Both Maximus the Confessor and John Damascene deny the distinction of communicable and incommunicable attributes in the Divine Nature. As this is the case, when the Logos assumed our nature so that we might assume His, he was making possible a life within the Trinity for we creatures, but one for which we were created. For St. Maximus, we partake even in God’s immortality. One of the problems that Orthodoxy solved for me was the whole matter of creatio ex nihilo. While we came from non-existence into existence by the Word of God, we nonetheless are not whimsically contrived entities, but our nature is predicated on the divine words of the Logos. Consequently, by dint of our creation, we are ordered to the supernatural. This happy notion, however, does not vitiate the fact that we were brought from nonexistence into existence, and thus while we were made for immortality, we are not naturally eternal, but naturally mortal. This St. Athanasius emphasized at the beginning of On the Incarnation. We turned our vision from Him in whom alone is immortality and thus turned ourselves to nonexistence and death. Averse now to Light and Life, we are captive of corruption, darkness (ignorance) and death. Our nous, once the faculty by which we could see what we were to become, has been darkened.
Yet, since even in this state our nature remains what God made (after the Image and Likeness of God, viz., the Word), we are never far from God. St. Nicholas Cabasilas asserts that God is nearer to us than we are to our own selves. Alienation (a loaded term used to all sorts of demonic ends by Marx, Nietzsche and Freud) ultimately while it is from God, is immediately from what we were designed to be: God’s intent and end for us, His telos, which is still present in us. Calvinism, or Reformed Theology (or even good, old Lutheranism, either of the Swede Luther or the dear, old Philipicists) asserts that Christians, to be Christians, possess an alien righteousness, the righteousness of another. This imputation (and here we can set aside for argument’s sake whether Luther held to this – – and I am willing to see it as fuzzy for the early, but not for the latter Luther) of Christ’s righteousness falls onto a whole host of problems, but the main one, the one to be considered here, touches on the notion of creation. Calvin et al., weren’t formal Gnostics or Manicheaens, in that they asserted that the creation was good, and that it was not made of some eternal stuff (a high quality, philosophical word I love) that stood in opposition to God. But I cannot see how materially this charge can be avoided. This same type of argument can be extended also to the whole question of the union of the divine and human in Christ, and how Calvinists almost all are formally and materially Nestorians. Many posts on our blog (e.g., https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/reformed-doctrine-of-imputed-righteousness-refuted/#comments) and many of our friends who have their own blogs who post here (e.g., http://jaysanalysis.com/2010/04/12/quotes-from-calvinist-theologians-proving-ariannestorianism/) have addressed this particular matter. More can be said as well, especially in light of St. John Cassian’s assertions (almost undoubtedly against St. Augustine) that if Christ’s death and resurrection is not done in union with all men and brings life to all, then there are those who standing outside of Christ will be able to have their own resurrection, or else will not stand for judgement on the last day. To say it differently: Christ’s union with human nature bestows on human nature itself a quality it did not have at the creation, but for which it was nonetheless created.
Calvinism, or even Protestant Augustinianism, by asserting the notion of alien righteousness, has cut us off, even from the moment of creation, from the Creator. This is most blatant in someone like Barth (who all my PCA and OPC and even REC acquaintances would denounce loud and vigorously) who denies even the teaching that we mortals have a natural knowledge of God. And this now comes to my question that is the title of this post: tonight (the eve of the feast of the Dormition) I attended a class at a local Orthodox parish (well attended) where the priest made the statement that the light that comes from the saints is wholly the uncreated light of God. I told him afterwards that it gave me pause, for if we are working together with God, and if we become by grace what Christ is by nature (a son of the Father), then is not the energy of God, which now energizes us, also truly our energy now? Am I making a distinction without a difference? Please save me from heresy, if that is where I am going!!!!