Fr Andrew Louth on “Theology of the ‘In-Between'”

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8 Responses to Fr Andrew Louth on “Theology of the ‘In-Between'”

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    I am intrigued by the intuition, apparently expressedin the theologies of both St Gregory Palamas and Sergius Bulgakov, that an “in-between” is needed to explain how it is possible for the transcendent Creator to be immanent in his creation. This makes sense of both Gregory’s construal of the divine energies and Bulgakov’s construal of Sophia.

    But another intuition is possible—namely, no in-between is necessary because of the radicality of the divine transcendence. I see this being worked out in St Athanasius, St Gregory Nazianzen, St Cyril of Alexandria, St Thomas Aquinas, and more recently, David B. Hart.

    Thoughts, anyone? Am I off-base?


  2. apophaticallyspeaking says:

    Nope, right on the money. Put me down in the latter group. 🙂

    No in-between is necessary, even though it does exists and God does use it. I consider that to be the mystery of our faith, the very immediate presence of the transcendent God.


  3. brian says:

    I, at least, do not have clarity on what is being said or questioned here. I sent Father two private responses, mainly because after seeing the marathon dialogue engaged by Tom, Father, Apo, and Gregory, I am loathe to be drawn into a discussion of that length or perplexity. Meta-physics, meta-phor, analogy of being, all these bespeak a beyond and an enigmatic, equivocity that in its sign bearing capacity points towards a transcendence that cannot be encapsulated by any univocal stability or conceptual capture. We are, ineluctably, in the between.

    If one contemplates the radical transcendence of divinity, a thought made possible because of divine revelation, it is possible to discern creatio ex nihilo, the giftedness of creation, the perduring love that from the Origin calls singular being to participate in Being. The metaphysics of creation simply demands and posits this intimacy — this is what I was getting at in a previous post where I distinguished this kind of intimacy from the much more diminished kind of relation available to theistic personalism. So, fine. If the metaphysics of creation points to what Desmond calls the passio essendi, the originating gift that is prior to choice and prior to the ego formation in time of the individual, this does not touch on the sort of thing Bulgakov is talking about.

    The actual universe we encounter, the one providentially presided over by the loving, Triune God, is apparently one where angels and sacraments, poetry and perhaps Sophia are chosen as intermediaries who serve the ultimate deification of the cosmos in the Resurrected Body of Christ. As I noted privately, God is not really a minimalist as an artist. His aesthetics is more baroque. So, in brief, what kind of necessity is involved? There is a necessity driven by limit and a necessity chosen by the free artist who desires just this universe an no other. The latter is perfectly compatible with divine freedom.

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  4. apophaticallyspeaking says:

    We will not be drawn into the essence/energy controversy!

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  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thank you – this is very interesting! (Where and when was it published?)

    I’ve encountered what seems in many ways a different elaboration of (Platonic) ‘metaxy’ in the work of Eric Voegelin (so, it would be interesting to see Andrew Louth engage that…!).

    I also heard a very interesting lecture by Lars Thunberg about St. Maximos and the ‘logikoi’ (without ever yet catching up with Thunberg’s writings or encountered more in what little of St. Maximos’s writings I’ve read in translation), but what I remember of it was that (with respect to human hypostases, anyway) the ‘logikoi’ are radically specific, each to each created person, what makes a person, in some sense the deepest, most central of a person – but Uncreated, not a human personal attribute, but (what word might be apt?) ‘characteristic’ of the Logos. (So, it would be interesting to see Andrew Louth engage that, too: I can’t remember if he was also at the lecture, though it would make sense that he was…!) In terms of this essay, the ‘logikoi’ are both radically transcendent and radically immanent and creative, sustaining, etc., and seem a sort of ‘in-between’ in function. I can’t remember any details of distinct discussion of Creation/Sustaining and Redemption/Divinizing.

    The last St. Gregory Palamas quotation sounds, to me, a lot like part of a prayer in the Ordinary of the (old) Mass, “da nobis per hujus aquae et vini mysterium, ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostrae fieri dignatus est, particeps, Jesus Christus” (“by the mystery signified in the mingling of this water and wine, grant us to have part in the Godhead of Him who hath vouchsafed to share our manhood, Jesus Christ”).


  6. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Louth’s article was published in Communio viatorum, 55 no 3 2013.


    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:


      I just read Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger’s notes (at his Mary Victrix blog) for part of his lectio coram for his License in Sacred Theology – on the Triple Way in Dionysius (and St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Sts. Gregory of Nyssa, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure) and it seemed interesting to compare with, and complementary to, this paper (both being papers I ought to reread and ponder, but immediately delightful nonetheless!).


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