Essence and Energies of God – 6

Thaboric Light

Thaboric Light

The same Christological framework makes it inevitable to distinguish between the transcendent essence, or nature of God, and His energies.  Indeed, in Christ His two natures – so precisely defined at Chalcedon as both “inseparable” and “unconfused” – remain distinct.  Therefore deification of communion between divinity and humanity does not imply a confusion of essences or natures.  It remains nevertheless real communion between the Uncreated and His creature, and real deification – not by essence, but by energy.  The humanity of Christ, “enhypostasized” by the Logos, is penetrated with divine energy, and Christ’s body becomes the source of divine light and deification.  It is “theurgic”, that is, it communicates divine life to those who are “in Christ” and participate in the uncreated energies active in it.” (Meyendorff)

Theologian Christos Yannaras uses an analogy from Maximus the Confessor to further explain the distinction between essence and energies:

St. Maximus the Confessor uses as an image and an example of such communion the human voice, which being one is participated in by many, and is not swallowed up by the multitude. If by taking this example we can arbitrarily consider human reason as essence, then we can say that the voice represents the energy of the essence of reason, the possibility for us to participate in the essence of reason as the voice reveals and communicates it, to participate, all of us who hear the same voice, in the same essence of the one reason — without this communion becoming our identification with the essence of reason, and without the fragmentation of the essence in as many parts as there are participants in the reason through the voice. Reason, expressed personally, remains unified and indivisible, while at the same time, it is singularly participated by all.”  ~ From “The Distinction Between Essence and Energies and its Importance for Theology”

To be continued…

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