Ecclesiology and Palamism: The hidden stumbling block of the Catholic-Orthodox Ecumene

  1. Lemma
  2. Ekklesiologie und Palamismus: Der verborgene Stolperstein der katholisch-orthodoxen Ökumene
  3. English
  4. Koutalis, Vangelis
  5. Key thinkers - Orthodox Anthropology - Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Patristic studies - Ecumenism and dialogue > Dialogue between churches - Orthodox theological tradition and practice - Various approaches to the problem of correlation between science and theology - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Orthodox gnosiology
  6. 14-11-2017
  7. Krokoch, Nikolai [Author]. Ecclesiology and Palamism: The hidden stumbling block of the Catholic-Orthodox Ecumene
  8. Ekklesiologie und Palamismus: Der verborgene Stolperstein der katholisch-orthodoxen Ökumene - Munich: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät, 2004.
  9. Ecumenism - ecclesiology - gnoseology - St. Gregory Palamas - Theoptia - Divine energies - essence-energies distinction
    1. <p>Krokoch, N. [Krokosch, M.] (2004). <em>Ekklesiologie und Palamismus: Der verborgene Stolperstein der katholisch-orthodoxen Ökumene</em> (Doctoral dissertation). Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät</p>
    1. The term ‘Palamism’, in the western Christian literature, is more commonly used to denote the distinction drawn by Gregory Palamas between the divine essence and the divine energies, which is regarded as a controversial or even illicit, theological innovation, in contrast to the view held in the eastern Orthodox theology, where Palamas’ distinction is regarded as an elaboration consistent with the Patristic tradition. The author enters into a critical discussion of the ways the Orthodox theological doctrines are represented in the West, at the very outset of his dissertation, in the first of its chapters, pointing out that the various ‘-isms’ that are invoked in the traditional western theological criticism (Caesaropapism, nationalism and the principle of ecclesiastical autocephaly, ritualism and estrangement from the world, lack of missionary activism) are usually based on biases and misconceptions.

      In the second chapter of his dissertation, which is dedicated to the examination of Palamism as a key element in the Orthodox theology, the author reviews the history of the Hesychast controversy, provides a short outline of the main tenets of Palamas’ doctrine on divine energies, and examines the negative assessment of Palamism in the West. In the third chapter, the East-West differences in the conception of theology are touched upon. In the West, theology is more solidly linked to philosophy and dissociated from mysticism, whereas, in the East, theology is deeply intertwined with mystical spirituality, that is, with the pursuit of a personal experience of the divine mysteries. More particularly, for Palamas, the true cognition of God is fundamentally different from any form of secular knowledge, because human reason is unable to grasp God. Only through the participation in the life of God, only though deification, resulting from the synergy between divine grace and human freedom, God can be directly experienced, not as a noetic essence, but as a spiritual uncreated light. The theological truth must be clearly distinguished from the philosophical truth, since the first is attainable only in existential terms, through the communion with God, and the proper place where this truth is to be found and experienced is the sacred liturgy of the church, the place in which the human potential to live anew in the likeness of God is actualized.

      The following four chapters are more directly concerned with the ecclesiological implications of the East-West conceptions of theology, raising the questions of the relation between the Church and the coming Kingdom of God (chapter IV), of the divine grace (chapter V), of the meaning of the pastoral office and the understanding of priesthood as a gift or charisma (chapter VI), as well as of the Church as an image of the Holy Tritiny (chapter VII). In the chapter VIII, the author enters into the questions of the Holy Spirit as an agent of deification, a bearer of the divine energies, and as participation in the intertrinitarian life, and in the chapter IX, the differences betwwen the eastern and western theology on the issue of deification are examined. Certain other ecclesiological aspects are also explored in the chapters X-XIII, such as the conception of the Church as a mother, the Vatican and the Orthodox views on the ecclesiastical primate, the communion ecclesiology developed in the Second Vatiacn Council, and the nature of an ecclesiastical unity. In the final chapter (XIV), the author concludes that the possibility of a doctrinal unity between the West and the East can be facilitated by the reception of Palamism by the Western Church, and the recognition of the doctrine of divine energies as an elaboration of the Patristic tradition.