St. Maximus, Van Til, Aquinas, & Logos/logoi
April 10, 2010 Leave a comment
By: Jay Dyer
I’m posting this because the St. Maximus section is often referred to (and it’s all St. Maximus anyway). The western corollary to the Logos/logoi is “divine exemplarism.” Both are rooted in neo-platonism. The crucial difference between east and west on this point is that the East does not stick the archetypes/logoi in God’s essence, which is absurd. They are “idea” operations of God we are told, not His essence. Aquinas’ doctrine of saying they are in God’s essence leads logically to his emanationism. Do cheeseburgers really have an archetype in God’s essence? Of course not. Does God know every fact about cheeseburgers from all eternity? Of course. Furthermore, if Thomistic ADS is true, then how are all these archetypes distinguished in God’s essence? They cannot be. Is the archetype for Plato really the same as the archetype for cheeseburgers? No, and they are not in God’s essence. And by the way, if Aquinas distinguished nature and person, he wouldn’t stick the archetypes in God’s essence, which he says must be done because of ADS.
[As Cornelius Van Til made his few steps up the mountain of God and stopped to soothe the blisters in his Dutch wooden shoes, he surveyed the scene below. Exhausted, he slumped over to fellow beginner Rushdoony. Resting on Rushdoony's cane, he perchance peered up, beyond the fog and foliage, and there, atop the highest crags, he spotted St. Maximus the Confessor staring down at him. Van Tillians, ponder ye these mysteries. -Jay]
Van Tillians familiar with his one and many argument will be blown away here. The key issue is that we need his Triadology and Christology for this to work – not Van Til’s
St. Maxiumus the Confessor
If by wisdom and a person has come to understand that what exists was brought out of non-being into being by God, he intelligently directs the soul’s imagination to the infinite differences and variety of things as they exist by nature and turns his questing eye with understanding towards the intelligible model (logos) according to which things have been made, would he now know that the one Logos is many logoi? This is evident in the many incomparable differences among created things. For each is unmistakably unique in itself and its identity remains distinct in relation to other things. He will also know that the many logoi are the one Logos to whom all things are related and who exists in himself without confusion, the essential and individually distinctive God, the Logos of God the Father. He is the beginning and cause of all things in whom all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities–all things were created from him and through him and for him(Col. 1:15-17, Rom. 11:36). Because he held together in himself the logoi before they came to be, by his gracious will he created things visible and invisible out of non-being. By his word and his wisdom he made all things (Wisdom 9:1-2) and is making all things, universals as well as particulars, at the proper time.
For we believe that a logos of angels preceded their creation, a logos preceded the creation of each of the beings and powers that fill the upper world, a logos preceded the creation of human beings, a logos preceded the creation of everything that proceeded from God, and so on. It is not necessary to mention them all. The Logos whose excellence is incomparable, ineffable and inconceivable in himself is exalted beyond all creation and even beyond the idea of difference and distinction. This same Logos whose goodness is revealed and multiplied in all the things that have their origin in him, with the degree of beauty appropriate to each being, recapitulates all things in himself(Eph. 1:10). Through his Logos there came to be both being and continuing to be, for from him the things that were made came to be in a certain way and for a certain reason, and by continuing to be and moving, they participate in God. For all things, in that they came to be from God, participate proportionally in God. For all things, whether by intellect, by reason, by sense-perception, by vital motion, or by some habitual fitness, as the great inspired Dionysius the Areopagite taught. Consequently, each of the intellectual and rational beings, whether angels or human beings, through the very Logos according to which each were created, who is in God and is with God (John 1:1), is called and indeed is a “portion of God,” through the Logos that preexisted in God as I already argued.
If someone is moved according to the Logos, he will come to be in God, in whom the logos of his being preexists and is his beginning and case. Furthermore, if he is moved by desire and wants to attain nothing more than his own beginning, he does not move away from God. Rather, by constant straining toward God, he becomes God and is called a “portion of God” because he has become fit to participate in God…he ascends to to the Logos by whom he was created and in whom all things will ultimately be restored (apokatastasis)…The logoi of all things known by God before their creation are securely fixed in God. They are in him who is the truth of all things.
…For all created things are defined by their essence and in their way of developing, by their own logoi and by the logoi of the beings that provide their external context (sounds like Leibniz here on just that point! -Jay). Through these logoi they find their defining limits.
We are speechless before the sublime teaching about the Logos, for he cannot be expressed in words or conceived in thought. Although he is beyond being and nothing can participate in him in any way, nor is he any of the totality of things that can be known in relation to other things, nevertheless we affirm that the one Logos is many logoi and the many logoi are One. Because the One goes forth in goodness into individual being, creating and preserving them, the One is many. Moreover, the many are directed toward the One and are providentially guided in that direction. It is as though they were drawn to an all-powerful center that had built into it the beginnings of the lines that go out from it and that gathers them all together. In this way the many are one. Therefore we are called a portion of God because the logoi of our being pre-existed in God. Further, we are said to have slipped down from above because we do not move in accordance with the Logos (who pre-existed in God) through whom we came to be….
It is evident that every person who participates in virtue as a matter of habit unquestionably participates in God, the substance of the virtues. Whoever by his choices cultivates the good natural seed shows the end to be the same as the beginning and the beginning to be the same as the end. Indeed the beginning and the end are one. As a result he is in genuine harmony with God, since the goal of everything is given in its ultimate goal. As to the beginning, in addition to receiving being itself, one receives the natural good by participation: as to the end, one zealously traverses one’s course toward the beginning and source without deviation by means of one’s good will and choice. And through this course one becomes God, being made God by God. To the inherent goodness of the image is added the likeness (cf. Gen 1:26) acquired by the practice of virtue and the exercise of the will. The inclination to ascend and to see one’s proper beginning was implanted in man by nature.
In such a person the apostolic word is fulfilled: In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). For whoever does not violate the logosof his own existence that pre-existed in God is in God through diligence; and he movesin God according to the logos of his well-being that pre-existed in God when he lives virtuously; and he lives in God according to the logosof his eternal being that pre-existed in God. On the one hand, insofar as he is already irrevocably one with himself in his dispositions, he is free of unruly passions. But in the future age when graced with divinization, he will affectionately love and cleave to the logoialready mentioned that pre-existed in God, or rather, he will love God himself, in whom the logoi of beautiful things are securely grounded. In this way he becomes a “portion of God,” insofar as he exists through the logos of his being which is in God and insofar as he is good through the logos of his well-being which is in God; and insofar as he is God through the logos of his eternal being which is in God, he prizes the logoiand acts according to them. Through them he places himself wholly in God alone, wholly imprinting and forming God alone in himself, so that by grace he himself is God and is called God. By his gracious condescension God became man and is called man for the sake of man and by exchanging his condition for ours revealed the power that elevates man to God through his love for God and brings God down to man because of his love for man. By this blessed inversion, man is made God by divinization and God is made man by hominization. For the Word of God and God wills always and in all things to accomplish the mystery of his embodiment.
…The mystery hidden from the ages (Col 1:26) and from the nations is now revealed through the true and perfect incarnation of the Son and God. For he united our nature to himself in a single hypostasis, without division and without confusion, and joined us to himself as a kind of first fruits. This holy flesh with its intellectual and rational soul came from us and is ours. He deemed us worthy to be one and the same with himself according to his humanity. For we were predestined before the ages (cf Eph 1:11-12) to be in him as members of his body. He adapted us to himself and knitted us together in the Spirit as a soul to a body and brought us to the measure of spiritual maturity derived from his fullness. For this we were created; this was God’s good purpose for us before the ages. But this renewal did not come about through the normal course of things, it was only realized when a wholly new way of being human appeared. God had made us like himself and allowed us to participate in the very things that are most characteristic of his goodness. Before the ages he had intended that man’s end was to live in him, and to reach this blessed end he bestowed on us the good gift of our natural powers. But by misusing our natural powers we willingly rejected the way God had provided and we became estranged from God. For this reason another way was introduced, more marvelous and more befitting of God than the first, and as different from the former as what is above nature is different from what is according to nature. And this, as we all believe, is the mystery of the mystical sojourn of God with men. For if, says the divine apostle, the first covenant had been blameless, there would have been no occasion for a second (Heb 8:7). It is clear to all that the mystery accomplished in Christ at the end of the age (Heb 9:26) shows indisputably that the sin of our forefather Adam at the beginning of the age has run its course.
(in Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken, trs., On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, pp 58, 59, 70-71)