St. Cyril on Dyoenergism and Dyotheletism

agonia-ist2010St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444

For things that have the same nature as one another will operate in the same way, while with things whose qualities have a different account the account of their operation in all respects would not be the same. (Commentary on the Holy Gospel According to John II.6, ed. Pusey, I, p. 318, 5-8)

Let the inquisitive again reflect that the Savior, in saying that His works bore clear witness that He was God by nature, taught plainly that it would not be among things possible for the operation and power fitting to God to exist in anything indistinguishably unless it too were God by nature. (ibid. III.1, ed. Pusey, I, p. 373, 10-15)

For it is, I think, clear and acknowledged by everyone that the properties of the Godhead are completely inaccessible to the created nature, and its natural attributes could never occur in any other existing thing in an equal and indistinguishable mode. (ibid. III.5, ed. Pusey, I, p. 448, 15-19)

‘If death can die without My dying’ (this clearly refers to the flesh) ‘let the cup depart’ (He says), ‘but’ (since it could not happen otherwise) ‘not as I will but as You will.’ You perceive how powerless again is human nature even in Christ, as it is found in itself; but is raised up to a courage proper to God the Word united to it. (ibid. IV.1, ed. Pusey, I, p. 487, 13-19)

If He perfected us through water and the Spirit, surely the same operated both divinely and humanly at the same time, being, in a single Being, both God and man together. (Commentary on Hebrews, lost fragment)

Things possessing the same operation and exercising the same natural powers must of necessity have wholly the same essence as well, for none of the things that exist will possess indistinguishably the same powers and operations as what is different in nature and different in essence. (Thesaurus, 8. PG 75. 105AB)

Things with the same operation are acknowledged to be of the same essence as well. (Thesaurus 10, PG 105. 137AB)

No sensible person would concede that things different in kind and nature possess the same operation. For fire could not have one and the same operation as water; but just as they possess a distinct definition of essence and qualities, so they will exhibit a different operation as well. (Thesaurus 14, PG 75. 241B)

When the Savior is shown dreading death and saying, ‘If it is possible, let this cup pass from me,’ (Mt. 26:39) reflect again that, when it was in dread of death, the flesh that was borne by God the Word was taught to suffer this no longer. He said to the Father, Not as I will, but as You will.’ (Mt. 26:39) For He did not fear death as Word and God, but was eager to perform the dispensation to the end, for such was the will of the Father. He had as well a volition not to die, because the flesh of its nature deprecated death. Therefore, teaching the manhood to think these thoughts no longer but to seek the will of God, He says as Man, ‘Not as I will but You will’. (Thesaurus 24, PG 75. 397A)

St Cyril

The Savior abolished death by His own death. For just as death would not have been abolished had He not died, so is it with each of the emotions of the flesh. For if He had not felt dread, nature would not be free of dread; if He had not felt distress, there would never have been an end to distress; if He had not been troubled and terrified, it would have never escaped from these things. Applying the same reasoning to each of the human experiences, you will find that the emotions of the flesh were excited in Christ not so that they might prevail as in us, but so that, once excited, they might be abolished by the power of the Word Who dwelt in the flesh, with nature being changed for the better. (Thesaurus 24, PG 75. 397C)

The Word of God became man not in order to perform and utter everything as God before the Incarnation, but so that often through the neediness of the dispensation with the flesh He might say certain things as man. Therefore, since the Mystery had this power, would it not be absurd for the hearers to take offense at His speaking, at times, in a more human way? Foe He speaks as man, and also speaks as God, having power to do both. (Thesaurus 24, PG 75. 400AB)

For how could One Who in works is equal to the Father be inferior as regards His nature? And how could One invested with the same operation and power as He is be different from Him in nature? (Thesaurus 32, PG 75. 453BC)

On the Essence-Energy Dogma

Fr. Georges Florovsky 1893-1979

[T]he distinction between “grace” and “essence”: he theia kai theopoios ellampsis kai charis ouk ousiaall’ energeia esti Theou [the Divine and Divinizing illumination and grace is not the essence, but the energy of God; St. Gregory Palamas Capita Phys., Theol., etc., 68-9]. This basic distinction was formally accepted and elaborated at the Great Councils in Constantinople, 1341 and 1351. Those who would deny this distinction were anathematized and excommunicated. The anathematisms of the council of 1351 were included in the Rite for the Sunday of Orthodoxy in the Triodion. Orthodox theologians are bound by this decision. (St. Gregory Palamas and the Tradition of the Fathers)

On Holy Writ

Pope St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604

[T]here are two Testaments of Holy Writ, both of which God wished to be written in order to set us free from the death of the soul. Or indeed because there are two precepts of charity, namely love of God and love of our neighbor, whereby the sayings of Holy Writ quicken us… For we are restored to life through the precepts of Holy Writ, we who lay dead in our guilt. Thus it is rightly said through the Psalmist to Almighty God: “Thy justifications I will never forget: for by them Thou hast given me life” (Ps. 118:93). The precepts of the Lord are called justifications by which He justifies us by correcting us. Of these the Psalmist speaks more plainly: “I will think of Thy justifications: I will not forget Thy words” (Ps. 118:16). Then He quickens us therein because He thereby shows us the spiritual life, and by the afflation of the Spirit instills it into our minds. Because this happens daily in the midst of the elect through the gift of grace…

This Holy Writ has become the light of our journey for us in the darkness of this present life. Hence Peter too says: “Whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place” (2 Pet. 1:19). Hence the Psalmist too says: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 118:105). Yet we know that our very lantern is dim for us unless Truth light it for our minds. So the Psalmist says a second time: “For Thou lights my lamp, O Lord: O my God, enlighten my darkness” (Ps. 17:29). For who is a burning lantern unless the light is there? But created light does not shine for us unless it is illumined by the Uncreated Light. (Homilies on Ezekiel, Homily 7.16-17)

On the Benefits of the Holy Spirit

St. Basil the Great ca. 330-379

Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the Kingdom of Heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to callGod our  Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all fullness of blessing, (Rom. 15:29) both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. If such is the earnest, what the perfection? If such the first fruits, what the complete fulfillment? (On the Holy Spirit, 15.36)

St. Maximus on the Fire of God

St. Maximus the Confessor ca. 580-662

From the same (St. Gregory the Theologian), “I know a fire that is not purifying but avenging i.e., the fire of Sodom, which He pours down on all sinners mixed with brimstone and storms; or that which is prepared for the devil and his angels; or that which come forth from the face of the Lord and shall burn up His enemies round about; or more feared than these, that which is fused to one mass sleepless worms, unable to be quenched but existing perpetually for the wicked. (St. Gregory Nazianzus, Oration 40)

“The fire of Sodom” is poured down upon those who trample on the law of nature by abusing it. And this is the reproof of the conscience, whenever, like fire, it completely burns it. And brimstone is the different circumstances, and storms are the sudden circumstances, which when mixed together injure in a more violent way. And they burn the conscience in imitation of the “devil and his angels” who through pride enviously slander the providence of God and employ treachery towards their neighbor. And the fire “which proceeds before the face of the Lord” burning “His enemies” is the energies of God. For they characterize the face of God, that is, His goodness, love of humankind, meekness, and things similar to these. These energies enlighten those who are like them and burn up those who oppose and have been alienated from the likeness. And the passage did not say these, the forms of fire, are eternal, since according to Gregory of Nyssa nature must recover its own powers and be restored by full knowledge to what was from the beginning, so that the Creator may be proven not to be the cause of sin. And he called the “more feared” fire, that “which is fused eternally into one mass with worms, not able to be quenched but existing perpetually for wicked”. For this reason, when the divinity appears and is offered to the worthy for their enjoyment, they who do not, through good works, illumine themselves, like a little worm which always uproots one’s memory, are devoured, evaluated by their failure and endless deprivation of the good, and are continually put to test by a more violent fire. (St. Maximus the Confessor’s Questions and Doubts pp. 95-96. Question 99)

Since in the [the text of] St. Diadochus, in the 100th chapter, it has been written, “Some will be judged through fires and purified in the future age,” I ask [that] the father’s aim be revealed to me by clarification.

They who have acquired the perfection of love for God and have elevated the wing of the soul through the virtues, according to Apostle “are caught up in the clouds” and do not come into judgment. And they who did not completely acquire perfection but have acquired both sin and good works, come into the court of judgment; there, they are scorched as by a fire by the comparison of their good and evil deeds, and if, in fact, the scale of their good deeds weighs downwards, they are cleansed of punishment. (St. Maximus the Confessor’s Questions and Doubts pg. 143. Various Questions and Selections from Various Passages that are Perplexing, Question I, 10)

On Deification by Grace

St. Gregory Palamas ca. 1296-1359

Whoever asserts that the perfect union with God is accomplished without the deifying grace of the Spirit, but is only a relative thing and accomplished by imitation, in a way similar to people who are fond of each other and grow alike in their ways; and, moreover, who says that the deifying grace of God is a condition inherent in our rational nature which becomes active merely by virtue of this moral imitation, but that it is not a supernatural and inexpressible illumination and divine activity which is seen invisibly by those made worthy of it and comprehended incomprehensibly: this person should know that he has tumbled unaware into the error of the Messalians. For, if deification be a potential inherent in nature and so included within the definition of nature, then he who is deified must necessarily be himself God by nature. Such a person should not attempt to smear those who stand fast with his own rebellion and try to blame the faith of the blameless. Instead, putting aside his own opinion, let him learn from those who are experienced or who have been taught by those with experience that the grace or divinity is not related to anything else whatever, nor does there exist any potential in nature capable of receiving it, since it would otherwise not be grace but merely the manifestation of an activity proper to our being. Deification would not be miraculous if it should occur as the result of some potential for its reception, for in that case it would clearly be a work of our nature instead of God’s gift, and the person deified would then in fact be able to become God by nature and acquire the title of “Lord”! For the natural potential of everything that exists is comprised of nothing other than the unswerving impetus of nature toward its proper activity. How in that case could deification be said to take the one deified outside of himself? If it were still take place within the bounds of nature, then this [traditional] expression would be meaningless. The grace of deification is therefore beyond nature, beyond virtue and knowledge, and, according to Saint Maximus, all these things fall infinitely short of it. While every virtue, including that imitation of God that is within our power, prepares a capacity in the recipient for divine union, it is still grace that accomplishes the unutterable union itself. It is by means of grace that all of God co-indwells with all those who are worthy, and that the whole of the saints co-inheres wholly with the whole of God. Thus they receive into themselves God entire and, as a kind of reward for their struggles in ascending to Him, they possess Him, Himself alone, Who has made them worthy of becoming His members, and He indwells them as a soul is entwined with its own body. (Tomos of Mount Athos in Defense of the Hesychasts)  

On God Being All in All

St. Neilos the Wise died ca. 430

In order that God might be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28; Eph. 1:23), He is Light to those who are worthy of light, but a chastising Fire to those who deserve eternal chastisement. (Epistle 1.47 To Dositheos)

On the Wrathful Love of God

Archbishop Theophan of Poltava 1874-1940

In essence the wrath of God is one of the manifestations of the love of God, but of the love of God in its relation to the moral evil in the heart of rational creatures in general, and in the heart of man in particular. (On the Redemption)

St. Basil on Essence and Energy

St. Basil the Great ca. 330-379

Do you worship what you know or what you do not know? If I answer, I worship what I know, they immediately reply, What is the essence of the object of worship? Then, if I confess that I am ignorant of the essence, they turn on me again and say, So you worship you know not what. I answer that the word to know has many meanings. We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment; but not His very essence. The question is, therefore, only put for the sake of dispute. For he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated. But God, he says, is simple, and whatever attribute of Him you have reckoned as knowable is of His essence. But the absurdities involved in this sophism are innumerable. When all these high attributes have been enumerated, are they all names of one essence? And is there the same mutual force in His awfulness and His loving-kindness, His justice and His creative power, His providence and His foreknowledge, and His bestowal of rewards and punishments, His majesty and His providence? In mentioning any one of these do we declare His essence? If they say, yes, let them not ask if we know the essence of God, but let them enquire of us whether we know God to be awful, or just, or merciful. These we confess that we know. If they say that essence is something distinct, let them not put us in the wrong on the score of simplicity. For they confess themselves that there is a distinction between the essence and each one of the attributes enumerated. The operations are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our  God from His operations, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His operations come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach. (Letter 234.1)

On Discerning Energies

St. Mark the Ascetic ca. 5th cent.

There is an energy of Grace that is unknown to the neophyte (in the spiritual life); and there is another energy of evil that resembles truth. It is good for us not to reflect on these energies, since they may lead us into delusion; nor, again, should we dismiss them, because our ignorance of the truth; but we should lay everything before God in hope, for He knows what is of value in both of them. (The Evergetinos: A Complete Text. Vol. IV of the First Book, Hypothesis XLI, D.)

Concerning Energy

St. John Damascene ca. 676-749

All the faculties we have already discussed, both those of knowledge and those of life, both the natural and the artificial, are, it is to be noted, called energies. For energy is the natural force and activity of each essence: or again, natural energy is the activity innate in every essence: and so, clearly, things that have the same essence have also the same energy, and things that have different natures have also different energies. For no essence can be devoid of natural energy.

Natural energy again is the force in each essence by which its nature is made manifest. And again: natural energy is the primal, eternally-moving force of the intelligent soul: that is, the eternally-moving word of the soul, which ever springs naturally from it. And yet again: natural energy is the force and activity of each essence which only that which is not lacks.

But actions are also called energies: for instance, speaking, eating, drinking, and such like. The natural affections also are often called energies, for instance, hunger, thirst, and so forth. And yet again, the result of the force is also often called energy.

Things are spoken of in a twofold way as being potential and actual. For we say that the child at the breast is a potential scholar, for he is so equipped that, if taught, he will become a scholar. Further, we speak of a potential and an actual scholar, meaning that the latter is versed in letters, while the former has the power of interpreting letters, but does not put it into actual use: again, when we speak of an actual scholar, we mean that he puts his power into actual use, that is to say, that he really interprets writings.

It is, therefore, to be observed that in the second sense potentiality and actuality go together; for the scholar is in the one case potential, and in the other actual.

The primal and only true energy of nature is the voluntary or rational and independent life which constitutes our humanity. I know not how those who rob the Lord of this can say that He became man.

Energy is drastic activity of nature: and by drastic is meant that which is moved of itself. (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Bk. 2.23)

On Divine Energies

St. Gregory Palamas ca. 1296-1359

Adam, before the fall, also participated in this divine illumination and resplendence, and because he was truly clothed in a garment of glory he was not naked, nor was he unseemly by reason of his nakedness. He was far more richly adorned than those who now deck themselves out with diadems of gold and brightly sparkling jewels. St. Paul calls this divine illumination and grace our celestial dwelling when he says, ‘For this we sigh, yearning to be clothed in our heavenly habitation, since thus clothed we will not be found naked’ (2 Cor. (5:2). And St. Paul himself received from God the pledge of this divine illumination and of our investiture in it on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:3). As St Gregory of Nazianzos, surnamed the Theologian, has written, ‘Before he was cleansed of his persecutions Paul spoke with Him whom he was persecuting or, rather, with a brief irradiation of the great Light.’

The divine supraessentiality is never named in the plural. But the divine and uncreated grace and energy of God is indivisibly divided, like the sun’s rays that warm, illumine, quicken and bring increase as they cast their radiance upon what they enlighten, and shine on the eyes of whoever beholds them. In the manner, then, of this faint likeness, the divine energy of God is called not only one but also multiple by the theologians. Thus St Basil the Great declares: ‘What are the energies of the Spirit? Their greatness cannot be told and they are numberless. How can we comprehend what precedes the ages? What were God’s energies before the creation of noetic reality?’ For prior to the creation of noetic reality and beyond the ages – for the ages are also noetic creations – no one has ever spoken or conceived of anything created. Therefore the powers and energies of the divine Spirit – even though they are said in theology to be multiple are uncreated and are to be indivisibly distinguished from the single and wholly undivided essence of the Spirit.

The theologians affirm that the uncreated energy of God is indivisibly divided and multiple, as St. Basil the Great has explained above. And since the divine and deifying illumination and grace is not the essence but the energy of God, for this reason it comes forth from God not only in the singular but in multiplicity as well. It is bestowed proportionately on those who participate in it, and corresponding to the capacity of those who receive it the deifying resplendence enters them to a greater or lesser degree.

Isaiah has said that these energies are seven in number, and for the Jews the number seven signifies a multiplicity. ‘There shall come forth’, he says, ‘a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall come from it; and seven spirits shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, reverence, counsel, strength and fear’ (cf. Isa. 11:1-2). Those who hold the views of Barlaam and Akindynos dementedly maintain that these seven spirits are created; but this error we have refuted exhaustively in our Refutation of Akindynos. Moreover, referring to these energies of the Spirit, St. Gregory of Nazianzos says, ‘Isaiah likes to call the energies of the Spirit spirits.’ And Isaiah himself, the clarion voice of the prophets, not only distinguished them plainly from the divine essence by their number, but also indicated the uncreated nature of these divine energies by the words ‘rest upon Him’. For to ‘rest upon’ is the privilege of a superior dignity. How, then, could those spirits that rest upon the humanity the Lord assumed from us have a created character?

Our Lord Jesus Christ cast out demons ‘with the finger of God’, according to Luke (11:20); but Matthew says ‘by the Spirit of God’ (12:28). St. Basil explains that the finger of God is one of the Spirit’s energies. If one of these energies is the Holy Spirit, most certainly the others are as well, as St. Basil also teaches us. Yet there are not for this reason many gods or many Spirits. These energies are processions, manifestations and natural operations of the one Spirit and in each case the operative agent is one. Yet the heterodox make the Spirit of God a created being seven times over when they assert that these energies are created. But let them be humiliated sevenfold, for the Prophet Zechariah calls these energies ‘the seven eyes of the Lord that look upon all the earth’ (4:10). And St. John writes in Revelation, ‘Grace be with you, and peace from God and from the seven spirits that are before His throne, and from Christ’ (cf. Rev. 1:4-5), thus making it clear to the faithful that these are the Holy Spirit. (Topics of Natural and Theological Science and on the Moral and Ascetic Life: One hundred and Fifty Texts 67-71)

St. Cyril on the Essence of God

St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444

We see many names predicated of God, but none of them seems to indicate what God is according to essence. Rather, they either show what He is not, or they indicate some condition distinct from another. For example, incorruptible and immortal indicate what He is not; but Father or unbegotten, that He is the begetter, which distinguishes Him from the Son, and that He is not produced; but neither of these is indicative of essence, as I said before, but indicates something of what surrounds the essence. (Treasury of the Holy Trinity: Thesis 31)

On the Orthodox Definition of Justification and Grace

St. Macarius the Great ca. 4th cent.

This is the foundation of the road to God, in much patience, in hope, in humility, in poverty of spirit, in gentleness to travel along the road of life. By such means one can possess justification for himself. We mean by justification the Lord Himself. These commandments, which so enjoin us, are like milestones and signposts along the royal highway that leads a journeyer to the heavenly city. For it says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are the meek; blessed are the merciful; blessed are the peacemaker” (Mt. 5:3). Call this Christianity. If anyone does not pass along this road, he has wandered off along a roadless way. He used a bad foundation. Glory to the mercies of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen. (The Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Homily 27.23)

St. Gregory Palamas ca. 1296-1359

So the Fathers tell us that the divine grace of the suprasensible light is God. But God in His nature does not simply identify Himself with this grace, because He is able not only to illumine and deify the mind, but also to bring forth from nonbeing every intellectual essence. (The Triads, B.23)

On Uncreated Thrones and Crowns

St. Macarius the Great ca. 4th cent.

Question: Some people claim that the thrones and crowns are creatures and not of the Spirit. How are we to understand these?
Answer: The throne of the Godhead is our mind and again the throne of our mind is the Godhead and the Spirit…The crowns which Christians will receive in the age to come are not creatures. Those who say this are speaking nonsense. The Spirit uses these in a transfigured sense. What does the Apostle Paul say of the heavenly Jerusalem? “This is the mother of us all whom we all together confess” (Gal. 4:26). In regard to the garment which Christians wear it is evident that the Spirit clothes them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen. (The Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Homily 6.5,7)