Summary of Our Doctoral Dissertation: The Sight of God in the Theology of St. Symeon the New Theologian


Our doctoral dissertation, carrying the title: The Sight of God in the Theology of St. Symeon the New Theologian debates in three distincts chapters, from dogmatic viewpoint and in synthetic mode the problem of the sight of God in orthodox theology and with preference in the theology of St. Symeon the New Theologian.

In first chapter, entitled The Biblical and Patristic Premises of the Deification of  Man and of the Sight of God in the Orthodox Theology we presented the role of the divine Logos as Pantocrator of the whole creation.

Because the Logos of the Father is the Maker of the world and He is present at beginning in the world and supports and contains all things through His uncreated energies, therefore the creation has a rational and spiritual foundation.

We can talk about a real relation with God and about the sight of the light of God except starting from three biblical and patristic premises that are fundamental in the spiritual experience and orthodox theology: 1. The divine Logos; 2. The rational and spiritual foundation of the world and 3. The uncreated energies .

All these three premises were debated in distinct mode in our work but they were seen in contiguous mode as the interdependent and as the fundamental origination toward the debate of the experience and the theology of St. Symeon the New Theologian.

Because, merely when we see whole creation as the work of the divine Logos, entirely rational and imbued with the spring of life of uncreated energies of Holy Trinity, we can apprehend that the aim our life is the deification through energy and the sight of God is a direct and real experience of His eternal light.

The second chapter of our thesis – the chapter that was the object as such of our doctoral research – carries the title: The Sight of God at St. Symeon the New Theologian and Her Implications In the Personal Salvation and it is composited, outward the introductory subtopic about the ecstatic symeonian terminology, on the basic levels of the orthodox Doctrine: 1. Triadology; 2. Christology; 3. Pneumatology; 4. Soteriology; 5. Sacramentology; 6. Ecclesiology and 7. Eshatology .

Because Saint Symeon is a unsystematic author in many problems of his theology discussed here, therefore our personal efftort consiste in the systematization and the integration of theological problems that we discussed.

We systematized and we compressed a largely theological material in order to render, as clearly as we could, his experience  and  mystical theology.

In our research made to the level of the ecstatic terminology we concluded the fact that Saint Symeon used the scriptural and patristic expressions for describe his ecstasies and also personal images, with impact on his audience.

In Triadology Saint Symeon speaks about the relations of love and communion between the persons of Holy Trinity, he defendes the unknowable character of the being of Holy Trinity but he teaches that we can impart, in the ecstatic sight, of His splendor at our personal measure.

The Triadology is not the product of human cogitation but the Son revelead to us, in the cadre of the oeconomy of salvation, that God is Trinity of persons: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Son is given birth from the Father and the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, without existing any anteriority between the persons of Trinity or rapports of subordination of the divine persons between Them.

He who sees Christ in ectasy sees at the same time wiht He and on the Holy Ghost and Both of Them bring him to the Father, the ecstasy being not something else than the lift and our inclusion in the frame of  the eternal communion of Holy Trinity.

In Christology Saint Symeon accentuates the idea, that the presence of the Christ is a central point in the mystic experience but and the inner connection  between the Son and the Holy Ghost in the spiritual experience.

For to know on the Christ, says to us Symeon, we must live the birth, the death, the ressurection and His rising to sky in real mode through the sight of His splendor, the thing which escapes us from a pietist view and of the exterior imitation of His life.

Christ is evident for us on the measure of our spiritual growth and through the sight of His splendor He reveles us and teaches us aboute Him. The christological realism of the symeonian theology consists in that we see in real mode, in the divinely sight, on Christ, on the Pantocrator of the whole creation and not into an idealistic mode, id est any from the area of the perpetual desideratum.

Our real relation with Christ doesen’t make Him captive of our subjectivity, but contrary He gets rid of us loneliness and nonaffection, because He enters and us, through the Holy Ghost, in intimately of His life.

In Pneumatology Symeon puts to the foundation of the ortodox life the conscious feeling of the divinely gift and he considers the sight of God as a sight, through the Holy Ghost, of the Trinity splendor.

From his ecstatic descriptions and of his apprentice we notice that the ecstasy is at Symeon a descend of  the divine light in our being, because to ascend us to God and to open us to the contiguous relation with the trinitarian God.

In absence of this initiative from the part of God, that is the supernal ecstasy, we can not have the exact cognition and experience of the uncreated light of God. Through the Holy Ghost we see something from the glory of glory of God, as says Symeon, on our personal measure and the ecstasy is for him the conscious beginning of  the personal process of  deification.

In Soteriology our Father makes a depiction of the personal salvation under the form of these three classic stairs of our salvation and sanctification: the purification, the unsufferance and the deification. The origination on the way of the personal deification is the first ecstasy.

The Purification or the cleaning of intemperances means in the same time the fulfilment of all divine commandaments and acquirement of the holy virtues. Saint Symeon talks about a unsufferance of the soul and another of the body, the unsufferance of the soul being insured through the sight of the Trinity’s glory.

Our deification is for Symeon the state in which we see the glory of God in the continuum mode living not merely in our soul but also in whole the body, through the Holy Ghost each of our limbs becoming the holy limbs of Christ. From this cause Symeon speaks in maximal mode about salvation and he puts the equal sign between salvation and holiness.

In Sacramentology Saint Symeon reportes to the Holy Sacraments of the Church as to the sacramental channels, established of the Christ, through which flows in us the life of the Trinity.

The Baptism is seen by Symeon as the sacramental gate wherewith we enter into the Church and which stays at the base of the subsequent supernal sight. Holy Eucharist is the real impartation of the humanity and of the divinity of Christ, Symeon showing in the extensive mode that this amalgamate with Christ from the Eucharist must be lived in plenary mode by us and that it has overwhelming consequences in the divine-human process of our personal deification.

The Confession restores our connection with Christ, teared by the sin and it makes as feel the forgiveness of our sins. The Priesthood and the Matrimony are seen as the sacramental uninons with Christ, the Church and the family being averages in which God works in the secret mode.

In Ecclesiology, Saint Symeon presents the Church from a perspective of the life of the Saints who compose the mystical Body of Christ. He approaches the ecclesiological matter from an echatologic point of view, because he sees the Church as growing, untill the number of all Saints, antecedently known by God, will be fullfiled and God will reveal the Church to everyone in eternity.

The Saint are shaped here, as part of the Church and they shall inherit the Kingdom of God, that will be the Church of all His Saints. From symeonian perspective, if each believer of the Church would be truly connected to the life of Saint Trinity and if he would wish to be deificated, then the danger of secularization would not exist, nor that of the relativization of spiritual life.

In Eshatology, Saint Symeon describes as simultaneous both the coming of our Lord and the transfiguration of whole creation through the glory that is refulgent from His Body and that after the final Judgment the chorus of all Sains will be united with the one of the celestial Powers, chanting and seeing forever the Trinity’s glory.

The sight of God is presented in this frame as an experience of the advent of Christ to us and as a preparation for the existential mode that we shall have, as transfigurated beings, in His Kingdom. The eternal life shall relieve in pregnant mode the importance that has the sight of God in the believers life, because the eternal blessed life means the contiguous sight of  the unspeakable glory of Most Holy Trinity.

Synthesizing the problems of the simeonian theology, of the third pre-eminetly Theologian of the Church, beside St. John The Gospeller and St. Gregory of Nazianz, we can say that it is, in integrality, scriptural and patristic, Symeon accentuating the presence of God in creation through His uncreated energies and the divine-human trajectory of man’s deification and of the transfiguration of the whole creation, that have a rational and spiritual foundation.

The theology of St. Symeon is builded in a fundamental mode on the central presence of Christ in the spiritual life, that is seen in the frame of the internal connection between Christ and the Holy Ghost and it has as central object the discussion about the sight of God based on of the personal experience.

Considering the theology as the foundation of the orthodox spirituality and the spiritualiy as the experience of the theology, St Symeon talked about the sight of God as conscious relation and communion with the Trinity.

Only that Symeon expressed his mystic experiences in paradoxically terms, the sight of the Trinity’s light being confessed, concomitantly, as a condescension of the divinely and uncrated light to us in order to ascend us into the eternal communion with the Most Holy Trinity.

He many times reiterated the reality of the divinely sight in his books and he specified the fact, that the ecstasy is not a closure of the man in his subjectivity nor an escape from himself into an impersonal reality but an accesion of us, through the uncreated light, to the communion with trinitarian God.

Accentuating the voluntary opening of the believer towards God, through our purification of intemperances and through a fervent life in Church, lived in the rhythm of the Saint Liturgy and of obedience to a spiritual Father, St. Symeon was for his century an authentic apologist against the murderous tendenciens of secularization in the life of Church and society.

Accentuating the importance of the eclesial and spiritual experience in our life Sf. Symeon protected the relation of love and of deep communion of the believers with the trinitarian God and concomitantly with that also the real relation between us, fill of love and fellowship, as real membres of the mystical Body of Christ.

But his entirely apologetic work for the purification of intemperances and fot the sight of God has the escatological orientation, because, equally, man and whole creation shall be transfigurated through the glory that shall irradiate from the person of Christ, when He shall return to judge the world with justice.

Symeon doesn’t see a separation between history and eternity, not an antagonism between the body and the soul of man, he doesn’t considers the matter as being opaque for the grace but transparent and destined to transfiguration, his theology being a maximalist theology and full of optimism and escatological dynamism.

Therefore we believe that the importance of the simeonian theology for the contemporary world is considerable because he puts to the foundation of the orthodox life the spiritual experience and the real communion with the trinitarian God through His grace, that escapes us of  the secularization and of the moral relativism, of the dualism between sensible and intelligible, of the incarceration in our subjectivity and of pantheism.

Because we cann’t stick up from the closed circle of own intemperances and we cann’t rediscovere  the real rationality only through the person of Christ, the Creator and Saviour Logos of whole creation.

The third chapter of our work, that has the title: The reception of the Glory Theology in the Orthodox Space ant the Importance of Her Assumption in the Postmodern World has three subtopics.

The first two presentes [1] the theology of the sight of God to father professor Dumitru Stăniloae and respective [2]  the reception of the mystical theology by the Russian professor and theologian Vladimir Lossky.

The third subtopic discusses, bassed on of the theological synthesis of to the father professor Dumitru Popescu, about the postmodern side-slips and about ideologies that undervalues man and decrees the absence of God from creation.

Father professor Dumitru Stăniloae reactualised like nobody else in the orthodox space a theology of glory and mystical sight on biblical and patristic channel, using the traditional ecstatic terminology.

He considered Saint Symeon as the third Theologian of the Church and as the one who saved the ortodox life, for his century, from secularization and theological relativism. His ecstatic theology is entirely personalist and communional  because all our efforts to purificate and to imbue ourselfs with the glory of God have the aim to eternaly advence in the relation of love and the knowledge of the glory of Most Holy Trinity.

His holiness spoked mostly about the central role of Christ in our spiritual life and about the inner relation between Christ and Holy Ghost in the frame of the oeconomy of salvation and spiritual life. The sight of Christ’s glory begining from this life means our fill of refluent light from Christ’s person and that shall transfigurate the whole creation to His coming intro glory.

Professor and Theologian Vladimir Lossky also tried a reactualization of mystical theology in the life of the Church during his exile in the West. He spokes in a trenchant mode about the fact that the teology can only be mystical and personalist, that it means direct experience and that the ecstatic sight is a meeting with the Living God, Who revelead Himself to us and Who is preached in the Orthodox Church.

He constantly accentuated that God descended to us through His uncreated energies in order to deificate us and to ascend us to Him. But they are some errors about orthodox understanding of ecstatic experience in his theology, because he sees the ecstasy as a union with God that doesn’t produce in the same time knowledge and he doesn’t emphasize in accentuated mode the inner relation between Christ and Holy Ghost.

Father Professor Dumitru Popescu sees the essence of secularization in the desire of excessive autonomy of the actual society beside the natural resources and the environment, based on the ancient dualism among spirit and matter.

Because the transcendence of God was preached in the western heterodox theology as an absence of Him from creation, the matter as an element opposed to the grace and the grace as being antagonistic or against the free choice of man, therefore, His holiness concludes that we assist to man’s accentuated depersonalization in postmodernity and to his proudly singularization.

Based on these considerations of Father Professor Dumitru Popescu and on the knowledges diseminated in symeonian theology, we concluded that salvation of man from the clutches of secularization and nihilism is not possible without his integration in the divine-human project of deification, that was always preached in the Ortodox Church and was exemplary exposed by Saint Symeon the New Theologian.

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