Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Energy in the New Testament- A Concept Lost to both Catholicism and the Reformation

© 2000-2003 by Orchid Land Publications
[Last updated 20030623]
     Shortly after the middle of the fourth century BC, Aristotle (Physics III.1, Metaphys­ics VIII.3, IX.6) explained the relation between a potential or capacity and its actualization or realization as dýnamis and enérjeia, respectively.  This became part of the thinking of literate speakers of Greek in the centuries before Christ and the holy Apostles.  (For Orthodox terminology in general, CLICK HERE.)

     In the New Testament (and the Septuagint Greek Old Testament) and in the writings of the Fathers and Mothers of the Church, there are numerous uses of enéryeia “energy, operative or actualizing power”), enérgema “effect(iveness), operation,” eneryés “energetic, efficacious,” and eneryeIn “energize, actuate, actualize.”  (These words are cognate with Greek órganon “instrument” or “product.”)  From Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics (in the middle of the fourth century before Christ) on, energy in Greek was related to dýnamis “power, capacity, faculty” as actual (realized) is related to potential:  Those who thought and wrote in Greek, including the authors of the New Testament Epistles thought of energy is what makes a potential power actual or real; it is a basic aspect of being, whether created or uncreated (divine).   This may all seem a bit odd in view of the English use of dynamic—which is closer to Greek “energetic.”  
     From the time of Aristotle, users of Hellenstic Greek distinguished dýnamis "capacity" from enéryeia "energy," i.e. what actualizes a dýnamis.
    In modern engineering science, power is the rate that work is done; work is a force acting over a distance; and energy is the capacity or potential to do work.
     The energ- words are admittedly sparse in the Gospels (despite St. John the Evangelist's emphasis on Light and Life; cf. 1:4, 8:12, 12:36, as well as 1:5,9, 3:19-20, etc. and 11:25, 14:6, in the Gospel alone; cf. 6:53, 17:3, etc.) but are certainly found in the Apostles.  The opening verses of the Old Testament tell us about the “waves” of energy present before the creation of the cosmos (the idea that “water” existed before water had been created is a fantasy); they tell us that the first thing created was light—the purest form of energy.
     In the New Testament, we find 27 uses in the Apostles, of which a small number can be disregarded as referring to the devil's power (see particularly 2 Thes. 2) or the effect of death or iniquity on human beings.   (J. Armitage Robinson's “On energeĩn and its cognates” [St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, 2d ed. (Macmillan, 1909), pp. 241-247] has just come into my possession; I will be commenting on this very learned article in another writing.)  Readers may wish to look at   It would be worth the reader's while to consult reference works on New Testament word usage—not least, Kittel’s famous (and huge—in English, ten-volume) work and the volumes by, e.g., C. Spicq (Roman Cath­olic) and Colin Brown.  One will find little to the purpose in Kittle and nothing in the latter two works.  Th. Spidlik’s learned and lengthy The spirituality of the Christian East ignores that which is essential—energy; he appears to be a Jesuit of the Unia.  Nothing could be more apparent that that—and why—the West “cannot understand the divergence of Western Christianity from eastern orthodoxy.”
     But just as great an interest is to be found in seeing how energy resolves ten otherwise irresoluble problematic mat­ters in theol­ogy.  One must be careful in dealing with the contrast between erga “works” not energized by Grace and those so energized; cf. Rom. ll:6, etc., as well as passages commented on below, especially Philp. 2:13 in the box.  If we should be well aware that the opposition, erga : enérgeia is a jingle or antithesis that a Greek writer would favor, we should not fail to take note of the frequent Western expression, “state of Grace,” which underscores the West’s static understanding of Grace.  The Latins take Grace to be created and “non-operative” (i.e. non-energetic)—a habit, state, form, or quality of the soul.  The Reformers propounded the idea of Grace as divinely im­puted righteousness—a virtual reality, since the believer remains, as Luther in­sisted, a sinner in fact.
     The reader is bidden to examine for oneself 1 Cor. 12 (on the Body of Christ) with its three uses of energy- and six uses of charisma- “free gift of Grace.”  Speaking of the Body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:6 says, “And there are differences of energizations (energ), but God is the identical One Who energizes everything in all things.”  Continuing in verses 10-11, St. Paul says that “to another [is given] the energizations of potential(itie)s [the word is dynámeis], . . . ; but one and the same Spirit energizes all of these, allotting to each individual according as He wills.”  Note in passing also 2 Cor. 1:6, Gal. 5:6 (where we read of “faith [pístis, an energizing formation in Greek] energizing through [or: “because of”] love”)—and 3:5 where miracles are concerned—as well as Philm. 6.  Gal. 2 speaks of SS. Peter’s and Paul’s energizing or effectuating/actuating (in v. 8—two uses; v. 9 refers to this as the grounds for the recognition by James, Peter, and John of the Grace (cháris) in Paul.  Before turning to prime uses in Ephesians, Philip­pians, and Colossians—some or all of which are rejected by Liberal critics—note should be taken of 1 Thes. 2:13 (referring to the LOGOS [Jesus Christ] or logos “rational principle” as energizing in believers—which is contrasted with the energizing of iniquity in 2 Thes. 2); Heb 4:12, where the “living” divine LOGOS is eneryGs; and even the un-Hellenic James in 5:16, where the step-brother of Jesus asserts that the prayer of a righteous person ener­gizes. The Apostolic ethos is permeated with energy, as still is the Orthodox phrónema “mindset, outlook.” 
     It is time to have proper translations of verses like Philp. 2:13:  “For it is God [Who is] energizing in you all both to will and to energize for the sake of [His] being pleased”; cf. Gal. 5:6, where “faith energizing through love” is spoken of.
     We can now up the ante by looking at Eph. 2:2 (in Greek), which has the devil ener­gizing in the children of truth, whereas 1:19-20 has dýnamis and two occurrences of the word for “energize”—the overwhelming power (dýnamis) of God “according to the energizing in us believers of His strong might, which energized in Christ to raise Him from the dead.”  (Eph. 1:6 speaks of Grace as “rendering us acceptable”—a single verb in the Greek, one that is cognate with the noun for “Grace.”)  Eph. 3:2 speaks of Grace, while verse 7 in the same chapter speaks of Grace “bestowed according to the Energy of the power (dýnamis) [of God].”  Verse 20 speaks of God as One “em­powered to do . . . according to the power (dýnamis) being energized in us”—evidently Grace.  Are these views of Grace compatible with the static, uncreated "form or quality of the soul" in Latin theology—or with the idea that Grace is divine goodwill in Reformation theology?  
     Eph. 4:16, reflecting 1 Cor. 12:11, says that the Body of Christ is held together according to (or in terms of)  Energy—evidently Christ’s Life.  (Note that Grace is a topic of this chapter in the Letter to the Ephesians; see, e.g., v. 7.)  What Eph. 4:16 says is that the shared Life of the members of the Body, whose “Head is Christ” (v. 15), is expressed in terms of energy thus:   “from Whom [scil. Christ] the whole Body, fitted together [synarmologoúmenon] and knitted together [symbibazómenon] by the supply of every joint, causes the increase of the Body in terms of energy proportioned to [literally:  "in the measure of] each single part for its own edification in/by love."  (The use of “in” for “by” in Biblical Greek is an Aramaicism.)  Energy is highlighted even more in what now follows.  (Note in Philippians that 4:3 speaks of Clement, Paul’s companion—the same person that wrote the famous Letter that speaks of bishops, priests, and deacons.)  While Philp. 2:12 commends “working out” (katherg-) one’s Salvation with fear and trembling, v. 13 adds, as already quoted in the box above, “For 'tis God [Who is] energizing [this is evidently the action of Grace] in you all both to will and to energize for the sake of His good pleasure.”
     Where v. 3:21 speaks of “transforming our humble bodies into conformity with the Body of Christ’s Glory (SHEKHINAH?) with the Energy that enables [the dynam- verb] Him to subdue everything”  . . . Col. l:29 links energy and power [dýnamis] thus:  “I labor, striving according to  His Energy [that is] energizing itself (in) a natural capacity in me [literally, "in me in a capacity"].”  (Dýnamis is here rendered as “natural capacity”; it can also mean “faculty,” in which sense en is often used with it [cf. “in/by love” above].  Col. 2:12 speaks of being buried with Christ in Baptism, “by which also you all work together (synergize in Greek) through the faith ‘of’ God’s Energy that has raised Him from the dead.”  If that is Grace, it is clearly something uncreated because it is the Life of the divine LOGOS.  It is not any sort of  “created Grace.” 
     Let’s not ignore verses with dýnamis, at least not Rom. 1:20:  “For His invisible things from the creation of the cosmos are clearly discerned, known through the things that have been made—[viz.] His eternal capabilities (dýnamis] and Deity, . . .”    
     What is the conclusion of the foregoing (without even investigating the synerg- words)?  A great deal of evidence exists in Paul’s developing thought for an energetic view of God’s (uncreated) Grace—His Life in us—but no evidence can be expected to be found for Grace’s being static—either a created form of a created soul, or simply God’s goodwill that makes virtually real what really is not real, as Luther boasted—so that one can speak of a “state of Grace.”
     Various expressions are found for the uncreated Energies among Greek-language Christians; most are feminine in Greek, as one would expect from their energetic character.   (Enérgeia is femi­nine.  Besides z“Life,” théosis, omoíosis, cháris “Grace,” there is dóxa "glory," in some ways parallel with Hebrew Shekhinah “indwelling, presence” [Ex. 13:21-22, 40:34-38]; for God as a Mother, see Isa. 66:13 in the discussion in the box below annexed to this one.)  Since God (for good reason) ordained Greek to be the vehicle for propagating knowledge of Himself, we would be justified in referring to the uncreated Energies as feminine if we wished.  In view of the absence of grammatical gender in English nouns, we can pretty much avoid the issue.  But we certainly follow the tradition of calling the Father and Son “He”; but the Holy Spirit is both “He” and “It” (note that Pne “Spirit” is neuter) in the New Testament.
     In dóxa “glory” in the New Testament, scholars have found an echo of the Rabbinic SHEKHINAH “divine Presence—the feminine aspect of God in the Kabbalah and the sixth thing that humanity lost at the Fall.  (YHWH is of course gender-free, and we cannot attribute the genders of a human language to some characteristic of uncreated Reality; yet, Isa. 66:13 God has the rôle of a Mother.)  Anyhow, down to the present day, Orthodox theologians refer to partaking of the uncreated divine Energies as seeing and partaking of God's uncreated GLORY; and laypeople speak of arriving in Heaven as seeing or partaking of the true GLORY.  Passages in the New Testament like John 1:14 as well as those in which Christ is termed Light and Life more than amply justify the Orthodox ways of speaking.  Divinization itself is often called “Glorification”; and the  ritual for  proclaiming a person's Sainthood is called “Glorification.”
     To bring all of this together (one may tentatively suggest), we must think of a gradient of more and less Grace, or rather of omoíosis as a vectorial form of théosis, a vector of being energized with more and more uncreated Grace that eventually eventuates in complete théosis.  Adam lacked theosis or he would not have sinned; but before sinning he remained as he had been created—according to the “Assimilation” to God (Gen. 1:26).  The uncreated Grace of omoíosis received in Baptism and partaking of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Holy Commu­nion undergoes those set-backs that every cognizant adult experiences through sinning prior to the ultimate theosis of those in Christ.  Our first ancestors were, unlike us, not subject to death and decay prior to their sinning because they had the “Assimilation to God.”   This was lost at the Fall; the Icon of God was not lost, for the loss of its powers of reasoning and free-choice would have reduced our first ancestors to animals.  The Orthodox believe that the Old Testament Saints also received temporary theosis through aVision of the uncreated Light (cf. the Disciples on Mt. T[h]avor before our Savior’s Immolation on the Life-giving Cross).  While they were freed and divinized in Christ’s Descent to Hades during the time He was dead, permanent theosis comes after death for Christians.  Till then, the Assimilation to God can be set back through an unwillingness to let the all-holy Spirit energize one of Christ’s members to do works pleasing to Him; it can even be lost entirely when those works are altogether lacking.  On the other hand, when the Spirit is energizing (Philp. 2:13) believers to do Christ’s will, they reap Grace for Grace (John 1:16).   Orthodox faithful undergo a con­stant recycling of lapses and restorations, each cycle becoming smaller and farther apart as the faithful proceed along the vector of omoíosis toward théosis—a difference of degree.
     Concerning synergy, St. Paul, after having commented in 2 Cor. 6:1 on our becoming the righteousness of God in Christ, speaks of his readers’ and his own energizing together [with Christ—according to the 1611 translation], beseeching his readers not to receive the Grace of God  in vain.  In Rom. 8:28, the verb in question is used causatively, with the force of all things’ energizing together for good in those loving God.  In Jas. 2:22, we read:  “You see that faith was energizing together with [Abraham's] works” when that patriarch offered his son Isaac on the Altar.  So much for the verb, synerg-.  Some of the numerous uses of the adjective or substantive occur in St. Paul's Epistles and (several times) in one passage of St. John's third Epistle (see below).   These are rendered as “fellow-workers” or “joint-laborers” in the 1611 English translation.  Though not wrong, this rendering hardly conveys the energetic overtones of the Greek thought world.  Interestingly, St. Paul in 1 Cor. 3:9 refers to himself and Apollos as God's fellow-energizers or fellow-workers.  In 2 Cor. 1:24, Paul speaks of himself and others as synergizers “of your people’s joy”; in 3 John 8, joint-energizers for truth are spoken of.   In three occurrences in Rom. 16, in two place in the Letter to the Philippians, and once in 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul refers to various men and women as his fellow-energizers or fellow-workers—once “in Christ Jesus.”  In 2 Cor. 8:23, we read that Titos is Paul’s companion and joint-energizer for/in regard to his readers; and in Col. 4:11, Mark and Jesus Justus are Paul's fellow-laborers or joint-energizers.  

     God is called Light, especially in the Gospel according to St. John the Evangelist.  In contradistinction with the uncreated Energies or Life of God, the created cosmos began, as already noticed, with God's creating light (created energies) first of all.  The reader interested in a few subtleties of the concept of divine Energies is recommended to read V. Lossky, Mystical theology of the Eastern Church (1957, pp. 78ff); earlier in the same chapter, he discusses the overt patristic development of this Greek-language, Biblical concept.  (It will seem quixotic that, p. 86, he main­tains that the presence of the uncreated Energies is not causal, even though they divinize--a causative verb!  A few pages later, Lossky makes it clear that his state­ment is meant to indicate that the uncreated Energies of Grace are not effects in the created world--as in Latin theology.  In Orthodoxy, Grace is a cause, not an effect; in the West, one speaks of a "state of Grace."  The idea is not unique to Orthodoxy; other religions have entertained similar ideas--most obviously Zoroastrianism and Shin Buddhism--whose Amida-Butsu is the Buddha of immeasurable Life and immeasurable Light.  
      That Orthodox writers have thought of light (and particularly the uncreated Light--God--which the Johannine literature in the New Testament combines with Life in reference to Christ, the Life and Light of the world) as energy, and particularly as the uncreated Energies of God, may surprise the modern mind, whose theological outlook is likely to have been formed by the static categories of Western scholas­ticism--Latin and Reformation.  Both of these frameworks lack the concept of energy.  Indeed, the more surprising it seems to the modern mind, the more interesting it is, given a similar relationship in current scientific theory.
      While the Bible begins with dark nothingness and formlessness, before God said,  “Let [there] be light,” today’s scientists see the generation of light at the begin­ning of the cosmos--which then faded into cosmic darkness, “a formless sea of dark matter“--for a period of 300,000 to 500,000,000 “years” after the Big Bang.  As this period offers no evidence to astronomers, how, in what unfathomable way, the architecture of the modern cosmos emerged out of this chaotic “void” and (according to a British cosmologist) light came on again is the “most important un­solved problem in astronomy.”  The Orthodox believe that the creation continues, for if the Creator did not hold up the cosmos at every instant, it would vanish into nothingness.   Creation is neither timeless nor a Gnostic recycling of time; novel forms of being emerge as time flows onnew planets, new creatures.  The Creator is, in short, energetic, not limited to one act or one kind of creation.
    This comes  from the last column of a very interesting article by the distinguished Astrophysicist M. S. Turner in The Sciences (published by the New York Academy of Sciences).   We read on  p. 37:  "Dark matter and dark energy are the yin and yang of the universe.  . . . Dark matter, like all matter, draws mass towards itself . . . Dark energy, in contrast, is repulsive, and it is distributed smoothly throughout the cosmos."  Mention is made of "mysteries," and of course creation is the issue.  "If [the studies] are correct, dark matter and dark energy account for the vast preponderance of the cosmos:  about 95 percent . . . "       
     The volcanic fires and frightening roar of Mt. Sinai described in the Exodos narrative indicated to Moses the power of God-- (the Presence of the Lord's glory).  But I leave that to some thesis-writer who knows more about the matter to assess the validity of this parallelism.  When one comes to think of it, language needs a parallel to organic which embodies the idea of energy--perhaps enorganic.  (Both erg and org are, at least etymologically, related to English work; the roots were werg and wrg.  While early Greek retained w in the form of F, it was lost by Classical times, just as h got lost in the Hellenistic era—along with—and earliest in Palestine and Egypt—most  of the sound changes of Modern Greek.)
      If light, energy, matter, and even life are seen to be different forms of the same thing in twentieth-century science, Orthodox theology accepts Mysteries (sacraments) in which corporeal (i.e. material) entities like bread, wine, water, oil, etc., have the capacity of channeling the divine Energies to human beings--as the result of Christ's Incarnation--which has been traditionally regarded as the "First Mystery (Sacrament)" of the holy Faith.  All of this is a  wholly different world from the Denominationist volitional-juridical framework in which word plays the same central rôle that energy plays in Orthodoxy.  Even Jesus Christ is a “Word” in the Denominationist approach to or version of Christian belief.  In the Denominations, words and sermons replace the Orthodox Altar (some Denominationist preaching houses have  meaningless, non-sacrificial prettifications called “altars”) and the Body and Blood of Christ.  For Calvinists, sermons are what validate the virtual reality of a sacrament--and can effect the same end without a quasi-sacrament.  Such sacraments are (judicially) termed “ordinances” by other Protestants, and the bread and wine used in the Lord’s Supper are called “to­kens” or “emblems” by some Denominationists.  Note also that sacrament  originally had the juridical sense of an “oath.”  What different worlds the Latin-Germanic thought worlds are; where is the resemble with Apostolic thinking?  
     Though the concepts of energy in science and early Christian thinking have emerged in very different conceptual frameworks, have different connotations, and indeed are differently defined, such parallelisms as have been noted (and which there would be no point in denying) are worth reflecting on in the debates over science and religion and in comparing the merits of Eastern and Western theological thinking.  The energies have an intimate and vital connection with talk about God and with Salvation in Orthodoxy.  Is it not probable that the parallelisms of these concepts in such separate disciplines—one ancient, one modern—reflect  a glimmer of ontological and theological truth?    Only a very biased person or an irreformable Gnostic would reject the idea out of hand.  At all events, don’t the static categories of Western theology lose their appeal in the face of the way basic concepts of East­ern theology seem not to be in fundamental conflict with those of current science?  Note that the argument is , the way some theologians on the liberal antitraditionalist left (in contrast with the Fundamentalist antitraditional­ist left) would maintain; the position is rather that any defensible coïncidence between the two disciplines should be welcomed.  More can be said, but let the foregoing suffice.
     Despite the "energetic" nature of contemporary physics, the attitude of most physicists towards time is very different from that of Orthodoxy.   Aristotle (who got “taken in,” as one writer has put it, “by friction”) considered the natural state of motion to be rest.  Modern physics looks at it differently.  But if time was cyclic for the Platonists and static thought characterized Western scholasticism and classical physics, physics has followed suit:  Physics has been time-neutral in the sense that time is reversible--though only in unstable systems, the crux of the matter.  Some scientists are now protesting this position, since a timeless cosmos defies common­sense.   So  there are moves afoot (or abrain) to change this situation in favor of a physics in which time is unidirectional.
      The divine Energy of which the New Testament speaks is normally invisible but can be miracu­lous­ly revealed to human beings in the perceived effect of created light. On Mt. Tabor (Thavor) just before Jesus's capture--which led to His trial and Crucifixion, the Apostles were miraculously permitted to behold the Light.  The lives of the Saints contain many examples of others present seeing a glow of light on a Saint's face or surrounding a Saint's head.  When the Communists shot and killed a large body of Orthodox clergy and monastics in Kiev, not only the Christian faith­ful but even the Communists were reported to have seen halos surrounding the Orthodox temples of the city.


    Since actualizations or activations of the powers of knowing and (especially) willing are energies, could a Denominationist embrace of energy offer a basis for reconciling the Reformation's exaltation of will above being and reason and Eastern views of Worship and Salvation?  While such a possibility is extremely remote on several grounds, it would offer ecumenists potentially more fruitful gardens to till than the fruitless gardens they have been wont to till.  If any compatibility with Orthodoxy should be aimed at, an embrace of will as energy might conceivably led to embracing ontological energy it special functions in knowing, willing, etc.  But Denominationists would have to integrate the rôle of creation—i.e. created matter (Incarnation, flesh, water, wine, bread, oil, bodily resurrection, icons, etc.) and time (the rôle of tradition in unfolding truth and sifting out error from the original deposit of truth—and in perpetuating the priesthood)—into their understand­ing of Worship and Salvation.   But their accepting creation’s having been destined to have a spiritual purpose (as a vehicle of the uncreated Energy of uncreated Grace) and time’s having a similar purpose (in tradition’s sorting out from errors the one truth able to stand for millenniums) seems, humanly speaking, not to have even a remote chance of occurring. 
     Besides respecting created matter and time, some respect for the Hebrew-Hellenistic location of Jesus's upbringing is essential.  But how can even a literalist Denominationist give up one’s view that the Holy Spirit did not steer the faithful "to all truth" (John 16:13) during the fourteen centuries between the Apos­tles and Reformers?  That has about the same chance of occurring as the pope’s admitting fallibility in speaking ex cathedra.  If the equality and coëssentiality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has so deteriorated among many or most Denominationists as to widen the gulf between them and the conservative holy tradition more than ever, what point is there in discussing human concerns (Salvation) in the first place?  St. Eirenaios, in his famous treatise against the heresies [V.xiii.3] of second-century Christianity, said that immortality and incorruption come "not from one's own being; it is rather through the Lord's Energy [that there exists] the ability for immortality to overwhelm death and  incorruption to circumvent decay."  
     If it would be illogical to say that the all-holy Trinity is one and three in the same respect but is holistic to say that He is one in one respect (Essence) and three in another way (Hypotheses), what of extremist positions that deny the oneness or the threeness--or the complete divinity and complete humanity of Jesus?  Note that Jesus was not truly human if sin is congenital in human nature—as not only with Calvin (who spoke of humanity as being totally depraved) but also the translators of the NIV Bible, who in various places render sárx “flesh” gnostically as “sinful nature.”  It would be syncretistic to say with the Hindus that there is more than one God.  It is extremist (not to say truncated), though internally consistent to say that that Jesus Christ is not divine (as with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Quakers), not originally divine (as with Nestorians and Mormons), or as One whose Divinity has absorbed his human nature (as with Eutychians and others of like belief); but it is holistic—and both internally consistent and externally logical--to say that Jesus Christ is a Mystery or Sacrament—no less truly human than completely divine.  Given the last account, it is as obvious that human nature cannot be sinful as such as it is obvious that guilt and merit cannot be inherited or transferred from one person to another unless they are ontologically or covenantally one.  But the virtual reality of a covenant would mean that their oneness would be virtual and imputational; so Adam’s guilt can be attributed to a newborn, and the pope can transfer Saints’ merits to those who fulfill the conditions of an indulgence.  But, however alluring, all of this is far removed from energetic being and sharing Christ’s Life and the other Energies of Grace.
     On the side of logic, consider the way the Energies resolve Western dilemmas.  First, Grace vs. works:  Instead of complicated juridical theories of Satisfaction, Atonement, Redemption, Imputation, Justification, Adoption, Regeneration, "Covenantal" Unity with Christ, etc., Orthodoxy sees the incorporation of a believer into Christ by the Energies of Grace as a member of His mystical Body to mean that He and the incorporated member share the same Energies and Life:  What Christ has done His members share--ontologically, not by imputation (will or intention); and the good works that the Holy Spirit energizes in His members by the Energies of Christ’s Life—Grace—when His members consent to coöperate with the energization (without which it would not be forced on them) are obviously Christ’s works.  See Philp. 2:13 in Greek!  There is no diminishing of the rôle of Grace here, as there is in the paradigms in which Grace and saving works are mutually exclusive.  Salvation is St. Paul’s new creation, as observed earlier; it is ontological rather than juridical.  The Crucifixion is a latreutic Sacrifice as in the Epistle to the Hebrews, not something properly characterizable with those juridical categories.  Grace received is implemented for the reception of more Grace (John 1:16).  When Christ’s Body and Blood are offered up on the eucharistic Altar, He is the Offerer in the faithful, and they are offered up in Him.  The faithful participate in Christ’s One unrepeatable Offering on the Altar of the holy Cross, though the divine Liturgy repeats only the Anaphora or Oblation, not the unrepeatable Immolation on the Cross—which communicants nevertheless share in as Christ’s members.  Since Salvation is incorporation (the means) and Divinization (the goal or result), how can our becoming members of Christ's risen Body make sense without the concept of sharing energies?  How is Divinization thinkable other than through partaking of the uncreated Light or uncreated Energies of God--when the saved really see God--not his unseeable and imparticipible Essence, but certainly the effect of His divine Energies? 
      Second, instead of positing a depraved human "nature" and the loss of the Icon (Image) of God--i.e. the loss of reason and freewill--in the post-Augustinian Western manner, Orthodoxy distinguishes the Icon of God from the Assimilation or Cognation of God ("Likeness," the 1611 rendering, would proper translate [h]omoí­oma, whereas the Genesis text has got the more active [h]omoíosis).  In accord with both Genesis and New Testament passages as well as various God-bearing fathers, including SS. Eirenaios and Maximos the Confessor, it was the Grace or Energy to please God, the omoíosis Theô, that our first ancestors lost in the Fall.  If the Fall was the loss of Cognation with God, it was not a loss of the Icon (Image), which is an inalienable part of human nature.   Losing the reason and freewill of the Icon of God, as the Reformers taught, would yield animals, not humans.  St. Athanasios the Great  expresses the matter in his famous treatise "Concerning the Incarnation" by saying that humans (not my translation) . . .  "were bereft of [i.e. lost] the Grace that belonged to them as creatures [made] in the Icon of God . . . it was in the power of none other than the Icon of the Father [viz. the Son] to re-create for humans the Assimila­tion/Cognation of the Icon."  St. Maximos the Confessor avers that the loss of the Cognation (Assimilation) of God is revealed in the imperfection of fallen human nature.
     It defies reason and commonsense to maintain, in the Western manner, that a nature can sin or has sinned; only individuals can sin.  Where the Reformers allow guilt to be inherited—by impu­tation or otherwise—and merits [of Christ or of the Saints] to be transferred by, the East rejects inherited guilt and inherited merit:  We share in Christ's goodness not by imputation and nothing more, but ontologically—including our eating His Body and Blood in the most holy eucharistic Mysteries.  Those who speak of Christ’s body’s being spiritual present in the great Mystery don’t know the difference between body and spirit.  The Calvinist idea of a virtual presence in a communicant with proper subjective faith when the ceremony is accompanied by a proper sermon has drawbacks that hardly require pointing out.
 potential, and the Cognation or Assimilation is energetic, bring to communicants the theanthropic Life of the God-man Christ and Divinization through the Vision of the uncreated Light--God's very Being, but not His Essence—or, as some prefer to say, the Vision of the effects of the uncreated Light, how are we to understand Mat. 5:8?  There we read that the faithful will see God, while 1 Cor. 13:12 says we are to see God "face to face"—which could only refer to the humanity of Jesus Christ, since God's Essence has got no "face."  Various notions of what these verses mean have been essayed, and only one holds water.   If humans became part of the divine Essence, that would amount to their "Deification" (apothéosis)--and there would then be more than three Persons in the divine Trinity; it would not be the théosis ("Divinization") that the Fathers and Greek theology speak of.  The Glory that John 17:22 relates Jesus's bestowing on the faithful—it has been held to reflect the Hebrew Shekhinah—has been inter­preted in Orthodox Christianity as the uncreated Energy of God--the divinizing Light that the faithful will behold in Paradise.

     Instead of borrowing energia from Greek, scholastic Latin glossed enéryeia as operatio and actus and eventually spoke mainly of potentia or virtus and actus ("act[uality]") as, respectively, matter and form—thus losing the import and vitality of Greek "energy"!   As for Aquinas, the distinguished Jesuit philosopher, Bernard J. F. Lonergan, in his volume, Insight:  a study of human understanding (2d. ed; p. 434 fn.), explains that Aquinas makes a threefold distinction in which there are two kinds of act.  (Lonergan even refers to Aristotle's Metaphysics IX, lect. 5,  1828 f.)   It must be remembered that the Aristotle that the Sholastics relied on so heavily--as the interpretive "form" that they imposed on the "matter" of Scripture--had lost its connection with Biblical and early Greek-language Christianity (the hiatus of 730 years of Dark Ages and illiteracy was decisive) and relied on a third-hand Aristotle, received in Latin translations of Islamic Arabic translations of the original Greek.  Prime matter is a universal "thing," a potential for any form; two kinds of "act," were distinguished (according to Lonergan) into actus/actio/operatio ("potentia to forma," representing Greek enéryeia, distinct from Greek poíesis "doing") and forma itself (potentia to opera­tio).    Lonergan says that "the systematic significance of this triad is evident not merely in the threefold composition of material substance but also in the role played by potency, habit, and act" (Lonergan cites Aquinas, S.T. I-II, q. 6, Introd., & q. 49, Introd.) in Thomistic writings. The Latin scholastics took essence to be energy and characterized the divine Essence as an Energy:  Actus purus was meant to mean pure energy, the absence of any unfulfilled potential.  The Reformers specified that the energy in question is will, whereas for the Latins it is existence--and is more rational than volitional.  But energy always remained a function of essence in the East, separate from essence but identical with the divine Being.   Like that Being beyond being, God's Energies (including Grace operating in the cosmos) are uncreated.  (Some thinkers separate nature form essence, the former being a function of the latter; this conceptualization works well for 2 Pet. 1:4.)  Since essence and energy (actus) are not distinct in the West, there is no real distinction between théosis “energetic Divinization” and apothéosis “Deification in essence.”  Latin Grace is created (but “supernatural”—i.e. not part of nature)--an entitative, not (since Aquinas) an "operative," form or quality of the soul, with form being under­stood as a definer or  realizer--a sort of actualization.  It is through this created means that the Latins, as Fr. John Romanides points out, think they can partake of the uncreated Essence of God.  But if that participation is not entitative but only intentional, then it is not real but like the Protestant idea of volitional or covenantal unity of believers with God--i.e. with the divine Essence--since neither Latins nor Reformers distinguish energies from essence, and indeed conceive of and define the divine Essence as energetic.
     Thomas's followers more or less reduced actualization to form in the pair, matter : form; but they retained a distinction between habitus entitativus (sancti­fying Grace) and habitus operativus.  Sanctifying Grace, in contrast with Grace in Orthodox theology,  is not "energetic."  Thus did the scholastics distance them­selves ever further from the framework of the Greek New Testament and Orthodox theology.   Protopresvter John Romanides has pointed out the scholastic paradox of partaking of uncreated Essence through the created means of sanctifying Grace—defined as created by the scholastics.  In connection with energy in science, Lonergan, links energy to inertia (Insight,  pp. 443-444 ) in the pair inertia : energy.  Whether this relating of potency : energy to the inertia :energy of current science is durable is not for me to say.   (Lonergan himself puts a question mark after this suggestion.)
     The Latins make the divine Essence to be the Energies of existence and intellection.  They teach, according to Jürgen Kuhlmann (Die Taten des einfachen Gottes:  Eine römisch-katholische Stellungnahme zum Palamismus [1968, pp. 98-99] that the participation of the faithful in the divine is an "intentional" (by will), not "entitative" (i.e. ontological) participation in the divine Essence--not too different from the federal or covenantal participation of believers in Reformation thinking.  The conceptual world of the Christian West is thus separated from the conceptual world of the East by over a dozen centuries in a framework that imposes quite diverging meanings on the words (matter, content) of Scriptures, etc. from the Greek-language conceptuology of Orthodoxy.   For example, John 15:26 no longer differentiates the essential  procession (ekpórefsis) of the Paraclete from the Father alone and the energetic and  mission (ékpempsis) of the Paraclete from the Son in the economy or dispensation of the created cosmos.  The Orthodox notion of energies as life light has some parallels, despite the different paradigm, with energies in contemporary scientific thinking.  (In contempo­rary physics, energy is a form of matter as well as existing in the form of light, etc.) 
     Form is self-evidently a considerably more static concept than energy.   This dividing line between East and West has had the greatest consequences, including the analogia entis with all of its portentous consequences.  (This outlook insists on the parallelism of the Holy  Spirit's energetic sending by Jesus Christ with His putative procession from the Son as well as the Father in the divine Essence--the heresy of the Filioque.)   Where matter has a potential for almost any specific “form” in the West, at least in the East, the divine Energies are spoken of quite broadly--unified though not undiversified, functioning to effect different purposes and being realized in different forms--Light and Life (Grace) as well as other operations or functions, perhaps even as a “form of matter,” as in modern physics.  Grace functions to enable a member of Christ’s Body to become such (here it is "operative," as a scholastic would say) or to be what it is (here, it is "entitative," as a scholastic would say; but Eastern Grace is not subcategorized into the roughly one dozen kinds of Latin Grace.)  Thomas’s epigones lost a good deal of the idea of operatio while nevertheless preserving the distinction between sanctifying Grace as an entitativus--but not operativus--habitus.

  in the Fathers, see G. L. Prestige,
God in Patristic thought (SPCK, 1952)
and A. J. Sopko (CLICK HERE),
The theology of John Romanides (Synaxis Press, 1998)


1 comment:

  1. Interesting blog you have here. I am a catholic and have been since I was a little boy. Its a strange religion , however I believe in it strongly