Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quote from The Orthodox Church by Kallistos Ware

"From this Gregory turned to the main problem: how to combine the two affirmations, that we humans know God and that God is by nature unknowable. Gregory answered: we know the energies of God, but not His essence. This distinction between God's essence (ousia) and His energies goes back to the Cappodacian Fathers. 'We know our God from His energies,' wrote St. Basil, 'but we do not claim that we can draw near to His essence. For His energies come down to us, but His essence remains unapproachable.' Gregory accepted this distinction. He affirmed, as emphatically as any exponent of negative theology, that God is in essence absolutely unknowable. 'God is not a nature,' he wrote, 'for He is above all nature; He is not a being, for He is above all beings...No single thing of all that is created has or ever will have even the slightest communion with the supreme nature or nearness to it.' But however remote from us in His essence, yet in His energies God has revealed Himself to us. These energies are not something that exists apart from God, not a gift which God confers upon humans; they are God Himself in His action and revelation to the world. God exists complete and entire in each of His divine energies. The World, as Gerard Manley Hopkins said, is charged with the grandeur of God; all creation is a gigantic Burning Bush, permeated but not consumed by the ineffable and wondrous fire of God's energies.

"It is through these energies that God enters into a direct and immediate relationship with humankind. In relation to us humans, the divine energy is in fact nothing else than the grace of God; grace is not just a 'gift' of God, not just an object which God bestows on humans, but a direct manifestation of the living God Himself, a personal encounter between creature and Creator. 'Grace signifies all the abundance of the divine nature, in so far as it is communicated to men.' When we say that the saints have been transformed or 'deified' by the grace of God, what we mean is that they have a direct experience of God Himself. They know God - that is to say, God in His energies, not in His essence." - Kallistos Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, p. 67-68


  1. Nice quote!

    Amber, you are a snood winner. Get on over to my e-mail and send me your snail mail so that I can send you a snood.

    alanasheldahl @ gmail . com

  2. Alana,

    I'm *really* loving this book. It's taking me forever to read it though, because I keep going back to go back over things I already read. And I haven't even made it out of the 'history' section!

    And that quote, I read it at like, 10:00 last night, and I put the book down, then picked it up to reread, and then I had to tell somebody about it, so I posted, and then I had to expand the quote to get enough of it, and then well, I stopped before I just wrote the whole thing. Excellent. My particular favorite, as can been seen by the bolding, is the 'Burning Bush' line.

    Also, Yay! I checked my email and saw the announcement. I have emailed you the particulars, and thank you!

  3. I am feeling propelled to also read this and am wondering if Amazon offers it. Oh Amber, I'm really proud of all you are accomplishing. And especially during this busy Easter week. I just live this talk of enegies vs. essence. So lovely. Love you dearest one.

  4. Lisa,

    Amazon does offer it. The title is The Orthodox Church, by Kallistos Ware. The second book that Alana recommened is The Orthodox Way, also by Kallistos Ware. Both are very nice paperbacks, and you can get them for about $24 all told. Individually they're about $12.


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