Armenian vs. Coptic Theology

Orthodox11

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Marc Hanna said:
The fact that Gregory says it can be attained by reason and contemplation and ascension is completely opposed to Athanasius' descent by Christ in order to promote not to mention Platonic. 
I think you are presenting a false dichotomy here. To say that something is attainable by reason, contemplation, prayer and ascension does not exclude the fact that it is made possible only by the descent of Christ.
 

ialmisry

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Jonathan Gress said:
Perhaps the neglect of theosis in the Armenian/Coptic traditions has something to do with the different Christology. The Armenians teach that Christ has one nature, in which the human nature is swallowed up by the divine. The Orthodox Greeks teach that Christ has two natures, human and divine, and neither is swallowed up by the other nature. Therefore in the Orthodox understanding, communion with Christ allows us to partake of the divine nature, since Christ perfectly unites the human with the divine. The Armenian understanding appears to set up an insuperable barrier between the divine and the human.
Can you quote something from an Armenian or a Copt that teaches this?

Because I can quote plenty that they do not.

Orthodox11 said:
Marc Hanna said:
The fact that Gregory says it can be attained by reason and contemplation and ascension is completely opposed to Athanasius' descent by Christ in order to promote not to mention Platonic. 
I think you are presenting a false dichotomy here. To say that something is attainable by reason, contemplation, prayer and ascension does not exclude the fact that it is made possible only by the descent of Christ.
I concur (also with your Armenian/Coptic comment, btw).  I would expect that a quote from St. Gregory more in line with St. Athanasius is to be had.
 

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Irish Hermit said:
Mardukm said:
Several months back, I had opportunity to discuss this issue in another Forum and I posted the texts from websites of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac Churches on the doctrine of Atonement.  Would you like me to look for them and post them here?
As you have just pointed out in the thread on Immaculate Conception, unless such documents are official statements issued by Councils they don't have standing.  Probably better not to burden us with questionable and possibly misleading material.
why do we not have a "yawn" emoticon?
 

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Jonathan Gress said:
Perhaps the neglect of theosis in the Armenian/Coptic traditions has something to do with the different Christology. The Armenians teach that Christ has one nature, in which the human nature is swallowed up by the divine.
Jonathan,

This is a gross misstatement of my Church's Christology.  Unfortunately, however, it is also a very commonly made misstatement.  I am going to therefore assume you didn't know any better. 

We have a private forum where OO and EO Christology may be debated.  If that is something you want to do, you may apply to Fr. Chris for admission to the private forum.
 

Salpy

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With regard to theosis in the Armenian Church, we probably don't discuss it or even emphasize it as much as the EO's do.  However, we do believe in it.  I recall a lecture by a deacon at my church a while back, where he taught about it and he used the phrase by St. Athanasius.  This deacon had just graduated from St. Nerses Seminary and is now a priest.  It surprises me that anyone would think it is not a belief of the OO Church.
 

minasoliman

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Salpy said:
With regard to theosis in the Armenian Church, we probably don't discuss it or even emphasize it as much as the EO's do.  However, we do believe in it.  I recall a lecture by a deacon at my church a while back, where he taught about it and he used the phrase by St. Athanasius.  This deacon had just graduated from St. Nerses Seminary and is now a priest.  It surprises me that anyone would think it is not a belief of the OO Church.
Me neither.  I never thought people would ever dispute St. Gregory the Theologian of all people.  St. Severus looked up to him as a true father as to St. Athanasius.
 

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Salpy said:
With regard to theosis in the Armenian Church, we probably don't discuss it or even emphasize it as much as the EO's do.  However, we do believe in it.  I recall a lecture by a deacon at my church a while back, where he taught about it and he used the phrase by St. Athanasius.  This deacon had just graduated from St. Nerses Seminary and is now a priest.  It surprises me that anyone would think it is not a belief of the OO Church.
There was an awfully bitter row for years between Father Matta El Meskeen (memory eternal!) and Pope Shenouda over the topic of theosis.  I remember it was discussed on CAF.  Pope Shenouda has published 8 booklets which, IIRC, are not in favour of theosis, or maybe not in favour of Father Matta's teaching of theosis?  Is anybody able to give us the details about this?  What exactly caused the row?
 

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minasoliman said:
Me neither.  I never thought people would ever dispute St. Gregory the Theologian of all people.  St. Severus looked up to him as a true father as to St. Athanasius.
Marc's sentiments reflect what I've heard from many Copts and (second hand) Pope Shenouda himself though. So far, it seems to me to be the repudiation of a theosis straw man, followed by an affirmation of a doctrine of theosis that any EO would be happy with, but under a different name. But it's clearly an issue of much dispute, which is why I was interested in the way in which the Armenian hierarchy approached the issue.
 

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Salpy said:
With regard to theosis in the Armenian Church, we probably don't discuss it or even emphasize it as much as the EO's do.  However, we do believe in it.  I recall a lecture by a deacon at my church a while back, where he taught about it and he used the phrase by St. Athanasius.  This deacon had just graduated from St. Nerses Seminary and is now a priest.  It surprises me that anyone would think it is not a belief of the OO Church.
Do you have anything on the topic by a senior hierarch? I'd be interested in seeing the way in which they explains the issue, and the authorities he appeals to.
 

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I don't know of anything in writing on the matter by an Armenian author, unfortunately.
 

minasoliman

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HH Pope Shenouda writes in his book "Return of the Spirit:"

We cannot know by ourselves.. but we want-through Your grace- to prepare ourselves to know You.. This knowledge comes from You.. through what You reveal to us, not through any mental or even spiritual effort on our behalf.  Any striving of our minds and souls, though necessary, is just a kind of prayer or supplication.  Such striving is a means through which the cloud may fill the House, and the fire burn in the bush and so God may reveal Himself and every heart would give worship in awe and sing thankfully saying ‘You gave me the gift of knowing You'
One wonders what is the cloud, if not the Shekinah glory of God, and what is the "Fire in the Bush" if not the divine fire in our hearts that comes from the knowledge we seek from the Lord?

This is the same Coptic Church who sings "...the Theotokos Saint Mary, carried the Fire of Divinity, nine months in her holy body..." and the vessels are overlaid with gold within and with-out, the same with the Theotokos, carrying our Lord, who filled her with His Divinity, "within and with-out."  In same Theotokias, we sing "Hail to the undefiled vessel of the Divinity" and "Rejoice oh full of grace, the pure lampstand, who carried the Lamp, the Fire of Divinity."

What makes one think that this is merely a sign of just adoption, without actually partaking of the divine uncreated energies of God?  Was the Theotokos the only one able to do that, while the rest of humanity lurks as sub-human unpartakers of the divine nature?  Adoption does not occur without the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (and after all the Holy Spirit IS God) filling us with His divinity within and with-out, and being made worthy to partake of the Eucharist, the body of Christ united with His Divinity, which did not separate from His humanity for a single moment nor a twinkling of an eye.

This is Alexandrian theology.  The Cappodocians learned from this.  This is not something foreign to Athanasius or Cyril.  Read the hymns.  Theosis is at its heart.

God bless.

PS  Fr. Ambrose, you'll find a lot of interesting information in the link I posted pointing to a previous thread.  I think it has a lot to do with misunderstanding in language more than actual condemnation of a dogma.  In Arabic, it seems the heirarchs are trying to avoid anything that has to do with partaking of the divine essence of God.
 

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minasoliman said:
This is the same Coptic Church who sings "...the Theotokos Saint Mary, carried the Fire of Divinity, nine months in her holy body..." and the vessels are overlaid with gold within and with-out, the same with the Theotokos, carrying our Lord, who filled her with His Divinity, "within and with-out."  In same Theotokias, we sing "Hail to the undefiled vessel of the Divinity" and "Rejoice oh full of grace, the pure lampstand, who carried the Lamp, the Fire of Divinity."

What makes one think that this is merely a sign of just adoption, without actually partaking of the divine uncreated energies of God?  Was the Theotokos the only one able to do that, while the rest of humanity lurks as sub-human unpartakers of the divine nature? 
But the Theotokos did indeed carry the divine essence within her (though this is not to say that she somehow partook or became united with this essence), since Christ was God and man. This does not refer to theosis - the partaking of God's divine energies - which is common to mankind, but to something unique to the Virgin Mary: the conception and birthgiving of the Word of God incarnate. I think it would be dangerous to use the Virgin Mary's unique position as Theotokos to illustrate the doctrine of theosis. It is not something I've ever seen in a writing on the subject, and seems perilously close to heresy. Feel free to correct me.
 

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Orthodox11 said:
minasoliman said:
This is the same Coptic Church who sings "...the Theotokos Saint Mary, carried the Fire of Divinity, nine months in her holy body..." and the vessels are overlaid with gold within and with-out, the same with the Theotokos, carrying our Lord, who filled her with His Divinity, "within and with-out."  In same Theotokias, we sing "Hail to the undefiled vessel of the Divinity" and "Rejoice oh full of grace, the pure lampstand, who carried the Lamp, the Fire of Divinity."

What makes one think that this is merely a sign of just adoption, without actually partaking of the divine uncreated energies of God?  Was the Theotokos the only one able to do that, while the rest of humanity lurks as sub-human unpartakers of the divine nature? 
But the Theotokos did indeed carry the divine essence within her (though this is not to say that she somehow partook or became united with this essence), since Christ was God and man. This does not refer to theosis - the partaking of God's divine energies - which is common to mankind, but to something unique to the Virgin Mary: the conception and birthgiving of the Word of God incarnate. I think it would be dangerous to use the Virgin Mary's unique position as Theotokos to illustrate the doctrine of theosis. It is not something I've ever seen in a writing on the subject, and seems perilously close to heresy. Feel free to correct me.
I would think that the view that the incarnation was just the energies, not that she bore the essence, would lead to Adoptionism, i.e. the Man Christ was adopted as the Son.
 

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ialmisry said:
I would think that the view that the incarnation was just the energies, not that she bore the essence, would lead to Adoptionism, i.e. the Man Christ was adopted as the Son.
Indeed. Hence a direct connection between the Virgin Mary as Theotokos and our theosis (our becoming gods by grace, through partaking of the divine energies alone) seems to promote either a heretical understanding of theosis, wherein we partake of the divine essence, or a Nestorian understanding of the Incarnation.
 

minasoliman

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I don't understand how anything I said can be to that effect.  I certainly don't believe in Adoptionism.  She carried the Logos Incarnate in her, who is fully divine and fully human.  Nevertheless, you can't say she carried the fullness of the Divine essence in her.  She carried the Logos, who filled her with His divinity (the divinity that truly belongs to Him) within and with-out.  She didn't simply carry the Logos, but the Logos even emanated His divinity all over her.

The emanation is the divine energies.  So yes, she is an example of theosis.  How can you carry the Logos without feeling the effects of theosis?  Isn't that the whole idea of the Eucharist?  That when we eat His Body, and Drink His Blood, we're not merely bearing the Logos in us, but through His humanity, He is emanating Divine Life to us.  That doesn't mean Christ only bore the Divine energies.  Neither should that mean she bore the whole essence of God.  Both would be blasphemous, imo.
 

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minasoliman said:
I don't understand how anything I said can be to that effect.  I certainly don't believe in Adoptionism.  She carried the Logos Incarnate in her, who is fully divine and fully human.  Nevertheless, you can't say she carried the fullness of the Divine essence in her. 
If the Son is the fullness of deity, then she did.

She carried the Logos, who filled her with His divinity (the divinity that truly belongs to Him) within and with-out.  She didn't simply carry the Logos, but the Logos even emanated His divinity all over her.

The emanation is the divine energies.  So yes, she is an example of theosis.  How can you carry the Logos without feeling the effects of theosis?  Isn't that the whole idea of the Eucharist?  That when we eat His Body, and Drink His Blood, we're not merely bearing the Logos in us, but through His humanity, He is emanating Divine Life to us.  That doesn't mean Christ only bore the Divine energies.  Neither should that mean she bore the whole essence of God.  Both would be blasphemous, imo.
That brings up another question: is the Divine Essence in the Eucharist?
 

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ialmisry said:
That brings up another question: is the Divine Essence in the Eucharist?
"Therefore we say that the body of Christ is divine because it is the body of God, and is brilliant with inexpressible glory, incorruptible, holy and life-giving. But that it was changed into the nature of divinity, no-one of the holy Fathers thought or said, nor do we affirm this." - St. Cyril of Alexandria

I understand this to mean that, while we partake of the Body of Christ, rightly called divine by virtue of the hypostatic union, we do not partake of the Divine Essence as such. Indeed, if we define God's essence as that which is transcendent and ineffable, while His energies is that which is knowable, to partake of His essence is by definition impossible.
 

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minasoliman said:
I don't understand how anything I said can be to that effect.  I certainly don't believe in Adoptionism.  She carried the Logos Incarnate in her, who is fully divine and fully human.  Nevertheless, you can't say she carried the fullness of the Divine essence in her.  She carried the Logos, who filled her with His divinity (the divinity that truly belongs to Him) within and with-out.  She didn't simply carry the Logos, but the Logos even emanated His divinity all over her.
My problem is with the way in which you took liturgical texts referring specifically to God taking flesh from the Virgin - a unique and unrepeatable act - and applied them to theosis, the goal of all humanity, whereby we become gods by grace (or adoption) through participation in the uncreated energies of God. I don't see how you can equate the two. The verses you quoted are simply an affirmation of the Incarnation, and do not speak of theosis.
 
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