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Re: theosis #125443 07/28/03 05:09 PM
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Dear Diak,

Thanks for your response. I just want to correct a minute but not insignificant point in your posting and to make a couple of comments.

I've reread my postings several times and I don't find the place where I use the term "systematic theology." I don't believe that I did.

I really appreciate your posting. There is a difference in the approaches between the East and West. It is real and has consequences in who we are and how we approach Mystery.

When your say this:

"In the end, as I mentioned above, both Byzantine and Latin theologies are complimentary, not opposite. Both need each other to avoid certain theological/philosophical excesses."

I find the words echo what has come to be my understanding on the issue because of my learning here and my earlier studies.

Theological approaches and traditions among us, in my opinion, are not a matter of better or worse; but rather they are a matter of differences which serve to enrich our meeting with God in His mysteries.

Alex had dream of the temple with many rooms that he shared in a posting quite some time ago. He pointed out the beauty of the various liturgies used among the Churches and how rich and powerful our meeting with God is because of them.

The Majesty and Mystery that is God cannot be contained or captured totally by any of our theological approaches or even by all of them. Each reflects Him in its own way and in the totality of the reflections Him presents a fuller image of Himself.

I am most happy that these differences meet and are available to us through our common communion with the Bishop of Rome.

Thanks again!

Steve

Re: theosis #125444 07/28/03 05:24 PM
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Dear Alex,

I haven't entered the discussion about theosis as it relates to East and West. But, I am not sure that I understand your last posting where you said:

"This is all well and good.

....

"I think some of you Westerners (didn't someone have an avatar of a cowboy hat at one point?) want to "overdo" it in trying to make Theosis an integral part of Western spirituality.

And it certainly is not."

*************

Isn't it integral to Christian thought among all of the Apostolic Church that goal of life is to enter into the very life of God because God made that possible and invited us to do so?

I've been taught all my life that we are to become more and more like Christ. Our priests and teachers said that God makes this possible through the action of the Spirit in Grace as we cooperated with Him. The difference is there in our way of expressing it, but the common truth stands behind it, I think, Transfiguration of who we are in the transfiguring power of Christ.

Isn't that at least on the same range? :rolleyes:

Steve

Re: theosis #125445 07/28/03 06:39 PM
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Dear Steve,

Yes, it is in the same range.

But the Eastern understanding of Theosis is much more involved and developed.

I just don't see how it relates to Western Soteriology.

The very notion of grace being created, as it is in the West, suggests that God's creatures cannot hope to participate in the same experience of divine Transfiguration or the Divine Energies that is so central to Eastern Christian thought.

And it shows in the respective art-forms of both East and West as well.

For the West, participation in uncreated Divine Energies is a shock to the old Latin system. wink

But that doesn't mean the West can't come to accept more of that Eastern heritage - as it appears to be doing.

Alex

Re: theosis #125446 07/28/03 07:00 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:
Dear Steve,

Yes, it is in the same range.

But the Eastern understanding of Theosis is much more involved and developed.

I just don't see how it relates to Western Soteriology.

The very notion of grace being created, as it is in the West, suggests that God's creatures cannot hope to participate in the same experience of divine Transfiguration or the Divine Energies that is so central to Eastern Christian thought.

And it shows in the respective art-forms of both East and West as well.

For the West, participation in uncreated Divine Energies is a shock to the old Latin system. wink

But that doesn't mean the West can't come to accept more of that Eastern heritage - as it appears to be doing.

Alex
Alex-

I haven't read the entire thread, but let me just reply to what you said here. The way that I was taught was that "grace" was "Gd's unmerited favor." Grace is seen more as a means of Justification rather then Sanctification. Having said that, the West certainly acknowledges our ability to "partake of the Divine Nature" through Theosis. Although the West is more apt to refer to it as Sanctification. Our Justification and Sanctification is all of Grace, as the West and East both rightly teach.

One more thing, and please don't take in the wrong way; in this and other threads you seem to make statements in support of the West taking on a more Eastern understanding of things. Is this not reverse-Latinization? Does not the West have as much right to theologize according to its understanding the way the East does? Does the East consider St. Augustine to be complimentary, not contrary?

With nothing but charity and respect towards you,

Columcille

Re: theosis #125447 07/28/03 07:14 PM
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Dear Columcille,

Well, you've given an excellent basic definition of Western Catholic soteriology, to be sure.

You are right, and this is how I was taught in the RC schools I attended.

As for the reverse-Latinization, that is a point that is certainly integrally related here.

To what extent can the Latin Church borrow and forcibly insert Eastern theological notions into its own integral system without doing damage to that system?

And I don't know!

We in the East know the effects of Latinization on our system - we lost it and began to think like Latins, including the Latinized Orthodox.

I personally would rather see the Latin Church keep to its own theology and develop contemporary explanations of it for us to appreciate, rather than try to be all things to all people in borrowing from the East.

The Jesus Prayer section in the CCC is excellent. But the West has its own tradition of devotion to the Name of Jesus that is not the Jesus Prayer of the East.

This is why it would have been better for an "Eastern CCC" for the Eastern churches to have been published rather than a "one size fits all" CCC.

In this, of course, you are quite correct and I thank you for bringing that important issue to the fore.

Alex

Re: theosis #125448 08/01/03 04:57 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:
Dear Steve,

But the Eastern understanding of Theosis is much more involved and developed.

I just don't see how it relates to Western Soteriology.

The very notion of grace being created, as it is in the West, suggests that God's creatures cannot hope to participate in the same experience of divine Transfiguration or the Divine Energies that is so central to Eastern Christian thought.

And it shows in the respective art-forms of both East and West as well.

For the West, participation in uncreated Divine Energies is a shock to the old Latin system. wink

But that doesn't mean the West can't come to accept more of that Eastern heritage - as it appears to be doing.

Alex
Alex… if you are now or have been a Roman Catholic - I have no idea what has been presented to you - but if, what you seem to understand, is an indication, then they failed miserably. They taught you what they misunderstood - or perhaps you misunderstood. It matters not which - it is the human condition we all suffer from.

The Eastern Church is the roots of the Western church. What theology belongs to the East belongs also to the West. The fathers of the church and early Eastern theology belongs as much to the West as its heritage and root - and it does to the East. What belongs to the East as the theology of theosis - also belongs to the West as its still valuable and still applicable roots. God has not taken it away from the West - it is the foundation of Western theology.

The further development of Western theology - now uses different wording - the cultures, society, history, language - have all developed. Most of the world speaks a different language than was spoken in the first hundred years of the church (the terms of Greek theology). That is clear. That is history. That is undeniable. It has been 1500 years and God has not stood history - still.

The church has the commandment to go out an preach the gospel. It would fail that commandment if she did not go out and speak that gospel in the language that the hearers used. The Orthodox church also now allows the Liturgy in the local language.

There is no one alive today - who would be able to go back in time and speak with the early Greek fathers about theosis, hypostasis, and any number of these terms as they were once used. It is not our natural language as it was theirs. We do not have the cultural experience that gives these words their full meaning as the fathers used them. In as much as you - yourself - know the need to study Jews traditions and ways to get a better meaning of the Old and New Testament - that same applies for the use of these terms that these original Greek fathers used. You know that - you study these terms. You KNOW this study is necessary and you KNOW most people are not equipped for it. And so - the church MUST speak in the words and concepts of the current culture and people - to fulfill her having been commanded “go out and preach this gospel”. You yourself - must first hear the gospel in your native language - in order to know what to even go back into history and study! It is not as if you first heard someone speaking in the Greek language of the early Christians - and understood what was being said - and decided to study it. You first heard it in your own language and concepts - and from THAT decided to research it.

It is the duty of the church to speak to peoples in their own language and culture - the gospel.

This then, is not a fault of the Western church - it is a duty.

It is up to you - to join the two (early Eastern theology and later Western expression of the same). Western theol9ogy and its expression is rooted in and a continuation into modern cultures - of Eastern theology. To pit one against the other - is nonsense.

The Eastern concept of theosis - is the heritage and the continuation - of the West. So right there it is no true that the West does no understand theosis. These West just calls it now by a different name BECAUSE it has the duty to spread the gospel into modern peoples of the West.

This week I have myself returned to reading the personal letters of direction that Padre Pio wrote during his life - and to see what Padre Pio saw as the ongoing hand of God in these peoples lives - is astonishing! To enter into the mind of Padre Poi (who obviously knew well theosis and the ways of santification - how God works and what we are to do) - is awesome. Daily Providence was his bread and it should be ours. ?:jesus is doing this to you ... Jesus has done this to you because... "etc.. and his own ltters regarding his interior life, to his directors. Simply - gold!

If you - yourself - cannot see how theosis (the deification of the individual) is related to Soteriology (The theological doctrine of salvation as effected by Jesus) - that is your personal experience and it is not the condition of the church.

What belongs to the East does not belong exclusively to the East anymore than my childhood no longer belongs - to me. I believed in God as a child - and I believe in God today - but I will use different words and concepts to describe this belief - that has not - itself - changed. The words used are the shell used to express the belief - and not the belief itself.

The Western Church - recognizes and honors - the Eastern church’s Doctors. The Eastern Church is the heritage of the Western church - it is its roots and it remains its roots. The entire Church - is One church that is like a huge tree that has grown and developed through history. Whatever is cut off from its roots - dies - and the Western church is not dead - it remains tied to and feed from its roots.

Theosis - Saint John of the Cross gives such a developed and comprehensive image of theosis and how God works in man and what happens to the individual as he is sanctified - that he is used in Orthodox seminaries! Western civilization and the Western church - has produced more books, studies, histories, etc.. about the early years (Eastern) of the church and her theology and such - that the East has published - and many of these are used in the Orthodox seminaries. Theosis or sanctification - it is your job - to find the continuity under the shell.

It seems to me that your past of current Roman Catholic teachers - have failed you miserably - or - you were too young to understand and mostly likely a mix of both. This - is the human situation. This is one of the fences that God allows everyone to face - and climb - and get past and surmount - if we are to find him.

Having said that, I will say again very publicly… I know your dedication and sincerity - and I admire it. I can guess - the treasures and riches and pearls - that the good Lord has given you by way of your study of Eastern theology. It ‘speaks to you’ like nothing has before. But it is rather that you and God have settled on a ‘language‘ between yourselves and it is not that this is the only ‘language’ that God speaks in. He comes down to us all - and speaks in our language and our concepts and our experiences. He becomes - human as we are.

It would be best - of all of us - not to make the assumption that God is only revealed in one way (the way we experience him) but that he reveales himself to the others that the church is commanded to speak the gospel to - in ways that we do not fully understand and He has no need to explain himself regarding.

It is a massive act of humility - to say “Well… I really don’t know much about that.” because, as humans, we desire that we DO know. We WANT an intellectual system to make sense and follow. And we WANT to say “this is the right way and this is the wrong way.”

You remind me of Simon Peter. The steadfastness of your heart and sincerity are certainly not a gift that the Good God gives to everyone. He must have given you - a huge thorn. Something very painful… that He has, in his Goodness - put there to drive you to Himself. He is so Good and works in such effective ways! Without that bloody thorn - you would be indulged with all your sincerity - in economic pursuits - wasting your time down here. Instead - He forces you to seek him. He would not have given you that thorn (stake) unless He already knew you could carry it and you would not fail. He does not give these thorns unless He already knew the loving response you would give him.

As always… I write to you with great respect for the Lord’s ongoing work in you and your response to His loving hand. I do not worry about you a bit because in my eyes, He has you well in tow and you cling to him tighter than a two year old clings to his mother.

Consider what I say above but do not let me trouble you. The graces God gives you refreshes me and I say that in public.

-ray


-ray
Re: theosis #125449 08/01/03 06:04 PM
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I appreciate your post, Ray!
C of S smile

Re: theosis #125450 08/02/03 03:06 PM
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The very notion of grace being created, as it is in the West, suggests that God's creatures cannot hope to participate in the same experience of divine Transfiguration or the Divine Energies that is so central to Eastern Christian thought.
I need to chime in here, because I really think that the Western undertanding of salvation is not being given a fair shake. I certainly agree that the language of theosis is not as dominant in the West as it is in the East, but I see this more a matter of emphasis, culture, and language than anything else.

Underlying Western soteriology is the understanding that life in Christ is transformation and participation in the life of the Holy Trinity. And if this isn't theosis, I don't know what is.

Maybe some words of Georges Florovsky would be helpful here:
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The term theosis is indeed embarrassing, if we would think of it in 'ontological categories.' Indeed, man simply cannot become 'god.' But the Fathers were thinking in 'personal' terms, and the mystery of personal communion was involved as this point. Theosis means a personal encounter. It is the ultimate intercourse with God, in which the whole of human existence is, as it were, permeated by the Divine Presence.
Augustine would agree with this completely and so would Aquinas, St Catherine of Siena, St John of the Cross, Luther, Calvin, Richard Hooker and the Caroline and Anglo-Catholic Divines, Karl Rahner and von Balthasar, and a host of others. Participation in the life of the Holy Trinity is not peculiarly Eastern. It is just Christian. As St. Augustine proclaimed:
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God wishes to make you a god, not by nature like him whom he begat, but by his gift and adoption. For as he through humanity became partaker of your mortality, so through exaltation he makes youpartaker of his immortality
What, of course, is missing in Western reflection is the distinction between God's being and energies, but this distinction is also missing for the most part in the early Fathers. Perhaps we might term this distinction a Byzantine theologoumenon.

In the absence of this distinction, the West has found it necessary to say both that we particpate in the divine nature and that there is also something called created grace, i.e., that we are actually changed as God sanctifies us in the Holy Spirit.

What do we receive at Holy Baptism? The Holy Spirit! What also happens at Baptism? We are adopted as sons of God by our incorporation into the sanctified humanity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who now brings us into his relationship with the Father.

What do we receive at the Mass? The whole Christ, human and divine! I mean, you can't get much more into the divine life than to eat the eternal Son of God and to be united to him!

So I guess I keep wondering what the real difference is. Perhaps what we really talking about is a kind of mystical experience, something like the kind of experience some of the monks were enjoying back during the Palamite conflict? Is this a mystical experience that all Orthodox believers actually experience?

So I need to know what the real differnce is. A. N. Williams's The Ground of Union has been cited several times already. She demonstrates that there really does not exist a significant theological difference between Aquinas and Palamas on the theme of deification, though there is of course differences in language and conceptualities.

I'll close with these words of Catherine of Siena:
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Oh, abyss of love! What heart can help breaking when it sees such dignity as Yours descend to such lowliness as our humanity? We are Your image, and You have become ours, by this union which You have accomplished with man, veiling the Eternal Deity with the cloud of woe, and the corrupted clay of Adam. For what reason? -- Love. Wherefore, You, O God, have become man, and man has become God. By this ineffable love of Yours, therefore, I constrain You, and implore You that You do mercy to Your creatures

Re: theosis #125451 08/02/03 03:35 PM
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I agree with Father Kimel and RayK that there is no substantial difference between East and West on theosis. For a good overview of the West's perspective on theosis/deification I highly recommend _The Mystical Evolution by Father Juan Arintero OP:

http://www.tanbooks.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=66&

For a shorter treatment of this subject there is _Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life_ by Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP.

http://www.tanbooks.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=608&

In Christ,
Anthony

Re: theosis #125452 08/02/03 10:23 PM
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Great recommendations Anthony, I was just going to post the link to Father Arintero! I also think that the differences are also sometimes exaggerated. For more western deification one should also see the Rhineland mystics Ekhart, Tauler, Suso, and Ruysbroeck. They speak very eloquently about "The Father begetting the word in your soul" also Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity is a good modern example.

The so-called "new theology" in the 20th century was also permeated with the thought of the Greek Fathers, one may also want to check there.

I think people need to understand that explaining how we particiapate in the divine life (without going into pantheism) is not at all an easy thing to explain. St Thomas and St. Palamas and anyone else who goes down this road will have their hands full

Re: theosis #125453 08/11/03 02:20 PM
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Dear RayK,

Thank you for your comprehensive post!

Under regular circumstances I would love to engage you further, but I'm not really in the mood to - I hope you'll understand.

Alex

Re: theosis #125454 08/12/03 08:31 PM
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Dear RayK,

Thank you for your in depth analysis of my own psychological reasons for believing on Theosis as I do! wink

I didn't realize I've been carrying so much inner baggage from previous periods of encounters with Roman Catholics.

Yes, I think my age had something to do with so obviously and completely missing the real point of RC theology in this respect.

Unfortunately for your paradigm, however, I still do miss things even today . . .

But keeping all my known and unknown limitations, cultural, psychological, intellectual and spiritual in mind, I would like to make a couple of points.

I never once said that Western and Eastern notions of Theosis/Sanctification were in conflict.

I said they were different and continue to maintain that difference.

Columcille referred to those differences above. I know he is a Tridentine Catholic and very traditional, but I think he makes a good point - keeping in mind, of course, the very real potential sources of trouble that his traditional Catholic background might expose his own intellectual and spiritual development to ( smile ).

Diak referred to the experiential aspect of Eastern thought. His views are, as well, coloured by his traditional training in both Eastern and Western schools of theology and liturgy.

Look, we all bring to this forum baggage of one sort or another! wink (That's all I'll say with reference to Diak, I don't need him to be more angry at me . . .)

And Father Kimel, who, given what is going on in the Episcopal church right now, may very well decide to chuck in his Augustine Reader to become Eastern ( wink ) is quite right when he says that both East and West see our ultimate destiny in our life in the Holy Trinity.

Martin Luther himself referred to Christians as "Little Christs." (You see, I do read a bit of stuff that is outside my tradition. I know one or two other quotes from western figures that I could bring up if this one doesn't convince you).

The difference lies not in the "that" of theosis/sanctification, but in the "how."

And, frankly, I'm really surprised at you Latins on this forum.

You come here all full of dis and vinegar about "unity and diversity" and then get your noses all out of joint when we Easterners emphasize our very real differences.

You guys really do seem to have a need for homogeneity (I should have been more circumspect with my choice of words, Fr. Kimel, I know . . . wink .

If it's not all "the same" then there is no "unity" - you seem to be saying!

Our participation in the uncreated Energies of God, like our standing in the warming rays of the sun, and its energizing, transfiguring effect on our souls and bodies - yes, that is in Western theology.

But the East truly does emphasize the personal side of this activity, that it is the Holy Spirit Himself that we are to attain (St Seraphim of Sarov). There is a real difference in emphasis, that is all!

And that emphasis is seen, let me reiterate before you go into an even fuller psychological profile on me, even in your religious art.

Lossky rightly points out how later Latin art portrayed the Humanity of Christ and the Saints without the originally Eastern emphasis on depicting their transfigured and deified Humanity.

I can go into any one of your churches and notice the difference in our art - and deduce logical conclusions that extend to our views of theosis/sanctification.

The two are not exactly the same and I think the West would balk at the very notion of "deification" of the apophatic East - as Fr. Kimel did above, although I daresay that issue is the least of his troubles right now . . . wink

Your Western religious art tells me nothing of the Divinity of Christ and of the deification of the Saints.

Is that merely a matter of historic development divorced from theological a prioris in this respect?

I don't believe so.

There is an emphasis on the Divinity of Christ and the Holy Trinity as well as deification of the Saints that just isn't in the West.

It is a difference in emphasis. No one is saying the West denies theosis.

But it is also true to say that a lot of what you are saying from an RC perspective via the East has come to the West relatively recently.

And I'm still not over what you said a while back about the Prophet Elias!

And I'd say a thing or two about my own vies of your own cultural, psychological and religious background, but I find it to be way to complex for a simpleton like me!

And the fact that Communion of Saints liked your post is not necessarily a good reflection on her! smile

Alex

Re: theosis #125455 08/13/03 12:07 AM
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Dear Alex,

Ahh, now you're back! smile

Not always right, but back! biggrin

Steve

Re: theosis #125456 08/13/03 01:35 PM
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Dear Steve,

I only came back momentarily for another shot at the issue. wink

And, as I've said, it isn't a matter of being "right" but "rite." wink

God bless you always and perhaps we'll see each other one day.

Take care!

Alex

Re: theosis #125457 08/14/03 01:47 AM
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Dear Alex,


I hope that you will come back momentarily for anything that you like.

You know of course that I was playing. You are usually right.

I ask God's blessings on you and yours also. It would be a blessing for me to share time together with you some day.

I pray that that comes to pass. (Perhaps passing through Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International on the way to another cruise?)

Peace my friend.

Come back often!

Steve


Posted by Alex:

"Dear Steve,

I only came back momentarily for another shot at the issue.

And, as I've said, it isn't a matter of being "right" but "rite."

God bless you always and perhaps we'll see each other one day.

Take care"

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