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St Gregory Palamas' teachings questioned by theologians

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#21 Lakis Papas

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Posted 02 May 2015 - 11:03 PM

There are examples of saints in the Old testament and in the New Testament who experience the "light" that the apostles have experienced on mount Tabor. Some theologians support the idea that this light is perceived by the damned in hell as fire (St Gregory Palamas did not support this idea - St Palamas adopts the classical theology that hell is torment offered by God to sinners). According to modern orthodox theology it is impossible to understand the process of salvation outside of the energy/divine light context. Light is presented as Uncreated Energy, which existed before creation, it is the Light and Truth and Grace and Love and Life that IS God. 
 
Professor P. Christou wrote on how St Palamas presented his theological arguments: "The uncreated light is not an object which can be sensually perceived. It exceeds both sense and understanding. But in spite of this, both soul and body participate in its vision. How does this become possible? Gregory, following of Photius, expounds a theory according to which the intellect in its elevation acquires a new spiritual sense; and this sense is the light itself. The intellect, when it is seized by the divine light and enters into it, becomes itself light. Therefore in reality it is the light that sees the light. Thus man surpasses the state of ecstasy and reaches union with God and theosis. In this new condition there is beginning and progress but no end. Progress is endless. Although the element of the endless includes in itself the notion of imperfection, just and pure men may be called "gods", since they participate in God. They are, however, imperfect gods, and ones not identified or assimilated with the one God in essence. That which is participated in is not His essence. Any thing which is participated in is divided, while the divine essence as a simple entity is indivisible; therefore, that which is here participated in is God's divisible energy". 
 
There are some question: 
 
  1.  The same Light illuminates angels, yet angels are not upgraded to theosis.
  2.  The transformation on Tabor, was it both a primary transformation of Christ and a secondarily tranformation of apostles that acquired new spiritual sense?
  3.  How are humans in hell capable of experiencing the uncreated light (as fire), without having the spiritual sense that saints acquire throught "concentration of the intellect" and "unceasing mental prayer" (which are two prerequisites designated by St Palamas in order to become able to experience something that is uncreated)?
  4.  What is the role of the ascetism, if the sensual ability of the Light of God's Glory is not an aftermath of human's nature improvement or restoration?
  5.  Other Church Fathers, before St Palamas, has said that "God is known from His energies", but they meant that by observation of God’s activities in the created world we, humans, realise the powers of God. Κnowledge of God is brought into another level by the experience of the uncreated Light: humans are presented as experiencing God's experiences (because uncreated energies exist before creation, belong to divine domain) - saints perceiving them as uncreated Light and sinners experiencing them as uncreated Fire. How is it possible for the acquisition of a new spiritual sense, that is susceptible to uncreated Energies, not to promote human nature to divine nature?


#22 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 07:38 AM

 "The uncreated light is not an object which can be sensually perceived. It exceeds both sense and understanding. But in spite of this, both soul and body participate in its vision.

 

This is very true. The uncreated light (which is said to be azure blue in colour) is experienced not by the eyes but by the person's whole being; meaning that the perception of the light is the same whether the persons eyes are open or closed. A person who witnesses someone experiencing the uncreated light may not see anything at all, or it may be seen by several people who happen to be there.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 03 May 2015 - 07:43 AM.


#23 Owen Jones

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 11:51 AM

"God is a consuming fire, and according to our inner disposition, He either illuminates or burns."



#24 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 12:31 PM

St John of Beverley (+721 feast day 7/20 May) was praying one night in his chapel and his deacon, Sigga, peered through the chapel door to see if Bishop John was there. Sigga beheld St John praying with a blazing light above his head. This light scorched Sigga's face so badly that he cried aloud in pain. St John came to Sigga and healed his face by the touch of his finger, and then warned Sigga to say nothing of what he had seen until after the Saint's death. Sigga led a devout life and became abbot of a monastery.

 

It may happen, though, that people witness the uncreated light upon another without suffering.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 03 May 2015 - 12:34 PM.


#25 Lakis Papas

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 09:09 PM

St Palamas is actually saying that the mind of a saint is becoming uncreated light that illuminates his human nature providing a god-like experience. For example, the saint experience the god-like experience of being in existence with no start and no end, that is an uncreated mode of being.

This experience of uncreated mode of existence is taking place "inside" the Uncreated Light - and it IS the uncreated Light.

The devine privilege of Uncreated Life is given to saints.

BUT the saint remains human in nature. This oxymoron schema, of being human in nature and experiencing existence in a mode that is only possible for God, is offered by St Palamas as the end of road that drives to God.

Then, God-likeness is not a symbolic phrase. It is a reality that provides a new way of being human, that is somewhow the same as the way Christ's humanity renew the way of being human.

St Palamas does not provide answers on how the limited human nature is capable of accepting such an illumination. After all Christ's incarnation was aiming in healing and restoring fallen man's nature.

Edited by Lakis Papas, 03 May 2015 - 09:14 PM.


#26 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 May 2015 - 09:33 PM

Is not this, in other words, becoming godlike not by nature, obviously, but  by grace (St Athanasius of Alexandra)? Those - not necessarily saints recognised as such - who experience the uncreated light attract God's grace in this way. They become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).


Edited by Reader Andreas, 03 May 2015 - 09:35 PM.


#27 Kosta

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 02:55 AM

Is there a book that has published St Gregory Palamas writings, along with the councils of the 14th century?

#28 Owen Jones

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 12:42 PM

Everyone is God-like now, to some degree, or no one would have ever been able to recognize Jesus as God.  You do not have to have seen the Uncreated Light to have a God-like experience, e.g. of time and eternity merging.

 

I don't see why St. Gregory Palamas should be required to demonstrate how it is that the limited human nature is capable of accepting such illumination.  We are not beings that are alien to God.



#29 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 04:10 AM

Coming late to this conversation but has anybody pointed out that the Archimandrite has fallen under an anathema from the Synodicon of Orthodoxy and is promoting heresy.  I am surprised that the editors let the heresy go to print.



#30 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 04:14 AM

Read The Chapters Against Barlaam and Akindynus on the uncreated light of Tabor in the Synodicon of Orthodoxy (read in cathedrals on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

 


Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 13 February 2016 - 04:29 AM.


#31 Kosta

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 06:31 AM

Welcome back Fr Ambrose.

#32 Loucas

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 02:17 PM

Owen, the saint was speaking and writing in defense of our faith as the good Hieromonk Ambrose has note against Barlaam. Palamas was clear that one must first become pure of heart, or in other words reject sin and follow the commandments of our Lord. Then by the dispassion which comes from this, he/she becoming light, sees the uncreated light. And this is not simply sensory, but as the saint explains beyond knowledge and soul to Spiritual. God sees the pure heart and by one's continuous deep and truthful prayer, he/she becomes deification, not meaning one becomes " A GOD" but God allows one to see the light with spiritual eyes and with physical eyes, and understanding God is Transcendent light and beyond comprehension one Glorifies God. In this, Saint Gregory Palamas says we then know God. 






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