined:

    i) The teaching of Professor and Archpriest S.N. Bulgakov — which, by its peculiar and arbitrary (Sophian) interpretation, often distorts the dogmas of the Orthodox faith, which in some of its points directly repeats false teachings already condemned by conciliar decisions of the Church, and the possible deductions resulting from which could even prove dangerous to spiritual life — this teaching is to be recognized as alien to the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ, and all its faithful servants and children are to be cautioned against an acceptance of this teaching.

    ii) Those Orthodox Reverend Archpastors, clergy and laity who have indiscreetly embraced Bulgakov’s teaching and who have promoted it in their preaching and works, either written or printed, are to be called upon to correct the errors committed and to be steadfastly faithful to “sound teaching”.

  31. Sea of Sin says:

    Veritas, as to misunderstanding and misuse of Bp. Ware’s remarks see Christopher Orr’s comment directly above. Couldn’t have said it better.

    If you are tempted to think the filioque is the hangup merely of some cranky traditionalists, you would be sorely mistaken. The filioque cannot be, and indeed is not, treated the same as Bulgakov’s works. The former has been formally declared by the Church as heresy, the latter has not.

    Pax Christi

  32. Veritas says:

    “Really? You postulate a diabolical re-interpretation of the Orthodox Faith based on a misunderstanding and misuse of Bp. Ware’s opinion. Name me a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in which the Filioque is even an option.

    If you are Orthodox, I recommend you go post haste to confession. If you are not Orthodox I recommend you go post haste to confession.”

    Bishop Ware’s words seem to be clear enough; however, if you believe I have “misunderstood” or “misused” his words, could you please clarify?

    On the other hand; however, I believe it is you that have misunderstood me. Nowhere have I posited that the Filioque be an option for any member of the Eastern Orthodox Church; as you will recall, the topic was the status of it either being heretical, or not being heretical.

    No, I am not Eastern Orthodox; I am a member of the Catholic Church. But I would agree with you that confession is something that is needed for my person, and to that end, very often.

  33. The late canon law expert Abp Peter (L’Huillier) would often react to statements made Orthodox that should know better with an important, telling comment:

    “He is stupid. He knows nothing. It is his opinion.”

    It is much more quaint with his quivering, French accent.

    The faith is not changed because someone says something, even because some group says something, even if various Patriarchates and local churches get together and say something. This is why so many ‘ecumenical councils’ litter the highway of history, from the Council of the Oak to the Robber Synod to the pro-Iconoclast Councils, to the anti-Photian Synod of 869/870, to Lyons and Florence.

    No one Orthodox Christian, no class of Orthodox Christians (e.g., bishops) can speak on behalf of Orthodoxy. As the Eastern Patriarchs said in 1848 in response to Vatican I: “…neither Patriarchs nor Councils could then have introduced novelties amongst us, because the protector of religion is the very body of the Church, even the people themselves…”

  34. Sea of Sin says:

    “But, what you must understand is, is that just as you are free to view the Filioque as heretical, so are others in your communion free to NOT to view it as heretical”

    Really? You postulate a diabolical re-interpretation of the Orthodox Faith based on a misunderstanding and misuse of Bp. Ware’s opinion. Name me a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in which the Filioque is even an option.

    If you are Orthodox, I recommend you go post haste to confession. If you are not Orthodox I recommend you go post haste to confession.

  35. John says:

    Whether Augustine is good, bad or indifferent, the idea that we would want to pick the writings of one over that of everyone else seems to be the true error here. The Christian tradition is never about elevating the ideas of just one.

  36. Sophocles says:

    Photios and all:

    Not to detract from the excellent conversation here, but I have posted the second part of Photios’ paper, “Synergy in Christ According to Saint Maximus the Confessor” with 5 questions I have in the comment box section and would appreciate any and all interaction with some answers.

    The link is:

    http://molonlabe70.blogspot.com/2009/07/synergy-in-christ-according-to-saint_09.html

  37. Veritas says:

    “I would say that St Augustine is one of the best theologians of the Western tradition of the Church, since we are now divided, but certainly not one of THE best Fathers. There are far too many to name before him on a scale of “importance” to the doctrinal espousal of the Church Catholic, imo.”

    This is a fair opinion; one that many would probably agree with. Within the Catholic Church there are some of those fathers that are labeled with the highest honor: Doctor of the Church. And some of the greatest come from the East. For example, one has to view St. Athanasius with both wonder and the highest honor, for what he endured through his lifetime for the commitment to Nicene orthodoxy.

  38. Veritas says:

    “Right. There is a distinction between heresy and heretic that is often lost. There’s probably been several times in my life that I’ve been in heresy. We all have. Though I’ve never personally been condemned as a heretic. Like all things, one is to the nature of the thing and the other is the personal aspect of it.”

    Ok, very well. Let us use your example — which I agree with by the way. You state that you yourself have probably been in heresy several times before, but that you are not a heretic, because you have not been condemned as such by your Church. So what of Bulgakov then? You stated earlier, ” Why are you quoting a heretic like Bulgkov to us?” Yet I know of no council, as Hopko shows, that has condemned Bulgakov as a heretic.

    The simple fact of the matter is that you are free to view some of the questionable writings of Bulgakov as heretical(In regards to Sophiology, I can’t so much disagree with you), just as you are free to view the Filioque as heretical. But, what you must understand is, is that just as you are free to view the Filioque as heretical, so are others in your communion free to NOT to view it as heretical, as Bishop Ware has said above. In other words, your and Lossky’s view does not hold a monopoly over the Eastern Orthodox opinion of the Filioque.

    You rebuke me for quoting from “pop works”, written by a bishop of your Church no less, but what you don’t see is the reason FOR quoting from it. It is very much an introductory work, in which it becomes quite clear that Ware assumes his audience is one that is not so familiar with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Now, in covering over the Trinity — the main doctrine of our faith — he is explaining to the reader that there are different schools within the Eastern Orthodox communion that hold polar-opposite opinions; basically one sees the Filioque as heretical, the other does not. He doesn’t condemn either school; they both just exist within the communion.

    Allow to ask you a specific question which will more clarify to me your position, just to make sure I know where you are coming from. First, I’ll quote Ware’s speech once more:

    “The Filioque controversy which has separated us for so many centuries is more that a mere technicality, but it is not insoluble. Qualifying the firm position taken when I wrote “The Orhtodox Church” twenty years ago, I now believe, after further study, that the problem is more in the area of semantics and different emphases than in any basic doctrinal differences.”

    Since you believe the Filioque to be heretical, and obviously Ware does not, what does that make him, in your opinion? As you also stated, he is an ecumenist; so, what does that mean of him, in your opinion? This is a serious question, that will help clarify your position to me.

  39. Gabe Martini says:

    I would say that St Augustine is one of the best theologians of the Western tradition of the Church, since we are now divided, but certainly not one of THE best Fathers. There are far too many to name before him on a scale of “importance” to the doctrinal espousal of the Church Catholic, imo.

    Peace,
    GVM

  40. I always think of St. Patrick using the clover as an image of the Trinity. Properly speaking, he was teaching heresy because the clover does not adequately convey the doctrine of the Trinity, but pastorally it was fitting. Same with us. We are most of us children theologically and/or spiritually; we don’t understand or we don’t live as if we believe what we understand. As long as we remain humble and obedient, deferential to the Church we are OK. I would expect heresy from the chief of sinners (me), which is why I try to do little more than quote or paraphrase – like all good Orthodox that have not seen the Divine and Uncreated Light.

  41. photios says:

    Right. There is a distinction between heresy and heretic that is often lost. There’s probably been several times in my life that I’ve been in heresy. We all have. Though I’ve never personally been condemned as a heretic. Like all things, one is to the nature of the thing and the other is the personal aspect of it.

    Photios

  42. Heresy isn’t a matter of official proclamation. Nestorius’s teaching was heretical before Ephesus and after, it was heresy while he was Patriarch of Constantinople; he was himself a heretic only once he refused to repent and to be corrected by the Church Universal. This last point was integral to the respect shown to St. Gregory of Nyssa’s errors.

    Similarly, the Orthodox position is not solely those things that have been officially dogmatized. Holy Tradition is Orthodoxy, whether dogmatized or not. Dogma is used minimally only in defense of the Faith, and only when absolutely necessary – the proper and regular medium of Christian theology is Holy Tradition, broadly, not dogmatic statements alone.

    So there is official and unofficial dogma in the Orthodox Church as there is official and unofficial heresy; similarly, there are recognized and unrecognized saints and heretics. They are what they are regardless of their status ‘officially’.

  43. “Seems to me, his accusations of being a “heretic”, are just that: accusations. Were there things in his writings that were questionable? Sure, just like most writings of the fathers. I find it interesting that none of the churches within the Eastern communion have condemned him.”

    See the 1935 decree against Sophianism by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. The question is which jurisdiction is Orthodox. I don’t believe it to be Sergianism.

    “I think both Photius and the Carolingians misinterpreted the Filioque.”

    The filioque is a product OF the Carolingians and other Germans before them in Toledo. So saying that they misinterpreted the filioque is nonsensical. What the Germans don’t understand however is when the Fathers speak of the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son or through the Son, they are speaking of an *activity* that is common to all Persons including the Holy Spirit. In other words, we’ve gone beyond the reality of speaking of hypostatic origination. Activity is not hypostatic origination, and THAT is what the Germans don’t understand. Partially that is motivated by their philosophical commitments, namely, Neoplatonic philosophical simplicity. If you don’t take the Orthodox view, you’ve left yourself wide open to Neoplatonic critiques not to mention you have capitulated the God of the Bible to the god of the philosophers. The other problem is that they don’t know the Greek language. The rare exceptions being John Eriugena and Anastasios the Librarian who knew both Latin and Greek, and they both teach the Father is sole hypostatic source of the Trinity.

    “Photius knew anything of the teachings of the fathers as the Spirit proceeding “through the Son Photius knew anything of the teachings of the fathers as the Spirit proceeding “through the Son””

    Of course he knew it. Photios is aware of both realities. That Father is the sole hypostatic Monarchial Source and that the Father and Son Manifest the Spirit according to activity both eternally and economically. What you need to do, to understand this problem, is understand the Ordo Theologiae and the categories of Person and Nature. What is said about only one person is absolutely unique to that one alone and what is said about more than one is said of all the persons denoting that what is said is rooted in the nature.

    “First, it is only in the present century that Orthodox writers have seen a close link between the doctrine of the Double Procession and the doctrine of the Church. Anti-Latin writers of the Byzantine period do not affirm any such connection between the two. If the Filioque and the Papal claims are in fact so obviously and integrally connected, why have not the Orthodox been quicker to recognize this?”(Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, [London, 1997] New Ed., pg. 216)

    Yet another clue to Orthodox that you aren’t serious about the topic: quoting pop works, notably Ware. Who is an ecumenist btw. Is Ware aware of St. Gregory II of Cyprus and his Triadology? The fact that the Spirit RESTS in the Son as His resting Object, has serious ecclesiological implications:

    (”procession” did not signify merely) “a simple going forth of someone from another, as for example in the case of being born; it means rather a setting forth from somewhere towards a definite goal; a departure from one person in order to reach another. When the Spirit proceeds from the Father he sets out towards the Son; the Son is the goal at which He will stop.” –
    Gregory of Cyprus, Patriarch of Constantinople (1283-1289)

    “Gregory’s formula exposed another danger latent not only in the filioque but to some extent also in the response of Saint Photios to it. In Gregory’s theology, it was impossible to separate the Son and the Spirit, for there was an eternal, personal relation between them. If this were not so, and the Holy Spirit proceeded beyond the Son as from a point of origin, then important ecclesiological ramifications would result: “in that case the faithful might possess the Spirit without being in Christ, or they might possess Christ without being in the Spirit.” It is precisely this “abiding of the Spirit upon the Son” which affords the theological basis in the very life of the Trinity for the fact that Orthodoxy does not separate Scripture and Tradition as two, isolated, independent and opposed sources of authority. Rather, it sees them as implying and complementing each other, both having equal weight because they are related.” – Dr. Joseph P. Farrell, Introduction to the Mystagogia.

    “Perhaps to you they are “heretics”, but surely there is one thing that is definite: that that is your opinion, and you have a right to have it; you also have the right to believe(along with Lossky) that any reading of the fathers that is contrary to your own, is condemened for all time to the depths of hell. I disagree with you; I confidently suspect there are other “heretics” within your own Church that would disagree with you as well.”

    Well I’m a traditionalist, so it’s not my opinion. It’s the statement of the Church in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy. I’m simply wishing to be a faithful son to those decrees and point out the innovation by those active in the ‘pattern of apostacy.’ But since you mentioned my ‘Church’ perhaps you can put forth a traditionalist who doesn’t think the filioque is a heresy.

    Photios

  44. I think it is safe to say that Bulgakov is not an unquestioned authority in the Orthodox Church. Many, even many of those that loved him and aspects of his work, would admit he held to heretical teachings. Of course, so did St. Gregory of Nyssa and others. He is not a heretic, narrowly defined, in that he was never condemned as such, personally. Some of the teachings he supported have been by various local Synods (e.g., sophiology). Others have not been but are equally dismissed as being not fully Orthodox. He was a man very much of his time, generation and history; and this has not stood the test of time, especially since the fall of Communism and the twilight of the Russian emigre communities around the world.

  45. Veritas says:

    “Let me ask you a question. Why are you quoting a heretic like Bulgkov to us? The guy was flat out Gnostic. Ever read his sophiology? It is down right heretical in every sense of the word. In my opinion, worse than ANY traditional Roman Catholic bar none.

    “Seriously, you might as well be quoting Zwingley to me as some kind of appeal to authority.”

    I must admit, I haven’t read all there is to read on Bulgakov, and I am aware of some of the charges that are placed against him; however, you seem to state that he is a “flat out heretic”, as if this is obviously known to all; whereas, there are those even within the Eastern Orthodox communion who would disagree with you. It should be noted, that the reason there are those that can even have the possibility of disagreeing with you, is precisely because your Church has not condemned him as a heretic. Thomas Hopko, who wrote the Foreword for Bulgakov’s “The Orthodox Church”, has this to say:

    “Father Bulgakov never doubted the truth of Orthodoxy. He created no formal schisms or divisions in the Church. He was never deprived of his chair of dogmatic theology or his deanship at St. Sergius. HE was never suspended from the priesthood or removed from the Church’s communion. When his teachings were formally questioned by the Moscow Patriarchate, his apology was accepted by his archbishop, Metropolitan Eulogius, who eulogized him at his funeral as ‘a teacher of the Church in the purest and most lofty sense (who was) enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom, the Spirit of Understanding, the Comforter to whom (he) dedicated (his) scholarly work.’ Bulgakov commended his work to the Church for judgement; obviously believing he would be justified in his doctrines, yet fully prepared to have his vision tested by the common mind of the faithful.”(Sergius Bulgakov, The Orthodox Church, [St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1988] pg. XI of the Foreword, written by Thomas Hopko)

    Seems to me, his accusations of being a “heretic”, are just that: accusations. Were there things in his writings that were questionable? Sure, just like most writings of the fathers. I find it interesting that none of the churches within the Eastern communion have condemned him.

    “How does Photios make it into an either/or concept when the whole Carolingian construction is based on there being a real dialectical opposition as constituting the Persons? It doesn’t sound like to me you understand the problem. Photios just answers them on their own terms and gives them a reductio ad absurdum.”

    I think both Photius and the Carolingians misinterpreted the Filioque. When St. Tarasius(P. of Constantinople) made the solemn profession at Nicea II that the Spirit proceeded “through the Son”, Charlamagne wrote to Pope Hadrian rebuking him and Tarasius, “who professes that the Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Father and Son, according to the faith of the Nicene symbol, but from the Father through the Son.” The Carolingian ignorance of history should be noted here; they believed that the Filioque was originally written into the symbol, which we all know was not. The historical-conditioning of the area is the main reason for this, I believe(It should be kept in mind, as well, that the Carolingians had inaccurate translations to deal with). In any case, Pope Hadrian replied in defense of the orthodxy of St. Tarasius’ profession, assuring him that Rome agreed in this also. The Carolingians did not see dia and ek as being equivalent; I assume neither would Photius, but it isn’t clear(as far as I know) that Photius knew anything of the teachings of the fathers as the Spirit proceeding “through the Son”; if he did, he didn’t put much stock in it, or see in it opposition to the “Father alone.” I think they were both wrong, in that regard.

    “Whether we like it or not, the question of the procession of the Holy Spirit has been the sole dogmatic grounds for the separation of East and West. All the other divergences which, historically, accompanied or followed the first dogmatic controversy about the Filioque, in the measure in which they too had some dogmatic importance, are more or less dependent upon that original issue…”

    I was fairly certain Lossky’s writings would turn their head here, so I will address them. As far as his creative ideas are concerned, they are quite innovative and new, as the Orthodox Bishop Kallistos Ware wrote:

    “First, it is only in the present century that Orthodox writers have seen a close link between the doctrine of the Double Procession and the doctrine of the Church. Anti-Latin writers of the Byzantine period do not affirm any such connection between the two. If the Filioque and the Papal claims are in fact so obviously and integrally connected, why have not the Orthodox been quicker to recognize this?”(Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, [London, 1997] New Ed., pg. 216)

    I think Ware raises a good question. I assume Lossky’s disciples might say, Lossky was just the first to finally “figure out just how evil and off-track these Papists really are!” I dont put much stock in the those who are bent on a certain affection to prove a point, rather than a real affinity for truth.

    “However the tendency to underestimate and even to despise the pneumatological debates of the past which may be noticed among certain modern Orthodox theologians (and especially among Russians, who are too often ungrateful to Byzantium) suggests that these theologians, so ready to renounce their fathers, **lack both dogmatic sense*** and reverence for the living tradition…

    Commenting on another Sophiologist (Bolotov) Lossky states:

    “The formula dia Huiou, interpreted in the sense of a mediation of the Son in the hypostatic procession of the Holy Spirit, was a formula of concord adopted by partisans of union in the thirteenth century precisely because **their triadology was not the same** as that of the adversaries of the Filioque. By adopting the interpretation of dia Huiou proper to the Latinizing Greeks, Bolotov minimized the doctrinal divergence between the two triadologies; hence he could write about two tolerable “theological opinions.”

    Lossky, and you I assume, view the above as evil “heretics”; whereas Ware sees these two schools of thought(what he terms “Hawks” and “Doves”) as both legitimate opinions within the Eastern Orthodox communion. Your monopoly on the “Orthodox” view of the Filioque, does not seem to be shared by some very learned scholars, let alone Eastern Orthodox hierarchs. Here is some of what Ware has to say about these “Doves”:

    “Augustine’s teaching that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son — but with the qualification that He proceeds from the Son, not ‘principally’ but ‘through the gift of the Father’ — is thus not so very different from Gregory of Nyssa’s view that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. The Council of Florence, in endorsing Augustine’s doctrine of Double Procession, explicitly re-emphasized the point that the spiration of the Spirit is conferred on the Son by God the Father. The contrast, then, between Orthodoxy and Rome as regards the ‘monarchy’ of the Father is not nearly so stark as appears at first sight.”(Ibid., 217)

    He sums up his presentation of ‘God in Trinity’, thus:

    “For all these reasons there is today a school of Orthodox theologians who believe that the divergence between east and west over the Filioque, while by no means unimportant, is not fundamental as Lossky and his disciples maintain. The Roman Catholic understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, so this second group of Orthodox theologians conclude, is not basically different from that of the Christian east; and so we may hope that in the present-day dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics an understanding will eventually be reached on this thorny question.”(Ibid., 218)

    It should also be noted that at a Symposium On the Trinity at Rose Hill, South Carolina, Bishop Kallistos stated:

    “The Filioque controversy which has separated us for so many centuries is more that a mere technicality, but it is not insoluble. Qualifying the firm position taken when I wrote “The Orhtodox Church” twenty years ago, I now believe, after further study, that the problem is more in the area of semantics and different emphases than in any basic doctrinal differences.”

    I am convined that your programme is essentially the same programme of Lossky, and you would not be ashamed to count yourself among his disciples; however, it is clear that there is another school(to take from Ware) within the Eastern Orthodox communion that would seriously disagree with you. Perhaps to you they are “heretics”, but surely there is one thing that is definite: that that is your opinion, and you have a right to have it; you also have the right to believe(along with Lossky) that any reading of the fathers that is contrary to your own, is condemened for all time to the depths of hell. I disagree with you; I confidently suspect there are other “heretics” within your own Church that would disagree with you as well.

    -Veritas

  46. photios says:

    Yeah give it a read. That dissertation is priceless and EYE OPENING. I think you’ll come away with a different understanding and see sophiology as the danger of what it really is. The “Return to the Fathers” call by Fr. Georges Florovsky was in direct reaction to these guys. They were NOT doing Orthodox theology by any means.

    Also, take a look at footnote 121 and package that one in your mind when you read about Zizoulas.

  47. Oh wait, now it seems to be working. I’ll look through it. Thanks.

  48. Regarding the Rabbit Trail bit of my comment: I wasn’t accusing you of following a rabbit trail, but apologizing for a slightly off topic comment. I can understand not allowing him as an authority, but I have trouble with the charge that he’s a Gnostic. I’d look at the “Political Hesychasm” dissertation, but I can’t get the link to work.

    Matt

  49. photios says:

    On another note: what is the difference between the pan-heresy of Ecumenism and the protocol of the Imperial Church in St. Maximus’ day with the Severists? Both are seeking unity on false premises (i.e. that contradictory doctrinal formulations of both are legitimate), papering over differences, quietly dropping canonical statements of how to (or how not to) converse with heretics and quietly dropping canonical statements that have anathematized those doctrines of heretical pedigree. It is akin to the “branch” theory of the Church, that the Orthodox have always rejected entirely.

    Photios

  50. photios says:

    Let’s see how appeals to authority actually move the debate forward. Here is my example to rebut Bulgakov from Vladimir Lossky:

    “Whether we like it or not, the question of the procession of the Holy Spirit has been the sole dogmatic grounds for the separation of East and West. All the other divergences which, historically, accompanied or followed the first dogmatic controversy about the Filioque, in the measure in which they too had some dogmatic importance, are more or less dependent upon that original issue…

    “However the tendency to underestimate and even to despise the pneumatological debates of the past which may be noticed among certain modern Orthodox theologians (and especially among Russians, who are too often ungrateful to Byzantium) suggests that these theologians, so ready to renounce their fathers, **lack both dogmatic sense*** and reverence for the living tradition…

    Commenting on another Sophiologist (Bolotov) Lossky states:

    “The formula dia Huiou, interpreted in the sense of a mediation of the Son in the hypostatic procession of the Holy Spirit, was a formula of concord adopted by partisans of union in the thirteenth century precisely because **their triadology was not the same** as that of the adversaries of the Filioque. By adopting the interpretation of dia Huiou proper to the Latinizing Greeks, Bolotov minimized the doctrinal divergence between the two triadologies; hence he could write about two tolerable “theological opinions.”

    “The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Trinitarian Doctrine” Chapter 4 of In the Image and Likeness of God (SVS Press: Crestwood, NY, 1976), pp. 71-96.

    In other words, the Sophiologists’ **doctrinal formulations** are a different God then that of Vladimir Lossky and other like minded Orthodox.

    Photios

  51. photios says:

    Matthew N. Petersen,

    Try reading the dissertation on this blog ‘Political Hesychasm’. It interacts with Bulgakov and exposes his Gnosticism.

    Perhaps you don’t know what to look for though.

    It’s not a rabbit trail. If you’re going to make appeals to authority as the basis of your argument, then you need to quote someone who is a representative theologian (i.e. a Father). Bulgakov is not. As I said, he might as well be quoting Ulrich Zwingley.

    Photios

  52. Rabbit trail:

    Bulgakov may have been sorely mistaken, but he very much resented the charge of Gnostic, and vigorously denied it. I’ve read several of his books, and I haven’t found any Gnosticism. Yes, there is perhaps some weirdness in Soloviev was heavily influenced by the Gnostics, but I don’t think Bulgakov was. Or at least, he tried to excise the Gnosticism.

  53. photios says:

    “Basically, Photius makes it into an either/or concept of the Filioque; whereas this sort of train of thought was alien to the Fathers.”

    How does Photios make it into an either/or concept when the whole Carolingian construction is based on there being a real dialectical opposition as constituting the Persons? It doesn’t sound like to me you understand the problem. Photios just answers them on their own terms and gives them a reductio ad absurdum.

    Photios

  54. photios says:

    Veritas,
    Let me ask you a question. Why are you quoting a heretic like Bulgkov to us? The guy was flat out Gnostic. Ever read his sophiology? It is down right heretical in every sense of the word. In my opinion, worse than ANY traditional Roman Catholic bar none.

    Seriously, you might as well be quoting Zwingley to me as some kind of appeal to authority.

    Photios

  55. Veritas says:

    Hey Photios,

    I just responded to Perry, and just noticed you responded as well. I have to run now, but will respond hopefully sometime tomorrow.

    -Veritas

  56. Veritas says:

    Mr. Robinson,

    I think, from the last qualifying sentence given by Jurgens, that he was referring to not only the erudition of St. Augustine, but also to the bulk of its quanity. In other words, without his following sentence given, I think the former words of his could be effectively misconstrued.

    You may think that Jurgens’s work has asserted a “revisionary project being employed”, and perhaps you may be right. For my part, I think the exact same things are being employed by those such as Larchet and the like.

    In regards to his Mystagogy, perhaps you are correct that Photius was not ignorant to all the Eastern traditions(viz.: Alexandrian), but if he was aware of them, then he literally left them out. I would tend to agree with the Orthodox Sergius Bulgakov:

    “It is extremely strange and astonishing that the highly learned Patriarch Photius, who of course knew the Greek Fathers better than did many of his predecessors and contemporaries, did not know that the patristic doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit, with its dia and other additional definitions, was essentially different on this point from his own….For Photius, the Fathers are Photians, which they in fact were not; and for a long time this stylization was accepted as true, until a more attentive study of the patristic texts(first in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries and then in the nineteenth century) put an end to this error. But Photius not only claimed to expound the generally accepted Eastern doctrine, but he even maintained that the Western Fathers Ambrose and Augustine shared his view. Only reluctantly did he admit the possibility that their opinions diverged from his own on this point.” (S.N. Bulgakov, The Comforter [Grand Rapids, 2004] (tr. Boris Jakim) pg. 96)

    Bulgakov goes on to state:

    “Photius’ historical characterization of the status of the problem of the procession of the Holy Spirit in the East and in the West was erroneous and tendentious, whatever the cause of this might have been: a deficiency of historical knowledge or dogmatic bias.” (Ibid, pg. 97)

    I believe Bulgakov is essentially right on the above points. However, he does go on to state that Photius’ doctrine did receive also a response from the Latin side that, in the same sense as Photius, misinterprets the Fathers. Basically, Photius makes it into an either/or concept of the Filioque; whereas this sort of train of thought was alien to the Fathers.

    I would agree with you, however, that the West was ignorant to much of what the East had to offer; as the East was to the West.

    “I know its in vogue to desparage saints like Photios, Mark of Ephesus or contemporaries like Florovsky or Meyendorff that they give a skewed picture by only representing a certain strand of theological thinking, but I don’t find this line of thinking to get us to the truth of the matter. Rather they are employed to cloak the dissenting views of the people who use it. The same line was taken by liberals in ECUSA and is till used regularly by liberals in Catholicism. The obvious question that is never asked is, if these diverse views were correct, orthodox, etc. Without know that, their existence place them near the border of the category of brute facts.”

    I think this well establishes your viewpoint, and one that I can both agree with, in a sense; and also disagree. Perhaps it is because I find the “heresy” of Ecumenism something to be sought after, is the reason for my disagreement. I think a lot of what Bulgakov says is right, in that certain theological viewpoints must be contexually viewed in the times in which they were asserted.

    I’m sorry if you think I am trying to disparage Photius; I certainly am not — although I must admit, this sort of word does come to mind when viewing St. Augustine in light of this blog. I would say, however, that the Eastern tradition as such, does not amount to the Antiochene or Photian one, even if the Eastern Orthodox churches have taken this road.

    -Veritas

  57. photios says:

    Veritas,

    Yes I remember you on Gilbert’s blog.

    “It seems that Jurgens is saying that St. Augustine has produced the most text that remain extant”

    He said this and much more. He stated Augustine was the most erudite. I don’t see how the addition you added clarifies or debunks the part that I highlighted.

    “As far as his erudition is concerned, I don’t think that is an open question either; as far as theology goes, I would say that Photios is largely more handicapped than St. Augustine is.”

    There is no question that Augustine was a very erudite man, but what I’m challenging is the claim that he is the most erudite of the Fathers, both theologically and philosophically. In fact, I don’t think he’s nearly as learned as some of the pagans in the Academy.

    In some areas of theology I think he is woefully deficient compared to some of his contemporaries in the West. Volume doesn’t equal quality.

    Regarding your comparison between Augustine and St. Photios, St. Photios, as just the humanist and philosopher, has a far better grasp and command of classical Greek authors then Augustine does. His bibliotheca is second to none. He was the most learned man in Christendom in his day. The only person that I can see that could give St. Photios a run for his money in the west concerning erudition is that very “backward” (according to western historiography)and very Orthodox Irishman in the West, John Eriugena.

    “His Mystagogy shows his ignorance not only for Western theology, but for also a large part of the Eastern theological viewpoints.”

    It does? What Western theologians do you think Photios was ignorant of? Ambrose? Possibly. But Ambrose doesn’t have anything to do with the Carolingian Semi-Sebellian doctrine.

    Ignorant of Eastern theological viewpoints? So the German legend goes. Pardon me if I’m not persuaded by Gilbert’s analysis of texts in the slightest. He showed himself to have a poor grasp of Dionysios when we discussed him. Beyond be-ing being (hyperousios ousia) didn’t go very well for him. What he’s doing is akin to the gnostic pseudomorophosis of terms to meet his agenda of union with papacy. He’s seems almost oblivious to the movements towards and away from Hellenization.

    If you think Photios is ignorant of Eastern Theology, Perhaps you can write a refutation of my analysis on St. Gregory of Nyssa:

    http://energeticprocession.com/2006/04/26/gregory-of-nyssa-and-eunomius-trinitarian-structures-investigated/

    “In any case, rating the Fathers is largely something that is confined to the realm of subjectivity.”

    This is true to extent, but the men I listed are Ecumenical Teachers. Not all Fathers have been Ecumenical Teachers. So some have a greater importance than others in certain areas, but all have their place.

    I’m not listing the Fathers as sports teams or one against the other. I’m challenging quite boldly the historiographical claim of the Western legacy that Augustine is the “greatest of the Fathers.”

    Photios

  58. Veritas,

    I am not sure that the portion you cited really substantiates a charge of taking a passage out of context. Even with it, it is rather controversial. I dare say a comparison with the legion of texts from Chrysostom for example, which are largely ignored seems to support Daniel’s implied contention that there is a revisionary project being employed.

    Second, the Mystagogy of Photios, a short work he wrote in exile is hardly an appropriate measure of his breadth. Try his sermons for example instead. Moreover, his ignorance of western writers is certainly in principle no greater than Augustine, Alcuin, or Anselm’s ignorance of Eastern theology. Even by the time of Anselm in the 11th century, the west suffers from historical ignorance that matches and outstrips that of Saint Photios in the preceding period. Not to mention the fact that Augustine was clearly wrong on a number of points as agreed upon by both east and west.

    And as for a plurality of viewpoints in the East, I am not sure it follows that simply because he doesn’t write in a way that takes cognizances of them or takes them to be of value that we can legitimately imply ignorance. The mere existence of different views doesn’t imply that those views are legitimate. Gregory of Nazianzus for example remarks about the different views in Constantinople regarding the deity and personality of the HS at the time of the Pneumatamochoi controversy, but that in no way implies that those views were acceptable either at that time or now. Eckhart for example represented a diversity of viewpoints and yet was condemned.

    I know its in vogue to desparage saints like Photios, Mark of Ephesus or contemporaries like Florovsky or Meyendorff that they give a skewed picture by only representing a certain strand of theological thinking, but I don’t find this line of thinking to get us to the truth of the matter. Rather they are employed to cloak the dissenting views of the people who use it. The same line was taken by liberals in ECUSA and is till used regularly by liberals in Catholicism. The obvious question that is never asked is, if these diverse views were correct, orthodox, etc. Without know that, their existence place them near the border of the category of brute facts.

  59. Veritas says:

    Hello Photios,

    I think you may know me from the minimal talk we’ve shared at Dr. Gilbert’s blog.

    It appears you may have taken Jurgens a bit out of context, by not quoting his paragraph in its entirety. He goes on to state:

    “If Origen or Didymus the Blind or any other Father or Writer wrote more than Augustine — a hypothesis by no means certain — it is now of little account, because their works have not survived.” (W.A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, [Collegeville, 1979] Vol. III, pg. 1)

    It seems that Jurgens is saying that St. Augustine has produced the most text that remain extant, and, that he is “effectively the most prolific”, in which case, I think quite many scholars would agree with him. As far as his erudition is concerned, I don’t think that is an open question either; as far as theology goes, I would say that Photios is largely more handicapped than St. Augustine is. His Mystagogy shows his ignorance not only for Western theology, but for also a large part of the Eastern theological viewpoints.

    In any case, rating the Fathers is largely something that is confined to the realm of subjectivity. One may say, like Jurgens has, that a certain saint may have been “most prolific”, or, more “erudite”, and those opinions are not without their value, but they remain just that: opinion. I do not think one should number the saints as if they were sports teams. Contextual history speaks against it.

    -Veritas

  60. aaronfriar93 says:

    One way to answer Henry’s question from the Orthodox side is to enumerate all of the saints to whom the Church has given the actual epithet “Theologian.”

    The ones I think of:
    The John the Theologian and Beloved Disciple
    St. Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus)
    St. Simeon the “New” Theologian (new as in only 1000 years ago).
    And there are others, but Augustine is not one of them, at least for Orthodox.

  61. photios says:

    Nate,
    The Donatist controversey was important, but it was more or less confined to North Africa which is why I don’t see it as that significant as some of the other issues. No doubt Augustine was a champion, but I think where he shines the most is his rhetoric as a preacher and his exposition of the Psalms.

    Henry,
    To an Orthodox theologian, Ambrose did not stray from the faith in the slightest. The list I provided above are men of almost of impeccable Orthodox caliber. So, on that score, I couldn’t disagree more that Augustine has more theological horse power than Ambrose. Ambrose is far more succinct and far more clear on writing on the Recapitulatory Economy of our Lord Jesus Christ. His sacramental understanding of Creation is priceless and his understanding of Romans 1:20 breaks the back of any program of ‘natural theology’ whether Western, Jewish, or Islamic.

    If you’re asking who of those have the highest IQ, who knows, but my money would be on Sts. Dionysios, Maximus, and Photios. I think any of those guys would wipe the floor with Augustine on just philosophizing.

    Photios

  62. Henry says:

    Photios, that was more than I even asked for. I appreciate it.

    I wonder if you could now give me your list of top theologians with a view to intellectual power. Obviously to the Orthodox Ambrose strayed far less than Augustine, but as far as theological horse power, there is no contest between them.

    You’ve already done what I’ve asked, so no need to go further if you don’t want to. But now I wonder if you might give me your list of the most brilliant theologians. Who are the most gifted theological minds in the opinion of a serious student of Orthodoxy.

  63. Joe Rawls says:

    I first encountered Augustine as a Roman Catholic high school senior. His negative remarks about sexuality–based, apparently in his leftover Manichaeanism–guaranteed that it would be decades before I would even think of engaging with him seriously.

  64. Photios,

    Does not St. Augustine deserve a place on that list for his treatment of the Donatists? Whether or not we quote him as such, we follow his patterns of thought when dealing with similar situations.

  65. photios says:

    It’s hard to give the greatest, but these are probably the greatest ones as Ecumenical Teachers because they refuted major heresies according to the Orthodox and Patristic Ordo Theologiae:

    In chronological order:
    St. Paul
    St. John the Theologian
    St. Dionysios the Areopagite
    St. Irenaeus of Lyon
    St. Athanasius the Great
    St. Gregory the Theologian
    St. Ambrose of Milan
    St. Hilary of Poitiers
    St. Cyril of Alexandria
    St. Emperor Justinian the Great
    St. Maximus the Confessor
    St. John of Damascus
    St. Photios the Great
    St. Gregory Palamas
    St. Mark Evgenikos

  66. Certainly these statements are in error and display a complete lack of knowledge of the other luminaries of the Church. However, it ought to be said that the statements issued here are far from the official position of Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches and as such speak far more voluminously of the authors than their respective traditions.

  67. Henry says:

    Photios, I’m curious, in your opinion who are the top five theologians the church has ever been blessed with. Or even the top three. It would be very easy to get bogged down in the trappings of such a complicated question. You could ask for clarification, “What exactly constitutes being a ‘top’ theologian”? “What church are you referring to” etc. etc. This is why I’d ask that you simply try to take the question at face value and answer as if someone at church asked for your opinion as to the top five theologians. I’m not trying to be difficult — just trying to avoid a bunch of unnecessary prolegomena. I genuinely would like to know which theological thinkers a serious Orthodox lay theologian would put at the top of the list. Thanks.

  68. orrologion says:

    Theological unilateralism.

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