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Do Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians share the same Christology?


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#1 Eugene

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 09:00 PM

Thank you Athanasius! This is a good start. Concerning item 14 - I'm not sure if it's correct to say "He nonetheless gained experiential knowledge of humanity that was known to him before in a less direct ... way". For His divinity that exists beyond time there is no "before". However, whether statement 14 is correct or not, I don't think it is relevant to the problem we are trying to address here, so, in order to avoid irrelevant discussions, I beleive it could be removed without any harm for the subject.

In Christ.
Evgeny


#2 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 10:19 PM

I share Evgeny's sentiments about what Athanasius has written but also the question about point 14. Surely the focus of Christ's Incarnation is not the 'experience' of God of humanity but rather that by adopting human nature fully except for sin He enables us to be deified.
In Christ- Fr Raphael


#3 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 12:25 AM

Dearest to Christ Evgeny,

Peace and blessings be with you:

Forgive me for my sloppy wording; I have modified my post accordingly, in order to convey the intended principle more accurately i.e. that experiential knowledge of humanity could not and cannot have been possessed by God unless He Himself truly experienced humanity through the Incarnation. I not only consider this point to be fundamental in and of itself due to its wide-ranging soteriological consequences (as I will discuss in my response to Fr. Raphael Vereshack), but also (as I make a point of in asserting it) the corollary of affirming points 4) to 9).

In IC XC
-Athanasius


#4 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 12:33 AM

Dearest to Christ Fr. Raphael Vereshack,

Peace and blessings be with you:

I believe that it requires more than simply God adopting a complete human nature per se to suffice in the effecting of our theosis; the very nature of such “adoption” is in fact crucial to the issue – hence why I believe my very statement regarding God’s experiential knowledge of humanity to be the corollary of my earlier points regarding the very nature of this “adoption” i.e. my points regarding kenosis, divine appropriation, and the hypostatic union.

The Incarnate Words' humanity not only had to be truly real and complete, but it had to truly be His very own i.e. it is not enough, nay, false, to merely state that the flesh adopted by the Incarnate Word was true and hence subject to true suffering; one must affirm more accurately that the Incarnate Word Himself truly experienced true suffering according to His true flesh; in, through, and never apart from the flesh; hence why the justification of communicato idiomatum in point 16 is consequential to point 14 (such a qualified divine impassibility is, I believe, the very nerve centre of the Gospel and the very heart of the paradox of the Incarnation. A paradox that is in itself a dogmatic truth we must seek to preserve, rather than attempt to resolve).

The implications that point 14 has for our deification is most significant: For God The Word must truly have experienced the passions, defects, and flaws of humanity; not that they might have a position of advantage and control in and over Him as they do in and over us, but rather, in order that when so aroused they might be thoroughly subdued by The Words’ power, such that our humanity may thus undergo a transformation with respect to the power struggle we experience daily (and even by the second, for wretched sinners as I).

Ultimately, by acquiring experiential knowledge of mankind through the appropriation of, and union with, a human essence, God made it possible for mankind to acquire experiential knowledge of Himself through our union with Him. We can understand this consequent experiential knowledge of God as the gnosis that St Clement of Alexandria talks so elaborately of in his work the Stromata; a gnosis or experiential knowledge that allows us to become exponents of a loftier sensibility and scrutineers of our inward states, inducing and assisting the effervescence of our spirit through a voluntary and conscious mortification of our weak and sinful flesh.

In IC XC
-Athanasius


#5 Guest_Fr Benjamin Henderson

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 08:54 AM

Regarding the faith of the non Chalcedonians or Copts, I enjoy discussing these issues with them. What harm can it be to approach them in dialogue, praying for a reunion. They need to know who we are and that we love them.

Here is an interesting correspondence I have had with a Coptic Deacon we know:

(This statement, which is what the Copts use against any arguments about the truthfulness of their faith, that we steadfastly adhere to St. Cyril's Christology which
is the base for all Orthodox Christology. In fact we summarize it in the confession that we recite at the end of the Coptic Liturgy (St. Basil's or St. Gergory's the Theologian) just before partaking in the Eucharist. The following is the statement of that confession:

"Amen, Amen, Amen. I believe, I believe, I believe and confess until my last breath, that This is the Life-giving Flesh that Thine Only-begotten Son - our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ - took from our Lady and Queen of us all the holy Theotokos the virgin Saint Mary. He made It one with His Divinity without mingling, without confusion and without alteration. He witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate. Of His own will, He gave It up for all of us on the Tree of the Cross. Amen, I believe that His Divinity parted not from His Humanity for a single moment nor for a blink of an eye; given up for us unto salvation, remission of sins and ever lasting eternal life to partakers. I believe, I believe, I believe that This is verily true, Amen."

"If you notice this confession dispels both the Eutycian (Monophysite) and the Nestorian heresies. By emphasizing that the union between His Divinity and His Humanity is "without mingling, without confusion and without alteration," we dispel the Eutycian heresy. By emphasizing that "His Divinity parted not from His Humanity for a single moment nor a blink of an eye," we are dispelling the Nestorian heresy.

"Another point that is often used against Dioscorus (and consequently against the Copts) is that he, at a point in time, has absolved Eutycus. The fact is (and this is recorded even in the Greek church records and can be found in the archives of the Athens University school of Theology) that Eutycus had deceived him at that point pretending that he (Eutycus) has repented his heresy and confessed the true faith. When it was discovered
that Eutycus was deceitful, he was re-anathemised and excommunicated and he still is in the Coptic church today.

For those who wish copies of the article (or any articles other) on the related question, and wish to examine for themselves some of the issues, Fr John Romanides' website has some articles of interest:

"Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Consultation" Geneva 1/11-6/11/1993, Leo of Rome's support of Theodoret Dioscorus of Alexandria's support of Eutyches and the lifting of the anathemas by John S. Romanides.

In ICXC,

varangian guard

#6 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 09:02 AM

Dear all,

Alas, now we’re getting somewhere. Thank you, Athanasius, for your first post in this thread. I am unlikely to have time to respond in detail before the weekend (if then), but a few initial reactions to your comments. (I am using the current/revised version of your initial post; perhaps henceforth you could leave that text as-is for reference, making revisions/alterations in subsequent posts, so we can see how things develop in sequence.)

a) It is extremely helpful for you to have set out definitions of the terms you are using, as you use them—my thanks for that. I find some of these definitions confusing, however, particularly as regards the relationship of ‘hypostasis’ and ‘subsistent’. In a sense, there is a manner of tautology here: what is an hypostasis if not a subsisting reality? The word (for they are the Greek and Latin versions of essentially the same word) is not merely equatable to ‘individual’; literally it implies existential reality—a thing that existentially is (and thus, by extension, is an individual thing). This leads to what seems to me a problematic distinction of hypostases that are/are not subsistent, for the tautology of language makes this equivalent to declaring the existence of a non-hypostatic hypostasis. The very definition of ‘hypostatic’ must relate the existentially real; else it inadvertently becomes a type of homonym of nature/ousia. As such, the title ‘self-subsistent hypostasis’ becomes redundant, and ‘non-self-subsistent hypostasis’ an impossibility. (In ‘grass-roots logic’, this point can be made by considering, for example, a tree: there is the ‘nature’ of Tree common to all, and there are existential realities, hypostases, of tree [i.e. individual trees] subsisting in reality. But what would be a non-subsisting tree hypostasis?)

b) The definition of ‘person’ I think also needs to be fuller if it is going to lack ambiguity. Currently you are defining it as ‘a personal self-subsistent hypostasis’ (my problems with the tautology of ‘self-subsistent hypostasis’ remain as above); but this is a circular definition. What does ‘personal’ mean?

c) As to your point 6, regarding kenosis, this matter needs intense scrutiny and definition. When one speaks of the ‘voluntary self-emptying of the Word’, what is implied in this affirmation? What is it that is ‘emptied’, and what does that emptying entail? This issue is of centrality in incarnational discussion, as the confession that the Son is homoousios with the Father means that the full divinity of the Father’s nature is also the full divinity of the Son’s (as you say), the consequence being that this full divinity qua divinity cannot be reduced. The Word cannot become ‘less Word’ or ‘less divine’ in the incarnation—i.e., this cannot be what ‘kenosis’ means. (I am not suggesting you argue that it is; only that mere affirmation of kenosis alone does not suffice. It must be explained and shown to integrate into the incarnational discussion.)

d) It is your point 7 that to me seems the most problematic: the affirmation of ‘the Word’s appropriation of a non-self-subsistent human essence, taken from the Virgin St Mary. This harks back to my questions over definitions, above; it also represents what I consider a major incarnational stumbling block (and one which I’ve spoken of before). An hypostasis subsists as hypostasis: it is nature subsisting. The declaration of ‘non-self-subsistent hypostasis’ simply doesn’t work, though it is worth recognising what this declaration is trying to achieve—namely, the prevention of a definition of personal or concrete reality to the humanity prior to the incarnational union, such that there is no question of concrete entities fusing, being merged, mixing, etc. Nonetheless, the problem with this manner of attempt is that it mandates the existence of a pre-incarnational, non-hypostatic hypostasis of human nature which the hypostatic hypostasis of the Word takes to himself in union. What is this pre-incarnational human ‘non-subsistent hypostasis’?

In a sense, this attempt at solving the difficulties of a compositional vision of the incarnation leaves one with the abiding problems that inspire it: there are to ‘things’ coming together—even if one is now being defined (problematically) as ‘non-self-subsistent’. As much as the language employed tries to speak of this incarnational vision as a ‘hypostatic union’, it is still rather a compositional union, with the bits in composition now being called ‘hypostases’ (rather than speaking of, e.g., a composition of ousiai). True hypostatic union must speak of the incarnation being an hypostatic event: the changing of a single hypostasis’ mode of hypostatisation; not a union with another hypostasis of any qualification, but the single hypostasis’ coming-to-hypostatise two natures rather than one.

INXC, Matthew


#7 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 12:34 PM

Dear Athanasius,

I still think the focus on God's experience of humanity is wrong. As you may know this word 'experience' comes with a lot of baggage in our western modern age. Chiefly it takes us far away from the profundity involved in communion between God & man.

As the Holy fathers explain God became man so that man could become like God. This is something far beyond "God experienced man so that man could experience God."

In any case when it comes to Christology and the communicato idiomatum we are talking about Christ's human nature illumined by His divine nature- of His human nature St. John of Damascus writes,

Moreover, the Word makes human things His own, because what is proper to His sacred flesh belongs to Him; and the things which are His own He communicates to His flesh. This is after the manner of exchange...


In Christ- Fr Raphael

#8 Fr Aaron Warwick

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 01:12 PM

Fr. Raphael:

Bless! I offer the following quote from Hebrews 4 for your consideration:

"14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

I think as Dr. Steenberg has mentioned many times in these discussions, we should avoid polarizing issues and turning things into black and white. My personal impression from Athanasius' post was that his point in question (i.e. God experiencing humanity) was entirely Orthodox. Furthermore, from his clarifications, he has shown that he, too, believes in God's incarnation leading to our deification. Regardless, the view originally expressed by Athanasius (i.e. that God experienced our humanity and is thus able to "sympathize" with our weaknesses and human experiences) does not exclude the fact that God transformed humanity. Our God is not a God who merely "empathizes" with us, but has "experienced" us. This is a beautiful part of the Incarnation, but certainly not the only aspect of the Incarnation.

Your prayers.
Aaron

#9 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 02:12 PM

Dear Aaron,

Your point about the sympathy of God for humanity is correct. The whole point of the Incarnation of Christ is so that through God's sharing the human condition humanity may be transformed.

Nevertheless our choice of words is very important. God shares in the human condition and in this sense has an experience of it. This is quite different however from claiming that the focus of the Incarnation is so that God may experience humanity. Even the addition of this small word -experience "of"- points to the depths of what the Holy Fathers are trying to explain in terms of the point of Christ's Incarnation.

God already knows His creation- beyond this though the Incarnation is the sharing of His Divinity through His dearest creation which is man- the microcosm of creation- so that this creation through man may be saved from death.

God does not experience man, rather through Christ He saves Him.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#10 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 02:14 PM

A correction to my last post.

"God does not experience man, rather through Christ He saves Him", should be "God does not experience man, rather through Christ He saves him." (ie humanity)

#11 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 03:35 PM

Dearest to Christ M.C. Steenberg,

Peace and blessings be with you:

I find some of these definitions confusing, however, particularly as regards the relationship of ‘hypostasis’ and ‘subsistent’. In a sense, there is a manner of tautology here: what is an hypostasis if not a subsisting reality? The word (for they are the Greek and Latin versions of essentially the same word) is not merely equatable to ‘individual’; literally it implies existential reality—a thing that existentially is (and thus, by extension, is an individual thing).


You will have to forgive me for another instance of sloppiness in my initial post. The problem this time is that I did not even complete typing out my definition of hypostasis! – this is evident from the fact I did not even end that which was written with a period mark as with the other definitions so completed. Hypostasis was in fact (as I recall) the last term on my list of definitions before I re-arranged them alphabetically; I must have been distracted prior to completing my definition of hypostasis, such that I subsequently went on to rearrange my definitions assuming that I had completed them all.

I will once again revise my initial post:

Hypostasis – An individual or particular subsistence.

This leads to what seems to me a problematic distinction of hypostases that are/are not subsistent, for the tautology of language makes this equivalent to declaring the existence of a non-hypostatic hypostasis.


A non-self-subsistent hypostasis (NSSH) is indeed a non-hypostatic hypostasis (NHH), though I do not find that there is anything problematic about this.

If X is a NSSH or a NHH, this simply means that it is not an independent self-sustaining individual subsistent reality i.e. it is not a hypostasis in and of itself – it cannot exist in its own right, but rather it receives its hypostatic value upon being hypostatized or individuated in a hypostatic union. Its hypostasis is thus contingent upon its union with a logically prior existing self-subsistent hypostasis (SSH).

(In ‘grass-roots logic’, this point can be made by considering, for example, a tree: there is the ‘nature’ of Tree common to all, and there are existential realities, hypostases, of tree [i.e. individual trees] subsisting in reality. But what would be a non-subsisting tree hypostasis?)


Since a tree is considered a simple SSH, it cannot be employed as the subject of an appropriate and relevant analogy in examining our understanding of NSSH and SSH, which apply strictly to composite SSH. A better analogy to consider is that of the union of body and soul to make up the individual man: Person Y’s body is a NSSH, for it only exists in union with Y’s soul, and most importantly it never has, and never will have its own independent existence apart from its unity with Y’s soul.

The definition of ‘person’ I think also needs to be fuller if it is going to lack ambiguity. Currently you are defining it as ‘a personal self-subsistent hypostasis’ (my problems with the tautology of ‘self-subsistent hypostasis’ remain as above); but this is a circular definition. What does ‘personal’ mean?


This is not a circular definition at all; it could be considered as such had I employed the term 'personal' to denote that which relates to or affects a person, however I was employing the term to denote that which is rational and self-conscious. It is what distinguishes for example, a human being from a rock being; for whilst they are both SSH, only the human being is a personal SSH by virtue of its SSH being self-conscious and rational, and hence a person.

c) As to your point 6, regarding kenosis, this matter needs intense scrutiny and definition. When one speaks of the ‘voluntary self-emptying of the Word’, what is implied in this affirmation? What is it that is ‘emptied’, and what does that emptying entail?


I think the problem here is that you are approaching my 17 points as a list of 17 independent statements as opposed to a set of 17 complementary statements. As you can see in the manner I laid down my 17 points, I connected and interrelated certain points to others in parenthesis, for the purpose of affirming and clarifying the implications and corollaries of those very points.

If you read points 7 and 14 for example, you will find that these two points relate back to point 6, and hence answer your questions. According to point 7, kenosis entails divine appropriation; according to point 14, kenosis - which entails divine appropriation - implies that God The Word gained experiential knowledge of humanity.

Thus, the purpose of point 6 was to affirm that the Word was the subject of kenosis, and that such kenosis was voluntary. The purpose of point 7 was to clarify what kenosis entails, and the purpose of point 14 was to elaborate upon the implications of kenosis and divine appropriation inter alia.

though it is worth recognising what this declaration is trying to achieve—namely, the prevention of a definition of personal or concrete reality to the humanity prior to the incarnational union...What is this pre-incarnational human ‘non-subsistent hypostasis’?


The declaration is in fact aimed at preserving the inseparable unity of the human and divine hypostases within the hypostatic union. Since the human hypostases is non-self-subsistent, it cannot exist in and of itself, but rather it receives its hypostatic value upon being hypostatized or individuated by the self-subsistent eternal hypostasis of The Word. As such it can never separate nor exist independently from His divinity i.e. the composite self-subsistent hypostasis of the Incarnate Word is irreducible.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#12 Fr Aaron Warwick

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 03:37 PM

Fr. Raphael:

Forgive, but I have to ask if this quote is really accurate: "God does not experience man, rather through Christ He saves him (i.e. humanity)." I just don't think we can make a blanket statement saying that God did not experience man. Furthermore, I think that your statement is made more out of trying to emphasize the ultimate purpose of the Incarnation, which was to deify humanity, than to actually say that God did not experience man. If what St. Gregory said, "What was not assumed was not healed," then is it not necessary that God 'experience' man?

I apologize, but I personally would like some clarification on this issue to know the Orthodox understanding. Any outside comments or perspectives about this, especially from Dr. Steenberg, would be much appreciated.

Aaron


#13 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 03:46 PM

Dearest to Christ Fr Raphael Vereshack,

Peace and blessings be with you:

I still think the focus on God's experience of humanity is wrong.


Exclusive focus may be considered “wrong”, however focus per se certainly cannot be considered “wrong” in any sense of the word. As Mr. Warwick has rightfully pointed out on my behalf (and I warmly thank him for his input), I do not affirm God’s acquiring experiential knowledge of humanity to the exclusion or detriment of theosis, rather I consider it a fundamental aspect of our very deification.

As I attempted to argue in my previous post, The Word’s experiential knowledge of humanity was not simply for the sake of empathizing with us, but rather it was a practical corollary of a true incarnation and which served the soteriological purpose of transforming the manner in which we handle our very own human experiences.

In experiencing and consequently subduing and exercising providence over the temptations and weaknesses of His humanity as they became aroused, God consequently transformed our humanity, that we too may exercise such authority and control over the passions of our flesh, in order that we may consistently incline towards increasing participation in the uncreated goodness of God.

To further stress my point concerning the relevance of God’s experiential knowledge of humanity to our deification, and the causal relationship involved, I propose the following: In complementing St Gregory the Theologian’s maxim which states that “that which He has not assumed He has not healed”, I would affirm that “that which He has not experienced, the faculty of such experience has not been assumed.” What I am saying here may be demonstrated by a simple example: If Christ did not assume a human soul, then the human soul was not healed, and if Christ did not truly experience a human soul, then a human soul was not truly assumed, and hence a human soul was not healed.

As the Holy fathers explain God became man so that man could become like God. This is something far beyond "God experienced man so that man could experience God."


I would consider it the prior logical precedent of this expression, as opposed to one going “far beyond” it.

St Clement of Alexandria (one who specifically employed a modified form of the expression “God became man so that man may become god”), sets out his basic understanding of soteriology in his Trilogy (Protrepticus, Paidagogos, Stromata), whereby he argues that a fundamental stage in our theosis, is when we receive true gnosis – perfect knowledge of the divine things, after being elevated in union with God as a result of moral purification.

In any case when it comes to Christology and the communicato idiomatum we are talking about Christ's human nature illumined by His divine nature


I am sorry, but this is insufficient as far as I am concerned; communicato idomatum is two-way, not one-way - that was the dividing line on this issue between St Cyril of Alexandria and Theodore of Mopsuestia.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#14 Eugene

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 04:17 PM

Dear Athanasius,

I think I understand you point concerning the importance of statement 14. This statement is true as long as we understand that God's experiental knowledge was a means of salvation of human nature, not the purpose. God doesn't lack any experience or knowledge, but He did it for us. He always experience what we experience, because we are all part of Him and exist in Him, although as created beings. However, the point is not just experience per se, but hypostatic assumption, experience and accomplishment, mutual sharing the salvific Divine life with human nature and sharing of suffering of human nature by Divine Hypostasis for the purpose of salvation of men. Well, I'm not sure I expressed it correctly, and sounds like we are going into a lenthy discussion around statement 14, which would be distracting. But I hope we all understand the point here.

In Christ,
Evgeny


#15 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 04:29 PM

Dear Aaron,

You wrote: "Furthermore, I think that your statement is made more out of trying to emphasize the ultimate purpose of the Incarnation, which was to deify humanity, than to actually say that God did not experience man."

Yes- that's exactly what I am trying to sayPosted Image. Not that God does not share fully in the human situation (except for sin). Rather I am talking about the focus of the Incarnation. Certainly this purpose goes far beyond God having an experience of humanity in the sense that one could say of people, "I experienced that it is a cold day." This is radically different from the way in which God is present and abiding within His creation and also different from the way in which through the Incarnation Christ assumes human nature and deifies it.

So the sentence I wrote above is meant to read as a whole. "Christ's Incarnation is not merely to experience thirst; it is to save man from death." If Christ's Incarnation is only the experience of humanity its purpose seems more existentialist than soteriological.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#16 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 04:55 PM

Dear Athanasius,

I take your point but Who is it that 'experiences'? Is not the subject always the Pre-eternal Logos? So yes Christ suffers the blameless passions- He thirsts, He hungers, He recoils from death. This however does not define what salvation means nor is it at all clear what 'experience' would mean for Christ since it would have no shade of human sin in it. So Christ's experience of humanity is completely defined by His being the Pre-eternal Logos. And that is why I believe it is much better to keep to Patristic vocabulary such as, "shares in humanity" in order to avoid any connotation of existentialism; which I feel has subtly affected our modern Orthodox theology.

Have we somehow reversed roles here? You are the Antiochian and I am the Alexandrian? Well I am a monastic- you know what trouble they have caused before in the history of the Church- I've always loved St Cyril & Clement of Alexandria and St Dionysios the Areopagite (yes the real one, not his step-brother Pseudo-Dionysios)- what else can you expect?Posted Image.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#17 Eugene

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 05:54 PM

Dear Athanasius,

One more comment on the term "experience" in item 14, now from purely theological point of view. St. Gregory Palamas wrote: "God only acts by His energies, but not in such a way as to suffer by them". As far as I remember, Holy Fathers used to say that Christ Divininty did not suffer His passions, only His humanity suffered. Neither, I think, we can truly say that His Diviniy experienced the passions. Experiencing something means sertain change in the one who experiences, something that he acquires after experience that he did not have before this experience. But this wouldn't be true if applied to God, because there is no change in Him. So, although you rightly removed a word "before" from statement 14, the sentence "gained experiential knowledge of humanity that would have been known to him in a less direct" is still based on unexplicit assumption that this experiential knowledge caused some change in Him.

I wonder if we can turn the item 14 from "passive" (experiental) into "active" (acting) statement. You derived item 14 from 4-9, and items 4-9 are perfectly expressed as God's actions. Then suddenly in 14 you somehow turn His actions into His passive "experience".

You wrote:

"In experiencing and consequently subduing and exercising providence over the temptations and weaknesses of His humanity as they became aroused, God consequently transformed our humanity, that we too may exercise such authority and control over the passions of our flesh, in order that we may consistently incline towards increasing participation in the uncreated goodness of God."


Yes, it is very important point, but it is also important to understand that only His humanity experienced the passions, and similarly it is our humainty that experience our passions. The Divinity that He shares with us by His energies doesn not suffer, but only acts, as well as His Divinity did not suffer but only acted.

In Christ,
Evgeny

#18 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 08:06 PM

Evgeny wrote:

"Experiencing something means sertain change in the one who experiences, something that he acquires after experience that he did not have before this experience. But this wouldn't be true if applied to God, because there is no change in Him."


Yes you see the problem with this word & you put it more clearly than I. Isn't this why the Church through the Holy Fathers chose certain words about the Incarnation of Christ to describe His adoption of human nature at a specific point in time which yet do not impinge on His pre-eternal wisdom?

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#19 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 21 October 2005 - 01:20 AM

Dearest to Christ Evgeny,

Peace and blessings be with you:

This statement is true as long as we understand that God's experiental knowledge was a means of salvation of human nature, not the purpose.


It is both a means of salvation, and the practical corollary of the very purpose of salvation. To succinctly reiterate my position: If God truly became man, then He must have truly experienced humanity (i.e. experience follows as the practical corollary of kenosis and divine appropriation), and through experiencing humanity He was able to transform our humanity, such that we in turn may have dominion over our own human experiences.

God doesn't lack any experience or knowledge, but He did it for us.


As point 14 explicitly asserts, God’s experiential knowledge was and is always perfect by virtue of His omniscience; He was never “lacking” in this sense; however, He could only acquire such experiential knowledge in a direct sense via the Incarnation.

This distinction can be defined in the following example: Although God understood human suffering perfectly according to His infinite divine Wisdom, we cannot say that God truly experienced suffering such that we could affirm that “God suffered”, unless He Himself acquired direct experiential knowledge of human suffering via the Incarnation.

He always experience what we experience, because we are all part of Him and exist in Him, although as created beings.


In light of what I have stated above, I cannot agree with this. He could only truly and directly experience what we experience by descending from His heavenly throne, assuming our humanity, and submitting to its limitations, defects, and weaknesses.

I did say from the outset that in submitting to the suggestions of M.C. Steenberg, I would not appeal to authority nor make reference to historical persons or events. But I think at this stage I will have to quote some authoritative support for point 14 since it has been the subject of much dispute.

St Cyril of Alexandria says:

“Even if it is appropriate for the Logos to know that which belongs to humans, he has not yet been called to gain experience of our weaknesses. But when he enclosed himself in our flesh he was 'tempted in every respect'. We obviously do not mean that he had been ignorant before, but rather that to the God-befitting knowledge that he already possessed was added the knowledge gained through temptation.” [Ad augustas, 29 (ACO 1. 1. 5. 47).]

As far as I remember, Holy Fathers used to say that Christ Divininty did not suffer His passions, only His humanity suffered. Neither, I think, we can truly say that His Diviniy experienced the passions.


The subject of Christ’s suffering was neither His divinity nor His humanity; rather it was His metaphysical person – The eternal Word - the very subject of Christ’s incarnation and consequent incarnate experiences (see points 6, 14, 15 and especially point 16).

Nonetheless, His humanity is the very and only instrument or means by which He could undergo such human experience (see points 13 and 17); He thus suffered in and through, though never apart from His humanity. His naked divinity was never subject to human experience (see points 3, 10, and 12): “God the Word became an example for us in the days of his flesh, but not nakedly (gumnos) or outside the limits of self-emptying.” (St Cyril of Alexandria, On the Unity of Christ, page 114, Translation by McGuckin).

It is in this sense that I can rightfully assert the great paradox: That the divine Word suffered in the flesh, though He suffered not.

What I have stated above cannot be compromised, for I understand all principles affirmed as dogmatic truths; the consequent paradox cannot be resolved, but rather it must be preserved.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#20 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

Guest_Athanasius Abdullah
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Posted 21 October 2005 - 01:25 AM

Dearest to Christ Fr. Raphael Vereshack,

Peace and blessings be with you:

My above response to Evgeny addresses all the points you have raised in your last response.

Have we somehow reversed roles here? You are the Antiochian and I am the Alexandrian?


Posted Image I don’t think so! I believe my position presents a strictly Alexandrian flavor; hopefully my response to Evgeny clears up any misunderstanding on this issue.

In IC XC
-Athansius




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