Apprehending Apokatastasis: The Vision of St Gregory of Nyssa

The greatest challenge for the preacher of the greater hope is to articulate a vision of Jesus as mediator of apokatastasis. It is insufficient for him or her to occasionally declare: “Oh, by the way, all will be well.” Our congregations need a compelling vision of God, Christ, and the Christian life to replace their apprehension of punitive deity and their works-righteousness understanding of discipleship. The need for such a vision obtains even if church discipline forbids the explicit preaching of universal salvation, perhaps only permitting the universalist hope of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Kallistos Ware. We may still proclaim the love of Christ in its radical unconditionality; we may still announce the Lord’s Paschal triumph over sin and death; we may still declare the consummation of God’s redemptive plans in such a way as to generate in the hearts of our people an indomitable hope in the good and loving God.

But where do we find this vision? In That All Shall Be Saved David Hart commends to us St Gregory of Nyssa. Over the course of seven pages he provides a magnificent, beautifully written statement of Gregory’s theology and anthropology (pp. 138-144; copied below). One might even call it a metanarrative of Christ. Attempting to summarize what Hart has written would only result in travesty. I lack the skill. These eloquent pages need to be slowly contem­plated and inwardly digested. Some readers may be inspired to directly engage some of Gregory’s writings; others to read Hart’s rich discussion of Gregory in The Beauty of the Infinite. Ultimately, though, we must find our own words in which to proclaim the vision of apokatastasis, for it is through the prism of personhood that the gospel comes alive for others.

In recent years a handful (and it really is just a handful) of scholars have challenged the long-standing identification of Gregory as a universalist. I occasionally get emails asking my opinion. I am, of course, not a patristic scholar, nor do I have a command of Gregory’s theology. I have asked two Gregory experts, Fr John Behr and Dr Andrew Radde-Gallwitz, about this revisionist interpretation. They are not persuaded and, for what it is worth, neither am I. It seems more likely that the revisionist interpretation is driven by a desire to bring Gregory into conformity with infernalist orthodoxy. But let the scholarly chips fall where they may.

* * *

So it goes. Even Homer nods. And Augustine, for all his brilliance, did quite a lot of nodding in his later years. Would that Christian tradition had—this is my incessant lament, my tireless refrain, my cri de cœur—heeded Gregory of Nyssa instead. So many unpleasant confusions might have been avoided, so many young minds might have been preserved against psychological abuse, so many Christian moral imaginations might have been spared such enormous corruptions. When Gregory looked at the eschatological language of the New Testament, what he believed he saw was … not some everlasting division between the two cities of the redeemed and the reprobate, but only a provisional division between two moments within the single economy of a universal salvation. What he found was … two distinct eschatological horizons, one wholly enclosed within the other. For him, the making and redemption of the world belong to that one great process by which God brings to pass the perfect creation that has resided from everlasting in the divine will, conceived and intended by him before all ages. All of created time is, he believed, nothing but the gradual unfolding, in time and by way of change, of God’s eternal and immutable design. For him, in fact, creation is twofold; there is a prior (which is to say, eternal) creative act that abides in God, as the end toward which all things are directed and for the sake of which all things have been brought about (described in Genesis 1:1-2:3); and there is a posterior creative act, which is the temporal exposition—cosmic and historical—of this divine model (whose initial phases are described in Genesis 2:4-25). From eternity, says Gregory, God has conceived of humanity under the form of an ideal “Human Being” (anthropos), at once humanity’s archetype and perfection, a creature shaped entirely after the divine likeness, neither male nor female, possessed of divine virtues: purity, love, impassibility, happiness, wisdom, freedom, and immortality. But this does not mean, as we might expect, simply that God first created the eternal ideal of the human, and only then fashioned individual human beings in imitation of this universal archetype. Rather, for Gregory, this primordial “ideal” Human Being comprises—indeed, is identical with—the entire pleroma of all human beings in every age, from first to last.

In his great treatise On the Making of Humanity, Gregory reads Genesis 1:26-7—the first account of the creation of the race, where humanity is described as being made “in God’s image”—as referring not to the making of Adam as such, but to the conception within the eternal divine counsels of this full community of all of humanity: the whole of the race, comprehended by God’s “foresight” as “in a single body,” which only in its totality truly reflects the divine likeness and the divine beauty. As for the two individuals Adam and Eve, whose making is described in the second creation narrative, they may have been superla­tively endowed with the gifts of grace at their origin, but they were themselves still merely the first members of that concrete community that only as a whole can truly reflect the glory of its creator. For now, it is only in the purity of the divine wisdom that this human totality subsists “altogether” (athroos) in its own fullness. It will emerge into historical actuality, in the concrete fullness of its beauty, only at the end of a long temporal “unfolding” or “suc­cession” (akolouthia). Only then, when time and times are done, will a truly redeemed humanity, one that has passed beyond all ages, be recapitulated in Christ. Only then also, in the ultimate solidarity of all humankind, will a being made in the image and likeness of God have truly been created: “Thus ‘Humanity according to the image’ came into being,” writes Gregory, “the entire nature [or race], the Godlike thing. And what thus came into being was, through omnipotent wisdom, not part of the whole, but the entire plenitude of the nature altogether.” It is precisely and solely this full community of persons throughout time that God has elected as his image, truth, glory, and delight. And God will bring this good creation he desires to pass in spite of sin, both within human history and yet over against it. He will never cease to bring the story he intends in creation to pass, despite our apostasy from that story. At the same time, however—so Gregory says in his treatise On Virginity—sin has inaugurated its own history, its own akolouthia of privation and violence, spreading throughout time from its own first seeds, striving against God’s love. And so, of course, throughout the course of human history, God’s original unfolding of creation must overcome the parasitic unfolding of evil. Even so, humanity, understood as the pleroma of God’s election, never ceases to possess that deathless beauty that humanity, understood as an historical community, has largely lost. God, reflecting eternally upon that beauty, draws all things on toward the glory he intends for them, although according to a mystery—a grace that does not predetermine the operations of a human freedom that, nevertheless, cannot ultimately elude it.

For Gregory, moreover, this human totality belongs to Christ from eternity, and can never be alienated from him. According to On the Making of Humanity, that eternal Human Being who lives in God’s counsels was from the first fashioned after the beauty of the Father’s eternal Logos, the eternal Son, and was made for no other end than to become the living body of Christ, who is its only head. It is thus very much the case that, for Gregory, the whole drama of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection was undertaken so that the eternal Son might reclaim those who are his own—which is to say, everyone. By himself entering into the plenitude of humanity as a single man among other men and women, and in thereby assuming humanity’s creaturely finitude and history as his own, Christ reoriented humanity again toward its true end; and, because the human totality is a living unity, the incarnation of the Logos is of effect for the whole. In a short commentary on the language of the eschato­logical “subordination” of the Son to the Father in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, Gregory even speaks of Christ as having assumed not just human nature in the abstract, but the whole pleroma, which means that his glory has entered into all that is human. Nor could it be otherwise. Such is the indivisible solidarity of humanity, he argues, that the entire body must ultimately be in unity with its head, whether that be the first or the last Adam. Hence Christ’s obedience to the Father even unto death will be made complete only eschatologi­cally, when the whole race, gathered together in him, will be yielded up as one body to the Father, in the Son’s gift of subjection, and God will be all in all. At Easter, Christ’s resurrec­tion inaugurated an akolouthia of resurrection, so to speak, in the one body of the race, an unfolding that cannot now cease (given the unity of human nature) until the last residue of sin—the last shadow of death—has vanished. Gregory finds this confirmed also, according to one of his early treatises (a “Refutation” of the teachings of the theologian Eunomius), in John 20:17: When Christ, says Gregory, goes to his God and Father, to the God and Father of his disciples, he presents all of humanity to God in himself. In his On the Soul and Resurrec­tion, moreover, Gregory reports the teaching of his sister Makrina that, when this is accom­plished, all divisions will at last fall away, and there will no longer be any separation between those who dwell within the Temple precincts and those who have been kept outside, for every barrier of sin separating human beings from the mysteries within the veil of the sanc­tuary will have been torn down; and then there will be a universal feast around God in which no rational creature will be deprived of full participation, and all those who were once excluded on account of sin will enter into the company of the blessed. We see here the exquisite symmetry in Gregory’s reading of scripture’s narrative of creation and redemption, and in his understanding of eternity’s perfect embrace of history: just as the true first creation of humanity (Genesis 1:26-27) was the eternal conception in the divine counsels of the whole race united to him while the second (Genesis 2:7) was the inaugura­tion of a history wholly dependent upon that eternal decree, so the culmination of history (1 Corin­thians 15:23) will at the last be, as it were, succeeded by and taken up into this original eternity in its eschatological realization (1 Corinthians 15:24), and the will of God will be perfectly accomplished in the everlasting body of Christ.

For Gregory, then, there can be no true human unity, nor even any perfect unity between God and humanity, except in terms of the concrete solidarity of all persons in that complete community that is, alone, the true image of God. God shall be all in all, argues Gregory in a treatise on infants who die prematurely, not simply by comprising humanity in himself in the abstract, as the universal ideal that he redeems in a few select souls, but by joining each particular person, each unique inflection of the pleroma‘s beauty, to himself. Even so, Christ’s assumption and final recapitulation of the human cannot simply be imposed upon the race as a whole, but must effect the conversion of each soul within itself, so that room is truly made for God “in all”; salvation by union with Christ must unfold within human freedom, and so within our capacity to venture away. For Gregory, of course, good classical Christian metaphysician that he was, evil and sin are always accidental conditions of human nature, never intrinsic qualities; all evil is a privation of an original goodness, and so the sinfulness that separates rational creatures from God is only a disease corrupting and disabling the will, robbing it of its true rational freedom, and thus is a disorder that must ultimately be purged from human nature in its entirety, even if needs be by hell. As Gregory argues in On the Making of Humanity, evil is inherently finite—in fact, in a sense, is pure finitude, pure limit—and so builds only toward an ending; evil is a tale that can have only an immanent conclusion; and, in the light of God’s infinity, its proper end will be shown to be nothing but its own disappearance. Once it has been exhausted, when every shadow of wickedness—all chaos, duplicity, and violence—has been outstripped by the infinity of God’s splendor, beauty, radiance, and delight, God’s glory will shine in each creature like the sun in an immaculate mirror, and each soul born into the freedom of God’s image—will turn of its own nature toward divine love. There is no other place, no other liberty; at the last, to the inevitable God humanity is bound by its freedom. And each person, as God elects him or her from before the ages, is indispensable, for the humanity God eternally wills could never come to fruition in the absence of any member of that body, any facet of that beauty. Apart from the one who is lost, humanity as God wills it could never be complete, nor even exist as the creature fashioned after the divine image; the loss of even one would leave the body of the Logos incomplete, and God’s purpose in creation unaccomplished.

(Go to “Will You Weep for the Damned?“)

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15 Responses to Apprehending Apokatastasis: The Vision of St Gregory of Nyssa

  1. Grant says:

    Beyond just homily preaching this conception is the only way to really live fully the Christian life without fear and with full generosity of love that doesn’t seek to coerce or manipulate, or leaves people wandering in shadows of darkness and fear for themselves, their loved ones or general people they see, to be moved to ever more love God and their neighbour without fragility and conditionality that ultimate loss brings, or conditionality mental gymnastics. Or worse, generates a cold indifference towards others, with a gate mentality and even exultation in the thought of eternal torment (thankfully rare). The terrible view of God, the brittleness of faith, that people could easily fall to damnation has been the driving justification for many terrible acts from all Christian communities down the ages, where full and confident trust, and of faith, hope and love was towards and in God and for all people and creation was quite lacking.

    It is also the only view I see that guarantees our actions and freedom, that ever life, action and event will be reclaimed, completed and redeemed from futility and waste, from a deterministic futility to nothing, to incompleteness and twisted understanding and fear and death-warped failure to realize our wants, desires and purposes. And as all humanity is connected, only with all our life, beings, our actions and choices liberated, to be want we are desiring and aiming to be, will they become both what we all are aiming at, and as with Tolkien’s leave in Leaf by Niggle, only by God’s redemption does it become the tree we are really working for, then all are actions and works become redeemed and glorified and so only through this and by this, by Christ, do every action and aspect of our lives both achieve full purpose, and each action we make with our creaturely freedom both matters eternally and is brought to joyous completion and they beyond into eternal and dynamic growth and flourishing beyond conception.

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  2. mercifullayman says:

    This was a splendid articulation of the Nyssen perspective and its through line. I think where most people are refusing to accept the notion is two fold, and mostly because they don’t accept the following:
    1. A non-Libertarian definition of freedom.
    2. Synthesizing how God’s love would be a deterministic, coercive force…even in the end, and yet there is still a notion of freedom. Does coercion allow for a truly “free” choice, which circularly brings us back to 1. (which I grapple with 2 myself, because I can’t let go of my western sense of pride in free choice….which may have been the cause of the original fall….the hubris of a false sense of choice, not that it doesn’t exist, but that it exists in a way we don’t understand.)

    But as Grant, I believe rightly said, it seems that if we are to take the idea of theosis seriously, one could not do anything else other than what would allow for complete unity if the story of redemption is true from this perspective. If the “ransom theory” of Gregory is true, then all has to ultimately be bought from death, evil, and corruption for no other than life, being, and process to be what it was created to be. I always find it interesting that so many fight for ever ending torment/annihilation but also want to talk about the world as being “put to rights.” The scales of ultimate justice, which in other religious traditions is the polar opposite of mercy, have to be balanced. If God is to be uniquely simple, balance would have to be a quality He would have. The Nyssen perspective provides that. Mercy, found through justice for all parties, found through never-ending love.

    Christ matters precisely because He isn’t the greatest form of fire insurance ever invented, but because He shows us how to live and fight for life as it is meant to be understood from beginning. To reduce Him to some existential lifesaver only, seems to denigrate the beauty of relationship we see so evident through the text. It makes me sad to see so many people reacting so viscerally, without any context for what may be the most beautiful part of all: Grace made known, Faith made sight, Love anchored, and Christ Victorious.

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  3. George Domazetis says:

    “As Gregory argues in On the Making of Humanity, evil is inherently finite—in fact, in a sense, is pure finitude, pure limit—and so builds only toward an ending; evil is a tale that can have only an immanent conclusion; and, in the light of God’s infinity, its proper end will be shown to be nothing but its own disappearance. Once it has been exhausted, when every shadow of wickedness—all chaos, duplicity, and violence—has been outstripped by the infinity of God’s splendour,…”

    As I understand this, goodness is equated with God and is thus limitless. Yet evil seems, to me at least, to be discussed as an abstraction and privation. Evil in practical terms, is the result of human activity, (and/or equated with Satan), and we have seen that humanity has constantly sought to expand the limits of evil deeds. Thus thousands have died from the brutality of wars a few centuries ago, and this has expanded to many millions recently. The Nazis would have killed more than 6 million Jews if they used greater resources, and the USA could have dropped more than 2 atom bombs, and so on it goes.

    I wonder if St. Gregory would still think evil deeds have limits? Perhaps now he may think that humanity (with Satan) seeks to always expand the evil acts in the quest for power.

    I suspect we may need to grapple with humanities (almost) limitless problem with good and evil.

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    • TJF says:

      The finite can never reach the infinite, so yes evil does have circumscribed limits that God allows for some reason, but it can never rival Him. I am beginning to see that all talk of eternal hell seems to necessarily lead to Manichean dualism. I am reading Fr. John McGuckin’s book the Orthodox Church right now. While he rightly says evil is finite and not created by God and has limits that don’t ever approach the limits of His mercy. He also weirdly says that Orthodox christians view evil has having a real palpable substance. I do believe Hart is right. At the bottom of the doctrine of eternal hell lies not just paradox, but utter contradiction that makes all speech meaningless. And worse, it does seem to end up making Christianity into Manichean dualism. Maybe I’m going too far, but it seems like the logical connection is there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Grant says:

        No, I think (unsurprisingly to anyone I’m sure) you are absolutely correct. Eternal damnation (either with eternal torment or annihilation) leads to death and evil being equal to life and to God, and that He is not God, not the transcendent Creator, the I AM, but a being with a rival with death forever (which denies St Paul’s promise that death, the last enemy, will be destroyed and God will be all in all), which will oppose Him forever victorious in part, and both he and death dependent on a higher, yet more truly ultimate source of being. So either Manicheanism or Calvanism, which avoids the one problem by say death and it’s eternal nature is God’s intention in creation all along, but buys this at the cost of denying central Christian Dogma that God is love, is the good, anything that is revealed through Christ to be inherently false and a lie to who the Father is (so Christ is a deciever) and denying clear promises again (such as the aforementioned destruction of death).

        Manicheanism or Calvanism, and both deny central Christian Dogmas that are nonnegotiable to the Faith as formal held by all major Christian confessions down the centuries, despite the mental gymnastics and contortions to pretend otherwise, or most often just long-standing cognitive dissonance to not see the incoherence and as you say utter contradiction it brings, leading to one of the two above positions in practice.

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        • TJF says:

          Thanks Grant. That’s what I have gathered so far. At a certain point it seems extremely simple, just the details get incredibly complex, but it seems to boil down really simply to the question Is God good or not? I am just a bit hesitant because I am not as learned as DBH or some of the other folk here. I like to stay somewhat circumspect.

          Liked by 1 person

          • George Domazetis says:

            At no point have I questioned God’s infinite mercy and goodness, nor that an abstraction of evil deeds and intentions in some weird way be used to question who and what God is.

            I am suggesting that the discussion from Gregory may be modified within the current understanding of humanities great capabilities to perform evil deeds. Your discussions appear to avoid coming to grips with this – indeed, we may create a hell that is far more hellish than the one that is discussed.

            God is the one who can make and also unmake.

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          • Grant says:

            I don’t think we are avoiding coming to grips with present understanding of present evil, but rather putting it in it’s true perspective in relation to God, and from the perspective of Christ.

            Let’s look at concrete expressions of evil, shall we, so we can’t be accused of avoiding and abstracting it, let’s look at death in it’s most terrifying of faces. Let’s look at the Holocaust, men, women and children being mechanically, methodically and systematic slaughtered, dehumanized, gassed, worked to death, stripped of dignity, brutalized and subject to inconceivable cruelties great and petty, even children being killed as if they were nothing more than insects. Or a Mafia killing in Italy, where they beat a rival, then feed him alive to the pigs they used to dispose of bodies, and joked about his screams when the police caught them. Or serial killer in Australia, who formed a vigilante circle, attacking over the years people he accused of being pedophiles (they weren’t) and tortured them to death in increasingly horrific manners before being caught, to child abusers and killers, the bombing of civilians, the atom bombs dropped, the actions now of China to Muslims, Christians and others minorities and dissidents, to the cruel indifference of our current economic systems and society, criminalising the poor, excluding them and walking on by.

            So, we can have a good look at evil, and we can see it all gathered from the same fallen and warped desires around a young Jew from Nazareth, as He lived in a occupied, unstable war zone, and was subjected to hate, ridicule, mockery, horrific torture, and murder, being dehumanized. All those aspects gathered there, to overcome and attempt to destroy Him. Instead, He calls for the forgiveness of all, because in warped confusion and slavery they do not know what they do. Instead, as He promised, He overcomes the world, castes out the ruler of this world and defeats His enemies with the different power of self-giving love. He burst forth from the grave, swallowing the emptiness of death, and all these aspects in Life, harrowing Hades, so ensuring already God’s victory over death and all it’s affects, ransoming all from it’s power, drawing, dragging all out of it’s cluches, rendering it impotent, washing it away like Pharaoh. The gassed child, the concentration camp guard, the Mafia men and they victim, the bombers and those they bombed, the rich and the poor they left to starve, all will be rescued, all will be freed from the slavery that hurts and frustrates and confuses their desires and aims. All shall see what they are, should be and shall be in the clarity of His love, His light already decesended into that depth of darkness, having overcome it, God reconciling all things to Himself in Christ on and in the Cross. All evil being nothing but a distorting shadow vanishing before His reality, and justice shall flourish all evil passing away, all healed and restored, relationships made true and whole, enemies overcome with love.

            Your suggestion would instead create an idol of evil and death, something that can and does stand victorious against God forever, something concrete thing that has existence apart from Him, and is His rival through all eternity, co-equal with Him, claiming His creations from Him. It denies that Christ is Lord of all, and gives at least some of that authority to death and evil. It denies He the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, who has defeated death and holds the keys of death and Hades in His hands, it says that things can indeed separate us from the love of God in Christ, that not all tears shall be wiped away, all things made new, that death will not be destroyed and God will not be all in all but have evil endure forever. Injustice lasts forever, just somewhat locked away, the evil of the Holocaust and all the above and many other warped effects will endure forever unaddressed for eternity, unto the ages of ages, spitting in God’s face, and on those it hurt and corrupted, laughing in demonic triumph.

            So I’m afraid I disagree, your position still leads to those concrete evils winning forever, and to Manicheanism in practice.

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  4. George Domazetis says:

    Grant, I enjoyed reading your response, and I will provide a substantial reply soon. I want to make a point when you say, “So, we can have a good look at evil,”. I suggest to you that you have described what we have heard on evil, but that is all. I cannot comprehend such evil; I mean we cannot fully grasp the feelings, intentions, desires, and many attributes and spirit, of the people who commit these evil acts. Until we do this, and (if your view is correct) comprehend the self-reflection and transformation consistent with repentance, than we cannot make a statement such as salvation is universal and will occur for all of humanity (and some say would include the devil).

    I like Gregory’s comment that some matters are a mystery; I hope all would repent, but only God can decide the actual outcome.

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    • Grant says:

      I’ll await the rest, but again you grant evil that it doesn’t possess, to suggest the desires are evil, not incomplete, misunderstood and failed attempt to understand the Good and their own being is to give evil a positive existence, something that has being, again then either an opposite power to God, or something He positively brings into being.

      And to say that people will not or might not be saved again due to some mysterious power of evil again gives to evil an infinite nature that belongs only to God, and denies Christ is Lord of all, and that death shall in part reign victorious against Him (in direct contradiction to what is promised, death is neither a defeated enemy, and becomes co-equal to Christ. Again, this becomes a form of dualistic Manichean outlook in effect.

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      • George Domazetis says:

        I cannot comprehend how you come to these preposterous conclusions from my brief response, which is to show why repentance is essential to leaving sin and seeking the good.

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        • Grant says:

          It was brief response to a brief response but did make somewhat strong assertions nonetheless, whether my response in kind is preposterous I leave others to judge, though if you felt misunderstood then I apologize but you do serm to make to me some claims which seemed in keeping with the themesTJF and I noted.

          But besides all that I’m kind of curious in this last reply, where do you get the idea that we disagree that repentance is essential, nothing I’ve said implies otherwise, and you’ve been involved in these discussions on here long enough to know no universalist here asserts this either.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

            George and Grant, it appears that the conversation is getting a little testy. Let’s bring it to a close now. Thanks.

            And let it be stipulated: ALL universalists agree on the need for faith, repentance, and transformation for salvific participation in the life of the Holy Trinity. That is not up for dispute.

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          • George Domazetis says:

            The gist of my planned response was that the act of repentance is a free act, and I would prefer to develop a discussion on freedom from this point. Gregory discusses the image of God (in the making of man), and includes in this intellectual faculties, and I assume these include reflection and conscience, so that even when we sin, we have the capacity to understand ourselves within this freedom, and the nature of our acts (be they good or evil).

            In any event, thank you for the discussion and I will end it as requested.

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          • Grant says:

            I have been thinking back and forth whether I should write a clarifying reply on this discussion between George and myself or just leave it, but decided, just for any who ever read this exchange to give it, and if Father Kimel believes that it is unwarranted or is otherwise not fair or unhelpful will delete it, as I’m happy to submit this to his editorial judgement.

            Tone is difficult in online discussions, and I think I could have framed my first part of the reply better, but I wasn’t offended by George’s statement of my reply to him being preposterous at all. Though I am fairly quiet myself I come from a family where vigorous, heated and boisterous debate is often had and encouraged, and we don’t really take offence at each others opinions or how we respond to each other in it, we are always respectful but can be forceful in our advocacy, and my further development in education has further developed this sense. But as I say, written communication often doesn’t convey tone, intention and respect that is (hopefully at least) inherent in a proper dialogue and debate. It’s one of the reasons I find the uproar over Hart’s rhetoric a little odd and confusing really, as I expect people, including myself to be passionate on this subject given to what it refers. But back to this discussion, I really wasn’t offended and I don’t think George was either (I’m sorry if he felt I was attacking him if I’m wrong) and what I meant in my reply in that first paragraph was only that in the brief reply I thought I saw the continuing theme that we had already been discussing, and commented briefly back on it. I always meant that I didn’t think my reply had misunderstood his point so much that it had missed that mark so badly, but acknowledged that it was a brief reply, and I would leave other readers to judge whether I had or had not understood George’s thought and objection badly, and accepted that it was a brief reply, not his whole response (what I was still awaiting). This of course is true in everything I write, I don’t tend to qualify what I write with a statement of saying that is of course to the best of my current ability to comprehend, my current understanding with the accepting of the all the limitations and the fact that even though it seems correct to me, it could be I am wrong and so I leave everything I say to the judgement of others. In the end I take this possibility as a given for all of us, I argue in good faith, believing in what I am say, but the caveat I said is always possible for all of us finite and limited beings, but it would be cumbersome and in the end a kind of false pseudo-humility to keep saying it, sometimes it becomes a kind of defence against someone contesting what you say, paradoxically enough. But anyway, I do think I could have phrased the first paragraph better to convey my meaning, I forget the limitations of this medium sometimes when it comes to discussion, but just wanted to clarify things for anyone reading this discussion, I wasn’t offended in the least by George, nor do I hope he was offended my responses, it was at least from my end and I’m sure his, a good intentioned and vigorous discussion on matters of importance 🙂 . Anyway, I’ll let Father Kimel decide if this reply should stand, or if he feels it is more problematic than clarifying.

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