How to respond to Orthodox criticism of 'created grace' in Catholicism?
#11
(06-22-2017, 02:15 PM)JosefSilouan Wrote: (...)I don't think this would be a fair argument. You really can't compare an Athonite monk to modernist Charismatics who dance their names to guitar tunes :-) The 'experience' Orthodox theologians talk about must always conform with:

- the literal truth of the Scriptures
- all Dogmas formulated in the first seven ecumenical councils
- the tradition of the fathers
- the instruction of/obedience to a spiritual teacher or elder

I don't know any modernist who would subordinate his experience to any of these factors.
Of course, one cannot and I did not intend to equalize the orthodox emphasis of experience with the modernist anything goes. However, we are always facing the same problem and that is the problem of finding a useful and basic criteria. Why should I accept for example the authority of scripture and the councils? Why should I accept someone as an elder? Our prime criteria has to be reason, otherwise I will have huge problems to explain my conviction to others. Reason is much more trustworthy than experience due to the fact that every experience is subjective.
Quote:Furthermore, if you denied the importance of experience, this would undermine the infallibility of the inspiration of both the Holy Scripture and Tradition. How, for example, did John come to the conclusion that "God is Love"? As far as we know, this statement wasn't uttered by Our Lord. And it isn't the kind of statement you come up with through logical reasoning. On the contrary, it seems to have been derived from having experienced the "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob -- not of the philosophers and scholars."
God is Love [1 John 4,8] is revealed in the writings of the John. However, I would claim that such a statement can be formulated with the help of the thomist teaching of analogy.God as the first cause is greater than his effects; love is part of the divine creation. Love does not imply any imperfection and for that reason God is Love in the same way as He is Mercy, Justice etc. pp....I really do not like the distinction Pascal made in his memorial and unfortunately Pascal was heavily influenced by the crypto-protestant thinking of the jansenists. His anti-philosophical bias is not traditional and it is simply wrong. The God of Abraham is the God of the philosophers; of course, our knowledge about God is extremly amplified through revelation. Nevertheless we can form a true idea of God without revelation and that is what Plato or Aristotle did.
Quote: Many texts of the OT certainly do, and they express an undeniable truth. However, the incarnation changed the structure of the cosmos in ways we cannot even imagine. If there exists a man who is also God, the distance between man and God can't really be called absolute anymore.
The distance is absolute according to our nature. Nothing in our nature necessitates the incarnation. It is not absolute anymore according to the will of God. By the way, we are facing another distinction of orthodoxy and catholicism. Orthodox theologians do not think that it makes sense to distinguish between pure nature and the supernatural.
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#12
(06-22-2017, 02:46 PM)Guingamp Wrote: Of course, one cannot and I did not intend to equalize the orthodox emphasis of experience with the modernist anything goes. However, we are always facing the same problem and that is the problem of finding a useful and basic criteria. Why should I accept for example the authority of scripture and the councils? Why should I accept someone as an elder? Our prime criteria has to be reason, otherwise I will have huge problems to explain my conviction to others. Reason is much more trustworthy than experience due to the fact that every experience is subjective.
Quote:Furthermore, if you denied the importance of experience, this would undermine the infallibility of the inspiration of both the Holy Scripture and Tradition. How, for example, did John come to the conclusion that "God is Love"? As far as we know, this statement wasn't uttered by Our Lord. And it isn't the kind of statement you come up with through logical reasoning. On the contrary, it seems to have been derived from having experienced the "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob -- not of the philosophers and scholars."
God is Love [1 John 4,8] is revealed in the writings of the John. However, I would claim that such a statement can be formulated with the help of the thomist teaching of analogy.God as the first cause is greater than his effects; love is part of the divine creation. Love does not imply any imperfection and for that reason God is Love in the same way as He is Mercy, Justice etc. pp....I really do not like the distinction Pascal made in his memorial and unfortunately Pascal was heavily influenced by the crypto-protestant thinking of the jansenists. His anti-philosophical bias is not traditional and it is simply wrong. The God of Abraham is the God of the philosophers; of course, our knowledge about God is extremly amplified through revelation. Nevertheless we can form a true idea of God without revelation and that is what Plato or Aristotle did.
Quote: Many texts of the OT certainly do, and they express an undeniable truth. However, the incarnation changed the structure of the cosmos in ways we cannot even imagine. If there exists a man who is also God, the distance between man and God can't really be called absolute anymore.
The distance is absolute according to our nature. Nothing in our nature necessitates the incarnation. It is not absolute anymore according to the will of God. By the way, we are facing another distinction of orthodoxy and catholicism. Orthodox theologians do not think that it makes sense to distinguish between pure nature and the supernatural.

Of course, I know that you didn't want to imply such a thing. I'm just taking the role of an Orthodox apologist, for the sake of argument :-)

The Orthodox wouldn't make a distinction between "experience" and "reason", but between "nous" (~ intuitive intellect) and "dianoia" (~ discursive intellect). Most Orthodox saints probably would consider the "nous" as their highest authority, but this shouldn't be confused with a feeling-based religiosity.

To make clear why they prefer "nous" to "dianoia", it might be useful to consider the two cases in which ordinary people make use of the "nous" and consider it their highest authority (above reason):

1. The sense of existence: no sane person would doubt his own existence (PS: Descartes' teaching wasn't sane). You just know you exist, and you wouldn't accept any rational argument that tries to disprove that fact.

2. Lucid dreaming: Occasionally, when dreaming at night, you become aware that you are dreaming without awakening from the dream. If a person in the dream would try to convince you that the dream isn't a dream, you would never believe him. You just know about the reality of your real life. 'Nous' trumps 'dianoia'.

I would suspect that virtually all conversions that are portrayed in the Gospels happened through this kind of "noetic experience". In hindsight, it might seem very reasonable to us that Jesus was God incarnated and that his sayings weren't blasphemous. But it sure wasn't that obvious for a first century Jew. There happened something unfathomable inside the souls of the first believers, something that did not happened inside the hearts of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Then the Church grew organically, guided by the Holy Spirit, who also made use of the first Christians' noetic perception to communicate His will to them.

Of course, they also used other tools, given by God, to develop and communicate the 'depositum fidei'. The faculty of reason, the 'dianoia', was indispensable for this task. Once the actual noetic experience is over, the only thing that's left is the memory of the noetic experience. The noetic experience can't be doubted (by definition…if doubt is possible, it's not authentic!). But the memory of the experience can be doubted and is thus subject to discursive reasoning. And that's where reason and authority come in as safeguards for Orthodoxy. If any insight derived from an experience contradicts previous validated experiences, it gets discarded.

Unfortunately, these meditations (which are partly my own; don't blame the Orthodox for them!)  don't really solve the question what we, as ordinary people, should rely on in these times of spiritual crisis.
_____

Concerning 1 John: I really can't imagine that John came to the revelation "God is Love" in the same way St. Thomas did. Everything that is 'inspired' and is neither a historical fact nor a purely logical conclusion must have been communicated to the author through experience or insight.

Concerning Pascal: You're absolutely right, his distinction is not a correct statement. However, treated as poesy, it perfectly describes the experience of any Christian mystic who finds out that there is actually "someone" on the other side, not just "something".
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#13
(06-22-2017, 04:47 PM)JosefSilouan Wrote: (...)
Of course, you are right concerning John. The idea of Deus revelatus is much richer than the metaphysical notion of God. However, I claim that it is possible for the human mind to attend a profound idea of God without revelation and this idea can include the notion  God is Love. Nevertheless, we would not know what this notion of Love really means without Christ's incarnation and His death.

I have one question concerning your explanation of the noetic experience of God. There are mystics in all religions and even outside religion and these mystics usually claim that they have some kind of noetic experience of a transcendent reality. The buddhists say that their experience of nirvana is beyond reason, nevertheless they claim to know that it true. Plotin had similar experiences. The orthodox saints tell that their noetic experience show them that they really participate in the divine energies -- but how can I know who is right? There is no way for me to compare all these experiences because I cannot at first become a buddhist saint, then a neo-platonist, then a hindu, then a catholic and then a orthodox saint...What is the criteria here? I need evidence that is accessible to everyone directly.
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#14
(06-22-2017, 05:31 PM)Guingamp Wrote:
(06-22-2017, 04:47 PM)JosefSilouan Wrote: (...)
Of course, you are right concerning John. The idea of Deus revelatus is much richer than the metaphysical notion of God. However, I claim that it is possible for the human mind to attend a profound idea of God without revelation and this idea can include the notion  God is Love. Nevertheless, we would not know what this notion of Love really means without Christ's incarnation and His death.

I have one question concerning your explanation of the noetic experience of God. There are mystics in all religions and even outside religion and these mystics usually claim that they have some kind of noetic experience of a transcendent reality. The buddhists say that their experience of nirvana is beyond reason, nevertheless they claim to know that it true. Plotin had similar experiences. The orthodox saints tell that their noetic experience show them that they really participate in the divine energies -- but how can I know who is right? There is no way for me to compare all these experiences because I cannot at first become a buddhist saint, then a neo-platonist, then a hindu, then a catholic and then a orthodox saint...What is the criteria here? I need evidence that is accessible to everyone directly.

First highlight:  I don't think you can.

Second highlight: I'm not sure it exists.

Ever read anything by Joseph Campbell??
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#15
(06-22-2017, 05:39 PM)J Michael Wrote: (...)First highlight:  I don't think you can.

Second highlight: I'm not sure it exists.

Ever read anything by Joseph Campbell??
If you are right, then it is very unwise to become a martyr. The traditional catholic teaching concerning these questions is that it is possible for natural reason to know without any doubt that the dogmas of the church are credible. As states Joseph Clifford Fenton states ,,(...)since the indications of divine authorship are visible to all men and comprehensible to any person who is aware that by which the Creator is distinguished from His creatures, the evidence of credibility is attainble by any individual who will examine the realites in which the divine testimony is made manifest." and ,,A man can be certain that the dogma of the Catholic Church is intellectualy acceptable only when the divine origin of that doctrine is attested by evident and certain guarantees." (Laying the foundation, C1).

I do not know him. What would you recommend to read and why?
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#16
(06-22-2017, 06:02 PM)Guingamp Wrote:
(06-22-2017, 05:39 PM)J Michael Wrote: (...)First highlight:  I don't think you can.

Second highlight: I'm not sure it exists.

Ever read anything by Joseph Campbell??
If you are right, then it is very unwise to become a martyr. The traditional catholic teaching concerning these questions is that it is possible for natural reason to know without any doubt that the dogmas of the church are credible. As states Joseph Clifford Fenton states ,,(...)since the indications of divine authorship are visible to all men and comprehensible to any person who is aware that by which the Creator is distinguished from His creatures, the evidence of credibility is attainble by any individual who will examine the realites in which the divine testimony is made manifest." and ,,A man can be certain that the dogma of the Catholic Church is intellectualy acceptable only when the divine origin of that doctrine is attested by evident and certain guarantees." (Laying the foundation, C1).

I do not know him. What would you recommend to read and why?

We do not have to believe that all dogmas of the Church are able to be grasped through natural reason, I'm fairly sure that nobody takes that to be the case. However, I do believe that Vatican I states that the existence of one God can be attained through reason.
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#17
(06-22-2017, 06:02 PM)Guingamp Wrote:
(06-22-2017, 05:39 PM)J Michael Wrote: (...)First highlight:  I don't think you can.

Second highlight: I'm not sure it exists.

Ever read anything by Joseph Campbell??
If you are right, then it is very unwise to become a martyr. The traditional catholic teaching concerning these questions is that it is possible for natural reason to know without any doubt that the dogmas of the church are credible. As states Joseph Clifford Fenton states ,,(...)since the indications of divine authorship are visible to all men and comprehensible to any person who is aware that by which the Creator is distinguished from His creatures, the evidence of credibility is attainble by any individual who will examine the realites in which the divine testimony is made manifest." and ,,A man can be certain that the dogma of the Catholic Church is intellectualy acceptable only when the divine origin of that doctrine is attested by evident and certain guarantees." (Laying the foundation, C1).

I do not know him. What would you recommend to read and why?

If you agree with Fenton, why do you say what I've highlighted in your quoted post?

There's also a difference between something being credible (believable or worthy of belief) and knowing that that same thing is, indeed, right and true.  I don't want to get into a discussion here about whether or not the Roman Catholic Church is the one and only true and right Church (personally I do not believe it is, but then I *am* something of a heretic  :grin: ), but I'm pretty sure that one can certainly believe that with or without it being true.  Same applies to all the others you mentioned.

Joseph Campbell wrote extensively on myths, mythology, belief systems, etc.  He was a "comparative mythologist", as it were.  I'm only beginning myself to delve into his utterly fascinating writings.  He talks a lot about, well...try starting out with The Power of Myth and see how you make out.  Also, learn more about him here.
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#18
(06-22-2017, 05:31 PM)Guingamp Wrote: I have one question concerning your explanation of the noetic experience of God. There are mystics in all religions and even outside religion and these mystics usually claim that they have some kind of noetic experience of a transcendent reality. The buddhists say that their experience of nirvana is beyond reason, nevertheless they claim to know that it true. Plotin had similar experiences. The orthodox saints tell that their noetic experience show them that they really participate in the divine energies -- but how can I know who is right? There is no way for me to compare all these experiences because I cannot at first become a buddhist saint, then a neo-platonist, then a hindu, then a catholic and then a orthodox saint...What is the criteria here? I need evidence that is accessible to everyone directly.

I might think about a longer answer later; but for now the short version: Christian mystics have the more complete version of reality; they are fully aware of the experience that Buddhist call 'nirvana' or 'satori'. But they also now that there is another step beyond, after which they encounter a personal being which is the source of everything.

As Elder Sophrony puts is:
Quote:" There is a difference between Buddhist and Orthodox asceticism. In Buddhism they try to make a disclaimer and they reach nirvana. They confuse a reflection with mystical vision. They see created light with their mind. This was best done with Plotinus, in Neo-Platonism. The Fathers know this, and we can call it the "cloud of unknowing", but they went beyond this and reached the vision of the uncreated Light. Then they experience that the Light comes from a Person and not from an idea, and they feel a personal relationship with God and, at the same time, there develops a great love for God and the whole world until martyrdom and "self-hatred"

When comparing Eastern mysticism to Christianity, it boils down to one question: is God personal or impersonal? And to answer this question, there is in fact no objective criteria. That's why any person who is stuck in a Eastern worldview (or New Ageism; or Modernism) needs God's grace to come to his senses. You can never get out of this trap merely by rational means.

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#19
(06-22-2017, 07:41 PM)J Michael Wrote: Joseph Campbell wrote extensively on myths, mythology, belief systems, etc.  He was a "comparative mythologist", as it were.  I'm only beginning myself to delve into his utterly fascinating writings.  He talks a lot about, well...try starting out with The Power of Myth and see how you make out.  Also, learn more about him here.

Campbell certainly is a genius and I enjoyed his works in my heretic phase :-) However, it is not a recommendable reading for any traditional Christian. What he's preaching is Jungianism and Indifferentism. I agree with him that all myths point to the same Truth, but as a Christian, I have to assert that his truth is Our Lord Jesus Christ. The life and death and Jesus was the "myth became fact", which inspired all other myths.

You might enjoy C.S. Lewis' essay on this topic (as an antidote to Campbell :-) ): https://www.google.de/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjNzfT9yNPUAhXGLFAKHc-RCOwQFggnMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fkatrinageiger.weebly.com%2Fuploads%2F3%2F1%2F3%2F5%2F31350163%2Fmyth_became_fact-god_in_the_dock.doc&usg=AFQjCNHFqCIEjvEK90c8PUj0rZSQC0BOKQ
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#20
(06-22-2017, 06:54 PM)Florus Wrote: (...) We do not have to believe that all dogmas of the Church are able to be grasped through natural reason, I'm fairly sure that nobody takes that to be the case. However, I do believe that Vatican I states that the existence of one God can be attained through reason.
We can not understand the dogmas through reason alone completely but we can have evidence beyond all reasonable douth that the authority of the church is trustworthy. We need for that reason no faith to know that the dogmas are true.

@ J Michael: I did not express my own questions (because I believe that Fenton is right), I only tried to challenge the orthodox approach to theology, presented by JosefSilouan.
Quote:There's also a difference between something being credible (believable or worthy of belief) and knowing that that same thing is, indeed, right and true.
That is correct and I do not demand or claim a mathematical proof of the trinity or something like that. That would be rationalism and rationalism is condemned by the Church. However, I argue that the criteria of the credibility of the dogmas has to be reason and faith or some kind of inner enlightenment is not needed.

@ JosefSilouan: I have one question concerning the quote of Elder Sophrony. How does he know that there is an inner difference between the christian/orthodox experience and the experiences of other mystical traditions? The hindu sages for example say that the monks on the Athos are gurus but they are not very illuminated and are only on a low level of spirituality. We have here experience versus experience, claim versus claim and we need some criteria to decide who is right.
And I deny this presentation of the evolution of the spiritual life.
Quote:The Fathers know this, and we can call it the "cloud of unknowing", but they went beyond this and reached the vision of the uncreated Light. Then they experience that the Light comes from a Person and not from an idea, and they feel a personal relationship with God and, at the same time, there develops a great love for God and the whole world until martyrdom and "self-hatred"
The fathers simply presuppose that God is personal. They do not start as a mystical tabula rasa and without a personal relationship to God so that the first step would be an impersonal experience as the buddhists and platonists have and the next step would a personal experience of God...They already presuppose that God is a person and this presupposition is attained through revelation and the credibility of revelation is demonstrated by reason.
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