Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lord's Day Reading

Here are some of the things I've been reading today:

The Word Lifted Up in the Wilderness
-- a blog post from the Ochlophobist who cites Josef Pieper's book: Abuse of Language -- Abuse of Power on the topic of flattery. Here's a sample:
What, then, is flattery?... The decisive element is this: having an ulterior motive. I address the other not simply to please him or to tell him something that is true. Rather, what I say to him is designed to get something from him! This underlying design makes the message a flattery, even in the popular meaning of the word. The other, whom I try to influence with what he likes to hear, ceases to be my partner; he is no longer a fellow subject. Rather, he has become for me an object to be manipulated, possibly to be dominated, to be handled and controlled.
I suspect this proclivity for power manifests in various forms when we objectify others; justifying the utilization, or rather, profanation, of living images of God upon the pretense of an ennobled end.

Free Choice in Saint Maximus the Confessor, by Joseph Farrell

It's taken a few months to complete this book, but it was well worth it. This is a book worth rereading -- it is packed with paradigm altering considerations. To avert the ineluctable discrepancies that would follow upon any attempt to recapitulate the content in my own words, I will simply quote the following:
These observations on St. Augustine and St. Maximus permit us to speculate about possible applications of the Confessor's theology to the doctrine of predestination and free will, which speculations I present in proposition form for the sake of clarity.

(1) Proper theological method subsumes theological questions and doctrines under the two correlative headings of Christology and Triadology, for all properly theological doctrines would appear to have christological and triadological implications. Any proposition, method, or other statement which does not start directly and consciously from this context does not go under the name of Christian theology.
(2) Proper christological method is recapitulational, for Christ possesses and is all the fullness of Deity and of humanity; He is the Logos and logoi of all universals common to Deity and humanity. In Him, therefore, are to be found the logoi of predestination and of free choice, and He is thus the means by which to distinguish any Christian doctrine of predestination from Stoic, Neoplatonic, Judaic, or Mohammedan counterparts.
(3) The One Son freely chooses, according to the unique hypostatic mode of existence proper to Him as Son and Word, in both of His natures, each nature actively willing the salvation of all men.
(4) In Christ's human nature which is consubstantial with all men, God humanly wills, decrees, and perfectly fulfills the salvation of all men [according to nature, and not to be mistaken for a universalism in respect of persons -- M], for no human being is untouched by His Incarnation, and nothing is detracted from His sovereignty as God if individual persons choose not to accept salvation.
(5) Christ, being truly consubstantial with all men, truly died for all men, and thus His atoning Passion, Death, and Resurrection are in no way limited.
(6) The distinction between person and nature is fundamental to any biblical exegesis on the question of predestination and free will.
(7) Concepts such as prevenient grace should be referred to the Incarnation and to the Holy Spirit's eternal abiding upon the Word; God is thus in men "to will and work His good pleasure" by virtue of His Incarnation and because of the Holy Spirit's unique relationship in the Economy to the human nature in Christ.
(8) The dispute between Calvinism and Arminianism perhaps results because of the lack of a clear theology and application of the categories of person and nature. Therefore, both parties in this iternecine dispute share a common lack of the distinction between natural will and the mode of willing.
(9) From the standpoint of the theology of St. Maximus, the roots of any fatalistic system would therefore seem to be threefold:
1. in the failure to distinguish between person and nature
2. in the failure to distinguish between a nature and its energies, and
3. in the inability of any system which accepts the absolute simplicity of the divine essence to admit of a real plurality of Goods in the Good.

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