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Real distinction without composition?

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by Nathaniel Red, Jul 31, 2022.

  1. Nathaniel Red

    Nathaniel Red Member

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    I made a thread earlier asking the difference between hypostasis and energies, but I think my issue goes deeper than that. I am struggling to see the difference between Essence-Energies and Monism. How can there be a real distinction without composition or separation? What does that even mean? I know the analogy of mind and body has been used, but that feels nebulous.

    If we become partakers of the divine energies in theosis, why aren't we worshipped? I know we venerate saints, but If there is a real distinction in the essence and energies while still maintaining that they are both God, why isn't the real distinction between a person in theosis, and the energies of God, also mean that they are both God and to be worshipped?
     
  2. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    because we don’t become God by nature, since the essence of God is forever beyond us. and while we do participate in the energies, they are still external to us.
     
  3. Nathaniel Red

    Nathaniel Red Member

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    What is the difference between the real distinction of me vs Gods energies, and the real distinction of Gods energies vs his essence?

    Why is Gods energies still God even though it is distinct from him, but those participating in energies are not also God?

    Edit: If the energies are what defines God, then it would follow that participation in the energies would also give us the essence. If the essence is what defines God, then how can we at all say that the energies are also God? If both essence and energies define God, then isn't that two substances and thus polytheism? I believe EE is true, but I don't understand how there could be another answer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2022
  4. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    it’s not distinct from Him, it’s distinct from His essence. and the reason is He doesn’t participate in His energies, His energies are fully His.

    the energies don’t define God, they are just those aspects which are communicable. nothing defines God since He is beyond actual definition.
     
  5. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    you are not Divine by nature (unlike God’s energies). and the distinction between God’s essence and energies (just like for us humans), is the energies are what is communicable, where as the essence is not.
     
  6. Nathaniel Red

    Nathaniel Red Member

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    I still don't quite understand. He doesn't participate in his energies? I thought his energies are the very way God participates in reality? What about the energies makes them God if not being defined by the essence? Being united under the personhoods?

    Does that mean that the personhoods are more essential than the essence? How does that work?
     
  7. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    no, they are His.

    no.

    because every nature has energies which are natural to it. so the divine nature naturally has divine energies.

    no.

    I don’t know. with God, there are three divine Persons with one divine nature. nature. the divine nature is distinguished between the essence (which is only known to God) and the energies (which He can make known to His creatures).
     
  8. Nathaniel Red

    Nathaniel Red Member

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    I've thought about it a bit, and even though you said 'no', I think that personhood being above both the essence and energies is the only way to make sense of this. If personhood isn't more essentially above the essence and energies, then I don't see how we can make sense of the incarnation either. The hypostasis of Christ took on the essence and energies of humanity, while not changing the divinity of his hypostasis. So from this, the answer as to why we aren't worshipped is that while we take on the divine energies, our hypostasis is still never divine, while Christs is. The energies are only God because they are under the divine hypostases, since if they were made divine from the essence this would bring up the issues I mentioned earlier.

    I'm not the kind of person that can accept "i don't know" as an answer. So I do appreciate the responses, Father, it has helped me, but believing in personhood as more fundamental than essence is the only thing that seems to make sense right now, unless you have an alternative suggestion.
     
  9. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    there is no “above” when it comes to God. if that’s what you feel you need to make sense of it, alright. but you’re entering an area truly known to God alone. these things can only be experienced by man.
     
  10. Nathaniel Red

    Nathaniel Red Member

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    But the essence is above the energies? Energies are knowable and on the level of existence while the Essence is unknowable and beyond existence.
     
  11. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    no, the essence isn’t above the energies. essence is that which is according to nature and unknown, energies are according to nature an can be known. energies aren’t on the level of existence, although God’s revelation that He exists is an energy.
     
  12. catie-on-the-way

    catie-on-the-way New Member

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    To my understanding, "essence" is what we cannot know of God; this is what is outside of the limitations of our human experience.

    His uncreated "energies" are part of how he is revealed to us. It is what are able to see, know, and experience of Him in everyday existence. Grace is an energy. Without God's energies we would not have sacraments or theosis.
     
  13. Nathaniel Red

    Nathaniel Red Member

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    I understand that, it's more how the relationship between essence and energies works that has been my issue.
     
  14. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    yep
     
  15. Lukaris

    Lukaris Orthodox Christian Supporter

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    Father, I guess this ties together certain scripture that is hard to fathom. What I have in mind is Moses described as talking to the Lord as if he were speaking to another person as in Exodus 33:10-11. This seems to tie in with the Lord saying those who have seen Him have seen the Father ( John 14:9) also John 6:44-48 comes to mind. This seems to line up with a seeming paradox of God being seen yet no man having ever seen God ( John 1:18). I believe Moses saw the pre incarnation Son of God in Exodus 33:10-11.
     
  16. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    ((yep)^2)
     
  17. catie-on-the-way

    catie-on-the-way New Member

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    That is the relationship, though.

    They're both the uncreated ways that God EXISTS. One is simply related to how we're able to understand and experience Him.
     
  18. Nathaniel Red

    Nathaniel Red Member

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    The Essence is more than just what we cannot know of God, It is a way that God is defined. The Essence of the Father is shared with the son, which is why there is still only one God, not three, because God is defined by his essence. The energies are not just what we can know of God, they are the way in which God operates in reality, his actions and attributes, like love.

    But if what defines God is fully present through the energies, then this would mean that we become part of the trinity when we participate in the energies. If what defines God is not fully present through the energies, this is still a problem, because then there is nothing that we can point to, to say makes the energies God, since they are not what defines God. So either you have monism like Buddhists, or you have two gods, or you have created energies like Catholics.

    The solution I realized and mentioned to Father Matt is that the personhood encompasses both the essence and energies, so they are both divine because of the personhood. I don't see any other way to make it make sense. And isn't this the same reason that we can call Mary the Theotokos? She is the God bearer because she bore the hypostasis of God, not because she bore the essence or energies. If it was only because she bore the energies then we could call any female saint a Theotokos. Isn't this also the reason that we can say Christ suffered in his divinity without inflicting change upon it? Because his hypostasis encompassed the suffering of his human nature.
     
  19. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    no, it’s not. the essence of God cannot be compared or contrasted. God’s oneness is an energy, not the essence.
     
  20. Nathaniel Red

    Nathaniel Red Member

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    If that's true, then that makes even less sense, and I have no idea how it could possibly work in a coherent way. If the essence is not one, then do you believe it is many? I know the essence is beyond all things, so you could say it is beyond even numbers, but then wouldn't it still be one in the sense of a singular concrete identity, since the Essence of God isn't also the Not-Essence of God? That would be a contradiction and/or monism. In looking up quotes of Saints on this topic, I found that St Basil of Caesarea says "The distinction between ousia and hypostases is the same as that between the general and the particular; as, for instance, between the animal and the particular man. Wherefore, in the case of the Godhead, we confess one essence or substance so as not to give variant definition of existence, but we confess a particular hypostasis, in order that our conception of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be without confusion and clear."

    How can you say that Gods essence is not one, or that it is not the general way in which God is defined?
     
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