The woman clothed with the sun
  Home  
Holy Scripture     ru     en  
       
 
 
Main
+ Categories
+ Apparitions
La Salette
Fatima
Beauraing
Heede
Garabandal
Zeitun
Akita
Melleray
Medjugorje
History
Apostasy
Communism
1000 years
Bible
Theotokos
Commentary
Prayer
Rosary
Theosis
Heart
Sacrifice
Church
Society
Nature
Personalities
Texts
Articles
Directory
References
Bibliography
email
 
Bulgakov. Creator Category: Theosis …between created and uncreated…

God. Creator
According to Plotinus

According to Plotinus: The world is not created by an act of creation, it is an emanation of divinity.

Dynamic pantheism

The world is not created by an act of creation, it proceeds from the One, as it were by streaming out of the divine fullness like light from the sun; it is an emanation of divinity, subordinated to the “law of diminishing perfection.”

Everything represents the energy of the absolute One only in different degrees of perfection.

Plotinus, the head of the Neo-Platonic school, who represents the summit of the metaphysical speculation of Greece, places as the basis of his complex worldview that is far from being vague in details the doctrine of the absolute First Principle, which he most often of all calls the One (Hen) and sometimes the Good (Agathon). This divine Fundamental Principle of the world and being is also the common substance of the world, for everything is grounded in the One, has its cause and goal in it, and exists only by its life-creating power. The world is not created by an act of creation, it proceeds from the One, as it were by streaming out of the divine fullness like light from the sun; it is an emanation of divinity, subordinated to the “law of diminishing perfection” (Zeller). Since everything represents the energy of the absolute One only in different degrees of perfection, then with respect to the world this system, according to the just description of Zeller, must be defined as “dynamic pantheism.” In Plotinus's system the nous plays an intermediate role between the One and the world and forms a second and less pure unity – of thinking and being, but the World Soul serves as the immediate recipient of the influences of the nous, having a higher and lower aspect, and it streams already into matter which does not have authentic being and which is meonic (mē on) and there fore evil. The One, the Mind, the World Soul constitute the three-level gradation of being (but this threefoldness is not trihypostaseity as is sometimes erroneously thought, confusing Neo-Platonism with Christianity).

In Plotinues the One inevitably receives a twofold description: being the fundamental principle, immanent to all being, it remains at the same time higher than all being, like the simple One transcendent to the world. This unity has of cource the meaning not of numerical unity, which is defined in opposotion to plurality, but of simple unity, or rather, of super-unity and super-number. One can rightly doubt how much the transcendent aspect of the One in Plotinus is joined with the universal fundamental principle immanent to everything. In this is the fatal duality of dynamic pantheism thanks to which Plotinus's system splits apart from within.

The world is an emanation of the Absolute and arises as an outpouring from its superabundant fullness, similar to how water pours out of an overfilled vessel or the sun's light and warmth proceed from the sun.

A single absolute One (Ἕν) proves to be simultaneously both transcendent and immanent to the world.

But this hypothesis of a metaphysical catastrophe does not have the greatest philosophical and religious meaning; more significant is another form of dynamic pantheism, according to which the world is an emanation of the Absolute and arises as an outpouring from its superabundant fullness, similar to how water pours out of an overfilled vessel or the sun's light and warmth proceed from the sun. This is precisely the teaching of Plotinus.

A single absolute One proves to be simultaneously both transcendent and immanent to the world. The world is the gathering twilight of the absolute that grows thicker the deeper it is submerged in its being. Therefore the system of Neo-Platonism could provide philosophical support for the fallen heathen polytheism: God and the world emanate consistently from the supermundane and super-divine One, with its lower stories departing in the darkness of nonbeing, while the upper ones are flooded with blinding light; in heaven a system of divine moons begins to burn, shining, it is true, not with their own but with reflected light, and yet established in the vault of heaven. For what reason and why this emanation of the world takes place from the single Nothing, there can be no answer, and we will not find it in Plotinus's doctrine. The world originates because water cannot but pour out of an overfilled vessel, and a ripened fruit cannot but fall from a branch, but at the same time for Plotinus the world is the place where souls that have grown heavy and fallen away from the bosom of the absolute are corrected and led to understanding.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Unfading Light:
Contemplations and Speculations
Sec.I. Ch.III. Divine Nothing

Plotinian emanation differs from Indian acosmism because the world as the effusion of the Absolute is real.

Howerer, being real in foundation, it remains deprived of any sort of independent task.

Plotinian emanation differs, howerer, from Indian acosmism by its realism: the world as the effusion of the Absolute is real so far as the fullness of divine power that have been poured out into it belong to it; it is, it has being, albeit degenerated through not illusory. Howerer, being real in foundation, it remains deprived of any sort of independent task. The Absolute in relation to it remains completely passive; it does not know it, it is the sacrifice of its permissive fullness – incertain sense the wrong side of it. The world arises of necessity in the Absolute, like its shaddow, but in this world no sort of perfection happens; ontologically there is in it no history and no eschatology. On the one hand the world is the Absolute itself, as its mode, while on the other hand in the world nothing is accomplished and nothing happens, for it lies not outside the Absolute but is it itself, in the state of a certain warning.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
Unfading Light:
Contemplations and Speculations
Sec.I. Ch.III. Divine Nothing

Intelligible matter

Our world, with its matter, represents a descent or a lower level of the higher world, but thereby it produces and reflects it; and therefore matter must be in both worlds, or to say it differently, the matter of the lower world must have a parallel for itself in the higher world. This concept does not receive further development by Plotinus. His nous, the ideal organism of ideas-forms, having a "support" for itself in ideal matter is, in our opinion, nothing other than Sophia, or in a certain sense the very same thing as the Platonic world of ideas. … In Plotinus's doctrine much more definitely than in Plato's, matter receives a negative coefficient and is regarded as the principle of evil, as thickening darkness, and as it submerges in it, it gradually extinguishes the light which floods out of the proto-source, the One. Matter is passive evil which arises as a result of a weakening of the good, verging on its full absence.

We arrive at the acknowledgment of a certain intelligible matter which forms the basis of corporeality in Sophia herself, and this apeiron proves to be not weakness or defectiveness but on the contrary, might and wealth. It is that matter thanks to which Sophia becomes ens realissimum, ontos on, and not an idealist phantom. We have an important presentiment of this truth in the profound doctrine of Plotinus concerning two matters: concerning the meonal matter of our world lying in evil and concerning the intelligible matter which is the substrate for nous, and gives the possibility of being disclosed to its ideas. According to its meaning in Plotinus, as has already been shown, nous corresponds precisely to the Christian Sophia, inasmuch as it lays bare for the world the power of transcendent Divinity, the One; but, thanks to its "emanative pantheism," the actual hierarchical correlation between the One and the nous is obscured, with the latter occupying a sort of intermediate place between the Second Hypostasis, the Logos, and Sophia. Correct also is another idea of Plotinus that is relevant here, namely that intelligible matter belongs to the realm of nous, but not the One, i.e., not to the transcendent Absolute. And according to Christian faith, the inner-Trinitarian life of the Divinity, God in himself, represents the absolute, unknowable mystery for every creature. He is entirely transcendent; no one has ever seen God, and God is spirit — Pneuma ho Theos (John 4:24). To speak about corporeality in relation to the transcendent Absolute, no matter to what degree of refinement and spiritualization, would be both blasphemy and inability to think things through. But God, who is revealed in Sophia, manifests himself in his trihypostaseity as Creator, God-Father, Logos and life-giving Holy Spirit; through giving life, knowledge of himself is given by what is realized in its idea, which it has felt as the vital, operating power of the cosmos, the victory in chaos. The grace of the Holy Spirit shows the holy sensuality, creates holy flesh, "the very good" of the world. Beauty is for the most part the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Sophia is the Church which takes into herself the gifts of the revelation of the trihypostatic Divinity, the idea of God; she is according to the word of revelation the "body" of Christ, the "body of God." Consequently, God as Creator has a body in creation. But it does not at all follow from this that the Divinity in its absolute transcendence is corporeal, although equally inadmissible is the opposite affirmation. Here thought must fall silent and lips be closed, mind must become not-thinking, and soul not-sensing. Here is the "fence of paradise," the divine NOT.

If the truth of Divinity consists in unity of God as the extant One, or [the unity of] the unconditional Subject with His absolute essence or objective idea, this unity, this inner relation of the two elements (the personal and the essential) in Divinity, must be conceived of in a certain manner, must be defined. And if one of these divine elements (the unconditional personality of God) was preeminently revealed to the genius of the Jewish people, while the other one (the absolute idea of Divinity) was perceived particularly by the genius of Hellenism, it is very easy to understand that the synthesis of these two elements (which is necessary for the full knowledge of God) could come into being the soonest at the time and the place at which the Jewish and Greek nationalities collided.

Thus, in the prophetic consciousness, the subjective, purely personal element of the Old Testament Jahve [the extant One] was united for the first time with the objective idea of the universal divine essence. But since the prophets were inspired men of action, were practical men in the highest sense of that word, and not contemplative thinkers, the synthetic idea of the divine being was for them more of a perception of [their] spiritual sense and the stirring of [their] moral will than an object of mental perception. Yet, in order to fill and define with itself the whole consciousness of man, that idea had to become also an object of thought. If the truth of Divinity consists in unity of God as the extant One, or [the unity of] the unconditional Subject with His absolute essence or objective idea, this unity, this inner relation of the two elements (the personal and the essential) in Divinity, must be conceived of in a certain manner, must be defined. And if one of these divine elements (the unconditional personality of God) was preeminently revealed to the genius of the Jewish people, while the other one (the absolute idea of Divinity) was perceived particularly by the genius of Hellenism, it is very easy to understand that the synthesis of these two elements (which is necessary for the full knowledge of God) could come into being the soonest at the time and the place at which the Jewish and Greek nationalities collided.

And, in fact, the realization of this great intellectual task was commenced in Alexandria among Hellenistic Jews (i.e., those [Jews] who had received the Greek education), the outstanding representative of whom was the renowned Philo (who was born sometime before Christ and died in the apostolic era); who, as we know, developed the doctrine of the Logos (the word or reason), as 'the expressor' of the divine universal essence and [as] the mediator between the one God and all that exists. In connection with this doctrine of the Logos, as its further development, also in Alexandria appeared the doctrine of the Neoplatonics concerning the three Divine hypostasies, which effect the absolute content or express in a definite manner the relation of God as the one to the whole, as the extant One to being. This doctrine was developed by the Neoplatonics independently of Christianity; the most important representative of Neoplatonism, Plotinus, lived in the second century A.D., yet knew very little about Christianity. However, it is totally impossible to deny the connection between the doctrine of Philo and Neoplatonism on the one hand and Christianity, i.e., the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity, or of the triune God, on the other. If the essence of the divine life was defined by the thinkers of Alexandria in a purely apperceptive way on the basis of the theoretical idea of a Divinity, in Christianity the same all-one divine life appeared as a fact, as an historical reality, in the living individuality of an historical personality. Christians alone came to know the divine Logos and the Spirit, not from the point of view of logical or metaphysical categories, under which they appeared in the Alexandrian philosophy, but for the first time recognized the Logos in their crucified and resurrected Saviour, and the Spirit in the living, concretely experienced, beginning force of their own spiritual regeneration. But does it follow from this that these metaphysical and logical definitions of the Trinity were alien to Christianity as a doctrine, and did not represent a certain part of the [Christian] truth? Quite on the contrary: as soon as the Christians themselves felt the need of making this divine life which had been revealed to them, an object of thought, that is, of explaining it [on the basis of] its internal foundation in Divinity itself — [as soon as the Christians felt] the need of understanding as a universal idea that which they had experienced as a particular fact — they naturally turned toward the intellectual definitions of the Greek and Graeco-Jewish thinkers, who had already perceived the theoretical truth of those principles, the manifestations of which (they) the Christians, experienced as a living actuality. And, in fact, we see that the first writings concerning God and His inner life by the Christian teachers — Justin the Philosopher, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, and especially Origen — reproduced the essential truth of the doctrine of Philo and Neoplatonism, [that truth] appearing [now in the form of] different variations of the same contemplative theme, the self-revelation of the all-One Divinity; and we know also that St. Athanasius the Great, in resealing the true dogma of the Trinity, relied upon the same Origen, who at that time enjoyed in the Church the high authority which he fully deserved.[1]


[1] As regards, in general, the formulas of this dogma, established by the Church at the Oecumenical Councils against Arius, Eunomius, and Macedonius — fully true, as we shall see, even from the speculative point of view — these formulas, naturally, are limited to the most general definitions and categories, as the 'uni-extant', equality, and so forth; the metaphysical development of these definitions and, consequently, the intellectual content of these formulas, were naturally left by the Church to the free activity of theology and philosophy, and it is undoubted that the whole essential content of the Alexandrian speculations concerning the three hypostasies is covered by these Orthodox formulae, and can be reduced to these definitions — if we consider the thoughts and do not insist on the words only. On the other hand, for a complete logical explanation of this fundamental dogma, an invaluable means can be found for us in those definitions of pure logical thought, which were so perfectly developed in recent German philosophy, which on the formal side have for us the same importance as the doctrines of the Academy and Lyceum had for the ancient theologians; and those who at present rebel against the introduction of this philosophical element into the domain of religion, would have to deny first the whole past history of Christian theology, which, it may be said, was nourished by Plato and Aristotle.

Neoplatonic subordinationism in Origen's concept of God

Origen assimilated the fundamental principles of the philosophy of Neoplatonism and by means of them he constructed a system of Christian dogmatics.

He did this without express speculation, simply by putting the hypostasis of the Father in place of the Neoplatonic One, the hypostasis of the Son in place of the Neoplatonic Mind, and the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit in place of the World Soul, almost without noticing this substitution.

It must be noted that Origen's concept of God the Father coincides with the concept of God (ho Theos) or even auto-Theos, the first God in the language of Neoplatonism, already presupposing the gradation of Divinity in the second and third god. Neoplatonic subordinationism thus already steals into this first definition.

Origen assimilated the fundamental principles of the philosophy of Neoplatonism and by means of them he constructed a system of Christian dogmatics. This effort was extraordinarily valuable, as well as being full of danger and difficulty. First of all, Origen had to translate the impersonalistic system of Neoplatonism into the language of Christian personalistic, trinitarian theology; and he did this at a time when church theology had very little experience with the problematic of personalism, i.e., in the ante-Nicene and ante-Cappadocian epoch. He did this without express speculation, simply by putting the hypostasis of the Father in place of the Neoplatonic One, the hypostasis of the Son in place of the Neoplatonic Mind, and the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit in place of the World Soul, almost without noticing this substitution. This substitution makes itself felt, however, when it becomes necessary to more precisely define the hypostatic properties as well as the interrelationships of the hypostases.

In general, the Father takes on the features of Plotinus' One and is determined, in the main, apophatically: He is unfathomable, unexplainable, invisible, incorporeal, unchangeable. It is not easy to decide whether He is an essence or higher than essence, and even higher than all that is conceivable. He is unity and uniqueness. He is higher than wisdom, truth, light, and life, all of which come from Him. Meanwhile, He has complete and perfect knowledge of Himself; it is for this reason that Origen rejects the predicate of limitlessness, apeiron, in favor of determinateness and knowability. It must be noted that Origen's concept of God the Father coincides with the concept of God (ho Theos) or even auto-Theos, the first God in the language of Neoplatonism, already presupposing the gradation of Divinity in the second and third god. Neoplatonic subordinationism thus already steals into this first definition. This feature is more fully disclosed in the definition of the relation between the Father and the Son: “Let us try to imagine the power of God (virtus Dei) which constitutes the foundations of God's being … Out of this universal and immeasurably great power there arises a vapor and, so to speak, a vigor which has its own hypostasis (in propria subsistentia effectus). Although this vigor comes out of the power itself, like desire out of thought, God's desire itself also becomes God's power. Thus, there arises another power, existing in its quality (in sua proprietate subsistens), a certain vapor of the first and unborn power (primae et ingenitae virtutis) of God and receiving its being from the latter” (De Principiis I.2.9).

Although this emanative conception of the origin of God's second power from the first indubitably introduces a distinction between them in the sense of ontological subordinationism, it nevertheless sufficiently affirms the consubstantiality, the homoousianism, of the two. We thus get an external consonance with Arius, who derived the Son from the Father's desire or will, against which St. Athanasius fought so insistently, affirming, instead, the origin of the Son from God's essence, not from His will. There is of course no intentional inner correspondence here between Origen's conception and Arianism, for he asserts the origin of the Son not from the non-existent but from God, as a «vapor» or a «shining of the eternal light». We therefore find in him the beginnings of a homoousian theology, although its form is imperfect.15


15. To be sure, we do not find the term homoousios, but only the idea the term represents.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Comforter
IV. Ontological Subordinationism in Origen's Doctrine of the Holy Trinity

Theological impersonalism

Theological impersonalism considers impersonal being to be more primordial than and therefore metaphysically superior to personal being. Such doctrines postulate a certain proto-Divinity (Urgottheit) in which God arises and in which, in particular, persons, personal centers. This conception characterizes Neoplatonism.

For Christian philosophy, the supreme and therefore initial form of the Absolute is personal being, which is actualized in an absolute manner in the congregate personality of the Divine triunity, of the trihypostatic hypostasis.

God, in the Holy Trinity, is the Absolute and Transcendent in relation to the world. But, in His own being, is not God Himself in some sense relative and immanent with regard to what is beyond God? But is He Himself in this sense the revelation of this true Absolute and Transcendent? Such a second "level" of the Absolute is usually postulated by the doctrine of theological impersonalism. The latter, considering impersonal being to be more primordial than and therefore metaphysically superior to personal being, postulates a certain proto-Divinity (Urgottheit) in which God arises and in which, in particular, persons, personal centers, as well as the whole Christian Trinity, come into being. This conception, characterizing Neoplatonism and the Christian mysticism of Eckhart and Boehme, is erroneous both religiously and metaphysically, inasmuch as it places the impersonal above the personal, the preconscious above the conscious, and, consequently, the soulless above the spirit. This conception is totally incompatible with the personalism of Christian philosophy.

For Christian philosophy, the supreme and therefore initial form of the Absolute is personal being, which is actualized in an absolute manner in the congregate personality of the Divine triunity, of the trihypostatic hypostasis.

See also

Links

Bibliography

       
     
        For this research to continue
please support us.
       
       
       
Contact information     © 2012—2022    1260.org     Disclaimer