Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Catholic Fundamental Theology in Two Metaphysical Systems (Part 1)

These are my notes from Part I of my talk on Reason & Theology. Thanks to Michael Lofton for having me on!

1. Fundamental Theology

-- Francis Fiorenza: “fundamental theology was developed as an independent theological discipline in reaction to the Enlightenment during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries”
-- Kant and Hume – skepticism about what we can call knowledge; rooted in medieval nominalism
-- Joseph Ratzinger – faculty of fundamental theology at Bonn in 1959
-- Original definition: “That branch of theology which establishes the fact that God has made a supernatural revelation and established the Church, founded by Christ, as its divinely authorized custodian and interpreter.”
-- Emphasis on preambles of faith and motives of credibility; “state of inquiry”
-- Limits of formal systems: Gödel’s incompleteness theorem; Tarski’s undefinability theorem; Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions; modern physics – relativity and quantum mechanics
-- That discussion was anticipated in Catholicism by a debate in baroque scholasticism
-- José Pereira, “John of St. Thomas and Suárez” – “For Suárez the basic principles of Thomism are, at best, open to debate and are unnecessary to found a metaphysics, a fact that makes the system, when not fallacious, superfluous. The rationale of Suárez’s critique of classical Thomism is that it tends to reify concepts.”
-- Don’t sleep on Poinsot, Meyronnes, and Suarez! These were critical thinkers before modernism.
-- Trying to answer the Enlightenment with formal systems leads to fundamentalism, which is a form of fideism; instead, we need to look at paradigms like scientific theories – formal explanations of what we experience and know by abduction (best explanation) rather than syllogisms by induction or deduction
-- St. John Henry Newman, Pope St. John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger, Bernard Lonergan, Jacques Maritain, Maurice Blondel, John Deely, Xavier Zubiri

2. Christ as Fundamental

-- Our Gospel is only as powerful as our belief that Jesus is God
-- NOT presuppositionalism or “worldview,” which is fideism
-- “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” [1 Cor. 15:12-19]
-- “God is love” is part of the truth, but “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [dianoia] and with all your strength” [Mark 12:30]

3. Unnecessary Division is Not Good

-- On Larry Chapp’s show, Matthew Levering quoted Ronald Reagan’s expression: “circular firing squad”
-- Ecumenism has worked with both the Oriental Orthodox and the Church of the East; we have been able to reach common understandings of miaphysitism and personhood, but only after centuries of division
-- Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity
-- The filioque is an issue that has created unnecessary division for centuries
-- But we also need to be clear on what are necessary divisions, where we can’t just agree to disagree
-- Fundamental theology is an explanatory tool to resolve unnecessary divisions and to identify real divisions
-- The division on filioque is an unnecessary division among different metaphysical explanations
-- The division from Reformed theology is a necessary division based on a fundamental disagreement about the nature of God

4. The Nature of God

-- God is truly infinite and utterly simple, lacking absolutely nothing
-- God doesn’t need to be Triune; God gets to be Triune
-- It is consistent with God’s infinity to self-relate in a way that is two other Persons
-- This self-relation relies on nothing outside of God and requires nothing outside of God
-- Because of divine simplicity, the communications can only be absolutely perfect, so that the three Persons have the very same essence. They are numerically one.
-- To meet those requirements, this self-relation can only happen in two ways with exactly and only three Persons
-- Joshua Sijuwade on Trinitarian self-relations and monarchy of the Father
-- The sharing of exactly the same essence is called perichoresis
-- St. Paul says that we know these things about God (Rom. 1:20), even though some things are beyond us (Rom. 11:33-35).

5. Pro-Nicene: Unity of Nature is Unity of Divine Power

-- Michel René Barnes and Lewis Ayres have led the way on this
-- Perry told me about The Power of God by Barnes, an excellent and formative book
-- If the Persons have the very same essence, they have the very same power. Their power is numerically one
-- Since they have one divine power, the acts of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with respect to creation are one. This is called the doctrine of inseparable operations (should be called identical operations).
-- Individual Persons can be the object of a divine action. Only the Son assumes a human nature, so only the Son acts according to humanity. But the Son still acts according to His divinity only as a Trinity.
-- When we speak of a particular Person of the Trinity doing something in creation, it is only by a manner of speaking called appropriation, where we describe the action by the Person most characteristic of that action
-- This unity of power is what puts God’s omnipotence completely above our understanding; this is what it means for God to be truly sovereign

6. What Are Natures?

-- In traditional Christian theology, natures are the good ideas that God has about creation, the reasons that God created everything the way that it is
-- Evil as defined in Scripture and the Church Fathers is a violation of nature; just as we understand natures through reason, we violate reason itself when we sin against them (sinners “suppress the truth” and have a ”debased mind,” Rom. 1:18-32).
-- Natures are how God makes sense to us. If we don’t accept natures, we’re saying God doesn’t make sense.
-- But God’s own divine nature is also infinite (Rom. 1:20). We have to affirm God is the author of natures, but we can’t comprehend how this works.
-- “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers” (Rom. 11:25) – negative or apophatic theology; way of negation and way of remotion

7. Serious, What Exactly Are Natures

-- From the Christian perspective, how natures exist is a still an unresolved metaphysical question
-- Two Christian schools on created natures
-- Neoplatonic: Natures exist as divine ideas in the mind of God, in which individual created things participate (Gregory of Nyssa, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, John Damascene, Bonaventure, Duns Scotus)
-- Aristotelian: Natures are intelligible finite modes of imitating God’s perfect act of existence, which exist in the individual things given existence by God (Augustine, Boethius, Thomas Aquinas)
-- Two Christian schools on divine infinity
-- Neoplatonic: God is infinite by being infinitely perfect in every way (formal infinity)
-- Aristotelian: God is infinite by being infinitely existent (ipsum esse subsistens)
-- As long as you can affirm that natures exist and God has an infinite one, you’re good
-- The terms are philosophical, but the concepts are Biblical

8. Salvation as Unity of Natures in Christ

-- "And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (Jn. 17:19); Augustine’s explanation of deification
-- “The unity of Christ's person, for Gregory [Nazianzen], is theosis” (Donald Winslow); perichoresis between the natures
-- In His sacrifice on the Cross, Christ offers His assumed human nature back to God, reconsecrating it to God’s service
-- "God did not, therefore, compel Christ to die; but he suffered death of his own will, not yielding up his life as an act of obedience, but on account of his obedience in maintaining holiness; for he held out so firmly in this obedience that he met death on account of it.” St. Anselm, Cur Deus Homo? 9-10;
-- “Do you not perceive that, if any other being should rescue man from eternal death, man would rightly be adjudged as the servant of that being?” Id. 5
-- Atonement is based on divine and human nature; the debt to justice is not just based on divine will (Id. 11-15)

9. Logic of Relations: How Three Are One

-- Leibniz’s Law doesn’t work in the Trinity, which makes it most challenging
-- Persons are one and the same God but not each other
-- Gregory Nazianzen: Logic of relations avoids dialectic
-- When counting the Trinity, you skip two and immediately go to three
-- “No sooner do I conceive of the one than I am illumined by the splendor of the three;
no sooner do I distinguish them than I am carried back to the one.” Or. 40.41
-- “Unity, having from all eternity arrived by motion at duality, found its rest in trinity” (Or. 29)
-- Contrasts Porphyry’s motion (dyad, opposition) with relationship (Edward Moore, Origen of Alexandria and St. Maximus the Confessor, p. 78)
-- Augustine: Like substance, relation is a real category of God, only modified
-- One of the single greatest metaphysical achievements of Western theology
-- Bonaventure: “The Properties are in the Persons and are the Persons, and yet differ in some way from the Persons” Thom, The Logic of the Trinity, p. 109
-- Relative properties individualize as pointing to rather than being in
-- Thomas Ryba (from Augustine: Presbyter Factus Sum) – Trinitarian relations are reflexive relations on the divine essence (set)
-- A reflexive relation looks back on the set and makes a copy; mathematical definition of image
-- Broader category than reflexive identify (a = a), which means that things are completely identical. Ryba’s relations are irreflexive in terms of identity

10. Reflexive Relations: The Image

-- Exact identity in some respect, produced from a prototype
-- Used explicitly in Scripture for the origin of the Son (“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” – Col. 1:15; "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” – Heb. 1:3)
-- But the Spirit is also described as the Image of the Son (Rom. 8:29) in the East (Fr. Dcn. Anton Usher)
-- Creed of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus – “One Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, and being made manifest by the Son, perfect Image of the perfect Son”
-- Athanasius citing Rom. 8:29 – “As the Son is in the Spirit as his own image, so also the Father is in the Son” (Ad Serap. 1.20), “The Spirit is said to be, and is, the image of the Son” (Id. 1.24), “the Spirit is an image of the Son” (Id. 4.3), “where the light [Father] is, there is also the radiance [Son]; and where the radiance is, there is also its activity [energeia] and lambent grace [Spirit]” (Id. 1.30),
-- St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Athanasius, and St. Cyril of Alexandria all endorse this usage
-- John Damascene
-- “For the Son is the natural image of the Father, unchangeable, in everything like to the Father, except that He is begotten, and that He is not the Father. The Father begets, being uncreated. The Son is begotten, and is not the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the image of the Son.” On Holy Images, Part III
-- “The Son is image of the Father, and the image of the Son is the Spirit, through whom the Christ dwelling in man gives it to him to be to the image of God.” Orthodox Faith 1.13

11. St. Thomas Aquinas Agrees with St. John Damascene

-- St. Thomas Aquinas admits that this can be correctly applied to the Western view (ST 1.35.2)
-- Hence others say that the Holy Ghost cannot be called the Image of the Son, because there cannot be an image of an image; nor of the Father, because again the image must be immediately related to that which it is the image; and the Holy Ghost is related to the Father through the Son; nor again is He the Image of the Father and the Son, because then there would be one image of two; which is impossible. Hence it follows that the Holy Ghost is in no way an Image. But this is no proof: for the Father and the Son are one principle of the Holy Ghost, as we shall explain further on (I:36:4). Hence there is nothing to prevent there being one Image of the Father and of the Son, inasmuch as they are one; since even man is one image of the whole Trinity.
-- Therefore we must explain the matter otherwise by saying that, as the Holy Ghost, although by His procession He receives the nature of the Father, as the Son also receives it, nevertheless is not said to be "born"; so, although He receives the likeness of the Father, He is not called the Image; because the Son proceeds as word, and it is essential to word to be like species with that whence it proceeds; whereas this does not essentially belong to love, although it may belong to that love which is the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as He is the divine love.
-- Problem solved: We can disagree on exactly how images are produced from the prototype, but we agree on the order in that the Son is prototype

12. But Then I Heard About Fr. Kappes

-- Kabane on filioque: According to Fr. Kappes, Scotism could work, since it’s compatible with Palamas, but we’ll have to give up Thomism
-- Filioque discussion board: What Fr. Kappes means is the same as what the East means by energetic-only procession in Neo-Palamite theology (Blachernae)
-- Interview with Timothy Flanders: The Spirit proceeds from the son quod essentia; Scotists can accept that claim, but Thomists can’t
-- Good news: I knew for sure at that point that he didn’t mean energetic-only procession
-- Bad news: If correct, it would significantly undermine my fundamental theology project by tying the dogmatic explanation to Scotism
-- Once the filioque is tied to a metaphysical system, there are a few problems
-- As per Dr. Goff, the metaphysical accounts for the filioque are incommensurable, so if we accept the idea that the true doctrine of the filioque is tied specifically to one of those accounts, then at the end of the day, there can be only one right explanation for the dogma
-- Essence/energies distinction is a non-starter for Thomists, because their metaphysical explanation is inconsistent with it
-- The Bradshaw-Robinson problem – Equating God with the Neoplatonic Intellect leads to Origenism; absolute divine simplicity is problematic in Neoplatonic metaphysics; that would mean Augustine was badly wrong

13. Where Fr. Kappes and I Agreed

-- Jugie: Scotism is Palamism in becoming; we’re all Thomists, so Palamism is bad (Neo-Thomist captivity of the Church)
-- Neo-Palamites response: Your concept of person is defective (Zizoulas), and your rationalist Thomism sucks (Lossky)
-- Fr. Kappes got to the real heart of the East-West divide from Lyons to Florence
-- Latin theologians were making some really bad arguments based on authority that even St. Thomas had rejected, including those of the Victorines and Pseudo-Basil
-- The Byzantines had been amenable to Franciscan explanations at the time of Lyons, and they continued to engage with Western views even through Palamas and Florence
-- Mark Eugenicus even raised the formal distinction and the defective authority of Pseudo-Basil against his Dominican opponent John Montenero at Florence, legitimate concerns that were completely dismissed at Florence
-- Palamas himself rejected the Thomist metaphysics in some respects but accepted the Augustinian idea that the Holy Spirit was the love of God
-- St. John Damascene had endorsed something similar to the Franciscan view with the Holy Spirit as the prohaeretikon/prohaeresis (power of free choice) of the Father

14. Where Fr. Kappes and I Disagreed

-- Fr. Kappes sees the Tradition of Christian Neoplatonism going from St. Augustine through St. Bonaventure to Bl. Duns Scotus in what Russell Friedman calls the “strong” use of the psychological analogy (Medieval Trinitarian Thought from Aquinas to Ockham)
-- The common philosophical (Neoplatonist) thread is why St. John Damascene and St. Gregory Palamas are both comfortable using the analogy
-- There was a parallel speculative tradition using more classical Neoplatonism (Porphyry, Boethius) that went through St. Anselm and St. Thomas, to which the later St. Thomas and the subsequent Dominicans succumbed
-- Persons as “subsistent relations” distinguished only by opposition
-- Different concept of the vision of God; problems with essence/energies
-- But what if they’re just two different metaphysical systems: relational and emanational? (Friedman’s terms)
-- Relational: What is the interaction between two things?
-- Emanational: What kind of entity is this thing?

15. Augustine's Metaphysics

-- New canon” scholarship – Michel René Barnes and Lewis Ayres
-- The dominant pro-Nicene argument was unity of operations showed unity of essence
-- Augustine was one of several pro-Nicene theologians
-- The psychological analogy was used to illustrate the unity of operations, and the terms did not reflect a Neoplatonic triad (One, Nous, Soul)
-- Augustine emphasized the Categories in his Trinitarian ontology, not Platonism
-- Categories of substance, relation, person; the big innovation was on relation
-- Paul Thom – Augustine applies the categories of substance and relation to divinity
-- Refuses to apply the genus/species account to the divine essence (Cross, Quid Tres?)
-- Gregory of Nyssa: Species aren’t actually divisible into individuals (Ad Ablabium) (Platonic ontology)
-- Augustine: Genera and species are divisible into particulars; the divine essence is indivisible, so divine persons don’t work this way; hence, relation has replaced species (Aristotelian ontology)
-- “Viewed in this way, it is hard to see the divergence as implying anything more than an expression of a different set of philosophical choices (here about the divisibility/indivisibility of a species), resulting in a different selection of appropriate analogy” (Platonic vs. Aristotelian ontology)
-- But both Gregory and Augustine have the same understanding of divine simplicity according to Richard Cross, “Divine Simplicity and the Doctrine of the Trinity” in David Bradshaw, ed., Philosophical Theology and the Christian Tradition: Russian and Western Perspectives, 2012, contra Andrew Radde-Galwitz, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity
-- Bradshaw: Distinguishes Augustine by saying “[Gregory] locates the level of identity at energeia rather than the essence.” (Aristotle East and West, p. 225); criticized by Radde-Galwitz for equating epinoia with energeia, so it’s not clear that they’re really different
-- Easiest way to understand Augustine is in terms of his modified Aristotelian ontology

16. Metaphysics of Creation

-- Relational: Creatures are drawn from nonbeing by their relationship to God, who “calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Rom. 4:17);
-- Emanational: Creatures are productions from God who participate in God (essence/energies); came out of Origenism(preexistent souls fall into matter)
-- St. Athanasius: Relational approach (Khaled Anatolios,Athanasius: The Coherence of His Thought)
-- “the original [pre-fall] structure, or ontology, acts as a kind of double magnet, polarizing historical intercourse between God and humanity towards either a secure permanence in communion with God or a confirmed drift to corruption and non-being”
-- Grace is required even for angels to have this relationship, which entails knowing God as Father, not merely Creator
--"If [human nature] is saved from this fate by divine mercy, then perseverance in its access to this mercy is the condition without which it must again lapse into a confirmation of its own predisposition to non-being. The essential principle is that there is no neutral mid-point in which humanity can ‘remain.’ The two fundamental ontological polarities are either God-ward or toward non-being; salvation-history is preconfigured by these ontological polarities."
-- Florovsky quoting Bolotov in “St. Athanasius’ Concept of Creation”: “The logical link between the generation of the Son and the existence of the world was not yet broken in the speculation of Origen.”
-- Athanasius introduced an absolute Creator/creature gap that distinguished immanent Fatherhood from creation, although it was still imaged in the economy [Peter Widdicombe, The Fatherhood of God from Origen to Athanasius]

17. Augustine as Athanasian

-- Augustine had read Athanasius’s The Life of Anthony and seems to have had very similar ideas (David Meloni, The One Christ)
--“Creation for Augustine is wonderfully dramatic because it bespeaks both God and nothingness: it tells of God insofar as it shared in the good and beautiful, but it points to nothingness insofar as it suffers change and the tendency toward non-being.” (p. 19)
-- “Brought from nothing, creation is given existence and a definable nature only in the Word. Like the Word, then, creation must cleave and remain fast to the Father.” (p. 24)
-- “Augustine proposed that a creature is simultaneously made as well as illumined by the creator’s calling all contingent being back to himself” (p. 22)
-- Glue of love adheres people to either to the Father or to non-being (Chungman Lee, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine of Hippo, and the Filioque)
-- Scientia can given knowledge about God, but sapientia through faith in Christ and the example of humility creates adhesion to the Father in charity
-- Attachment to non-being requires purification and grace to cleanse it
-- Augustine’s account of creation and the relationship to God is very similar to the one given by Athanasius; it is defined by the Creator/creature relation

18. Characteristics of the Relational View

-- Fundamental dynamism in finite being as a result of being called from non-existence (toward or away from non-being by choice)
-- Creation is an expression of God’s good nature (good as self-diffusive); much later, it uses a modified concept of prime mover and final cause from Aristotelian metaphysics
-- Life is from God Who is Life itself, preeminently in rational creatures (“the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life”)
-- Origen: The Son has life from the Father rather than life in Himself
-- Divinization is conformity of our life to Life itself, primarily in the life of Christ
-- Aristotelian metechein (participation) rather than Platonic; like how we participate in a political body, it’s a way of existence; energeia are movements rather than entities
-- Image relation is used repeatedly; soul is a mirror of God; virtue is participation/deification
-- God is infinitely above and utterly unlike creation, which separates the Son and the Spirit from creation
-- Creatures can asymptotically approach God in glory; infinite progress; always requires grace, even for angels
-- Conformity to Christ is primarily (but not exclusively) in our rational powers in this life; vision of God in this life is limited by bodies not being glorified; mysticism is deathlike ecstasy, the soul reaching out of the body; theophanies are miraculous grace

19. Different Accounts of the Trinity

-- Emanational: Christianized account of Neoplatonic entities like One/Nous/Soul
-- Focus on individual existences
-- Modes of emanation from the Father (begetting, proceeding); technical meaning of aitia
-- Metaphysical need to distinguish immanent powers from acts in creation
-- Emphasis on Father and the Son as immanent names; strong Incarnation (Logos-Anthropos Christology, essential view of humanity); weak pneumatology/mission; “Cappadocian” approach to deification/participation as likeness (Norman Russell, The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, noting that Gregory of Nyssa is different)
-- Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen
-- Heretical views by Eusebius of Caesarea, Diodore, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret
-- Relational: Centers around Creator/creature dynamic
-- Emphasis on image of God in creation and identical nature of Persons as Creator
-- Immanent titles are functional triads: God, Word/Image/Wisdom, and Breath/Activity/Will
-- Hilary: Infinitas in aeterno, species in imagine, usus in munere
-- Unity of operations and identity, especially titles like Wisdom and Power; image; infinity
-- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are emphasized for the economy – how men relate to God
-- Strong missions/pneumatology; weak Incarnation (Logos-sarxChristology, instrumental view of humanity); Alexandrian Tradition II on deification/participation (“conformed to the image of the Son” – Rom. 8:29)
-- Athanasius, Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Hilary, Cyril, Leo the Great
-- Heretical views by Apollinaris (combination with Eusebian personhood)

20. Different Accounts of Divine Infinity

-- Infinity had a bad reputation in Greek philosophy (“formless”) [Leo Sweeney, Divine Infinity in Greek and Medieval Thought]
-- Aristotle had a concept of infinity as unending motion (prime mover); Plotinus had a concept of infinity as beyond form or being but limited to the One
-- Clement of Alexandria and Origen were Neoplatonic; Dionysius took the concept of “beyond being” to true divine infinity
-- Augustine: Mathematical concept of infinity beyond Aristotle (Adam Drozdek)
-- Reluctant to use the term ”infinite” since he sees divine infinity as even beyond mathematical infinity; “all infinity is in some ineffable way made finite to God” (City of God 12.18)
-- Applies to time as well; “God is that 'true eternity' whereby He is immutable, without beginning, without end” (Trin. 15.5)
-- “Those three seem both to be bounded or determined by each other, and yet in themselves to be unbounded or infinite. But in bodily things down here one is not as much as three are together, and two things are something more than one thing; while in the supreme Trinity one is as much as three are together, and two are not more than one, and in themselves they are infinite. So they are each in each and all in each and each in all and all in all, and all are one.” (Trin. 6.12)
-- Simplicity, immutability, eternity, relation, and being itself are all brought together

21. Gregory of Nyssa: Non-Augustinian Relationalism

-- Gregory had the least formal education of the Cappadocians (similar to Athanasius, whose work he knew); more Platonic on participation and ontology than Augustine
-- Gregory has no problem with the filioque; corrected his brother St. Basil the Great’s Origenist pneumatology, which had the Spirit operating only on the spiritual plane (“perfecting cause”) (Giulio Maspero, Trinity and Man)
-- Balas, Metousia Theou, describes Gregory on participation; accord Chungman Lee
-- Gregory’s concept of diastema in finite being is analogous to mutability in Augustine and non-being in Athanasius with a robust concept of simplicity and infinity;
-- Deification is basically a never-ending process stretching toward God’s divine infinity (epektasis) through beatitude/virtue; bodily glorification corresponds to this infinite capacity to stretch toward God, part of the process of being permanently on this path
-- One example is Ann Conway-Jones, Exegetical Puzzles and the Mystical Theologies of Gregory of Nyssa and Dionysius the Areopagite
-- “Gregory resolves the contradiction between Exodus 33:11 (God speaking to Moses “face to face”) and 33:13/18 (Moses asking God to disclose himself) by combining his doctrine of divine infinity with the relentless nature of the Exodus narrative, in which Moses journeys from one experience to another, with no neat climax, his desire ever expanding.”
-- “the same thing is both a standing still and a moving … I mean by this that the firmer and more immovable one remains in the Good, the more (one) progresses in the course of virtue.” (cf. divine rest)
-- Dionysius: “[D]espite the lack of explicit reference, for his understanding of ‘union’ he seems to draw on the biblical account of Moses transcending his humanity in a private theophany so intense that he comes to partake of divine glory. Dionysius envisages Moses, in the darkness of unknowing, ‘renouncing all that the mind may conceive’ and belonging ‘completely to him who is beyond everything.’ Moses is no longer himself, and ‘knows in a manner beyond intellect.’

22. St. Cyril: Last Eastern Voice of Relationalism

-- Athanasius: Son is “from the essence of the Father”; used in the Nicene profession of faith, but it is not comfortable for the Origenist view of hypostases, which emphasizes mode of production and immanent fatherhood
-- Antioch: Dedication Creed of 341 omits the phrase, as does Constantinople; distrust of Apollinaris’s minimization of Christ’s humanity
-- Cyril understands both sides; that’s why he is the one to explain St. Leo at Chalcedon;
-- Augustine: Corresponded with Cyril on Pelagianism and had a very similar idea of deification; Daniel K. Williams, The Appropriation of Divine Life in Cyril of Alexandria
-- Theodoret vs. Cyril on the filioque: Thanks to Fr. Dcn. Anton
-- Theodoret’s Ekthesis – “And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit, who gets essence from God [the Father], who is not a Son, but is God in essence, as being of that same essence of which God the Father is (from whom he exists according to essence) … and we do not regard him as a Son, nor as taking his existence through the Son” (vs. Origenist view that the Spirit was the Son’s first creation)
-- Cyril’s Thesaurus – Spirit “is of the essence of the Son, existing from him according to nature”
-- Theodoret “That the Spirit is the Son's very own, of the same nature with him and proceeding from the Father, we admit and accept as pious truth; but if Cyril means that the Spirit has His subsistence from or through the Son, we reject this as blasphemous and impious.”
-- Cyril – “The Spirit was and is the Son's as He was and is the Father's; for though He proceeds from the Father, yet He is not alien from the Son, for the Son has all things in common with the Father, as the Lord has Himself taught us.” “Not alien” is a relational term for consubstantiality.

23. Origenism

-- Problems with Origenism – preexisting souls; fall into matter is evil requiring salvation; universalism/reabsorption into God; begetting conflated with creation
-- This dynamic was already problematic even before Cyril was pope of Alexandria; deposition of St. John Chrysostom at the Synod of the Oak over the “Tall Brothers,” Origenist monks
-- Denial of divine infinity: “For we must maintain that even the power of God is finite, and we must not, under pretext of praising him, lose sight of his limitations. For if the divine power were infinite, of necessity it could not even understanding itself, since the infinite is by nature incomprehensible.” On First Principles 2.9.1
-- Key concept for avoiding Origenism – right understanding of omnibenevolence
-- Only God is infinite; creatures in the image of God are only potentially so
-- We can never fully grasp God in our intellect (divine infinity)
-- Even our potential infinity is a result of grace, although we affirm that this is the purpose for which we were created
-- Created will, not matter, is the reason for evil, which is a negation of God’s good will
-- Movement toward God likewise requires the engagement of our will
-- Christ, as divine hypostasis, is altogether deified
-- Both relationalists and emanationists had condemned Origen, but it was more of an internal problem for emanationists due to greater Neoplatonism

24. Relationalism is Not Origenism

-- Augustine: Matter (formabilitas) is created and not evil; creatures must be aligned to God as opposed to nonbeing; the will can be misused and certainly will be without grace; we can approach God’s infinity in Christ but never reach it
-- “A creature’s conversion back to and subsequent formation by … the Father is of course neither eternal nor equal as is the Son’s eternal conversion. Yet by adhering to the Father and thereby receiving their form, creatures imitate the perfect and eternal Form. The more a creature is turned toward that Word, the more that creature becomes like the Word.” The One Christ, p. 26
-- “This is how creation’s perfection and completion is determined: by its imitation of the Word’s adherence to the Father. After the Trinity’s perfect unity of persons, of course, this is the most basic and necessary type of divine communion: in and through the Word, the Father grants esse to contingent being through a constant and uninterrupted conversion back to himself.” Id.
-- “In other words, creation essentially turns toward God so as toreceive God’s goodness; the notion of “creation” without an ever-active creator is unthinkable for Augustine.” Id. p. 27 [NOTE: This is metaphysically necessary; it doesn’t stop in eternity.]
-- Augustine believed in preexisting souls originally and may have even read Origen (György Heidl) but his doctrine of creation definitely contradicts it (contra Robert O’Connell)

25. Dionysius: The End of Relationalism in the East

-- At the beginning of the sixth century, Christianity was fragmenting, especially among Monophysites and EvagrianOrigenists; soon-to-be Emperor Justinian wanted to recreate the unified empire
-- Rosemary Arthur, Pseudo-Dionysius as Polemicist: Dionysius was likely writing in this divisive time, probably an EvagrianOrigenist or Miaphysite priest or bishop familiar with Neoplatonism (possibly from Damascius) and Jewish mysticism, suggesting he was trained in Alexandria; likely chose the pseudonym to avoid persecution and to stop the infighting; emphasized angelic and earthly hierarchy
-- Successful beyond his wildest dreams; ended up becoming the basis for orthodoxy and reunion despite the condemnation of Origenism and Miaphysitism generally
-- The price of Eastern unity was that the relational model was replaced by the Dionysian view
-- Gregory of Nyssa became suspect of Origenism
-- St. Maximus on Dionysius: “[N]ot simply a rearrangement of the triad stasis-kinesis-genesis into genesis-kinesis-stasis, but a redefinition of what each of these states means.” MaximosConstans, “Maximus the Confessor, Dionysius the Areopagite, and the Transformation of Christian Neoplatonism.” Much stronger Christological vs. angelic model.
-- Joost van Rossum: Palamas replaced the angelic hierarchy with the energies, “Dionysius the Areopagite and Gregory Palamas,” Studia Patristica XLII
-- St. Maximus and St. John Damascene still saw both models as harmonious, but conflict with Popes Vigilius and Honorius was evidence of the increasing disconnect
-- St. Photius is a pure emanationist; rejects veneration of St. Clement of Alexandria

26. How Do We Avoid Unnecessary Division Today?

-- Fr. Kappes: One primarily Neoplatonic tradition developed by in parallel by Augustine in the West and the Cappadocians in the East; obscured by increased emphasis on classical (Aristotelian) thought by Dominicans but developed fully by Franciscans
-- David Bradshaw: One Neoplatonic tradition based on the Biblical doctrine of energeia, which maps isomorphically onto the technical philosophical concept
-- Progressively developed from Athanasius to the Cappadocians (who “go beyond” Athanasius by Bradshaw’s admission) to Dionysius
-- The West developed based on a different philosophical concept of energeia that came from philosophy, primarily from Victorinus through Boethius
-- Positive about Augustine’s theory of illumination, which he sees as from the Neoplatonic tradition
-- My position: there are two valid metaphysical traditions saying Jesus is God
-- There is too much innovation and critical reappropriation in response to historical pressure to rely heavily on philological sources in a conceptual sense; we need to let both traditions be what they are rather than trying to fit them into each other’s boxes
-- Even though the relational model died off in the East, it survived in the West
-- Augustine’s ontology, the relational model, was more Aristotelian and Athanasian than Neoplatonic; similar to Gregory of Nyssa; Boethius’s ontology followed Augustine
-- St. Thomas followed Augustine and Boethius, not Aristotle; with respect to the emanationist model, he critically reevaluated authorities to make them fit