Apophaticism and Theoblogdom

Two more bloggers have recently addressed the apophatic knowledge of God:

Fr Stephen Freeman, “I Really Can’t Say.”

Advancing, as we would expect, an Eastern perspective, Fr Stephen writes: “Apophaticism is a mystical approach to theology (and even to the world), in which participation becomes the primary means of cognition.”

It’s unclear to me how the reflections on dialectical rhetoric touches upon apophaticism, but perhaps someone might like to ask him to elaborate further.

Thomas Belt, “Unspeakably Transcended” (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).

Tom explains why he has become more sympathetic to the apophatic approach and along the way provides some great citations from Denys Turner.


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3 Responses to Apophaticism and Theoblogdom

  1. whitefrozen says:

    T.F. Torrance and Barth both argued for a cataphatic theolgoy over against apophatic theology – I’ll have to dig up their lines of thought on the subject. Torrance in particular is pretty tight in his arguments.


  2. “God transcends all creatures. We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect, if we are not to confuse our image of God–‘the inexpressible, the incomprehensible, the invisible, the ungraspable’–with our human representations. Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God.

    “Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that ‘between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude’; and that ‘concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings stand in relation to him.'”

    Catechism of the Catholic Church, 42-43.


  3. Trifon says:

    Fr. Aiden, I think that Fr. Stephen is making a case for the superiority of an apophatic model of epistemology over and against a Hegelian or Marxist model. I doubt that the two models have much in common.


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