Greek patristic anthropology is theocentric. That means that the study of man begins in God. “At his creation, man was endowed with some “divine characteristics” in that he is God’s “image and likeness”. According to St. Maximus the Confessor, these characteristics are “being” and “eternity” (which God possesses by nature, but gives also to man), and earlier, St. Irenaeus of Lyons identified the “spirit” naturally belonging to man with the Holy Spirit. Consequently, man is not fully man unless he is in communion with God: He is “open upwards” and destined to share God’s fellowship” (Meyendorff). Man’s participation in God does not occur in the future, not in the “sweet by and by”, but now, here, in this life.
Meyendorff continues: “So, communion with God in Christ is real and immediate. It is not pantheistic absorption into the Divine however: Man, being “in God”, or rather “in Christ”, preserves his full humanity, his freedom,…and he participates in a process that knows no end, because God, in his transcendent essence, is always “above” any given experience of Him.”
Now, Meyendorff describes the crucial aspect of Gods Energies: “But man’s communion is not with “created grace” only [as Barlaam contended], but with God Himself. This is the meaning of the doctrine of the “uncreated energies”, which … is rooted in the Christological doctrine of “hypostatic union” as it was formulated in the East after Chalcedon particularly by St. Maximus the Confessor.”
God’s energies are uncreated manifestations of God himself. We can participate in God’s homogenous energies directly as divine grace. God’s heterogenous energies are also revealed to us through the character of his creation. Theologian Christos Yannaras explains;
“Accordingly, God’s homogenous energy (to use St. Maximus’ distinction) is revealed in the Church’s experience of divine grace, which is uncreated (heterogenous to creatures and homogenous to God) and through which God is wholly participated in and participated singularly by all, remaining simple and indivisible, offering to the communicant that which He (God) possesses by nature except essential identity and elevating man to the rank of communicant of the divine nature according to the word of Scripture ( II Peter 1:4). On the other hand, the revelation of God’s energy in essences heterogenous to God is seen in the character of beings as creatures, created by divine energies.”
To be continued…