How to respond to Orthodox criticism of 'created grace' in Catholicism?
#31
(06-22-2017, 01:12 PM)NemoClericus Wrote:
(06-22-2017, 05:01 AM)Pacman Wrote: TBF, I really don't like the Catholic teaching that when we commit a mortal sin our prayers have no efficacy with God because our grace is cut off entirely and we need to seek out a priest to absolve us to get back into a state of grace. The idea that God is not constantly drenching us in grace, even after we have committed sin, out of the goodness of his heart is odd to me because as a loving, living intelligent being, it doesn't seem right that God would limit our access to grace through means which are purely mechanical, by restricting our access to 'grace vending machines' in every confessional and altar. I believe that God has established these sacraments for our convenience to help us regain grace because we need practical guidance and they have pedagogical value, but the idea that the access is limited to these institutional mechanisms seems to me to be too churlish for our all-merciful God. 
Pacman, sorry but I think you may be making a serious mistake here. Yes, you lose sanctifying grace when you commit mortal sin, but that doesn't mean God doesn't continue to provide us with actual grace. He can and does provide us with actual graces so that we can return to Him. Sometimes He does drench us in these graces! It is absolutely true that we no longer MERIT when we lose sancitifying grace - how could someone lacking this participation in Christ really achieve anything supernaturally meritorious? I think you are rejecting a false notion of the Catholic understanding of grace.

And no, not all means of grace are mechanical, but God did absolutely intend to bring salvation to the world through His Church so we shouldn't be surprised that there are specific and well-defined ways in which we can receive salvific grace from the Body He ordained to dispense graces. Or would we rather let all means of grace be fuzzy and difficult to identify?

While we are talking about exclusivity, please be aware that there is a sizeable chunk of the Orthodox community that believes that they and they alone have the corner market on the Holy Spirit. Remember, these people can't even be bothered or will downright refuse to say whether the Catholic Church has valid Orders.

A very traditional priest taught me that there were two types of grace, sanctifying/saving grace, and actual grace. On the internet, this is the first time I've heard the terms used. Usually one reads about prevenient grace.
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#32
I just found this article about 'theosis' and 'uncreated grace' in the writings of St. John of the Cross.

https://www.google.de/amp/s/easterncatholic.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/st-john-of-the-cross-on-theosis-and-uncreated-grace/amp/


It shows that Orthodox prejudices about the Catholic understanding of grace are not justified. Although it doesn't solve the contradictions between the two systems.
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#33
(06-24-2017, 05:27 PM)Echo Wrote:
(06-22-2017, 01:16 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: The Orthodox position (and Eastern Catholic) seems more intuitively correct to me, but I'm not trained in philosophy or theology.  It seems both the Catholic and the Orthodox side are militantly opposed to each other on this, both saying that their opponents position leads to atheism or agnosticism.Its head spinning in its intricate abstraction.

At least from an intuitive and pragmatic level I think the Essence/Energies distinction and Uncreated grace is much more helpful and less stark than the strict, almost mechanistic Thomist position of grace being some abstract creation that, once lost by sin,plunged the soul into outee darkness lest it redeems itself through sacramental confession.

It seems to be quite a bold claim (in my opinion) that Catholic or Orthodox theology leads to atheism. I've usually found this claim on Orthodox websites or other sources claiming that the rise of atheism in the west is due to the supposed "errors" of Catholic theology, with some people tracing it all the way back to Augustine. If I may ask, who have you seen on the Catholic side make the claim that Orthodox theology leads to atheism?


I'll try to dig it up.  I should have put the source before I posted that. I know definitely that for some Orthodox commentators such as Jay Dyer the claim is made that Thomism has led to atheism. I would like to see him refuted if it is possible. He has a handful of articles on his site where he makes that claim.  I have only begun to seriously try to understand even a bit of Aquinas so I can't say whether he is correct or not, but insofar as I follow his arguments the critiques seem robust and devastating.

It seems like there are quite a lot of problems with the concept of God being an Absolutely Simple Essence. Dyers critique seems to hinge on this concept.
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#34
(06-24-2017, 05:41 AM)JosefSilouan Wrote: (...)You might, once again, object that I haven't given any objective criteria. This is true. But then, Adam and Eve didn't have any objective criteria to judge if God or the serpent was saying the truth. But they would have known if their motives had been pure.
I think I can agree with your explication and I do not doubt that God will enlighten everyone who is truly seeking the truth. My argumentation and the need for rational justification of the claims of faith describes the natural sphere; someone who has no kind of noetic illumination needs rational arguments to begin to recognize that faith is true. The noetic experience is - in my understanding - already an act of awakening of faith.

@ formerbuddhist: Could you give some links? I would really like to read some articles written by this author because I tend to think that there is some substance in this argumentation.

David Bentley Hart, an unorthodox orthodox, wrote an article about physical premotion and argued that the thomist interpretation of free will is partly responsible for modern atheism. The article was published in the book "The providence of God".
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#35
The errors of modernity spawned from Renaissance humanism. Humanists were influenced by the rediscovery of pagan texts. Period.
This story where the filioque generated every single possible and mutually contradictory intellectual errors in the west is getting really stale.

I'll be honest, this is like seeing a mountain because of a grain of dust. It is looking for small insignificant things, desperate carping to find the speck in the eyes of others.
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#36
(06-25-2017, 10:35 AM)Sixtus Wrote: The errors of modernity spawned from Renaissance humanism. Humanists were influenced by the rediscovery of pagan texts. Period.
This story where the filioque generated every single possible and mutually contradictory intellectual errors in the west is getting really stale.(...)
Not necessarily the filioque but the adoption of thomism had huge consequences for catholic theology. The fact that God is conceived as actus purus makes it impossible to understand the (indeed very ancient) idea of theosis in a way that is not metaphorical. How to participate really in a pure act?

Thomist metaphysics also makes it very difficult to keep the idea of free will alive because, as many thomists argue, you have to draw the conclusion that the only way to think the interaction of God as first cause and the human as second is physical premotion, praemotio physica in latin. And physical premotion is not easy to reconcile with free will -- and so you have a strict teaching of predestination, very close to the idea of Calvin and Luther and that is indeed the teaching of many thomists (Aquinas himself was not very clear on this issue, but his thinking clearly seems to me directed toward the interpretation of Banez and Garrigou-Lagrange).
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#37
(06-24-2017, 04:59 AM)Guingamp Wrote:
(06-23-2017, 09:08 PM)richgr Wrote: Could someone refer me to a clear explanation of "divine energies"?(...)
One of the most important aspects of Orthodox spirituality is participation in thedivine energies. Briefly stated, this is an Orthodox doctrine of fundamental importance and very often ignored. In Orthodox theology, a distinction is made between the "essence" and "energies" of God. Those who attain perfection do so by uniting with the divine uncreated energies, and not with the divineessence. The Greek Orthodox Fathers, whenever they speak of God, emphasize the unknowability of God's essence and stress the vision of thedivine energies, especially the divine uncreated Light. Orthodox spiritual tradition emphasizes the divine Logos indwelling in the world and our ability to attain a spiritual life and mystical union with the Holy Spirit in this world. More: http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.de/201...rgies.html
That page was not at all helpful. It at least states that the divine energies are different than the divine essence, which we cannot know. It then uses a lot of metaphors to describe the effects of these divine energies. So what are they though? The problem before one can even engage in a dialogue between Eastern and Western thought is mapping out our language and conceptual schema. This requires definition and clarity. Until that happens, nothing can proceed.

(06-25-2017, 02:40 PM)Guingamp Wrote:
(06-25-2017, 10:35 AM)Sixtus Wrote: The errors of modernity spawned from Renaissance humanism. Humanists were influenced by the rediscovery of pagan texts. Period.
This story where the filioque generated every single possible and mutually contradictory intellectual errors in the west is getting really stale.(...)
Not necessarily the filioque but the adoption of thomism had huge consequences for catholic theology. The fact that God is conceived as actus purus makes it impossible to understand the (indeed very ancient) idea of theosis in a way that is not metaphorical. How to participate really in a pure act?

Thomist metaphysics also makes it very difficult to keep the idea of free will alive because, as many thomists argue, you have to draw the conclusion that the only way to think the interaction of God as first cause and the human as second is physical premotion, praemotio physica in latin. And physical premotion is not easy to reconcile with free will -- and so you have a strict teaching of predestination, very close to the idea of Calvin and Luther and that is indeed the teaching of many thomists (Aquinas himself was not very clear on this issue, but his thinking clearly seems to me directed toward the interpretation of Banez and Garrigou-Lagrange).

Okay, a series of assertions about Thomism, but your characterization shows that you don't seem to understand these issues very thoroughly. The fact you say "metaphorical" rather than analogical suggests sloppiness. Where is it established that Thomistic theology requires a "metaphorical" participation? The last I checked, the Thomistic definition of sanctifying grace was a physical and formal although analogous participation in the divine nature.

Banez and Garrigou-Lagrange's conception of Thomistic predestination is not the only legitimate understanding of St. Thomas. St. Robert Bellarmine also has a sophisticated understanding that is a third option between Banez and Molina. Whether St. Thomas leans towards the interpretation of Banez is not at all a clear matter, and hence your assertions about physical premotion are at best as dubious as the continuing scholarly argument over its very meaning. To go from something as unsettled as that to the plain assertion that Thomistic metaphysics poses a problem for an orthodox theology is very bad argumentation to say the least. You could at least cite some sources that argue your points in more depth.
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#38
(06-25-2017, 03:36 PM)richgr Wrote: (...)That page was not at all helpful. It at least states that the divine energies are different than the divine essence, which we cannot know. It then uses a lot of metaphors to describe the effects of these divine energies. So what are they though? The problem before one can even engage in a dialogue between Eastern and Western thought is mapping out our language and conceptual schema. This requires definition and clarity. Until that happens, nothing can proceed.
I do not deny that the language is not very accurate and I also do not deny that the teaching about divine energies is not easily reconcilable with the idea of divine simplicity. That is the reason why I proposed Pacman to use divine simplicity as an apologetic weapon agaist the orthodox conception.
Quote:Okay, a series of assertions about Thomism, but your characterization shows that you don't seem to understand these issues very thoroughly. The fact you say "metaphorical" rather than analogical suggests sloppiness. Where is it established that Thomistic theology requires a "metaphorical" participation? The last I checked, the Thomistic definition of sanctifying grace was a physical and formal although analogous participation in the divine nature.
I know the conception of analogia entis but I do not think that it is possible to use it here to prove that we are partakers of the divine nature (and that is the claim of St.Peter!). According to thomist metaphysics there is no third thing between the uncreated divine essence and the created esse of everything that is not divine. So, everything that is not actus purus is created and is therefore not god and not divine. You might call it divine but that simply confuses the conception because it would be created divinity and that is nonsense. Sanctifying grace is not the divine essence and for that reason it is to some degree in potency. We can only participate in this created grace. So, if we want to be in formal accordance with St.Peter and claim that we participate in the divine nature, we have to use a concept of divine nature that is metaphorical because it is not the nature of the divine essence!
Quote:Banez and Garrigou-Lagrange's conception of Thomistic predestination is not the only legitimate understanding of St. Thomas. St. Robert Bellarmine also has a sophisticated understanding that is a third option between Banez and Molina. Whether St. Thomas leans towards the interpretation of Banez is not at all a clear matter, and hence your assertions about physical premotion are at best as dubious as the continuing scholarly argument over its very meaning. To go from something as unsettled as that to the plain assertion that Thomistic metaphysics poses a problem for an orthodox theology is very bad argumentation to say the least. You could at least cite some sources that argue your points in more depth.
Yes, there are many versions of thomism, I do not deny that. However, I think that Garrigou-Lagrange's dilemma is absolutely valid. He claims that according to thomist metaphysics no potency can become actual without being realized by something in act. The human will is in potency before man decides to do anything. So, what or who acts upon the human will, so that the human will become actual? Please explain that to me.
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#39
(06-24-2017, 06:17 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(06-24-2017, 05:27 PM)Echo Wrote:
(06-22-2017, 01:16 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: The Orthodox position (and Eastern Catholic) seems more intuitively correct to me, but I'm not trained in philosophy or theology.  It seems both the Catholic and the Orthodox side are militantly opposed to each other on this, both saying that their opponents position leads to atheism or agnosticism.Its head spinning in its intricate abstraction.

At least from an intuitive and pragmatic level I think the Essence/Energies distinction and Uncreated grace is much more helpful and less stark than the strict, almost mechanistic Thomist position of grace being some abstract creation that, once lost by sin,plunged the soul into outee darkness lest it redeems itself through sacramental confession.

It seems to be quite a bold claim (in my opinion) that Catholic or Orthodox theology leads to atheism. I've usually found this claim on Orthodox websites or other sources claiming that the rise of atheism in the west is due to the supposed "errors" of Catholic theology, with some people tracing it all the way back to Augustine. If I may ask, who have you seen on the Catholic side make the claim that Orthodox theology leads to atheism?

I realize you addressed your reply to FB, but I'll give you an answer from my own experience.  I'm only really familiar with 2 Orthodox websites and on neither of them have I seen any claim that Catholicism leads to atheism.  Now, there have been fierce polemical and apologetic fights in which Catholicism is soundly bashed because of perceived errors in dogma and doctrine, Christology and ecclesiology, but never, that I have seen, a claim that it leads to atheism.  But...I certainly could have missed something!  Having said that, people who post on both Catholic and Orthodox websites hardly constitute, imnsho, any kind of representative samples of their respective faiths.  Not even close.  So, to extrapolate from a website to the general population of either Orthodoxy or Catholicism grossly misrepresents either or both of them, I think.

Orthodox websites that I can think of that bring up the claim that western theology leads to atheism are sites like Pravoslavie and Jay Dyer's JaysAnalysis, which Formerbuddhist mentioned in another post. Fyodor Dostoevsky also made the same claim that Catholicism leads to atheism. Speaking of Jay, he published an article in May concerning a criticism of the filioque (https://jaysanalysis.com/2017/05/27/fili...he-spirit/). I mention that because Sixtus mentioned the criticism that the filioque created errors in the west. A lot of this is out of my league because I too have no training in philosophy or theology.

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#40
Its funny, after serious reading of most of Jays stuff over the last year or so has got me trying to actually learn enough about Thomas and Scholasticism to see whether he really understands either in his critique.  Thus far it's hard to say, Aquinas and the theology that spun off from him is very intricate, very precise and has its own technical jargon.


The same goes for the Orthodox view. The debates require some serious sustained engagement with some very intricate material. I'd hope that anyone following this conversation would consider this before jumping to any rash conclusions about any of this. 
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