Analogy of Being, Atheism & the Logoi: Romanides Refuted

Masonic hierarchs Athenagoras and Paul VI.

Masonic hierarchs Athenagoras and Paul VI.

By: Jay Dyer

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” -Romans 1:20

Almost a decade ago I was confronted with a challenge to my Augustinian and Thomistic presuppositions.  I had, to be clear, imbibed thousands of pages of Augustine (both his early and later works), and a considerable amount of Thomistic research, including entire volumes of both Summas.   Various encounters with Orthodox writers challenged me to reconsider my assumptions and considerations of how Augustine and Aquinas conceived of “created grace,” the “light of God” in illumination and epistemology, and the meaning of “divine simplicity.”  It was here that I was introduced to the writings of Fr. John Romanides, and at that time, I read what works I could find in English, the most relevant of which (to me, at least) were his Ancestral Sin and his online books and essays (and later his Patristic Theology).  Causing me a great deal of difficulty at the time, I decided to move eastward (in both Church Fathers and Church attendance).

Befriending a Romanides scholar, a paradigm shift eventually occurred wherein many of the questions, difficulties and issues within traditional Roman Catholic theology I had serious problems reconciling (such as the dismissal of Tradition through modernism and its culmination at Vatican II) now had a context for how to understand them: The Roman Church had adopted erroneous assumptions that manifested over many centuries, and the filioque doctrine, as well as many other notions, and at root was the issue of divine simplicity, the denial of the essence-energy distinction and the resulting analogia entis of Rome.  At that time, my friend and I had numerous debates and exchanges concerning the question of revelation, Scripture, inspiration, inerrancy, the notion of analogy, etc.  While my immersion into Orthodox theology (already based on years of patristics) resulted in my gradual dismissal of Roman Catholic theology, there was still a point of departure between my Romanidean friend I could never put my finger on.  

The reinforcements and affirmations of Romanides concerning “no similarity between the created and uncreated” is a phrase found often in the fathers and in Romanides’ works is often brought forward to dispel the Western conception of analogia, be it the Thomisitc doctrine of the analogy of being or the Protestant doctrine of the analogy of faith.  At this juncture it would be helpful to understand these two positions.  In Thomisitc analogia, man has a common conception of “being,” a being that is on a sort of continuum, and man’s general conception of “Being” is applicable by created analogy to God’s Super-essential being.  Though Aquinas agrees with via negativa, he also understands the Divine Names to signify something of the Divine Essence, though these concepts are not univocal.  In other words, in Catholic theology the statement that God is “just” is an analogy to human justice, and the term “justice” is a conceptual category that signifies the Divine Essence, although “in a glass darkly.”  The same is said for all attributes of God and Divine Names.  

Analogia Entis in Roman Catholic (Thomistic) Theology

The Stanford Encyclopedia describes this in philosophical terms:

In his De veritate, he argues that the analogy of attribution involves a determinate relation, which cannot hold between God and creatures, and that the analogy of proportionality must be used for the divine names. We must compare the relation between God and his properties to the relation between creatures and their properties. This solution was deeply flawed, given that the problem of divine names arises precisely because the relationship of God to his properties is so radically different from our relation to our properties. Accordingly, in his later discussions of the divine names, notably in the Summa contra gentiles and the Summa theologiae, Aquinas returns to the analogy of attribution, but links it much more closely with his doctrines of causal similitude. As Montagnes has pointed out, he came to place much greater emphasis on agent causation, the active transmission of properties from God to creatures, than on exemplar causality, the creature’s passive reflection or imitation of God’s properties. In this context, Aquinas makes considerable use of his ontological distinction between univocal causes, whose effects are fully like them, and non-univocal causes, whose effects are not fully like them. God is an analogical cause, and this is the reality that underlies our use of analogical language.

Aquinas writes in Summa Theologica, I. Q4:

“Therefore if there is an agent not contained in any “genus,” its effect will still more distantly reproduce the form of the agent, not, that is, so as to participate in the likeness of the agent’s form according to the same specific or generic formality, but only according to some sort of analogy; as existence is common to all. In this way all created things, so far as they are beings, are like God as the first and universal principle of all being….

Reply to Objection 3. Likeness of creatures to God is not affirmed on account of agreement in form according to the formality of the same genus or species, but solely according to analogy, inasmuch as God is essential being, whereas other things are beings by participation.”

And in regard to his doctrine of analogy in relation to eternal archetypes, or Divine Ideas (which we will return to later), Aquinas explains:

“And thus we must needs say that the human soul knows all things in the eternal types, since by participation of these types we know all things. For the intellectual light itself which is in us, is nothing else than a participated likeness of the uncreated light, in which are contained the eternal types. Whence it is written (Psalm 4:6-7), “Many say Who showeth us good things?” which question the Psalmist answers, “The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us,” as though he were to say: By the seal of the Divine light in us, all things are made known to us.”

“Reply to Objection 1. Although creatures do not attain to a natural likeness to God according to similitude of species, as a man begotten is like to the man begetting, still they do attain to likeness to Him, forasmuch as they represent the divine idea, as a material house is like to the house in the architect’s mind.”

“And therefore we must say that in the divine wisdom are the types of all things, which types we have called ideas–i.e. exemplar forms existing in the divine mind (15, 1). And these ideas, though multiplied by their relations to things, in reality are not apart from the divine essence, according as the likeness to that essence can be shared diversely by different things. In this manner therefore God Himself is the first exemplar of all things. Moreover, in things created one may be called the exemplar of another by the reason of its likeness thereto, either in species, or by the analogy of some kind of imitation.”

“On the contrary, Augustine says (Confess. xii, 25): “If we both see that what you say is true, and if we both see that what I say is true, where do we see this, I pray? Neither do I see it in you, nor do you see it in me: but we both see it in the unchangeable truth which is above our minds.” Now the unchangeable truth is contained in the eternal types. Therefore the intellectual soul knows all true things in the eternal types.”

The important point here in Aquinas is firstly, where he locates the Divine Ideas, which is the essence of God: “And these ideas, though multiplied by their relations to things, in reality are not apart from the divine essence, according as the likeness to that essence can be shared diversely by different things. In this manner therefore God Himself is the first exemplar of all things.”  This crucial point will be the dividing line between the Eastern conception of the Divine Ideas (or logoi) and the Western view.  For the Eastern Fathers and Orthodox Theology, the logoi are uncreated energies and are in no way situated in God’s essence (as we will see later).  Indeed, this is partly why the Eastern Church believes in the essence-energy distinction and the Western conception does not.  Note that Aquinas explicitly says the likeness is essential, or natural.  

In this sense, the many Eastern critiques of the western doctrine (not a new critique in Romanides, I might add) show how this doctrine leads to the Origenist and Platonic conception of “creation” as an essentialist emanation of God, and not an ex nihilo, free creation of God.  Since, in Western theology, God’s will is His essence, and God’s divine patterns and archetypes are also His essence, the created patterns are therefore just as necessary as the Divine Essence.  Because God is the origin of all things as First Cause in Thomism, the created effects bear some likeness to their Origin – which, unfortunately in Thomism is the essence of God, as God is Actus Purus, with no potentiality.  In Thomism, the “natural knowledge of God” which is had by reflection upon creatures back to their “First Cause” must later be supplemented by “supernatural grace” and revelation, built upon the foundation of “natural knowledge.”  

Analogia Fidei in Classical Protestant Theology and Soteriology

In Protestant theology, because of the identification of nature and person (in God and in man because of the presupposition absolute simplicity), the Fall left man without any ability of his reason to contemplate God in nature.  As a “slave to sin,” in both traditional Calvinism and Lutheranism, man perpetually sins.  Human nature as a whole is in some sense “evil,” as it perpetually offends Divine holiness, due to the determining force of this “natural” principle of sinning.  The restoration to the Imagio Dei therefore requires an overriding of the human willing and operation in a monergistic “regeneration,” either secretly for the elect in Calvinism or as predestined within history for the elect in the laver of baptism in Lutheranism.  

Even after this divine fiat of the transference into the legal fiction state of “justification” (which is not a declaration of God based on a real ontological change), the elect are still mired in sin, and unable to truly produce works God accepts synergistically, aside from God simply willing it to be so.  Because the divine will is the divine essence in classical Protestantism, the “reformers” followed their master Augustine to more consistent conclusions with the anthropological presupposition that person is nature (divine simplicity reflected into anthropology) and because God’s will is His essence (absolute divine simplicity proper).  This is why St. John of Damascus states in On the Orthodox Faith that all heresies begin with the identification of nature and person.  

Indeed, in reformation debates on justification the question arose as to how God could consider someone as “just,” say they are so, and view them as such, without this declaration being based on a real, ontological change in the person was explained because of divine voluntarism, based on late medieval nominalism.  God can state a thing to be other than it is because it is purely the divine will that makes a thing so.  Created objects do not have natures of their own, which God created, but are rather entities which exist solely on the basis of divine volition willing them to be.  As such, their nature, meaning and “status” can be declared to be other than they are because God wills it to be so.   (Note: That these assumptions are all carried over into all forms of classical Protestantism is not only shown in their explicit teachings on divine simplicity, but also in their unquestioned acceptance of the filioque.)

For classical Protestant theology (Calvinistic and Lutheran) the fall of man damaged his nature such that man’s reason and empirical sense-data are useless in terms of grasping truths about God, unless one is “regenerated,” while prior to this conversion might only grasp some sparse or confused notions about God from nature through what is sometimes termed “common grace.”  Knowledge that comes through “common grace,” of course is neither saving nor of much value (our purpose here is also not to enter into endless Protestant squabbles over this matter).  It is enough to say that for classical Protestantism the only way true knowledge of God can be obtained is through the Protestant canon of written Scripture.  The Westminster Confession of Faith states:

  1. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.

Furthermore, that the will and noetic understanding of man in this life is always and forever bound by sin, even after conversion (as well as that the Fall led to his nature becoming in some sense evil), we read as well.  I will refrain from citing Luther, as his Bondage of the Will is even more extreme than the Calvinists in their confessions:

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by His grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly, or only, will that which is good, but does also will that which is evil.  V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.

And,

“…because, as they are good [works], they proceed from His Spirit, and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.”

Because the Fall is conceived of as a loss of the image of God, it can only be restored by the divine will overcoming the will’s natural resistance to God. In Orthodox Theology, the fall of man into corruption and death did not destroy or totally obliterate the image of God, but rather introduced death and the tendency towards sin (the passions).  Sin is therefore never a state of being, but always a specific action.  If sin and evil were ever an actual state of being, something with substantial ontological existence, Manichaeism would be the result, with God creating both good and evil as eternal, dual principles.  With all that said, the crux of the matter for the analogia fidei is that man’s fallen faculties, even after conversion, are precluded from any real, direct participation in the divine energies, much less any noetic vision of God in this life.  

Created forms and symbols (the Bible) are the best one can hope for, and even then the knowledge of God through Scripture is still noetically challenged, as man’s continual sin effaces and negates his possibility of certainty about God and the meaning of the texts.  Like in Roman Catholic theology, because of absolute simplicity, man always and only experiences created grace (never theosis) because the “grace” merited by the man Jesus was earned through His keeping of the Law and sanctifying of human nature.  The means by which this was achieved was the damnation of the Son by the Father at the Cross, pouring out the infinite wrath of the Father upon the Son, thereby purchasing the elect.  This blasphemous formulation is at once seen to be both anti-Trinitarian and Nestorian, depending on how the Protestant want to make sense of this notion, either by maintaining the anti-Nestorian option that Jesus is a divine hypostasis, and therefore splitting and dividing the Trinity where one Hypostasis damns another, or by maintaining the person damned at the Cross was a human person (pure Nestorianism).  

Modernist John Romanides, the Analogia and the Logoi

Returning to Romanides, if we stopped at this juncture, and the criticisms of the above accounts of Thomism are found in Romanides, that would be good. However, the more one peruses his works, the more it becomes obvious there is a departure from Orthodox Theology – the point of difference I could not, for a long time, explicate between myself and the Romanides scholar I mentioned above.  For years we would talk past one another, since Romanides claims to affirm the Orthodox doctrine of the logoi.  However, in comparing different works of Romanides, we can see this is clearly not the case.  

In fact, it would become incumbent upon Romanides for his ecumenical project to deny the logoi doctrine as formulated by the Fathers, and reinterpret it to mean there is absolutely no sense in which Orthodoxy holds to any analogia.  Correctly criticizing both the Thomistic/Roman Catholic and Protestant versions of the analogia, Romanides explicitly states there is absolutely no correspondence between the created and the uncreated, at any level.  In fact, Romanides even cites the nominalist heretic Wiliam of Ockham as being correct – showing my reading of Romanides is not “unfair”:

“On account of William Ockham, a tradition was created that did not accept the analogy of being, between the created and the uncreated. He maintained that we cannot trace any knowledge of God through philosophy. He had launched a general attack against Plato’s archetypes; in other words, against the Universalia of Platonic tradition, with very powerful arguments and almost abolished the preceding Platonic supporters of Western tradition, thus instigating a severe crisis in Western Theology.  To Orthodox tradition, this is of extreme importance, since Plato’s and Neo-Platonists’ teachings on archetypes were officially condemned by the Orthodox Church. In the Orthodox Synodical that we cite on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, there is an official condemnation of this teaching of Plato and Neoplatonists and anathema is now officially pronounced by the Orthodox Church, on those who confess this Platonic teaching of archetypes. The reason for this is that the Platonic perception of God is clearly anthropomorphic.”

First, the Synodikon does not condemn all form of analogia, it condemns the Platonic doctrine that universals are the essence of God, which is the teaching of the western theologians like Augustine and Aquinas.  We know this, as it is the long-time Orthodox argument made against Platonists who believe the creation of the world is an emanation from predestined archetypal forms in the divine essence.  It states:

“Anathema (3)

To them who of themselves refashion creation by means of mythical fabrications and accept the Platonic ideas as veritable, saying that matter, being self-subsistent, is given form by these ideas, and who thereby clearly calumniate the free will of the Creator Who brought all things into being out of non-being and Who, as Maker, established the beginning and end of all things by His authority and sovereignty.”

We can see here Romanides’ clever attempt to bolster his case from a condemnation that is simply a reformulation of why Plato is wrong and creation is not a determined emanation from God’s essence.  This is known in Orthodox theology as the “Origenist Problem,” because Origen argued (as a Platonist) that the Divine Name “Creator” and “Lord” were synonymous with the Divine essence.  SInce those predicates were true predicates of the divine essence, and the divine nature is eternal and determined to be what it is, it follows there must always be a creation over which God is father and lord.  In other words, it leads to the denial of ex nihilo creation and, because of the doctrine of eternal divine ideas placed in the divine essence, creation and the eternal generation of the Son are no different.  This point is a large portion of the thesis of St. Maximos’ disputes and condemnations of dialectics, Dr. Farrell’s God, History & Dialectic, Vol. 1, Free Choice in Maximos Confessor, as well as featuring prominently in the writings of Fr. Dimitru Staniloae and Fr. Florovsky.  In short, it is not a new argument and has a specific target it is intended to refute – we will see this below.

What the passage is not intended to refute is any conception of logoi or analogy (as Romanides would have it).  For Romanides, there is absolutely no sense in which there is an analogy between created and uncreated.  This denial applies to the essence of God, as well as the energies of God – Romanides is abundantly clear that on all levels there is no analogia.  He writes:

“We have already mentioned that there is no similarity between God and creations. And, since there is no similarity, it means that there is no similarity between the created and the uncreated.  So, what is the metaphysical view of theology? In order for metaphysics or ontology to exist, there must definitely be a certain analogy between the created and the uncreated. In the philosophical and theological tradition of the West, there are two analogies, in other words, two different correlations. In Orthodox Theology, however, no such things exist. Why?  Simply because the Fathers stress that between the created and the uncreated, between creations and God, there is no similarity. This also means that there is no analogy between them, i.e., no correlation or comparison. Which means that we cannot, through creations, come to know the uncreated (=God), Himself or His energy.”

Metropolitan Hierotheos, his student, further confirms this and we will see where and how this doctrine leads to modernism:

“Fr. John attached a great significance and importance to the neptic tradition because this is the place where one may find not just the dogmas of the Church but also the differences between Orthodox Tradition and that of the Catholics and Protestants. He pinpointed this difference in the terms “the analogy of being” (analogia entis) and “the analogy of faith” (analogia fidei) which has to do with the different ways one comprehends God’s revelation. The analogy of being refers to the fact that there is a relation between the created and the uncreated being; that God created the world from archetypes and that man’s salvation rests on the return of his soul to the uncreated world of ideas. This is the area of classical metaphysics which Franco-Latin theology was influenced from. According to this theory one can perceive the essence of God if he perceives the essence of created beings, using human rationality. This was the view expressed by Barlaam and that’s why Saint Gregory Palamas objected to this, the so-called “scholastic analogy.”

Metropolitan Hierotheos even goes on to admit many were “unfair” to Romanides because they suspected he had been influenced by liberal Protestants (and he had been, as we will see in his denial of Scripture as a “mixture of Babylonian myths”).  The “scholastic analogy” St. Gregory is referring to is the Augustinian and Thomistic preference for the logoi or divine Ideas to be located in the divine essence and known by humans through rational contemplation.  The notion that humans can ever know or “see” the divine essence is, of course, blasphemous and ridiculous and never taught in Orthodoxy.  What Romanides’ project does is one step further – it cancels out any cataphatic knowledge and relativizes the Divine Names under the cloak of “hesychasm.”   That it is not hesychasm is shown in the fact that Romanides denied the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture and affirmed evolution (based on “science” and liberal textual higher criticism), which St. Gregory did not.  

In discussing the topic of the logoi, the uncreated divine ideas that are archetypes and patterns of creation, Romanides is also clear, since the subject is directly correlated to the Divine Names.  Romanides disallows any correspondence, simile or likeness between the logoi and the created patterns:

“Many Fathers, particularly St. Maximus the Confessor, when they refer to the sustaining, maintaining energy of God that is present in the whole of creation, mention the inner principles (logoi) of things. These ‘inner principles of beings’ are not the archetypes of the ideas, as the ancient philosophers asserted, but the creative and sustaining energy of God.” (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

“There is a difference between the Fathers and Augustine on the following point: because Augustine identified the glory of God with Plato’s archetypes and Plato’s forms, illumination for Augustine was not the unceasing remembrance of God in the heart, but the vision of the archetypes in the essence of God, when someone conceives the archetypes or forms with his brain.

We need to be careful here because sometimes the archetypes are used by the Fathers, but for the Fathers the archetypes are formless: they are not the Platonic forms, whereas for Augustine they are the forms that are identical to the archetypes. Here we have the forms. We have the rationes – that is to say, the rationes that are the inner principles (logoi). The inner principles (logoi) are called rationes in Latin. Augustine occasionally refers to the rationes.

This would be fine if he went no further. This is the teaching of the faith, because we ought to know the inner principles (logoi) of things. However, for us these inner principles are not archetypal forms. They are not forms for divine purposes, destinies and so on; they are what God wills. For Plato they are not divine purposes. For Plato they are the originals of which the world is a copy. That is to say, there is a form of man and we are a copy of the idea of man. Yes, but man is not a copy of the inner principles (logoi) of being, because the principles of being are free from form and have no shape. The principles of beings have no similarity at all with created things in patristic literature.”

This quote hits at the root of the entire issue and is the point of departure between myself and my former “Romanides scholar” friend.  We see very clearly that Romanides’ claim the logoi bear no similarity to the created patterns is cleverly lumped into the condemnations of Platonism.  It is a very subtle bit of bait-and-switch he has worked here, and why it took several years for me to locate the real point of divergence between myself and his disciples.  There is no analogy, not even for the Divine Names or the logoi!  The doctrine of the logoi, Romanides maintains, must be properly understood, not through the language of the fathers themselves who write about them, but through Romanides.  Only with Romanides goggles can anyone truly understand the fathers.  Of course, when we put these goggles on for a while, they “show us” that “science” has taught us the Bible is a “mix of Babylonian myths” and fairy-tales.  So much for noetic vision.  It should be added as well, if Romanides disciples attempt to use his quote from Ancestral Sin on divine ideas from page 58, you’ll note he once again affirms his nominalism (he already said Ockham was correct) and rejection of the Ideas having any correspondence.  

Vladimir Moss has nailed this issue in Romanides with perfect precision:

It is important to realize also that Romanides’ distinction between “uncreated truths” and “created truths” is quite irrelevant in the context of Holy Scripture. Romanides himself describes Moses’ encounter with God on Mount Sinai as his entering into the Divine Light of God’s uncreated Energies, where “uncreated truths” were revealed to him. And yet this uncreated truth was received by him in a specific historical time and place – “created truths”, which, if not verified by science, would place the “uncreated truth” itself in doubt, according to Romanides’ logic.

For let us suppose that scientists discovered that Moses never went up Mount Sinai, and this encounter with God was not a historical event. Then the basis for believing in Moses’ uncreated truth is severely weakened. Such is the dilemma of one who puts his faith in science and not in the Word of God… Moreover, the content of the Uncreated Revelation Moses received was a series of created truths– truths concerning sun and stars, earth and water, plants, animals and men… The important thing for us to know is not whether a given passage of Scripture is a description of uncreated or created truth, but simply whether it is true, coming from the Spirit of truth. Of course, there are vast differences in the sublimity and importance of the different truths revealed by Holy Scripture. The fact that Moses entered the Divine Darkness of Mount Sinai is far more sublime and important that the fact that Tobit is twice mentioned as being followed by his dog on his travels. And yet from the point of view of factual reliability the big fact and the small fact are on the same level, as being both communicated to us by God, Who says: “Who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4.10). In any case, every Theophany recorded in the Holy Scripture, every meeting between God and man in glory, involves an “unconfused but undivided” meeting between Uncreated and created elements, between Eternity and Time, which only the sheerest rationalism will attempt to divide…

By denying that Holy Scripture is revelation in the true sense, and by asserting that large parts of Holy Scripture – the “created truths” concerning history, etc. – must be considered to be less reliable than other parts – the “uncreated truths” that “transcend all expressions and concepts”, Romanides provides himself with a tool whereby he can degrade or completely reinterpret certain scriptural expressions and concepts that he does not like – for example, “justification” (which he reinterprets as “vivification”) or “justice” (which he reinterprets as “love”). For he thereby introduces the idea that there is a “higher” theology, that of deification, which is without words, expressions and concepts, and a “lower”, Biblical theology with words, expressions and concepts. And he who has the higher theology can correct, or even do without, the lower theology.”

This “tool” leads to some of the most ridiculous and heretical statements one can imagine:

Romanides: “But in Patristic tradition, God is not a personal God. In fact, God is not even God. God does not correspond to anything we can conceive or would be able to conceive.”

Moss: The latter statement is true, but does not justify the first two statements, which are false. We have already mentioned that the inevitable imprecision of human language in speaking about the things of God in no way invalidates the attempts of men, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to make true statements about God. And one of these true statements is indubitably the statement that God is personal, and that He enters into a personal relationship with men.

“The relationship between God and man is not a personal relationship and it is also not a subject-object relationship. So when we speak about a personal relationship between God and man, we are making a mistake. That kind of relationship between God and human beings does not exist. What we are talking about now has bearing on another error that some people make when they speak about a communion of persons and try to develop a theology based on a communion of persons using the relations between the Persons in the Trinity as a model. The relations between God and man are not like the relations between fellow human beings. Why? Because we are not on the same level or in the same business with God.”

This version of “higher theology” of Romanides appears under the cloak of “hesychasm,” but in reality exists to subvert Orthodox teaching for the ecumenical project of removing the concrete, unchanging meaning of historic creeds, terms, symbols and formulations – a necessary iconoclastic project for any good ecumenist.  Naturally, the disciples of Romanides will all scream that he only sought to convert others!  That, of course, is not true, as admitted by Romanides himself, where he relativizes the church:

“We will know that the last one to be gloried has passed away when human society has passed away. And this last one glorified will probably not have been member of any “official” Church.” –Sickness of Religion

To make it clear, for those who may not be as well versed in the doctrine of the logoi as formulated famously by St. Maximos the Confessor, the doctrine is directly connected to the Divine Names which are statements that refer to the energies, and never the essence of God.  For Romanides’ view to hold true, Divine Names are impossible, as naming an attribute or operation of God would be impossible.  As we will further below, the doctrine of the logoi in St. Maximos, St. John of Damascus, Fr Staniloae and even as explicated by Romanides’ own teacher, Fr. Florovsky, are not consistent with his claims.  Moss again summarizes this point lucidly elsewhere:

“God became man, in order that man should become god” – and the process of becoming god is what we call deification. However, Romanides links this uncontroversial teaching with another, much more dubious one: that there is no likeness whatsoever between God and His creation, including man. And this is true, he asserts, not only in relation to the absolutely unknowable essence of God, but also in relation to His energies. “No similarity whatsoever exists between the uncreated and the created, or between God and creation. This also means that no analogy, correlation, or comparison can be made between them. This implies that we cannot use created things as a means for knowing the uncreated God or His energy.” But this immediately raises the objection: if there is no similarity whatsoever between God and His creation, why, when He created man, did He create Him in His “image and likeness”? And again: is not this likeness between God and man precisely the basis which makes possible the union between God and man, and man’s deification?”

And, illustrating the reason this is so crucial, Moss writes (and gives a litany of patristic citations to show it here):

This point receives confirmation from a consideration of the subject of the Divine Names. In his treatise with this title, St. Dionysius teaches us that each of the names we ascribe to God are taken from created human experience and then applied to an Uncreated Energy of God which bears a resemblance to that human experience. Thus we call God “love” from our experience of human love and of God’s love towards us. This is not to say that God’s love is not infinitely purer and greater than human love. Nevertheless, if there were absolutely no similarity between our experience of created human love and God’s uncreated love for us, there would be absolutely no reason to call Him “love”.

God reveals Himself to us in many ways, and our names for Him are correspondingly many. Thus “He is many-named,” writes St. Dionysius, “because this is how they represent Him speaking: ‘I am He Who is, I am Life, Light, God, Truth’. And the wise in God praise God Himself, Creator of all, by many names gathered from created things, such as Good, Beautiful, Wise, Beloved…”

These are names gathered from created things, but applied to the Uncreated God. So unless we are to deny that God can meaningfully be called Good, Beautiful or Wise, Life, Light or Love, we must conclude that Romanides is wrong in asserting that there is no similarity whatsoever between God and man. The fact that we can, however approximately, give names to God shows that there is some interface between the Creator and His creation. However transcendent and unknowable God is in His essence, He still makes Himself known in His energies; and we can know Him and name Him in His energies because we are made in His image and likeness and because He has become man for us, and revealed Himself in that very human nature that He assumed for our sake. It is on this basis that “we know that, when He is revealed [at the Second Coming], we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3.2).”

The project of picking and choosing which sections of Scripture are inspired on the basis of liberal higher criticism is explained by Romanides and Hierotheos (who ridiculously appear ignorant of basic notions of similes and metaphors in biblical language – or, at worst, are fully aware of metaphors, but are covertly subverting creationism and inerrancy):

“Revelational experience is formulated in created words and concepts. The God-seeing Prophets, Apostles and Fathers use the perceptions of the people of their era in order to put their experience into words. Their basic teaching is that God created the world and He directs it, but the formulation of the experience in words comes from the knowledge of the period. The teaching is a matter of theology, the wording is a matter of communication. The cosmology of the Old Testament, as regards expression and formulation, is influenced by the Babylonian cosmology of that age. We stress this to avoid any confusion between the theology of the God-seeing saints and the scientific language of each era.” (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

“There is a cosmology of the Old Testament. When the Old Testament talks about the firmament, this is Babylonian cosmology. In that period the people of the Middle East observed that, when they dug a well, they found water underground. They saw rain falling from the sky, and often there were floods. If you read the Psalms carefully you will see that there are storehouses up in the sky. You open the door, as in a shower, and water falls down.

Therefore the way they imagined creation was that in the beginning God created the firmament. The earth was in the middle of the waters and afterwards He suspended the firmament, to support the waters above it, and we have the earth to retain the water below. We are in the middle and live between the waters. This is the cosmology of the Old Testament. Does it bear any relation to reality?”

And Moss again, citing Romanides:

Romanides: “But now the Orthodox Church has to face a certain paradox. When you read the Old Testament, the New Testament, and even writings from Tradition, you will run across opinions that science proved to be false at least 150 years ago, especially on account of the breakthroughs in research made in the exact sciences. Naturally, this creates a serious problem for someone who does not fully grasp what the Fathers mean when they speak about divine inspiration. This problem mainly applies to the study of the Bible.”

So the Bible is not the Word of God, according to Romanides, because it is contradicted by certain supposed findings of science…What are these sciences that we can trust, supposedly, more than the Holy Scriptures? First of all, palaeontology.

“For we now know that there exist human bones which are proved to have existed for three and a half million years.” And then anthropology. “The cosmology of Genesis when compared with the Babylonian cosmology presents striking similarities…”

In general, Romanides has a great respect – too great a respect – for science. He appears to believe in the “big bang”, and evolution, and psychoanalysis, and seems completely oblivious of the powerful objections brought against all these theories by more independent-minded scientists… He believes that the process of purification, illumination and deification can be reflected in the future findings of neurobiology… Several times he compares his “empirical dogmatics” or “experiential theology” with medicine and psychiatry…

Heresy itself is defined as “a form of quackery (kompogiannitismou), through which there is no healing [therapeia]”.

Theology is close to science, he says, because both are based on experience – the first, the experience of the Uncreated God, and the second, the experience of created nature. Holy Scripture, however, is inspired by God only when it speaks about the experience of the Uncreated God and how to arrive at it through purification, illumination or deification. But when it speaks about historical events, created things or the creation of the universe, it is unreliable and therefore not God-inspired. Then it should be corrected by the findings of modern science. For Holy Scripture “uses the science of its time, which is why it should not be seen as the revelation of God.”

Romanides explains this position as follows: “Nobody can mix created truths with uncreated truths. They are not the same thing. Created truths are one thing, uncreated truths – something else. And insofar as there is no likeness [between them], created truth cannot be the way by which we know uncreated truth…

“Holy Scripture is not the source of knowledge of created truth, but of uncreated truth, that is, of the Revelation of the uncreated glory of God, and cannot be a guidebook either of medicinal or any other science. It is a Book that was written within the bounds of the knowledge of the time in which it was written.

“The place where Holy Scripture is infallible and a guide for the life of men is in the sections concerning purification, illumination and deification, which deification is the basis of the knowledge of God possessed by the Prophets, the Apostles and the saints of the Church.”

This “pick-and-choose” attitude to Holy Scripture is – paradoxically in view of Romanides’ virulent anti-westernism, – typically western. It demonstrates a lack of faith in the word of God that is typical of liberal Catholics and Protestants. And the reason is Romanides’ bowing down to the god of the West, scientism – or “half-science”, as Dostoyevsky called it.

In order to now understand the basis of Orthodox teaching on the logoi, as directly connected to the doctrine of the Divine Names, it will be helpful to consider the statements of the Fathers and other theologians who cover, and in particular, Romanides’ teacher, Fr. Florovsky.  St. Maximos the Confessor, the most formative father on the topic of the logoi, is in direct contrast with Romanides about the logoi writes as follows (and recall what Romanides claimed: “The principles of beings have no similarity at all with created things in patristic literature.”  Recall also that page 58 of Ancestral Sin rejects all notion of universals (backing up his love for Ockham) and cannot be used as a proof Romanides believed in the logoi – the logoi are only acceptable to Romanides as patterns and archetypes that have no connection to the created forms.  Note also that St. Maximos affirms universals. In others words, he makes the doctrine meaningless, useless and directly the opposite of St. Maximos’ explanation.  But who cares – as “Romanides scholars” will tell you, the fathers must be read through the lense of Romanides.   

In Ambiguum 7 St. Maximos states:

“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 pre-exists 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. 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 logos of his own existence that pre-existed in God is in God through diligence; and he moves in 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 logos of 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 logoi already 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 logoi and 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)

Ironically, some of these “Romanides scholars” are also avid students of Dr. Joseph P. Farrell, but apparently his scholarship in regard to St. Maximos also missed the boat: Dr. Joseph P. Farrell writes:

“The one Logos is the many logoi and the many logoi are one Logos.  In other words, in His Incarnation and enhominization, Jesus Christ possesses the and is the fullness of all universals common to both deity and humanity…Christ becomes the final context, the ultimate and perfect recontextualization and repetition of the logoi understood here as both the words of the Old Testament Scriptures and the principles of nature: of creation as a whole and of man in particular.”  –Disputations with Pyrrhus pg. 13.

Dr. Philip Sherrard explains, citing and quoting more of the Ambigua:

“The Incarnation of the eternal Logos in Christ is not thus an exception to, but a confirmation of, what man is; and the same may be said of the Resurrection, for it is οnly in the effective ‘realization’ of his οwn uncreated logos that man achieves his deification and, through it, that deliverance (from the death and corruption of his merely temporal existence) in which his purpose is fulfilled.

The realization itself by man of his οwn uncreated and indwelling logos is something beyond the reach of all natural powers of soul and body, reason and sense:

It is truly impossible to be united to God unless, besides purifying ourselves, we come to be outside or, rather, above ourselves, having left all that which pertains to the sensible world and risen above all ideas, reasonings, and even all knowledge and above reason itself, being entirely under the influence of the intellectual sense and having reached that ignorance which is above knowledge and (what is the same) above every kind of philosophy.

At the same time, the Thomist intellect, being merely an extension of the discursive reason and not corresponding to the spiritual intellect, or heart, cannot participate in what Herakleitos calls the Logos common to all: it cannot surpass its particularity and individuality through the intuition and realization of the realities of a supra-rational and supra-individual order, of a metaphysical and uncreated order, and hence become universal. It remains confined to its particularity and individuality, and such ‘universality’ as it can achieve derives, as has already been remarked, from the abstractions it makes from the sensible world. Ιn other words, the individuality of the knowing subject is not transcended through the realization of a supra-individual reality, but is limited by its dependence οn the sensible world for any knowledge it may acquire: a condition of its knowing anything is that it remains open to external objects and allows those objects to communicate their οwn images to it.” –Greek East and Latin West, pg. 

Fr. Florovsky, the teacher of Romanides is highly insightful here, particularly in detailing in what sense the ideas are prototypes, archetypes, related to the Divine Names, and in what sense cataphatic.  The following quotes are from his article “Creation and Creaturehood” and can be found here:

“According to St. Maximus the Confessor these types and ideas are the Divine all-perfect and everlasting thoughts of the everlasting God— noêseis autoteleis aïdioi tou aïdiou Theou.45 This eternal counsel is God’s design and decision concerning the world. It must be rigorously distinguished from the world itself. The Divine idea of creation is not creation itself; it is not the substance of creation; it is not the bearer of the cosmic-process; and the “transition” from “design” [ennoêma] to “deed” [ergon] is not a process within the Divine idea, but the appearance, formation, and the realization of another substratum, of a multiplicity of created subjects. The Divine idea remains unchangeable and unchanged, it is not involved in the process of formation. It remains always outside the created world, transcending it. The world is created according to the idea, in accordance with the pattern it is the realization of the pattern but this pattern is not the subject of becoming. The pattern is a norm and a goal established in God. This distinction and distance is never abolished, and therefore the eternity of the pattern, which is fixed and is never involved in temporal change, is compatible with temporal beginning, with the entering-into-being of the bearers of the external decrees.

Things before their becoming are as though non-existent,” said Augustine, utiquae non erant. And he explains himself: they both were and were not before they originated; “they were in God’s knowledge: but were not in their own nature” erant in Dei scientia, non erant in sua natura.46 According to St. Maximus, created beings “are images and similes of the Divine ideas,”47 in which they are “participants.”48 In creation, the Creator realizes, “makes substantial” and “discloses” His knowledge, pre-existent everlastingly in Himself.49 In creation there is projected from out of nothing a new reality which becomes the bearer of the Divine idea, and must realize this idea in its own becoming. In this context the pantheistic tendency of Platonic ideology and of the Stoic theory of “seminal reasons” [spermatikoi logoi] is altogether overcome and avoided. For Platonism the identification of the “essence” of each thing with its Divine idea is characteristic, the endowment of substances with absolute and eternal (beginningless) properties and predicates, as well as the introduction of the “idea” into real things. On the contrary, the created nucleus of things must be rigorously distinguished from the Divine idea about things. Only in this way is even the most sequacious logical realism freed from a “pantheistic flavor; the reality of the whole will nevertheless be but a created reality. Together with this, pan-logism is also overcome: The thought of a thing and the Divine thought-design concerning a thing are not its “essence” or nucleus, even though the essence itself is characterized by logos, [logikos]. The Divine pattern in things is not their “substance” or “hypostasis;” it is not the vehicle of their qualities and conditions. Rather, it might be called the truth of a thing, its transcendental entelechy. But the truth of a thing and the substance of a thing are not identical.50 “

Continuing, Fr. Florovsky explains:

“In the everlasting immutability of God’s Being there is no origination whatsoever, nor any becoming, nor any sequence. And nevertheless there is a kind of all-perfect harmonic order which is partially knowable and expressible on the level of the Divine names…”

“Fn. 49 One must also take into consideration different aspects of the image as described by St. John Damascene, De imag. II, 19, PG xciv, 1340-1341: The first aspect of the image is natural, physikos— the Son. The second image is the pre-eternal counsel— en tôi Theôi. The third aspect is man, who is an image by imitation: —ho kata mimêsin hypo Theou genomenos— since one who is created cannot have the same nature as He who is not created. In this passage St. John Damascene perceives the likeness of man to God in the fact that the soul of every man consists of three parts; cf. Fragm., PG xcv, 574. By indicating difference of natures in God and in man, the divine nature of the eternal ideas of His counsel is emphasized. The notion of “image” received its final definition only during the Iconoclastic period, especially in the writings of St. Theodore the Studite. He connects the possibility of having icons with the creation of man according to the image of God. “The fact that man is created according to the image and likeness of God indicates that making icons is to some extent a divine occupation” (St. Theod. Stud. Antirrh. Ill, c. 2, 5, PG xciv. St. Theodore follows here the ideas of Areopagitica. In this case it is enough to mention that St. Theodore underscores the indissoluble connection between the “image” and the “proto-image,” but makes a sharp distinction between them in essence of nature. Cf. Antirrh. III, c. 3, 10, col. 424: “The one is not separate from the other, except in respect to the distinction of essences” [tês ousias diaphoron].”

Cataphatic statements are not useless, meaningless or relativized “signposts” (contrary to Romanides), but applicable in a limited, analogical sense to the Divine Names, attributes or energies (and thus also to the logoi).  Those names are limited, but none the less meaningful and tell us true things about God.  Indeed, to make this more relevant, one Romanides disciple expressed to me his difficulty in admitting “hypostasis” can be accurately used of God, since it is a human term.  If this line of thinking were to become more consistent with itself, then all statements, even those like “Father,” “Son,” etc., are tossed out as well.  Interesting, since that is exactly what the ecumenical project aims at – to achieve its ends, it must relativize the language and formulations of the Bible, councils and creeds.  Fr. Florovsky admits:

“From the very beginning of Christian history, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church endeavored to distinguish clearly and sharply those definitions and names which referred to God on the “theological” plane and those used on the “economical.” Behind this stands the distinction between “nature” and “will.” And bound up with it is the distinction in God between “essence” [ousia] and “that which surrounds the essence,” “that which is related to the nature.” A distinction, but not a separation: “What we say about God affirmatively shows us,” as St. John Damascene explains, “not His nature, but only what is related to His nature,” ou tên physin, alla ta peri tên physin,52 “something which accompanies His nature” [ti tôn parepomenôn têi physei].53 And “what He is by essence and nature, this is unattainable and unknowable.”54 St. John expresses here the basic and constant assumption of all Eastern theology: God’s essence is unattainable; only the powers and operations of God are accessible to knowledge.55 And as matters stand, there is some distinction between them. This distinction is connected with God’s relation to the world. God is knowable and attainable only in so far as He turns Himself to the world, only by His revelation to the world, only through His economy or dispensation. The internal Divine life is hedged by “light unapproachable,” and is known only on the level of “apophatic” theology, with the exclusion of ambiguous and inadequate definitions and names.”

And, showing that the Naming applies to the energies (and the logoi are uncreated energies):

“Only the Fathers of the fourth century obtained in their Trinitarian theology the basis for an adequate formulation of God’s relation to the world: the whole entire and undivided “operation” [energiai] of the consubstantial Trinity is revealed in God’s acts and deeds. But the single “essence” [ousia] of the undivided Trinity remains beyond the reach of knowledge and understanding. His works, as St. Basil the Great explains, reveal the power and wisdom of God, but not His essence itself.57 “We affirm,” he wrote to Amphilochius of Iconium, “that we know our God by His energies, but we do not presume that it is possible to approach the essence itself. Because although His energies descend to us, His essence remains inaccessible.” And these energies are multiform, yet the essence is simple.58 The essence of God is unfathomable for men, and is known solely to the Only-begotten Son and to the Holy Spirit.59 In the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, the essence of God is “the Holy of Holies, closed even to the Seraphim, and glorified by the three Holies that come together in one Lordship and Godhead.” And the created mind is able, very imperfectly, to “sketch” some small “diagram of the truth” in the infinite ocean of the Divine entity, but based not upon what God is, but upon what is around Him [ek tôn peri auton].60 “The Divine essence, totally inaccessible and comparable to nothing,” says St. Gregory of Nyssa, “is knowable only through His energies.”61 And all our words concerning God denote not His essence but His energies.62”

For Romanides, the ecumenical project is the goal, not the return to a “Neo-Patristic Synthesis.”  Under the cloak of hesychasm, an admitted Marxist and nominalist has convinced his disciples that all terms, words, symbols and statements about God in the Bible, father and councils are liable to become “idols.”  All that matters is the direct noetic perception of God.  The great contradiction, of course, is that the disciples of Romanides will tell you where they learned this great doctrine – from the writings of Romanides, and not by their own direct noetic perception of God.   At that point we can laugh, since Romanides’ books are created forms and symbols.  And, like slavish followers of men, they would rather affirm Romanides and higher critical liberal approaches to Scripture than accept that Jesus’ words, which He spoke with sound and vocal chords (created mediums) were the words of God.

A Marxist-Rockefeller-Ecumenical Agenda 

For example, Romanides absurdly stated the foundations of Marxism and Patristic theology are the same! No one can seriously believe this but an infiltrator and subverter.  This also flies directly in the face of the idea Romanides had any noetic perception of God.  If he had, there is no way he could have affirmed the atheistic, nominalistic philosophy that killed millions of Orthodox was based on the same philosophy.  However, if his goal was to subvert, promote ecumenism and the relativization of Orthodoxy under the cloak of “hesychasm,” it makes much more sense he imbibed Karl Barth’s radical modernist project of denying analogia for “ecumenical” (i.e., atheist) purposes. Romanides stated:

“At that time, all religious people were followers of metaphysics — and have been so even until recently —, whereas all empiricists were agnostics, and some of them atheists. Why? Because the essence of the empirical approach is not even philosophy. Certainly, it is presented as empirical philosophy, as the philosophy of empiricists. They prevailed over the metaphysicians in America and accomplished a great deed for Orthodoxy. They were, however, devastating for Modern Greek theology.

Nowadays, in Greece, all Marxists are empiricists, without being aware of it, of course. This is because Greek Marxist ideologists do not know what the family tree of Marxism is, as do their counterparts in Europe and America; for, here, they have merely learned their lessons mechanically, by rote, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I believe that it is a great tragedy — not an Aeschylean one, but a shameful one — that there are no powerful intellectual Marxists in Greece. Of course, this is fortunate for the police and right-wingers, as well as for Modern Greek theologians, but it is unfortunate for the search for truth. For Marxism started out on empirical bases and ended up where it has ended up.

The foundation of Marxism and the foundation of Patristic Theology, from a scientific point of view, are the same; thus, between the two of them, the Marxists and the Patristic theologians could have come to an understanding.

This puts a whole new light on Romanides’ proposal that religion is a sickness of mankind resulting from a break in the noetic prayer of nous and heart.  No wonder he loved his masonic hierarch Athenagoras.  All his nous talk sounds Orthodox. However, when we understand Romanides’ strict and absolute denial of any analogia, we understand what he really means by saying this break in man’s spirit leads to a confusion of thinking created objects convey truth about the divine!  In fact, he goes so far as to say the beginning of the sickness of religion is the phrase “Yahweh is the only God.”  Why?  Because it purports to make a concrete truth-statement about God using created forms and symbols.   In other words, institutional, confessional, biblical, credal Orthodoxy is also part of this tradition – all because of the idol analogia.  And this is why eventually, he says, it is likely the “glorified will not come from any official church.”  As he states:

“In its diseased state, noetic energy does not “crank” cyclically. Instead, unfurled and rooted in the heart, it gets stuck in the brain and causes a short circuit between the brain and the heart. Thus, the concepts of the brain, which all derive from the environment, become concepts of noetic energy, which is at all times rooted in the heart. In this way, the sufferer becomes a slave of his surroundings. As such, he confuses certain concepts that come from his surroundings with his God or gods. By the term religion, we mean every “equation” of the Uncreated with the created, and especially every “equation of representations” of the Uncreated with concepts and words of human thought, which is the basis for idol worship. These concepts and words may be simple concepts and words, or they may also include representations with statues and images, within and without a putative Divinely-inspired text.  In other words, the equating of concepts of God and words of Holy Scripture with the Uncreated also belongs to the world of idolatry, and is the foundation of all heresies to date.”

As with all the Rockefeller-funded World Council of Churches Marxists, religion is not only an opiate of the masses, but also a mental illness from which man must be cured.  This is the ecumenical project. This mental illness began when Jews thought they could claim a propositional truth about God – that “Yahweh is the only God,” thereby mistaking created forms and symbols for a literal truth about the “uncreated.”  Now it becomes evident why Romanides must deny and all possibilities for analogia, as he states in his “keys”:

“1) That the very core of the Biblical tradition is that religion is a specific sickness with a specific cure. This is what the claim “there is no God except Yahweh” means. Not knowing this fundamental first key one cannot know the second key:

2) That there is a clear distinction between Biblical terms which denote that which is “uncreated” and that which is “created.” Not knowing this context one cannot know the third key to Biblical terms:

3) That “it is impossible to express God and even more impossible to conceive Him.” In other words there is no similarity whatsoever “between the created and the uncreated.” Anyone who thinks that Biblical expressions convey concepts about God is sadly mistaken. When used correctly Biblical words and concepts lead one to purification and illumination of the heart which lead to glorification but are not themselves glorification.”

To claim that Yahweh alone is God is to say He, and no other, may be worshipped, as Moses said in the Law.  That Law, however, is the beginning of credal religion, based on some analogia!  Moses’ Law purported to say this is God’s desire and that it conveyed an infallible truth about Him, though limited.  For Romanides, this is the very sickness from which man must be cured, the analogia – not merely the analogia of Rome and Protestantism, but also the Orthodox analogia of the Divine Names and logoi – because it, too, “confuses certain concepts that come from his surroundings with his God or gods. By the term religion, we mean every “equation” of the Uncreated with the created, and especially every “equation of representations” of the Uncreated with concepts and words of human thought, which is the basis for idol worship.”

I might add that all of Romanides’ modernism is in direct contrast to the excellent work of Fr. Dimitru Stanilaoe in his Orthodox Dogmatics, Vol. 1 and 2.  There, you will find the correct appropriation of the Divine Names, the Orthodox analogia energeia, the logoi and the sense in which human love and persons reveal to us truths about God.  The very fact that Romanides disciples even “struggle” with whether “hypostasis” can be said of God at all shows the nonsense of his whole project, and if carried to its consistent conclusions, “hypostasis” is a “sickness of religion from which man must be cured,” as well as “Father” and “Son.”  In other words, covert atheism under the guise of “hesychasm” – all for the Rockefeller project of ecumenism.    

“Do you worship what you know or what you do not know? If I answer, I worship what I know, they immediately reply, What is the essence of the object of worship? Then, if I confess that I am ignorant of the essence, they turn on me again and say, So you worship you know not what. I answer that the word to know has many meanings. We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment; but not His very essence. The question is, therefore, only put for the sake of dispute. For he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated.” -St. Basil, Letter 234

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18 Comments on Analogy of Being, Atheism & the Logoi: Romanides Refuted

  1. Masterful. Thank you for this, Jay. I’ve made similar notes and come to similar conclusions about Romanides, but your distillation of the issue pleases me so.

  2. Wow, I knew there was something off with Romanides’ theology I didnt realize it was so far off. Romanides and even more so Metropolitan Hierotheos are incredibly popular among Orthodox coverts. I don’t get it.
    I’m very curious what your take on Bulgakov is.

  3. “According to patristic tradition there is a rational or cataphatic knowledge of God and an apophatic or ineffable knowledge of God…Rational knowledge cannot simply be renounced. Even though what it says about God may not be entirely adequate, it says nothing opposed to God.” Fr. Stanilaoe, Dogmatics vol. 1, pg 95.

    • Apropos both this and your Twitter post*: hence the value of, if not the need for, phenomenology and transcendental logic. (Baptized and exorcised of their ADS and dialectics heritage, of course.) Never kowtow to the positivists and capitalists/Marxists, especially on this note.

      * “The ‘reasons’ or inner principles of things reveal their light in human reason and through the conscious rational action of man. Likewise, our reason reveals its own power and depth even more richly by uncovering the reasons within created things. Yet, in this reciprocal influence, it is human reason and not the reasons within things which has the role of a subject working consciously. The reasons within things disclose themselves to human consciousness and must be assimilated by it and concentrated in it. They disclose themselves insofar as they have human reason as their virtual conscious center and by helping reason to become their own actual center. They are the potential rays of human reason on the way towards being revealed as its actual rays, and it is through these that human reason extends its vision farther and farther.”
      – Fr. Staniloae, Dogmatics vol. 1, pg. 3.

  4. When all is said and done, Romanides’ statements can be reduced to the all too tedious and mechanically repeated modernist type of vulgar “apophatism” contained in the statement: “You can’t put God in a box”. (even though Romanides expresses it in sophisticated language).

    What does who use this statement actually mean is: the real “god” in whom people must believe is the god of my imagination, the one about whom I can make any statement I like, because to deny me this right is to put him “in a box”.

    I didn’t know anything until now about his marxist ideology, though. That is quite shocking, even in this context. However, it just shows the dead-end resulting from substituting Revelation with individual imagination.

    • Romanides’ issue is denying any analogia. This led to denying inspiration of Scripture and the relativizing of creeds and confessions. There is an analogia, period.

  5. It’s very sad.
    I remember that his work on the ancestral sin (at least the chapters I was able to find on line) was one of the first things I read when I began my journey to the Church of Christ, and I thought it was great; finally something which made sense.
    I suppose that coming from darkness even a sparkle will dazzle you.

    Have you read it? Is that work problematic too?

    My problem with fr. John Romanides started when I read his incredible statement that if you don’t have a vision of Christ here, even dimly, you will feel His presence as a torment in the hereafter. In short, a damnation for almost any man baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
    It was not long before my conclusion that there was not much profitable in his doctrine.

    What really does bother me is their (he is not alone, see Calomiros and the current new Origenism, for other aspects) constant portrait of God as a Deity subjected to His own perfection, which indeed makes the Almighty bounded by a sort of Necessity. He does not change simply because He contains everything, not because is constrained by His Essence, and He is absolutely free. He is not subject to passions because He’s entirely good, He does suffice to Himself and does not need anything as He everything can, but His refusal of the wicked and His rejection of every evil does not constitute a passion. It is not, not even when it’s carried on with what we define wrath or anger! He wiped out every life from Earth when Noah did enter the ark and destroyed the Sodomites with fire and brimstone from Heaven, because that’s exactly what Good does to evil, reject and destroy it, not because He’s passionate.
    It’s only an expression of His unchangeable good, just like His mercy in giving His only Son to call to salvation all who are willing to hear, trough repentance!

    Jay has nailed it! No matter what fr. John thought or said, in his impetous to polemicize with the Western error he was lead to a blasphemy not less grievous: if the analogy of the Aquinas denies the Holy Trinity, the lack of analogy denies the Incarnation and Man as the image of God!

    The Marxist flavour, however, came as a surprise to me, and it’s a heavy blow to his bona fide.

    • I have read it, as well as Patristic Theology and his other online papers and essays. The whole edifice sounds good and is cloaked in patristic talk and ends up stupid. There are many orthodox writers far superior like Fr Staniloae

      • maedhros67 // November 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm //

        Fr. Dumitru Staniloae was another surprise, but pleasant. It’s incredible that it was the first time I heard his name.
        I’ve found something on line of his works, but not very much.
        From what I have read, anyway, saying goodbye to 150 $ for his six books of Dogmatic Theology is a must!

      • Volume 1 is great. Well into 2 now

  6. Or maybe that Marxist flavour (like the fascination he suffered from the wonderful lot and progressive of “science”) was just an insecurity in his faith, facing the signs and wonders of the apostles and forerunners of the AntiChrist.

    https://houseofmaedhros.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/e-pur-non-si-muove/

  7. Reblogged this on Against Modernity and commented:
    Great work Jay! You have articulated what I intuited in my own dull mind and could never have fleshed out. Thank you!

  8. franklintait // January 12, 2017 at 5:33 pm // Reply

    Thank you for this. Something always struck me as off in Romanides – you put your finger on it. He was helpful in leading me in the direction of Orthodoxy, but he always seemed rather individualistic. Orthodoxy isn’t anything if it isn’t ecclesial in nature. Anyway this article was a big help. Thanks!

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