Saint Gregory Palamas: Time Traveller Extraordinaire

“Then they asked, ‘Is it altogether necessary to speak of wills and energies on the subject of Christ?’ He answered, ‘Altogether necessary if we want to worship in truth, for no being exists without natural activity. Indeed, the holy Fathers say plainly that it is impossible for any nature at all to be or to be known apart from its essential activity. And if there is no such thing as a nature to be or to be known without its essential characteristic activity, how is it possible for Christ to be or be known as truely God and man by nature without the divine and human activities? For according to the Fathers, the lion who loses his roaring ability is no lion at all, and a dog without the power to bark is not a dog.  And any other thing which has lost something naturally constiuative of it is not any more what it was.'”

The Trial of Maximus the Confessor, 23

42 Responses to Saint Gregory Palamas: Time Traveller Extraordinaire

  1. Jason,

    Saying that God-man amounts to an equivalence is not only an abuse of mathematical symbols but is heretical contrary to Chalcedon to which Lutheranism professes fidelity. I agree Christ comes to do the will of his father, but you need to explain “not my own will” in Jn 6:38. If the two energies are always in concord then what Christ wills in his humanity that is “my own will” must also be something the Trinity wills otherwise they do not always will in concord. I grant that the human volitional activity is free because the divine person is acting, but that is just the reason to think that predestination is false since God is not subject to necessity. Either Christ is not fully God (Arianism) or Christ is two subjects, one predestinating the other (Nestorianism).
    I grant that the ignorance of Christ shows the limitation of human nature, but it is not the nature which is ignorant, but the divine person, which breaks the dialectic between ignorance and knowledge.
    To say that the will moves in so far as it conscious is nonsense. The will is not conscious. The person uses consciousness as a power of the soul, just as the will is a power used by the person. The human will cannot move in the opposite direction for a few reasons. First the will is a power which does no moving of its own apart from the divine person. Second, to will otherwise is not to will in opposition to. This is a claim you need to in fact argue rather than repeatedly assert.

    The human will did not remain passive for a few reasons. First, the will doesn’t act, the person by way of his human power does, so to say that the human will remains passive is to say the divine person of the Son is passive and hence subordinated. Second, proper relationship of the human to the divine is not passivity, but activity, otherwise creation would be opposed to God.

    Also, Jesus’ willing to preserve his life isn’t a presumed or apparent good, but a real good eternally willed by God. His willing in his human power to go to the Cross isn’t a passive predestined act, but a free act by the divine Son. Hence it can’t be passive by definition. By doing so he re-orients human nature to go through death to the end of resurrection. Hence his willing in subjection to the divine will is not a subordinate willing.

    The human intellect and consciousness doesn’t experience anything. The divine person does the experiencing. The divine will doesn’t need to ensure that human will is limited in scope since this is true of it qua nature. What you are proposing is a limitation more strict than nature, which puts us back into the dialectical framework of nature and grace where the latter is added from the “outside.” Again, you keep asserting that to will otherwise is to will contrary to or opposite t. This is why there is no further point in dialoging since you keep asserting such things.

    Fear of death is proper to human nature in which Christ was enhomizied and into whom human nature was enhypostacized.

    You ask how the divine person can suffer death and will in a human way without implying Nestorianism. Simple. Because it is the divine person which individuates and concretizes his human nature. His suffering, as I explained before a la Cyril, is not a passivity but an activity and so by going through it undoes it. This is just plain old Cyril, so that if you wish to tar it with Nestorianism, you’ll end up with the absurd conclusion that Cyril was Nestorian. So no, Maximus’ view does not imply Nestorianism. And the divine person willing freely in both wills doesn’t parallel Augustine’s view of Christ as the paragon of predestination. The reason is simple. Augustine’s view is obviously problematic, but Maximus’ insistence that the divine person wills freely and as such is the paragon of human freedom doesn’t imply any kind of dual subject in Christ or any kind of absolute autonomy in the case of every other human being’s volitional activity. As for Nestorianism, I am not the person repeatedly and explicitly speaking of “two persons.”

    It is true that the death of Adam as a consequence doesn’t not imply that God did not will it vindictively. But it isn’t positive evidence for the view either. The consequence or Issuant account is consistent with the biblical narrative. That is, it can explain the data without recourse to the notion of vindictive justice. So if you wish to argue from the text for the latter, you’ll need to draw out the notion of vindictive justice from the text or show how some of the concepts expressed there entail it.
    On your view though, Adam’s fall is also willed by God in a predestinating fashion such that Adam could not have done otherwise than sin.

    As for the tree while our view isn’t explicitly stated, we believe there is sufficient material in the bible to justify the view by implication. What the sin was, was willing deification apart from the process required for it, namely personal habituation.
    God’s concurrent power doesn’t imply that God directly wills whatever creatures will. Even Augustine denies as much when he writes in his commentary on Genesis that God doesn’t cause all things. Here I think you don’t understand the notion of concurrent power.

    I agree that God is sovereign, but we understand that term differently. This is why adhere to synergy and you don’t. It doesn’t follow from the fact that God creates without our free choice (since we don’t yet exist) that the same relation exists between our personal willing and God’s. This is simply asserted by you. Even Augustine writes that God who creates us without our will doesn’t save us apart from our co-operation. So no, your argument is a bad one. It doesn’t tear person and nature apart, it just recognizes a difference between the two. Holding to different conditions relative to divine action for the two doesn’t imply any kind of separation, anymore than noting the distinction between person and nature in God implies a separation of the persons from the divine essence.

    The plurality of objects of choice is not a sufficient condition for free action, but it is a necessary condition. Further I never stated it was a sufficient condition so your noting that, is quite irrelevant. Free choice is more than mastery over one’s desires as an internally determined agent could have such “mastery.” Further, the notion of “mastery: here implies that the agent is the explanatory terminus of their actions, which cuts against your compatibilistic account, which excludes the agent as being an explanatory terminus.

    If free choice is a choice between two real goods, either Christ choose between two goods in the Passion or he didn’t have free choice. If the latter, then humanity never had it or Christ is not human.
    Freedom is not an all or nothing deal. A person suffering from natural corruption, but still ordered towards goodness at the level of logos isn’t fully free, but that doesn’t imply that they fail to fulfill the conditions on free actions for the acts that they are capable of performing. Being in hesitation in ignorance between real and apparent goods doesn’t imply that one doesn’t enjoy freedom. Rather it implies that their choice is conditioned by ignorance and that for a full measure of freedom, acsesis is required.

    Simply asserting that Luther’s simul has a patristic basis doesn’t show that it does. Further, to ground such a judgment in monergism excludes the vast majority of fathers who were not monergists in any meaningful sense of the term. There is good reason then for thinking that your analysis is mistaken. It also smacks of Apollinarianism.

    I never said death was outside of God’s control, but one can control something in a variety of ways without actually intrinsically being related to it. Further, it doesn’t follow from the fact that Adam didn’t will his own death that it wasn’t a consequence of his willing. There are so many obvious counter examples to that claim as to not need any further comment.

  2. Jason Loh,

    If the divine person became passable in his humanity, then the divine person is passable nonetheless.
    If you think attributions or predications, “what gets said” amount to properties, then you’ll need to spell out exactly what you mean by those two terms. It would also help if you gave some references for other thinkers of the view you’re espousing because it is not Chemnitz.

    Further, even on Lutheran principles, the transfer of properties would entail the transfer of all of them given ADS. This has been a vulnerable point in Lutheran theology for some time.

    There is no enhominization of the divine nature in the incarnation. This is clearly a mistake. The divine person is enhominized, not the divine nature.
    You write that each nature is open to the other, but this is hard to see how this is so if God is not the formal cause of creatures and human nature is not a divine logos. There is no worry anyhow of a separation of will and energy since the energy is the operation of the divine person. An obliteration of the uniqueness of the human acts of the divine person would only follow if the person of the mediator was a product of the union, which is what your gloss supposes. If the fear of death or the motion away from death is natural in Christ’s humanity and therefore good, then his willing so is also good. You can’t admit one as good and the other as bad. The activity of the divine person is according to the operation or energies of each nature which does not imply a single united activity. Such is monoenergism.
    In any case, this is just a rehashing of our previous dialog and isn’t directly related to the post. Please restrict your comments to what the given post is about.

  3. I have a question, not exactly related to this, but sort of related.

    How does the divine will relate to apophatic theology? Is the will a divine energy? But if so, I don’t understand at all the concept of divine energy. We say God created according to his will, but as best as I have been able to understand it, the uncreated energies are in creation. (Though that doesn’t quite make sense.)

  4. ioannis says:

    Basenjis have the power to bark although usually they don’t. Sometimes they do bark though. 🙂

  5. Megan,

    Apparently that breed yodels instead. 🙂

    You raise an interesting point. What about individual exceptions to more universal activities? Some are related to conditioning, selective breeding, or other factors of nurture that hinder proper use. Defining proper use of faculties is where we get into dysfunction and healthy function. A bell that doesn’t ring is dysfunctional because that is pretty much the only thing it is for. But what about purely decorative bells, or bells in a painting – they don’t ring. They still represent an object that does ring.

    Dogs that don’t bark and bells that don’t ring do point us to the proper ordo theologia and essence and energies distinction however. Personal employment comes before activities, and even the definition of essence. A person is not bound to always act in a particular way, such that women are not exclusively emotional, and men are not exclusively logical. But that’s getting into assumptions and not necessarily nature.

  6. Megan says:

    “a dog without the power to bark is not a dog.”

    Huh? I hope he was being facetious. Plenty of dogs don’t bark, like the Basenji breed.

  7. Jason,

    I agree that asceticism is for preparation, but disagree about not experiencing Christ in this life. Before I was Orthodox I believed as you. I thought salvation was getting a future ticket to heaven only. It was lonely down here then.

  8. Jason Loh says:

    Thus, each nature “serves” one another in the concrete manifestation of the Hypostasis. That is each nature is completely *opened* to its “counterpart” as regards the exchange of properties since the union is personal so that there can be no separation in will and energy whereby the divine is humanised and the human is divinised. The effect of the *personal* union is to produce *unique* (unparalleled, irreducible, unrepeatable – sui generis) and yet authentically divine and human acts/energies/operations. Hence, the fear of death in Jesus as the God-Man is one thing in common with humanity, but the will to self-preservation initially (rather than to will the salvation of the world) is another. To insist on the latter is in effect to blur or obliterate the uniqueness of the human acts of the divine person.

  9. Jason Loh says:

    This entails that the outward *activity* proper to human nature qua energies/operations is also attributed to the divine nature qua energies/operations manifested by, through and in the one divine person. In other words, each natural activity reinforces, defines and expresses one another without dimunition, confusion and impairment.

  10. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    Yes, I was sloppy. What I meant was the divine person became passible in His human nature, rather the divine nature becoming passible. But I disagree that attributes cannot be properties so that the exchange is limited to predication only. There is a real ontological communication through, in and with the one divine person.

  11. Jason Loh says:

    But Andrea, we walk by faith whilst in this world. Hebrews 11, by faith the saints comprehended the kingdom of God even though they had yet to experience the ekstasis sensuously on this side of the eschaton. That awaits the consummation of the parousia. Ascetism thus can never be for spiritual ascent but a spiritual preparation for ethics in this world.

  12. sorry – the above is intended for the heresy of Calvinism I thread.

  13. Robert,

    If by utilitarianism you mean that things run smoother, in a more unified way if people agree, then I don’t think that is a good enough motivator for “right believing”. Maybe that’s all Constantine had in mind when he sought to unify the faith by calling the first Ecumenical Council, I don’t know. There is deeper significance in a holistic view of the Church being the Body of Christ and the Pillar and Ground of Truth. Knowing who Christ is, as has been revealed to the Church, contributes to communing with Him in spirit and in truth. This is one reason we practice asceticism, so that we can purify our senses to see Christ as he truly is, in communion with the rest of his body.

  14. Jason Loh says:

    Thus, the “alignment” of the human will, i.e. not as nature but personal employment to that of the divine will must be viewed in the context of the concrete exchange of attributes and not apart from it. For the exchange of attributes is nothing more and nothing less than the actualisation of natural potencies in, with and through the one divine person of the Son.

  15. Jason Loh says:

    Jesus Christ was not merely the Man, but the God-Man as in God=Man. He is not only Mediator of the Cosmos according to His humanity but in His divinity too. Else, we separate His divine person from His saving work as the Crucified Incarnate One. Thus, when Jesus said I came to do the will of my Father, He meant it in His divine and human will acting in concord. The human will acts freely only because the divine person who wills is the free subject. However, as the ignorance of Jesus concerning the date and time of His own appearance in the clouds of glory demonstrates, even the human nature has its limitation.

    And this applies to the will since consciousness is proper to nature and the will is moved only in so far as it is conscious. Hence when Jesus experienced fear of death, the human will did not move in the opposite direction to some (presumed) good but remain constant or *passive* as is indicated by His filial *prayer* or petition. His human consciousness experience agony yet in His divine consciousness He was already in conformity to the Father’s will (obviously). The limitation implied that *God* the (Co-)Creator Himself feared death and yet did not result in an opposite will initially simply because of the exchange of attributes whereby the divine will ensured that the human will is *limited* in its limitation consistent with the doctrine of enhypostatisation.

  16. Jason Loh says:

    “And if there is no such thing as a nature to be or to be known without its essential characteristic activity, how is it possible for Christ to be or be known as truely God and man by nature without the divine and human activities?”

    Yes, but is fear of death proper to nature or person? If is the hypostasis, and in the case of the Passion at Gethsemane, the divine hypostasis which suffered fear of death, how can Jesus willed as man qua individual human without implying Nestorianism? The great irony is that ultimately the Maximian Christ is the most illustrious example of free choice paralleling the Augustinian Christ as the exemplar of general predestination. Both are *equally* Nestorian.

  17. Jason Loh says:

    MG,

    That the act of disobedience by Adam and Eve necessarily led to death does not imply that God did not will their death/destruction. And yes, I agree that Adam and Eve had the power to alienate themselves from divine life, and the ultimate consequence which is death ultimately is willed by God.

    I’m not sure though about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil being not compltely out of bounds. Given that scripture is silent about the point your’re making, that would be speculation.

    And no, God never introduced death arbitrarily asca result of the Fall but creation is ever always dependent on the creative power of the Word, moment by moment so that death is a demonstration of divine power rather than the permission on God’s part. Ultimately, even permission is a demonstration of God’s power over life and death.

    This is why even as you and I are agreed that God is sovereign over His creatures, therefore there can also never be synergy vis-a-vis coram Deo. To be sovereign over physical life is the same to be sovereign over spiritual life, otherwise we tear person from nature; the trinitarian relations where all the three Persons equally share in the divine attributes; and in which the whole purpose of salvation is restoration and renewal of this creation of which Man is both microcosm and mediator.

  18. MG says:

    Jason,

    You wrote:

    “So death is outside of God’s sovereign control? Death cannot have originated with the human, since neither did Adam and Eve willed their death (which of course is absurd) nor did they cause their death inevitably since such “power” is beyond their capability as creatures. Death also did not come from Satan. It came from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Death came from the act of disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit.”

    Saying Adam and Eve didn’t will their own death is ambiguous. On the one hand, death was not the desired object or end in mind when they acted; on the other hand, it was an intrinsic, necessary consequence of attaining the object of their choice. They didn’t perform an act of will like “I will to die!”; but their act of will necessarily led to death.

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “it is beyond their power as creatures to cause their own death.” If we view death as alienation from divine life, then it does seem like Adam and Eve had the power to alienate themselves from God’s life. There is an intrinsic relationship between choice and character. Obedience naturally leads to virtue and a good character; sin naturally leads to vice and a corrupt character. And because body and soul are intrinsically related, a soulish alienation from grace will naturally lead to physical corruption. This involves a progressive disorientation of one’s energies, and a corresponding loss of grace–a process leading towards death. So insofar as creatures can choose in the direction of avoiding grace, they can move in that direction, and end up in the location they are directed towards.

    You wrote:

    “God the Creator placed that tree in the Garden of Eden. Ergo, God is the “author” of death. Furthermore, as Creator, Sustainer and Lord and Giver of Life, shouldn’t the Trinity be also have the power to dissolve life?””

    God placing the tree in Adam’s reach does not cause Adam to eat from the tree. In fact, the tree isn’t intended for death, but to be used for the life of creation when creatures were ready to eat from it. Its just that it was eaten from at an inappropriate time. This misuse of natural powers has the intrinsic consequence of leading to losing some degree of participation in divine life. But if natural powers had been used correctly, and the tree had been approached on the proper terms, then it would have brought about a good effect.

    Saying God has the power to dissolve life is different from saying He is the author of death. Just because God can withhold the energy of life at will from a given creature does not mean that God introduced the tendency towards loss of life that creation now experiences. This would be to confuse potentiality and actuality. Even if it was within God’s power to choose to withhold life at the fall, it wouldn’t prove that God had exercised this power and initiated the existence of corruption. There is a difference between losing life because you are choosing to move in a direction that alienates yourself from it, and losing life because God performs a specific act of will wherein he decides to withhold it from you.

    Also (I’m not sure if this is what you are saying, but it deserves mention nonetheless), death isn’t a divine power. Death is a specific kind of absence of life, so at most you could say “God has the power to not perform the activity of life in a creature when He so chooses”.

    In terms of whether or not death is outside of God’s sovereign control, it depends on what you mean. God orders everything by continually energizing every creature. God sometimes kills people too, by choosing to stop performing the divine activity of life in them. But it doesn’t follow from the fact of God energizing everything by continually giving creatures being that whenever something dies, it only dies as a result of God choosing to stop performing the divine activity of life in that creature. Instead, it just follows that whenever a creature dies, it was only possible for that creature to die because God continually energized it. God supplied it with the divine power needed in order to have the created power to carry through with whatever actions resulted in its death. God is sovereign over all things, but that doesn’t mean He always exercises his sovereignty in the same way.

  19. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    Plurality of objects to choose from does not necessarily imply free choice. Free choice is more than just freedom from external compulsion but mastery over one’s appetitive desires. Thus, for someone to choose to commit adultery rather than remained faithful to his wife is not an example of free choice but bondage. Free choice is the choice between two real goods, and not just “assumed” goods. A disordered will which remained subjected to concupiscence and oriented towards the Good is not free. Thus, in this life, there is no free choice since the human wavers between the real and assumed good.

  20. James Dean,

    “’And they said to him, ‘And if the Romans should come to terms with them at this time, what will you do?’ He replied, ‘The Holy Spirit, according to the Apostle, condemns even angels who sanction anything against what has been preached.’”

    The Trial of Maximus, p. 23

    After the union took place he was pressed again,
    His interrogators pressed, “Which church do you belong to? Byzantium? Rome? Antioch? Alexandria? Jerusalem? Look here-all have been united along with the provinces under them! So if you belong to the catholic Church be united lest devising a novel and alien path by your way of life, you suffer what you least expect.” Maximus replied “The God of all declared the catholic Church to be the right and saving confession of faith in him when he blessed Peter on account of the terms with which he confessed him rightly.”

    Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca, 39,161 (Ep. Max 4-8, 9-11)

    When similarly pressed, Maximus argues against Theodosius that not even synods stand above this principle, such that the latter admits “…it is as you say: the rightness of the dogmas judges the synod.”

    Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca 39.97 (Disputatio Bizyae cum Theodosio 261-2)

    For further references and a presentation of the ecclesiology of Maximus, I’d recommend taking a look at Larchet’s article on Maximus’ ecclesiology.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=K0sbuf37A_UC&pg=PA188&dq=Larchet+Maximus&hl=en&ei=qsdkTOn_JsLinAfmz7GlDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Larchet%20Maximus&f=false

    It is simply non-controversial among all sides that Maximus refused to commune with the Roman legates and anyone else he thought was a monothelite. Any of the secondary literature will bear this out as will a reading of the primary sources. I’ve supplied you with some of the references, but Larchet has more.

    You should also be aware that at least two of the texts that make it into the usual Catholic lists of spoof texts from Maximus supporting papal claims are either known to be suprious, doubtful in authenticity or their authenticitity is controversial. For some strange reason those facts never seem to make it into those lists from Catholic apologists. (It isn’t because I think they are dishonest. I think they are rather inept.)

    The comparison with Dioscorus and the 5th ecumenical council is not apt for a few reasons. Neither of us accepts any judgment from Dioscorus or a council he held. Nor was any council he held a plausible candidate for an ecumenical council. Second, a council Rome accepts as legitimate excommunicated a sitting pope. Not only that, when Vigilius tried to settle the matter with a self-described “irreformable” statement, they rejected it out of hand until he reformed his irreformable statement. More to the point, do you wish to argue that the actions and judgments ecumenical council were wrong, just as Discorous’ judgments were and that Vigilius was right? If so, then why does Rome accept the 5th council and not Vigilius’ original position? If you reject the judgment of the 5th council, then you reject current Catholic teaching with respect to what councils are ecumenical, not to mention some hefty Christological doctrine on how to properly understand Chalcedon.

    To state that that if the Pope does not accept what a council does then it is not law is to beg the question and to assume, in a rather ad hoc way the Catholic claim. And that’s he problem with the 5th council since its judgments are accepted. Trying to tar me with cherry picking just doesn’t amount to an actual argument so you’ll need to actually produce one.

    There would only be a fundamental difference in comparison (if that is what Maximus is doing) the divine and human natures if human nature was not also a divine logos, that is, if God was not the formal cause of human nature. But Maximus thinks that human nature is a divine logos, which is why grace is not opposed to nature.

    You’d need to demonstrate from the text that the energy of each nature is only notionally distinct. So far, I haven’t seen that demonstration. And further, there is plenty of material in non-Christian usage of the terms that show its not, particularly in middle and late Platonism. Second, why think the activity of one is notionally distinct but not the other? It seems rather capricious. Third, the 6th council and Maximus both speak of two natures and two activities. If the distinction were really notional, then the mere affirmation of two natures would have obviously entailed a preclusion of monothelitism, But it didn’t. The monothelites held to two natures, but one energy because they took the will to be hypostatic and so the energy was also. Fourth, Maximus’ language about the energies here, like other fathers who speak the same way with similar examples, speaks of energies in natural objects and so across the board relative to divinity. The relevant point sticks for both natures, divine and human-the nature is known via the activity. If the essence and activity were metaphysically the same thing, then there would be no need for activities to know the nature. Energies then would be an explanatory dangler and serve no purpose.

    Desires as I understand them are states and perhaps dispositions, but they are not decisions. Desires execute no intention. To say as not a few Catholic writers have that Jesus did not will (choose) to preserve his life, it was merely a desire, the appetitive will, just is a form of monoenergism. If you consult the primary documents from the monoenergists themselves, this is what they routinely argued and what Sophronius and Maximus opposed.
    As for Catholic monergism, I would think it would be clear. For Thomas, ad initio, is there any will in salvation that works with God? Is there any reason why some end in glory and some do not ultimately speaking other than that God loves some more than others which is why he gives efficacious grace to some and not to others? What is the principle of predilection after all?

    As for the distinction being notional, that is just the point. The text above for this post indicates that its not (and Maximus says its not in other places). Is heat notionally distinct from fire? Is a roar notionally distinct from a lion? Are my actions notionally distinct from me? Second, if the energies are only notionally distinct, then Maximus’ entire defense against Monothelitism collapses and for this reason. His refutation of monotheltism turns on there being a plurality of objects to choose between. If there is only one object for which all choices towards it are selecting a plurality of effects produced in the subject, then the same choice is made every time, just under different descriptions in the subject. Hence there is nothing to choose between and free will is lost. Consequently the overcoming of the dialectic between sameness and difference is a failure such that Christ doesn’t in fact will to preserve his life, but it is merely a desire that has to be suppressed and subordinated. And so we are right back to Origenism. Personally, I’ve already been down that road and I’d rather die than go there again.

  21. Jason Loh says:

    That spiritual life and physical life are simply two aspects of the same life given by the Creator as gift and therefore purely “unmerited” can also be discern clearly from the Sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper which restores and “prefigure” the restoration of the unity between institution and nature. Thus, whether from the viewpoint of the triune God or the human, salvation is intimately bound up with flesh and blood is therefore monergistic, flowing freely and unconditionally from God.

    This is where Luther’s simul which implies two persons also derives it patristic basis. The physical life I have with me, the empirical-experiental is that existence bound to the old creation, body and soul, and person. The spiritual life given to me in Word and Sacraments is situated in the new creation and is transcendental and “prefigure” the immortal body and soul I will enjoy physically in the eschaton. Hence, the simul concept is itself intimately ground in the Sacraments, eschatology and even christo-centrically since the Crucified One has taken on my person (actual sins) and nature (original sin) and given me His person and human nature.

  22. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    So death is outside of God’s sovereign control? Death cannot have originated with the human, since neither did Adam and Eve willed their death (which of course is absurd) nor did they cause their death inevitably since such “power” is beyond their capability as creatures. Death also did not come from Satan. It came from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Death came from the act of disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit. God the Creator placed that tree in the Garden of Eden. Ergo, God is the “author” of death. Furthermore, as Creator, Sustainer and Lord and Giver of Life, shouldn’t the Trinity be also have the power to dissolve life?

  23. Jason,

    I never said there was a divine will to destroy life.

  24. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    How does the divine will to destroy life equals the divine will to preserve of life?

  25. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    Did God will the preservation of His creation when He said to Adam and Eve, that the day you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall die?

  26. James Dean says:

    MG,

    Jonathan,

    Are you saying that when key words that St. Maximus uses (such as “energies” and “essential characteristic activity”) are properly defined and correctly interpreted as Maximus understands them, that the statements including these words are consistent with a correct interpretation of Rome’s teaching regarding divine simplicity?

    In other words, are you saying “A Roman Catholic can affirm those words and not be in conflict with any Roman dogmas” or are you saying “The *concepts expressed in the words* Maximus quote are consistent with Roman Catholic teaching on the simplicity of God”?

    Yes Maximus’ understanding of Will and Operation is compatible with Catholic thought. As long as such a distinction is notional, it doesn’t affect Divine Simplicty.

  27. James Dean says:

    Perry Robinson,

    Your second point is a red herring. Maximus eventually conceded that Rome was in heresy since he refused communion with Rome. Second, it turns on what Maximus thought the conditions for an ecumenical council were and what conditions he thought were fulfilled by the Lateran council. I’d suggest looking at Larchet’s stuff on Maximus’ ecclesiology.
    I’ll see your red herring by noting that the 5th council excommunicated a sitting pope until said pope (Vigilius) came around to their dogmatic position. Perhaps you’d like to explain how a council can legitimately excommunicate a sitting pope present to an ecumenical council?

    Chapter and verse for Maximus’ concession? Regarding Vigilius, that doesn’t make any difference Dioscorus “excommunicated” Leo initially at Chalcedon, but as i’ve pointed out to you before, on another blog, no matter what a council does if the Bishop of Rome does not accept it, it’s not law. So it’s not stain on Catholic eccelesiology. Its only a problem if you have a sort of pick-and-choose system, were you have to ‘choose’ which patriarchs are Orthodox or heterodox, excluding 20/20 hindsight, where everyone now agrees that such and such Patriarch is heterdox.

    As to your first question, the point is that the distinction between essence and energy is not epistemic for Maximus and be held by Maximus long before Palamas. If you wish to try and gloss energies here as merely epistemically distinct, I’d bet good money this will imply some form of monoenergism/monothelitism
    If Catholics can affirm not only the distinction between essence and energy here and that does not compromise divine simplicity as they often object, then why think it does in Palamas’ theology since there is no fundamental difference between how Palamas uses the terms and Maximus?

    There is a fundamental difference, Maximus is comparing Human nature to Divine nature. It would be unintelligible for him compare Human vs Divine operation without mentioning operation of the Divine nature even though it is only notionally distinct in the Divine nature. What do you want him to say?: “There are two operations in Christ, One human, one Divine, but the divine operation is identical to the essence.” what would be the point, of going through that hoop, when that was not even the point of contention?

    Now, that runs directly counter to not only Augustine, but a good many other later Catholic theologians who affirm rather that the divine will moves the human such that the human operation is an instance, in fact the paradigm instance, of predestination and second that Christ only desires but does not in fact will to save his own life through his human energy. I’d suggest looking at Anselm, Aquinas, Scotus, et al on this subject.

    So I am afraid that the theology and canons of the Lateran council and the 6th Council present problems for Catholic monergism just as they do for Lutheran and Calvinistic monergism.

    Perry, desire is potential part of the Will so it seems to me you’re trying to split hairs here. Not even sure where you’re getting Catholic monergism from.

  28. Jason,

    Sure, I agree that the divine person experienced all of those things. It is possible to will both preservation and salvation since both are willed by God, which I’ve said not a few times now. Do you deny that God wills the preservation of his creation?

    It would only imply passibility in the divine nature if a few things were true. First, if there was a transfer of human properties to the divine. But the divine nature was lacking nothing since the logos of humanity is divine already. Second, the divine nature wouldn’t be passible unless of course the divine person of the Son was the divine essence, which confuses person and nature. Third, if Christ were a creature so that passion took hold of him rather he taking hold of it. Fourth, if attributes were properties then such a transfer would be possible, but they aren’t properties, they are things that get said about something, they are attributions or predications. While there are a variety of ways of cashing out how attributions are or are not grounded in what they attribute things said to, they are not properties or qualities per se. Fifth, if God were being it would be possible for the divine nature to passible,but the divine nature at intra isn’t being so no such transfer is possible. So your line ofreasoning is pedicated on anumber of false and heterodox theological assumptions.

    The human will of Christ transcends the postlapsarian will in so far as there is no lack of fixity in the goods,but not in so far as it is non-natural relative to the imago dei. If it were, then the saints in heaven would cease to be human or the human will would not be essential to them. If the latter then one wonders why God gave it to us in the first place when he could have skipped the fall. If the former, then humanity is per se defective and/or evil.

    It is applicable to human free choice because the power by which he wills humanly is a natural human power. What makes you human is not your person per se, unless every other human is your person, which is absurd, but rather your nature. So it is human free choice because the will is a natural human power, just as the intellect is.

    But little of this is directly related to the post, but is a continuation of our previous discussion.

  29. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    Don’t you agree that when Jesus agonised, doubted, experience fear at the Garden of Gethsamene, it was God Himself that agonised, doubted, experienced the fear of death? If so, how could God will and will not to preserve *His* death?

    After all, it is not the death of humanity in view, or of a *human* person but of the Lord of Glory. Hence, death is nothing more and nothing less than the actualisation of the communication of attributes which presupposes the one divine person whose divine nature becomes passible and vice-versa. If persons actualise attributes, then how can the one *divine* person actualise the human will to preserve life (and not merely recoil from death) and submit to the Father’s will which is the way of death simultaneously?

    Furthermore, this recoil from death is not only natural but according to Maximus stems from a will which naturally transcends post-Fall human tropos or gnomic will by virtue of divine *personhood.* If such is the case, how is this applicable to *human* free choice?

  30. Jason,

    What is an attribute?

    How can the divine will use humanity as an instrument if the divine will is not hypostatic? Hence no Nestorianism is possible since Nestorianism turned on the principle in part that the will was hypostatic.

    Convergence of the volitional activity of the two wills doesn’t imply instrumentalization of the one by the other. It only implies that the divine person wills salvation humanly.

  31. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    Granted that the divine and human will cannot be confused, but isn’t there a communication of attributes between the two? And doesn’t a communication of attributes presuppose that there is only one *divine* person acting in both the divine and human willing? As such, how can the *God-Man* will as God in one instance *and* Man in another instance? Ironically, the Maximian scheme ultimately implies Nestorian subordinationism because the humanity is just an instrument of the divine will, since after all initial will to preserve life ends up willing in conformity to the divine will.

  32. MG says:

    D’oh! Sorry.

  33. James Dean says:

    Will be back later on to respond to y’all , but just want to let MG know that I’m not Jonathan. I think you might be confusing me with Someone else.

  34. MG says:

    Jonathan,

    Are you saying that when key words that St. Maximus uses (such as “energies” and “essential characteristic activity”) are properly defined and correctly interpreted as Maximus understands them, that the statements including these words are consistent with a correct interpretation of Rome’s teaching regarding divine simplicity?

    In other words, are you saying “A Roman Catholic can affirm those words and not be in conflict with any Roman dogmas” or are you saying “The *concepts expressed in the words* Maximus quote are consistent with Roman Catholic teaching on the simplicity of God”?

  35. James Dean,

    Your second point is a red herring. Maximus eventually conceded that Rome was in heresy since he refused communion with Rome. Second, it turns on what Maximus thought the conditions for an ecumenical council were and what conditions he thought were fulfilled by the Lateran council. I’d suggest looking at Larchet’s stuff on Maximus’ ecclesiology.
    I’ll see your red herring by noting that the 5th council excommunicated a sitting pope until said pope (Vigilius) came around to their dogmatic position. Perhaps you’d like to explain how a council can legitimately excommunicate a sitting pope present to an ecumenical council?

    As to your first question, the point is that the distinction between essence and energy is not epistemic for Maximus and be held by Maximus long before Palamas. If you wish to try and gloss energies here as merely epistemically distinct, I’d bet good money this will imply some form of monoenergism/monothelitism.

    If Catholics can affirm not only the distinction between essence and energy here and that does not compromise divine simplicity as they often object, then why think it does in Palamas’ theology since there is no fundamental difference between how Palamas uses the terms and Maximus?

    Dyothelitism entails more than the affirmation of two wills as some monothelites and monoenergists did in fact affirm as much. It also entails that Christ in his human activity or energy is not moved by the divine will. That is, the divine will does not cause, determine or predestinate the human activity. It further entails that Christ did in fact will, and not merely desire to save his life in the Passion and that this human willing by the divine person of Christ was blameless.

    Now, that runs directly counter to not only Augustine, but a good many other later Catholic theologians who affirm rather that the divine will moves the human such that the human operation is an instance, in fact the paradigm instance, of predestination and second that Christ only desires but does not in fact will to save his own life through his human energy. I’d suggest looking at Anselm, Aquinas, Scotus, et al on this subject.

    So I am afraid that the theology and canons of the Lateran council and the 6th Council present problems for Catholic monergism just as they do for Lutheran and Calvinistic monergism.

  36. ioannis says:

    James Dean,

    1. St. Gregory Palamas did not say anything opposite to the content of those canons. On the contrary the palamite distinctions are in harmony with these canons.

    2. St. Maximus was not talking about the physical stripping of the priestly vestments of the priests mentioned which anyway never took place. From what I understand the Council synodically confirmed what Maximus knew that already had happened, that is that the priests were deprived of their priesthood since they had knowingly and stubbornly adopted a heretical doctrine. How can one be a priest when he is a heretic? Why did Maximus stop being in communion with the heretical Patriarch even before the Lateran Council if not because that certain Patriarch was already essentially stripped of his priesthood due to his heretical doctrines?

    Note also that the local Synod of Constantinople of 867 deposed Pope Nicholas but the murder of emperor Michael did not permit the implementation of the Council’s decision in the West. How can a local synod be able to strip a Pope of his priesthood?

    The thing is that for the Orthodox the struggle is not between Constantinople and Rome, as Papacy falsely claims in order to cover its errors, but between Orthodoxy and heresy. If Rome was Orthodox today and Constantinople under heresy, the Orthodox would support the See of Rome just like Maximus and those who followed him did in the past. Can the Catholics say the same? I do not think so.

  37. James Dean says:

    Ioannis.

    1. If you look at the Canons of the Lateran in 649 you’ll see that there is nothing there, that Catholics cannot affirm.

    Can. 10. If anyone does not properly and truly confess according to the holy Fatherstwo wills of one and the same Christ our God, united uninterruptedly, divine and human, and on this account that through each of His natures the same one of His own free will is the operator of our salvation, let him be condemned.
    Can. 11. If anyone does not properly and truly confess according to the holy Fathers two operations of one and the same Christ our God uninterruptedly united, divine and human, from this that through each of His natures He naturally is the same operator of our salvation, let him be condemned.
    Can. 16. If anyone according to the wicked heretics in the destruction of the two wills and the two operations, that is, divine and human, preserved essentially in unity in Christ God, and piously preached by the holy Fathers, foolishly connects discords and differences with the mystery of His dispensation, and so attributes the evangelical and apostolic words about the same Savior not to one and the same person and essentially to the same Lord Himself and God, our Jesus Christ, according to blessed Cyril, so that he is shown to be by nature God and likewise man, let him be condemned.

    . This is binding on Catholics.

    2. St. Maximus was talking about the Stripping of the priesthood of the Patriarch at that Synod. Or are you saying that a Patriarch or Constantinople can be stripped of the priesthood without a Synod?

  38. ioannis says:

    James Dean,

    1. How does a Catholic affirm the post’s statement when he does not affirm the Palamite distintions? Besides, do you claim that if a Catholic affirm the statement that means that the statement does not confirm the Palamite distinctions? Personally, I do not follow your reasoning.

    2. The first quote that you cited answers in my opinion your second question. The priests were stripped of their priesthood because they had rejected, in essence and not in words because they did not admit that they had done so, the doctrines of the previous holy councils.

  39. James Dean says:

    Two questions:
    1. There is nothing in this statement that a Catholic cannot affirm. So, How does this confirm palamite distinctions?

    2.On the previous paragraph in that chronicle, St. Maximus was asked why he was not in communion with the See of Constantinople. He said:

    “the rejected the four holy synods through the nine chapters…”

    and after recalling the condemnatory contradictions between the 9 Chapters & the Echtesis, he adds:

    “Those therefore who passed judgement on themselves and the Romans, where condemned subsequently at the Synod which took place at the Eight indiction(i.e. Lateran Synod)and were stripped of the priesthood…”

    Why is a Lateran Synod able to strip Constaninopolitan priests of their priesthood?

  40. ioannis says:

    Would you say that the same principle applies also to persons, namely that there is no such thing as a person to be or to be known without one of its inseparable hypostatic characteristics? And what if, more important, one of those characteristics has been replaced with the hypostatic characteristic of another person? About two months ago the first full face transplant took place. Any thoughts?

  41. I wonder if Oscar Hammerstein read the Fathers and thus wrote, “A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it, a song’s not a song ’til you sing it…”

    I also wonder if “Aristotle East and West” addresses this. My friend, Alyoshak, said something about Aristotle being involved in the above too.

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