The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [96]

Here, parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95.


3. The Receptation of the Theology of Glory in the Orthodox Space and the Importance of its Assuming in the Postmodern World

 3. 1. The Sight of God in the Theology of Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae

As to understand the contribution of Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae at the theology of glory of God we must leave from „the ontological aspect and personalist of grace”[1] in his theololgy, to the deep creases of his theological epistemology, which „is both holistic and relational. It includes both the logical dimension of reason implicit to the cataphatism, but and the existential dimension (experiential or participative) inherent to the apophatism”[2].

In the following we will concentrate the attention only toward the last step of mystical apophatism and namely toward the sight of divine light, although in his theology blends harmonious the cataphatism and the apophatism and only uniting them on these two, we can speak of an articulated theology of glory.

In OSAM II, 5, Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae, highlighting the steps of the apophatism speaks about the divine darkness described by Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, as about „a too great abundance of light”[3].

Meditating at a text of Saint Gregory Palamas, Father Stăniloae finds, that „the sight of the divine light is not a negative theology”[4] and that „of the sight of this light is vouchsafed only those like Moses, on when of the negative theology, any worshiper of God”[5].

We have here a prime distinction between the theology of glory and the negative theology.

The theology of glory presupposes the experience of the light and its articulation in cataphatic concepts, anthropomorphic or perceived as such, on when the rational negative theology is a conceptualization of the ecstatic confessions or a commentary at the ecstatic descriptions of the Saints.

If in the frame of the theology of glory the source texts are created by those who have experienced them and are commented by those who are congenial with these, in the frame of negative theology do not exist the source texts created by its promoters, but the theologians from this branch make conjectures on the margin of the source texts created by Saints or by the theologians, which share, in reverent mode, the details of ecstatic theology and they are positioned critical or indifferent across from them.

The negative theology, says our author, is not sight[6], but „an anticipative icon of the sight of divine light”[7]. Only when the mind is „ravished by God, passes beyond, at the sight of light”[8].

He who sees the light does not enter into an experiential vacuum[9], but he sees the uncreated light of God, having the conscience „that it cannot be contained in concepts and expressed in words”[10], this in the first row and, in the second row, that the light comes from the being of God, „which remains with all inaccessible [to us], and that itself the accessible light remains an infinite reserve [of experienced]”[11].

The light produces in us an „apophatic knowledge”[12] – for that the Holy Ghost „is the head of the trinitarian work turned towards the world”[13] – however, in the same time, „the divine light, seen in unintelligible face, remains and for hesychasm a mystery, which do not exclude, but implies the apophatism, without to let it only on this in vigor.

What distinguishes this apophatism of sight beyond sight of the light is the fact, that this apophatism is not a vacuum, but an overwhelming divine presence; and is not an intellectual negation and a feeling on darkness of the presence of God, but an overwhelming experience of this presence”[14].

[1] Emil Bartoş, The Concept of Deification in the Theology of Dumitru Stăniloae [Conceptul de îndumnezeire în teologia lui Dumitru Stăniloae], doctoral thesis, Pub. The Christian Book, Oradea, 2002, p. 414.

[2] Silviu Eugen Rogobete, An Ontology of Love. Subject and Supreme Personal Reality in the Theological Thought of Father Dumitru Stăniloae [O ontologie a iubirii. Subiect şi Realitate Personală supremă în gândirea teologică a părintelui Dumitru Stăniloae], doctoral thesis, trans. by Anca Dumitraşcu and Adrian Guiu, coll. Plural Religion, Pub. Polirom, Iaşi, 2001, p. 86.

[3] OSAM [The Orthodox Spirituality. Ascetica and Mystica] [Spiritualitatea ortodoxă. Ascetica şi Mistica], ed. 1992, p. 196.

[4] Idem, p. 197.

[5] Idem, p. 199.

[6] Ibidem.

[7] Ibidem.

[8] Idem, p. 201.

[9] Ibidem.

[10] Ibidem.

[11] Ibidem.

[12] Ibidem.

[13] Rev. Prof. Acad. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, Jesus Christ Pantocrator [Iisus Hristos Pantocrator], op. cit., p. 137.

[14] OSAM, ed. 1992, p 201.

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