The Body of the Living Christ: Ecclesiology in the Thought of Father Georges Florovsky

g_florovskyAn excellent essay by Father Matthew Baker, presented at Princeton Theological Seminary in February, 2012: The Body of the Living Christ: Ecclesiology in the Thought of Father Georges Florovsky   As one recent commentator has remarked, “attempting to remain firmly within the Orthodox tradition, Florovsky, in facing new situations of the early twentieth century, came to a novel and creative formulation of the Church.” And yet, “understanding Florovsky's ecclesiology is not easy.” This is so, not only because his exposition was so sketch-like and occasional, but also, I might add, for Orthodox, because so many of his creative formulations have now become – albeit sometimes in vulgarized form – standard expressions. My aim here, therefore, is to draw out some of the unique context and accents of Florovsky's creative formulation of the doctrine of the Church, in hope of encouraging your own fresh reading. First, some little-known background in Russian cultural debates of the early 1920's. Second, some key ecclesiological themes as they are developed in Florovsky's essays from the late 20's through the 1960's. Finally, in closing, I comment briefly on Florovsky's contribution to Orthodox and ecumenical ecclesiology today. Ecclesiology Emerging: Church, Politics and Culture … Continue Reading ››

Surefire Defense

nietzsche1 Surefire defense vs "semi-ism" (my neologism -- blame me): kind of a heaving mass of semi-arianism churned up with semi-gnosticism, along with a practical* belief in being-as-power: "... if the beauty of material existence is not merely the overflow of a self-enclosed, strictly unitary, and entirely spiritual beauty into the confining channels of material deformity, but is the unnecessary, untrammeled, and contingent expression of a divine delight that is always already 'differential,' created difference is loosed, as univocally good in its creatureliness, though it is analogically imparted; and when Christian thought replaced the identist and substantial analogy Platonism presumed between the world and 'God' with a genuinely ontological analogy between creatures who own no substantial claim on being at all and a God who is the utterly transcendent and absolutely immediate actuality of any being's existence, every form of metaphysical reasoning had to be recast." -- DBH, Beauty of the Infinite, pp104-5 Please forgive the tentative nature of these propositions, but they are thoughts that have percolated through various "strata of consciousness" over time. What a context we have to deal with. On one side, we have a population who is allergic to non-material concepts … Continue Reading ››

The Knowledge of God (chapter 6 of Staniloae’s “Experience of God”)

dionysios converting the pagan philosophers   “… it is not the same to say something about God as it is to gain and see God.” So St Gregory Palamas said to Barlaam (The Experience of God, p115). Here is Fr Staniloae’s central note about the Knowledge of God — that at its highest point and most essential depth, it is beyond experience and inexpressible, that it is a “trans-apophaticism” that extends even beyond via negativa, and finally and climactically, it is the ineffable experience of God as Person (only, of course, in the extent of God’s energy, never His essence). In the most valuable accessible survey of the patristic tradition of the Knowledge of God, Fr Staniloae moves from Gregory the Theologian to Gregory of Nyssa, Dionysios the Areopagite, Symeon the New Theologian and Gregory Palamas (referring to Maximus the Confessor along the way). His discussion of the Areopagite in particular, if for no other part of this chapter, is a most helpful corrective to the contemporary Orthodox discussion of knowledge (especially in the shadow of a “Western captivity” of Orthodox academia). As in any other Orthodox discussion of the Knowledge of God, Fr Staniloae contrasts the two … Continue Reading ››