Jay’s Analysis – Eastern Theology Versus Latin Theology

What are the central differences between Latin and Eastern theology? Is there are common thread of difference that gives rise to two different approaches to divinity, knowledge, revelation and eschatology? Yes, I argue. I discuss Augustine, Aquinas, absolute divine simplicity as borrowed from Aristotle and Plato, the Logos, the Greek triad, I Am as “pure being,” Anselm, the analogia entis/chain of being, apophatic theology, theosis, created grace, divine energies, divine ideas, and the supposed ‘beatific vision.’

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“By accepting the teachings of Plato on unchangeable species and identifying these with the Divine Essence, Augustine established the analogy between created and Uncreated, based on which he and the Franco-latins would research the Divine Essence through the in-world created icons of the uncreated archetypal species in God.” -Fr John Romanides, Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology of the Orthodox Catholic Church I, p. 382

Aquinas, Simplicity and the Convertibility of Being and Beauty

Critical Ruminations

By: Jay

Being a big fan of Eco, I like Eco’s critique of being. Not generic being, but the convertibility of being in Aquinas. I like being, too. In his The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas, Eco proposes that beauty cannot be convertible with being and that this is a defunct concept that fell the way of archaic ideas once Ockham’s nominalism showed up; this led to the idea that there is no magic chain binding the transcendentals in an object. And thus philosophy went introspective. And so Eco is an agnostic gnostic now.  I’ve always wondered why it didn’t occur to Eco that maybe Thomism isn’t the end all, be all of Christian theo-philosophy.

But Eco is right that strange problems arise when we say beauty is convertible with being and the good. For Thomas, beauty adds nothing substantial to the notion of being, but only conceptually, and is coextensive with it.  And they are only conceptually distinct. This article traverses land, sea and air analyzing the current scene as regards theology-as-aesthetic and it’s neat-o in that regard, but what no one really seems to mention is that it appears this whole idea is connected to Thomas’ idea that God’s essence is “beauty,” “true” and “good,” and that these predicates are also one in God, and only conceptually distinct.  Thomas says:

“Hence it is manifest that God alone has every kind of perfection by His own essence; therefore He Himself alone is good essentially.” -S.T. Ia Q. 6, Art. 3

“I answer that, As good has the nature of what is desirable, so truth is related to knowledge. Now everything, in as far as it has being, so far is it knowable. Wherefore it is said in De Anima iii that “the soul is in some manner all things,” through the senses and the intellect. And therefore, as good is convertible with being, so is the true. But as good adds to being the notion of desirable, so the true adds relation to the intellect.” -S.T. Ia Q. 16. Art 3 Continue reading

Gregory of Nazianzus Vs. Thomistic ‘Analogia Entis’

By: Jay Dyer

“…The Divine Nature cannot be apprehended by human reason, and…we cannot even represent to ourselves all its greatness.” -St. Gregory the Theologian

St. Gregory of Nazianzus is one of only two Doctors/theologians to be called “The Theologian” (if you’re a westerner), as was bestowed upon him by the Fifth Ecumenical Council. The purpose of this note, however, is not to cite him as an “authority prooftext.” I want to examine the Second Theological Oration, which, having re-read it last night, literally blew me away with several things I had not previously noticed.

The “Five Theological Orations” are some of the most important patristics texts ever written on the formation of the dogma of the Trinity (and the Incarnation). They are not very long and are a must-read for real students of theology. No one who reads and loves the Fathers should be unfamiliar with these 5 treatises (although all the dozens of St. Gregory’s Orations are awesome).

That being said, I want to use him as the paradigm for the Doctor who is saying everything I keep saying and arguing. We will see him reject analogia entis as an application to the divine nature. We will see him reject “natural theology” as conceived of by Thomas and we will see him utilize the essence/energy distinction (later on) as did St. Basil his fellow Cappadocian, since both are writing with Eunomius in mind. I have included Protestantism in with Thomism in the title because western Christianity holds the same view of simplicity as Augustinian-Thomism, and that across the board.
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