Presentation on theme: "Justin Gaudet, in association with Rogich Entertainment, proudly presents."— Presentation transcript:
Justin Gaudet, in association with Rogich Entertainment, proudly presents
Outline of the Chapter: I) The Problem of the Spatially Conditioned Jesus II) The Four Spiritual-Theological Paths: Antinomical Christology III) The Transcendence and Imminence of God IV) Pratiki: The First Stage of the Mystical Encounter V) Physiki: The Second Stage of the Mystical Encounter VI) Theoria: The Third Stage of the Mystical Encounter
I) The Problem of the Spatially Conditioned Jesus Rogich begins by asking if we can abandon “the monarchial, imperial” heavenly version of Jesus, who is otherworldly, perfect, and unapproachable, conferring his Gifts only upon the worthy, and responds that Gregory Palamas sought to make things more practical and easier upon Christians so that they would not feel so distant from Christ.
Church is “a social milieu for...experience” of “God- consciousness,” which is Grace and the Gospel itself, wherein human potentiality, “authenticity, self- realization, and deification” are achieved, and continue from Jesus through the saints, to facilitate a “God’s-eye- view” of anthropological experience. The “centrist” Christ, as opposed to the monarchial one, may be said to be a type of the saint, through deification, or, as inferred from the text, the saint tropologically fills himself with Christ in order to spatio-temporarily be a new Christ among the Church.
II) The Four Spiritual-Theological Paths: Antinomical Christology There is no duality between experience and reality in Gregory since reality and human experience can be transfigured. This does not imply a contradiction, but, rather, a paradox. There is thus no real opposition between dogma and theology. We must depend upon God, and not reason, in order to mystically experience him, and we must also not forget that to experience Jesus is to know about him, and not vice versa: “The revelation of Jesus Christ as both a historical figure and as ‘the Logos made flesh’ corresponds...to a realization of deification in human historical life as the goal of salvation.”
Dogmatic-theological questions thereby lead to existential-theological ones, which allow Gregory to chart “a ‘mystical incarnationalism’ which ‘solves’...antinomies[.]”
III) The Transcendence and Imminence of God “Hesychasm begins...from the perspective of the Christian’s experience of God in order to arrive at his explication of who Jesus is and then who God is.” The difference between the transcendent God and the creature is to be maintained, but the imminence of God, by means of his energies, equal to and proceeding from his transcendent essence, should not be forgotten.
IV) Pratiki: The First Stage of the Mystical Encounter We must leave the outer layers of the senses and the mind, everything we know, in order to commune with Christ interiorly in our hearts. This is both repentance, or pratiki, and the experiencing of God’s imminence, whereby we curb the appetitive and incensive parts, and re-establish harmony within the soul, divinize the body, and forsake the world for Christ.
“In experiencing Jesus through ascesis, one discovers that Jesus has no autonomous ‘ego,’ or autonomous human consciousness, which would define authentic humanity as fully alive when ‘separate’ from God.” Jesus never renewed our autonomous personhood, but rather our nature, whereby he “experience[d]...created life as...being separated from its Creator. Jesus, and the saints, are, therefore, models of complete integration without selfish confusion that we must imitate.
“‘[C]ombating the passions’ is a ‘path’ to enter into an ‘experiential’ knowledge of [the imminent] Jesus the Mystic.” This is the “‘detachment,’ ‘renunciation,’ and the ‘standing apart’ from created things in order to be at the disposal of God[.]” This allows one to experience the imminence of God, and is best approached by means of the Jesus Prayer and the advice of a spiritual father. Two things must be remembered: 1) There is no division between the active and the contemplative life since both are ways of experiencing Jesus. 2) “Religion is not to be equated with morality or moral perfection,” or legalism. Embracing such a notion would lead to either resentment or the social agendas of secular humanism.
We must transcend ourselves and see others not according to subhuman passions but through the eyes of Jesus. By means of ascetism, we allow Jesus to become incarnate in our soul. We, therefore, do not merely imitate Jesus as an exterior pattern but become him.
V) Physiki: The Second Stage of the Mystical Encounter “ In leaving the senses (aisthesis) and rational mind (dianoia), the Christian contemplative takes one’s first leap beyond the ‘immediate’ self, a type of ‘ecstatic’ jump beyond the first layers of reality.” This is “pure prayer...incomparably higher than apophatic theology,” which becomes union with God if illumined by the Holy Spirit. The Christian, at this stage, searches and finds the image of God as the life principle within them, and the uncreated imminence of God, and “struggles...to be ‘re-born’ to a higher level of consciousness[,]” where the supernatural truth of reality, the archetypal image of Christ, is indescribably perceived.
Seeing a “deeper reality” amidst creation allows the contemplative to fall in love with it, since God is revealed to be everywhere. The transcendence of God, amidst his imminence, is intuited, and the contemplative finds “the extraordinary in the ordinary.” Nature then becomes a “tutor,” teaching us about Jesus’ relationship to creation. Through this, as well as through liturgical symbols and poetry, Gregory saw Jesus as being sensitive to nature, employing it within his parables and miracles.
“The ‘Logos made flesh’ mean[s] that the core of Jesus’ being, and then the human’s...made in his image, as well as the ‘core’ of all creation, is the Logos of God.” This is the incarnational integration of all nature, and directly concerns preaching the gospel of salvation, as well as doctrinal explanations, because it allowed Gregory to understand and assert the energies and essence of God.
Gregory had to defend hesychasm against the charges of pantheism, dualism, and Messalianism leveled against it by Barlaam and Akindynos. He thus wrote the Theophanes, a dialogue concerning 2 Peter 1:4 in light of his mystical experiences. Therein, he stresses the need to preserve the antinomy between the essence and the energies. His goal is to understand, according to mysticism, “[w]hat is the true ‘experiential’ relationship between God and the universe,” since the answer to this can be intuited through the liturgy and prayer, but can receive no adequate explanation by academic theology, which “set[s] a gulf between God and the human (creation) which outpouring love (eros) cannot tolerate,” and, therefore, provides no agape. After all, according to Gregory, “God and the universe are one!”
But what about being accused, because of this statement, of “subjectivism (Angelism or Messalianism) or ditheist dualism (Arianism and Eunomianism)? ANSWER: “Gregory searches the biblical text” by applying the hermeneutic of the experience of the saint. Therefore, the recorded biblical divine-light experiences are not angelism since Christ, at the burning bush, is not an angel. The already fulfilled status of Messalianism, herein presented as a form of Pelegianism, appears nowhere in Gregory’s writings on account of the fact that he advocates grace, and rejects the gnostic hatred of the matter. Likewise, he cannot be Arian or Eunomian since he never calls the uncreated light “created.” “Gregory felt his opponents lacked at this physiki level of experience...the understanding” that “[t]he divine energies are equally Jesus and the Spirit in creation,” and are experienced not through thought but through the Spirit, who makes possible “adoration and praise for God who is beyond all existence” (thereby allowing us to distinguish the essence from the energies).
The Spirit alone is not to be equated with the energies, since the energies are trinitarian. This leads to ditheism since the Father and Son, according to this understanding, would be reckoned as the transcendent God, while the spirit would only be the imminent one. ALWAYS REMEMBER the importance of antinomy in order to avoid heresy (lit. “the splitting apart of two interdependent truths”).
“God’s condescending humility (energeia = immanence), experienced in the mystic’s encounter with the very being (hypostasis) and person (= Logos) of Jesus through prayer ‘in the Spirit,’ affirms at the same time God’s transcendence (= ousia), in the soul’s expression of gratitude and awe in silent adoration (hesychia).”
While natural law and natural theology are good in that they depend upon the energies and allow “humans to derive from both external science and the internal...conscience...knowledge of God the Creator[,]” this is only dianoia, and “Gregory stresses spiritual experience in order to ensure that one’s relational experience of creation does not lead to a pantheistic idolatry, as well as any form of scientific abuse of creation[,]” which is the energies of God. According to Rogich, the “monarchial, imperial” understanding of Jesus as dominating creator is to blame for the latter problem. Rather than this, man is to be “‘microcosm and mediator’ of creation, called not only to unite, in an ‘inclusive’ ontological sense, the various ‘form’ of created and uncreated life; or even to become a ‘priest’ offering created reality back to its Creator for sanctification.”
VI) Theoria: The Third Stage of the Mystical Encounter Theoria is “‘beyond all knowledge’ but also ‘beyond all understanding’...a ‘true vision’ where one ‘ceases to see’” in a common manner and starts to see things according to the inner vision of the image of God within, transfiguring the senses, soul, mind, and heart. This leads “to an ‘open-ended’ personhood [by means of] communion...intimacy with God the Father through Jesus in the Spirit...and an ‘open’ and ‘barrier-free’ relationship of love among humans.”
Apophaticism is not “a dialectical device to ascertain the transcendence of God in terms of human logic[,]” but rather a perception of Jesus whereby his transcendence is guarded, but the imminent divine light is evident. For Gregory, perceiving this divine light means to see God in nature no longer through the medium of analogies. It means to possess him in contemplation. TO SUM IT UP: the “ego-stage” (pratiki) leads to seeing God amidst creation (physiki) leads to the vision of God’s uncreated light (theoria).
An important question for dialogue between Eastern and Western mystics: “Did theology and spirituality [in the West] become too christocentric or develop [into] a christomonism?”
Christos Yannaras believes this to be so in that the West “made the divine humanity [of Christ] transcendent and humanized the mystery of God.” Rather than accepting the Eastern understanding of Jesus continuing among the saints, the West emphasized the historical Jesus as transcendent, thereby promoting devotions to his sacred humanity, as well as moralism.
Gregory’s approach, by contrast, “transpos[es]...the trinitarian doctrine onto on anthropological plane,” whereby “the mystic’s entrance into Jesus through the ‘deified flesh’ becomes [an entrance] into the very personal presence of the Father in the Spirit. Jesus’ humanity is therefore emphasized but not “concretized” and “the divine simplicity (transcendence as apophasis)” can still interpenetrate his humanity. Personhood, then, belongs exclusively to the trinity, and we become fuller persons by entering into the Son.
“Gregory’s spiritual christology should [likewise] never be considered...as ‘Neo- Platonist,’” since “his thought...marked a step forward in the progressive liberation of eastern christian theology from Platonic Hellenism[.]”
“[I]n the experience of Jesus one enters into the very mystery of the [loving] character of God” and this is the whole purpose of the eastern mystical endeavour. “Christology and soteriology embrace each other at this point – as the Saint becomes the Savior – in that Jesus is indeed the fully Deified Saint; yet this ‘saint’ is not ‘distanced’ from us, but empties himself ‘for the life of the other.’”
All suffering and evil “is an experience of the total autonomy or separation from God by finite ‘ego- consciousness[.]’” “Jesus reveals a God who is compassionate and participates in the underside, sorrows, and struggles of the human condition...be[coming] an example for us” on how to overcome evil and death. We are to possess an “acute consciousness” of Christ amidst all forms of suffering, but we are not to be passive and hope for better times. Rather, “the response of apophatic prayer is to acknowledge that ‘interior crucifixion’ – a deadening of the ego – is itself a beginning experience of God, whereby one begins to sense within oneself the very heart and character of God.”
Only thereby does one realize that everything is really God’s compassionate kenosis, whereby he “loses himself to again find himself,” as best represented by the martyrs. Good deeds done to others to alleviate their suffering is the way in which God seeks to comfort his own. “Thus to the hesychast, Jesus was crucified...because he was a Mystic and Deified Saint, for his nonpassive challenge to his contemporaries to ‘become God by grace’ by leaving behind their ego-consciousness.”
Kenosis should also impact liturgical preaching, in that the priest should not stand “in the way of God’s word, because he thinks he knows the living truth of God[,]” which “lives and gives before it can be grasped by our minds.” Rogich then appears to argue in favor of the ordination of women to the priesthood by means of St. Basil of Caesarea’s reflection of Genesis 1, which concerns the equality of men and women in the Logos.
In Conclusion... “Gregory’s...balance between spirituality and theology” allows “a more functional and dynamic reading of the dogmas of Nicaea or Chalcedon. [...] By using biblical datum and the experiences of the saints, he ‘updated’ and ‘translated’ the Creeds of old, not simply to defend them, but also to supplement them.” His “teachings then are a ‘journey christology,’ not a ‘speculative christology,’ by emphasizing spiritual/existential growth and perception as the cornerstones of theology.” By “[p]racticing spiritual kenosis, the saint...reveals Jesus as the historical revealer of...self-emptying God-consciousness,” wherein empathy increases and barriers are removed.