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Aquinas: Orthodox perspective

Doubting Thomas

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Do any Orthodox theologians find anything good in the writings of Thomas Aquinas? I'm intrigued by him, but the only comments I've read from an Orthodox perspective seem to criticize him for his scholasticism.
 

Aristocles

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Interesting question...I have NEVER read anything good written about him.

Demetri

{Edit 'cause the grammar police are here now} ::)
 

Anastasios

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Here let me write something good about him. I like some of what ol' A wrote. You read the Summa, and it's like Theology 101. I wish that catechsisms in Orthodoxy would make a comeback. So what if they are "scholastic?" Take out the stuff that is contrary to Orthodoxy and keep the basic method. Question. Answer. Two objections. Two refutatations. If we did this kind of stuff as far as possible and our kids learned it, we'd be better off than saying "essences and energies...it's all a mystery!"

I am not trying to be provacative. What I am saying is that Aquinas did the RCC a huge favor and Orthodox should mimic some of what he did in an Orthodox context. It would make people more informed.

Anastasios
 

carpo-rusyn

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Demetri

You should try reading G.K. Chesterton's "The Dumb Ox" very nice little book.

I remember reading in an Orthodox history text about an Orthodox theologian who tried to "Orthodox-ize" scholasticism. It was before the fall of New Rome. Maybe somebody who is more learned knows the person I'm speaking of.

Carpo-Rusyn

 
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anastasios said:
Here let me write something good about him. I like some of what ol' A wrote. You read the Summa, and it's like Theology 101. I wish that catechsisms in Orthodoxy would make a comeback. So what if they are "scholastic?" Take out the stuff that is contrary to Orthodoxy and keep the basic method. Question. Answer. Two objections. Two refutatations. If we did this kind of stuff as far as possible and our kids learned it, we'd be better off than saying "essences and energies...it's all a mystery!"

I am not trying to be provacative. What I am saying is that Aquinas did the RCC a huge favor and Orthodox should mimic some of what he did in an Orthodox context. It would make people more informed.

Anastasios
Yes that is what the Summa calls itself. The Summa calls itself just a basic theological book, contrary to my opinion.
 

icxn

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http://www.pelagia.org/htm/b15.en.orthodox_spirituality.01.htm#or2

The problem with Aquinas and most of Western Theology is that it is based solely on Aristotelian logic, rather than revelation and experience of the divine energies as the Orthodox Church Fathers teach.

Quote:

...And this precisely is the work of Orthodox theology. When referring to Orthodox theology, we do not simply mean a history of theology. The latter is, of course, a part of this but not absolutely or exclusively. In patristic tradition, theologians are the God-seers. St. Gregory Palamas calls Barlaam a theologian, but he clearly emphasizes that intellectual theology differs greatly from the experience of the vision of God. According to St. Gregory Palamas theologians are the God-seers; those who have followed the "method" of the Church and have attained to perfect faith, to the illumination of the nous and to divinization (theosis). Theology is the fruit of man's therapy and the path which leads to therapy and the acquisition of the knowledge of God.

Western theology however has differentiated itself from Eastern Orthodox theology. Instead of being therapeutic, it is more intellectual and emotional in character. In the West, Scholastic theology evolved, which is antithetical to the Orthodox tradition. Western theology is based on rational thought whereas Orthodoxy is hesychastic. Scholastic theology tried to understand logically the Revelation of God and conform to philosophical methodology. Characteristic of such an approach is the saying of Anselm of Canterbury: "I believe so as to understand". The Scholastics acknowledged God at the outset and then endeavoured to prove His existence by logical arguments and rational categories. In the Orthodox Church, as expressed by the Holy Fathers, faith is God revealing Himself to man. We accept faith by hearing it not so that we can understand it rationally, but so that we can cleanse our hearts, attain to faith by "theoria" and experience the Revelation of God.

Scholastic theology reached its culminating point in the person of Thomas Aquinas, a saint in the Roman-Catholic Church. He claimed that Christian truths are divided into natural and supernatural. Natural truths can be proven philosophically, like the truth of the Existence of God. Supernatural truths -such as the Triune God, the incarnation of the Logos, the resurrection of the bodies- cannot be proven philosophically, yet then cannot be disproven. Scholasticism linked theology very closely with philosophy, even more so with metaphysics. As a result, faith was altered and scholastic theology itself fell into complete disrepute when the "idol" of the West-metaphysics-collapsed. Scholasticism is held accountable for much of the tragic situation created in the West with respect to faith and faith issues.

The Holy Fathers teach that natural and metaphysical categories do not exist but speak rather of the created and uncreated. Never did the Holy Fathers accept Aristotle's metaphysics. However, it is not my intent to expound further on this. Theologians of the West during the Middle Ages considered scholastic theology to be a further development of the theology of the Holy Fathers, and from this point on, begins the teaching of the Francs that scholastic theology is superior to that of the Holy Fathers. Consequently, Scholastics, who are occupied with reason, consider themselves superior to the Holy Fathers of the Church. They also believe that human knowledge, an offspring of reason, is loftier than Revelation and experience.
...
 

penelope

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I'm suspicious of the scholastic method. I think theology should be riddling and elusive, like the gospel of John is. Scholasticism just seems too un-apophatic.
 

Doubting Thomas

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I guess my point in bringing this up was to see whether or not some of Thomas's arguments for the existence of God are acknowledged by any Orthodox to have any apologetic value in witnessing with non-Christians in this pluralistic, relativistic age in which we live. I certainly see your point about experiential theology and I'm aware of some of the differences in theology between East and West, but cannot God use some of the logical arguments of scholasticism to confound the pseudo-logical arguments of atheists, agnostics, and pagans?
 

icxn

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Doubting Thomas said:
... but cannot God use some of the logical arguments of scholasticism to confound the pseudo-logical arguments of atheists, agnostics, and pagans?
You know the ancient Greeks had a saying, "+¢-î+¦++-é -Ç+¦+++¦+»+¦+¦ ++-î+¦++," that is, word fights word, in other words, those five "proofs" have a refutation, after all they rely on logical words :)

Nevertheless, if you want to argue about the existence of God ask your atheist friends to prove the existence of their mind... hehe... here, read this:

http://sgpm.goarch.org/Monastery/index.php?p=40

:D

Also, if they tell you the famous, "I think therefore I am" equating I with mind, then say to them, "God thinks therefore He is." Though this is not quite right, but what can you tell them? Western philosophy is sooo messed up.

icxn
 

DennyB

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icxn said:
You know the ancient Greeks had a saying, "+¢-î+¦++-é -Ç+¦+++¦+»+¦+¦ ++-î+¦++," that is, word fights word, in other words, those five "proofs" have a refutation, after all they rely on logical words :)

Nevertheless, if you want to argue about the existence of God ask your atheist friends to prove the existence of their mind... hehe... here, read this:

http://sgpm.goarch.org/Monastery/index.php?p=40

:D

Also, if they tell you the famous, "I think therefore I am" equating I with mind, then say to them, "God thinks therefore He is." Though this is not quite right, but what can you tell them? Western philosophy is sooo messed up.

icxn
I believe God is Orthodox,why? Because He didn't say "I Think,Therefore,I AM, He simply said "I AM". I Love Eastern Thinking!!!!
 

Sabbas

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While I fully agree that in Aquinas there is overt rationalism which has no place in true theology, I agree with anastasios. Look at Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Fr. Mikhail Pomazhansky! As a catechumen I find it incredibly helpful!

As a side, has anyone noticed that at www.westernorthodox.com, under Orthodox Christian Doctrine, they provide a link to the Roman influenced catechism of Peter Moghila at a Ukainian Catholic website? Heres a link to this catechism: http://esoptron.umd.edu/ugc/OCF.html
Notice anything interesting? It's written in the same scholastic form as the Summa of Aquinas!
 

Seafra

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icxn said:
http://www.pelagia.org/htm/b15.en.orthodox_spirituality.01.htm#or2

The problem with Aquinas and most of Western Theology is that it is based solely on Aristotelian logic, rather than revelation and experience of the divine energies as the Orthodox Church Fathers teach.
I by no means have studied in depth, but In my desire to convert to Orthodoxy i have bought some books from early christian writers and i believe that this book "The exact exposition of the Orthodox Faith" by St. John of Damascus COULD be considered "scholastic" by some peoples. I personally think there is place for both, but that experience should be the major part. Coming from protestant background i have a lot of theology in me but don't feel i have really met with God, so I understand the importance of experiencing. At the same time however there are many in Orthodoxy who have experienced the church their whole lives but have no way to discuss anything theological because what they know has not been explained to them in any theological means...
 

Papist

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"Orthodox theology has had a complex relationship with Aquinas' work. For a long time, Aquinas and scholastic or schoolbook theology was a standard part of the education of Orthodox seminarians. His philosophy found a strong advocate in the person of at least one Patriarch of Constantinople, Gennadius Scholarius.

In the twentieth century, there was a reaction against this "Latin captivity" of the Orthodox theology (Florovosky), and Orthodox writers have emphasized the otherness of Scholasticism, defining Orthodox theology in contradistinction to it. The criticisms have focused on, inter alia, the theological poverty of Scholasticism, nature, grace, the beatific vision, and Aquinas; defense of the Filioque.

However, more recent scholarship has distinguished between Aquinas and the manner in which his theology was received and altered by the Schoolmen who came after him. Aquinas may be seen as the culmination of patristic tradition, rather than as the initiator of a tradition discontinuous with what came before. Vladimir Lossky, e.g., in praising the existential Thomism of the Catholic philosopher Etienne Gilson, refers to "the authentic Thomism of S. Thomas ..., a thought rich with new perspectives which the philosophical herd, giving in to the natural tendency of the human understanding, was not slow in conceptualizing, and changing into school Thomism, a severe and abstract doctrine, because it has been detached rom its vital source of power." The recent work of Anna Williams and others has pointed to the importance of deification in Aquinas and his similarity with St Gregory Palamas. "

Source: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Thomas_Aquinas#Aquinas_and_the_Orthodox_Church
 

That person

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A lot of what I've read here seems overly critical of Aquinas and Scholasticisim in general. Even though he eres on a few points, I see nothing wrong in viewing logic as a gift from God and using that gift to better understand and serve him.

Remember, that as non-Orthodox Christian you are not allowed to argue against the teachings of the Church in the Faith Issues. Consider this as a  warning - Michał Kalina.
 

ialmisry

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Christ is ascended!
That person said:
A lot of what I've read here seems overly critical of Aquinas and Scholasticisim in general. Even though he eres on a few points, I see nothing wrong in viewing logic as a gift from God and using that gift to better understand and serve him.
His mistake (not of his origination, he just repeats it. John Scotus started the problem) is to took put reason on par with revelation.
 

NicholasMyra

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Papist said:
"Orthodox theology has had a complex relationship with Aquinas' work. For a long time, Aquinas and scholastic or schoolbook theology was a standard part of the education of Orthodox seminarians. His philosophy found a strong advocate in the person of at least one Patriarch of Constantinople, Gennadius Scholarius.

In the twentieth century, there was a reaction against this "Latin captivity" of the Orthodox theology (Florovosky), and Orthodox writers have emphasized the otherness of Scholasticism, defining Orthodox theology in contradistinction to it. The criticisms have focused on, inter alia, the theological poverty of Scholasticism, nature, grace, the beatific vision, and Aquinas; defense of the Filioque.

However, more recent scholarship has distinguished between Aquinas and the manner in which his theology was received and altered by the Schoolmen who came after him. Aquinas may be seen as the culmination of patristic tradition, rather than as the initiator of a tradition discontinuous with what came before. Vladimir Lossky, e.g., in praising the existential Thomism of the Catholic philosopher Etienne Gilson, refers to "the authentic Thomism of S. Thomas ..., a thought rich with new perspectives which the philosophical herd, giving in to the natural tendency of the human understanding, was not slow in conceptualizing, and changing into school Thomism, a severe and abstract doctrine, because it has been detached rom its vital source of power." The recent work of Anna Williams and others has pointed to the importance of deification in Aquinas and his similarity with St Gregory Palamas. "

Source: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Thomas_Aquinas#Aquinas_and_the_Orthodox_Church
Yep. And Nestorius wasn't Nestorian, Eutyches wasn't Eutychian, and Nietzsche wasn't a Nihilist.  :D
 

Seafra

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NicholasMyra said:
Papist said:
"Orthodox theology has had a complex relationship with Aquinas' work. For a long time, Aquinas and scholastic or schoolbook theology was a standard part of the education of Orthodox seminarians. His philosophy found a strong advocate in the person of at least one Patriarch of Constantinople, Gennadius Scholarius.

In the twentieth century, there was a reaction against this "Latin captivity" of the Orthodox theology (Florovosky), and Orthodox writers have emphasized the otherness of Scholasticism, defining Orthodox theology in contradistinction to it. The criticisms have focused on, inter alia, the theological poverty of Scholasticism, nature, grace, the beatific vision, and Aquinas; defense of the Filioque.

However, more recent scholarship has distinguished between Aquinas and the manner in which his theology was received and altered by the Schoolmen who came after him. Aquinas may be seen as the culmination of patristic tradition, rather than as the initiator of a tradition discontinuous with what came before. Vladimir Lossky, e.g., in praising the existential Thomism of the Catholic philosopher Etienne Gilson, refers to "the authentic Thomism of S. Thomas ..., a thought rich with new perspectives which the philosophical herd, giving in to the natural tendency of the human understanding, was not slow in conceptualizing, and changing into school Thomism, a severe and abstract doctrine, because it has been detached rom its vital source of power." The recent work of Anna Williams and others has pointed to the importance of deification in Aquinas and his similarity with St Gregory Palamas. "

Source: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Thomas_Aquinas#Aquinas_and_the_Orthodox_Church
Yep. And Nestorius wasn't Nestorian, Eutyches wasn't Eutychian, and Nietzsche wasn't a Nihilist.  :D
well technically Nestorius submitted to the church's ruling and lived the rest of his life in exile and repentance, but orthodox... if i have studied correctly
 

bogdan

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Was Thomas Aquinas ever venerated as a saint in the East?

I ask because I have Cappella Romana's album "The Fall of Constantinople", which includes a track called "Canon in Honor of Thomas Aquinas." From what I understand, everything on this album is authentic 15th century music, so... does anyone know?
 

NicholasMyra

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Seafra said:
NicholasMyra said:
Papist said:
"Orthodox theology has had a complex relationship with Aquinas' work. For a long time, Aquinas and scholastic or schoolbook theology was a standard part of the education of Orthodox seminarians. His philosophy found a strong advocate in the person of at least one Patriarch of Constantinople, Gennadius Scholarius.

In the twentieth century, there was a reaction against this "Latin captivity" of the Orthodox theology (Florovosky), and Orthodox writers have emphasized the otherness of Scholasticism, defining Orthodox theology in contradistinction to it. The criticisms have focused on, inter alia, the theological poverty of Scholasticism, nature, grace, the beatific vision, and Aquinas; defense of the Filioque.

However, more recent scholarship has distinguished between Aquinas and the manner in which his theology was received and altered by the Schoolmen who came after him. Aquinas may be seen as the culmination of patristic tradition, rather than as the initiator of a tradition discontinuous with what came before. Vladimir Lossky, e.g., in praising the existential Thomism of the Catholic philosopher Etienne Gilson, refers to "the authentic Thomism of S. Thomas ..., a thought rich with new perspectives which the philosophical herd, giving in to the natural tendency of the human understanding, was not slow in conceptualizing, and changing into school Thomism, a severe and abstract doctrine, because it has been detached rom its vital source of power." The recent work of Anna Williams and others has pointed to the importance of deification in Aquinas and his similarity with St Gregory Palamas. "

Source: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Thomas_Aquinas#Aquinas_and_the_Orthodox_Church
Yep. And Nestorius wasn't Nestorian, Eutyches wasn't Eutychian, and Nietzsche wasn't a Nihilist.  :D
well technically Nestorius submitted to the church's ruling and lived the rest of his life in exile and repentance, but orthodox... if i have studied correctly
A case can be made for each one, indeed. My point was that, often times, people believe that the discovery of a man's actual teachings magically redeem the misinterpretations of his followers.
 

DavidH

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carpo-rusyn said:
Demetri

You should try reading G.K. Chesterton's "The Dumb Ox" very nice little book.

I remember reading in an Orthodox history text about an Orthodox theologian who tried to "Orthodox-ize" scholasticism.  It was before the fall of New Rome.  Maybe somebody who is more learned knows the person I'm speaking of.

Carpo-Rusyn
Are you thinking of this work, Carpo-Rusyn?

http://www.amazon.com/ENDING-BYZANTINE-GREEK-SCHISM-14th-century/dp/B000W76NMU/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1307544890&sr=1-1-fkmr0
 
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