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#351223 08/15/10 08:14 PM
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All,

Our brother Chad brought up some interesting thought about Western thought and Scholasticism that I would like to pick up here.

Originally Posted by chadrook
... the words of Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, one of the most read Bishops in the Orthodox World:
Quote
The Mystical mind is the mind of the Orthodox church and the Legalistic mind is of the West. It is very common for people to mistake the position of the Orthodox as lofty and not very pious. But please try and look into what is truly Orthodox.
I chose him as an example because he is in the Greek church under the EP.

In a nutshell: West=Organization; East=Divine-human Organism
Chad,

I had heard it said that the Orthodox position is "lofty," but never that it is "not very pious." I agree completely that mysticism is fundamental to Christianity, and that the Western Scholastics--to a large extent--ignored and mistrusted it. However, I don't believe they could dismiss it completely, even though some of them may have tried.

Furthermore, even though the Western Scholastics had a huge impact on Western thinking for many centuries, I don't think it is correct to state simply that "the Legalistic mind is of the West." Rather, man is drawn to legalism because he mistakenly believes it gives him control over this confusing world and the moral dilemmas thereof; it is a tendency the Church always has to be on guard against.


Originally Posted by chadrook
It can't be helped with the Augustinian Theology and Scholasticism you cant even combine the two types of thought. For example the Orthodox believe in the Uncreated knowledge of God over the Created. Chad
I believe it is referred to as "infused" knowledge in the West, and it has always been accepted that some souls are given this grace. However, it is also true that "mystical theology" was never considered an important branch of theology in the West.

Any thoughts or comments?


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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Since I cannot be in depth enough here it goes,

"Western theology has differentiated itself from Eastern Orthodox theology. Instead of being therapeutic,it is more intellectual and emotional in character.In the west,Scholastic theology evolved, which is antithetical to the Orthodox tradition. Western theology is based on rational thought whereas Orthodoxy is hesychastic. Scholastic theology tried to understand logically the Revelation of God and conform to philosophical methodology. Characteristic of such an approach is the saying of Anselm of Canterbury:"I believe so as to understand".The Scholastics acknowledged God at the outset and then endeavoured to prove His existence by logical arguments and rational categories. In the Orthodox Church, as expressed by the Holy Fathers,faith is God revaling Himself to man. We accept faith by hearing iit not so that we can understand it rationally, but so that we can cleanse our hearts, attain to faith by "theoria" and experience the Revelation of God.
Scholastic theology reached its culminating point in the person of Thomas Aquinas.He claimed that Christian truthes are divided into natural and supernatural. Natural truths can be proven philosophically, like the truth of the Existance of God. Supernatural truthes-such as the Triune God, the incarnation of the Logos,the resurrection of the bodies- cannot be proven philosophically, yet they cannot be disproven. Scholasticism linked theology very closely with philosophy, even more so with metaphysics. As a result, faith was altered and scholastic theology itself fell into complete disrepute when the "idol" of the West-metaphysics-collapsed. Scholasticism is held accountable for much of the tragic situation created in the West with respect to faith and faith issues".-Taken from "Orthodox Spirituality" by Met. Hierotheos

Orthodox tradition is of the theraputic kind. The Church is the hospital for the Soul. Chad

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Extremes are just that, outliers prone to distortions. In medio stat virtus [Virtue stands in the middle. Virtue is in the moderate, not the extreme position. (Horace)].

Quote
The eastern tradition has never made a sharp distinction between mysticism and theology; between personal experience of the divine mysteries and the dogma affirmed by the Church.

To put it in another way, we must live the dogma expressing a revealed truth, which appears to us as an unfathomable mystery, in such a fashion that instead of assimilating the mystery to our mode of understanding, we should, on the contrary, look for a profound change, an inner transformation of spirit, enabling us to experience it mystically. Far from being mutually opposed, theology and mysticism support and complete each other. One is impossible without the other. If the mystical experience is a personal working out of the content of the common faith, theology is an expression, for the profit of all, of that which can be experienced by everyone. Outside the truth kept by the whole Church personal experience would be deprived of all certainty, of all objectivity. It would be a mingling of truth and of falsehood, of reality and of illusion: ‘mysticism' in the bad sense of the word. On the other hand, the teaching of the Church would have no hold on souls if it did not in some degree express an inner experience of truth, granted in different measure to each one of the faithful. There is, therefore, no Christian mysticism without theology; but, above all, there is no theology without mysticism.
[emphasis added] Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press,1976), 8-9.


Quote
‘None of the mysteries of the most secret wisdom of God ought to appear alien or altogether transcendent to us, but in all humility we must apply our spirit to the contemplation of divine things'.
Lossky, Mystical Theology, 8, quoting from Sermons and Addresses of Metropolitan Philaret, Moscow, 1844.

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The Mystical mind is the mind of the Orthodox church and the Legalistic mind is of the West. It is very common for people to mistake the position of the Orthodox as lofty and not very pious. But please try and look into what is truly Orthodox.

I hope that one day, both sides, East and West, finally realize that neither side has a monopoly on the ways that the tradition was handed down.

Too often both East and West have tried to impose their own way on the other, and too often, both East and West have had an attitude that their expression is the only valid one.

When both sides accept the other as a complimentarity, that brings its own gifts, and each respects the others perspective, then unity can happen again.

Both sides have a poor track record of respecting the other side's perspective of expression of the faith.

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Lossky is finally coming in for some deeper scrutiny, especially by Metropolitan John, who points out his many exaggerations and distortions. On the other side of the coin, Orthodox theologians like Hart and Clement are finally pointing out the mystical nature of Western theologians including Augustine and Aquinas. The differences between Western and Eastern theology, up through the late Middle Ages, is one of emphasis, not of kind. Schmemann points out the fundamental change in Western theology was its divorce from liturgy, its attempt to break up the mystery into component elements and dissect each one in turn, as a series of abstract propositions, rather than as a prayerful contemplation and effort to find "words appropriate to God". But this was rather late in the day, and has today largely been overturned precisely by the influence of the Christian East.

Conversely, during the period of Turkish and Western domination of the Orthodox Church, Orthodoxy fell into precisely the same trap--and nowhere moreso than in "Holy Orthodox Russia", where Scholastic handbooks and methods were adopted for the training of Orthodox seminarians (the seminary system itself devised from Latin models), and instruction actually given in Latin, rather than Greek or Slavonic.

Ironically enough, the recovery of more authentic Byzantine modes of theology came from the Russian diaspora, first from the so-called Paris School, then from theologians living and working in the United States--men who are frequently denounced by the more "traditionalist"-minded among the Orthodox as "modernists" (or worse, "ecumenists"), precisely because they are espousing Byzantine theology as practiced by the Fathers.

For some people, "tradition" means "that which we were doing the day I was chrismated".

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Originally Posted by StuartK
Lossky is finally coming in for some deeper scrutiny, especially by Metropolitan John, who points out his many exaggerations and distortions.
Zizioulas has his criticisms of Lossky but characterizing them as "his many exaggerations and distortions" is an exaggeration and distortion. I've not read any critiques by Met. John or anyone else of Lossky's views as expressed in my previous post. In those quotes I contend that Lossky is correctly stating the proper common ground and balance.

Originally Posted by StuartK
On the other side of the coin, Orthodox theologians like Hart and Clement are finally pointing out the mystical nature of Western theologians including Augustine and Aquinas. The differences between Western and Eastern theology, up through the late Middle Ages, is one of emphasis, not of kind.
Not that familiar with Hart and Clement. Very true about the mystical element in the West.


Originally Posted by StuartK
Schmemann points out the fundamental change in Western theology was its divorce from liturgy, its attempt to break up the mystery into component elements and dissect each one in turn, as a series of abstract propositions, rather than as a prayerful contemplation and effort to find "words appropriate to God". But this was rather late in the day, and has today largely been overturned precisely by the influence of the Christian East.

There was an over-emphasis in the West, dissecting and differentiating and analyzing, where the integration into the whole became obscured. This happened while the East was doing nothing (as noted next).

Originally Posted by StuartK
Conversely, during the period of Turkish and Western domination of the Orthodox Church, Orthodoxy fell into precisely the same trap--and nowhere moreso than in "Holy Orthodox Russia", where Scholastic handbooks and methods were adopted for the training of Orthodox seminarians (the seminary system itself devised from Latin models), and instruction actually given in Latin, rather than Greek or Slavonic.
Scholastic theology, even in Latin, can still be good theology and nourish the intellect and even soul. If one goes to a French restaurant and orders its cuisine one should then not complain that it doesn't taste like Chinese.

Originally Posted by StuartK
Ironically enough, the recovery of more authentic Byzantine modes of theology came from the Russian diaspora, first from the so-called Paris School, then from theologians living and working in the United States--men who are frequently denounced by the more "traditionalist"-minded among the Orthodox as "modernists" (or worse, "ecumenists"), precisely because they are espousing Byzantine theology as practiced by the Fathers.
A patristic awakening had already taken place in the west.

-------------------------------------------


From Zizioulas in harmony with Lossky (as previously quoted):
Quote
[In the typical Western approach] The Church ends by being completely “historicized”; it ceases to be the manifestation of the eschata and becomes the image of this world and of historical realities. Ecclesial being and the being of God are no longer organically bound; ecclesiology no longer has need of “theo-logy” to function. Orthodox theology runs the danger of historically disincarnating the Church; by contrast, the West risks tying it primarily to history, either in the form of an extreme Christocentrjsm—an imitatio Christi—lacking the essential influence of pneumatology or in the form of a social activism or moralism which tries to play in the Church the role of the image of God. Consequently, the two theologies, Eastern and Western, need to meet in depth, to recover the authentic patristic synthesis which will protect them from the above dangers. Ecclesial being must never separate itself from the absolute demands of the being of God—that is, its eschatological nature—nor from history.
[emphasis added] John D. Zizioulas, Being as Communion (Crestwood: St.Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1993) p20

And:

Quote
[His concern] provokes and invites contemporary theology to work with a view to a synthesis between the two theologies, Eastern and Western. It is of course true that, in some respects, these two theologies seem incompatible. That is due, among other things, to the independent historical roads followed by East and West since the great schism or perhaps even earlier. However, this was not the case during the early patristic period. As the late Fr Georges Florovsky liked to repeat, the authentic catholicity of the Church must include both the West and the East. [emphasis added]
p 26

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Deacon Anthony, good to hear from you!

Originally Posted by ajk
Originally Posted by StuartK
On the other side of the coin, Orthodox theologians like Hart and Clement are finally pointing out the mystical nature of Western theologians including Augustine and Aquinas. The differences between Western and Eastern theology, up through the late Middle Ages, is one of emphasis, not of kind.
Not that familiar with Hart and Clement. Very true about the mystical element in the West.
I am aware that there is a substantial body of mystical theology coming from the West, but I would contend that it has yet to be given its proper place among theological disciplines. It is my understanding that the Scholastics were rather suspicious of mysticism (not surprising, since philosophy cannot be considered the "handmaiden" of mystical theology!), and this attitude seems to be slow in dying.


Originally Posted by ajk
Originally Posted by StuartK
Schmemann points out the fundamental change in Western theology was its divorce from liturgy, its attempt to break up the mystery into component elements and dissect each one in turn, as a series of abstract propositions, rather than as a prayerful contemplation and effort to find "words appropriate to God". But this was rather late in the day, and has today largely been overturned precisely by the influence of the Christian East.
There was an over-emphasis in the West, dissecting and differentiating and analyzing, where the integration into the whole became obscured. This happened while the East was doing nothing (as noted next).
I am aware that liturgy was important to Aquinas, and he would often have recourse to liturgical texts to bolster his theological arguments. He would, however, have had little experience of an integrated liturgical life, as private masses had already become the norm by his time (although I understand he had more of a pastoral outlook than many of his fellow academics).


Originally Posted by ajk
Scholastic theology, even in Latin, can still be good theology and nourish the intellect and even soul. If one goes to a French restaurant and orders its cuisine one should then not complain that it doesn't taste like Chinese.
Well, for one thing, it meshes poorly with the Byzantine liturgical tradition, which leads to a mistunderstanding of what the ceremonies really mean. (I'm sure you're familiar with the explanations of the Liturgy that describe it as a "re-enactment of the events in the life of Christ.")


Originally Posted by ajk
From Zizioulas in harmony with Lossky (as previously quoted):
Quote
[In the typical Western approach] The Church ends by being completely “historicized”; it ceases to be the manifestation of the eschata and becomes the image of this world and of historical realities. Ecclesial being and the being of God are no longer organically bound; ecclesiology no longer has need of “theo-logy” to function. Orthodox theology runs the danger of historically disincarnating the Church; by contrast, the West risks tying it primarily to history, either in the form of an extreme Christocentrism—an imitatio Christi—lacking the essential influence of pneumatology or in the form of a social activism or moralism which tries to play in the Church the role of the image of God. Consequently, the two theologies, Eastern and Western, need to meet in depth, to recover the authentic patristic synthesis which will protect them from the above dangers. Ecclesial being must never separate itself from the absolute demands of the being of God—that is, its eschatological nature—nor from history.
[emphasis added] John D. Zizioulas, Being as Communion (Crestwood: St.Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1993) p20

And:

Quote
[His concern] provokes and invites contemporary theology to work with a view to a synthesis between the two theologies, Eastern and Western. It is of course true that, in some respects, these two theologies seem incompatible. That is due, among other things, to the independent historical roads followed by East and West since the great schism or perhaps even earlier. However, this was not the case during the early patristic period. As the late Fr Georges Florovsky liked to repeat, the authentic catholicity of the Church must include both the West and the East. [emphasis added]
p 26
biggrin biggrin biggrin


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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Originally Posted by Epiphanius
Deacon Anthony, good to hear from you!
Thank you Fr. Deacon; and I you also.

Originally Posted by Epiphanius
I am aware that there is a substantial body of mystical theology coming from the West, but I would contend that it has yet to be given its proper place among theological disciplines. It is my understanding that the Scholastics were rather suspicious of mysticism (not surprising, since philosophy cannot be considered the "handmaiden" of mystical theology!), and this attitude seems to be slow in dying.
That we should be better informed about the mystical theology of the West, specifically during the scholastic period, is very much my point. Consider Hugh of Saint Victor (c. 1078 – 11 February 1141) for example.

Quote
Philosophy and reason, Hugh believed, were useful tools to understanding the divine, and Hugh used reason to argue on behalf of and to defend faith...

Hugh was quite a mystic. On the sacraments, Hugh believed that these, along with Jesus, were divine gifts that God gave man to redeem himself. Hugh believed that God had other options he could have used to save mankind. Hugh also separated everything along the lines of opis creationis and opis restaurationis. Opis Creationis was the works of the creation, referring to the works of man, while opis restaurationis was that which dealt with the reasons for God sending Jesus and the consequences of that. Hugh believed that God did not have to send Jesus and that He had other options open to Him. Why he chose to send Jesus is a mystery we are to meditate on and is to be learned through revelation, with the aid of philosophy to facilitate understanding...

Among these are his masterworks On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith and The Didascalicon of Hugh of St Victor. The work Sacraments of the Christian Faith is Hugh’s most celebrated masterpiece and presents the bulk of Hugh’s thoughts on theological and mystical ideas, ranging from God and angels to natural laws. The Didascalicon of Hugh of St Victor is written as an introductory guide to Christianity, reflecting Hugh’s desire to be an elementary teacher of Christianity. The Didascalicon reflects a very philosophical side of Hugh, in which he reflects on what basic elements of learning a Christian should focus on. (Didascalicon), De arca Noe morali (On the Moral Interpretation of the Ark of Noah), De arca Noe mystica (On the Mystic Interpretation of the Ark of Noah) reflect Hugh’s fascination with both mysticism and his interest in Genesis.
link [en.wikipedia.org]

As examples of Hugh's thought -- my favorites:

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“quoniam qui non veniet, non pervenit”
PL 177, c1215 Roughly, one must leave in order to arrive. I think of exitus-reditus, e.g.
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St. Thomas Aquinas crafted his great Summa Theologiae on a theogonic model drawn from the sixth-century Pseudo-Dionysius: that of the going forth from and return of all things to God. Scholars call that "the exitus-reditus model." Now 'theogony' means 'origin of the divine'; and I use the associated adjective because the Pseudo-Dionysius thought of creation as destined to be 'divinized' through our theosis: a gift from the Father given through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Theosis is indeed the purpose of this our life.
link [mliccione.blogspot.com]

On the personal presence of Christ in the scriptures:
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Omnis Scriptura divina unus liber est, et ille unus liber Christus est, quia omnis Scriptura divina de Christo loquitur, et omnis Scriptura divina in Christo impletur.
“All sacred Scripture is but one book, and that one book is Christ, because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ.” Latin text from De Arca Noe 2, 8: Migne PL 176, 642; English translation in the CCC, §134. Cf. Lk 24:44


On the interpretation (hermeneutics) of Scripture:
Quote
litteram legimus sed non secundum litteram
“De Scripturis et Scriptoribus Sacris,” PL 175, c13. We read the letter, but not according to the letter.




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