Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Is the Palamite Distinction Ecumenical Dogma?

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Is the Palamite Distinction Ecumenical Dogma?

"I do not have a particular dog in the Palamite hunt, though I do fear that a conciliar declaration affirming the ecumenical status of the Palamite distinction will create a serious obstacle in ecumenical discussions with the Catholic Church. The historical fact is, there has long existed within Orthodoxy a diversity of interpretations of the divine essence and energies distinction, dating back to at least the 15th century (see the important essay “Palamas Transformed” by John Demetracopoulos). Is the distinction real, formal, or nominal? Theologians disagree. The Lossky/Romanides interpretation of the distinction has (apparently) become dominant in contemporary Orthodox theology, but that may well only be because contemporary theologians have yet to submit this interpretation to proper analysis and critique. If anyone is interested in exploring the matter further, I recommend the important collection of essays entitled Divine Essence and Divine Energies.

In my very provisional opinion, the Lossky/Romanides understanding of the Palamite distinction enjoys its present status primarily because of the continuing desire within Orthodoxy to ideologically distinguish itself from Roman Catholicism. At some point Orthodox theology simply must transcend the polemical need to define itself over against the cultural West."

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