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Progressive Thoughts On "apophatic Theology"


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I've recently read the following book and found myself in a "love-hate" relationship with its concepts. I lean toward the idea of having a personal relationship with a personal God, but that author's insights sure ring with the sound of truth.

 

Apohpatic theology is central to Eastern Orthodoxy and has natural linkages to Christian mysticism of all sorts.

 

The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spiritualityby Belden C. Lane "Talk about God cannot easily be separated from discussions of place..." (more)

SIPs: apophatic prayer, fierce terrain, apophatic tradition, fierce landscapes, mountain spirituality

 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

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I'd very much like to read the book you just mentioned.

 

I recently did a bit of online research on Apophatic versus Kataphatic theology and Apophatic versus Kataphatic prayer. It got bit confusing because "Apophatic" is defined differently depending on the usage.

 

I too have a love/hate relationship with one versus the other. I recently realized that it's the extremes of both that I hate. One quote I found said this:

 

Extremes of the kataphatic approach can produce endless fascination with imagery or thought, thus obscuring the divine source of all experience. Similarly, apophatic extremism can lead to life- denying and anti-incarnational distortions.

 

Recently, I've come to appreciate the beauty of a "dialectic" theology which not only avoids the extremes but combines and "neutralizes" them. A dialectical approach makes sense to me.

 

A dialectical approach would say:

 

It is appropriate to make Via Positiva assertions about God as long as it is understood that God is ALSO NOT those assertions as well.

 

It is also appropriate to make Via Negativa negations about God as long as it is understood that God is ALSO NOT those negations as well.

 

When you "add up" all the Via Positiva assertions (and the opposites) and all the Via Negativa negations (and those opposites), we end up with a "neutral unity" God/dess that can be whatever She wants to be.

 

I guess that brings us back around to the question: "Has God chosen to be personal or impersonal?" :rolleyes: LOL!

 

I was praying/meditating the other night and had the thought pop into my head that God/dess is personal and chooses to be aware of and relate to the life that exists in the universe. It was a bit of an "Aha!" moment that lasted for a few minutes and then faded away.

 

Perhaps I'm being too sentimental, but what I see in the world does not portray to me an impersonal God. I have had to, however, step away from a geocentric theology to get a proper perspective of what "personal" might mean.

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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I like God/dess I will try to use this term more often. Wouldn't it be nice if we thought of God/dess as an all pervading consciousness that permeates everything (impersonal), but is in all the people we know and don't know (personal) so by serving them we are serving God/dess.

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"
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I'd very much like to read the book you just mentioned.

 

I recently did a bit of online research on Apophatic versus Kataphatic theology and Apophatic versus Kataphatic prayer. It got bit confusing because "Apophatic" is defined differently depending on the usage.

 

I too have a love/hate relationship with one versus the other. I recently realized that it's the extremes of both that I hate. One quote I found said this:

 

Extremes of the kataphatic approach can produce endless fascination with imagery or thought, thus obscuring the divine source of all experience. Similarly, apophatic extremism can lead to life- denying and anti-incarnational distortions.

 

Recently, I've come to appreciate the beauty of a "dialectic" theology which not only avoids the extremes but combines and "neutralizes" them. A dialectical approach makes sense to me.

 

A dialectical approach would say:

 

It is appropriate to make Via Positiva assertions about God as long as it is understood that God is ALSO NOT those assertions as well.

 

It is also appropriate to make Via Negativa negations about God as long as it is understood that God is ALSO NOT those negations as well.

 

When you "add up" all the Via Positiva assertions (and the opposites) and all the Via Negativa negations (and those opposites), we end up with a "neutral unity" God/dess that can be whatever She wants to be.

 

I guess that brings us back around to the question: "Has God chosen to be personal or impersonal?" :rolleyes: LOL!

 

I was praying/meditating the other night and had the thought pop into my head that God/dess is personal and chooses to be aware of and relate to the life that exists in the universe. It was a bit of an "Aha!" moment that lasted for a few minutes and then faded away.

 

Perhaps I'm being too sentimental, but what I see in the world does not portray to me an impersonal God. I have had to, however, step away from a geocentric theology to get a proper perspective of what "personal" might mean.

Dialectical approach-that's wonderful! I realize as I read this I've been perhaps "too attached" to the apophatic orientation. your post got me to thinking of the term "theophany-" "God-revealing." It's the notion that (at least with the right consciousness) the things of this world can be seen through as revealing the Divine, be it wholly or in its facets. Obviously, though, without the apophatic we may lose the ability to see theophanies because once we're certain what God is and how God reveals itself, we stop hearing and seeing. God must reveal out of Mystery and if we're sure we know we stop Knowing. take care, Earl

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Dialectical approach-that's wonderful!

 

Ah shucks. Thanks. I wish I could say I thought up the term but I'll have to credit Hegel for that (although, since I've never read him, don't know if he ever applied a dialectical approach to theology).

 

I was using the term "Duality in Unity" which I thought was totally unique :rolleyes: but when I did a google search on it I found a websight that used the term and linked it with "dialectical monism". That was the first time I can remember hearing the term "dialectical". (Then I started to notice it all over the place. LOL!)

 

The websight discussed various forms of monism and the "problems" with them, but then discussed dialectical monism and I went "THAT'S IT! That's what I've been trying to say. Whoo hoo!"

 

Obviously, though, without the apophatic we may lose the ability to see theophanies because once we're certain what God is and how God reveals itself, we stop hearing and seeing. God must reveal out of Mystery and if we're sure we know we stop Knowing.

 

Exactly. I think an apophatic approach opens up the way for a kataphatic approach that has left the dogmatic assertions behind. The two approaches can balance each other and keep either from becoming extreme.

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