Theosis and the Palamite Distinction: Questions & Concerns

Important thoughts on Palamism (which occasionally appears on this blog).

Eclectic Orthodoxy

by Fr Aidan Kimel

That there exists in God a real distinction between his essence and his energies, theologians assure us, is an irreformable dogma of the Orthodox Church. If so, it is a curious dogma, originating in a question that most ordinary believers today would find arcane and probably irrelevant to their lives: Is the light experienced by those who practice the hesychastic method created or uncreated? In this short article I raise four questions that urgently need to be addressed by Orthodox theologians and scholars.

1) How is dogma established in the Orthodox Church?

The distinction between the divine essence and the divine energies was asserted in the 14th century by a series of local synods, the two most important being the 1341 and 1351 Synods of Constantinople. Their Tomes were subsequently received as expressing authentic Orthodox doctrine; but precisely what level of authority do they enjoy? The…

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John Behr on the Trinity

Some brief, lucid thoughts on the Trinity from Fr John Behr.

Eclectic Orthodoxy

The Trinity: Scripture and the Greek Fathers

by the Very Rev. John Behr

Some 30 years ago, Karl Rahner claimed that most Christians are “mere monotheists,” that if the doctrine of the Trinity proved to be false, the bulk of popular Christian literature, and the mindset it reflects, would not have to be changed. Unfortunately, this is largely still true.

Defining the doctrine of the Trinity as a mystery which cannot be fathomed by unaided human reason invites a position such as Melanchthon’s: “We adore the mysteries of the Godhead. That is better than to investigate them.” But the danger of not reflecting carefully on what has been revealed, as it has been revealed, is that we remain blinded by our own false gods and idols, however theologically constructed.

So how can Christians believe in and worship the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and yet claim that there…

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Saint of the Week: Benedict of Nursia – The Rule & Its Legacy

A re-post for the Feast of St Benedict.

the pocket scroll

If you do a Google Blog search for ‘Benedict of Nursia’, you will get approx. 33,800 hits. A search of Everything gets you 221,000. St. Benedict is one of the most popular saints of western Christianity, unlike the other Italian notables covered by Pope St. Gregory’s Dialogues — so popular even in his own century that, rather than receiving a mere chapter in a Dialogue, he received an entire Dialogue devoted to his life.

Nonetheless, I have a feeling that Benedict’s popularity comes not just from his holiness of life and his miracles but mostly from his Rule, composed for the monks of Monte Cassino and the other monasteries under his care and used by the Carolingian Church as the monastic rule when they sought to regularise and standardise monasticism, a movement that went beyond the Frankish Empire and as far afield as Jarrow.

This Rule is, I…

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“Beat on that thick cloud of unknowing with the sharp arrow of longing and never stop loving”

Some challenging but beautiful thoughts from the Cloud of Unknowing

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Lift up your heart to God with a gentle stirring of love. Focus on nothing but him. Don’t let anything else run through your mind and will. Here’s how. Forget what you know. Forget everything God made and everybody who exists and everything that’s going on in the world, until your thoughts and emotions aren’t focused on or reaching toward anything, not in a general way and not in any particular way. Let them be. For the moment, don’t care about anything.

This is the work of the soul that most pleases God. All saints and angels rejoice in it, and they’re always willing to help you when you’re spending time in contemplation. They rush to your side, their powers ready. But contemplation infuriates the devil and his company. That’s why they try to stop you in any way they can. You can’t know how much. This spiritual exercise even…

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“The story of Life imparted its voice into the apostolic group”

As the Easter season continues, some Late Antique Syriac poetry for you.

Eclectic Orthodoxy

The disciples saw that the Slaughtered One was not there in the tomb
and they believed that He had risen,
and they became confirmed in the things revealed.
They saw the covering of borrowed garments placed aside by Him,
and they had perceived that He had clothed himself in glory and manly power.
They saw the resurrection and they became confirmed on account of its effects;
and they clothed themselves in power
so that they might become mouth-pieces for His proclamation.
They saw that the region of death had been trodden under foot
at the Resurrection of the dead.
Then they returned to become witnesses in the world about the resurrection.
They saw that birthpangs had struck Sheol and it gave birth to Life
and they accepted upon themselves to become advocates of the Truth to the new world.
They returned from the tomb with confidence to their companions
while…

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CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: GREGORY THE GREAT ON “RESTING IN GOD”

Lisa Deam pointed me to this recent post of hers about Gregory the Great, germane to my recent work here on the pocket scroll.

The Contemplative Writer

You may have heard that St. Gregory the Great (c. 540 – 604) defined contemplation as “resting in God.” Indeed, this quote is posted on the home page of The Contemplative Writer! This snippet is a condensed version of what St. Gregory really said, and I thought we should take a look at the full statement. It’s a wonderfully nuanced description of just what “resting in God” really means:

But the contemplative life is: to retain indeed with all one’s mind the love of God and neighbor, but to rest from all exterior action, and cleave only to the desire of the Maker, that the mind may now take no pleasure in doing anything, but having spurned all cares, may be aglow to see the face of its Creator; so that it already knows how to bear with sorrow the burden of the corruptible flesh, and with all its desires…

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“The Power of the hidden Father comes and in you will be clothed with a body”

Sorry this is a day late. Some of the beautiful theological poetry of Jacob of Serugh for the Annunciation.

Eclectic Orthodoxy

The revelation went out from God to the pure one
by means of Gabriel, the learned one, who teaches fine sayings.

The man of fire was sent from God
that he might bring the message from the house of the Father to the glorious one.

From the heavenly legions, the spiritual one went forth,
who had been sent from God with a hidden mystery.

He met with the maiden, greeted her, and revealed the mystery,
as he had been commanded by God in the heavens above.

He bowed to the Virgin, the Mother of the King, and He spoke with her
in the speech of the country such as she was able to receive:

“Peace be with you, full of divine splendour!
Peace to you Mary, Mother of the Sun of Justice!

“Peace be upon you, castle of holy things and full of virtues,
harbour of mysteries and new ship…

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